Ah, the day before the day before Christmas–my last column of the year!  I have been thinking a lot about what I would write and realized that I could have written several last columns over the past month, so I will just hack through the mish mash of my hoiday errand-addled brain and share with you the ones I hope you'll find warrant the most attention.

This was a strange year, don't you think? I  am not sure why, but it just seemed, well, it was very different than the YEAR OF EVENTS that was 2008. Where we steeled ourselves for the onslaughts of Civil War, Final Crisis and Secret Invasion over 2007 and 2008, this year we got off relatively easy. Blackest Night was DC's big story, but it felt less forced than other events.  DC has done, I think, an admirable job of telling a big-time DC Universe story while allowing the books to do their own thing, embracing aspects of Blackest Night without completely abandoning their core stories–bringing back Barry Allen as The Flash comes to mind..  I say this somewhat hesitantly, I admit, given the many, many Blackest Night tie-ins that are coming–but I thought the long prelude towards Blackest Night, though indeed long, made for a very engaging story that has never, for the most part, felt rushed.  I am glad we are heading toward the end of it, though–as far as I can tell, Green Lantern Corps has just been an intense battle sequence for about as long as I can remember (if any book bucks the trend of being able to maintain its own sensibility in the face of Blackest Night, it's Green Lantern Corps) and it is starting to wear thin (for me).  I thought bringing back Kyle frustrated a really big moment, I think it was a mistake–unless I am forgetting something (quite possible!), so far there have been no actual ramifications to Blackest Night, other than property damage and exploded gravesites. Still, Blackest Night has been engaging and fun to read.  I'm just wondering when Brighest Morn will be emerging.

When I think about what Marvel did this year, I realize that, honestly, nothing really thrilled me. I mean, there were some good stories and character moments, but I feel like we were basically at a year-long, drunken potluck at Norman Osborne's house.  So many different efforts–remember Exodus? How about that much-ballyhooed X-Men story when we went to Hell for awhile? Ultimatum? Ultimate Flood? Red Faced Hulk? So many stories, with so many appearances by Norman Osborne. Exhausting, really.  We saw the perils of overreaching, too, with the poor timing of Captain America's return. Yes, schedules are hard, but yes, we pay good money for these books and I think Marvel really let down their readership with this debacle. I know, it's just comics, but what if you went to a movie and you only saw the first and third reels because the parts of the movie just weren't ready yet because of whatever excuse? You wouldn't accept it. Marvel did a great job of killing Captain America, they got tons of free press for doing it, I think it's a shame that they couldn't honor the character with a clean return.  Am I being harsh? Sure.  But it's all about the follow-through, people.  If you are going to do something that big, that profound, that controversial, you have to do it right, all the way through.  I hope DC is taking notice and really thinking Bruce Wayne's return through. It has to be done elegantly, with care and respect for the characters, otherwise why do it at all? I don't mean to bash on Marvel, but I guess I feel kinda strongly about it; I really did admire Invincible Iron Man, this year, though. I thought it was a really great exploration of a man's failure, a hero's fall, and a journey of self-realization, atonement, and sacrifice.

I know I am probably in the minority when it comes to how Superman was handled this year. The only thing I can say that I liked about Superman was that I am loving the Secret Origins story. Pretty much everything else was, for me, utterly and distressingly forgettable.  A World Without Superman–A Year Without Superman, more like.  Yes, I liked Adam Strange making an appearance, and I do admire the effort, but for whatever reason, I was never inspired by this current storyline. Even in my mind's eye, as I think about New Krypton–how it looks, how the outfits look, all of it, I just see a missed opportunity through and through.  I would have rather seen Kal-El having had to work harder to be accepted by the Kryptonians, but no, he's the head of the military…whatever. I am glad people like it, I just can't wait for it to be over! 

What else? I think back on this year and I realize this was the year I dropped and dropped and dropped books in favor of trades. I was really trying to be aware of books that I would finish too quickly and think, honestly, whether or not it was worth $2.99. I gave away over four long boxes of comics to kids and the troops, too.  It was a year where I struggled to answer the question, "Why do you keep these books around?" 

There were some great trades, though, that's for sure. From the Astonishing X-Men Omnibus to Criminal to to Parker: The Hunter to Asterios Polyp, there were some truly amazing books to add to your shelf, and, perhaps more importantly, to share and recommend to friends. We've talked a lot about trades and I still feel that a solid trade calendar is the key to getting new readers on board. Witness the relatively quick availability of the first Chew trade. So smart. (Somewhat related, I think that when they release the last issue of Kick-Ass they should release the trade as soon as possible, so we can get people excited about the movie (did you see the Hit-Girl trailer?).

There are going to be lots of summations of the year–I won't touch the decade–so I will quit with that for the time being I do wonder about 2010, though. It sounds like we have alternate versions of Batman and Superman coming, which…well, let's do it right, ok? I am mildly curious to see what Marvel will do with Marvelman, and I am curious to see if they shoot Norman Osborne, Kitty Pryde-style, into space, just so we don't have to hear from him again!  Blackest Night will be over, eventually, and I guess we'll experience some kind of time traveling version of Batman…I don't know.  I just wonder–this felt like a speed bump, 2009, to either remind us to slow down or give us the opportunity to speed back up in 2010…but I wonder how the impact of the economy and audience's changing tastes will impact the weekly comic book market.  I think about comics in 2010 and the word that comes to mind is "less." Fewer comics in my pull list, with lower expectations of what I will get out of them. I hope I am wrong–I really do–but so far…I think..I am sitting here trying to remember what I am supposed to be excited about…and I got nothing.

It's not all that bad, of course. We do have fun stuff to look forward to, especially in movies and TV. I really quite enjoyed the Iron Man 2 trailer, and I am looking forward to Kick-Ass and Tron 2 as well. The last season of LOST is upon us and we have Caprica and Human Target coming.  This after the end of Battlestar Galactica, the beginning of Glee, and a very wonderful reboot of Star Trek.

Speaking of being thrilled, I saw Avatar in 3D the other night, in an almost soldout screening at the Arclight Cinerama Dome in Hollywood.  To say that I was blown away this film is an understatement; story and dialogue issues aside (and there are many), this was less a film and more an experience, in every sense of the word. As I remember the film, I felt less like I was remembering a movie and more like I was remembering events that I actually witnessed. I tweeted that comparisons to seeing Star Wars in movie theater in 1977 were warranted and I still feel that way. I can only imagine what a 7 year old coming out of that film must be thinking (other than how to go back and see it again, of course).  Regardless of what people think of the movie, it is as fundamental a moment in cinematic history as stereo sound, or even color. I say that under advisement, of course; we will not be seeing many movies leveraging this kind of technology any time soon, but eventually we will, and the ramifications — both good and bad — will be felt for years and years to come.  To see that movie in 3D in a theater is to experience a milestone in cinematic history–I really believe that. Uhm…enough said on that.

As I look outside, the winds of LA are ushering 2009 out with abandon. Almost everyone I talk to can't wait for this year to be over–it sounds like everyone really needs a fresh start, to take what was good out of 2009 and forget the rest. I know that a lot of us have had a tough year, or, at the very least, know others who are experiencing an onslaught of challenges that make the decision of whether or not to pick up all of the Blackest Night Wonder Woman issues more than a little trivial, and I hope that you and your family and friends are able to take a deep breath and enjoy the last days of this year–of this decade–and wake up to a new year full of opportunity, health and happiness.

So that's it, folks. Thanks so much for bearing with me through the year, it's been a pleasure spending time with you all and I know, no matter what happens in comics, the iFanbase is alive and well, enjoying a great conversation.

See ya next year!

Mike Romo is an actor in LA who is looking forward to actually backing that claim up with some clips in 2010.  He can be emailed here and he's got the twitter thing, too.


  1. Couldn’t agree with you more on your assessments of DC and Marvel’s 2009 accomplishments.  My friend and I say it a lot on our podcasts that Blackest Night has just been one good cohesive story that doesn’t overwhelm the DC Universe and sometimes adds to existing storylines in other characters’ books.  Marvel had a standout moment here and there (Captain America back, Punisher sliced up by Daken, etc.), but nothing you could really say as captivating as what DC has been doing.  They just need to get Siege done with and tell us what is the status quo this time and stick to it so that they can build things back up without a major event to hinder it.

  2. Glee huh….naaaahhhhh

  3. I really don’t understand people’s complaints about Marvel. It’s like people are never satisfied.


  4. What about "War of Kings" and "G.I Joe Cobra"?    War of Kings was an amazing event and DnA should get praised for that.   G.I Joe Cobra had to be the biggest shocker of the year.

  5. What about Daredevil, and the transition from Brubaker to Diggle? How about American Son? Invicible Iron Man?

    War of the Kings, and the always solid Guardians of the Galaxy?


  6. I agree with Xiseerht and RocketRacoon: Dan Abnett is doing great things in the Marvel U right now with Gaurdians, Nova and don’t forget his miniseries are always good.

  7. hi guys!


    Very good points, all–sad truth is, I just kind of fell out of The Guardians of the Galaxy bus, and I am way behind on Diggle’s Daredevil…I think it might be too soon to judge it, but I like how he’s shaking stuff up. Abnett is truly one of the stars of the year, totally!



  8. Great article. I think I’m a little more optimistic about comics right now maybe because I just got into them. I quite enjoyed the last year in comics and am truly looking forward to 2010. Comics have only become stronger as the year progressed. Last week I pulled Green Lantern, Fantastic Four(WITH HICKMAN), Criminal, Unknown Soldier, Last Days of American Crime, Detective Comics, Hellboy, and Chew. All of these comics were POTW worthy and the comic I liked the least was GL, that’s saying alot considering I would place GL in my top 5 comics. All hail the new year, but lets not forget 2009, a great year to be alive. Wasn’t a great year in movies in my opinion although we did have some great ones: 500 days of Summer, Away We Go, District 9, Start Trek, and of course New Moon.

    P.S. Modern Warfare 2 also came out…

  9. I’m relieved to see someone bucking he trend regarding this year’s Superman stories. I was excited by the boldness of the idea, but much of it has misfired. Nightwing and Flamebird are generic and Mon-El himself seems embarrassed about taking Superman’s place half the time. World Without Superman hasn’t really explored the ramifications of a world without Superman at all. New Krypton should have been a chance to really explore the heart of who Kal-El is but as you mention, Mike, the one thing he is not is surely head of the military. It’s been an interesting experiment and I congratulate DC for trying it, but I can’t help feeling that the essence of what makes Superman great has been lost somewhere along the way. Conversely, Secret Origin and to an extent Adventure are absolutely nailing that.

    On the other hand DC have produced the two best books of the year in Detective and Batman and Robin… with stiff competition from Battlefields, Locke and Key, Ex Machina and The Boys.

  10. What was wrong with Avatar‘s story?