The Worst and the Best of 2003

March 27, 2004

By Avi Green

Well, another year has come and gone, and now, let me present my takes on some of last yearís items, both the bad and the good. This is something I enjoy even more than the Oscar awards, which, as far as I'm concerned, lost any value they had years ago.

First, the worst:

Avengers: Red Zone. Well, I never quite thought it possible, but hereís what happened, it turned out to be a mess. An attempt to depict the Red Skull trying to take over America by posing as the defense secretary ďDell RuskĒ (a scrambled version of his own name) and poisoning the Mount Rushmore district with a red cloud of poison, which also has the unfortunate effect of sending the She-Hulk berserk.

It couldíve worked, but the problem was that, not only was it Ė if only mildly Ė filled with anti-patriotic approaches, it was even too hard to swallow, what with the Red Skull supposedly having used mind-control devices to get past the other government officials in the party, to get himself elected into the cabinet as the US defense secretary, but the really corrosive effect was that it was all too obviously a victim of editorial tampering.

For this reason, itís not as if I can blame Geoff Johns too much for how abortive this turned out to be. Nor for the fact that it was depressingly slow, another damaging factor. As much as he seemed to want to get a grip on the characters, the editorial tampering prevented him from doing so.

At least the following story arc, The Search for She-Hulk, was relatively better to a certain extent. Did I mention that this was all apparently done in order to do away with Jack of Hearts? Yeah, his design does make him look silly, but if they had to do it, they couldíve done it far better than it turned out to be, Iím quite sure.

Spectacular Spider-Man #6-10: Countdown. Iím shattered. That Paul Jenkins would go against Israel by taking the side of its own enemies, the PLO, by making them and its ďambassadorĒ, a minister named Zarour, look like the goodies, this is just too lugubrious for words. At one point, when the supervillain is holding Zarour hostage, he has the minister sniffle in sadness and tell Doc Ock, "you're insane." And the character featured doesn't even have to have that much panel time; with the way that Jenkins sets him up as a sympathetic character, or one that we the audience are meant to sympathise with, just a short time is needed, and the way it's done is certainly quite clever as far as propaganda goes. Which is exactly the problem with this story: it resorts to some very clever news propaganda tactics. As sad as it is to say it, thanks to this, Jenkins is no longer on my list of favorite writers.

Now for the best:

Superman: Lost Hearts. This was one of the best story arcs in awhile, and of all those to run through all ongoing titles of the Man of Steel to date (one, which bears the aforementioned nickname in the title), this is by far the most enjoyable. Traci Thirteen turned out to be a very interesting character, and for Lana Lang, it was a pretty good spotlight too.

Action Comics #801-805: The Harvest. A most exciting showdown with General Zod, one of the few Kryptonians to survive the planetís destruction after which he became a conqueror. And, while it wasnít the best decision to make president Luthor forget that Clark Kent was Superman in the Ending Battle story arc, I found it impressive that he brought up that feeling of annoyance here over having lost the knowledge.

Mystic #35-39. This was pretty cool too, with its tongue-in-cheek approach to storytelling. Giselle Villard is also one of the hottest women in comics, and itís a shame that for now, her series has been cancelled. I do hope that itíll return someday, since this was one of the most appealing series from CrossGen.

Sojourn #25. Well now, this was overall a great start for me on the title. Arwyn is such a delight, in her quest to defeat the warlord Mordath, and Gareth and Cassie are also very engaging.

That just about wraps it up for this past year. And looking forward as usual, to the next.

Copyright 2004 Avi Green. All rights reserved.

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