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This Year in Marvel

{mosimage}Well, it’s time to look back on 2007. This year has seen
some big changes in the Marvel U, so let’s see what were the hits and what
almost made the top tier, and also the misses and biggest disappointments.
Onwards fellow fwooshers.

Book of the year: Captain America. This was one of my top
picks, and also gained a lot of votes when put to the people. Quite simply, Ed
Brubaker has hit an almighty 6 (cricket analogy, just to confuse you North
Americans) with this book, and Steve Epting’s art is spot on as well. Constant
twists and turns in what has been a dog of a year for the title character make
this book constantly on top of the “To Read” pile whenever it comes out. While
Cap himself has returned to the frozen wastes in a capsule coffin, the intrigue
surrounding the Winter Soldier, Sharon Carter, the Falcon, and the Red Skull
& Crossbones make this book a tearaway winner. And with the mystery
surrounding the replacement Cap in reader’s minds, I can’t see this book
drifting much next year. A+ consistently.

Top Notch Capsules:

  1. Iron Fist. Came in a close second to Cap
    in Fwoosh voting, and perhaps the best surprise book of the year. Iron Fist
    hasn’t gained much traction as a character for a while, but Brubaker (again),
    Matt Fraction, and David Aja craft an awesome book. The interludes of
    historical Iron Fists are a great touch; the addition of a legacy to Iron Fist
    and the rival martial arts clans bring a great depth back to Danny Rand’s
    story. Another A+ book.
  2. Astonishing X-Men. I have to admit, this book made this list
    only through the votes of my fellow fwooshers. When it comes out, Joss Whedon
    and John Cassady’s work is really fun to read…when it comes out. Only five
    issues shipped this year, including a gap of 5 months between a couple of
    issues. It will read terrifically as a trade, but, personally, I can’t forgive
    the delays in pamphlet form. A lot of momentum is constantly being robbed.
  3. Simmo’s favourite: Sub-Mariner. This is one of my top picks
    for the year, simply because we all of a sudden have Namor acting like a king.
    There’s none of the impulsiveness of his youth, something he should be well
    past by now, and you can really feel the love he has for his Atlantean people.
    Add the fact that we’re actually getting pay-off from the larger Civil War, and
    this book was a surprising winner.

Other top books of 2007:

  • Iron Man – Enter the Mandarin (old
    school goodness)
  • Irredeemable Ant-Man (cut down too early)
  • Avengers: The Initiative (great use of some younger less
    developed characters)
  • Dark Tower (the only non-616 book, solely here because of
    the excellent hardcover)
  • Howard the Duck (looniness, and MODOT win out)
  • Punisher MAX (can it survive without Ennis?)
  • She-Hulk (taken a slight drop with David, but still
  • Modok’s 11 (more fun than a comic’s allowed to be)
  • Silver Surfer Requiem (sentimental and schmaltzy, but by
    golly it worked)
  • Thor (a great start, can it hold up?)
  • X-Factor (my top X book, and a fwoosher favourite) 

Books that almost made the top tier:

  • New X-Men: There’s a lot of affection around for this book.
    And to some extent, I can see why. There’s some cool new characters here, with
    the soap-opera relationship elements that make Marvel books so strong. The
    art’s been pretty spot on through-out the year, and the concept of the book is
    sound. But it really suffers, and I can’t believe I’m writing this, with a case
    of too much happening too fast. In this age of decompressed storylines, hideous
    as they may be, the New X-Men could do with some form of slow down. I’m relatively
    new to the book, and want to see a little more interaction amongst these young
    mutants that doesn’t read as shrill or shrieking. It’s close, but not quite

  • Daredevil: Ed Brubaker sparks again. A very good solid read
    every month, and not much necessarily to complain about, except that it seems
    to have lost a bit of steam recently. The Mr Fear arc has rumbled along a
    little slowly for my tastes, bringing down a very good year for the book.
    Unlike New X-Men, this needs a bit more voom now.

The rest of the close but no cigar books:

  • Annihilation: Conquest (can’t quite match the original)
  • Loners (a valiant attempt, but missing some unknown magic)
  • Moon Knight (I’m biased, he’s my favourite character, but
    too long between issues)
  • Ms Marvel (started strongly but has fallen away a little
  • Nova (needs to stand on its own feet away from Annihilation
    for a while)

The Disappointments:

  • The Events: take your pick – World War Hulk, Civil War, One
    More Day
    . So much promise (OK, maybe less on OMD, depending on your point of
    view) but all let down by some really poor execution at the end. It’s
    unfortunate, because these endings are making more readers jaded towards these
    events. And, as much as I’m enjoying it right now, makes me wary of investing
    too much in Messiah Complex. Definitely the biggest disappointments overall
    this year.
  • Spider Books: The writers have struggled manfully all year.
    JMS (who I’m giving the benefit of the doubt), Peter David, and Roberto
    Aguirre-Sacasa have been hamstrung by the demands of Spider-Man’s involvement
    in the big events and New Avengers. But it’s all been very average. Here’s to
    2008 Spidey.
  • Mystic Arcana: Was supposed to be to magic what Annihilation
    was to sci-fi in the MU. And the books themselves were interesting. I
    particularly enjoyed the strangeness of the Marvel Tarot one-shot. Ultimately
    though, it didn’t really change anything. It was just a weird series about
    magical characters. A lot of potential untapped, and not a bad book, but could
    have been great.

The Ugly:

  • Exiles / New Excalibur: It’s time for Chris Claremont to
    retire gracefully. Muddled books, with a lot of talking and pet characters
    explaining what they’re doing as they do it, and plenty of his favourite plot
    devices. Let him go.
  • Foolkiller: The Punisher without any of the class. Ugly and
  • Wolverine & Wolverine Origins: I can’t remember when
    Wolverine’s books have been this god awful. The best story of the year in the
    books has guest starred Captain America, and I have a feeling it only reads ok
    because I’m feeling nostalgic for Cap.

And, last and certainly the least:

  • Onslaught Reborn – The absolute lowest of the low. Drek.
    Shite. And running insanely late. Who knows why, it’s not like the plot is
    convoluted or that Liefeld has to create many detailed panels per page. This
    book is a joke, ill-advised and ill-conceived. To borrow a bit from Star Wars,
    many trees died to bring us this rubbish. Let it remain unfinished.

So, final eye-burning image aside, that’s it for the year. Thumbs down overall on the
biggest books and events, but a big resounding thumbs up for the little battler
books. Merry Christmas all! Here’s to 2008!

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