Tuesday, December 30, 2008

2004-2008 Top 25
#1 Tara (2004)
#2 Firestorm (2004)
#3 The Gorgon (2004)
#4 Soldier (2005)
#5 Hotaru (2004)
#6 Tally Man (2006)
#7 Mallen (2005)
#8 Thor Clone (2006)
#9 Tommy Jagger (2006)
#10 Non (2006)
#11 Gravity (2005)
#12 Monolith (2004)
#13 The Blonde (2004)
#14 Dragon King (2004)
#15 Bulleteer (2005)
#16 Miss Martian (2006)
#17 Queen Veranke (2005)
#18 Pagon (2007)
#19 Blue Beetle (2006)
#20 Equus (2004)
#21 The Captain (2006)
#22 Robot (2005)
#23 Blockbuster (2006)
#24 Captain Boomerang (2004)
#25 Lionheart (2004)
Well, we've been on a tour of the past twenty-five years, but here we are! Back in the present, which, ironically, is actually the future, because we're well past deadline on our 2008 material...

To fully appreciate our tour of the ages, track back through our flashes of the past; 1984-1988, 1989-1993, 1994-1998, 1999-2003.

In the last five years we've seen the mythology of superheroes grow exponentially through carefully plotted epics and milestone occasions. When they've been good, they've been very good, bringing together the advantages of strong writing developed in the previous five year period, and a structural indulgence that lends itself to creating a landscape - a universe.

In this period, DC in particular have harnessed their finest minds to construct a cohesive environment. Unfortunately, this process, at it's worst, has reopened comics to the temptation of frivilous marketting and excess. Accompanying these negatives are other tropes reminiscent of the downfall of the nineties, such as an obscene number of variant covers and gimmicks.

On a more positive note, this period was also arguably the true coming of age for superheroes on the big screen. While previous ventures like X-Men (2000) and Spider-man (2002) paved the way, it was much later successes like, Sin City (2005), 300 (2007), Iron Man (2008), and The Dark Knight (2008), that truly endeared the genre to mainstream audiences and critics, alike.
In fact, Heath Ledger's performance as Joker is the much revered Bat-sequel has successfully earnt him a post-humous Golden Globe award for best supporting actor, and looks likely to capture nomination from the Academy, if not the award.

This really should be a booming period for comics, yet, somehow, they still fail to break the numbers once seen in decades gone by. I wonder if enough efforts are being made to tie the brands together, or if it is even viable. Regardless, it certainly should be an interesting few years ahead of us this decade. Perhaps the 2009 Watchmen film will help break the same kind of ground for the medium that the original comic series did.

Here we have a variety of fine stories from the last five years, as it happens, encapsulating a variety of methods and styles of stories. 2004-2008 produced character-driven arcs, random encounters, space-faring epics, and one night only smashfests. Enjoy!

Marvel Knights: Spider-man #1 (June 2004)
"Down Among the Dead Men" Millar/Dodson

Theirs is a rivalry that has spanned decades and brought about great misery in each of their lives. Norman Osborn has waged a war on Spider-man in both his identity as Green Goblin, and otherwise. Among his exploits, the impregnation of Parker's then-girlfriend, Gwen Stacy, and her ultimate demise atop the George Washington Bridge.

Norman Osborn would seemingly perish in battle with Spider-man, but amidst the chaos of believing he was a clone who had usurped the life of the true Peter Parker, Spider-man finds a bittersweet truth when Norman reemerges to finally kill the true clone, Ben Reilly.

Yet another skirmish in their lifelong war brings Spider-man to lie resting in an alleyway behind a restaurant. At first mistaking the motionless body for a vagrant sleeping in trash, the store deli employees soon become acquainted with the deadly truth: Enter the Green Goblin!

JLA: Classified #3 (March 2005)
"Seconds to Go" Morrison/McGuinness

With the Justice League trapped on a mission to the infant universe of Qwewq; it's up to the International Ultramarine Corps to respond to disaster in Africa!
Gorilla Grodd, having allied himself with the mysterious cosmic being, Neh-Buh-Loh, has begun a path of destruction intended for the entire Earth!

The Ultramarine Corps quickly find themselves overwhelmed by Grodd and his ape-army, leaving the Knight's sidekick, Squire, to make a call to her mentor's American counterpart - The Batman! The Dark Knight summons his secret arsenal of bizarre and alien technologies, as well as the resources of the League itself, in an effort to rally against Grodd and the Nebula Man.

He leaves Squire to make contact with Qwewq, leading an inhuman proxy-League to distract from the true team's absence. His automatons prove insufficient in battle with the Corps; now under the manipulation of Grodd. With Batman defeated, the Justice League are needed more than ever, but will their escaped from the infant universe come too late?...

Daredevil #87 (September 2006)
"The Devil in Cell Block D" Brubaker/Lark/Gaudiano

A living hell is nothing new for Matt Murdock, but incarcerated without charge, things take a turn for the worse when his best friend - Foggy Nelson - is seemingly murdered mere rooms away.

Manipulated by an unseen player, Daredevil finally accepts the aid of a voluntarily arrested Frank Castle - aka The Punisher.

Finally free to pursue those that have wronged him, the Daredevil's first target is an imposter who has been patrolling his patch with the same vigilance as he.
Is this new Daredevil a friend, or will the confrontation present a new foe?

Green Lantern #24 (December 2007)
"Home Invasion" Johns/Reis

Long thought dead, it is the resurrection of Hal Jordan that prompts the return of the villainous fallen Green Lantern called Sinestro. Revealed, he carries with him the mysterious powers of a yellow ring, gathered in his previous travels of exile in the anti-matter universe, Qward.

Sinestro is revealed to have been imprisoned within the Central Power Battery on Oa, where he conversed with the yellow fear entity Parallax, and hatched the downfall of one of the Lantern's greatest heroes, and his bitter rival, Hal Jordan.

As Jordan joins Kyle Rayner and the other surviving Lanterns to spur the beginnings of a new era of the Green Lantern Corps; Sinestro and Parallax begin their own quest, sending out yellow power rings to gather agents for their Sinestro Corps of fear wielding soldiers. So begins the inevitable first stages of the Sinestro Corps War, prophecized by the Book of Oa.

With their intention to destroy the fifty-two worlds of the megaverse, the Sinestro Corps descend in full on "New Earth." While the Lanterns struggle with their own battles; Hal Jordan rushes to the rescue of his Coast City dwelling brother, and his family, who has come under threat from Parallax, who has possessed the once future Ion - Kyle Rayner!

Countdown #2 (June 2008)
"Darkseid Equals Death" Dini/McKeever/Giffen/Kolins

When the prophecized death of the New Gods begins; Darkseid begins siphoning the powers of each of the deceased for future use in his attempts to create the Fifth World on Earth. In need of a storage vessel, Darkseid recognises Superman's best pal, Jimmy Olsen, as one of the most protected individuals in the cosmos.

Though the mysterious development of these strange powers gives Jimmy hope of becoming his own type of superhero; the intrepid photo journalist soon discovers the truth about his many fantastic transformations! After being reunited with Superman, Darkseid is able to take control of Olsen's new abilities, forcing him to emit Kryptonite!

The intervention of the Atom gives Jimmy a chance to take control of his powers, but even with the giant-size energy of a New God, he's unable to overcome the dark lord. Just as all hope seems lost for Superman's pal a boom tube ushers the arrival of a New God thought dead - Darkseid's son, Orion! Intent on putting an end to his father's darkness once and for all, can Orion fullfil the prophecy?

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