Friday, December 16, 2016

A Year in Comics 2016

Rules are the same, I have to have read the books and it has to be from the comics that came out in 2016.

Most Boring: I tried to like Superwoman but it lost me on issue 2. It felt like too much was being jammed in and as a result I found it hard to focus on it. I was just bored and waiting for something to grab me. The flow didn't work and while I liked the characters alright they didn't capture me like others. Much like Blue Beetle I had to ask myself how much I enjoy this book compared to my favorite read. Was it forgettable? Was I as emotionally invested or curious of the direction? That's why I dropped the title.

Best Canon Use: Back to the Future. A series about time travel should have good continuity it was just fantastic that they were so devoted to it. The stories were based around events we never saw in the movies but woven in with details we know. Which made it a delight and feel like a real continuation of the trilogy.

Most Annoying Disregard of Canon: While canon is currently shifting in many titles Robin War couldn't get canon that happened in other series right much less it's own event. Dick promised never to deceive his brothers again? Well he does and other than his brothers reminding him of his betrayal Dick acts like it wasn't a big thing. Keep in mind this is after his actions put everyone in danger and wind up biting him in the rear. Do the Owls want Dick or not? That's changed in the event making me wonder why the filler couldn't just be cut. Why we're characters arguing? Who was on what side of the debate?  I get a headache trying to figure this "logic" out.

Biggest Disappointment: Well Robin Wars 2 pissed me off but by that point I knew the event was terrible. I can't say I'm too shocked with the titles I expected to be lackluster. While I had some misgivings about whether Blue Beetle would be one of the Giffin titles I enjoyed I still got excited over the possibilities. Two Blue Beetles finally interacting and sharing a series! Only some of the characterizations felt off, Ted was too annoying and nothing felt developed in the three issues I read. Instead of having a focus like the past with Dr. Fate or dealing with an actual villain we got a pointless fight with Blur.

She's a girl that doesn't seem to understand social interactions enough to know the difference between flirting and attacking. Or maybe that's Giffin? I found a lot of his teen dialogue to be awkward but mostly Brenda and Blur. I question a lot of things in comics due to my curiosity but one of the questions I ask shouldn't be "what was the point of that?" I asked that a lot.

Most Hopeful: Despite trying to enjoy the new 52 and DCYOU it was hard to do so when so much was missing. I liked some titles but as a whole something was lacking. I switched to DC from Marvel after Marvel screwed over the characters I loved one too many times and DC had things I adored. Legacy, history, families, etc. Things that were taken away in the relaunch. Although I'm not the biggest Flash fan (I'm pretty neutral on Flash) I still loved this issue. It was fun and uplifting. While things look bleak with the looming threats and Wally West potentially fading away this issue brings back many of the things that DC desperately needed. It also reminded me why I enjoyed Geoff Johns writing.

Most WTF Moment: Damian Wayne effortlessly knocking out Jason Todd and Tim Drake. Keep in mind Jason was wearing his helmet too one that Winick designed so it wouldn't rattle around on his head. Both of them have had no problem taking Damian on in the past. Tim has easily beaten Damian more than once. (Before someone mentions Batman and Robin under Tomasi Jason refused to go all out and Damian ran before the "fight" was over. Morrison wrote his character as not being able to take Jason on.) I've seen excuses for this but the whole event was lazy.

Except for last years' We Are Robin and Red Hood/Arsenal issues Jason and Tim weren't written well in the whole event. They added nothing of value except those issues and Robin War was a mess in general. Neither Dick nor Damian ever seem to give a crap about them and neither apologize. For some reason newcomer Duke can reach Damian not Jason and Tim. You know, the guys that made an effort in helping Bruce bring Damian back from the dead! WTF indeed.

Biggest Surprise: Ma Gunn. The woman that ran the school for criminals-in-training that hid behind a school marm persona. Batman had sent Jason Todd there and after Jason helped bring her down Batman decided to adopt the kid. She was fairly ridiculous which was part of her appeal which also works for a criminal in Gotham. No one touched the character since her introduction arc and she was never mentioned again in Jason's origin...until Red Hood and the Outlaws #1 VOL. 2.

Not only did she make a return she was seen as being a real threat to Batman by shooting at him while smoking a cigar. The classroom even had the gun charts like the original! It was a very loving nod to past history. Yet at the same time Gunn was seen as frail when Jason later saves her as Red Hood. As odd as it is the two barely interacted at all before and Jason's concern was touching. She previously tried to use him yet he cared about her well being. Gunn also has a history with Roman Sionis which makes you wonder how well connected she is.

But yeah, as soon as I saw her I was giddy in a way that nothing else matched.

Best Supporting Character: While looking over this list I noticed many books I read don't have supporting characters per se. Their ensemble cast or don't show other characters that much. Still someone did stand out. This one goes to Steve Trevor from Wonder Woman and his return after 30 years of being more or less removed from his former importance. He's written as an endearing character that respects Diana and shares a special bond with her. After seeing them together one has to wonder why they were ever separated in the first place.

Worst Villain(s): There were a few that didn't work but I'm giving this one to a group, the Court of Owls. Sure they only appeared in one issue I read this year but they had already worn out their welcome before Robin War #2. COO weren't written well in the entire event. They had an extremely overly complicated plot that made no sense and several steps could have been taken away to accomplish their goal. The whole thing felt insulting but the fact that they publicly showed their hand several times and their still considered a myth ?! GAH !

I can't buy an organization that acted that stupid could ever remain a secret much less after releasing Talons all over the city...again. Everyone was dumb in this event but I can't take the Owls seriously after this. That includes March too. The fact their returning for another Batman event does not excite me in the slightest.

Worst Character: Unfortunately Damian Wayne wins for the second time since I started this list and I used to like Damian! I still do when he's not written like a over the top insufferable brat. Admittedly he did have some nice moments but unfortunately they were overshadowed by him repeating the same horrible behavior. Although I think Bruce would have made this spot if I read more books with him as he's been a poor father. (At least in some of the books I read. Again this is based on what I read this year.)

Not only was Damian written overly skilled to ridiculous levels this year, he kidnapped allies (twice) and once again has no supervision from Batman. At least the incident with Jon was treated slightly more seriously but he still gets away with his crappy behavior. The kidnapping is forgotten completely to focus on their team work. Bruce, Dick and Alfred let him do whatever he wants despite them being his caretakers. Jon sees him as a bully and fights him when pushed too far and Jon is usually level headed. Keep in mind the age difference as Damian is 13 while Jon is 9.

So Jon accidentally killed his mom's cat--which he felt bad about--Damian killed a bat just because he had problems with his dad. Yet he holds the cat death against Jon.

He could have gone to Raven, Starfire, Beast Boy and Kid Flash in a sane fashion to ask for help. But no, attacking and kidnapping them is the way he goes. Damian attacks Tim and Jason yet no one keeps him in line. Bruce benched Dick, Jason and Tim over far less than the growing list Damian has. Making him a bully to other superheroes and his siblings takes away any depth given to Damian. Because he should have learned but he always pulls the same crap. I'd like to see some characters growth that sticks from writer to writer.

Best Villain: Many of the bad guys weren't around much hence had no real presence. Seriously most of the titles I read went through a few villains, barely had them or didn't do much with them. I didn't find Mr. Twister to be that engaging, the Black Knights from GLC: EOO were creepy but only two really stood out. Joker's Daughter from Red Hood/Arsenal and Black Mask from RHATO VOL.2.

This was one I had to think about for awhile since they both push the lead and created some interesting situations. Either one could potentially be an ongoing threat for him. I have to go with Black Mask though because he had a deeper connection and story. I'm far more invested in his plot while I would be fine with JD being killed off.

This Black Mask was different from the one we've seen in the past. He knows more about Jason than he realized which puts BM a few steps ahead throughout the arc. The relationship with Jason for example had A LOT of depth that can be overlooked even after they both realize their similarities. Unfortunately the plot explaining why Black Mask knows who Red Hood is and why he's fixated on him seemed to have been dropped. Or at least the version I was looking forward to and it would have been amazing. I don't know if Lobdell dropped this plot for good and I hope not as it seems like something he had in mind for awhile.

I didn't like what seems to be an editorial change but everything else earns this spot.

Best Male Character: I had another entry for best character development but their the same choice. I've read some good series but no one else has had this much development. Much like the worst character choice I didn't want to repeat a pick but there was no one else that fits. Jason Todd has had a big year of changes from his choice to "save" Roy Harper by distancing himself from him to going undercover. Jason is an engaging character to follow and has so much story potential that I'm thrilled to see being used in this manner.

Sadly other writers (not all but most) seem to fall back to writing cliches like "street kid" persona making Jason often out of character. Jason respects women, usually keeps his more vulnerable emotions under wraps and is smart. Facts that are usually ignored but the real essence of the character was always in his origin. This is the same Jason, sure he's changed some but that same heart is present throughout the story.

He was his (step) mom's caretaker, even looked after his dad when he was drunk and protected people as Robin so his need to look after Bizarro make sense. His scene where he calms Bizarro down by talking passionately about Gotham impresses Artemis and Black Mask. In that moment they both know there's far more to him.

Jason's more open recently almost like he can't fully hide behind a persona anymore because his emotional walls are too cracked. He's lonely and not just because he no longer has his friends around. Tim is "dead", he's no longer close to Batman and admits to himself that he didn't want to return to life. But Jason's trying to do something useful and prove himself. That determination and his earnestness is very endearing.

Best Female Character: Lois Lane, Wonder Woman and Artemis were all awesome. But for this one I decided to break the tie by asking which one is better than they were previously written. Wonder Woman is rediscovering her roots and while she has some good moments I don't think it's that much of a change from who she was before the relaunch. Lois is a mother which is different but it's hasn't changed her that much.

I found a lot of uneven portrayals of Artemis in the past and other than her stint as Wonder Woman she never got that much attention. She makes her presence known with her very distinct personality. Artemis has a sharp tongue which she uses against Jason even once he's an ally and dismisses him repeatedly. She's harsh yet managing to be entertainingly likable without being annoying to the reader. Wonder Woman has her famous lasso of Truth and Artemis has her battle axe "Mistress" and is searching for the Bow of Ra.

The mythology of the Amazons of Bana Mighdall is being built up in a way it wasn't before actually focusing on one interacting with an Egyptian goddess. Artemis has the role of reluctant teammate as she has her own mission yet she seems to have a soft spot for Jason despite herself referring to him as "the little one" and aiding him. I really want to see more of her story and how she bonds with her future teammates.


  1. It has certainly been an up and down year!

    I have to agree with Steve Trevor...I have always liked him and it's nice to see him being written... and written WELL lately.

    Sadly I have to agree about Damian as well. I reluctantly grew to like the little brat, but he has been just crazy lately.

  2. I'll agree on that, I've seen Steve written so differently that I'm glad to see a version that works so well.

    It's frustrating to see a character you like being written so annoying. The problem is that he's Bruce's kid which means like Bruce he gets away with everything he does. Worse yet Bruce is written as either letting him do whatever he wants or not caring. I'm still amazed people think Jason was the problem child Robin when he was FAR more tame. Bruce actually lectured him, Dick and Tim.

  3. Let's face it... Bruce won't be winning any Father of the Year awards any time soon.

  4. He really won't be. He "lost" Tim so he mostly ignores Damian not even there for his Birthday. I have no idea what's going on with Dick and him currently. Bruce only calls Jason when he needs help and apparently their relationship is so frosty Jason is risking everything to prove himself.

    You'd think Bruce would learn after losing one kid to be protective and caring about the others. Even when he is good with one of them he seems to be neglecting the others.

  5. The boys should really just dump Bruce... and stick with Alfred.

  6. Normally I'd say the same but he's done some shady stuff with the WAR kids.