It’s that time of year again, when I venture out and purchase the one issue of Wizard I get per annum.Â I do this because it’s their year-end review, and I always like to see what Wizard thinks is worth my time.Â It’s become a long-standing tradition around here for me to do this, and I hope you’ll forgive me in advance for the snarkiness of this post.Â You know I try to be positive in my posts (most of the time), but when it’s Wizard, it’s kind of difficult.Â So let’s delve into the horror of the “#1 Men’s Pop Culture Magazine!”
The letters to Wizard are always a treat.Â Some guy writes that he wants “real answers” to his questions, not the “humorous quips” (such as they are) that are occasionally given.Â And then this guy – who wants “real answers” – asks “if Mystique were naked and she changed her form to look like Cyclops, could she then remove her visor or any article of clothing, considering it is all her skin, just rearranged to look different?”Â If this letter-writer is over 16, he needs to be beaten with a sock full of quarters.Â Some other guy is whining because he had a Cap shield tattoo way before the Winter Soldier did and he doesn’t want to be seen as a “follower.”Â Man.Â At least somebody asks about insuring a comic book collection – that’s not a bad question.
There’s a brief interview with Alan Moore about The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier.Â I love the Mad Monk of Northampton as much as the next guy, but he’s become kind of a dick, hasn’t he?Â He says that the “mainstream American comicÂ industry is probably not the place to publish ourÂ [his and KevinÂ O’Neill’s] work.”Â That sounds fine, doesn’t it?Â And I totally agree with him.Â The interviewer asks him “why not?” and Moore rambles about the shittiness of the publishers who wanted “carping changes” that were only asked for toÂ “annoy” them.Â He gripes about the book not being released in England and how that sucks because “it’s a wonderful book and it is trying to take the League beyond the confines of the regular American comic book.”Â Â Again, I don’t really have a problem with that, although I don’t know the intricacies of the copyright laws he’s trying to circumvent, and I’m not sure how revolutionary the book is anyway.Â The books of Mark Danielewski andÂ Milorad Pavic are revolutionary.Â Moore’s … not so much.Â The interviewer follows up by asking “in what way” does it go beyond the confines of the regular American comic book, and Moore loses me here.Â He says, “I suspect that it does make a lot of the other product being put out look a little bit lazy and perhaps a little tiny bit illiterate.Â But you have to judge for yourself.Â I might be blowing my own trumpet too much.”Â You think?Â Look, if you compare LoEG to a regular superhero comic, of course it’s going to look far superior.Â Does Moore really want us to compare it to your regular issue of, say, Green Lantern or Wonder Woman or Iron Man or Uncanny X-Men?Â I doubt it, even though it’s far more like a genre book than I suspect Moore wants to admit.Â If we compare it to more “literary” comic works like, say, Exit Wounds or Super Spy or Fun Home or Palestine, it comes out looking a bit less like the greatest thing in the history of literature that Moore thinks it is.Â I just wish he would stop being obsessed with porn and his desire to fit all literature into one cute little pretentious world.Â How about you write a story, Mr. Moore?Â (I haven’t reviewed the confounded thing yet, but I will soon.Â I enjoyed it more than I let on, but I don’t think you can argue it’s all that good a story.)
Boy, I’m already ranting and I haven’t even gotten to the picks yet!Â Let’s move on.Â Phil Jimenez wants to work with Grant Morrison, which is kind of shocking, I know, but he wants the God of All Comics to revive the New Mutants so he can draw them.Â Nice to see the best in the industry are committed to moving comics forward instead of wallowing in 1980s nostalgia!Â There’s a sidebar under the title “Naked Superchicks,” and unfortunately, it’s not a metaphor.Â You can go to this site (not safe for work!)Â and buy your 2008 calendar featuring women as superheroes in various stages of undress.Â I’m not surprised it exists, but do we really need to know about it?Â Shouldn’t this be something you’re ashamed of instead of seeing it in Wizard?
Well, we finally arrive at the “best-of” section, and Marvel is apparently King of the World, as they had their best year ever.Â I shit you not!Â Let’s check out some of the 25 reasons Marvel ROOLZ!
25. Alex Ross returns to Marvel.Â They go on about drooling fanboys drooling over Ross, but he doesn’t really do much, does he?Â I mean, it’s not like he’s coming back to Marvel to actually do interior work, right?Â He’s doing covers, sure, but is that really a reason to buy the comic?Â Steve Sadowski is the doing the interiors of the Avengers/Invaders “maxi-series,” so that ought to be a selling point, but he’s not the “name” attached to it.
24. Joe Quesada draws Spider-Man.Â Â Nice of him to deign to draw something and thenÂ delay the whole thing.Â GoodÂ job,Â Joey Q!Â (IÂ can still writeÂ the X-Men, right, Joey Q?Â Right?)
23. Anita Blake helps Marvel go mainstream.Â If we believeÂ Chris Sims, this means the “mainstream” is even stupider thanÂ regular comic book geeks.
19. Halo: Uprising is released.Â The first sentence in this section reads: “There aren’t many sentient beings on this planet that haven’t heard about the Halo 3 gaming phenomenon.”Â I love when people who like something make statements like this.Â I would bet the majority of sentient beings on this planet haven’t heard of the Halo 3 gaming phenomenon.Â In fact, I would bet that the majority of the sentient beings in this country haven’t heard of the Halo 3Â gaming phenomenon.Â I know those people are “squares,” but they still outnumber the cool people who think sitting (or standing, I suppose) in frontÂ of a television or computer making avatars shoot aliens is the single greatest experience they can have.
13. Spider-Man goes back to black.Â The Wizard gang admits this is a movie tie-in, which is really all it is.Â But then they claim that it really was an organic outgrowth from the comic.Â Please.
8. Wolverine kills Sabretooth.Â Yeah, that’ll stick.Â Why do people continue to act impressed when a writer kills off a character?Â Later on in the book, Wizard actually lists people who came back from the dead this year.Â But this is the eighth best reason for Marvel to rule?
1. The murder of Captain America.Â I guess no one saw that coming.Â I know he’s coming back, but what’s most impressive is how Brubaker has kept the book going without him.Â It makes one wonder if any of these iconic characters are really necessary to sell comics.
Best Ongoing Series: Incredible Hulk.Â They list 11 reasons that it’s the best.Â I know I shouldn’t expect more from Wizard, but I guess I should be impressed that they didn’t just go with something that Bendis wrote.Â At least Pak tried to do something a bit different with the book, even though the execution of both “Planet Hulk” and “World War Hulk” (Wizard counts itÂ as part of the ongoing, which is a cheat, I think) was fairly standard.Â I mean, Hulk beats the bad guys but can’t enjoy his triumph, he returns to Earth to kick ass, but ends up imprisoned.Â It was entertaining, sure, but I still don’t get why Wizard can’t even look to the Little Two – Dark Horse and Image – for a better choice.Â Yes, I know they are slaves to DC and Marvel, but it’s still annoying.
Breakout Talent: Greg Pak.Â I guess, although I did like this description of “World War Hulk”: “Pak proved his ability to deliver complex, heartfelt storytelling and intense scenes of action on the grand stage of company-wide crossovers (my emphasis).”Â Complex, heartfelt storytelling?Â Did they read “World War Hulk”?Â I would have gone with Gerard Way.Â Who figured he could write a comic, much less a wildly entertaining one?
Best TV Show: Lost.Â I’ve been watching less and less television, although I still like Lost, so I can’t really argue too much with this.Â This also gets Best Cliffhanger.Â I admit, that was a pretty cool season finale.
Best Writer: Ed Brubaker.Â That’s not a bad choice, actually.Â He does a nice job on pretty divergent titles: Daredevil, Iron Fist, Uncanny X-Men, Captain America, and Criminal.Â He’s better at the noir stuff, but he’s finding his way on Uncanny X-Men.Â I wouldn’t call him the best comics writer, but he’s close.
Best Addition: Kristen Bell on Heroes.Â She’s been pretty good.Â It’s kind of a strange category, and I assume Wizard made it up to put a picture of Bell in the magazine.
Best TV Hero and Villain: HRG and Sylar on Heroes.Â Why do I get the feeling that the Wizard staff watches only about 5 television shows?Â Yep, the Best Episode is “Five Years Gone,” the Heroes episode in the future.
Best Artist: Ivan Reis.Â Here’s where I have a bit of a problem.Â Reis isn’t bad, but his stuff looks a lot like most superhero artists.Â So many artists out there make the books they work on shine with uniqueness, while Reis’s art looks pretty and does a good job telling the story, but it looks like low-rent Bryan Hitch.Â Off the top of my head, here are artists who had a better year: FÃ¡bio Moon, Gabriel BÃ¡, Juan Ferreyra, Sean Phillips, J. H. Williams III (in only three issues of Batman), David Aja, Christopher Mitten, Jamie McKelvie.Â Oh wait – most of those people don’t work for Marvel or DC.Â Sorry!
Best Character: Iron Man.Â They give six reasons, none of which are particularly compelling.Â Any character can be good if a good writer gets a hold ofÂ them, really.
Best New TV Show: Reaper.Â I DVRed the pilot and never watched it, so I have no idea if it’s any good or not.Â As for new shows, ChuckÂ and Dirty SexyÂ Money aren’t bad, but I don’t think theyÂ would beÂ the “best.”
BestÂ New Face: Smallville‘s New Supergirl.Â Wait a second … didn’t you just do a category like this and put Kristen Bell in it?Â Oh wait, this just gives you an excuse to publish anotherÂ photo of a hot girl.Â Do people still watch Smallville?Â Didn’t it start to suck two years ago?
BestÂ Moment: The Real Sinestro Corps.Â I read that issue, and I didn’t get a chill up my spine when the “real” Sinestro Corps were revealed.Â It just wasn’t that impressive.Â It’s interesting that Wizard always seems to latch onto one event and laud it ad infinitum.Â This year it’s the Sinestro Corps War, which has been less than excellent.Â I don’t know if I have a best moment.Â The end of the first Casanova “album,” maybe?Â We’ll probably get to this in our own year-end posts, so I have time to think about it.
Best Shocker: Skrullektra!Â Wouldn’t killing Captain America be more shocking?Â I mean, we’ve seen Skrulls disguised as humans before.
Most Deserved Beatdown: Thor Hammers Iron Man.Â I guess.
Most Unexpected Betrayal: Sobek Chows Down.Â Well, that sounds awful.Â I’m really glad I wasn’t reading 52.
Creepiest Resurrection: Warren Returns.Â Hey, look, it’s Wizard‘s obligatory nod to a book not published by the Big Two!Â They do this every year, picking one book in one category.Â This is probably easy because it’s Joss Whedon.
Best Killing Blow: Nova Guts Annihilus.Â How can Wizard use the words “permanent” to describe the killing of Annihilus?
Shortest Honeymoon: Green Arrow and Black Canary.Â Did anyone else get married this year?Â The only reason to have this category is to remind us of the awfulness of that issue.
Most Chilling Revelation: Sharon Shot Cap.Â Why not?
Most Painful Moment: Hulk Crushes Doctor Strange’s Hands.Â Is that more painful than the plenitude of groin kicks we see in comics these days?Â I think not!
Best Revenge: Hawkeye Skewers the Widow.Â I didn’t read it.
Coolest Rejection: Batman Offered Sinestro Ring.Â Why is this cool?Â Did anyone think Batman would accept it?Â Really?
Best 11th Hour Save: The Green Lantern Corps.Â This is from Justice #12, when the GLC saves the world.Â Go, Green Lanterns!Â Why does Wizard have such a nerd bonerâ„¢ for the GLs?
Most Appreciated Return: Wally West.Â Too bad it came at the end of one of the worst issues of the year.
Best Knockout: Hercules Hammers Thor Clone.Â Why does this act give Hercules “street cred,” as Wizard claims?
Best Reunion: Yorick Brown and Beth Deville.Â Is that a Vertigo book?Â I don’t read that high-falutin’ shit.Â What about Batman reuniting with the Outsiders?Â That shit was awesome!
Best Villain: Cobra Commander.Â Is that an independent book?Â It’s not even published by Dark Horse or Image?Â Holy crap!Â This is a decent choice.Â I’m telling you people, G. I. Joe is a really good comic.
Indie of the Year: Super Spy.Â Whenever Wizard separates the indies out from the Big Two, I always wonder if it’s because they know that a good 75% of their categories would be filled by books that Marvel and DC don’t published.Â Super Spy is a good example.Â The villain in it (if that’s the correct word) is probably more creepy and evil than Cobra Commander.Â There are several fascinating moments of revenge.Â There are chilling revelations.Â There are brilliant killing blows.Â There are great shocks, moments, and characters, and Matt Kindt’s art is more expressive and powerful than Ivan Reis’s.Â And that’s in one book!Â Think of what else is out there.Â Good choice by Wizard, as this is an excellent comic.
Best Video Game: Halo 3.Â Duh.Â I don’t like video games. Â (Yes, I’m making a blanket statement about all video games.Â If you can say you don’t like sports or historical novels or Republicans, I can say I don’t like video games.)
Best DVD: Blade Runner.Â I have to say, I’m totally geeked out about this five-disc ultimate collection, which includes the original theatrical release with Harrison Ford’s narration, which I always thought was better than anyone else did.Â I’ll be interested to see if it really is not too awful or if I’m an idiot (probably the latter).Â I love this movie, so I’ll probably have to take out another mortgage and buy it.
Best Movie of the Year: 300.Â In what universe is 300 the best movie of the year?Â I haven’t even seen it and I’m positive it’s not the best movie of the year.Â I hardly ever see movies anymore, but I’ll bet freakin’ Transformers was better than 300.
Best Revivals: Booster Gold and Iron Fist.Â I like the latter book and wasn’t impressed with the former.Â I guess both choices are fine.
The only good thing about the two-page spread listing 2007’s Deaths and Resurrections is that Ryan Dunlavey drew it.Â It’s very fun, despite the horribly cynical and depressing subject matter.
Breakout Artist: Dale Eaglesham.Â Fuck the heck?Â As Wizard admits, Eaglesham has been drawing comics for 20 years.Â I know thatÂ doesn’t mean anything, as this is his “breakout” year,Â but he was drawing Batman comics ten years ago, and that seems like a pretty big deal.Â I like Eaglesham’s art,Â but it’s kind of an odd place to put him.
BestÂ Miniseries: Doctor Strange: The Oath.Â Â This was a mildly entertaining series with nice art by Marcos Martin.Â To say it’s the best mini-series of the year is wildly insulting to some truly great series, includingÂ Phonogram and The Nightly News.Â Oh well.
Best Cover Artist: Lee Bermejo.Â I’m not really that big a fan of Bermejo.Â I know they don’t want to always giveÂ it to James Jean, but I think LadrÃ¶nn had a betterÂ year doing covers.Â (By the way, Brian, Wizard spells LadrÃ¶nn’s name with an acute accent (Ã³) and not an umlaut, so I think we can forgive you missing it – they ought to be better at that sort of thing, right?)
Breakout Movie Star: Shia LaBeouf.Â How much do you want to bet Wizard picked him because he’s kind of a geek?
Best TV Show in Comics: Buffy.Â Really, how many options are there?Â Three?
They have a short interview with the God of All Comics, who gushes about various things and then tells us that he just sent issue #2 of Wildcats to Jim Lee.Â I understand that he’s a perfectionist, but it’s a 22-page comic about people shooting other people.Â Can’t you do that in your sleep, Grant?Â Sheesh.
Then there’s a two-page “article” about the secrets of Countdown, in which they ask the various creators all the burning questions about the series, such has “How Does Karate Kid Cause The Great Disaster?”, “Who Are The AgentsÂ Of Darkseid?”, “When Does Jason Todd Become Red Robin?”, “Who’s Gonna Die?” (how charming), and of course, “Why Does This Series Suck So Much?”Â Oh, wait a minute, they don’t actually ask that last one.Â Anyway, I wonder why they even ask.Â This is two pagesÂ of absolute waste, as the writers certainly aren’t going to answer any of the questions.Â So it’s just wheel-spinning, which is utterly pointless.Â Â Here are some of the answers: “Jim Starlin is killing them.”Â “A lot of the usual suspects, plus some surprising newbies.”Â “Is Holly being manipulated, or going along to see what she can learn?”Â (Answering a question with a question is gold!)Â “I think it’s a stylized Mother Box.”Â Â “There are going to be deaths down the line.”Â Hey, thanks for the insight, Wizard!
There’s aÂ brief summaryÂ of why you should readÂ Jim Shooter and Francis Manupal’s Legion of Super-Heroes.Â IÂ dig when theyÂ write stuff like this:Â “For years, confusing continuity issues and multiple reboots plagued DC’s Legion of Super-Heroes.”Â Have you ever noticed that whenever there’s a creativeÂ change that Wizard talks about, they use the same language?Â I’m sure that when Waid and Kitson launched this latest iteration of the Legion, they said the same thing.Â I’m not saying that Shooter and Manupal are going to suck on the title, but in a few years, I’m sure Wizard will say theÂ same thing when some other creative team decides to tackle the Legion.
Wizard actually has an interesting article about Mark Waid’s first day as editor-in-chiefÂ of Boom! Studios.Â It’s astonishing that they devoteÂ four whole pages to Waid and the books that Boom! publishes.Â How daring!Â But then they go back to standard stuff like highlighting six “hot” artists (Tony Daniel, Billy Tan, Dale Eaglesham, Steve Epting, Mike Perkins, and Shane Davis).Â Oh well.Â Then it’s on to the price guide, which is where I lose interestÂ quickly.Â It annoys me.
So that’s the year in review, according to Wizard.Â I got less glee from it than I have in the past two years, partly because it’s all the same bloodyÂ thing year after year, and it vexes me.Â I have no illusions about what Wizard is and what they’re trying to promote, butÂ it still makes me sad.Â Every other issue during the year is devoted to promoting events that every comics fan already knows about and pimping shit that keeps comics from ever becoming better, and it would be nice if they could devote the year-in-review issue to promotingÂ stuff that’s, you know, good.Â I mean, does anyone really think Incredible Hulk was the best ongoing title?Â Seriously?Â And not unlike a lot of comics, Wizard has become obsessed with slaughter, and it’s kind of depressing.Â Look at the titles they highlight in the “best-of” section.Â Â Hulk’s book had him deposing an evil king (good) for selfish reasons (bad) and then comingÂ back to Earth to pound onÂ other heroes (bad).Â Iron Man is a dick, and calling him the best character because he’s a dickÂ (which is basically what they did) is stupid.Â Â Ben Tanaka is a better dick and a better character, and he only shows up in one graphic novel!Â The best moment isn’t when a hero saved the world, but when we saw how evil a group really is.Â The most deserved beatdown is one hero bashing another one.Â The betrayal is a crocodile eating a teenager.Â They even have a category for “best kill” which features a hero ripping the insides out of a bad guy.Â They spotlight a woman killing her husband on their wedding night (I know it wasn’t Ollie, but still), Hulk mauling another hero, and Hawkeye shooting an arrow into a woman’s face.Â The biggest question they really want answered when asking about Countdown is “Who’s going to die?”Â Not to sound all curmudgeonly, butÂ did anyone do anything heroic this year?Â That’s whyÂ it’s humorous when they try to claim that these big, stupid, gaudy superhero comics are telling complex stories.Â Exit Wounds is a complex story.Â World War Hulk is not.
Wizard, as I’ve said before, can do better.Â It’sÂ kind of sad that theyÂ have no interest in doing so.Â I guess they enjoy what they do and their readers likeÂ it too.Â ButÂ I always think it’s kind of odd that you would consistently buy aÂ magazine that simply tells you what you already believe.Â All Wizard doesÂ isÂ validateÂ the beliefs of those who buy it.Â Do you need to spend money for that?