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

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10. Tony Bedard handling DC’s cosmic titles

Aside from the Green Lantern and Legion franchises, cosmic DC is a joke to me. I mean, I understand that there is a rich history and countless characters that have been created over the years, but just like Marvel before Annihilation, it seemed like nobody cared. There were a few too many Rann/Thanagar Wars, and for as much as I loved the story of Adam Strange, Starfire, and Animal Man in 52, nothing that came out of it with Lady Styx made me the least bit interested. Then a few years ago DC announced that Tony Bedard is going to be writing a book called R.E.B.E.L.S. and I can’t not give a shot, after all, I believe in Bedard and it has yet to burn me. That trend continued here as Vril Dox’s brand of interstellar justice for hire is a fun and exciting book with a great cast of characters. I mean, where else can you find a team with Brainiac 2, Adam Strange, Starfire, Lobo, and Captain Comet? What other book has people scared to death at the prospect of their lead character wielding a yellow power ring? And not to mention that last issues return of Starro the Conqueror means that 2011 is going to mean big action for the R.E.B.E.L.S. crew as Starro is going to be pissed at Vril for taking his empire from him. And hey, what’s this? Could the two new Green Lantern’s of the Vega sector join up? There’s built in synergy, after all, since not only is Bedard writing R.E.B.E.L.S. but he’s also the new ongoing writer for Green Lantern Corps, well into his second story arc.

9. The B List Justice League of James Robinson

This might seem like a weird choice, but one of the best things DC has tried with the JLA in years is the current roster. Supergirl, Donna Troy, Dick Grayson as Batman, Jesse Quick, Jade. Bam, right there you’ve got the “B” list for Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, Flash, and Green Lantern. A bunch of perceived second stringers make up the greatest hero group in the DCU. This is, of course, after a lot of turn around on members (Mon-El, Guardian, Starfire, Dr. Light, Green Arrow, Hal Jordan, and Vixen were all amongst the large number of turnaround in the early issues of Robinson’s run), and doesn’t include Congorilla, Starman, and Cyborg. But by taking the A list characters out of the team, and replacing them instead with familiar characters, with similar abilities, who may or may not receive the same kind of love? I can’t tell you the last time I was interested in a book starring Donna Troy. Supergirl and Batman are the only two characters currently on this team with any real profile, as between the two of them they probably have four solo books, but the rest of the team? It’s money, and most importantly, it’s potential. Not every JLA needs to be the big seven.

8. The resurgence of the Legion in the hands of Paul Levitz

Ever since I first got into the Legion a few years ago I’ve been absolutely hooked. I started with Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning’s run, and then tracked down the post Zero Hour stuff leading into it, and then I hopped onto the Waid/Kitson reboot. I’ve loved every minute of it, but one thing that always had my interest was Superman’s Legion, the pre-Crisis one. The one that Johns returned to the DC Universe in the Lightning Saga, and then followed up with the amazing Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes arc in Action Comics, and then Legion of Three Worlds to go with Final Crisis. Still though, it was just a few mini series and story arcs. Then this year DC converts Adventure Comics into a Legion title and relaunches the Legion proper, following up on the events of the Legion of Three Worlds, and letting veteran Legion scribe Paul Levitz take the wheel. While there was some worry at first that maybe the perceived nostalgia cash in would backfire, it’s done anything but. The book has been fun, the characters are interesting, and it’s quickly climbing my must read list with every issue. Long live the Legion!

7. Supergirl by Sterling Gates

I have absolutely loved this book since Sterling Gates and Jamal Igle came on board, and I feel bad that as I write this they’ve wrapped up their time on the title. Despite the inhereted baggage of New Krypton, Gates made Kara more interesting of a character than she had been since….well, to be honest, it was the best since her creation. We saw a daughter of New Krypton struggle with the loss of her father, the distance between herself and her mother, and all the while trying to forge a home for herself on a planet that isn’t so sure that they want her. Cat Grant wrote her article about how the world doesn’t need Supergirl, and Kara spent much of the year trying to prove her wrong. Well, prove her wrong as well as figure out just who Kara Zor-El is, which meant moving in with Lana Lang as her niece Linda, a secret identity that, while not fully developed, felt like a nice little angle for the character. Not to mention that it’s hard to not like a writer wanting to have Kara try and relate to Lane over Clark or Lois, it’s the road less traveled and it worked well in this case. Then let us not forget the magic that was Bizarrogirl, the best Bizarro in years! Gates’s run on the title may be over, but when he came on board the character was an after thought that didn’t seem like anyone knew what to do with. Now that he’s gone, Kara feels as important as she’s treated, she has a purpose in the DCU other than to just be a female version of Superman, she has character and personality, and for as much as I’m going to miss the work Sterling Gates put in, I still can’t wait to see what the next guys have in store.

6. Quality animated releases

I’ve bought three out of the four DC animated releases this year; Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, Batman: Under the Red Hood, and Superman/Batman: Apocalypse (I skipped out on Superman/Shazam!: The Return of Black Adam). Now, out of those three I bought I can’t think of any real complaints. Under the Red Hood is what Judd Winick’s original story arc, the one that was adapted for the movie, should have been. Simply by stripping out the Superboy Prime reality punches the story becomes endlessly more coherent and it uses actual Batman lore to tell a Batman story, the end result being far superior to the original arc. Crisis on Two Earths was ridiculously fun, and I still can’t get over James Woods as Owlman. One of the best Justice League stories I’ve seen in years, and a perfect use of the medium. Then we have Apocalypse, which is an adaption of Jeph Loeb’s Supergirl arc that, for the most part, winds up being a lot better than the book itself. Sure, there are some issues I take with it (like how much more awesome the scene of Kara addressing all of the heroes at the end is than what the movie gives us) but then there are things that just completely shut me up and make me a believer (like the fight scenes). Hell, the only reason I skipped the fourth DVD is that they all have a short film featuring another character on them (Green Arrow, Jonah Hex, and The Spectre all got pieces in those three), and the fourth is those three compiled with a twenty minute Superman and Captain Marvel vs Black Adam movie that I just can’t warrant dropping twenty bucks on. However, All Star Superman and Batman: Year One in 2011 means that DC is keeping with the must buys!

5. Secret Six and why Gail Simone rocks

Out of the five miniseries that led into Infinite Crisis, the best two were easily the O.M.A.C. Project and Villains United, and out of those two, Villains United won hands down. Gail Simone assembled a team of villains that existed outside of the Secret Society and she made them a threat who you didn’t know which side exactly they fought for. They got another mini for One Year Later, and then occasionally crossed into books Gail was writing, but there wasn’t much love. Deadshot got redrafted into the Suicide Squad for a bit, but then DC wised up and let Gail have her bad guys back. The end result of that is that every month we get a book about a team of villains who do everything from villain for hire work, to government work, to mercenary work. I mean, any kind of work that has an acceptable death toll. It’s creepy, it’s a more than a little bit crazy, and after two years I still can’t seem to put the book down.

4. Maxwell Lord and Generation Lost

If you read my reviews then by now you know full well that if Generation Lost is dropping, chances are I’m preparing to love it, and a big part of that is that Max Lord is one of the best villains in DC right now. His return at the end of Blackest Night set up what I originally was ready to write off as a throw away maxi-series, I mean, how much love was DC really going to give to a team hunting Max Lord while the highest profile character in the book is Booster Gold? I am glad to have underestimated them, as Judd Winick has provided one of the most consistent books on the stands, and he does it twice a month. With Max’s return the DCU has been returned a villain that has similar motivations to Lex Luthor, but is more readily able to live up to his ways. He wants to wipe out metahumans as a way to protect humanity, despite being a meta himself. He made the world forget he existed, and then ruined the lives of those who didn’t forget. And his endgame? All we know is that he wants to kill Wonder Woman, and that in some sweet, sweet irony only he and those JLI members whose lives he attempted to ruin even remember she exists.

Of course, dude also gets credit for making Magog kill himself. I’m not sure about you guys, but I’m amazed that little act didn’t make Max my number one.

3. Action Comics by Paul Cornell

I won’t feign like I was overly familiar with Paul Cornell before 2010, I mean, I’d heard his name, but I think the sum of his books that I’d read before Action Comics consisted of the Dark X-Men miniseries. Then I remember hearing about Marc Guggenheim taking over Action Comics and being supremely underwhelmed, but then hearing that he didn’t think he could do his own story justice and handing it off to Cornell. That piqued my interest, I mean, dude bails out before writing one issue to let someone else write his story. That means either horrible disaster or trainwreck proportions or something insanely brilliant. Well, Lex Luthor’s Action Comics has been phenomenal and if nothing else evidence that Lex is one of those villains who is deserving of his own ongoing series. A villain who can justify everything he does, who is the hero in his own eyes, and maintains this while fighting other suprevillains while searching for a Black Lantern Ring. This book is crazy good and awesome, and I’ve got my fingers crossed hoping that Lex isn’t ceding back control of the book to Superman when issue #900 hits in early 2011, because that would be a damn shame.

2. Green Lantern

Geoff Johns has managed to craft the one book that never runs out of steam with Green Lantern. I mean, the year opened up with the end of Blackest Night, and then as we slipped into Brightest Day (and it’s varying degrees of quality), but Green Lantern never took a breather. We go from Black Lanterns to New Guardians, and the importance of the Entities, and now we’ve got the return of Krona that could possibly lead into the War of the Green Lanterns. We’ve got Tony Bedard on Green Lantern Corps, replacing the Classiest of the Classy, Mr. Peter Tomasi, and while his first arc with the Alpha Lantern’s was far too reminiscent of Blackest Night given that it was coming immediately out of it, but the current Weaponer arc has been fantastic, and that’s not just my Kyle Rayner bias speaking. Then Tomasi moved from GLC to Emerald Warriors, a book with Guy Gardner, Kilowag, Arisia, and a Red Lantern on the front line, and you know what? The book has been getting really good. Most franchises take a breather after a big event, but Green Lantern just keeps the train moving and the story going, because even after five years there’s no signs of it stopping anytime soon. In fact, this was so close to being my top overall pick of DC for 2010, but it just got edged out at the final moments.

1. The entire Batman line

I was so close to giving Batgirl her own listing here that I could taste it, but alas, I can’t give love to Steph without also finding rooms on this list for Batman and Robin, Red Robin, and, well, the name says it all. DC’s hottest property right now is Batman, and this isn’t to knock on Green Lantern. The Bat line as a whole is phenomenal; whether you look at Morrison’s run on Batman and Robin, or the work Fabian Niceza is doing on Red Robin, or even the street level stuff Tony Daniel does with Dick Grayson over in Batman. There really aren’t any dark patches, save for the shadows. Hell, as I write this I’ve just finished reading David Finch’s first issue of Dark Knight, and it’s another homerun! DC has put together an all star group of talent to handle Batman and the characters in his extended family, and after 2010 was such an amazing year for the franchise, I just want to know what’s coming up in 2011. After all, how can you top the Return of Bruce Wayne and creation of Batman Inc? I bet you they’ll find a way. This is the best the line as a whole has been in as long as I can remember, which makes it a great time to be a fan of the Dark Knight and his allies. 2011 looks to be a banner year for them.

Check out my Marvel list here.

A lifelong reader and self proclaimed continuity guru, Grey is the Editor in Chief of Comics Nexus. Known for his love of Booster Gold, Spider-Girl (the real one), Stephanie Brown, and The Boys. Don't miss The Gold Standard.