ComicBookGuy2012 is firmly at our backs. Congratulations, everyone. We made it.

I don’t know about the rest of you, but we had some real time encounters with abject, stinking failure in 2012 that make me all the more grateful to move on and away from it. From the weird decision to fire and then almost immediately rehire Gail Simone, to the baffling continued employment of Greg Land, to the need for some high profile comics creators to make odd and unnecessary comments about Batman’s sexuality because they can’t seem to stop giving Playboy interviews while in the thrall of a mescaline bender, there was plenty to color the comics enjoyment experience last year. And, after all the dust settled from the complaints of former employees about creator rights and other assorted Twitter bitching, sometimes, just sometimes, there were the comics themselves that were the problem.

Here are my picks for the top five comic book disappointments of 2012, after the jump.

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nicolas_cage_supermanIt is New Year’s Day, and thanks to about fifteen glasses alternating between Milwaukee’s and Lynchburg, Tennessee’s finest products last night, it feels like my brain has been taken over and occupied by Doctor Octopus. Or at least part of Doctor Octopus. Part of Doctor Octopus after a meal of bad sushi and piss-warm Chango. And to add insult to injury, I flipped on the TV this morning to be subjected to Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, which, as comic book movies go, certainly is one (man, Stringer Bell and Sailor Ripley sure have let themselves go).

Chuck on top of that steaming mess that there are no new comics until tomorrow, and nothing whatsoever apparently going on in the world of comics, and what we have is a new year that, so far, is… disappointing. And with that feeling in mind, and 2012 at our backs, it seems like as good an opportunity as any to revisit the biggest disappointments in comics and geek culture that occurred in 2012.

And given that the memory is so fresh, we might as well start with (although this list is in no particular order):

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EDITOR’S NOTE: I’m the best there is at what I do. But what I do is spoil the living shit out of comic books.

When I was but a young lad, growing up in 1980’s America, things were different. We woke up, put on our parachute pants and our high-top Reeboks, strapped on our Walkmen to listen to the Big Band sounds of Dokken and Triumph, and walked to school uphill through the snow (okay, it was flake cocaine). We didn’t have your damn iPhones or your methamphetamine extracts or your Carly Rae Jepsen (although we did have Madonna; we could have done something about that for you kids before it was too late, and we are collectively very, very sorry)… and we sure as hell didn’t have a Wolverine with an origin story. Not like you little bastards today, who know Wolverine’s name is really James Howlett, and that he grew up in the 19th Century, and what his Weapon X helmet looked like; by God, when we read about Wolverine, we knew his name was Logan, that he was from Canada, and that’s all!

Yup, all we had was a Wolverine with a mysterious past, which kept things simple, exciting, and most importantly: difficult to fuck up with stupid shit. And having read Wolverine #312, I can say with some authority that we had it better.

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One thing I’ve learned over several years of attending the San Diego Comic-Con is that DC Comics panels are more entertaining than Marvel panels. That’s a harsh reality but for me, a true one.

Panels from each company are jam-loaded with hype, and each does its damndest to try and whip the crowd into a screeching nerd frenzy, which is fine; Comic-Con panels aren’t press conferences, they’re public relations exercises that happen to include some pieces of legitimate comics news. And often that news is exciting – Neil Gaiman back on Sandman, anyone? – so I don’t blame either editorial staff for trying to whip the crowd into a slavering geek frenzy. But for me, the difference is that Marvel is just so self-congratulatory about things.

Here’s an example: last year, DC Comics blew up their entire universe and ran a real risk of alienating a huge chunk of their core audience. Instead, the move allowed DC to overtake Marvel in sales for he first time in recent memory, and their sales have reportedly stayed damn solid since then. We have attended no less than five DC panels so far at SDCC, and the biggest pat on the back DC gave themselves was when Bob Wayne opened the New 52 panel yesterday by asking the crowd how many people spent SDCC last year thinking that DC was insane for making the move… and followed up by asking why more people didn’t think that at the time.

Compare that to Marvel, who last year introduced a black / Hispanic Spider-Man. In the Ultimate Universe, which thanks to the recent 616 universe crossover in Spider-Men, is the equivalent of DC’s Earth 2 – a sandbox where Marvel can mess around with characters without it affecting the valuable core titles from which they make movies. Was is a bold move? Sure it was… but compared to blowing up your entire continuity, it’s about the same as comparing dropping a washer slug into a Coke machine to sticking up the Federal Reserve with a dynamite belt: one’s a little easier to walk back if the plan goes sideways.

However, if you listened to the panelists at yesterday’s Marvel Ultimate Universe panel, you’d think they cured the common cold. “This was a big risk,” said Marvel Editor in Chief Axel Alonso, “It was harder for us to kill [Peter Parker] than it was for you guys.” Alonso also said that the new Ultimate Spider-Man was the best work of Brian Michael Bendis’s career, and make no mistake: it’s a pretty good story, albeit utterly decompressed. But the hype was, personally, a little hard to take. My notes from the panel read, “Lot of ‘We’re so awesome and brave’ shit on the panel for killing Peter and having an Afr.-Am. kid as SM. There’s no news here, just fucking hype.”

And then Alonso announced that Ultimate Spider-Man artist David Marquez just signed an exclusive deal with Marvel. And my notes read, “There’s your news, writer prick.”

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Ok, show of hands: how many of you got excited and had a “No Fucking Way!” moment when Sabretooth was reintroduced to Marvel continuity by Jason Aaron back in issue #300?

Did you even realize he’d been gone? Yeah, me either. Much as it may impugn my comics expert cred, I’m going to go out on a limb here and fess up that I didn’t really remember he’d been killed off back in 2007 as the culmination of a story arc by writer Jeph Loeb called Wolverine: Evolution. I mean, I’m sure I read those issues. I’m sure if I look around through the 23 or so long boxes we have stored here at the Crisis On Infinite Midlives Home Office, they’re probably sitting in their bags and boards. The story apparently just didn’t stick to my brain.

And, why should it have? It was around this time we were also getting bombarded with the whack-a-doodle Wolverine: Origins series, that got its start through the less than satisfying Wolverine: Origins and Endings by Daniel Way the year before. Comics were in full Wolverine/Sabretooth saturation mode, and that’s before the Wolverine: Origins movie from 2009 that put the idea of Sabretooth back in popular consciousness. Victor Creed, Sabretooth, was like cockroaches or the Kardashians – he never really seems to go away.

So, how does that bode for what Marvel refers to as “The long-awaited sequel to EVOLUTION. How did Sabretooth survive his beheading all those years ago?”

Marvel gives it a parental advisory. I give it an “M”. For “meh.”

I’d say there were tantalizing glimmers of answers to the beheading question after the jump, but mostly it’s just spoilers. Follow me there anyway.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This review contains spoilers. Also rage, but mostly spoilers. Look at it this way: it’ll save you four bucks.

God damn you for making me do this, Jeph Loeb. I defended you after Heroes hit the skids. I didn’t scream at you for Ultimates volume three. you brought Jason Todd back from the dead and I didn’t insist you take his place (Yeah, I know it was actually Clayface impersonating Jason in Hush, but you planted the filthy idea in Judd Winick’s head). I tried, man.

But Avengers: X-Sanction is so wretchedly and abysmally bad it boggles my mind. For a time travel story it is heartbreakingly tiny in scope. The storytelling is flawed and full of holes, and required every character involved to act like a complete fucking idiot. As an event, it makes me miss Fear Itself, which is like being nostalgic for a canker sore.

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EDITOR’S NOTE: And one last very quick review before the comic store open… and one that contains spoilers to boot. You are warned.

Okay, let’s start with the fact that The Falcon isn’t an active member of The Avengers. Not active, not honorary, not a Secret Avenger, not a West Coast Avengers… nope, not an Avenger. Which means that there is no reason for Cable to think that he would make an appearance in battle with The Avengers. Which means that the first step of his “master plan” against The Avengers is based purely on wishful thinking and the needs of Jeph Loeb’s plot.

But let’s assume that Falcon was a member of the Avengers, and that Cable’s plan therefore makes some sense on it’s face. Cable takes Falcon out with a sniper rifle during a battle that includes not only Falcon, but Captain America, Iron Man, the Red Hulk, Spider-Man and Wolverine, but which proves that Cable’s master, time-spanning plan was based on every science fiction movie ever made.

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Last week, DC Comics announced their solicitations for their upcoming releases for February, and there was a… disturbing trend of books with covers that made the heroes’ thighs look like something that would make Johnny Wadd Holmes weep with bitter, envious frustration.

But surely the repeating nature of DC’s offerings was just a coincidence. One would think that Marvel, who just released their own February solicitations, would never fall into the trap of repeating themselves in the space of a single month!

So let’s take a look at what is sure to be the widely varied and diverse offerings that Marvel has for us in February! (Rob: Tone down the pissy sarcasm and show the nice people the books. -Amanda)

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EDITOR’S NOTE: This story was updated 10/1/2011 with details about the fifth teaser. You can read more after the jump.

Earlier this year, Marvel rolled out the concept of a “Point One” issue of their books – an issue outside a book’s normal 12-issue run that would be written as a one-and-done book that wasn’t heavily tied into ongoing continuity to act as a jumping on point for new readers. Meaning that they’re old-school annuals, for all intents and purposes, but I’m guessing somewhere along the line Marvel realized “.1″ is more attractive than “Annual”… or at least it is when you’re paying the printer by the letter.

Apparently the Point One initiative’s been pretty successful, and I tend to agree – we’ll probably be reviewing Black Panther 523.1 later week, and while we didn’t get a chance to review X-Factor #224.1, it was a tight story that was one hell of a way to get into the best X-Book you’re not reading. And it seems it’s been successful enough that earlier this week, Marvel announced a 64-page Point One issue for the entire Marvel Universe, where they’ll be teasing their events for 2012 and “the return of fan-demanded characters.” (But Marvel doesn’t reboot! Because Marvel makes no mistakes! And pay no attention to the fact that Bucky Barnes has been dead twice since 2005 while still co-headlining his own book!)

All week long, Marvel’s been rolling out teaser images for the one-shot, including stuff you’d expect for an event teaser, like Brian Michael Bendis’s and Bryan Hitch’s upcoming Ultron arc in Avengers and Matt Fraction’s already-announced Defenders book with penciller Terry Dodson… but they’ve also teased a return of Nova by Jeph Loeb and Ed McGuinness… and yesterday they teased, well… THIS:

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Yesterday afternoon, Marvel announced in a conference call that their next big event will be called Avengers: X-Sanction, written by Jeph Loeb and penciled by Ed McGuinness. The story will focus on the Avengers – probably to keep focus on the team for the release of the Joss Whedon movie nest summer – and will feature the return of Cable, the popular mutant character killed in the X-Men Second Coming event last summer. Cable, who was introduced in New Mutants in 1990 by *eyeroll* *drool* *take back fuck I threatened to give*

Okay, maybe that’s not fair and a little premature. Let’s see what Loeb has in mind for the story:

As to how Cable’s mission relates to the Avengers, Loeb said he “doesn’t want to give away too much,” but “how Cable survived ‘Messiah Complex’ and ‘Second Coming’ — and I do consider those one big arc — if there had been even a hint that the Avengers had something to do with Hope’s future, he would… do something to them.”

…[Marvel Senior Vice President of Publishing Tom] Brevoort said the event puts Cable in conflict with characters readers aren’t used to seeing him with. “The definition of Cable as a father out to protect his daughter by any means necessary gives the character a weight and heft you can relate to on a very human level.” There are also “some larger situations going on” for both Nate and the Avengers.

Okay, THAT changes things. NOW I feel… yeah: I got nothing.

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