Tuesday, December 1, 2009

What to Watch 2009: A Look Back

As part of my Yearly Review Power Rankings 2008, I chose eight items to watch out for in 2009 based on the momentum they had going for them heading into the new year. Now that we are approaching the close of 2009, I thought it would be neat to look back on these picks and gage how accurate my predictions were. Hit the jump to find out just how right—or wrong—I was at picking the best and brightest for 2009!

Original Post: Sterling Gates, Jamal Igle, and Keith Champagne have made this the best book of the last quarter and I expect this trend to continue in 2009.

What Happened: Although the level of quality for Supergirl wasn’t quite as in 2009 as it was in the last quarter of 2008, the series did earn one Book of the Week honor in March for issue #39. The biggest problem with the series was that it became bogged down as the Superman Family titles crossed over both officially and unofficially for much of the year. The creative team did their best to maintain quality, but unfortunately the series lost its luster as a standalone series.

Accuracy: I will stand by the idea that Supergirl was a book to watch this year, but, unfortunately, it’s not for the reasons I predicted. Instead, the title was worth watching to see how the trend of overblown crossovers and mega-events can adversely affect the quality of a title. Supergirl was once of the strongest books in DC’s catalogue, but was reduced to a merely serviceable read through the relentless crossovers it was involved in.

Original Post: With Norman Osborn now King of the Marvel Universe, expect big things from Andy Diggle on this title, especially after the amazing last two issues of 2008.

What Happened: Honestly, I’m not so sure. As the average price of comics inched towards the $3.99 threshold this year, Thunderbolts was one of the first titles that was cut from my pull list. The problem wasn’t the quality of the book, but that I wasn’t invested enough in the characters to continue on.

Accuracy: From the sounds of it, Thunderbolts continued to keep its core fans happy as the stories showed the darker side of the Marvel Universe under Norman Osborn’s reign. However, like many readers, I wasn’t prepared to risk my cash on a title that I simply wasn’t invested in as prices began to climb.

Original Post: Mark down February 4, 2009 right now – that’s when 2009’s first Best in Comics contender is going to drop.

What Happened: The newest volume of Bryan Lee O’Malley’s brilliant Scott Pilgrim series did, in fact, drop in February and was quite good. The story focused on the troubled relationship of Scott Pilgrim and Ramona Flowers as Scott was attacked by two more of Ramona’s exes—twins who control a vast array of deadly robots. Also, it was awesome.

Accuracy: Scott Pilgrim Vol. 5 had everything that I was looking for. The title’s trademark humor and charm was more than present, though I was surprised by how dark the book was. I wouldn’t say that it was my favorite in the series, though it did feature the best use of Kim Pine so far.

Original Post: Even without the squid, I’m ridiculously jazzed for this film—provided that Zach Snyder stays as faithful to the original work as he did with 300.

What Happened: Although legal action threatened its release, Watchmen did finally make it to theatres and Zach Snyder’s intensely accurate adaptation had a lot of fanboys cheering. Unfortunately, the mature tone and complex story was off-putting to non-comics fans and the film fizzled out quickly at the box office.

Accuracy: Personally, I loved Watchmen and applaud Zach Snyder for his reverence for the original source material. Liberties were taken, but Snyder did an amazing job with a comic that was once thought to be unfilmable. The amazing performances by Jackie Earl Haley as Rorschach and Jeffery Dean Morgan as the Comedian brought the original story to life despite Matthew Goode’s attempts at derailing it with his wooden portrayal of Ozymandias.

Original Post: Elephantmen: War Toys started 2008 off in a big way, but then the franchise fizzled due to schedule delays the rest of the year. I’ve confirmed that the series should be back on track in 2009 and ready to dominate once again.

What Happened: After sporadic releases in 2008, there were 9 issues of the series released thus far in 2009 including the War Toys: Yvette one-shot.

Accuracy: Not only did Elephantmen get back on schedule, it also blew away the competition to be one of the top comics of the year. Of the 9 issues released, 4 issues took home Book of the Week honors on the Comic Book Review Power Rankings and the remainder all placed very highly. Plus, several of those issues helped bring the amazing artist Marian Churchland into the public eye.

Original Post: I’m always pumped about my biggest convention of the year, but with Jim Lee and George Perez already announced as guests, I’m completely beside myself.

What Happened: Despite being announced early on as a guest, Jim Lee was not in attendance…and neither was I. The lack of comic guests and the high price for autographs from Z-list celebrities kept me away from WWC this year.

Accuracy: After the announcement of April 2010’s C2E2 convention and the fact that Marvel and DC pulled out of the show, it really seemed that Wizard World Chicago would be the death knell of the Wizard Conventions. Instead it ignited the Convention Wars between Wizard and Reed Entertainment, with fans caught in the middle. So, Wizard World Chicago ended up being one of the most important conventions of the year, but not for the reasons you’d expect.

Original Post: With Marvel’s Secret Warriors already on tap, the always high-concept Hickman will make his major mainstream debut in 2009. I give it two years before he is a household name.

What Happened: Jonathan Hickman’s Secret Warriors went on to critical acclaim and lead to Hickman’s amazing run on Fantastic Four with Dale Eaglesham. Just recently it would be announced that Hickman would be exploring the earliest years of Marvel in a new SHIELD ongoing that would focus on the history of the organization.

Accuracy: If there was any prediction that I nailed last year, its this one. Hickman’s inventive approach to comics made him one of the most critically lauded writers of the year and netted him several high profile projects for Marvel. If he keeps up this momentum in 2010, he could easily become the biggest name in comics.

Original Post: Seriously, I do this every week and I love hearing from readers. Don’t miss out! You can find it each week at the Newsarama User Reviews forum!

What Happened: On May 28th, I jumped ship from the dying Newsarama message boards to join Kirk, Matt, and Eric here at Weekly Crisis with the revamped Comic Book Review Power Rankings each and every Thursday.

Accuracy: This wasn’t just a great year for the Rankings, it was the best year yet. I’m glad that my reviews found a home at Weekly Crisis and even more pleased with the awesome response that I’ve received from the readers—both those that followed me over from Newsarama and those who enjoyed my work for the first time here. I wouldn’t be doing this if it weren’t for y’all and I look forward to having an even better year in 2010!

For the most part, it looks like I was fairly accurate on my predictions for 2009--even if the reasons to watch certain books weren't what I was expecting.  Looking back on 2009, what were your big expectations?  How accurate were they?  What do you think we should be watching next year?

Be sure to check back next week for my predictions on what to watch in the world of comics in 2010!

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JonesHawkeye said...

I suppose that the biggest one that you missed was how popular Blackest Night was going to be. I figured that it would do well, but I had no idea that it would drag DC into the position it currently is. Never in a thousand years did I think that DC would take all of the five top spots on the sales charts, or that DC's market share in units moved and total dollars would damn near equal Marvel's. The ring promotion went over fantastically well. Great job DC!!

Ryan Schrodt said...

I know! I never would have expected that Blackest Night would do as well as it has. I'm guessing that I didn't include it on my list simply because I knew that most readers would be following it closely anyway. Still, had I included it, I don't think I could have anticipated it being as big as it has been.

Primewax said...

Blackest Night is the biggest/most-hyped comic book event of the past decade. Love it or hate it, you have to admit its stirring things up.

Radlum said...

Thunderbolts was quite good (besides the Deadpool crossover, that was awful), tough not much happened besides some minor double and triple crossing.

Primewax said...

I thought the Thunderbolts/Deadpool crossover was quite good, myself.

Daryll B. said...

Ryan, I do the same thing with my sports predictions on ESPN Sportsnation. It is always fun to look back and see either how right you are or make fun of yourself.

J. Hickman is definitely a rising star. His books are either good to great each issue.

Thunderbolts was good but then again I am biased because I still long for the old TB concept and again it a crime that Marvel didn't take advantage of the buzz and released some reprintings...similar to DC and the lack of Legion of SH reprintings.

And heck, I am another who read you over at Newsarama and thought it was cool over there and cool now. Glad you are happy with the move.

Anonymous said...

I agree wholeheartedly with your comments concerning Elephantmen! Great art, great story, and NO crossovers to worry about! Starkings is a genius.....and why hasn't DC or Marvel offered Moritat & Churchland huge contracts!?!?!

Now that it is on track and coming out regularily it should be huge in 2010!

I also agree on your Supergirl comments. Supergirl can do great on her own, she doesn't need Superman crossovers 3/4 of the year. They should just rename it "Superman Continued" and relaunch a Supergirl monthly for just her.

Eric Rupe said...

Sometimes I feel like I'm the only sane man in an insane world since I seem to be the only person who dislikes Scott Pilgrim. Or maybe I'm the only insane man in a sane world? Either way, I loath the series. And, before you ask, I hate it because Scott Pilgrim, the main character we are supposed to identify with and like, is an unlikable [insert your favorite explicative here].

I also didn't care for the Watchmen movie. It wasn't bad but it lacked all of the depth that the comic had. It when through all of the motions but they were meaningless. I did like all of the casting choices though.

Primewax - Actually, Civil War is easily the event of the decade. It sold more, way more, had more buzz and even got some mainstream attention. There was just more to it in just about every way and it actually did provide something of a new dynamic for Marvel for a short while, which is something BN probably won't end up doing.

Primewax said...

@Eric- You're probably right about Civil War. I always forget about it because I hated it so much.

Steven said...

@Eric and Primewax - DC seriously putting a crimp in Marvel's stranglehold of the marketplace, and right during the Disney buyout is happening is probably more significant than any "event" storyline from either company.

Oh, and storyline-wise, I figure we are also going to get every dead character whose ring connection is not severed during the course of the story brought back to life. So baring someone big being sacrificed for dramatic effect, Blackest Night may end up having a massive affect on the DCU.

Daryll B. said...

Eric, I with you on this..me and Scott Pilgrim...um no..

Eric Rupe said...

Steven - We were talking about event comics, not stuff like Disney buying Marvel. Even so, Civil War is still on one the biggest successes of the decade, as far as Marvel or DC are concerned.

Also, DC's gains with Blackest Night are not really gains at all and will all be gone mostly after BN ends and maybe even before when Siege launches. Here is a very illuminating article about just how bad DC is doing, sales wise.

Scott Roberts said...

Good Call on the Hickman pick. Although anyone who read his work on Nightly News and Pax Romana, had to know the man was eventually going to blow up. He is soo talented. Unfortunately, even though Im loving his stuff on FF and Secret Warriors, his work for Marvel is taking away time from his creator owned stories. I also miss his art, which may not be the most polished but the way he sets up a page is incredibly fresh and inventive and I would love to see him at least do a few covers.

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