Thursday, December 10, 2009

What to Watch in 2010


Last week I revisited my picks for what to watch in 2009 and analyzed the success I had in picking the year’s hottest titles, trends, and creators. This week, I’m looking to the future with ten items in the comic industry that should have everyone talking in the new year. You may notice that I skipped over some of the sure-fire big stories for 2010, like Marvel’s Siege event and the return of Bruce Wayne. I think we all know that these will be big talking points next year, but I’d like to dig a bit deeper for some picks that may surprise you. Hit the jump to find out where I think your attention will be in 2010!


IRON MAN 2

The original Iron Man film was an unprecedented success that came out of nowhere to capture the imaginations of millions across the country. The film was a runaway hit with fanboys and non-fans a like, leading to both financial and critical success. The sequel was inevitable and filmgoers should be pleased that the majority of the original cast will be returning, with the exception of Terrence Howard who will be replaced by Don Cheadle. Joining the cast are Sam Rockwell, Mickey Rourke, and Scarlett Johansson.

The first film opened the doors for a slew of non-marquee superhero films to be made, including films like the upcoming Green Lantern; it also set the standard very high for all superhero films. However, it is worth noting that it has been two years since the film was released and a number of less-successful superhero films that haven’t done nearly as well have been released since then, including the mildly received Incredible Hulk and the instant-bombs Punisher: War Zone and The Spirit. Have moviegoers outgrown superheroes? This film is likely to tell the tale.

Things look good thus far, though. Director Jon Favereau seems very confident about the direction of the film and all of the promotional materials, including the recently released teaser poster featuring the War Machine armor are simply fantastic. Plus, if nothing else, even if the film is horrible, we can all still enjoy Scarlett Johansson as the sexy superspy Black Widow. And, there is always the question of how this will tie-in with the upcoming Thor and Captain America movies, as well as the inevitable Avengers feature film…


JT KRUL

Writer JT Krul began his career writing for Michael Turner’s Aspen company, but started building a solid foundation for himself at DC this year through a series of fill-in issues and the surprisingly awesome Blackest Night Titans miniseries. Krul has shown a great penchant for balancing character-focused storytelling with big action. His handful of Blackest Night tie-in issues (both as part of the Blackest Night Titans mini and the regular Teen Titans series) were incredibly solid and showed that head mastery over a number of characters, including longtime fan favorites like Deathstroke and lesser-knowns that he made incredibly compelling like the female Hawk and Dove.

Krul is clearly on the verge of big things. A quick look at the February solicitations show that DC is already branching him away from the Titans books with a fill-in issue of Green Arrow/Black Canary that ties into Blackest Night. If this issue is as well-received and well-crafted as his recent Titans-related issues, it’s likely that you’ll see Krul on at least one ongoing title from DC next year. From there, the sky is the limit for this rising star. 2010 most certainly won’t be the biggest year of his career, but it will be the year that Krul breaks out into the mainstream.


KRYPTONIANS AND NEW KRYPTON

DC put a lot of effort in 2009 into unifying the Superman titles, despite moving the Man of Steel off world. Superman, Action Comics, Supergirl, and World of New Krypton were all part of multiple crossovers all focuses on how the Kandorians have adapted to life on New Krypton, as well as the aggressions they have faced from the humans who perceived them as a threat. The World of New Krypton miniseries, which is the only title that actually stars Superman, ends in 2010, which would imply that big changes are on the horizon for the hero and his family of titles.

My guess? There are thousands of superpowered Kryptonians within striking distance of Earth and a paramilitary force whose sole aim in 2009 has been to hunt down and agitate the Kryptonians. Things are clearly not going to end well when the tensions between the two boil over, especially with the most famous of them all, Superman, having spent the last year away from his adoptive home after serving as part of the security forces on Krypton. Something huge is building I suspect it will be one of the biggest stories of 2010.


DC: EARTH-ONE

Just this week, DC announced a new initiative to release graphic novels that chronicle the origins and adventures of new interpretations of their classic heroes. These stories will take place on “Earth One” and will be stand separately from the regular DC Universe. Kicking off the series in 2010 will be the origin of Superman by J. Michael Straczynski and Shane Davis and the origin of Batman by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank. According to Johns, these stories will offer lots of creative freedom for the writers and will be released at a rate of two volumes per year. This is very similar to how many European comics are released.

Fans were immediately divided on the announcement of these stories with one camp being annoyed that this is simply rehashing stories that are told over and over again, while others seemed excited for the new format and twists promised by the creative teams. Personally, I’m torn. On one hand, these stories are well worn, plus this concept is very similar to the all-but-abandoned All-Star line that launched a few years back. On the flipside, these are really awesome creative teams and the early designs do look awesome.

I think the most important aspect of this, though, has largely been ignored. To many, monthly floppy comics are dying out and new avenues must be approached—for some this means moving to digital distribution, while to others it is a push for graphic novels, which have captured the attention of a wider audience due to their prevalence in bookstores. Earth One is clearly an attempt to jump start the latter—by starting fresh with origin stories of DC’s two most popular characters, it is extremely accessible to new readers in a format that is more approachable than monthly issues. It will be interesting to see how this grand experiment plays out in 2010 and, hopefully, what new titles we’ll see announced towards the end of the year if it’s a success.


MARVELMAN/MIRACLEMAN

One of the biggest announcements of 2009 was that Marvel had acquired the publishing rights to Marvelman, also known as Miracleman, from creator Mick Anglo. The rights for the character and his stories have long been in dispute, with the most vicious battle being between industry giants Todd MacFarlane and Neil Gaiman. For those unaware, Marvelman’s story began in the UK in the 1950s when Anglo created the character, whose powers and back story very similar to Captain Marvel. It wasn’t until the 1980s when comics-god Alan Moore dusted off the character for some of the most critically acclaimed stories of his career that featured a much darker version of the character. Neil Gaiman then picked up the reigns of the character in the 1990s in an equally as acclaimed, but unfinished story that abruptly ended when its publisher, Eclipse Comics, went out of business.

The Marvelman comics have been out of print since the early 1990s and have fetched incredibly high prices on the internet and at conventions. For many, the announcement of Marvel’s acquisition of the rights means that they will finally be able to read some of the most critically acclaimed but hard to find comics of the modern era. The big question, however, is what hoops Marvel will have to jump through in order to prove that Mick Anglo held on to the rights all along before they can start printing the stories.

Once the dust has settled and the old comics have been published, which presumably will happen in 2010, the last remaining item is simply what Marvel is going to do with the character. Will he be introduced into the 616 universe a la the Sentry? Will his world be a parallel universe open for crossovers? Or, as many readers have been demanding, will he remain a standalone entity reserved for only the highest caliber of creative teams to tackle?


THE CONVENTION WARS

Comic book conventions have been a staple of the industry for decades now and are the best way for fans to meet their favorite creators and interact with other members of the fan community. For years these conventions have been held all over the world without many major problems—that is, however, until 2009 when the Reed Company announced that it would be hosting the Chicago Comics and Entertainment Expo (C2E2) in April 2010, making it the first major convention to make a run against the United States’s second largest convention, Wizard World Chicago, which is held each August.

That alone is a big story, but things got much crazier when Wizard announced that its own Anaheim Comic Con would be held the same weekend as C2E2. From their it deteriorated and divided the fan community—especially Chicago fans that felt betrayed by the lack of focus on comics at Wizard World Chicago 2009 in favor of B-list celebrities, over-the-hill actors, and athletes. This conflict became a full on war when Wizard announced that its Big Apple Comic Con would be held the same weekend as Reed’s flagship convention, the New York Comic Convention. For the first time, fans would be forced to choose between two major conventions at the same time in the same city.

Personally, I’m shocked and appalled by this. There is no reason that the fans should suffer the effects of a squabble between Reed and Wizard—there are certainly enough nerds out there to support two conventions in on major city, but nothing good can come from dividing the community. The war can be ended quickly if one convention decidedly outdoes the other—but what happens if there is a stalemate? Also, what affect with DC and Marvel’s decisions not to support Wizard conventions have on the conflict?


TEEN TITANS: GAMES

In 1989, DC announced that George Perez and Marv Wolfman had begun working on Games, a Teen Titans original graphic novel that would reunite the creative team behind New Teen Titans for the first time. The 120-page story would follow the Titans through a series of “games” contrived by King Faraday that would traverse the entirety of New York City. The project was delayed from the start thanks to the increased workload of George Perez who was to complete all of the art based upon the plot he had developed with Wolfman, who would then complete the dialogue after the art had been finished. Perez had reportedly completed between 70-80 pages before the project was scrapped in the early 90s when elements of the story were then folded into the then-current Teen Titans run. This August, rumor monger Rich Johnston announced that Perez and Wolfman had returned to the project and were eyeing a potential 2010 release to coincide with the 30th anniversary of their legendary New Teen Titans run.

This is easily my least-reliable pick for next year, but also the one I’m hoping will come true the most. This isn’t the first time that rumors have surfaced that this graphic novel might finally see print. Shortly after the September 11, 2001 attacks, Perez called the project dead due in part to the fact that major scenes took place at the World Trade Center towers in the comic; just months later, however, Wolfman had expressed interest in returning to work on the project. Rumors surfaced again 2004 and in 2007. Word has it, though, that Perez is already back to work on the comic with the help of Mike Perkins who is inking on the new pages. All signs point to Games finally being a go and I’m on the edge of my seat, giddy with anticipation.


RYAN STEGMAN

A few years back I discovered the work of Ryan Stegman by flipping through his first Marvel superhero book, a done-in-one Marvel Adventures: Spider-Man story guest starring the Fantastic Four. Since then, I’ve been hooked on his work. This past year was great for Stegman as he did a number of great covers as well as providing the interior art for the Riftwar adaptation with Bryan J.L. Glass and a simply amazing arc on Incredible Hercules.

2010 promises to be very fruitful for Stegman. His Twitter followers have seen glimpses of upcoming projects, including an Incredible Hulk backup story slated for release in February. He has hinted at more work to come and there is little doubt in my mind that his upcoming projects will be higher-profile than his work thus far. I don’t suspect that this next year will lead to Stegman becoming the next hot thing, but his amazing consistency and issue-to-issue growth will capture the attention of more and more fans. Don’t be surprised if he closes the year on bigger projects and kicks off 2011 working on a major title or storyline.


AREA 10

Vertigo’s upcoming Area 10 original graphic novel drops in April and is likely to make it on a ton of a “Best of 2010” lists. Writer Christos Gage and artist Chris Samnee tell the story of an NYPD detective on the hunt for a serial killer who suffers a brain injury in a freak accident that leaves his perception of time completely altered. Area 10 sounds to be a great mix of gritty crime fiction and high concept pulp with one of the strongest creative teams assembled in recent memory.

I’ve been singing the praises of both Christos Gage and Chris Samnee for years, so it is only natural that I’d be drawn to their upcoming graphic novel. Both men are capable of finding success in nearly every genre, so I have no doubts about the level of quality they can bring to this genre-straddling story. Plus, this book being printed under DC’s Vertigo imprint allows both men to cut loose with freedom we aren’t accustomed to seeing from them. This one sounds dark, suspenseful, and thrilling, but most of all, it sounds incredibly awesome!


KICK-ASS: THE MOVIE

It looks like 2010 will be another banner year for comic book movies. The tent-pole release is clearly going to be Iron Man, while films like Scott Pilgrim vs. The World and The Losers will be clamoring for niche nerd money. There is no doubt in my mind that some of these movies are going to be huge, but no comic book film is going to garner a reaction quite like Kick-Ass. The film is based upon Mark Millar and John Romita Jr.’s ultra-violent series printed under Marvel’s Icon imprint and follows a daring nerd named Dave who foolishly sets out to be costumed crime fighter with disasterious—and potentially deadly—results.

Kick-Ass has been a tempest-in-a-teapot amongst some comic book fans thanks to the story’s relatively negative portrayal of comic book readers and incredibly violent themes. Now, take that controversy and turn it up to 11—that is precisely what we are going to see when this film is released. If its true that the film is going to stay true to the comics, expect a veritable shitstorm of controversy surrounding the films release. The multiple (and over the top) murders committed by Hit-Girl alone are going to make this one of the most hated films of the year from stuffed-shirt critics and politicians alone.

What I’m wondering, though, is how such a violent and uncompromising film is going to affect the renaissance that superhero films have been going through over the last few years. Watchmen certainly opened the door for “adult” superhero films, but Kick-Ass is going to push the envelope even further and the media attention it is sure to gain could have a drastic impact not only on its own box office receipts, but those of subsequent hero films as well.


Conclusion

Now that you know my picks, what do you think will be the biggest names, books, and stories in comics for 2010? How accurate do you think my picks will be? No matter what, I’m sure the comics industry is heading into an exciting year!


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11 comments:

LuchoMon said...

1) DC Earth One
2) Iron Man 2
3) Kick Ass movie

The rest... nah...

al said...

The Disney/Marvel buyout becomes a done deal at the end of December. That will be the major event to watch in 2010. Will everything change on January 1 or will things remain the same.

I'm curious to see if we get bombarded with major announcements on January 1.

wirehead4ever said...

Can't wait for Kick-Ass and Iron Man 2.

Tyler said...

Im pretty sure people havent responded as positively to super-hero movies recently because none of them have been anywhere close to being as good as The Dark Knight and Ironman, not because theyve outgrown them

Chris said...

There is a new Whiplash poster posted on Marvel.com for Iron Man 2, looks pretty cool!

Scott Roberts said...

I think the Earth: One Books, like Marvel's Ultimate's line is pretty smart and a good first step in the right direction. Those complaining that its another origin of these two characters need to realize its not really for us. The comic book industry is so closed off to outsiders, even those who really want to jump in. To buy a comic monthly in single issue form, the average person has to work for it. 1. Find a comic shop(which are usually not in a centralized location), 2. Get to the shop (a problem for young kids) 3. Know whats good and what would fit your particular tastes, 4. pick up an issue that won't leave you completely lost or doing extensive research on-line, 5. And read this book every month b/c if not you'll be lost again. Giving the average consumer an ongoing story by A-list creators that can be picked up at the local bookstore every few months and is not full of decades of confusing continuity or connected to 30 other books is a great move that will expand the comic industry's reach into the mainstream.

Dickey said...

Well it looks like you JT Krul prediction is already shaping to be pretty spot on. He has more to do with Green Arrow than just one BN tie-in issue.

http://comics.ign.com/articles/105/1054157p1.html

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