Wednesday, December 22, 2010

What to Watch 2010 - A Look Back

In the closing days of 2009, I looked ahead to 2010 and made my predictions on ten items that I expected to be amongst the most buzzed about aspects of the comic book industry. I looked at up-and-coming creators, significant films, and highly anticipated titles. How accurate were my predictions? Hit the jump to find out!


IRON MAN 2

Original Post: The first Iron Man film opened the doors for a slew of non-marquee superhero films to be made, including 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.

What Happened: Iron Man 2 opened in the United States on May 7th as the #1 film at the box office with a opening weekend total of $128 million (the 5th highest opening weekend gross ever). It went on to earn a total of $622 million worldwide in theatres and sold incredibly well on DVD and Blu Ray. The film fully introduced the concept of the Avengers, introduced viewers to sexy superspy Black Widow, and gave us our first tease at 2011’s Thor. The film will be followed up by several more Marvel properties including the ensemble mega-film The Avengers in 2012 and the announced Iron Man 3 in 2013.

Accuracy: Iron Man 2 delivered as promised with great action, fun characters, and dazzling special effects. Not surprisingly, moviegoers ate it up and made the film a major success both financially and critically. It did far better than any other comic book movie this year (including, but not limited to the box-office bomb Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and the action thrillers Red and The Losers). Looking ahead to 2011’s slate of comic book films, I’d say that Iron Man 2’s success is a good sign of things to come. Personally, I loved the film, even though I was disappointed by the underwhelming Don Chaedle, who simply couldn’t match the screen presence of Terrence Howard, whom he replaced in the role of James “War Machine” Rhoades. To the surprise of no one, I’m calling this prediction a win. 1 for 1.


RYAN STEGMAN

Original Post: 2010 promises to be very fruitful for artist Ryan 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.

What Happened: Stegman’s Incredible Hulk back-up stories were very well-received and helped garner attention for the artist, who signed on as a Marvel exclusive in May. This year also saw his first cover design for Marvel and the release of the She-Hulks miniseries he drew for Harrison Wilcox. In early 2011, Stegman will draw an arc of X-23 with writer Marjorie Liu.

Accuracy: Now a Marvel exclusive artist, Stegman’s stock rose this year with several high-profile gigs and critical acclaim for his work in the She-Hulks miniseries. He is clearly on his way to big things and this year saw him lay the foundation for that. I’d say that I was quite accurate on this pick and that by the end of 2011, Stegman will be drawing one of Marvel’s premiere titles. For those of you keeping score, that’s 2 for 2.


MARVELMAN/MIRACLEMAN

Original Post: 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 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…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?

What Happened: Almost nothing, truthfully. Marvel began releasing some of Miracleman’s earliest and least well-known adventures as reprint magazines, but has yet to make any announcements on proper collected editions or future plans for the character. Those of us who have been clamoring at the bit to read the acclaimed Neil Gaiman and Alan Moore stories are no closer than we were a year ago.

Accuracy: While this seemed like an easy choice for What to Watch in 2010, it is almost as if Marvel has forgotten than that made this blockbuster acquisition. Now that the momentum of the initial announcement is completely lost, it makes me wonder if anyone is even going to care anymore when Marvel finally does take significant steps forward with the property. Since there was nothing to watch with Miracleman, that puts me at 2 for 3.


TEEN TITANS: GAMES

Original Post: 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..

What Happened: Teen Titans: Games was finally solicited this year for a September 2010 release, ending years of speculation on whether or not this highly anticipated graphic novel would finally be released…or so it seemed. Since that announcement, Games has seen multiple delays due to artist George Perez’s health issues. Both Amazon and DC’s own website no longer list the comic, though Marv Wolfman does occasionally mention it on Twitter.

Accuracy: While things look promising for this project, 20 years after its original announcement, I wouldn’t hold your breath on seeing it any time soon. Perez has done several side-projects throughout the year in addition to his health problems, which makes me believe that this original graphic novel is no longer a priority. I’d like to think we’ll finally see this in 2011, but I wouldn’t count on it. This sets brings me down to .500 at 2 for 4.


THE CONVENTION WARS

Original Post: For years comic book 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…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?

What Happened: Reed’s newest convention C2E2 was very well received by the fan community and it doesn’t appear that the Anaheim Comic Con, held the same weekend, made much of a dent in C2E2’s numbers. The two dueling New York conventions came and went without much hubbub as well. Despite losing the backing of DC and Marvel, Wizard actually gained some steam this year by purchasing a number of smaller conventions throughout the country. In 2011, Wizard more conventions than ever and that seems to have no effect on Reed whatsoever.

Accuracy: I’m going to call this a loss, but just barely. While the Convention Wars were less of a news story than anticipated, it does appear that the lack of major support from DC and Marvel has caused Wizard to rethink their strategy. I did attend Wizard World Chicago in August and was disappointed to find a focus on B and C-List celebrities rather than comics folk, but one look at Wizard’s 2011 lineups and I’m surprised to see the pendulum swing back towards comics culture. Despite being nearly a year away, Wizard World Chicago already has a large number of great comic guests in addition to nerd culture celebrities. With both convention companies having a great year and this news story fizzling, my track record dwindles to 2 for 5.


KICK-ASS: THE MOVIE

Original Post: There is no doubt in my mind that some of 2010’s comic book 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 disastrous—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 Happened: The controversy surrounding Kick-Ass began months before the film was released when an uncensored clip of Hit-Girl was released on the internet, with many groups denouncing the film for its language and glorification of violence almost immediately. Despite this, the film went on to open at #1 (though just barely) and did well in the box office considering its hard-R rating and a confusing marketing campaign that made the true nature of the film unclear. The film sold well on DVD, performed surprisingly well with film critics, and led to great sales for the collected miniseries in the bookstore market.

Accuracy: While the protests and condemnations of Kick-Ass weren’t quite as overpowering as I had expected, the film did garner a lot attention both positively and negatively. The performance of Chloe Moretz was at the center of both, as not only did her role as Hit-Girl take the brunt of the hate the film received, her actually performance was critically acclaimed. The film’s profits were a promising sign for unusual and mature superhero films and did help Mark Millar launch his CLiNT Magazine in the UK (which is another story entirely). I’m calling this a win, even if it is a small one. That brings me up to 3 for 6.


JT KRUL

Original Post: Writer JT 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.

What Happened: In addition to carrying on his duties with Aspen by writing Fathom and Soulfire, JT Krul became full immersed in the DCU Universe early on in 2010 by writing Titans and Blackest Night tie-ins to Teen Titans and Green Arrow/Black Canary. By mid-year he had written the Rise of Arsenal and the relaunched Green Arrow series before taking over as the regular writer on Teen Titans with artist Nicola Scott.

Accuracy: There were few writers that had a more polarizing year than JT Krul. While all of his Teen Titans and Titans were well-received, he did write the highly-controversial and universally panned Rise of Arsenal miniseries. Whether or not you are okay with a dead cat being used as a weapon aside, its hard to deny that this was a major breakout year for JT Krul or that by writing two ongoing monthly titles he is one of the most important writers in DC’s stable. This is an easy win for me and brings my track record to 4 for 7.


KRYPTONIANS AND NEW KRYPTON

Original Post: 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.

What Happened: This year saw the release of War of the Supermen, a four-issue miniseries that saw the destruction of New Krypton and the deaths of thousands of the Kryptonians that inhabitant it (many of whom were attacking Earth under the leadership of General Zod). Following the end of that miniseries, the focus of Action Comics shifted to Lex Luthor, Supergirl had a few more crossovers before closing out the year with the end of Jamal Igle and Sterling Gates’s run on the title, and Superman was handed over to J. Michael Straczynski, which is an entirely different story.

Accuracy: While the fervor surrounding the Kryptonians died down by the middle of the year thanks to the cool reception that War of the Supermen received, the Superman franchise itself was the center of quite a bit of buzz in 2010. The Lex Luthor-centered Action Comics was a critical hit, especially after adding the Jimmy Olsen backup feature by Nick Spencer and RB Silva. The “Grounded” storyline by JMS in Superman gained national attention before JMS abandoned the project (more on that in a minute), which was one of the bigger news stories of the year. Plus, on top of all of this, it was announced that Watchmen and 300 direct Zack Snyder would helm the new Superman film, currently in development. Not a bad year for the Man of Steel and his franchise, so I’m calling this a win. I’m now a respectable 5 for 8.


AREA 10

Original Post: 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.

What Happened: Area 10 was released in April, but I reviewed in a few weeks earlier in March.  I said that it was “a brutal, engaging, and thought provoking crime story that pushes the boundaries of the genre in all the right ways.” While it didn’t light up the sales charts, it is my understanding that it sold just as well as any of the other Vertigo Crime graphic novels.

Accuracy: While the jury is still out on whether or not Area 10 will top a “ton” of Best of 2010 lists, it was easily my favorite original graphic novel of 2010 and yet another fine example of why Christos Gage and Chris Samnee are amongst the best creators in the business. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you are a fool. Mark me at 6 for 9.


DC: EARTH-ONE

Original Post: Kicking off the series original graphic 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…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.

What Happened: Amidst major news coverage, including preview pages in USA Today, the original graphic novel Superman: Earth One shipped in the fall and was an immediate financial success. Short-sighted retailers found themselves scrambling to stock their shelves, even though the reviews were mixed. Perhaps most importantly, though, the success of the book caused J. Michael Straczynski to abandon his two ongoing series at with DC, Superman (to be written by Chris Roberson) and Wonder Woman (to be written by Phil Hester) in favor of writing the sequel and to put greater focus on writing graphic novels in general, effectively leaving monthly comics for the foreseeable future. The announcement divided the comics community and became one of the most hotly contested news items of the year.

Accuracy: I knew that Earth One was going to be a big deal and that it had the potential to be a litmus test for a new spin on marketing comics to new readers. I had no idea, however, that it would have such unexpected consequences and that the announcement of JMS leaving his two monthly titles mid-storyline would become one of the biggest moments of the year. I was definitely right about this one—I just didn’t know that I’d be this right!


CONCLUSION

Last year I chose ten items that you should be watching out for in 2010 and seven of them proved to be correct. That’s a pretty good track record given how wildly unpredictable the last year was for the comic book industry. As we move into in the new year, there are big stories on the horizon such as the rise of digital comics and the inevitable price wars between DC and Marvel, plus a slew of new creators that could be the next big thing. Check back next week as I make my picks for What to Watch 2011!


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5 comments:

Ryan K Lindsay said...

I really don't know if you can claim Iron Man 2 and Kick-Ass as wins. That'd be like saying Thor and Green Lantern on the big screen for 2011 will be something to watch for. That's picking a lock, invoking a Hitler argument, it's self-fulfilling prophesy. You must dig deeper.

You did hit the nail on the head with Stegman, though. That guy is just going up and he will be massive, for sure. JT Krul on the other hand, not so much, nor would I call Area 10 a win. It was a good book but it won't be mentioned in any year ends and that was your call.

I'm very interested to see what you rank to look for in 2011.

Jessica said...

What happened to kirk ? And please I don't mean to be rude but none of the joke answers please , some of us care about you journalists even though it seems I am the few that have actually asked sadly

Anonymous said...

best feature I've read on here for months

Matt Duarte said...

@Jessica: Kirk is dealing with some personal issues at the time that prevent him from spending too much time blogging. He didn't want to make a big deal of it, so he told us to steer the ship while he dealt with that.

Jessica said...

oh I hope he's ok. I really enjoyed the article , not all of us are "moments and "bullet point review" crazy (rolls eyes)

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