The Top 5 Best Things About Comic Books in 2008

And so 2008 is behind us.  Another year in the books and before we can look forward to 2009, I think it’s good to take a look back at the year that’s past and try and highlight the things that made me proud to be a fan of comics.   The comic industry is full of so many great people and stories it’s hard to pick just 5.  That said, I present to you my list of the 5 best things about comic books in 2008.

Top 5 Best things in comics in 2008

(in no particular order)

Geoff Johns
If you follow iFanboy, this should come as no surprise.  I’ve been a fan of Johns since he began his career.  I gushed about him in a pick of the week in 2008, and we named him as one of the best people working in comics in our Year End wrap up show.  But I can’t stop talking about the guy, and I think it deserves highlighting here again.  If you ask me, Geoff Johns is almost single handedly keeping DC Comics afloat.  Nothing against the people that work there, there are some fine people who are very talented.  But if you look at everything that’s, in my opinion, worth reading at DC, it’s got Johns name on it.  Justice Society of America, Green Lantern, Action Comics, even the Final Crisis: Rogue’s Revenge mini-series.  Johns seemingly can do it all.  It doesn’t look like he will let up in 2009, as he returns to The Flash and continues the amazingly epic run of Green Lantern which is simply a must read in comics now.  If you look at the body of work, Johns simply cannot do wrong.  I hope 2009 continues this pace for him as he reminds us monthly why comics are great.

Comics Talent in the Industry
Every few years there seems to be a crop of new talent in the industry that becomes the buzz and the creators to watch.  For the past few years, we’ve seen the class of creators that include Brian Michael Bendis, Ed Brubaker and Geoff Johns come into their own.  As I look at the various creators, primarily working for the big 2 publishers of Marvel and DC, I think 2008 has marked a moment in time where the up and comers have stepped up to the plate and are firmly entrenched in the majors.  Creators like Rick Remender, Jonathan Hickman, Jason Aaron and others have moved from indie or cult successes to high profile projects for both publishers.  I’m fairly certain that it’s names like these that will produce the comics we’ll be talking about over the next few years.

Comic Book Movies
It’s hard to deny the impact that comic books have had in 2008 has had on mainstream culture.  We’ve been surfing the wave of comic book movies for a good 8 years or so (I figure the first X-Men and Spider-Man movies mark the beginning of this era of superhero movies), but it wasn’t until 2008 that we saw a sheer volume of movies based on comic books.  Iron Man, The Dark Knight, Wanted, Hellboy 2, The Incredible Hulk, Punisher War Zone, The Spirit.  I’m amazed at the amount of movies 2008 produced.  Good or bad, super hero movies dominated the cinemas, and actually the majority of them were good.  Hell, the fact that I live in a world where there was a movie based on The Spirit is a world I want to live in.  2008 is a landmark year for the comic book industry, with billions made on these movies.  Now we just have to hope that some people were motivated to check out the comics the movies were based on.  And then we can see how much bigger the next few years will be.  Between 2009’s Watchmen movie, and then the eventual Avengers franchise coming from Marvel, I don’t see this era of superhero movies coming to an end anytime soon.



Digital Comics
The topic of Digital Comics has been an interesting one over the past few years.  We’ve seen the emergence of the successful webcomic come into it’s own, and the proliferation of mainstream comics going digital, legally or not have made the concept of digital comics one that you cannot ignore.  Marvel has developed and supported their digital archive to surprising success to me.  It seems as if providing their vast library of comics online is something that people actually are willing to pay for.  DC Comics has taken a different approach with Zuda Comics, a webcomic imprint that has become a formidable place for comics creators to gain exposure.  Dark Horse has worked with MySpace to provide online only comics to great success.  My guess is we will see smaller publishers like Image Comics and Oni Press get into the digital space in 2009, because ultimately, it will be another case of, like with the music industry, where in order to survive, you have to have a presence in the digital space.  

Non-Superhero Comics

When I look at my stack of comics on a weekly basis, I’m impressed with myself that while the number of superhero comics I read isn’t going down (in fact it may be going up), but the number of non-superhero comics I read are going dramatically up, both on a monthly issue basis as well as in larger volume/graphic novel formats.  Companies like Image Comics, Oni Press, Top Shelf Comics and Dark Horse Comics are stepping up and providing a platform for insanely creative people to create stories through visual storytelling and be able to be successful at it, which is something years ago that would have been laughable.  Without this creative environment, we wouldn’t have such great books as the Essex County trilogy from Top Shelf, or Phonogram from Image Comics, or Fear Agent from Dark Horse, or The Roberts from Image Comics, or The Apocalipstix from Oni Press.  These are great comics and I’m ecstatic that we have a market that supports them and hope that will just continue to grow in 2009.

I could go on and on with more things that were great about comics in 2008, but when I look back on the year that was, it’s these things that for me, defined comics in 2008.  Now of course, with the good, comes the bad.  But I don’t want to sully the positive vibes from enjoying the comics industry today, so lookout early next week for my list of the Top 5 Worst things about comics in 2008.  

But for now, today, let’s celebrate a great year!  What did you enjoy in 2008? What did I overlook or not pay enough attention to? What was your favorite thing about comics in 2008?


Comments

  1. I enjoyed the fresh talent on the books and titles I love.  Maybe I didn’t always approve of a creative choice, but I liked seeing the old warhorses go through some new hands.

  2. Crap, accidentally deleted the comment about Superman vs. Action.  Not intentional.  Thanks for the pickup.

  3. My Best Thing About Comics in 2008 was, collectively, the writers/books telling their own long, ongoing stories, separate from the Big Events.  To wit: Thor, Action Comics, Captain America, Green Lantern, Invincible Iron Man.

  4. I have to agree on Geoff Johns.  That man is nailing every single book he is working on.  Blackest night has a very good vibe working for it.

    @Ron – I hate to call you out, but will you pull and rate some damn books?  I try to pick up each of your picks of the week every week (along with Josh’s and Conor’s) to give books I don’t normally buy a chance to impress me (thanks for New Avengers #48), but for the last two weeks you haven’t pulled or rated your books and you haven’t selected a POW.  You are messing with my nice comfy routine.  I am an old man and when I get knock out of the rut I dug for myself I get all grouchy.  Also, get off my lawn.

    Keep up the good work over at Rev3.  I love what you guys are doing.

  5. I really enjoyed all the new Nova books this year….or last year i guess. wow thats weird to say….

  6. my best thing about 2008 was getting into the Nova comics and the Guardians of the Galaxy and a ton more that i am starting to love. oh and geoff johns. and the new talent and the nice movies

  7. @stulach – sorry about that I’ve been on vacation and slammed with work – I’ll be back on the horse this week, promise!

  8. My favorite Indie publisher was probably first/Second. I think in the past two years they have really come into their own as a publisher and are right up there with Oni, Top Shelf, D&Q, ect.

  9. @ron – Good to hear.  I look forward to it.

  10. @Ron – Brilliantly written article. It really hits the reasons that 2008 was a banner year for comics.

    With regards to Geoff Johns – he is so good that he finally convinced me to start reading a DC title (JSA) in issues for the first time. This coming from a guy who used to walk by DC books and think, "I have no idea what Rann or Thanagar is."

  11. I love Johns.  I hate to be one of those that constantly praise him, but honestly the man has earned it all.  Amazing storyteller.

    I would say 2008 was the year of indy comics for me.  I tried out more series that I normally would not have (thanks to iFanboy of course!)  I hope to continue the trend and really explore what else is out there, as well as keep picking up the Marvel and DC books that keep me coming back.

  12. @Jim…Right on! Captain America, Thor, GL all had some pretty good arcs that keep me coming back for more.

    I’m not a DC or JSA fan, but when I read how good that Kingdom Come arc was I had to give it a shot midway through. Loved that arc, and made me go back to read JSA from the beggining. Johns delivers and best of all wraps it all up with a nice bow.

  13. My 3 best things about 2008 comics wise: A) Getting into IFanboy; B) Getting into Green Lantern because of IFanboy; C) Meeting Eric Shanower of Age of Bronze and Marvel’s Wizard of Oz adaptation and hosting him for a week this summer; D) Discovering DC: New Frontier on TV and reading the TPB.

    Wait…4… my 4 best things about 2008…

  14. I would like to say that the best thing about comics in 2008 was, "that I started reading comic books again after a decade long absence" but there is more to that story then what meets the eye.  You see, what happened is that I got assaulted by a bunch of greaseball pizza shop owners I was working for because I was late for work one day.  Yes I know, totally ridiculous, right? Well it turned out that my jaw was broken, so I ended up having to sit in waiting rooms at the doctor’s offices several times a week all summer long.  Being that sitting there for hours in a waiting room is totally boring, and I did rather enjoy the Iron Man movie, and The Dark Knight (of course I’m a Batman fan life long), I decided to I would stop at the local comic shop down the street from the doctor’s office, and bring a stack of reading material in there with me. 

    I was hooked on comics again in 2008 and it looks like I’m going to keep stacking them up every Wednesday going into 2009, even though my jaw is totally healed now.  I kind of mad a hobby of digging up back issues of Batman also.  Seems like you have to if RIP is your jumping in point!!  So to make a long story short: I can’t say that getting back into comics again was my favorite thing about comics in 2008, because I don’t appreciate getting knocked back into the sixth grade!!

    Anyway, loved the article.  It was the best article you guyz put up all week and that is a bold statement!!  I wish you would have said a little something about Vertigo though.  When it comes to comic books that AREN’T about Super Hero dudes, Vertigo is the SURE THING!!  I am about to start reading the sixth volume of the Y The Last Man TPBs right at this very moment, and House of Mystery is just amazing!

    Happy NEW YEAR guys!!

  15. @robbydwonar – Wow.  A broken jaw.  That shit sucks.  I am glad you were able to use comics to help you get through the boredom/pain.

    If you want a good Vertigo book you should check out Fables.  If that doesn’t seem like your kind of book then you should check out the first trade of Jack of Fables.  You don’t have to have read Fables first and it is hilariously good. 

  16. Wow look at stuclach…..he’s a stern taskmaster he is.

    I’m hoping for even more great things out of the new creative talent you mention Ron. Jason Aaron and Rick Remender are the two I am most definitely looking forward too. With all the B titles Aaron has been doing lately, Marvel needs to step up and let him work on an ‘A’ character or title. Maybe not Avengers…..I would love for him to try Spider-Man…..

  17. I felt sure that Helen Killer would be on the list Ron 🙂

  18. Best things about comics for 2008 are that I wanted to read them in the first place after a two year break, discovering Scalped and that Spiderman was actually good again, and most importantly that Ifanboy exists and brings a smile to my face every week.  I’ve been listening to the show archives and I think I will be kind of depressed when I don’t have a bunch of episodes to listen to and actually have to wait every week like the veterans.  Keep up the good work and I’m looking forward to murmur as well.

  19. The really interesting thing about the comic book movies is how many more Marvel is making than DC. I mean, The Dark Knight was utterly brilliant but DC is not going to get one of those every year.

    Marvel have been pushing their viable titles out there for a long time and now that they have their own production studio you’re going to get more and more movies that exist in the Marvel Universe.

    DC is doing none of this. It just seems like they aren’t getting themselves involved in the movie business.

    Look at it this way. When Iron Man came out in 2008 Marvel launched a companion book which is now the premier Iron Man book. DC did a movie tie-in graphic novel with the Joker. The Iron Man book is going to be selling for years (maybe decades) to come. The Joker book has already been all but forgotten.

    DC needs to get serious about the movie business otherwise Marvel is going to bury them.

  20. @reg5000: DC doesn’t make movies.  Marvel is able to make their own movies because they are an independent company.  DC properties have to wind their way through the Warner Bros. (Time Warner) behemouth.  The bigger the company is, the slower the wheels turn.  Also, Marvel has no movies set to release in 2009, while DC has WATCHMEN (hopefully).  As for the comics themselvers, did you expect DC to launch a Joker book?  They didn’t need to launch any new books, Batman already has quite a few that sell really well (for comics).  IRON MAN was the comic that needed the shot in the arm, saleswise.

  21. @ Conor: True, but even when they didn’t have a studio Marvel was still churning out the titles even if some of them the weren’t very good. Though I wasn’t aware that DC was in it with Time Warner. That has to make doing anything very hard.

    I guess I’m just worried that there may only ever be Superman and Batman movies. I want my Joss Whedon Wonder Woman movie. I want Green Arrow: Supermax. I want David Boreanaz as Hal Jordan. If possible i’d also like these movies to be good.

    As for the comics, I was more troubled by the fact that the Joker book was a movie tie in and not something that tied into the comic book DC Universe. Basically the book was The Dark Knight 2.5. It needn’t be an ongoing book. Give me a 4-6 issue mini with the Joker. Go for the Gotham Central angle and have a few cops investigating a copycat Joker that turns out to be the actual Joker. Something to grab even a handful of the millions of people that saw the movie but don’t read comics and put them into the DCU.

  22. @reg5000: DC is owned by Time Warner so they have to do all their movies through Warner Bros.  They don’t have near the flexibility that Marvel does.  BUt it’s a trade-off, if Marvel bombs a few expensive films they are in much more of a precarious situation than DC films that bomb becaue DC is but a cog in a larger machine.

    I don’t think DC needed to do that Joker-rleated book because the companies (Marvel and DC) know that the movies don’t bring a statistically significant number of people into comic book stores.

  23. @Conor. Good point. For every Iron Man there’s a potential bomb just waiting to drop.

    You can also never really be sure how well something will resonate with the movie-going public. Marvel must be treading a very fine line between keeping the core comic book story intact and making a commercially viable product. Here’s hoping they keep their balance.

  24. Good picks, Ron. Geoff Johns is looking like the man to beat in 2009.

    My favorite thing about 2008 is comics being just plain good. The general quality of the books out this year just seemed to improve over the last few years. Having read a huge (HUGE) number of comics this past year, I can’t remember one issue that I regretted spending time and money on (there were quite a few of those in 2007 for sure).