Could you pass the mustard please? I believe slathering my words – which I am about to eat – may go easier with a nice stone ground brown or perhaps even a lovely champagne dill atop them.
Over the last few months we’ve been living in something of a Grant Morrison renaissance; after what felt like an extended absence following his seven-year run on Batman, which was admittedly peppered here and there with some limited series and a run on Action Comics that, in part, required the eventual release of Multiversity to have the proper context for fully understanding, Morrison’s presence seemed to shift to that of one of the Great Old Ones – you could feel his influence everywhere in comics – especially in DC books as his architecture begun in his run on JLA as a “Maybe one day I’ll be able to pitch my grand design” and over the course of twenty years became the scaffolding upon which DC slowly began to realize they could hang the elaborate fidora of their entire Universe on – but there was no iconic series hitting the stands month after month. We knew this resurgence was inevitable; press for the Legendary-published Annihilator, complete with mouthwatering “What the f@#k images” by series artist Frazer Irving began at least a year before the book had a release date. Morrison’s three appearance’s on Kevin Smith’s Fatman on Batman podcast teased Multiversity and the still to be released Wonder Woman series. But the big question through all of this, perhaps the reason I’ve felt an absence from my favorite comics scribe when in fact, after listing all of this it seems my initial concept of a Morrison-drought seems misconstrued:
First: SPOILERS lay ahead. Nothing super detrimental, and in fact what I write will hopefully influence those not reading this book to pick it up, but if you’re behind in the series or the kind of person – like I am – who likes to know absolutely NOTHING going in, maybe skip this and just go read the book!
You have been warned.
It is not a coincidence that my previous column outlined my plans to leave Marvel Comics as a monthly reader and then a scant two weeks later we get the massive announcement that the House of Ideas is destroying their 75 year-old Universe – as well as their 15 year old Ultimate Universe – in a major continuity upheaval come May. No, that was not a coincidence at all. My inner comics circle know I kinda called this after juxtaposing second hand information about Jonathan Hickman’s current “World’s Collide” storyline in his Avengers books with the very ‘real’ sentiment Marvel editorial staff seemed to be approaching the recent Death of Wolverine storyline with. However, though leaving the Marvel fold so to speak, I do not do so with the vitriol some have bore this world-rending news. I simply see this moment as what my friend Louis has called a perfect “jumping off point”. Am I upset? Outraged? No, not really. Am I skeptical? Perhaps, but maybe more than anything else I am actually quite confused at how I have interpreted the news and intend to use this week’s column to jot down my own thoughts for the first time and really get to the bottom of how I – an essentially life-long Marvel fan – feel about the company razing all that has come before and carrying on in a new direction.
The last time I stopped buying Marvel books was maybe 2010 or 2011; Bendis was writing Avengers but after trying to keep up only to have my wallet smacked out of my hand again and again as he added more and more titles to his workload and the endless events began happening I just could not keep up (that’s not a Bendis-oriented compliant – I love that he can write so much so well and weave such intricate, multi-act, multi-book story scaffolding. I just can’t afford to keep up with buying it all). Other than that, the needle at the self-proclaimed “House of Ideas” really seemed to be skipping. Then a friend introduced me to Rick Remender and both his Uncanny X-Force and Venom titles and soon I realized Marvel was really putting their game back together. Ever since I feel as though they’ve done an amazing job streamlining their Universe, putting it into a real tight working order that keeps most of the old school fans like myself happy and helps usher in newcomers brought in by the sheer perfection of Kevin Feige’s Marvel Movie Universe. I’ve read all Remender’s stuff, tried to read all BMB’s X-Men stuff (and just generally found his mechanism of bringing the young first class into the present day was a potentially terrible idea that he made absolutely amazing), have followed the Hickman Avengers stuff from a distance and really wanted to jump in on the Guardians of the Galaxy stuff. However, even as we prepare for this Spring’s next big step in the evolution of the MCU, I am bidding buying monthly Marvel Comics goodbye.
Wow. I read a lot of comics this year. Not just the stuff I’ve been reading, continually from year to year (there’s less and less of that with ‘classic’ titles/characters as reboots continue to constantly re-boot, rejuvenate (?) and re-evaluate the ongoing properties of the big 2) but there was a literal flood of great, new comics that hit the shelves this year. And some old friends of course; not everyone is interesting in covering up old scars. And even with all that I did read it’s clear I didn’t get to them all – reading fellow Joupitter Tommy’s year end blow-out spectacular I was shocked to see his favorite was Spread. Shocked because, well, I don’t remember even hearing about this book! Couple with that quite a few other titles on my radar that I missed out on and you’ll see this isn’t a list compiled by someone who read everything there was to read in the 2014 world of comics, but by someone who tried really hard to read as much of it as he could. All that said, this list isn’t only for new books, simply the best comic series I read in 2014, continuing or new.
So we’ve reached the end of another year, and we’re all a little older, a little wiser, and starting to go a little gray…at least I am. Looking back, it seems like a whole lot of terrible shit went down this year, and it most certainly did. Ebola is wreaking havoc in Africa and rearing its ugly mug stateside, we keep losing airplanes, there are naked pictures of everyone everywhere, the Cold War is beginning anew, and race relations seem to be in the same state that they were 50 years ago. It’s all a mess. And it’s enough to make you want to turn in and just escape the world. And to a degree, that’s what we do, and that’s what we’re all about. So, horrible introductions aside, I still consumed a lot of pop culture this year, and as to whether it served as some sort of escape or not doesn’t really matter. I still listened to it. I still watched it. I still read it. These are the things I liked the most…