The Cork has Popped
As I opened my eyes ever so slowly on January 1, 2006 I had two thoughts in my head. “Did that guy really pee on himself at my party last night?” and “Who broke the tree in my backyard?” Who knows what Dan Didio, Joe Quesada, or their respective staffs of writers, artists, colorists, editors and whomever else thought when they woke up. I hope it was, “Did that guy really pee on himself at my party last night?” Sometime that morning, as they brushed the taste of stale champagne our of their mouths and swept up the confetti off their floors, sometime they must have thought, “We better deliver in 2006 because we’ve talked a lot of hype.” Isn’t that what comics in 2006 were really about? DC Nation, One Year Greater, Road to Civil War, Civil War itself. Beautiful plugs and propaganda that that promised changes like we’d never seen.
As with anything only some of this hype panned out and some of it didn’t. That’s the way of life though. In the DCU we saw the end of an Infinite Crisis took a giant One Year Later leap with 52 covering the missing time. For a brief time we saw huge change, spectacular entrances; Blue Beetle and the new Atom, touching exits; Earth-2’s Superman and Lois Lane, Booster Gold, and shake-ups; Billy Batson stepping into Shazam’s shoes, mayor Oliver Queen.
However, for all these changes of 2006 big happenings I’m still waiting for resonance. I’m not talking about the s strikeouts of The Flash or Martian Manhunter. In general I’ve felt, and heard from others, that the changes we were supposed to see didn’t really happen. After everything it felt like all the big events came down to a big shuffle. Captain Boomerang became the Outsiders resident goateed carrot-top while Arsenal jumped ship over to the Justice League. We have a new Catwoman, a new Starman, and thousands of new Green Lanterns. Oh and Nightwing should be dead. But what does it all mean, why shake up everything only to come down into the status quo?
Resonance takes time. You can’t force the feeling of change and impact, although in some ways that is what OYL tried to do. With anything in life we will have to sit and wait and watch until the cards finally stop moving. Only then will we truly get a feel for this new deck. The problem with society today is we want everything right now. We don’t want to give things time to develop, to see our hand. We just want to know if it wins or loses. So while I think the hype that was pitched was a little much, that the payoff isn’t what I was hoping for, I’m content to wait and see.
Marvel had it’s own year of change, of leaps forward and step backs. The one thing I’ll give it is that some of these changes have felt less aesthetic than some of DC’s changes. Spider-man back on the lam, the Fantastic Four falling apart, Iron Man and Captain America going toe to toe. These are story threads that can be knotted and tied into others for years to come. It feels like actual change is occurring. The problem is that it’s not done yet and what is done hasn’t exactly been mind blowing entertainment.
All their ideas and intentions are great but if they can’t put a book out on time who cares? I find it hard to have any real emotional connection to anything in the Marvel Universe because there is so much lag between the issues. The peripheral comics, X-men or Young Avengers/Runaways have been hit or miss but they haven’t done anything to make me impacted by the core storyline. More importantly all these feelings of true change, I had them during Infinite Crisis as well. It’s easy to say, “Man everything is going to be different,” while the story is going on. But when it’s all over if the only true change is that Spider-man is in his third costume in twelve months then I’ll be saying the same thing about Marvel that I said about DC.
Does a thud instead of a bang make me disappointed in how comics turned out in 2006? Not really. What were we really hoping for? Well I know what we were hoping for. The better question is what could we really realistically expect? Comics are an industry and huge change is great for a second but in the end the industry is going to stick to the formulas that they know and love. That is why Diana Prince will be Wonder Woman in the end…if Allan Heinberg can actually finish the arc.
I woke up this morning and thought to myself, “Did I really sing Avril Lavigne during Karaoke?” The answer is of course, yes. What the employees of the Big Two are thinking? We have a year to find out.
So I’m going to switch from recap to favorites here. I say favorites instead of best because who am I to say what is the single greatest comic, artist or whatever of a year? It strikes me as hubris to put that on my shoulders. So we’ll just say what I liked the most.
Favorite Comic: Nextwave
Where is the Action Comics? Where is the Spider-Man? Yeah, I know you are a little confused by this choice. I mean the comic really isn’t in continuity, it doesn’t even have any impact on the outside Marvel Universe. I think that is why I loved it so much. Free from the confinement of everything Ellis and Immonen created something that was special. Sure there were other comics out there that really had huge effects on their world but there wasn’t a single other comic that didn’t have dud of an issue. Nextwave never failed to entertain in almost every panel.
Favorite Writer: Dude, Devon over at Seven Hells says it all. But he totally forgot that she also helped relaunch Gen 13 and it has been super strong.
Favorite Artist: Dale Eaglsham
O.k. so I’ll admit it. I'm basing a favorite artist of 2006 on one comic but it was so pretty. I mean just look at this panel.
Come on dude. A favorite of mine from his HERO days if he keeps drawing Justice Society as well as issue one then he'll win 2007 for sure.
Favorite Cover: I’m saying it’s an even tie between the following two.
Yeah they are pretty.
Favorite Character Relaunched or Retconned: Blue Beetle.
So Moon Knight almost made it as number one. Almost. But Jamie Reyes took the number one spot. There is something about the character that makes him so likable. There is kind of a Peter Parker feeling; you know young guy with new powers. Really what makes Jamie such an enjoyable character is his interaction with his friends and family. I’m not saying that the comic has bowled 300 every issue but Jamie as a character is sticking it out.
Favorite Costume Change: Phantom Lady
Favorite Yowzer Moment: Phantom Lady