batman_13_jokerHappy New Year! Well, almost.

This year in comics has been pretty uneven for the Big Two. Marvel finally dragged its ass across the finish line to end the pain and suffering that was Avengers Vs. X-Men, leading to a reboot relaunch of most of its major titles under the imprint of something called Marvel Now! Whatever its actual intentions (sales!), Marvel Now!’s primary functions have to have an excuse to bring Jean Grey back as a teenager (hot!) and kill off Peter Parker (cold!). The jury is out with me on the whole concept right now. Meanwhile, DC has killed off many of its New 52 titles before they even made it to middle school (oh, O.M.A.C., we barely knew ye!). On the other hand, Scott Snyder has emerged as an architect of some vision with his “Death Of The Family” concept, which is currently impacting the Bat Family of books. I’m digging this story almost enough to forgive him for taking a break from Vertigo’s American Vampire…and Vertigo’s got enough problems right now.

So, where were the bright spots? Check out my picks, after the jump.

new_years_ballIt is New Year’s Eve of the first complete year of the existence of Crisis On Infinite Midlives. We have all the comics we’re going to get in 2012, so it is time to publish my list of the best comics of the year… mostly because with no new comics, there isn’t much to review, and the biggest comics news we’re likely to get between now and Wednesday is likely to be “Frank Miller Publicly Intoxicated, Yells At ‘Hippies.’ Must Be Tuesday.”

So here’s my list; Amanda’s will appear later today. It is in no particular order, it encompasses everything from single issues to multi-issue story arcs to series that started in 2011 and ended this year. And I know what you’re thinking: “Rob,” you’re thinking, “Why don’t you organize things a little more? And use some consistent criteria for your list?” Well, because fuck you, that’s why. Look: it’s New Year’s Eve, and I intend to be recklessly intoxicated within about 90 minutes from the time I press the “publish” button.

So without further (or any) ado: here’s my list!

peter_david_headshotUpdate, 12/31/2012, 2:40 p.m. Peter David’s wife Kathleen has posted additional information on David’s condition on her Web site:

We have a diagnosis, which is a small stroke in the Pons section of his brain. Now we have to figure out where we go from here and how we get Peter back to what he was before the stroke. We know that a total recovery is slim because damage to the brain doesn’t go away but the brain can be trained to work around the damage and give Peter back what he has lost…

As he stated, he has lost most of the use of his right arm, his right leg is incredibly weak, the vision in his right eye is blurry, and the right side of his face is drooping slightly. But the brain is there with all its quips and quick retorts. He has had the nurses laughing a lot.

Again, we wish David a full and quick recovery.


Peter David, writer of a long and awesome arc of The Incredible Hulk in the tale 80s and early 90s, the early 2000s run of Captain Marvel that made Bill Jemas’s Marville look like the pile of shit that it truly was, and the current writer of X-Factor, has suffered a non-fatal stroke while vacationing in Florida.

David reported the incident on his Web site earlier today:

We were on vacation in Florida when I lost control of the right side of my body. I cannot see properly and I cannot move my right arm or leg. We are currently getting the extent of the damage sorted out and will report as further details become clarified.

And that’s the extent of what we currently know, other than the fact that this totally sucks. David has long been considered one of the more consistently good Marvel Comics writers here at the Home Office, and on a personal level, has made X-Factor a must-read, even though I generally don’t read too many X-Titles. We hope he has a full and speedy recovery.

(via Peter David dot net)

aquaman_15_cover_2012“Aquaman doesn’t care about white people. Surly Irish drunken white people.”

-Me, after reading about the flooding of Boston in Aquaman #15.

Aquaman #15 is the second part of the Throne of Atlantis crossover (the first part was in this week’s Justice League #15), and the second issue in a row where the Justice League moves heaven and earth (well, mostly they move water, but you get my drift), in the aftermath of Atlantean tidal waves flooding three Eastern cities, to save Gotham and Metropolis… while allowing Boston to marinate in its own saltwater, spilled Guinness and seething, neverending rage at Manhattan. And while the Justice League does its level best to save everyone who isn’t in Boston, Aquaman’s brother is busy amassing an invasion force in Boston Harbor, with plans to sink the city to the bottom of the ocean – think Billy Joel’s Miami 2017, only instead of references to the Yankees and 42nd Street, it’s about the Red Sox and Lansdowne Street, and it’s not sung by some piano-playing wuss from Steinbrennerburg.

As a native Bostonian, I’m beginning to develop a persecution complex. Well, an even worse persecution complex.

But that kind of reaction will tend to happen when we’re in the second issue of a crossover event, and there is a lot of parallelization with the plot and events of the first issue, without very much forward motion or momentum from the first chapter in Justice League, although there is a pretty good cliffhanger at the end… even while Fenway Park is filled with Rays and Marlins – and not the good kinds from Tampa Bay or, well, wherever the hell in Florida the Marlins play what they pretend is baseball.

Mara1-1Ok, pop quiz hot shot: you’re a 17 year-old, wildly successful and famous celebrity athlete, you have recently taken on new sponsorship, and, at the opening volley of an exhibition game against a group of much younger girls, you manifest super powers. What do you do? What do you do?

The answer? Probably not what Mara Prince, the protagonist of writer Brian Wood’s new comics effort, Mara does. Well, not unless you, like Mara, are 17 years old and, therefore, are probably prone to making age related poor decisions. But, more on that later.

Wood’s story is set in a distant, or maybe not so distant, future. One in which athletes and their accomplishments are raised onto pedestals and worshiped with cult-like fervor. This athlete-centric culture has so permeated society that the world’s armies are now made up of soldiers who are the beneficiaries of endorsements and competitive contracts, drastically changing the nature of the near constant state of war in which the countries of this world find themselves, as soldiers fight for personal glory rather than country. In fact, this system has created “a multi-trillion dollar industry, producing perfect athletes and soldiers.” So, what happens when one of these products becomes a little too perfect?

Flags on the play, and spoilers, after the jump.

justice_league_15_cover_2012Since last year’s New 52 relaunch, Geoff Johns has made it his personal mission to rehabilitate Aquaman’s reputation. Which is a somewhat Quixotic task, since Aquaman never had much of a reputation to begin with. I remember years ago, when superhero Underoos were finally released for sale, my mom brought me to the store late enough that all that were left were Aquaman Underoos… and I told her that I would rather parade around the schoolyard in tightie-whities than suffer the indignity of having to pretend to be Aquaman. I was 28. But that’s not the point.

But hey, everyone has an unlikely dream that they harbor deep in their hearts, and I don’t begrudge Johns his, even though I don’t think he’s quite delivered on it thus far. Hey, I have the secret fantasy that someday I, a bloated and drunken 41-year-old, can smack the home run that wins the Boston Red Sox their third World Series victory since 1918 despite never having played even Little League baseball, so I’m not gonna rank Johns out too much for his dream to make Aquaman cool, despite it arguably having a lower chance at success than mine.

After fifteen months of chasing the dragon, Johns has begin phase two of his unlikely Aquaman resuscitation (actually, given Aquaman’s inability to carry his own book for longer than seven years despite more than 70 years of history, perhaps “presuscitation” is a better word) by making Aquaman the focus of a big Justice League event, Throne of Atlantis. So finally, Johns has his main chance to give Aquaman some relevance, not only in his own title but in the DC Universe proper, by making the poor, fishfucking sonofabitch the focus of a story… but for it to work, the story better be a good one.

young_justice_dc_nationIt’s been a few months since Cartoon Network yanked Young Justice and Green Lantern: The Animated Series off of their broadcast lineup with literally no notice – my TiVo tried to grab them as usual that morning, and instead I was presented with hi-def recordings of Kick Taintowski: Suburban Pervert Bait or some such foolishness – and fans of the shows waited quite a while to get any specific information about when the shows would return beyond a Tweet from the channel promising “January.”

Well, a couple of weeks ago Cartoon Network finally announced that both shows would be returning on January 5th at 10 a.m., with the episodes that were supposed to air back in October before the decided that more airings of Amazing World of Gummy Balls or whatever the fuck it’s called would be more lucrative.

And as an added bonus, the channel has released a trailer for Young Justice to give us a taste of what we’re in for (hint: it includes punching). You can check it out after the jump.

Hey ladies!  Check out my Hulk!

Hey ladies! Check out my Hulk!

It has been an eventful week for Marvel Comics. First, they killed Peter Parker. Then, they made Doctor Octopus take over as Spider-Man.

And today, Marvel’s Chairman Emeritus, Stan Lee, has turned 90 years old.

Now, if I were 90 years old, I would either be spending my days farting into my La-Z-Boy while simultaneously watching The Price Is Right and screeching at that bitch of a hospice nurse to ladle some Jack Daniels into my IV, or else busily being dead having found a situation I couldn’t shoot my way out of. But Stan is still going strong; he was recently here in Massachusetts for the Supermegafest, and I haven’t been to a San Diego Comic-Con where the guy wasn’t running around like he’d just done his last bump of Merry Marvel Marching Powder and was hunting down his next score.

And the dude is still going strong… at least strong enough to give Dan Slott shit over his most recent Spider-Man stories:

Proving once again that, around the Christmas / New Year’s holidays, every day is a slow comics news day, it has come to our attention that our hometown of Boston’s sister city, Worcester – New England’s undisputed capital of affordable heroin since 1974! – is undergoing a little urban renewal. Specifically, surrounding the name of one of the downtown streets. A street near the That’s Enterntainment comic store on Park Avenue. A small, private street currently known as Marmon Place. Next to a comic book store.

Yeah, you probably guessed it: Worcester is renaming Marmon Place to Lois Lane.

Editor’s Note: With great spoilers must come great responsibility. More or less.

Okay, so Peter Parker is “dead,” and Otto Octavius is Spider-Man now. Whether you agree with how Dan Slott did it or not, it’s the way things are for the time being. And given that Spider-Man appears regularly in four different comic books that I can think of off the top of my head, if you have any intention of following Marvel Comics – particularly the Avengers books – for the next year or so, you’re going to need to come to terms with this new Spider-Man, and get to know what Otto’s like now that he’s Spider-Man, and what makes him tick. You know, besides being suddenly able to walk, see his own junk without a mirror, and leer at Mary Jane (and make no mistake, it will just be leering; if you follow Dan Slott’s Twitter feed, you know that he’s bought himself enough trouble without setting himself up to be confronted by women in red wigs at every comic convention, asking him why he supports date rape via deception in his comics).

Marvel Editorial, possibly realizing that killing Peter on December 26th and leaving readers to wait two weeks for the debut of The Superior Spider-Man on January 9th would only give the most rankled ones more opportunity to figure out how to plant hooker toes on Slott and then dime the police, made the decision to give us the first real taste of the new Spider-Man in Avenging Spider-Man #15.1, released this week in parallel with The Amazing Spider-Man #700.

So: what do we get in our first full issue of Doc Ock as Spider-Man? Scenes of a former villain embracing the responsibility that comes with his newfound power? Or does he frantically masturbate to Pete’s iPhone gallery of Mary Jane pictures before going to the barber, handing over his favorite bowl and saying, “Just follow this”?