The Worst and the Best of 2001
March 11, 2002
By Avi Green
The year 2001 is over, and I wanted to present a list of the yearís
best and worst. First, I think I would like start with the worst
books of the year, and then turn to the best, because I think that
the ďhappy endingĒ should come afterwards. And we do all like happy
endings, don't we?
So anyway, what weíve got here first are the yearís worst, and
the losers have turned out to be Ė some of the X-Men books. Letís
UNCANNY X-MEN. Iíll be honest, Caseyís work at DC on the
Adventures of Superman is surprisingly okay, but when it comes to
Marvel, heís hopeless. The 394th issue pretty much spelled the
beginning of the shameless exploitation of the menage a trois from
the yesteryear involving Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Wolverine. And it
was also one of the dullest, throwaway stories Iíve seen too, with
the following Poptopia arc ranking proudly alongside it. Ugh, argh!
What a bore! The story with Mr. Clean had holes in it big enough for
a brontasaurus to walk through. First, heís got no superpowers, than
he does, and then, while I didnít read the last issue of the arc, I
found out on Cinescapeís X-Fan that heís even impervious to knives
(eg- Wolverineís claws), which contradicts the scene in the third
issue where heís shown cutting his arm. As for Sugar Kane, the only
interesting things about her were her breasts and her butt, and the
whole turnout of the story involving her and Chamber was throughly
predictable. Iíve seen some sources calling this the neglected
stepchild of the now bloated franchise, and thatís quite right.
NEW X-MEN. Sorry everybody, but not only was this whole mess
very distastefully violent and morally bankrupt, it also defied
logic fairly well. Including, as Iíve also found out via Hero Realm,
that Jean Grey suddenly became the Phoenix! Thatís right, I kid you
not, itís the Phoenix Saga all over again! Wasnít it Madelyne Pryor
who took that role? And no explanation is ever given for that. And
to make matters even more illogical, she dispatches the U-Men
serenely, and not via emotion, as was originally written. Now that I
think of it, the whole story involving Cassandra Nova Xavier was
pretty hard to swallow too, since Charlesí background leaves no room
for a sister, as evidenced by issue 12 of the X-Men which was
published way back in the silver age, ditto the whole
mind-switcheroo scene. But what really makes this farrago abominable
is that it makes it seem as if Jean Grey, our darling little Jean
Grey, is the Goblin Queen, the slayer of the D'bai, which, as Alex
Hamby, second in command at Hero Realm, has said in his Got
Character column, turns her into someone with whom we the readers
cannot identify. I'm getting out the hankies already.
In fact, let me also add the Eve of Destruction story arc that took
place in both of them to the list, which was truly unbearable. Not
often have I ever seen a story as heavy-handed as this one turned
out to be, and then they even defied logic by implausibly showing us
that Dazzler and Xavier werenít even dead! There were some things
that Lobdell did in the past years that were okay, and I probably
donít have to pan him for everything, but with this he went too far.
X-TREME X-MEN. If Claremont is going to put a decent lady
like Psylocke to death all for the sake of a rock bottom one called
Sage, and even an unbearable criminal like Gambit, the character
that turned Rogue into a hang-on rather than an independent lady,
then I have no use for this. It was pretty dismal, going into
tailspin pretty quickly, and Iím hoping itíll be canceled as soon as
X-MEN FORVEVER. Big mistake. As is apparent by now, that
Marvel should capitalize on the movie and/or imitate it as well is
exactly what hammered another nail in the coffin. Even the Toad in
this mishmash was just an excuse to feature one similar to the movie
X-MEN ICONS: ROGUE. Iím sorry, but this was just pure crap,
and of all the X-Men Icons miniseries produced so far, this was by
far the weakest. It all turned out to be a rewrite of Rogueís
history, and a pretty clumsy one too at that. No connection to Carol
Danvers or even Mystique, and there were plenty of questions left
unanswered about our darling southern belle. I once heard someone
say to me somewhere several months ago that itís supposed to be an
out-of-continuity story, but I could find no such information that
it was. But even if it were, it just wouldnít work. As for the
ending, well, what a cop-out! It was so utterly stupid and sloppy.
Fiona Avery is certainly a talented writer, but the powers that be
at Marvel kept her from realizing those talents. If she canít have
the creative freedom she deserves, then whatís the use of taking the
Comic book hate crimes: WOLVERINE. The less said about the
165th issue, the better. Not recommended for dinnertime reading,
thatís for sure.
ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, JOKERíS LAST LAUGH CROSSOVER CONNECTION.
Sure, like I said, Caseyís work on the title was okay for awhile,
but with this issue, itís begun to self-destruct. If it was meant to
be funny, it failed miserably. Lex Luthor was nothing more than a
bag full of hot air in this dud, which may very be the weakest of
the badly-concocted Joker crossover.
And with that, the bad news of the year ends, and the good news
begins. So now, what do we have?
hip-hip-hooray! Iíve been hugely enjoying the current battle against
the sinister Kang, one of the most cunning enemies the Earthís
Mightiest Heroes have had, and one of the most challenging too. One
of the best moments for me was when Warbird stood her ground in a
David vs. Goliath battle against a hefty alien called Glomm, and she
managed to beat him, what a brave woman! Hers was one of the
strongest characterizations in the story, with many kudos going to
Kurt Busiek for his great writing on this joy inducing title.
Woo-hoo! I sure hope that this gets collected into a TPB soon, this
was one of the best! And I hope that Geoff Johns will follow through
on Warbirdís characterization, because I really want her to have her
own ongoing series (for the record, she did once have one back in
the early 80ís, but it didnít do very well, and I sure hope that
this time sheíll have a chance of having one).
FANTASTIC FOUR. Personally, I enjoyed the Abraxas affair,
and it was great to hear the Thing calling out ďITíS CLOBBERINí TIME!Ē again.
I canít wait to see Mark Waid taking over the reigns next season.
BATMAN & DETECTIVE COMICS. All parts involving the Lew
Moxon affair were among the best. Brubaker and Rucka are very good
at writing mystery and character drama, and this was all very
absorbing. An otherwise stand-alone story like this is what brings
out the best in Batman. Even the inclusion of bodyguard Sasha
Bordeaux was interesting.
And you know something, Iím very glad that the issue that was part
of the Jokerís Last Laugh crossover didnít really deal with it, but
just kept on with the current story arc. Maybe Brubaker fought for
his creative rights, and if he did, then bravo! It certainly helped
to keep things in order.
WONDER WOMAN. I enjoyed the
Paradise Lost story as well as her interview with Lois Lane in the
170th issue, one of the most well written stories that Diana has
had. That issue was one of the best of the year. I sure hope theyíll
come up with yet another story with both of the best ladies of the
DCU. Many kudos to Phil Jiminez for his steller work here.
THE FLASH. The 175th and 176th issues featuring the return of
the Weather Wizard were also among the best of the year, and the
Scarlet Speedster has never had a better writer in the past decade
than Geoff Johns, who I was so delighted to discover would be
writing the Avengers beginning next year. Gorilla Grodd was also a
SUPERMAN. Jeph Loebís story in which the Man of Steel went
to see a psychologist was a very surprisingly well written post-OWAW
chapter. Who would have believed that a story like this could be
pulled off so well? Just leave it to Loeb, and youíll strike comic
book gold. And also...
SUPERMAN: THE MAN OF STEEL. I found
the 120th issue in which Supes investigates Talia Headís motives for
accepting the job of heading Lexcorp after Lex left for the White
House was also a very interesting chapter in this series by Mark
Schultz. I also liked the artwork of Yvel Guichet and Dexter Vines.
And even the 121st issue with a new Royal Flush Gang by talented
guest writer Geoff Johns was a big treat.
STARTLING STORIES: BANNER. For an ďout of continuityĒ story,
this was surprisingly good. Tells us why Banner hasnít killed
himself yet, and gives us a look at what happens to all the people
who get in the way when the Hulk goes on a rampage.
The semi-villainous personality embodied by Leonard Samson here was
also well written, but nevertheless, I wanted to point out that, I
personally have never found him boring myself, and I donít think
that a guy like him has to be portrayed as a crook in order to be
made more interesting. But still, he too was well written out, and
Brian Azzarello deserves many kudos for this.
CAPTAIN MARVEL. Hey, this is a pretty good book! Itís the
kind of thing you could probably describe as funny and touching
together. Peter David writes Rick and Marlo Jones very good! Not to
mention also the guy with the starry body who toplines this title.
Captain Comics is so right, this is a sadly underrated book that
deserves some more attention. Everyone, please buy it!
And so ends the list of the best items as well. Bravo!
There were some rhinestones this past year, it is so, but as seen
above, there were also many genuine gems. And those gems that I had
the pleasure of reading were some of the best things in my life. So
letís look forward to more great stuff for the coming year! Onward,
I say, to victory for comics!
Avi Green, who'd like to be part of the Avengers and the JLA
himself, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright 2002 Avi Green. All rights reserved.
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