In our final set of awards, we allow ourselves a rare moment of cynicism to have a bit of a whinge about the things that upset us about the comics industry this year.
Like last year, we’re going to end the awards with a bit of whining before coming back tomorrow with our most anticipated comics for 2010. The hall of shame awards, should you wish to read them, are right behind the jump.
The “We Only Just Got Here” Award for Unfulfilled Story Setup: Uncanny X-Men
In the days when the average story arc was three issues of dense plotting, fifteen months was a significant period of time in a book, and enough to begin to get to grips with the opportunities of a status quo. We’ve moved on somewhat from the wholly trade-orientated days of the early 2000s, but the persistence of decompressed storytelling techniques made it all the more surprising to see Matt Fraction’s team of mutants quitting their San Francisco base after only a couple of stories set there. The new setting had been unveiled with much fanfare, but it now falls to Astonishing X-Men only to attempt to wring some of the potential from the scenario. [JHa]
The “Ghost Boxes” Award for Value: Wednesday Comics
Wednesday Comics was a noble experiment. It was a valid way of doing something different with the weekly format kicked off by 52. It contained some absolutely gorgeous art (albeit sometimes allied to some shoddy writing), and was a terrific piece of design work. It was a unique way to read superhero comics (if bloody difficult to do on public transport). It was also too bloody expensive. Large pages they may have been, but it still only contained 12 of the things (and too few of them took advantage of the format to include extra panels, with most simply drawing bigger), and on cheap newspaper to boot – part of the aesthetic appeal, it’s true, but that didn’t make it worth $3.99 an issue. If it had come out monthly, then perhaps – but three months’ worth of comic for a total outlay of nearly 50 dollars simply didn’t add up. [SP]
The “Aunt May” Award for Botched Resurrections: Captain America
Okay – admittedly, the story wasn’t terrible. Indeed, some bits of it were really quite good. But the missteps were pretty huge. First, Captain America #600 was heavily promoted as containing a major, news-worthy story – shipped early to allow retailers and readers to get the best of that – and then contained no information you couldn’t have garnered from the specifics. After a faltering start, things ticked over fairly well, until it emerged that an extra issue would be needed for the conclusion. Except, the event had already gone out-of-sequence by the time #5 came out, with Cap turning up alive in all sorts of titles, and the (admittedly excellent) “Who will wield the shield?” one-shot blowing one of the few remaining twists as well. Because of this, both ends of the “Reborn” storyline were a bit shoddy, and it’s hard to call Cap’s a smooth one. We’re not quite as livid about the situation as some fans seem to be (after all, you don’t technically HAVE to read comics the week they come out if you’re that bothered…) but I don’t think any editor would claim that it’s been an ideal situation. [JHu]
The “Jeph Loeb” Award for Worst Single Issue: Ultimatum #5
You may notice that we’ve gone a bit quiet on Loeb-bashing over the past few months. That’s largely because, although his books still aren’t very good, they’ve at least been easier to ignore (and significantly better than “catastrophic”) since the end of Ultimatum. But before then? Hoo boy. The series actually managed the astonishing feat of getting worse by the issue, culminating in a finale that basically consisted of nothing more than sadistically killing off as many (mostly X-based) characters as possible, for no apparent reason. Superhero comics over the last year or so have generally moved back towards the fantastical, exciting and inspiring (even Dark Reign and Blackest Night are both setups specifically designed to make the reader yearn for a return to the “light”) – and in its unrelenting grimness and voyeuristic use of grisly death in place of actual plot, Ultimatum felt as out of touch with its contemporaries as if Marvel had just started re-releasing old Lee/Kirby stories. [SP]
The “Comics Daily” Award for Inconsistency: Best Ongoing Series Award
Last year, one of our awards was for “Best Ongoing Series”, which we eventually awarded to Amazing Spider-Man. This year, we simply could not find one that fit the bill. All of our favoured choices managed to have one major black mark against their names of the kind that simply wouldn’t be acceptable for the best ongoing series. The incoherence of Dark Avengers. The incursion of Ultimatum into the Ultimate line. The wildly varying quality of Uncanny X-Men. The dragging middle-acts of Invincible Iron Man’s “World’s Most Wanted.” The issues between Grant Morrison’s Batman issues. The closest thing we could find to a flawless book was Daredevil, and only one of us actually reads that. As far as we could see, there was no ongoing series in 2009 that really stood above the crowd. That said, we’re well aware that we can’t read everything – so, if you’re reading this, tell us: what do YOU think was the best ongoing series this year? [JHu]