It’s been an eventful year in comic books. 2009 signifies a changing of the guard, of sorts. First Disney begins to buy Marvel Entertainment. Then Warner Bros. restructures DC Comics as DC Entertainment, with Paul Levitz stepping down from president and publisher to contributing editor and overall consultant and Diane Nelson of Warner Premier replacing him as president. These merely cap a decade-long process of comic books firmly becoming a crucial aspect of virtually every other form of entertainment, from film to television to video games and so on.
It’s also been a somewhat eventful year for Bruce Wayne, what with the whole dying but not really. While Dick has been filling out the cape and cowl, Bruce has been trapped in the past, probably fighting his way to a return in 2010. Before that through, he oversaw his own funeral in Neil Gaiman’s eulogy – Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?.
One of my top books of 2009, especially in the first half of the year, WHCC covers Batman’s entire history, dealing with versions of friends and foes from all across the ages and worlds he has occupied, each telling a different story of the Dark Knight’s demise. The underlying theme is the undying basics of what makes Batman Batman, the never-ending mission Bruce has committed to himself in every imagining of the character. Particularly nice is the deluxe hardback edition that I found under my tree this year.
If WHCC grasped my interest in the first half of the year, the second half was dominated by Spider-Man: Clone Saga. Probably an unlikely pick on most top lists of the year, but no other series this year has made me fangasm like this ‘90s clone saga rewrite. Like a small sect of Spidey fans, I actually enjoyed the original clone saga. Especially Ben Reilly.
Upon hearing the return of the most awesome hoodie in comics, I was hooked. After reading the last four issues, I’m still not disappointed. Instead of a summary, this miniseries is rewriting the entire clone saga. Not only is the fat being trimmed, but significant changes are being made to where it’s not even the same story anymore. I end up being surprised every issue, pleasantly so. Here’s to hoping the last couple of issues coming out after the New Year meet expectations.
But for the entire year, the regular series that have consistently impressed me would be both Thor by J. Michael Straczynski and Invincible Iron Man by Matt Fraction. Both books have been revitalizing characters ravaged in this decade, be it by polarizing ideals and methods to ending Ragnarök forever. Of course, how fitting is it that towards the end of the year, the writer of one is announced to start writing the other. Fraction takes over Thor in May 2010. Definitely something to look forward to in the new decade.
Looking at comics from the other side of the Pacific, I’ve been most impressed to see Osamu Tezuka’s Black Jack continue to make the trip over and be successful. Black Jack is a great series about an unlicensed but brilliant doctor working to fix people in fantastic situations. Like the show House? Then you’ll probably like this.
I have to give props to Vertical, Inc. for keeping up the releases in a market that typically doesn’t like older art. While the series itself is not new, coming from the ‘70s and some being released by Viz prior to the current releases, Vertical has been dutifully releasing the manga since last year, also probably making this my favorite reissuing. Volumes 3 through 8 hit shelves throughout 2009.
It’s been a busy year in comics for me, semi-professionally. I actually became a comic reviewer with my weekly articles and weekly podcast discussions on CineGeek. Writing reviews wasn’t what I expected to do when I studied journalism, but someone suggested it to me and I gave it a shot. I’m happy to say I’m not as awful as I thought I would be, and it’s always nice to see my work published elsewhere.
Batman: Whatever Happened to the Caped Crusader?
Spider-Man: Clone Saga
Favorite Ongoing Series:
Invincible Iron Man
Favorite Fashion Accessory: