The Gold Standard: Top 10 Things Marvel Comics Did Right In 2010

10. Ant-Man and Wasp by Tim Seeley

Almost didn’t get a mention, but this mini-series has been nothing but fun. Channeling the feeling of Robert Kirkman’s Irredeemable Ant-Man, Tim Seeley has cast Hank Pym and Eric O’Grady into an adventure that brings out the best both characters have to offer, and while it has serious tones at times, it never really takes itself too seriously. It’s a fun read that will be just as fun when Marvel trades it in a few months, check it out!

9. X-23 by Marjorie Liu

I wasn’t expecting to like much of anything coming out of the “Wolverine Goes To Hell” arc that led to an extended Wolverine line of books under the X-banner. I figured I might like Wolverine (and I do), and there was a chance with Daken (it’s horrible), but I was hoping that I would like Marjorie Liu’s X-23. I was right. The book is fun, and Liu is finding a lot of mileage with a character who could easily be one dimensional under the wrong writer. Sure, it’s only been a few issues, but there’s a feeling of potential that makes me not only glad that Marvel launched this book, and I like what Liu is doing, and would love to see her given a year or more to help show everyone just why X-23 is important. This is especially big since she’s out of X-Force after several years of finding herself defined by the fact that she would kill on command. I’m going to be happy to see how well Liu is able to humanize her.

8. Hawkeye/Mockingbird by Jim McCann

When I first heard the book being pitched as the Mr. and Mrs. Smith of comics, I groaned as I really didn’t enjoy that movie, but then I gave the book the benefit of the doubt. After all, I love Hawkeye, and I feel that he really does need the right kind of complimentary co-star to really excel. Thankfully his ex-wife Bobbi “Mockingbird” Morse has been filling that role perfectly.

7. Avengers Academy by Christos Gage

I was expecting to mourn the loss of The Initiative for a while yet to come, but then Marvel gave us a gift in the form of Christos Gage and Mike McKone’s Avengers Academy. I mean, this is the end result of mixing instructors like Hank Pym, Tigra, Quicksilver, Justice, and Speedball with an original student cast. Throw in a little Norman Osborn fuckery to give the kids an edge, and you’ve got gold. What happens when the Avengers of tomorrow could just as easily be the Masters of Evil? It’s an entertaining book about kids trying to figure out what they’re going to be versus what they’re supposed to be, with a group of teachers who, for the most part, are not the best people for the job. There are a lot of flaws to go around the table, and it’s being very well written. Not to mention that the year ended with the son of Hank Pym and the return of Giant Man!

6. Mark Millar’s Nemesis, Superior, and Kick-Ass 2

Millarworld is going strong, hell, probably stronger than ever. I can’t remember the last time he had two books running at once, let alone three. It’s been a hell of a year for Mark Millar, I mean, Kick-Ass: The Movie. Lets jump ahead, he launches three mini-series this year; Nemesis, Superior, and Kick-Ass 2. You know which one has been optioned for a movie? All of them. You know which book sucks? None of them. Millar has found his niche, and it’s nice to see him exploit it. Sure, he’s also spent some time this year doing Ultimate Avengers minis of varying quality, but this is all about how 2010 was the year of Millarworld, and how 2011 and beyond look to be more of the same. Now all we really need to hope for is that Nemesis and Superior are as faithfully adapted as Kick-Ass, otherwise we’re just going to wind up with another Wanted….and Millar on the other side of the list.

5. X-Factor still going strong

Every month I get a new issue of X-Factor, and every month this fact surprises me. It’s a great book, very well written, the art is usually pretty damn good (especially since Larry Stroman left), but even for an X book, it always feels under the radar. I never know when a new issue is going to hit, but I always read it, love it, and wait for the next. It’s a unique little corner of the Marvel universe, I mean, in this year we’ve seen Doom, Baron Mordo, and Hela all appear as villains. We had an arc with Pip the freaking Troll! Peter David is absolutely brilliant, and the fact that Marvel leaves this book to do its own thing is one of their best moves every year.

4. DnA doing cosmic

2010 marked the end of an era with the Thanos Imperative, as the cosmic titles Nova and Guardians of the Galaxy reached their finales in the build up towards the event. Several months later, neither book looks to be coming back as both has suffered a major casualty; the Guardians losing leader Peter “Starlord” Quill, while Nova lost the title character of Richard “Nova” Rider. Since the original Annihilation, Marvel’s cosmic line has been one of the highlights of the entire company as far as quality goes. It’s been incredible, and it’s been almost entirely the team of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning who have pulled it together. They had their own corner of the universe and they made it matter for the first time in….I can’t remember the last time cosmic Marvel mattered. While we don’t know what’s going on moving forward, I’m hoping that they haven’t closed their cosmic book just yet.

3. The Heroic Age

As far as ideals go, this was one that Marvel really was long overdue for adopting. After Civil War, Secret Invasion, and Dark Reign we just needed a breather to remember that there are good guys, and that there are bad guys, and sometimes it’s clear cut which is which. It’s also nice to see that the Avengers are good guys again and not outlaws or villains in disguise. It’s nice to see the X-Men recognized for the good that they do, and Spider-Man to get some moderate respect. It’s great that Steve Rogers is the face of America, and that he’s personally seeing to it that everything goes well. Even if I don’t always like the execution, I can’t deny that the concept is pitch perfect.

2. Fantastic Four by Jon Hickman

There’s a reason that Fantastic Four has been tagged throughout it’s existence with the tagline “World’s Greatest Comic Magazine”; it’s not a blow off project for any writer. There’s a giant legacy of creators in and out of the title over the near fifty years that it has been around, and it has been a title for people to bring more than their A game. Jon Hickman is doing exactly that right now, as he’s lending his own unique voice and style to the iconic quartet. And with FF set to launch in a few months, replacing the soon to be Fantastic Three, who knows what Hickman has in store?

1. Matt Fraction

If any one person could be considered the MVP of Marvel Comics, it would have to be Matt Fraction. Sure, he’s not the architect of the Marvel Universe like Bendis, or a high profile headline writer like Brubaker, but you know what he is? Someone who can competently write several books a month without stretching himself thin to the point of having a bunch of messes constantly being cleaned up. Iron Man, Thor, Uncanny X-Men, these are three of the best titles that Marvel puts out every month. Screw the Avengers titles, just read Fraction’s take on the heroes of Marvel and you’ll have more fun. Iron Man is better than, in this bloggers eyes, it’s been in over a decade, as this is the first extended run of Iron Man I’ve stuck around for. Seriously, I’ve bailed a half dozen times over the years, but Fraction has the perfect hook. Then look at Thor, JMS had done some magic with him, but Fraction in just a few issues has already given the book a breath of life that crosses fantasy into science fiction to give us Gods vs murderous aliens. The man has it in him to be the architect of Marvel moving forward, and maybe 2011 will be the year when they give him the ball and tell him to run with it. After all, Fear Itself is coming.

Check out my list for DC here.

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