Ahhhhh ... back at work. Well, that 4-day weekend sure came and went quickly, but at least I was able to have a few days of quality R & R time. I saw some good flicks (reviewed here on the blog in my previous post - WALK HARD and SWEENEY TODD), played ROCK BAND for the first time thanks to gaming guru Dan K (I even sang a few bars of ENTER SANDMAN in my best James Hetfield voice), cleaned up the apartment a bit, caught some NBA games, etc. Nothing too crazy, but some much needed down-time to be sure.
In any case, it's about that time of year when things are really winding down, and the list-makers unveil all of their top picks in the worlds of movies, TV, etc. Personally, I love year-end lists, though there's no question they've become a bit too prevalent of late. Everyone has their own these days, and it's hard to find many good ones that truly seem definitive. Inevitably, you get lists, like the ones from EW critics Owen Glieberman and Lisa Schwartzbaum, that highlight films that were only ever even seen at festivals this year ... and it begs the question - if these movies were so great, then why didn't the magazine cover them in the first place until now? That's the beauty of a blog; if I see a limited-release movie that I think is worthy of a ton of praise, then I will do what I can to spread the word, then and there, via the blog. I mean, I think I've raved about THE KING OF KONG enough times here that, when it inevitably charts high on my Best of '07 list, it should come as no big surprise to regular readers.
Now, I am going to hold off for a few days on my MOVIES Best Of list, mainly because I want to see THERE WILL BE BLOOD before putting out my definitive list. There are a few others I want to check out as well, like Before the Devil Knows You're Dead, but I realize I'm but one man and can only see so many movies in a year ... Still, the huge buzz for Blood makes me realize that if it turns out as good as some others have said, my end-of-year list might be very incomplete without it.
As far as TV goes ... my Best of '07 list is pretty set in my mind. The main twist is that I've finally gotten around to finishing up my FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS Season 1 DVD, and I'm realizing more and more just how hilarious that show is ... don't be surprised to see it turn up pretty high up on my list.
But anyways, on to the subject at hand ...
THE BEST in MUSIC - 2007:
- As has been the case these last few years, it's getting harder and harder to stay on top of the music scene because the whole thing is just so fragmented. Unless you are constantly and proactively seeking out the latest and greatest, it's not easy to find out what's up and comin' on TV (flipping over to MTV to catch the latest cool videos is now a total thing of the past, sadly), on the radio (I'm lucky to live in one of the few major markets that still has a modern rock station - but even KROQ here in LA tends to get pretty repetitive), etc. It's funny though - music finds a way to push through to the mainstream. Look at video games like GUITAR HERO and ROCK BAND - a few years ago, the game makers were practically begging record labels to use their songs in the game, and early versions of GH were heavy on poor-man's cover versions of popular songs. Now though, the tables have turned -- the record labels are coming around and realizing that in this day and age, there is practically NO BETTER way to get exposure for new bands or old favorites than to have a song playable on Guitar Hero or Rock Band. As a classic rock afficianado, I needed no introduction to the likes of Metallica, Rush, Cheap Trick, Kiss, etc. But I know that I've come to know and love several cool songs via Guitar Hero - bands like Wolfmother, for example, that I only had a passing familiarity with before, I'm now a bonafide fan of after having so much fun strumming along to "Woman" on GH2.
But while the fact that a new generation of kids is being turned on to rock thanks to games like GH is a bright spot for music, let's not kid ourselves - the industry is still hurting, and hurting bad. The MTV Video Music Awards this year were a sign of things truly hitting rock bottom. The fact that a freakshow like Britney Spears got to stumble her way around the stage at the expense of up and coming hungry bands was just tragic, and the awards themeselves were like a giant ad for everything wrong with music today. When even MTV posterchild Justin Timberlake is telling you to play more music, well, you might have a problem. Compound this with plummeting album sales, and it's looking more and more like the music industry is dead in the water.
So what's the solution? Personally, I think the record labels and vendors need to reexamine the good ol' CD. Wasn't the whole problem that CDs were deemed too expensive as compared to the attractiveness of a la carte, 99 cent downloads? So why am I still going to Best Buy and seeing CD's upwards of $15? CD's should be between $5 and $10, period. If that were the case, I think there could be a resurgance of sales. But of course, that's only one problem among many. Artists are simply lacking promotion - for all we know the next Led Zeppelin might be out there, with their own MySpace page, but no real means to get to that next level. Remember the 90's when great musicians were ALSO mainstream musicians? Bands like Nirvana, REM, Pearl Jam, and STP? We need to get back to that era of great bands getting great promotion and mainstream exposure - if it's not through MTV or rock radio, it has to come from somewhere ... maybe it's time for record labels to finally and fully embrace forums like MySpace and Facebook, and let users stream full albums or at least selected tracks.
As far as new music of '07 goes, this was definitely a big year for reunions. The one big one that actually resulted in a new album was THE SMASHING PUMPKINS, who had some pretty solid stuff with their latest songs, even if it didn't quite match up to the classic Pumpkins that we know and love. In the meantime, there's no new material from these guys as of yet, but it was still pretty cool that in a number of cases, the band got back together. Phil Collins and Genesis, David Lee Roth and Van Halen, Sting and the Police, and the mothership of all reunions, which please lord was not a one-time only event, LED ZEPPELLIN, who reunited for one show in London that was, reportedly, pretty freaking awesome.
But back to new music, I heard a lot of cool stuff this year in terms of modern rock. Some random favorites:
- An abundance of cool new bands featuring kickass female vocalists. My favorite of the bunch was probably FLYLEAF, who had a great single in "All Around Me."
- A great new album from one of the best bands of the 00's - THE WHITE STRIPES. These guys continue to impress, and "Icky Thump" was another rock n' roll beast.
- I know a lot of people don't like them, and at times they haven't been my favorite, but I have to admit that few bands do unfiltered aggression like LINKIN PARK. Their latest batch of tunes had some great pump-up songs, so call it a guilty pleasure, but I continue to enjoy the band (and btw, I noticed that even Rolling Stone listed the latest from LP amongst their year's best, so I guess I'm not alone on this one ...).
- Speaking of guilty pleasures - don't deny it - at some point this summer, you probably rocked out a little to Avril Lavigne's "Girlfriend." Yeah yeah, I get a lot of flack for it, but who can resist the sugar-coated pop-punk catchiness of Ms. Lavigne's musical stylings? Speaking of which, some other favorite candy-coated pop treats this year included the ubiquitous "Umbrella" by Rihanna, "The Way I Are" by Timbaland, and some great, catchy tunes from one of the year's standout debuts, Lilly Allen.
-On the comedy front, this was a great year for music that brought the funny. In large part, that was thanks to the brilliant guys of FLIGHT OF THE CONCHORDS, who pepper each episode of their HBO series with original songs that are typically flat-out hilarious. Few things made me laugh harder this year than the Conchords tune "If You're Into It." Or what about "Most Beautiful Girl in the Room." Classic. Also, we just this week were treated to a movie, WALK HARD, that was rife with spot-on musical parodies, from a hilarious riff on Dylan to a legit catchy, Johnny Cash-esque song in "Walk Hard." Finally, one of the best TV shows of the year, 30 ROCK, has been great at coming up with some classic spoof songs. Listen to the hilarity of "Werewolf Bar-Mitzvah" and see for yourself.
- Okay, so now let me talk briefly about what, to me, was far and way the ALBUM OF THE YEAR of 2007. To preface - this is a time when, politically, well, it's a time like the 60's where you almost want and expect the music to reflect that the times they are a-changin'. And no, I'm not sure if Pink's subtle-as-brick-to-the-head "Dear Mr. President" falls into the category of good, politically-charged music. But one band this year stepped up and made an album that subtley and beautifully captured a certain zeitgeist. Lyrically, I haven't been able to stop thinking about songs like "No Cars Go" or "Intervention." Musically, I don't know if I've ever heard anything that combines such an eclectic mix of instruments and vocals to produce such an interesting and haunting sound. The band I'm talking about, of course, is ARCADE FIRE, and the album is Neon Bible - which takes my award for Album of the Year 2007, far and away. Now, strictly speaking this isn't the kind of rock n' roll I tend to favor, but to me true rock is anything that is powerful and aggressive enough to really move ya', and in that respect NEON BIBLE fits the bill, 100%. As they say in "No Cars Go," this is one of those rare albums and collections of music that manifests "between the click of the light and the start of the dream." Check it out if you haven't already.
- On another note, it was a great year for me in terms of seeing a bunch of awesome concerts here in LA. You can find more detailed recaps elsewhere on the blog, but some of the highlights included: seeing POISON at Gibson Ampitheater (Ratt was also there, but whatever ...), the SCORPIONS, also at Universal, checking out a rocktacular triple bill of STYX, FOREIGNER, and DEF LEPPARD in the OC, and finally, seeing VAN HALEN return to their rock n' roll glory at Staples. From seeing an entire ampitheater pumping their fists in time to the beat of "Jukebox Hero," to hearing "Come Sail Away" live and in person, to rockin' out to the "Unskinny Bop," to getting ROCKED LIKE A HURRICANE, to seeing the real-life guitar hero that is Eddie Van Halen kick seven kinds of ass whilst channeling the thunder of the gods into his axe ... well, it was a great year for concerts! On my wish-list for '08 -- AC/DC, Metallica, and man, wouldn't it be great if I could GET THE LED OUT up close and personal, just one time?
So that about wraps things up in terms of music in '07. All I can hope for is that '08 is a year that rocks harder than any to date.
THE BEST in COMICS - 2007:
- In the mighty world of comics, this was definitely what one might call a bit of a rough year in some respects. As a DC fan to the core, it was tough to see so many key books struggle with lateness and just overall poor quality following the conclusion of last year's big event in the world of DC - 52. Across the line, DC was forced to delay storylines, use fill-in writers and artists, and even had to resort to using Annuals to publish the conclusions to long-delayed and much hyped runs on a number of big-name books. Meanwhile, after the critical and commercial success of 52, DC has followed it up with the completely underwhelming Countdown, a new weekly series that was supposed to have been the spine of the DC Universe. Countdown carried with it the big-name hype of Paul Dini, who has earned fans' respect for his groundbreaking work on Batman: The Animated Series and a number of highly-regarded comic projects, like Batman: Mad Love. But from the get-go, Countdown has been mediocre at best, flat-out awful at worst. The pacing quickly slowed to a total crawl, and most of the characters started out as unlikable, and have since done little to win the hearts of fans.
Worse, DC has gone completely overboard on the tie-ins, with comic shop stands littered with all manner of Countdown-labeled books. While some, like Countdown to Adventure and Countdown to Mystery, have been pretty good reads, they would certainly have benefitted from not being saddled with lame backup stories that try to tie the books more directly into the Countdown storyline. But even with the bright spots, it saddens me to say that most of the books tying into Countdown have been either nothing special or just out and out disappointments, and many reek of desperate attempts to suck away consumers' cash.
On another sour note, a number of books that were once dependable monthly reads have lost key creative team members and have yet to find their footing. While I have nothing against guys like Sean McKeever and Tony Bedard and Adam Beechen, their names simply cropped up wayyy too many times this year on random DC books, and it's hard to believe that each is doing their best work when they're seemingly handling 8 books a month each. It doesn't help that all 3 guys are part of the mess that is Countdown - a book that's been plagued by sloppy writing and pacing. But man, books like TEEN TITANS and BIRDS OF PREY, which were always great reads under the guidance of Geoff Johns and Gail Simone respectively, soon became very uneven after their longtime creators departed, both suffering from long delays between one regular writer's departure and the start of another's tenure.
Bottom line: there were too many random fill-ins this year on come of comicdom's biggest books, and not enough great, consistent runs.
And with so many DC books falling under the umbrella of Countdown, it was hard to find those little gems that make for great reading each and every month. One such book from DC was Will Pfeifer and David Lopez on CATWOMAN. Forget what you know of the character and forget that godawful Hallie Berry movie - Pfeifer is doing an awesome job making this a sweet character driven book with a ton of great twists and turns. The writing team of Palmiotti and Gray continues to make JONAH HEX into a consistently fun read, turning out slick, one-and-done pulp Western adventures each and every month. And Peter David still impresses me every month with his work on FALLEN ANGEL from IDW Press - a solidly atmospheric book that is always one of those great read-before-going-to-sleep titles.
While some big name creators failed to live up to the hype this year, others had some of their best years ever. Grant Morrison's run on BATMAN thus far has been a mixed bag, with some great standalone stories, but a semi-lame attempt at a big-event storyline in "the Return of Ra's Al Ghul," which overlapped with Detective, Robin, and Nightwing. (On the other hand, Morrison's stuff on ALL-STAR SUPERMAN is absolutely phenomenal). Now, Paul Dini's run on DETECTIVE COMICS has been spectacular at times ... when it actually comes out. It's too bad that Dini's stories only come out sporadically, because he and artist Don Kramer have done some awesome Batman stories so far. Over on SUPERMAN, Kurt Busiek had moments of greatness, but his work has been plagued by forced Countdown tie-ins and artistic delays by the likes of Carlos Pacheco - and his big storynes (Camelot Falls, anyone?) seemed to drag and drag and drag. But, over on ACTION COMICS, Geoff Johns seems to finally be hitting his stride after a few so-so initial storyarcs (including his much-hyped run with Richard Donner) - his latest pairing with artist Gary Frank seems to be just what the doctor ordered, and Action looks to be huge in 2008.
In sum, this was a year in comics where a lot of crap took up shelf space, but there were some really bright spots, some material that may eventually rank amongst some of the greatest comics stories ever told.
I think any fanboy worth his salt will tell you that the Geoff Johns-penned GREEN LANTERN: SINESTRO CORPS WAR was not only the best superhero storyline of the year, but one of the coolest, most exciting storylines we've seen in mainstream comics in YEARS. It didn't hurt that the artwork, from Ethan Van Sciver and Ivan Reiss, was holy $#%#, off-the-chain awesome. And it's already a well-worn cliche how the relatively underhyped-at-the-time Sinestro Corps went on to become the smash hit of '07, while another big event, the godawful AMAZONS ATTACK, totally bombed. Man, I don't know what happened on that one, but it was hard to believe it was written by the same Will Pfeifer who's been so great on books like HERO and CATWOMAN. In any case, Johns has been on a real roll this year. Sinestro Corps was awesome, as was the finale of 52, but the guy has also done bang-up work on JSA (though I'm still kind of waiting for the new series to recapture some of the magic of Johns' first run), BOOSTER GOLD, and it looks like he's finally starting to hit his stride on ACTION COMICS as well. This was definitely one of Geoff Johns' most creatively successful years to date.
Gail Simone is sometimes hit or miss with me, but I thoroughly enjoyed her long and celebrated run on BIRDS OF PREY, and she went out in style, with some great final storyarcs and one hell of a last issue - very sad to see her leave a book she helped make one of DC's best for years on end, keeping the momentum going following Chuck Dixon's long run. One other guy who just continues to impress as a writer is BRIAN K. VAUGHAN. It's been sad to see one of the best comics ever, Y: THE LAST MAN, wind down, but it helps to know that Vaughan is still kicking ass monthly with the amazing EX MACHINA. Another of my all-time faves, FABLES, is still going strong as well, and its spinoff book, JACK OF FABLES, has quietly emerged as a superb read in in its own right. And man ... I've been scooping up every collection I can find of the gloriously gory THE WALKING DEAD - one of the most riveting reads in comics.
So, without further ado, here are my picks for the BEST COMICS OF 'O7:
BEST ONGOING SERIES:
- ALL STAR SUPERMAN - With each new issue of All Star, writer Grant Morrison is not just penning a *great* issue of a comic book, he's delivering an instant-classic. All Star continually amazes me with its mix of Silver Age style and quirkiness with modern depth. Morrison is simply telling stories that represent all of the awe, mystery, wonder, and fun that a character like Superman should be about. The art by Frank Quietly is astounding - the amount of detail and character in each panel, the way the art flows along the page - well, it doesn't feel like any comic I've ever read before. In '07, All Star really, I believe, hit its stride, and each new issue was a total treasure to be read and savored.
- GREEN LANTERN - Geoff Johns and Ivan Reiss did a spectacular job bringing a sense of true epic storytelling to this title, crafting a blockbuster for the ages in the Sinestro Corps War, and giving the GL mythos its own Star Wars trilogy of sorts, in terms of scope and sheer fun-factor. The art from Reiss was consistently spectacular.
- FABLES - Bill Willingham is just a machine on Fables, churning out one great story after another, each building on the last and yet standing on its own as a captivating tale. This year, "The Good Prince" was Fables at its best - a sprawling story both whimsical and epic, with always-awesome artwork by the great Mark Buckingham.
- EX MACHINA - Brian K. Vaughan delivered a ton of great politically-charged tales this year, in his ongoing series about a superpowered Mayor of New York City. BKV's wit, combined with the superb art of Tony Harris, makes Ex Machina one of the best books out there month in and month out.
- JLA / HITMAN - There's a reason why Garth Ennis is one of the best writers that the comics biz has ever seen, and he reminded everyone of his storytelling skills and gift for black humor with this blast-from-the-past mini, that saw the return of one of Ennis' cult-fave creations - the tough-as-nails vigilante known as Hitman. In this lost tale, that told of Hitman's brief time as a member of the straight-and-narrow Justice League, we got a hilarious, but oddly moving tale of mixed-up, real-world morality and how it contrasts with the black and white worlds of Superman and Batman. To me, JLA / Hitman was a classic, full of the kind of crackling dialogue that Ennis is known for, a ton of memorable moments, and some truly hilarious humor. Overall, one of the best stories DC has published in a long while.
- BLACK ADAM: THE DARK AGE - One of the best minis to spin out of 52, Black Adam has been an awesome read thus far, thanks to writer Peter Tomasi, who makes Teth Adam into one evil badass, all the while making us root for him on his quest ot ressurect his slain wife Isis. The gritty art from Doug Mahnke perfectly suits the book's grizzly tone, and I can't wait to read next month's conclusion.
BEST NEW SERIES:
- BOOSTER GOLD - Geoff Johns showed that Infinite Crisis and 52 weren't simply about systematically killing all of DC's most beloved characters, as one of the fan-favorites from the JLI days got his own series in '07, and it's been, to me, the best and most refreshing new book of the year. It's got action, adventure, and humor - and one of the most appealing lead characters in Booster, a hero who would once do anything for a buck, but is now the greatest hero the world will never know, turning over a new altruistic leaf as he helps prevent trouble in the timestream. With the latest ish of BG, Johns and co. took a turn for the dramatic, in a moving tale of how certain tragedies cannot be magically repaired by tampering with time. Great stuff, and it's also really cool to see Dan Jurgens, the creator of BG, doing great stuff on pencils.
- GREEN LANTERN: THE SINESTRO CORPS WAR - High adventure, vile villains, a legion of intergalactic heroes facing insurmountable odds, and more eye-bugging cliffhangers than you could shake a stick at (the ending of the kickoff special, with an alliance of ultimate badasses - Sinestro! Suberboy Prime! Cyborg Superman! The Anti-Monitor! - poised to destroy the GL Corps, was truly one of the year's most memorable comic book moments). These were just some of the elements that made this one of the coolest storylines in years, one of those rare blockbuster tales where you simply can't wait to tear into the next chapter. Geoff Johns tossed so many crazy ideas into this one, and his team of artists blew me away with their insane pencils. This is the kind of kickass epic that makes people in Hollywood jealous, because no movie, no matter how big the budget, could ever hope to tell an action epic on this grand of a scale.
BEST SINGLE ISSUE:
- GREEN LANTERN #25 - An amazing, climactic ending to the Sinestro Corps war, this extra-sized ish blew fandom's collective minds, not only with the way it wrapped up the ongoing story in epic fashion, but with the tantalizing clues towards future GL plotlines that it teased, promising even more GL goodness to come in '08 and '09. Almost too much to take-in in a single read, this issue was what great comics are all about.
- GREEN LANTERN: SINESTRO CORPS SPECIAL
- 52 #52
- ALL-STAR SUPERMAN #9
- Y: THE LAST MAN #58
- CATWOMAN #72
BEST COMIC READ IN TRADE-PAPERBACK FORM:
- THE WALKING DEAD - When I get a new collection of The Walking Dead, I tend to blow through it cover to cover as quickly as I can. You just can't put 'em down, because each page of this post-apocalyptic zombie epic might contain the next shocking cliffhanger or huge holy $#$@ moment. The genious of writer Robert Kirkman is that he creates characters you care about, and when one of them does ineveitably bite it (or get bitten by it, more accurately), it's truly heart-wrenching. Great, great series and highly recommended, even if you're not a zombie or horror fan - I know I wasn't, really, but now I'm totally hooked on The Walking Dead - it's just that good!.
MOST UNDERRATED ONGOING SERIES:
- CATWOMAN - Will Pfeifer has done a great job bringing Selina Kyle to life. This book really COULD have taken some disasterous turns in the wrong hands, too, as the decision to have Selina give birth following last year's One Year Later jump was a storyline questioned by many fans. But Will did a great job of using the story to have Selina evolve as a character, and it all culminated in the heartwrenching #72, where things took yet another unexpected twist. Check this one out if you haven't - a great read.
MOST IMPROVED SERIES:
- JACK OF FABLES - At first, I didn't quite warm to this FABLES spin-off - it seemed a bit extraneous and took a while to find its groove,after an opening arc that didn't quite grab me. But I'm glad I stuck with it, because Bill Willingham and Matthew Sturges have really found their footing of late, and now I eagerly await each new issue of JACK - it's funny, full of adventure, and features cool stories that feel a bit more subversive and darkly humorous than the typical Fables yarn (one of my favorites - the one-shot tale of how Jack briefly became Jack Pumpkinhead).
- GEOFF JOHNS - You get the hint by now - this was the year of Johns. The man was everywhere, revitalizing old heroes and villains, delivering stories that lived up to the hype (mostly - can anyone say Christopher Kent?!?!), and creating genuine buzz amongst comic fans. Johns was a key part of 52, which finished in exciting fashion last summer. The maestro behind the storyline of the year in Sinestro Corps. The guy who made JSA consistently great, and who launched the best new book of the year in Booster Gold. Johns has a sense for the epic like few others do, but he still places a premium on character, which is what makes those epics so memorable. Johns is one of those guys who sometimes seems to be trying to do too much with one storyline, or overexerting himself by tackling too many projects at once. But when he's on his game, as he's been on Flash, on JSA, and was this year on GL ... he's the best in the biz.
- BRIAN K. VAUGHAN - Vaughan continued to solidify Y: The Last Man as one of the all-time great comics, with a number of iconic moments in '07, as the series headed towards its soon-to-be-released final issue. Meanwhile, Ex Machina is written with a sophistication and flair that outdoes most big name TV series, mixing politics, social commentary, and intrigue in a brilliant montly read. Plus, he was a staff writer on LOST, which churned out a number of uber-cool eps this season. The guy can do it all.
- ED BRUBAKER - I only occasionally venture into the world of Marvel, but I couldn't ignore the sheer quality that one of my favorite writers was bringing each and every month to Capatain America. I mean, the guy killed Cap, for god's sake, but he did so with style and grace, and the buildup and followup was superb, and the book is still going strong months after the title's titular hero was offed. Once again, Bru proved to be amongst the best in the biz - bringing a maturity and depth to seemingly cartoony characters like few others can.
- IVAN REISS and ETHAN VAN SCIVER - What these two did on Green Lantern this year was truly remarkable, and I think they raised the bar for comic book art to some degree. In the course of Sinestro Corps War, these two delivered full-size, double page spreads that sent chills up and down my spine as I gazed at them. They delivered action scenes consisting of hundreds of Corps members duking it out on alien planets. they made every hero as heroic as possible, every villain as evil and menacing as can be, and yet, the little character moments were never overlooked either. Without the spectacular art, there's no way GL would have been as great as it was this year. And I give a ton of credit to Reiss - he stepped up his game and was churning out some of the most kickass pages imaginable on a monthly basis, which few artists of that caliber can claim.
- DALE EAGLESHAM - Dale's classical style was a perfect fit for JSA, where he's now getting a lot of mainstream accolades, and rightly so. The guy can flat out draw, and he has a dynamism that's awesome to behold, mixed with a smoothness and clarity that makes his art quite easy on the eyes. I've been a fan for a long while now, but Eaglesham simply continues to impress.
- FRANK QUIETLY - With each issue of All Star Superman, Quietly just impresses more and more. His somewhat oddball style is a perfect fit for Grant Morrison's far-out storylines, but the sheer flow and motion inherent in each page of All Star is really amazing to just study and stare at. Quietly again proves why he's among the best out there, with his work on Superman making him a true all-star of the biz.
- GREG PAK - The other big event that got me to jump over to the Marvel side of things this year was the mostly well-done WORLD WAR HULK, and a lot of my enthusiasm for the story was because of the way writer Greg Pak crafted a balls-to-the-wall action epic filled with great one-liners and fun set-pieces that would make Spielberg jealous. I wasn't crazy about the ending of the mini, but still, Pak is now definitely on my radar, and it was cool to see him step up and deliver on WWH, making it one of the year's coolest events.
- SHANE DAVIS - I was so-so on the Jim Starlin-penned MYSTERY IN SPACE, but I stuck with it to the end in large part because of the awesome pencils of Shane Davis, who seemed to be channeling Jim Lee with the sheer cool-factor of his art. Everything I've seen from this guy has looked great, and the arc that he just began on Superman / Batman looks to feature even more killer art from Davis.
BEST MOVIE BASED ON A COMIC BOOK:
- 300 - No question on this one, 300 owned '07 when it came to comics at the movies. Not that the competition was especially strong (Fantastic 4 and Ghost Rider and Spiderman 3 and 30 Days of Night - need I say more ...? Okay, well there was STARDUST, but still ...). But 300 showed again that when you get a guy like Zack Snyder, who treats the source material with respect and actively seeks the input of creators like Frank Miller, you're going to get a film that lives up to comics fans' expectations and then some. 300 had great action, over-the-top drama, a cool and highly stylized look that evoked the art of Frank Miller ... what more do you want? THIS. IS. SPARRRRTA.
SPECIAL "WTF" AWARD:
- ALL STAR BATMAN & ROBIN - Some love it, some hate it. Me, well, as crazy as this book is, I have been enjoying the hell out of it, as it's gotta be one of the craziest, dirtiest, and most insane superhero books ever written. It's like Frank Miller wasn't quite sure what he wanted this book to be. So he wrote issue #1 and realized it was pretty over the top, with the now infamous scene where Batman refers to himself as "the god-damned Batman!". So basically, Miller just went with it - and now it's like he feels the need to outdo himself with each new issue, with each month's story and dialogue more outrageous than the last. Oh, where to begin ... how about Batman and Black Canary getting down n' dirty after fighting the crime, with Batman insisting that they "leave the masks on." How about the sadomasochistic relationship between Superman and Wonder Woman, or the fact that Batman apparently hates the crap out of Green Lantern? As crazy as Miller's latest take on the Dark Knight is, the art by the legendary Jim Lee is as badass as you could hope for. So all in all, one of 07's most controversial books is, luckily, also one of its most entertaining - I mean, who ever thought that a Batman comic in 2007 could be laugh-out loud funny?
Anyways, that's the year in comics for ya'. The great news is that '08 looks to be amazing for geeks everywhere. At the movies we've got surefire blockbusters like THE DARK KNIGHT and IRON MAN, and in the comics world there are some huge events brewing, like DC's much-hyped FINAL CRISIS, for one, plus more Johns on GL and Booster and Action, more Fables and Walking Dead and Ex Machina, Chuck Dixon back on Robin, Tomasi on Nightwing, the grand finale of Y: The Last Man, maybe that long-rumored PREACHER TV show, and plenty of other crazy stuff that I haven't even imagined yet! There's more than enough good stuff, however, to rest assured that '07 was the year that the geek did inherit the earth. Don't fight it, cuz you know it's true.
Whew! I'm tapped. Leave a comment and let me know what you think, and I'll be back at ya' soon for year's the best in TV. Until then, rock on.