Of all the years in the past decade, 2007 might just be the busiest in terms of comic book milestones. There were noteworthy comics, huge movies, and several important initiatives and innovations that impacted our industry. It almost makes you dizzy to think about all that took place! Thankfully, our CBR News crew has taken on this task, so you don’t have to.
Here to guide you through Part Three of this trip through the past ten years are reporters Tim Callahan, Shaun Manning, Kiel Phegley, Dave Richards, Steve Sunu, George Tramountanas, and Josh Wigler. There’s loads to discuss about 2007, so let’s begin with something we’ve never seen on the internet before – care for a little controversy?
“Spider-Man: One More Day” Ends Spidey’s Marriage
George Tramountanas: This is the story that ended Straczynski’s run on “Amazing Spider-Man” and created a maelstrom that fans continue to debate today.Â My take is pretty much the same as a lot of fans out there:Â I understand the reasons for undoing the marriage, disliked the way it was done, but enjoy the current direction of the book.Â I often wonder if this story will be remembered in the same light as Ben Reilly’s time as Spider-Man, or if history will be even…less kind.
Dave Richards: In my opinion, “One More Day” is just a convoluted mess of a story. I think the much-maligned “Clone Saga” is a better story. That doesn’t matter in the long run, though, because I feel “Amazing Spider-Man” is the best it’s been in a long, long time. I honestly don’t care if they ever mention Mephisto or the marriage ever again. In fact, I’d probably be happier if they didn’t.
Steve Sunu: Dave, you don’t really mean that, do you? “Clone Saga” – a better story? It’s awful that it had to happen the way that it did, but considering the editorial direction of Spidey currently, I can’t say that I am completely unhappy with the way that it turned out.
Josh Wigler: “One More Day” is awful. The stories that followed are, for the most part, fantastic. Not happy about how it went down, but I’ve moved on.
Shaun Manning: I’ve already said most of what I have to say about this. A question to consider, though: has Spider-Man ever been more comprehensively defeated by a villain? After all, he doesn’t even know what he’s lost, and even if he fights Mephisto at some point and wins, he still won’t reverse or avenge the defeat.
Tim Callahan: “Has any superhero been more comprehensively defeated by a villain?” Probably not. But in defeat, his comics actually became good again. Why, just this week I read an issue of “Amazing Spider-Man” written by Fred Van Lente and drawn by Javier Pulido and said to myself, “Ah, Mephisto was right. These comics are waaaaay better now that Spider-Man isn’t all mopey and married.” Okay, I didn’t say that. Or even think it. But I could have.
Kiel Phegley: As bad as it is for my job, I’m honestly pretty burnt out on talking about this story, you know?
Captain America Is Killed
George Tramountanas: It still amazes me that Marvel kept this event under wraps and provided a genuine surprise for comic readers (not that most retailers appreciated it).Â Granted, everyone suspected this death might occur in “Civil War,” so there was a red herring that was hung out for folks.Â When all is said and done, though, it was a fantastic story that wielded tons of media coverage and established a new direction for “Captain America.”
Dave Richards: Yeah, who would have thought an already great take on Captain America would get even better after the title character died? It did, though. Brubaker’s “Death of Captain America” trilogy is just amazing.
Steve Sunu: I remember that one of my friends introduced me to “Captain America” by saying, “You’ll love it! It’s the best book called ‘Captain America’ without Captain America in it!” I was confused by that, but then I read it and was completely blown away. Also, remember when Joe Quesada went onto the “Colbert Report” and Stephen Colbert thought he was going to be the new Cap?
â€¨Shaun Manning: I was living in Scotland when Captain America died. My tutor’s reaction was, “Good. He was always a bit of a patronizing dick, wasn’t he?” I’m thinking he didn’t read Brubaker’s run.
Tim Callahan: As I said before, the comic got better after Steve Rogers died. Bravo, Ed Brubaker. Of course, now that the real Cap’s back, my hundreds of CGC-slabbed copies of issue #25 are worth considerably less money. I will build a fort out of them, I suppose. A fortress of sorrow.
Kiel Phegley: Like most of Ed Brubaker’s run on “Cap,” I enjoy the slow build of the series more than any individual chapter, so #25 left me slightly cold as it was. Still, I wonder what people who showed up to a comic shop without having read any books in years made of it. The world may never know…
“Spider-Man 3” Comes Out In Theaters
George Tramountanas:Â Obviously, the filmmakers followed the “everything and the kitchen sink” model used for “Batman Forever.”Â Still, “Spider-Man 3” became the biggest opening for a film ever…until “Dark Knight.”Â Let’s just hope they learned from their mistakes and are doing a better job in their planning for “Spider-Man 4.”
Tim Callahan:– I saw this movie, and while some people complain about Emo Pete or the dance sequence, I complain about Sandman getting shafted and having his part diminished so Venom could get wedged into the story along with X-Treme Goblin. First half of the movie: lots of Sandman. Second half: hey, what happened to that Sandman plot?
Dave Richards:Â There are pieces of two or three good movies in “Spider-Man 3,” but when you smoosh them all together like this, the end result is pretty underwhelming.
Josh Wigler: This movie is a trainwreck. And casting Topher Grace as Venom was mind-numbingly stupid to me. If Tobey Maguire wanted to bail out of the Spider-Man movies after “3,” Grace would have been a very solid replacement. That’s never going to happen now, so my geek casting dreams are a bit deflated based on that.
Steve Sunu: Two and a half years later, and I still have not seen this movie. I got the Blu-ray for free, and I still haven’t watched it. That’s how badly I want to cling onto the hope that the next Spider-Man movie will be better, and I won’t have the experience of watching “Spider-Man 3” to sully my enjoyment.
Mike Wieringo Passes Away
George Tramountanas: I know that several writers and artists passed away in the last decade, but Wieringo was an individual whose art (“Flash,” “Tellos,” “Fantastic Four”) gave me such joy.Â His pages just had a “fun” feeling to them.Â And from stories I’ve heard around the internet, well, he was one of the good ones who was taken much too soon.
Tim Callahan: That someone I never met can break my heart with his absence – that says a lot about the artistry of Mike Wieringo. I never met him, but I know that comics are a sadder place without him around.
Dave Richards: I just went and looked at the sketch Mike did of Jay Garrick on the inside cover of my “Flash: Terminal Velocity” trade. He drew Jay winking. It’s like he’s saying, “Yeah I get to have all these big, bizarre adventures, and you know what? They’re a lot of fun!”
That, to me, sums up Mike’s art work. The guy could convey all sorts of emotions, but I think his best work has a sense of wonder and whimsy. I loved his Flash, Impulse, and Fantastic Four work, and I only met him briefly, but he was a heck of a nice guy.
Kiel Phegley: I only interacted with Ringo once via e-mail, but even in that brief contact, he was a totally professional and gracious. And of course, we still have tons of glorious pages to remember him by. Every so often, I like to return to his web site and just be amazed at how good he was.
Zuda Comics Launches
George Tramountanas:Â Zuda was the first digital offering from the Big Two.Â I thought it was odd (and still do) that DC chose to go digital without including any of their established titles.Â Now that I’ve gotten a chance to actually read these works though, I’m so happy this (digital) imprint exists.Â If you haven’t read “Bayou” or “High Moon,” do so now!
Josh Wigler: If only for “Bayou,” I’m a fan of Zuda.
Tim Callahan: Now that more of the Zuda strips are getting collected, I think we’ll all begin to realize how much good stuff has come out of the imprint. And with the transition from print to digital, many of these creators will be in a great position to cross over into the world of corporate characters, if that’s what they’re into. I’ve heard that there’s a big rift between the DC Comics print side and the online side of the company – that there’s little to no interaction between them, supposedly. That will change, and Zuda will become an integral part of DC’s publishing initiatives. It may not look like Zuda when it happens, but it will spring from this somehow.
And though the Zuda interface is horrendous, I think the idea of original online content is more interesting than simply posting six-month old comics online.
Shaun Manning: I also like Zuda a lot as its own publishing entity, but DC really needs to get on the ball putting actual DC comics online. Marvel is even on the PSP, fer Chrissakes. Where is DC? BitTorrent, that’s where.
Kiel Phegley: No clearer example of the massive divide between print comics publishers and web comicers exists than Zuda and its reception. Still, there are a few good strips there.
Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited Offers Its Services
George Tramountanas: Marvel started to make their back library available online in a way that was smart and affordable with the (somewhat ironically titled) DCU – Digital Comics Unlimited.Â The demand for this became readily apparent to all, as Marvel’s servers crashed from the tons of fans visiting the service on its first few days.Â While there are still gaping holes in the library, Marvel has done a good job of positioning themselves for the 21st century with the DCU.
Shaun Manning: DC and Marvel took very different approaches to digital publishing. I can’t fault Zuda for offering an exciting new venue for original webcomics, but DC still needs to find a way to push its main library of content online. Marvel has done this to a degree with archival material and some original content, but I think what fans are waiting for from both companies is the iTunes model: new comics released online simultaneously (or near-simultaneously) with print versions. It will be interesting to see if (and to what degree) the Big Two make use of the upcoming Longbox software.
Tim Callahan: This is a weak start. Having random old back issues along with no-longer relevant “current’ issues available online? That’s not very helpful. You know what would be helpful? Releasing digital comics on the same day as the print versions. Making the entire Marvel backlog available for download. That would be helpful. That would be useful. But I still don’t know if it would be for me. I can get pdf review copies of most Marvel comics these days, and I still tend not to read them. I’d rather pay for comics on Wednesday than read digital comics for free…so there’s that.
“Buffy: Season 8” Begins
George Tramountanas: As a ginormous fan of the TV show, I was thrilled to hear that Whedon was going to continue his vampire mythology in comic book form.Â Granted, there had been other “Buffy” comics before this, but this series was going to be overseen – and partially written by – the creator himself.Â Overall, it was a smart move that’s led to the highest selling non-superhero comic on the stands.Â Whedon knows his audience, and more importantly, he knows comics.
Shaun Manning: Another experiment that worked. Not that there haven’t been bumps along the road, but “Buffy: Season 8” is a consistently entertaining read and retains a lot of the charm of the show.
Dave Richards:Â I’m a huge fan of the TV show, butÂ I think I’m in the minority in my opinion of this series. I feel it started strong, went horribly off the rails, and has struggled to get back on track since.Â The whole middle chapter involving Harmony and the newfound popularity of vampires came from out of nowhere and, honestly, made no sense.Â Now they’re back to the Twilight storyline, I find myself struggling to care. The pacing and direction of this series really needs to be tightened up. Still, Brian K. Vaughan’s Faith and Giles story was fantastic.
Tim Callahan: I buy the trades of this series for my wife. She doesn’t complain about the art, so I guess she thinks it’s better than the work of Frank Quitely. She’s wrong, but what does she know? She’s not a highly-paid comics pundit.
Steve Sunu: Pundit? I barely even know it! (Sorry, it had to be said.)â€¨â€¨I think Joss Whedon is struggling to tell a cohesive “Buffy” TV season in comic form…which is super-weird, because “Astonishing X-Men” (and, to a certain extent, “Angel: After the Fall”) fit together so well as a single uninterrupted story. Much like “Dollhouse,” I think I’ll wait until the season is over and done with, then go back and read it. I really like Jeanty’s pencils though.
“300” Arrives at the Cineplex
George Tramountanas: I first saw footage for this at the San Diego Comic-Con, which was many months prior to the film’s release.Â From the reaction of the crowd that day, I had a feeling this film was going to be huge…and, damn, I love being right!Â The movie was important in that it showed how being faithful to source material could work on the big-screen.Â More importantly, the film paved the way for “Watchmen” to get made.
Tim Callahan: I teach a cinema class at a high school, and when I have students make lists of their all-time Top 5 favorite movies, “300” comes up more than any other film. It’s the “Godfather” for this batch of teenagers.
I like the comic because of Frank Miller’s art. The movie tries to capture the feel of Miller’s art…but I’ll stick with the comic on this one.
Dave Richards: I honestly haven’t read the book. I saw the movie at the theater though. I thought it was just “okay.” It seemed to me, though, that the Spartans were fighting the hordes of Mordor instead of actual people.
Kiel Phegley: If nothing else, it proved a movie could sell a comic under the right circumstances…namely not flooding the market with indistinguishable product. With luck, even the publishers who have franchise characters are getting smarter about how to turn people on to comics via their big screen adaptations thanks to that.
“Strangers In Paradise” Comes to an End
George Tramountanas:Â Another long-running indie series finally comes to a close. Creator Terry Moore deserves a lifetime award for the completion of this book.Â He self-published – in addition to being bounced around by several publishers – and kept the title true to his vision the entire time.Â This is one of those series that readers will go back to again and again.
Shaun Manning: After a long stretch of what felt like water-treading, I was amazed at how well the final arc of “Strangers” came off. Beautiful and touching. Yes, I cried.
Tim Callahan: Somehow, I never managed to read a single issue of this series. Is it too late to be one of the cool kids?
Shaun Manning: Nah. This is another one of those books that continues to pick up readers after its end.
George Tramountanas: Actually, that was another thing I loved about this series – the number of formats you can find it in.Â You can pick up the trades, the collected “pocket book” editions, or if you have some extra cash sitting around, pick up the “SIP Omnibus.”Â There’s a format for everyone!
Steve Sunu: This series is amazing. I love it more than almost any other comic that has ever been produced. There, I said it.
George Tramountanas: Somewhere out there, a lone copy of “Watchmen” sheds a tear…
Whew, we made it through 2007. Did our reporters forget anything? If they did, swing by CBR’s forums and inform them. And if you disagreed with anything that’s been said, be sure to let our reporters know in a polite post (I mean, someone out there had to have liked “One More Day”).
There’s only two years left in CBR’s “Decade in Review,” but you can rest assured that the CBR News crew still has plenty to examine and discuss. Check back tomorrow, and we’ll wrap up the decade for you with a shiny four-color bow!