It's the end of 2011 and what a year it's been in comics. Because the year is over, that means everyone is required to put out those pesky 'end of the year' lists.
We recently put out our 50 Greatest Moments in Comics list over the past few weeks, not as an end of the year deal, it's just something that came about after talking around the office. That list was a collaborative process and there was some back and forth and compromise that had to be made.
To focus on this year, it was decided, pretty much at the last minute, to look back at this year individually. We're all often asked what we dug throughout the year and this way, each of us gets a chance to voice our personal favorite moments.
Whether you love these lists or hate 'em, we're giving a bunch of different ones. The other nice thing about doing this last minute is there wasn't a lot of time for deep thinking. A lot of this had to be from the gut, the moments that really stuck in our memories.
There will most likely be spoilers below so you have been warned. After you check out all of our lists, be sure to share your favorite moments in the comments below.== TEASER ==
Tony's Favorite Moments of 2011
Yes there were a lot of things to choose from. I'll admit that when I decided to do a top ten list, I ended up narrowing it down to about 16. Having the luxury of seeing the others' list, I felt okay to eliminate some of my picks to make it a little easier. So here are my favorite moments of the year in no particular order!
The Last Stand of Johnny Storm
We knew a death was coming but that didn't stop the impact of Johnny's sacrifice. It appeared that Ben (in his human form) would be the last to fight the forces of Annihilus but at the last minute, Johnny pushed Ben through the doorway and locked himself in the Negative Zone. With a final, "Flame On!" he dove in and was soon engulfed.
Johnny is back. That doesn't change the fact that he did make a sacrifice. He did die. We knew he'd be back. FANTASTIC FOUR #587 and the mourning after was superbly written.
The Return of Alec Holland and Swamp Thing
One of the surprise twists out of BRIGHTEST DAY was the return of Swamp Thing and Alec Holland. As the series was winding down and Earth's Ultimate Savior was about to be revealed, no one expected Swamp Thing to make the journey from the Vertigo Universe to the DCU.
Not only did Alec Holland come back, it turned out he did die way back in his first appearance. Returned to life, he has the memories of Swamp Thing even though they are not his own. That is just one of the struggles he is currently dealing with the pages of the new SWAMP THING series.
Flash Thompson Becomes Venom
Flash Thompson was always Spider-Man's biggest fan. He lost his legs when he became a war hero but with the government gaining possession of the symbiote, Flash was the first to volunteer to become a secret weapon. Originally there was the threat of permanently bonding with the symbiote but it appears that has happened and Flash is doing his best to keep it under control.
James Gordon Sr to James Gordon Jr, "What did you do?"
Poor Commissioner Gordon. His family has had such bad luck. During the BLACK MIRROR arc, James Jr came back to town. Commissioner Gordon couldn't help but have doubts over his son's behavior due to the bad and unexplained things that happened around him. Mirroring a flashback scene, when father and son were reunited in a diner, James Sr couldn't help but wonder if his son had actually crossed the line and committed a murderous act. The suspense in that scene left you on the edge of your seat as you cringed with each turning page out of fear of what could come next.
*Tie* Bad Guys Turning Good - Sinestro and Doctor Doom
Okay, maybe I'm cheating a little here but we basically have the same thing. At the end of War of the Green Lanterns, Sinestro found himself chosen to be a Green Lantern again. After the death of Johnny Storm, Doctor Doom joined his former enemies in the Future Foundation after making a deal with Reed and Sue's daughter, Valeria.
Neither have truly become heroes but they have been acting a little more heroic lately.
Walking Dead #83
Talk about craziness. For those reading the series, you know Robert Kirkman does not hold back. You never know what's going to happen. When the survivors were trying to make their way through a horde of zombies, panic erupted the shooting began.
Big spoiler below. Click on it if you dare!
Kitty Pryde is Free From Her Ghost State
Kitty saved the world during Joss Whedon's ASTONISHING X-MEN run. After too long, she was brought back to Earth but was stuck in a ghost state and had to be kept in a tube to keep her molecules from drifting apart. Long story short, when Ord was attacking, circumstances led to her getting fixed. His comment to her was, "You're no longer a ghost."
And Kitty replied, "You don't know the half of it."
Mary Jane Gets Spider-Powers
During Spider-Island, all of New York City was gaining spider-powers...except Mary Jane. Due to her...intimate exposure to Peter Parker, she had developed a sort of...resistance to his powers. Eventually she did gain the abilities and in the end, was able to see what it was like to be Spider-Man and saw things through his eyes.
Bucky Returns From The Dead...Again
But it turned out he didn't die. Nick Fury and Black Widow were aware. Cap was pissed when he found out Nick kept the secret from him. But Bucky explained that he has ghosts from his pasts that he needs to resolve and it's better if the world believes he died.
Batman Discovers Clues to the Court Of Owls
Bruce Wayne has been targeted by the Court of Owls. Batman refuses to believe in the existence of this century old organization. He looked it into it at a very early age. There have been no clues or evidence they exist. Until he discovered the existence of several hidden lairs right under his nose in Gotham City. We all love Batman but it turns out even he could be wrong.
Sara's Favorite Moments
Wonder Woman Has A Father
The launch of the New 52 also meant the launch of new stories of some of our most beloved characters. The New 52 also meant plenty of changes to the current DC Comics universe as we know it. One of the most memorable (albeit, controversial) moments since the launch of the new DC Universe was the reveal that Wonder Woman not only has a father, but that her father is Zeus.
I think DC struggled with how to make Wonder Woman relatable and interesting over the years, and her origin story may have somehow isolated people and turned them off. It can be hard to relate to a character who was born out of clay. The introduction of a father figure to a woman who was raised on an island where Men were forbidden to roam is kind of a big deal. This tweak in her origin not only serves to open the door of character development for Diana, but it also develops the Queen of the Amazons, Diana's mother Hippolyta, The moment where Hippolyta divulges that she and Zeus had a love affair is beautiful and rather sad, and it makes Hippolyta seem human. It's a beautiful moment. Aside from this moment, the all-new Wonder Woman series has been nothing short of brilliant, and I definitely look forward to what will happen next.
Psylocke Finds Her Inner Strength
It's hard to choose just one moment from Rick Remender's UNCANNY X-FORCE series because the book has been just s damn great. However, one of the things that really impressed me about this series was the way that Rick Remender developed Psylocke's personality. Her character evolved so much throughout the 'Dark Angel Saga' story arc, and it was a pleasure to follow along her journey with her.
Of all the examples of Psylocke's strength I could pull from UNCANNY X-FORCE, the moment where she stabs Archangel with the Life Seed is the culmination of all that she has endured emotionally throughout the series. From the launch of the book, Psylocke had been training herself and working to be strong enough to kill Archangel it came to the point where she had to. In issue #18 she finally does, going against each moment where Archangel doubted her and teased that she didn't have the guts. Psylocke has really grown in this series, and this moment was proof of everything she had been working toward all along.
Wanda Meets Wiccan and Fights Doctor Doom
In the fourth issue of the AVENGERS: CHILDREN'S CRUSADE, Wiccan demonstrates both his strength as well as his bravery by venturing to Latveria on his own in order to save the Scarlet Witch from Doctor Doom. If you didn't love Wiccan before, you certainly will after reading this series, particularly the scenes where he meets Wanda Maximoff for the first time and struggles to reveal to her that he is her son.
The interaction between Wiccan and Wanda is beautifully written and drawn. It was difficult to to choose one specific moment from the Avengers: Children's Crusade to call my favorite because the series as a whole has been so good, but the moment where Wiccan demonstrates his bravery was certainly memorable. I mean, a Sophomore kid in High School going up against Doctor Doom? That takes a lot of guts.
Spider-Man Shares A Story With Franklin Richards
When superheroes die, they tend not to die for very long. Yet, if a character must die, then his friends and family should mourn him properly. Too often we see character deaths that are brief and done specifically for shock value. This, however, was not the case following Johnny Storm's self sacrifice in Fantastic Four #587.
After the death of Johnny Storm, Jonathan Hickman released Fantastic Four #588, the final issue of the series is a silent issue, with the exception of the brief short at the end of the book titled 'Uncles.' Of all of the moments in this issue which showcased Johnny's closest friends and family mourning his death, the scene where Spider-Man meets Franklin and comforts him if the most touching scene. Hickman draws a parallel between what he suffered when he lost Uncle Ben, and what Franklin suffered when Johnny died. By telling his story, Peter comforts Franklin. It's beautifully touching moment.
Fantomex Steals A Kiss
It should come as no surprise to anyone that reads my reviews of UNCANNY X-FORCE that the title features two of my favorite moments of 2011. While the first encompasses Psylocke coming into her own and finding strength within herself, the second moment is a favorite because, well, it's simply irresistible.
Throughout the series Rick Remender's build up of the sexual tension between Fantomex and Psylocke (even if it was oftentimes one-sided) kept readers coming back for more. In fact, many people who didn't really like Fantomex as a character before, began to feel drawn to his obnoxious charm. The epitome of that charm can be seen in the scene where Fantomex tells Betsy just how it is -- that she doesn't really love Warren, but rather she just wants to feel needed. He preys on her insecurities with some success, and for a moment, her guard comes down leaving him just enough time to steal a kiss. What a jerk, he is.
Mat Elfing's Favorite Moments
Aquaman Getting Harassed by a Blogger
The one thing I can say the new 52 did perfectly, it's that it reinvented Aquaman, and it help take away the stigma that Aquaman is worthless which the cartoon Super-Friends gave him so many years ago. Aquaman has been one of my favorite super-heroes for years, and I've spent a lot of time defending the character and I spent even more time trying to get people to read the Sub-Diego run from a few years back. Let's face it, I'm an Aquaman fanboy. However, this first issue of the new Aquaman book turned a lot of people's heads and finally, people are coming around.
Issue #1 deals a lot with Aquaman overcoming his stigma and proving once again he's a powerful force in the DC Universe. However, not everyone is on board with this. While Aquaman is sitting in a diner, a blogger starts up a conversation which quickly turns sour. After Aquaman has to explain his powers to the blogger, Aquaman gets berated by the writer and asks "How does it feel to be nobody's favorite super-hero?" Aquaman leaves the restaurant at this point, and pays in gold coins. The way a King of Atlantis would do so.
It's a moment we don't get to see very often in comic books. A hero getting demeaned by the public, even though he or she has done nothing wrong. It makes you take a step back from the book and realize that Geoff Johns took the idea that the American public has no respect for this character and made it a central idea for the first story arc. It's genius and so obvious at the same time. If we ever see that blogger in the book again, I hope Aquaman slaps that blogger across the face... or makes an eel think he's dinner.
The New 52 Living Up to the Hype
I was extremely angry when the New 52 was announced. I have been a DC reader for years and I hated the idea of DC hitting the reset button. However, at the same time, I noticed myself getting a bit bored with what the company was doing. DC was in a rut, and this change was necessary. There was quite a few questionable books announced for the new volumes, and I couldn't understand why books like JSA were getting cancelled and Demon Knights was getting it's own series. Then, the books actually came out.
It was originally my plan to read all 52 volumes for the first three issues. In all honesty, I got through the two issues of the new 52, and I dropped a few of them from there. What surprised me more than anything is the books I thought I'd hate that I ended up loving: VOODOO, DEMON KNIGHTS, MEN OF WAR, I VAMPIRE, ANIMAL MAN, DC UNIVERSE PRESENTS, BATWING, SUPERBOY, and SUPERGIRL. 9 books I was pretty sure I was going to drop that are some of my favorites at DC. Aside from that, I'm still loving 13 of the other new 52 series. I'm personally reading 22 of the new 52 books and loving it. That percentage (42.3%) is a higher percentage of readable on-going series, for me, than any other company by a landslide.
What I found even more interesting is that some of my favorite books are the non-traditional books. I find myself really enjoying MEN OF WAR, ALL STAR WESTERN, and DEMON KNIGHTS, none of which are contemporary super-hero books. They all have their heroes and villains, but they all have a unique twist and harken back to a time when super-hero books weren't the top selling comic books. If only DC would put out a book starring a dog detective... again.
Moon Knight is Crazy Again!
One of my favorite Bronze Age characters was MOON KNIGHT, and his many appearances in WEREWOLF BY NIGHT. Sure, he was just Batman in a white costume, but he was also a tad crazy. Marc Spector had multiple personalities. My favorite was Jake Lockley, the cab driver. Supposedly, he "created" identities to keep his ear to the street. I refused to believe that. Since then, Moon Knight has had several volumes, all of which are sub-par at best. They are either way too out there and completely lost sight of the original character or they've had awful creative teams on the book... until 2011.
Bendis and Maleev came together this year for the newest Moon Knight series and it's become my favorite Marvel book because they have reinvented the character while still pulling concepts from his original appearances. Moon Knight is a one man Avenger. Why? Well because he thinks he's working with Wolverine, Captain America, and Spider-Man, who are all actually in his head. That's right, Moon Knight is crazy again.
I love having a super-hero with obvious flaws, and in this case, our hero isn't mentally stable. This character has really struggled at Marvel over the past few years because I think he hasn't had the right creative team driving the car. Bendis and Maleev have redefined this series and character. He's a classic, under-rated Marvel character in a new city with new villains, and the coolest moment from this series, thus far, is when it's revealed to the reader that the Avengers aren't working with Moon Knight because they aren't there.
San Diego Comic Con 2011
Since I've been working at the Vine, I've had the privilege of leaving the cold bitterness of Chicago and heading to the warm embrace of San Diego for a few days with the rest of the Comic Vine staff. Going to San Diego Comic Con was always my nerdy dream, and for the past two years, not only have I had the pleasure of going to it, but I get to work there reporting on all the news happening at all the panels.
Most of this past year's SDCC was announcements about the New 52, and the most memorable one for me was the Batman panel where Judd Winick introduced the audience to the Batwing title and the amazing art of Ben Oliver. After hearing Judd talk about the book for a few minutes, I knew I was going to love it, and when the book came out, I wasn't disappointed.
Aside from that, I had a ton of fun meeting some of the Viners at the Comic Vine meet-and-greet, and although Mr. Tom Pinchuk and I arrived fashionably late, a few Viners stayed around to walk through the streets of San Diego with us as we made our way to the pinnacle of culture in California: Hooters. It was great to sit around with other members of the vine, have a beer with those who were of age, and talk comics or whatever else we talked about that night. I also bumped into a few members of the vine as I rushed from one hall to another. It may have been a quick "hello," but it was still awesome to see viners there.
It may not be an actual great moment in comic books this year, but it was a great moment in comics for me. San Diego Comic Con is just as important to comic books than anything else. It's a great place for a community of people to come together and celebrate their love for the art form and storytelling that is comic books.
Season Two Shocker on Walking Dead
Walking Dead is one of my favorite comic book series of all time, and last year, we got to see Robert Kirkman's zombie apocalypse finally make it to television on AMC. Although it diverged from the comic book a bit, the first season was still really awesome. After the first season ended, I didn't think it could get much better... It did. The first half of season two hit the air this year, and although most of the story takes place over the course of a few pages in the comic book, it was amazing nonetheless.
During season two, the group is searching for Sophia, a young girl who got lost by running away from a herd of walkers, and they make a local farm their home, after one of the people that lives there shot Carl, Lori and Rick's son. As Carl is being worked on by Hershel, the "doctor" who owns the farm, the rest of the group tries to find Sophia and learns that the barn is full of walkers. When the group finds out about the walkers in the barn, a few decide they all need to be destroyed.
The halfway mark of this season was a HUGE shocker as we learned that (SPOILERS!)
Quite possibly, it's my favorite moment for comics this whole year.
Matt Demers' Favorite Moments
DC announces the New 52, completely reworking their brand and continuity
Bar none, the biggest news of this year was that DC was completely scrapping every book in their main continuity and replacing it with 52 new issue ones. This seemed to happen out of nowhere, prompting rampant speculation about who would be out, who would be in, and what creators would have to play with.
Now we're up to issue five on most books, and responses can be gauged all along the spectrum. Some find it a great change and inviting to new readers. Some are annoyed that the characters that they came to love and become invested in suddenly vanished into the ether.
Some are confused as to why so many bad 90's ideas are being resurrected when the idea is to bring new readers in.
I just think bad writing is still bad writing, no matter how "new" a series is.
A Steph Brown Batgirl cosplayer asks some hard questions in San Diego
This year's San Diego ComicCon spurred a wave of discussion about the gender balance in "big two" creators, and sexism in comics in general. It seemed like numerous comic news outlets became hotbeds of discussion, with some saying that companies should actively hire more female creators, while others simply said "good writers make good stories."
This powder keg was lit by a singular Stephanie Brown cosplayer, who decided to question numerous DC employees (including Editor in Chief Dan Didio) on where all the female creators were. Her questions were earnest, genuine, and took guts. Asking tough questions (especially to the companies you love and kick money to every week) can be difficult: whether you agree or disagree with her, you have to applaud Kyrax2 for standing up for what she believed in.
Marvel kills the Human Torch, then brings him back, months later, for issue #600.
Marvel killing the Human Torch will forever be remembered as a lesson in scheduling: don't remove a major character from a team's lineup when a book's major milestone issue is coming up.
While Marvel doesn't seem like the type of company to off Johnny and then pull their collars when they look at their calendar a couple months down the road, but the Torch's death and resurrection felt cheap and rushed.
This is compounded when the Fantastic Four disbanded without the original members, forming the "Future Foundation" in the meantime.
So much press and speculation was given to something that ultimately meant little. It frustrated me because this is happening more and more.
Miles Morales debuts as (Ultimate) Spider-Man
Like the Human Torch, I would categorize this as "big", but not the "best"; the media and Internet really had a field day with Miles' announcement, but I haven't really read much that endears the character to me. However, I have to commend Marvel for having the stones to kill off a top-tier character and replacing him with a completely brand new character - even if it's in the Ultimate line, it shows a willingness to take chances that comics needs today.
I mean, sure, he might be a tad boring, and that Marvel still hasn't pulled the trigger in the "transfer" of the character, but it's still a change, right?
DMZ's "Citizen Zee" takes my breath away
If there was one panel that absolutely blew me away this year, it would be a scene in DMZ #66, when the reader finds out that Matty Roth's journalism work has been painstakingly archived in the New York City Library by his friend Zee, even through personal hardships and the hostile nature of the zone itself. It showed that even though Roth's character went through a huge downswing in morality, his work amounted to something.
It highlighted the conclusion of some great character work by Brian Wood, and made me appreciate all the buildup to the ending arc of the book. The series wrapped up this past week with issue 72, and I can definitely say my weekly comic shop trip will be missing something without it.
Well, that's it for 2011. Hopefully 2012 brings more awesome.