Friday, December 7, 2007

BEST OF 2007 :: Phil Southern Humbly Submits--

According to Baron Von Egidy, 2007 is at an end, so now it’s time to take a look back at some of the groovy grooviness that was this year. In the interest of transparency, I’ll admit to being an adventure comics, super-hero reader. My picks are as follow:

Best Ongoing Series: Iron Fist
My theory on what makes a successful comic book comes down to two basic things:
1. Character
2. Plot
Go back and check your ninth grade English book for the literary theories behind the concepts, and you’ll see that Iron Fist has it in spades. Recent comics have tended to favor “superstar” creators who can’t wait to get to some great “moments”, or to explore interesting “themes and ideas”. At the end of the day they’re wrapping the “moments” in schlock, sturm und drang where the characters are shoe-horned in order to serve the story (this is ultimately what made Civil War so unfulfilling, and World War Hulk such a fun read), and the “ideas and themes” meander to nowhere. Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction, like Claremont and Byrne before them, are able to produce a whole that is even more talented than their respective parts.

Best Mini-Series: 52
52 ended up being surprisingly good. At the end of the year I found it to be a fun read from start to finish.

Best Mature Series: Black Summer
I hesitate to call this book “mature”, but it is definitely for older readers. As with any of the great Warren Ellis comics, Black Summer is full of rapid-fire ideas, chain-smoking, raging substance abuse, political allegory, scientific techno-babble and hard-scrabble, world-weary cynicism. A well done paean to political dissatisfaction.

Best Collection: Jack Kirby’s Fourth World
After many failed attempts to represent the Fourth World family of titles, including The New Gods, Mr Miracle, The Forever People and Jimmy Olsen, DC’s latest attempt to collect Kirby’s storytelling experiment has also been its most successful. Previous attempts, including the Hunger Dogs graphic novel of 1984 and the early millennial reprints in black and white, were unsatisfying reads, at best. Finally, reprinted in the order of publication and (here I’m assuming) as the ideas and concepts evolved, this lush collection puts the whole saga in the correct context, not only with itself but with a greater DC universe. Further, the production values are spectacular, second only to that of Jeff Smith’s recent Shazam! collection. I can say, without reservation, that this is the best paper stock I’ve ever seen, with the stories printed on supple and creamy paper, allowing the old “four colors” to pop off the page with zest and zing!

Best Comic Book Movie: 300
Were there any other ones that were worthwhile? It was OK. I guess. Did Batman Begins come out last year?

Other Stuff:
Worst Trend 1:
mega events. Remember when the new issue of Uncanny X-Men was the big event? Or the new issue of Amazing Spider-Man? I miss those days. Let’s put top notch talent on the flagship books, and make ‘em monthly.
Worst Trend 2: Inkers, and the lack thereof. Leinil Yu’s kinetic and frenetic pencils are what keep me reading New Avengers every month. The only thing that would make them more awesome would be a little polish. Can you imagine some Tim Townsend inks—woohoo!
Worst Trend 3: Computer painting. Just because you have access to 32,000 colors does not mean you have to use them every issue.
Best Licensed Book: The Star Wars relaunch. Good, solid comics.
Best Penciller: Jim Chueng. He draws the best Avengers I’ve seen in years. Classic, easily recognizable, beautifully drafted (Darwyn Cooke’s work on The Spirit is a close second, bumped only because he was my number one in ’04, ’05 and good ole ought-six)
Best Writer: He put Daredevil’s genie back in the bottle, killed Captain America out of his own book, made Iron Fist viable and made me buy Uncanny X-Men again. Good job Ed Brubaker!
Best Hero: Captain America
Best Villain: I couldn’t pick one. It was more about the event in ’07 than ever before. I can’t think of any story that put our heroes in genuine danger, that vicariously pulled me in. Better luck next year, bad guys.

Most importantly, what’s your best of?

5 comments:

Douglas Merkle said...

Best heroesonline.com blog post:
Phil Southern Best of

Daniel Von Egidy said...

All the stuff you picked in your review was the stuff I almost chose for mine. Batman Begins came out two and a half years ago.

Kitty-Hawk said...

Your infinite wisdom, on matters such as these, never ceases to amaze me. Jolly-good review my dear!

Rusty said...

comment comment comment...
blah blah blah....

Phil Southern said...

I forgot my favorite book of the year! Warren Ellis' Crecy was the best thing I read in aught seven--
Sardonic, entertaining, educational and beatufilly crafted. You should buy it!

Phil