In a ‘challenging’ year there have been a number of times I needed to get out of my own head and just enjoy this and whilst pickings have been slim, what I have found to enjoy I really have enjoyed.I found a few titles that were new for this year that left an impression.
Domino is a background character from X-Force back in the 90’s. She had potential that has been glimpsed, but never really developed. Gail Simone took interesting b-list characters and fleshed them out in Birds of Prey and Secret Six for DC so was the idea person to give Domino the starting role she deserved. It has action, comedy, high stakes and a relatively continuity light story. It was above all fun. With representation being very important, a high quality comic with a female lead, mostly female cast and written by a skilled writer is important when the majority of the industry has a predominantly white male feel to it.
Spinning out of an event I didn’t read about a character that I don’t like came this gem.
Take Indiana Jones, add a touch of Highlander and splash in some Conan the Barbarian and wings and you get this guy. This is a fun book that has action, mystery and a flying barbarian who does feel the need to wear shirts. The art is something of a selling point here with Bryan Hitch back on form. It’s not epoch making stuff, but it’s the best Hawkman I have seen in a long time.
Superman turned 80 this and in a convenient bit of timing, Action Comics reached the milestone of 1000 issues. As a fresh start sort of thing, DC just as they did in the late 80’s handed their flagship character to one of Marvel’s big guns who wrote a 6 issue series called Man of Steel. Taking the John Byrne told was Brian Michael Bendis on words and a rotating cast of artists which attempted to breathe new life into an 80 year old character that many struggle to get. Mission accomplished. Bendis has a knack for dialogue and clawing new ideas from older ones and he writes a new but still very recognisable Superman. We have the Daily Planet, Lois Lane and a Metropolis that works as a city and a character. We have new histories, New villains and it’s the best the character had been in a long time.
With the media rights held at Fox, Marvel has downplayed their First Family for the last few years. Human Torch was in the Inhumans titles before arrives in Uncanny Avengers, whilst the Thing was in Guardians of the Galaxy and then Infamous Iron Man, the pair reunited in the excellent Marvel Two in One, which led to the return of the FF. After a long run on Amazing Spider-Man, Dan Slott and Sara Pichelli crafted a comic that feels like the Fantastic Four, this was fun sci-fi with heart that reminded me why I like the characters in the first place. I enjoyed the start and am looking forward to the next issue, which is waiting upstairs as I write this. 😁
The year started well for the children of the Atom. X-Men Blue and X-Men Gold were really good and it was joined by X-Men Red and the 5 week long X-Men Black, which focuses on the villains as well as a story that reinvigorated Apocalypse as a character. Then came Exterminated the 5 part story which ended the original X-Men in their teens pulled into the future story in a fairly satisfying way. This also ended X-Men’s Blue and Gold series and so it was relaunched under its old name Uncanny X-Men with a weekly schedule and rotating creators, giving you X-Content every week, without the stress of following multiple titles. It’s fun, well put together with a compelling story and a huge cast. It’s the most interested in the X-Men I have been since Whedon did Astonishing 15 years ago.
Also the side projects are good too, with Ed Piskor doing a condensed history of the X-Men in Grand Designs, which was absolutely amazing as a story and a look at the history and continuity of what can be a tangled ball of continuity string at the best of times.