This week, we Americans will stuff our faces with an overwhelming amount of food (more so than usual). But in between the gigantic bites, we're supposed to take a minute or two and say what we're thankful for as we sit at a table surrounded by our family members and friends. So, I thought why not do the same for comics, but minus all of the delicious and fattening food.
2012 has been quite a year for the comic industry. Marvel and DC have made huge moves (The New 52 carries on & Marvel NOW! begins) and smaller publishers continue to produce some simply stellar titles. We tend to complain about a lot going on in the fictional universes, but I'd like to take some time to give some well deserved and long overdue thanks.
Without further ado, here's the 5 things I'm grateful for this year in comics.
In a medium polluted with so many mediocre titles, every issue of HAWKEYE feels like a breath of fresh air. I don't know how he managed to do it (a deal with the devil perhaps?), but writer Matt Fraction has made each chapter of the series pure gold. To top it off, artist David Aja's work provides a classic yet vibrant look to the book. Panels are laid out in a creative manner that keep the read exciting no matter what's taking place.
The only reason I can imagine someone doesn't like this title is if they're a huge Clint Barton fan and easily annoyed by how unimpressive he is in hand-to-hand. Or, they just hate fun. You don't hate fun, do you? Of course not, so do yourself a favor and go give this book an honest chance. I'm pretty sure you won't regret it one bit, bro.
There's still a lot of titles yet to be released (truth be told I still haven't read IRON MAN #1), but so far the future of the The House of Idea's Marvel NOW! looks promising. DEADPOOL, THOR: GOD OF THUNDER and FANTASTIC FOUR were solid and have me anxiously awaiting the second issues. ALL-NEW X-MEN and UNCANNY AVENGERS did a more than able job, and while I don't enjoy them as much as the previously listed titles, they both have hooks that are sure to keep a firm grip on many readers.
Still to come is the likes of CABLE & X-FORCE, THUNDERBOLTS and much more that has me surprisingly excited. Meanwhile, G-Man has already praised the next set of books in early reviews (CAPTAIN AMERICA & INDESTRUCTIBLE HULK). While it's understandable to call Marvel NOW! a cash grab (let's face it, the industry is always trying to reel in new readers), don't let that deter you from giving these titles an open-minded chance.
The Dark Knight is without question one of the most popular and recognizable comic book characters around. Because of this, it's only fitting that his primary comic should live up to his popularity. Thankfully, the main book has a dream team: Scott Snyder & Greg Capullo.
Snyder kicked the series off with 'The Night of the Owls,' but in 2012 he has something bigger, better and far more diabolical up his dark sleeve: 'Death of the Family.' Snyder's disturbingly excellent ideas are fantastic on their own, but when combined with Greg Capullo's stellar art, it brings BATMAN to a whole other level.
Capullo's pencils portray Gotham City as it should be: dark yet grand, filled with history but also grit and suffering. And his work on the new version of Joker? Top-notch illustrating and taking time to gaze at those panels are sure to send a chill down your spine.
No one is apparently safe and the twist with Alfred has me legitimately uneasy over the kind butler's future. No matter what your feelings are about the Joker, this is turning out to be a story you should absolutely be reading.
I've said it a thousand times before and I'll say it one last time (okay, it probably won't be the last): Valiant is killing it with their reboot. You don't need to have any prior experience with the publisher to fully appreciate all of these titles. Not only are the 5 titles wonderfully created by their respective writers and artists, but they each offer a completely different vibe and fall into various genres.
X-O MANOWAR is the ultimate science fiction adventure. ARCHER & ARMSTRONG is a buddy book filled with absurd laughs and hilarious takes on society. BLOODSHOT is your go-to source for violent action. HARBINGER is a character driven story with a whole lotta telekinesis. SHADOWMAN dives into the darker and magic-filled corner of its ever expanding universe.
"Oh, lordies! The price tag is $3.99 per issue!" I know, I know. I'm on a budget as well but these titles are totally worth making room in your pull list. Give 'em a read and I assure you you'll fall in love with at least one of the books. Luckily, Valiant is soon releasing some very affordable trade paperbacks to help people play catch up.
Turtle fans, you shall be pleased with this one. IDW Publishing has brought Peter Laird and Kevin Eastman's franchise back to life in a familiar yet refreshing manner. Written by Tom Waltz and Kevin Eastman, the four mutated ninjas return with a whole new origin story. From there, everything treads familiar territory but does so in a fun and energetic tone. Virtually all of your favorites throughout TMNT history are slowly appearing -- even a pre-mutation Bebop and Rocksteady have shown up -- and the various plots are being juggled gracefully. IDW's comic has undeniably become one of the delightfully entertaining titles on the shelves.
So while I ponder about what I'm thankful for this Thursday, I'll also take a moment to recall these 5 things which make the comic industry so enjoyable for me. Viners, what 5 things are you grateful for this year?
Gregg Katzman is a freelance writer for Comic Vine and IGN Entertainment. All your stuffing is belong to him this Thanksgiving day.