Greatest Hope for Dr. Strange Fans: a restoration for Doctor Strange (this is starting to be the answer every year...)
The Comic Book of 02010: Kick-Ass by Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr.
Let Neilalien explain:
1. This Award category is a bit of a boondoggle. In past years, it's gone to the top/consensus/darling/most thought-criticism-provoking indie book of the year, or a book Neilalien flat-out liked more than any other, or a Ditko biography, it went to the big new Calvin & Hobbes collection that year, or to a comic that really captured that year's zeitgeist. "THE" Comic Book of the year here can mean almost anything- alas, that could mean it is meaningless, but there you are.
2. If you are like Neilalien, and you suspect that 02010 was a major year for the comic book industry on many fronts and tipping points, such as: (a) ultraviolence and gore in comics, grim-and-gritty and "realism", Marvel's Heroic Age meaning/changing nothing, the cynicism of Superman: Grounded and Blackest Night lingerings, etc.; (b) digital distribution of comics, Kick-Ass Goes Digital, this press release almost reads quaint only eight months later; (c) if 02010 was the year of creator ownership, as Kick-Ass is; (d) if we are at a crucial juncture re: the Hollywoodization of comics or the comicization of Hollywood, comics being written as R&D for a movie, the coming superhero movie glut, the superhero/comicbook being in front of more eyes now than ever before, etc.-- if you want one comic book that captures this entire current zeitgeist- and it must also be a book (the #2 selling graphic novel of the year) and movie from 02010 that Neilalien actually quite enjoyed- dude, that book is Kick-Ass.
Some More Comic Books That Brought Neilalien Much Joy in 02010:
Incognito: Bad Influences by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips
Neilalien might populate this list with a couple more items over the next week as he re-reads and re-evaluates more of the year's comics and Doc appearances.
Update: If you like your Doctor Strange annual awards/appearances overview to be vastly more comprehensive than the above, and you surely do, please see the 02010 Sanctum Awards!
Some Current Statuses/Recent Activities of Doctor Strange's Rogues Gallery
Nightmare is recently and currently dead, the first to fall at the long sharpies of The Chaos King, an identity of the evil god Amatsu-Mikaboshi. [Chaos War #1]
And where is Dr. Strange during the Chaos War? Well, the Chaos King has released his inner Zom, so no Doc in another big Marvel event for us. [Incredible Hulks #619]
Baron Mordo recently kidnapped politician Cartier St. Croix in order to lure his daughter Monet into a trap, drain her energies and heal himself of cancer. Mordo is currently walking around thinking that's he's been healed, punk'd by Monet. The delusion is supposed to last until the cancer kills him! [X-Factor #203-207]
After Brother Voodoo exploited the vulnerability of the Orbs of Goqa'xius, Dormammu is presumed still trapped by his moronically poor choice of lair decoration. [Doctor Voodoo: Avenger of the Supernatural #1]
Dormammu in the Marvel vs. Capcom 3 video game, if you prefer a non-canon/Earth-616 appearance.
Umar was looking hot during, and a bit godlike at the end of, the Giffen/DeMatteis/Maguire Defenders miniseries, after absorbing the power of an avatar of Eternity. We don't know what she's done since, but she said here that she didn't have any interest in our universe. [Defenders v3 #5; 1/02006] (Wikipedia currently states, "When Dormammu's minion, criminal gang-leader The Hood, questions Satana to learn about his master, the demoness refers to Umar as having been killed by her brother." But if you read Dark Reign: The Hood #3, it (a) just says "betrayed" and (b) sounds like it's just relating their origin story, not any events since.)
Satannish- along with Lilith- and what looks like Umar, maybe that's what she was doing since the above- was freed from the Dark Realms when Pete Wisdom opened a door to release Merlin; Stomach-Face proceeded to grant Wisdom's wish that there be no more Skrulls in Britain by killing them all. [Captain Britain and MI13 #3-4; 9/02008]
Silver Dagger was recently in the Waid/Rios Strange miniseries, taking advantage of Eternity's universal magickal "stroke". It looked like Baroshtok smushed him good. [Strange #4]
Xandu hasn't been seen, and may even be dead (he's looking poorly, above- and then the bar explodes), since the Punisher poisoned him and all the other supervillain attendees of Stilt-Man's wake. [Punisher War Journal #4]
Mephisto was recently part of that whole Spider-Man One More Day thing.
After Dracula's recent beheading and full death in Captain Britain and MI13, he's fine now. Of all people, the X-Men incredulously restored him for his assistance against his son Xarus in the "Curse of the Mutants" storyline. [X-Men #3]
Atlantean science-mages have just determined that Shuma-Gorath is behind recent unpleasant supernatural events in Invaders Now! #4.
That's a lot of crazy shit and scenarios here- viva les comics! And Doc does- or could- have a vibrant roster of enemies, competing Earthly sorcerers, monsters, demons, extradimensional threats, dangerous objects, etc.- it's nice to see these characters getting used. So many haven't been used in a long time: Urthona, Salome, Tiboro, Dweller-in-Darkness, etc. But Doc's nowhere to be seen in most of these scenarios, and hasn't had a quality interaction with most of these enemies in over 20 years real-time. And it's not like there are any *new* enemies here. And it's not like all the demon types are that different from each other character/personality-wise except in name and look. And it's all a bit too much for this little ol' Dr. Strange blogger to keep track of beyond an annual check-in...
Struggling with the cognitive dissonance of admiring the creative on-the-page work of someone your political opposite, or an asshole [Til The Last Hemlock Dies]
Many a fan of Ditko- arguably, anyone who finds out more about the people they have pedestalized- has similarly struggled.
Superheroes Lose: a Tumblr of comics book covers showing superheroes not faring too well [curated by ADDTF]
It looks like Superheroes Lose is staying with modern covers for now, which is sanity-protective, given the sheer entirety of superhero comics covers history. But Neilalien's submissions would be:
Doctor Strange #65: a simple cover but a Neilalien fave.
Doctor Strange #14: this actually might not qualify for Superheroes Lose, given that Doc's astral form is shown still kicking. But the image of Doc's dead body carried by Dracula is too classic to ignore.
Advance preview of New Avengers #9; bad news: Immonen is not the artist; good news: Deodato Jr. and Chaykin are the artists! [Comic Book Resources]
New Avengers #8 out next week.
Archie Comics go full-on Day-And-Date Digital: starting in April all comics will be available for digital download for $1.99 on the same day the print books come out [Comic Book Resources]
No Direct-Market protectionist schemes like time delays and equal pricing from Archie: Archie and the DM pretty much parted ways long ago; what does any title selling low in the comic shops have to lose by going digital? [Pipeline]
A Few Notes on the Stupendous News of the Fantagraphics Carl Barks Duck Comics Announcement [Comics Reporter]
Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark Broadway show opening night delayed again, until March, to work out the aerial kinks before an actor dies, and some story/song kinks too; reviews are mostly bad but tickets are hotter than a hooker outside a prison; tourists just want to see flying shit [Gothamist]
It's nice to see that, at least in Chris Claremont's sandbox, Dr. Strange still has some oomph, in full regalia. Even if (1) it's Stephen, not Steven, and (2) it's just another old-school one-page Doc-visits-to-fix-the-problem lameo [comic book fandom glossary: a lame cameo].
Variant cover of The Traveler #1 looking familiar to Dr. Strange fans [Midtown Comics]
Looks like the homage variant cover by Paul Rivoche is a Midtown Comics exclusive, so order it online. From Boom Studios, The Traveler is part of Stan Lee's new line.
A history of the big comics crossover event; they were better back then; Infinity Gauntlet is Marvel's best [The Hurting]
Diamond Comics Distributors' retailers now have the option to get their books a day early on Tuesday, to ease the usual brutal shelving turnaround time from getting books on the Wednesday on-sale dates [Robot 6]
Comics enter the 21st century. But will everyone be adults, or will we start seeing spoilers earlier, retailers trying to front-run competition, etc.?
If you are begetting an Avengers glut, it's probably a smart idea not to obscure the logo or distinguishing subtitles on the covers [Progressive Ruin]
Veteran artist Bill Sienkiewicz had a momentary lapse and gave a guy a Virue [comic book fandom glossary: noun: a commission that is crappy, late, and insulting to the purchaser of said commission; named after Michael Golden's infamous "patience is a virue" Dr. Strange commission; Neilalien's too gentlemanly to name such things "Goldens"] but Sienkiewicz made it right [Bleeding Cool Part 1 (do you see a penis?); Part 2]
The New Yorker's 17 January issue hilariously takes on the accident-prone Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark Broadway show with Spideys-in-the-hospital cover [Bleeding Cool] [Best Week Ever]
Also: Are people going to the show for the same reason they go to a car race: to see an accident?
Parker Robbins, The Hood (yup, Neilalien's sick of him too), is now acquiring Infinity Gems. In #7, he gets Black Bolt's yellow Reality gem, abandoned in Attilan's Himalayan shell, and then uses it to get Reed's red Power gem, and with both, he kicks Red Hulk's ass. Rulk runs to the Avengers, and from his story, Iron Man pieces together that Gems are on the loose. The Illuminati summoned, with Medusa in Black Bolt's stead (who's dead right now due to War of Kings douchebaggery), they proceed to Attilan for some CSI. But the other Avengers track Iron Man there, leading to a Steve Rogers 'WTF Tony?' last-page moment. Bendis has already stated in interviews that the Illuminati will be outed for doing something even worse than they did last time.
Doctor Strange doesn't do much (in his defense, no one does much of anything in the issue), except for a "halo spell" during the crime-scene investigation to track some previous movements of the Gem taker. The good news is it reminded fans of Strange Tales #121 when Doc used the Amulet of Agamotto to play back recent past events in an area because of the quaint explanation "light waves never completely disappear". The bad news is it is now not the Amulet or other fun piece of Doctor Strange lore or continuity or something cool and new- but a "Garteek's Halo Spell of the Previous, Book of Vishanti, p. 345"- which is the kind of dryness you get, not unlike a citation in a scientific publication, when Marvel (a) feels that Marvel Magic needs Rules to work, but (b) doesn't have the idea-mojo to add those Rules without also destroying all sense of wonder.
The ability to play back previous events in an area is a neat trick for Doctor Strange- his solo mystical equivalent of Batman's CSI or Wolverine tracking someone by scent. It shouldn't be so powerful that you couldn't write any mystery stories for Doc- maybe it couldn't identify figures, has time limitations, etc. But in this group of superheroes, it's not unique, it's a thrown bone. It's already an established "duh" that the figure was going towards the city. Iron Man is written way too powerfully re: tracking all kinds of energies, including magical ones which Neilalien would argue his equipment shouldn't be so able to detect- he would have easily found some residual energy from the catacombs. For Neilalien, it would have been better to just have Lockjaw track the figure by scent down to the Catacombs, and have Doc do more unique magical things like a modified Flames of the Faltine spell to keep the trekkers warm, and detect the Gem's residual energy in a way that the other five couldn't.
Why should we readers be delighted by or care about details like "page 345 of the Book of the Vishanti" when Bendis doesn't? From his Illuminati #2, Black Bolt gets the purple gem of Space, not the yellow one:
Honestly, Neilalien didn't remember who got which Gems in some superfan way, or read about this discrepancy somewhere online first. Neilalien just assumed Bendis and current Marvel editorial would get the Gem ownership wrong, or even the Gem color/property combinations, he pulled out the Illuminati books, and he was right! That's how little fan/continuity cred Bendis has round these parts, based on previous experience. But hey, Black Bolt's Gem was abandoned, the easiest one a villain would start with for acquisition, and Space might have transported Robbins to the Baxter Building, but Reality's powers were needed to get the next Gem (not really- Space could have been used creatively to defeat the Thing and reach Reed's storage-universe), and continuity makes a great servant but a poor master, so out the purple Gem went, and the passionate detailed-oriented fans who butter Marvel's bread be damned.
What Women Want From Comics [Jezebel]
Dear Marvel/DC: Women read comics, they are already reading your comics, and they want to see strong, independent, heroic characters, and female superheroes, and more diversity and less rape. So say we all.
New Marvel Comics Editor-in-Chief: Axel Alonso [Comic Book Resources]
Also: Tom Brevoort promoted to Senior Vice President of Publishing
Congrats to Mr's Alonso and Brevoort (affectionately called T&A). Joe Quesada will be continuing in his role as Chief Creative Officer. Joey Q became E-i-C just as the Neilalien weblog started humming over ten years ago, and to Quesada's credit, it's been an unquestionably incredible decade of turn-around, given where Marvel was at that time (in bankruptcy)- the Neilalien weblog probably would have hummed much less without the Joey Q era. (Private to A.A.: We could please use a different creative direction for Dr. Strange. We hope it's on your radar.)
A Moment Of Moore: "This is a blog where we publish something related to Alan Moore every day."
Exclesior! Stan Lee was awarded his Hollywood Walk of Fame sidewalk star today [The Insider] [CNN]
(Stan Lee Credit Watch: "Artists" mentioned and "co-created" used in CNN interview; it sounded like he was almost going to say "Ditko" but it was the start of "Did you hear about the Spider-Man musical on Broadway?")
Marvel goes "day-and-date" with Ultimate "Death of Spider-Man" event: comics will be available as a digital download the same day they go on sale in comic shops via comiXology-powered app [Comic Book Resources]
Taking a closer look at Marvel's latest day-and-date moves [Robot 6]
Comics industry digital distribution revolution moves inexorably, tentatively, half-assedly forward; protections for brick-and-mortar comic shops like parity pricing (dead-tree and digital both $3.99- for digital that's pricey) attempt to ensure iPad comics are additive, not cannibalistic, of the Direct Market; digital comics: convenient in a world without a comics shop for miles, or items of limited ownership and experience?; will paper and e-comics find the current co-existence that paper and e-books seem to be settling into- can e-comics be the newsstand of the future and an entirely additive breakout from the Direct Market ghetto or funneler of new fans into the shops- or could comics (singles?) be closer in animal to music, with comic shops going the way of CD stores due to digital distribution?
Must Read: Understanding Luke Cage [World of Hurt]
"I'm not a fan of the way Brian Michael Bendis writes Luke Cage": Bendis' intent may be to make Luke Cage seem like the ultimate ladies' man, but he has instead reduced him to a "a clueless Black buck... a big, Black dildo" with little evidence of the charm, flirtatiousness, or swagger that made Luke such a hit with the ladies. "In this set-up, any potential reader discomfort over a sexually aggressive Black man is neatly shelved, but the wink-wink-nudge-nudge mythology of the Black male as prodigious, and prolific, sexual titan is preserved."
The 5 Worst Comics of 02010 include lava vaginas, booby-trapped uteri, drunken threesomes, erectile dysfunction, cat-corpse heroin hallucinations, ultraviolence, and Superman: Grounded [Comics Alliance]
Marvel/DC superhero comics have lost their way.
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