Greetings from the Odinson,
It’s time for Odinson’s 2012: The Year in Review: Part 1: The Comics.
AvX – It was the bout for the heavyweight title, the battle that was supposed to prove once and for all who are Earth’s Mightiest Heroes – the Avengers or X-Men? Let me start by saying that I did enjoy this story. So let me tell you what I didn’t like about it. First, there is no way the X-Men would ever beat the Avengers in a straight up brawl. They just don’t have anybody that can match the power of Iron Man, Thor, and Hulk. So, for months leading up to this event Marvel had to trick up the X-Men’s roster by adding heavy hitters like Namor, Danger, Magneto and Juggernaut. Next, I’m not saying that Ben Grimm can’t take Namor in a fight, but I am saying that there is no way on earth he defeats the Savage Sub-Mariner on the ocean floor. One of my biggest complaints about the story is that about halfway through the story it wasn’t even the Avengers vs. X-Men anymore, it was the Avengers vs. the Phoenix Force (which by the way is really cool, but a bit of false advertising according to the title). And my final complaint is that this story absolutely ruined one of my favorite characters – Cyclops. I talked extensively about his fall before (see AvX Repercussions and the Rise and Fall of Cyclops). Scott and Captain America should be meeting on a weekly basis and discussing how they are going to take down Doctor Doom and Mister Sinister, not trying to take each other’s heads off.
Now, what did I like about the story? The art was fantastic! John Romita, Jr., Olivier Coipel, Adam Kubert and Frank Cho, all masters of their craft, definitely brought their A-Games. I enjoyed the heroic arc of Hope and the return of Scarlet Witch back into the fold. From New York City to the Island of Utopia to the Blue Area of the Moon to Wakanda to the mystical realm of K’un L’un, I felt the writers gave this tale the grand scope and epic feel a battle like this needs. I was also really happy with the frequency with which the issues were released. Between the main title (Avengers vs. X-Men) and its sister title (AvX: Vs.) there was almost an issue every week. That’s good because sometimes the month-long wait between issues on some of these Big Events can get a little tedious. And, most importantly, I was satisfied and quite happy with how the story ended, even if it meant vilifying my boy, Cyclops. The end of the war with the Phoenix Force opens up a brand new door to a brighter future where the Avengers and X-Men stand united and ready to face the coming challenges in the pages of Uncanny Avengers. Odinson Rating: 3 1/2 out of 5 Hammers
Spider-Man – 2012 has certainly been an interesting year for the Web-Slinger. Spidey started the year surviving the Return of the Sinister Six and a team-up with Daredevil and Black Cat that left a bad taste in his mouth. He saved New York City from certain destruction in I Killed Tomorrow and even tried to room with the Human Torch, to his detriment. But nothing could have prepared the spectacular wall-crawler for what happened next – Ends of the Earth!
In this amazing tale, the nefarious Doctor Octopus returns and threatens the world with utter annihilation, and even Earth’s Mightiest Heroes are powerless to stop him. Spider-Man must dig down deep and find new bastions of courage in order to overcome his arch foe’s mad scheme. Then a brief interlude sees a dramatic change in the Lizard. Plus, Spidey meets Alpha, Marvel’s latest teen hero. But it is all just prelude to the ultimate shocker – Dying Wish. In the pages of this startling tale that will be the swan song on Spider-Man’s long running series, Doctor Octopus, a man one breath away from his last, pulls off his greatest diabolical scheme ever. This could be the swan song for our hero in more ways then one. Odinson Rating: 4 out of 5 Hammers
Buffy/Angel – What can I say about the Buffyverse? It’s been rather quiet this year, nothing overly spectacular to talk about. I did enjoy the Spike mini series. It was a great blend of humor and characterization. And I also enjoyed the tale Family Reunion. Here we got to see a crossover of sorts as Angel and Faith reunite with Willow and recruit Connor and head off to Quor-Toth, the hell dimension where Angel’s son was raised, to seek a method of restoring magic to the world. That was a fun romp and it was nice seeing characters that really haven’t had a chance to interact with each other. And it was cool seeing Quor-Toth for the first time, a place only talked about in the TV series but never shown. I’m a little lost in the Buffy storyline right now and feel it’s moving at a snail’s pace. Over all, it hasn’t been a banner year for the Buffyverse (probably due in no small part to Joss Whedon being busy making mega hit movies) but hopefully it will bounce back in 2013. Odinson Rating: 2 1/2 out of 5 Hammers
Batman – I have to say that the Odinson is really impressed with Bat-Scribe Scott Snyder. He is really knocking it out of the park with his take on the Caped Crusader. First he takes the Dark Knight to his physical and mental limits in The Court of Owls, an eye-opening mystery that pulls the curtain back and makes Batman realize that he doesn’t know his city quite as well as he thought. Then, proving there is no rest for the wicked, Snyder amps up the danger level when the Clown Prince of Crime returns in a tale called Death of the Family. This is a Joker that we’ve never seen before – crazier and even more dangerous, and that’s saying something. Does the Joker know Batman’s secrets? Nobody is safe! Not the Bat Family, not their loved ones, not even the other criminals in Gotham City. The Joker is playing for keeps. I’ve listened to a podcast interview with Scott Snyder conducted by Kevin Smith, and let me say that what Snyder has in store for the finale of this one is going to be incredible. Odinson Rating: 5 out of 5 Hammers
NOTE: I’d also like to add that Greg Capullo is delivering some of the best art of his career. He was born to draw Batman.
Superman/Wonder Romance – What can I possibly say that I haven’t already (see Budding Romance Between Two DC Icons)? Except that I will add, it’s about time, and I hope it’s not just a flash in the pan. Odinson Rating: 5 out of 5 Hammers
Dynamite – Dynamite came to play ball in 2012. In the pages of Bionic Man, they delivered one of the most iconic moments from the classic Six Million Dollar Man TV series and put a modern age twist on it. I am of course talking about the fan favorite Bionic Man vs. Big Foot! Plus, wanting to dip their toe in the “epic” waters, Dynamite took stock of what properties they had under their banner and assembled a motley team of unlikely heroes (Red Sonja, Vampirella, Eva, Dracula, Herbert West the Re-Animator, Allan Quartermain, Athena, Dorian Gray, Sherlock Holmes, Pantha, and Ash) to prevent the end of the world in the pages of Prophecy. And knowing a good formula when they see it, Dynamite finished the year by assembling a team of the greatest masked avengers in history in the pages of Masks. The Shadow, Green Hornet and Kato, the Spider, Miss Fury, Zorro, and others must unite to take down a threat bigger than anything they’ve ever faced before. Odinson Rating: 4 out of 5 Hammers
Marvel Now – I was very vocal about my excitement when DC Comics announced they were launching the New 52. And there were some really cool things they accomplished with it, but there were also some things I’m not quite so sure of. So you can imagine my caution when it comes to Marvel Now. First of all, I’m not quite sure it was necessary. The re-launch from issue #1 is becoming a bit of a cliché. Since 1996’s Heroes Reborn, Captain America alone has been restarted from issue #1 six times! That doesn’t even include his original series (which launched in 1968), countless mini series, and his Golden Age adventures from the pages of Captain America Comics (launched in 1941). I am enjoying Uncanny Avengers and I thought the first issues of Indestructible Hulk and Thunderbolts were very interesting. In fact I’m excited about the original take they are pursuing with the Hulk. Since it will be months before the rest of the titles hit the racks it’s hard for the Odinson to make a call on this one quite yet. Odinson Rating: 3 out of 5 Hammers (as of right now)
Valiant Comics – The triumphant return of Valiant has been nothing less than spectacular. Valiant was a major player in the comics market back in the early to mid-nineties, but over-saturation and too many gimmicks saw them all but disappear from the shelves. However, 2012 marked their return and they are back, baby, with a vengeance. X-O Manowar is a must read for the Odinson and easily one of the best titles by any company on the spinner. This is a sci-fi, action/adventure with elements of Highlander, John Carter of Mars, James Bond, and War of the Worlds all thrown into a melting pot and producing gold on a monthly basis.
The Valiant Universe expanded with titles like Harbinger, Archer and Armstrong, Bloodshot, and Shadowman and each one of these titles has proven to be every bit worth your hard earned coin as the next. The Odinson is really digging what they got going on over at Valiant and highly recommends these titles. One of the things that really makes these books stand out is that Valiant spared no expense when it came to assembling great talent, creators like Robert Venditti (The Surrogates), Cary Nord (Conan), Patrick Zircher (Thor: Age of Thunder), Manuel Garcia (Checkmate), Fred Van Lente (Marvel Zombies). The creative teams at the Valiant offices are top notch and they are delivering some of their best work ever. Odinson Rating: 4 out of 5 Hammers
The comic companies really delivered in 2012. I’d have to say it was a pretty darn good year for the four-color format. Be here next week when the Odinson is sure to get some cheers (and jeers) for his 2012 the Year in Review: Movies and Television.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell