Monday, November 28, 2005

I feel dirty ...

... because I bought (and read!) the latest issue of Wizard magazine.

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Please forgive me, gentle readers! I sinned!

Actually, I bought it because it's the year-end issue, and I'm a sucker for those kinds of things. I'm always interested in seeing what other people thought of the year in movies, television, books, and, of course, comics.

So let's pry this sucker open and see what the crazy people at Wizard thought of the year:

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Surprisingly, they use cheesecake to sell the magazine. Oh, Wizard! You pander so shamelessly! It's as if you don't trust the content and feel that lonely fanboys will only buy it if you put pictures of Miss Alba on it - from a movie that has, after all nothing to do with comic books. Not a good start.

Let's look at the interior, and their awards:

Man of the Year: Geoff Johns. Well, I suppose - he has taken over DC, much to the surprise of the Absolute Overlord.¹ I really can't say much, because I am still trying to figure out if I've ever read anything he's written. Seriously. How can I call myself a comic book fan???? This really should be "writer of the year," because there's an artist of the year, so I will say something different. How about Vaughan? How about The God Of All Comics????

(In the same section, they have DC as Publisher of the Year. Do the folk at Wizard flip a coin each year - heads for DC, tails for Marvel? Just wondering.)

Artist of the Year: Ethan Van Sciver. Really? Really? They even admit he can only do six issues a year. I always wonder why these guys can't work faster. I'm not an artist, so I don't know the process, but what's up with that? Anyway, it's not a bad choice - Sciver certainly draws well - but let's see ... Harris? Ferreyra? If you haven't seen Juan Ferreyra's work on Small Gods, you're missing a gorgeous treat. Of course, since it's been cancelled, most of you probably did miss his work, but he's one to watch ...

(Artist to watch in 2006: Steve McNiven. How about he stays on a book longer than four issues? That would be something to watch!)

Book of the Year: Captain America. Hmmm. I don't read it, so I can't speak to its quality, but the resurrection of Bucky sounds stupid. It just doesn't sound all that compelling. Did we really need a resurrection of Bucky? I know there's more to their selection, but they're hinging it on that one story, and I very much doubt that "readers were shocked" by it. Really? Anyway, my choices: Small Gods, Fables, Noble Causes, Detective, Ex Machina ... Lots to choose from.

(Book to watch: Spider-Woman. Because if you don't watch it, Bendis will come to your house and talk to you the same way his characters talk! Nobody wants that!)

Single Issue of the Year: All-Star Superman #1. I don't have that big an issue with it, but I actually like Seven Soldiers #0 more, if we're talking about The God Of All Comics' work. I still think JLA: Classified #7 is the best single issue all year, although you can't go wrong with any issue of Action Philosophers!

Breakout Talent of the Year: Allan Heinberg. I guess. I should pick up the Young Avengers trade. I don't know enough about how long talent has been around to know if that person is "breakout" or not.

(New characters of the year: the Young Avengers. Fancy that.)

Mini-Series of the Year: We3. I don't count that. Didn't two of the three issues come out last year? I could be forgetting the exact publication dates. Anyway, Mnemevore was awesome. And it all came out this year. Vinamarama was pretty damned skippy too. I Can't Believe It's Not The Justice League was a fine read, as well. Livewires was excellent. Samurai: Heaven and Earth is brilliant.

Hero of the Year: Blue Beetle. They list his heroic accomplishments, only a few of which are heroic. I still maintain that if a super-villain is holding a gun to your head and asks you to join him, you say yes and work at stopping him later. Maybe Maxwell Lord would have killed him anyway, but still, Ted - good move. I don't have a strong candidate. Zephyr Noble, maybe? Richard Fell? He's kind of neat. Adam Archer, maybe. How about Stem Cell?

(Hero to watch: Flash. Watch his book get cancelled!)

Villain of the Year: Maxwell Lord. Blech. One of the reasons I don't want to read this whole mess is because I don't think what Lord did makes sense. But that's just me. How about Batman? That would have been cool.

(Villain to watch: Quicksilver. Blah.)

Comeback of the Year: Cat-man. Alan Grant wrote a good Cat-man over a decade ago. Come back from what? He's coming back from a Meltzer issue of Green Arrow. Another character Meltzer ruined! Whoo-hoo! Again, I have no candidates to put forward. Sorry.

(Comeback to watch: the Hellfire Club. Emma should never have been made a good guy, so I won't mind at all if she's evil again. She won't be, but I won't mind.)

Cover Artist of the Year: James Jean. That was easy.

Moment of the Year: The Society Attacks! Was that a moment? I don't know, I didn't read it. When Boy Blue kills the Emperor was pretty cool. When Tora is doomed to hell in JLA: Classified #7, that was pretty freakin' cool. The climactic battle in We3 is pretty neat-o. The beautiful conversation between Desolation Jones and Emily in Desolation Jones #2 is some of the best writing of the year.

Supporting Character of the Year: Spider-Woman. Why? Because David Finch drew her? That's pretty weak. There are so many better choices than this I can barely start listing them.

(Supporting character to watch: Hawkeye. So he's not dead? So hard to keep track.)

Cliffhanger of the Year: The end of Daredevil #79. Yeah, if you like your cliffhangers limper than ... well, I was going to go with some sort of phallic reference here, but I won't. It's a weak ending. Cliffhangers should make you gasp and recoil and marvel at the sheer audacity of it all. This doesn't do it. The end of Seven Soldiers #0 was a better cliffhanger. The end of Expatriate #3 was better, and even more so because it's probably going to be another six months before we see the next issue, if ever!

(Cliffhanger to watch: Infinite Crisis #5. The DCU jumps ahead one year! I'm not holding my breath.)

Collection of the Year: Invincible Ultimate Collection. Holy shit, a non-DC-or-Marvel book! I'll give them a pass just for that.

It's frustrating reading an issue of Wizard, because not only do they ignore most indies, they even ignore Dark Horse and Image stuff, which I don't really consider "independent" stuff. They obviously know about the non-DC-or-Marvel stuff, and it's strange they don't even consider it. I know I'm in danger of beating a dead horse here, but it always bugs me that a magazine like Wizard, that has a lot of influence among the comics-reading public, doesn't do a better job promoting weirder stuff. Does Infinite Crisis really need all the publicity it gets? Really? I used to love when Wizard did reviews of a chunk of issues from a particular run. The reviews were insightful, very funny, and didn't pull punches. In this issue, I couldn't believe that they were actually grading trade paperbacks instead of just telling us they were all "cool." Is Wizard pulling back from the perpetual oral love they continually give DC and Marvel? Only time will tell.

¹ Yes, I'm linking to my own posts on this very blog. Cronin isn't the only narcissist around here, you know!

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Blogger Bill Reed said...

You whore.

But yes, I'd say Seven Soldiers #0 is probably my favorite single issue of the year, though we've still got all of December to go. And then there's Fell #1. Not that ASS wasn't awesome, of course. Did Street Angel #5 come out this year or last?

11/29/2005 12:35:00 AM  
Blogger Brian Cronin said...

Just put me down in favor of calling him "The God Of All Comics."

That's a great idea.

As for Wizard...the fun thing about Wizard is to read it and try to make sense of their arguments for things.

They are usually so idiotic, and they are by people you KNOW are NOT idiots.

So to see them sit there and try to argue for stuff that they KNOW, in their heart of hearts, that they do not believe in....well, it's an interesting writing challenge.

Really, it's much like what lawyers have to go through. Be ready to argue anything.

11/29/2005 01:34:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow, I'm glad I'm not the only one who was blown away by JLA Classified #7. It was the best use of those characters since the early 90s and actually redeemed Ice's awful death back in whatever forgettable crossover she died in.

I keep obessing about how dumb the heroes were, though. What they should have done is use Guy's ring to blindfold everyone but Guy -- and maybe even put everyone else's head in a vice so they *couldn't* turn around. Then use Guy's ring to tie them all together in a train. Then as long as Guy doesn't turn around, everyone is safe. And Guy may be a jerk, but he has a strong willpower. It probably would have worked.

11/29/2005 02:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think EVERYONE loves JLA:C 7. But I read it that Tora goes to Heaven when they turn round, not being doomed to hell forever...

11/29/2005 06:22:00 AM  
Blogger Michael said...

You should feel dirty. Dirty and ashamed. Read either Morrison's Doom Patrol or the complete Bone to cleanse yourself.

11/29/2005 08:27:00 AM  
Blogger Markus said...

My take on why Wizard does promote the things it does is that (a) it's the safest thing for their own circulation if they promote the top sellers as it will antagonise the least amount of people and (b) the poor fools who buy every issue of random-superhero-title regardless of quality need all the confirmation they can get.
To paraphrase a quote on women's magazines: Wizard is the art of making the receipients of advertising pay for said advertising.

11/29/2005 08:37:00 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

Bill Reed's spot on --- I'd go with Seven Soldiers #0, Fell #1, or Jonah Hex #1.

In fact, I also might nominate JLA Classified #8 (or whichever one was Ellis' first).

On second thought, go with Fell. The price point puts it over the top. The God of All Comics will understand and forgive.

11/29/2005 10:06:00 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

I know that Tora went off to Valhalla, but at the moment, we thought she went back to hell, so that's why it was a powerful moment. And I was under the impression that the JLA couldn't use any outside impediments to looking back - it had to be all willpower. Because that was pretty stupid of them, but I don't think it's the point. The point is that they can master themselves.

11/29/2005 10:32:00 AM  
Blogger Tom Foss said...

The fact that Wizard is actually fellating DC for once is surprising. Usually, from what I recall of the last few times I read Wizard, they're a "Yay Marvel!" book, and seem to cover DC mostly out of a sense of necessity. Of course, it's better than when they only covered Image, Valiant, and Marvel.

11/29/2005 10:55:00 AM  
Blogger Mark Fossen said...

Next time you're tempted to buy Wizard, look at the UPC box and not the price. Then think about what else you could buy with that money while you're at the shop.

The day I put The Push Man back on the shelf because I couldn't afford both it and Wizard ... well, that was my last Wizard.

11/29/2005 11:33:00 AM  
Blogger Mo Soar said...

My gratitude for your sacrifice knows no bounds (well, actually it does). Every now and then I hear about a great interview in Wizard and I contemplate buying it and then I remember that I fell for it once and bought that magazine and decided it was aimed directly at a huddle of 14 yr-old boys in a locker room.

Other notes:
Juan Ferreyra is now working on Image's Rex Mundi, by Arvid Nelson. It's an AU story, set in Paris in the 30s, about a doctor investigating the death of his friend, a Jesuit priest. I'm sometimes iffy about AUs, but this one is well though-put and well-researched.

Expat #4 comes out THIS week. Yeah, it's late, but it's OUT. Looking forward to seeing how Moore weasels out of lopping someone's head off and keeping him as the star of the comic.

Captain America and Young Avengers are, IMO, then two best books Marvel has going right now. YA for the bantering dialog and the relentless teenage optimism in the face of villainry, and Cap for introspective (yet not navel-gazingly so) drama. The team of Brubaker and Epting are note-perfect on Cap's behavior. I don't give a damn about the resurrection of Bucky except as a great plot device. Buy the hardback, cheapskate, and then collect the rest of the singles, skipping 7 (the Jack Monroe story) and 10 (the House of M tie-in).

11/29/2005 11:36:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Remember, usually when Wizard does good exclusive interviews, they put them online for free with "extra content" a week later, making the $6 you just spent on the magazine worthless. Yet people still buy them.

The only reason I still get it is my comic shop gives its leftover copies out for free when the new issue arrives. Every once in awhile there's a hidden gem like Dan Slott's Pimp My Super-Ride.

11/29/2005 11:54:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where do people get the idea that Tora ended up in Heaven/Valhalla? Was that established in some comic that I didn't read?

11/29/2005 12:37:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You'll have to pardon my english here, but Blue Beetle as hero of the year? That's RETARDED. And pretty insulting to Blue Beetle fans too, like pity sex.

However I found it amusing that Hawkeye is supporting character to watch. He's back! But he's still B-list!

11/29/2005 07:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ethan Van Sciver?

Ethan Van Sciver?!

This guy is not only a bad artist, but a totally unremarkable one. His style is not actually a style, but a drone in the long line of cross-hatch Image-style hacks who always seem to stick their ugly art into one of your favorite books.

He is not the best. He is not "the" anything. He is "an".

11/29/2005 07:57:00 PM  
Blogger Mo Soar said...

However I found it amusing that Hawkeye is supporting character to watch. He's back! But he's still B-list!

Bah. Given the state of the A-listers these days, give me quirky, interesting B-listers instead.

11/29/2005 09:04:00 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Mo - you know that I think Rex Mundi is one of the best books out there, so I do know that Ferreyra is working on it now. I hope this leads to more stuff for him.

And Charlie, I think Etrigan mentioned that Tora went off to Valhalla in the following issue. I'd have to dig it out and re-read it, but I'm pretty sure he mentioned it.

11/29/2005 09:36:00 PM  
Blogger T. said...

Has Morrison's JLA classified arc been collected yet?

11/30/2005 01:18:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why I loathe Ethan van Sciver (vol 1):

Years and years ago, when AOL still hosted the DC Comics forum, in a thread discussing the then brand-new Young Justice, Sciver gets on and rips Peter David a new one becuase PAD dared to script the first three pages of the issue as splash pages introducing Robin, Superboy and Impulse. He was pretty roundly shouted down, and even PAD, gentlemen that he can be (although don't dare disagree with his politics on, politely explained the reasoning behind the splash pages, but Sciver just kept ranting on and on about it. "I am a professional artist and I know how it should be done!" I think at that time Cyberfrog was all he had going for him. I have actually dropped books from my pull list when he takes over.

11/30/2005 06:49:00 PM  
Blogger thekelvingreen said...

How come Cliffhanger of the Year didn't go to Not Avengers and the ninjas?

I mean that was pretty tense right there. Earth's Mightiest Heroes versus some guys in pyjamas? I know I was on the edge of my seat.

11/30/2005 07:23:00 PM  

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