Saturday, December 30, 2006

Double Articulation Digest: The Year in Review (Part 1)

Let’s take a look at the old pull-list, shall we? It’s always tricky to evaluate comic books by year, given the wild fluctuations in quality that perennially afflict ongoing titles (and even miniseries) over the course of twelve months. In an effort to make some meaningful distinctions, I’ve categorized the books I buy according to several sub-lists that I will be posting over the following week: The Best of My Pull-List (2006) (today), Promising and Notable Books (Monday), On Probation, Disappointments, and Unmitigated Catastrophes (all on Wednesday). Not included on any lists are several books that I’m way behind on and buying as trades (Fables, Y the Last Man, Godland--all excellent).

The Best of My Pull-List (2006)

1. All-Star Superman – Despite a disappointing cinematic interpretation, 2006 was Superman’s year. Who cares if this series only comes out every six months—it’s one of the few that can legitimately make the argument that great art takes time. These are stories for the ages.

2. Seven Soldiers of Victory – Morrison at his most maddening and dazzling. The last page of Seven Soldiers #1 is perhaps the purest encapsulation of Morrison’s beautiful secularization of religious themes yet. I want the poster.

3. 52 – I can’t really argue with Ian Brill’s charge that many of the individual issues seem uneven or even (sacrelige!) mediocre, but this series is greater than the sum of its parts and has reset the bar for comic book “events” by addressing the temporal experience of reading and the distribution schedule of the medium rather than just focusing on the content of the story itself. (What other event can claim to have captured the “Wednesday” experience in a bottle?)

4. Birds of Prey – What can I say that I haven’t said already? If you’re still not reading this book, you’re missing DC’s best monthly.

5. Infinite Crisis – Uneven, but riveting. Although it never quite achieves the gravitas of the original Crisis, it hopscotched its way through a memorable series of emotional (and adrenaline filled) highs and lows.

6. Superman (Busiek/Pacheco) – With only a handful of issues under their belt, Busiek and Pacheco have infused more excitement and sheer coolness into Superman than I thought possible. Morrison and Quitely’s All-Star Superman is a science fiction myth; Busiek and Pecheco’s Superman is a seamless blend of Metropolis story and sf superhero saga.

7. Doctor Strange: The Oath – Remember wit? This one was a very pleasant surprise, and Entertainment Weekly agrees. Finally, the Doctor is in! Er, out! Er…whatever!

8. Action Comics (Johns/Donner/Kubert) – Exhilarating. But be warned: for sentimentalists only.

9. Secret Six – Not quite as good as Villains United, but pretty damn close. Brad Walker stepped into Dale Eaglesham’s considerable shoes from out of left field and completely made these characters his own. Simone’s lurid, titillating, so-wrong-it’s-right, Alice-in-Wonderland script does not disappoint.

10. Freedom Fighters – I have enough Canuck prejudice in me that I never thought I could enjoy a book whose primary theme was American patriotism. Palmiotti, Grey, and Acuña proved me wrong—waaayyy wrong. In an entirely different league than the silly miniseries that spawned it and a tonic for its line-wide counterpart at Marvel. (Sure, it’s cartoon politics, but still!)

11. Thunderbolts – Nicieza and Grummett have recaptured the magic of the Byzantine original, and how does Marvel thank them? By kicking them off one of the last bastions of classic Marvel storytelling. Hmph. Ellis and Deodato had better be worth it, gang.

12. Annihilation – A rip-snorting cosmic adventure that gathers steam with every issue. Jaw-dropping moments galore, even if, like me, you only recognize about half the cast. Pure militaristic fanboy fun.

Monday: Promising and Notable Books of 2006

1 comment:

CalvinPitt said...

I am with you Doctor Strange: The Oath and Annihilation. I picked up Dr. Strange simply because that week I had nothing from my pull come in, and i figured Vaughn couldn't treat Strange with any less respect than Bendis does. It's been fantastic, Marcos' pencils have been great for conveying expression, and the characters exhibit more than one personality trait.

I bought Annihilation: Prologue on a whim, and have been running with it ever since. It's fun, it's heroes (since Super-Skrull and Ronan were heroes to their people if not to Earth) doing their best to stop a really dire threat. Suffice to say, it's a lot more interesting than to me than Cap and Mr. Stark bickering over legislation.

Had you considered X-Factor? I was reading your more recent post where you said it might be time to step away from the X-Mansion, so maybe it wouldn't be your cup o' tea right now, but it's been entertaining.