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Top 10 Best Of Comics 2001 Part 2
CINESCAPE looks back at comics in the year we didn't make contact
By Arnold T. Blumberg
December 31, 2001
ELEKTRA as envisioned by Greg Horn
© 2001 Marvel Characters Inc.
Picking up where we left off, here's the rest of the best!
#7) Elektra - Proving that not all bad girls are irredeemable demons bathing in blood or writhing in the fires of Hell (how Chaotic), Elektra Natchios is a complex woman with some serious issues. An assassin, a ninja, and also a former lover of Matt Murdock, AKA Daredevil, Elektra has been all around the world and the afterlife (yes, just like Buffy), and she's returned to tell the tale. And what a tale it is. Facing up to the challenge of rivaling and perhaps even surpassing Frank Miller's seminal work on the character, Brian Bendis helped Marvel to relaunch Elektra in one of the most talked about new titles of the year, drawing further attention to their superb Marvel Knights imprint and showcasing some amazing artwork by Greg Horn and Chuck Austen in the process. Now Greg Rucka will be taking his shot at the lady, further shattering the clichés surrounding the typical comic book "bad girl."
Spider-Man and newfound ally Ezekiel battle Morlun in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #34
© 2001 Marvel Characters Inc.
#6) Bendis - This man can't be stopped. Don't even try. One of the most prolific writers in comics today, Brian Michael Bendis is also a master of the noirish crime thriller, whether it's the straightforward grit of AKA GOLDFISH
or the award-winning superhero-tinged homicide procedural, POWERS
. He introduced a new generation of readers to a younger, hipper incarnation of Peter Parker in ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN
, created a breath-taking tale of emotional and physical abuse in DAREDEVIL
#16-19 with artist David (Kabuki) Mack, and launched the new Marvel Knights series, ELEKTRA
(see #7), with a stylish opening story arc. And did we mention that he's scripting the debut MAX mature readers title from Marvel, ALIAS
? When does this guy sleep? Pass him the No-Doze and prop him up in front of the word processor.
Joss Whedon, creator of BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER and ANGEL
© Warner Brothers
#5) Joss Whedon Introduces FRAY
and a new ANGEL
- Who better to bolster the floundering BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER
tie-in comics from Dark Horse than the man that first breathed life into the Slayer and her undead enemies? In an arrival matched only by those of Kevin Smith (see #3) and J. Michael Straczynski (see #1), another Hollywood luminary came to comics and took the medium by storm. FRAY
fans into a future where Buffy is long gone and a new, even more reluctant Slayer must deal with her destiny and the revival of a massive vampire subculture. Whedon's scripting is as crisp and dynamic on the page as it is on screen, and his reboot of ANGEL
and the forthcoming anthology series, TALES OF THE SLAYER
, should make Whedonites very happy for a very long time.
© 2001 Marvel Comics
#4) Marvel Drops the Comics Code Authority and launches the MAX mature readers line - It may have been more of a publicity stunt than a bold stand against the restrictions of an outdated system. After all, the Code hasn't meant much for many years now, and was mostly a sad reminder of a time when creators felt compelled to self-censor rather than risk oblivion. By dropping the Code and adopting its own in-house ratings, Marvel garnered substantial press, but they did also strike the first blow that will hopefully lead to the dissolution of the Code. To top it off, they introduced the new MAX line, a long delayed answer to DC's own "mature readers" imprint, Vertigo, and grabbed controversial press right out of the gate when printers refused to print the debut issue of Brian Bendis? ALIAS
. And did we mention HOWARD THE DUCK
The Marvel MAX launches with Brian Michael Bendis' ALIAS.
© 2001 Marvel Characters Inc.
#3) Kevin Smith Resurrects Green Arrow - He's already the comic book world's favorite son, the geek who made good and became a movie mogul. Kevin Smith, alias Silent Bob of Jay and Silent Bob fame, brought his wealth of comic book knowledge and sharp writing skill to the pages of Marvel's DAREDEVIL
and his own CLERKS
(from Oni Press) in the last few years, demonstrating that he knows a thing or two about how to craft a superhero story. Now, Smith has jumped to DC, where he's offered his own take on one of the DC Universe's long-lost second-stringers - the once late Oliver Queen, AKA the Green Arrow. Smith will soon be returning to Marvel to prove that a man can write an entire title devoted to a former Spider-lover, the Black Cat, and he'll also be reviving BRAVE & THE BOLD
for DC. And he's a smooth-talkin' pimp who loves the...ahem, let's move on.
Cover art to GREEN ARROW #4
© 2001 DC Comics
#2) Wolverine's Origin Revealed - It only took twenty-seven years, a few misleading memory implants and countless deceptive flashback sequences, but Marvel (courtesy of Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada, President Bill Jemas and writer Paul Jenkins) have finally decided to unveil the secret origin of the boy who would be Wolverine. And what a surprise it was! No Weapon X program, no adamantium, no superheroics - ORIGIN
broke all the rules with a lush, painted literary tale that owed more to Dickens and Bronte than Lee and Kirby. Perhaps one of the richest, most character-driven tales ever told about an emerging superhero, ORIGIN
is a coming of age story about three children in the late 1800s, and not an ounce of adamantium in sight. Who says this isn't the Marvel Age of Amazingly Atypical Origins? Not us, bub.
Brian Michael Bendis
© 2001 Rob Allstetter
#1) The Revitalization of Spider-Man - Woohoo! This warms an old Spider-phile's heart, let me tell you. With J. Michael Straczynski at the helm of the core title, THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN
, Paul Jenkins on PETER PARKER
, and Brian Michael Bendis on the superb reboot, ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN
, the character has never been in better hands. Although some fans bemoan the loss of Peter's now estranged wife, Mary Jane, it's almost certainly a mere continuity blip, and besides, things look rosy for Peter and Mary over in the ULTIMATE
line. Even Gwen Stacy has now appeared over there in an unexpected twist sure to thrill old-timers - who knew she would be a trash-talkin' rebel with a penchant for leather (well, maybe in our fevered dreams...). Perhaps it's in anticipation of next year's feature film, but Marvel has finally lifted Spidey out of the shadows that enveloped him during and following the Clone fiasco of several years ago. He's out of that tangled web (well, not in terms of the new anthology title of the same name, but let's not quibble) and back in the spotlight where he belongs. And Marvel will wisely avoid the mistakes they made pre-Quesada when the X-MEN
film was released by capitalizing on the Spider-movie this coming summer with a number of special comic projects. Welcome back, wall-crawler!
Roll on, 2002!