‘Twas the Night before Christmas…


As I write this, I am getting ready to drive back up to San Francisco to spend the week with my friends and family for the holidays. Like many of you, I have spent the last few days wracking my brains trying to get gifts for people, writing cards and generally running around like a crazy person so, eventually, I can sit, relax, and and, with any luck reflect on the year and what’s ahead.

As I try to force the issue tonight, I continue writing this week’s article, which I have been thinking about for last few weeks. Since I am posting this on Christmas Eve, it seems appropriate to write about gifts, so I figured I would reflect on some of the gifts we’ve had this 2008. We’ve had a lot to be thankful for and I am sure I am missing a couple, but here are a few that come to mind:

Grant Morrison hooked us up, I think it’s fair to say. All Star Superman, Batman, Final Crisis… love him or hate him, he’s brought us some incredible stories and continue to redefine just how effective comic book storytelling can be. His work can be refreshingly challenging — he’s one of those writers that you look forward to reading each month, but also anxiously awaiting a single collection of one of his runs just so you can see how he weaves themes, characters and ideas together over a period of time.

Criminal by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. We all know about this book and we all know that it’s good, but I have to acknowledge it as one of 2008’s gifts because the title itself has become synonymous with quality. From the striking covers to the essays included in the back, these are single issue comics that you feel grateful you heard about the book in the first place. For me, Criminal inspires because it takes a genre that we’ve all heard about and makes it relevant for a modern audience. I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Spider-Man. I’ll be the first one to admit it — I hated the reboot. One More Day hit me, hard, in the gut and I was more than a little skeptical that Marvel would be able to convince to me to read The Amazing Spider-Man again. But I gotta hand it to the ’em, I haven’t missed an issue. As much as I liked the idea of Peter and Mary Jane together, I must admit her not being around has made things a lot more interesting. The stories have been a lot more dynamic and Peter’s stories have been just as fun to follow as Spidey’s adventures. I can’t help but think of what happened when Lost hired Brian K. Vaughn to become story editor — in the space of a few episodes, he got rid of all the stuff that wasn’t working and distilled the story back to its essence and basically saved the show. I think the braintrust, Gale, Guggenheim and Slott, are to be applauded (and let’s hear it for Marcos Martin, too!). Also, I must applaud Bendis and Immomen — they’ve really kept things tight with Ultimate Spider-Man as well and has been the only Ultimate comic that I’ve consistently enjoyed. Spider-Man continues to be the superhero that we can all identify with — Charlie Brown with web shooters — and I think this year he was consistently engaging, inspiring and just plain funny (particularly in Secret Invasion).

Comic Book Conventions. 2008 was a great year for conventions — at least, the ones I went to were really, really, really fun. WonderCon in San Francisco, though not as crazy as San Diego, had some solid panels and, well, it had the Isotope parties. Just having a party with Ben Templesmith would usually be enough, almost too much, but James “Too Much Is Never Enough” Sime and his motley crew had to follow it up (with iFanboy, no less) with another party with special guest Darwyn Cooke? Talk about gifts! San Diego was fantastic, with Whitney Matheson’s rooftop shindig followed by the iFanboy/The Totally Rad Show meetup… and the con itself wasn’t too shabby either. Let’s face it, most of the time when we are reading comics, we are by ourselves. Conventions are a great place to meet up with other fans (and creators, of course) and just revel in the craziness we love so much. So, definitely, the two conventions that I attended in 2008 were definitely gifts… even including the hangovers.

Shockingly good comic book movies (and TV). Enough has been said about both, but Iron Man and The Dark Knight were hands down two of the finest comic book movies ever made — and for totally different reasons. Iron Man continued, in the vein of Spider-Man 1 and 2 just how fun and exciting and engaging a comic book movie can be. The Dark Knight showed us just how powerfully effective and thought provoking a comic book movie can be. Both showed us what happens when you get the right people, people who understand the essence of the characters, who honor the spirit of the books, on the job. Amazing work, and it’s been wonderful to see how many millions of people have been (re) exposed to these characters. I gotta do a special shout out to Smallville here — I think this season has been really great; the producers have done a great job setting the stage for Superman to “come out”. Tom Welling is really having fun with the role and I for one must admit how surprised just how much I have enjoyed the show, which I only started watching a year or two ago. Let’s all hope that Heroes figures it out. Heroes had an episode (“Company Man“) that I consider one of the finest hours of television ever produced; it’s been frustrating — maddening — to watch it slip up this year.

And, finally — iFanboy.com. (You knew this was coming.) I think we can all agree that the Ron, Josh, and Conor have really outdone themselves this year. In addition to the alarmingly addictive podcast, we’ve had video shows, we’ve had great interviews, we’ve had a total site redesign with all new features… I mean, if you compare what the site was like a year and a half ago… it’s just truly amazing — and inspiring, utterly — to see what the guys have done. It has been a particular honor for me to have a chance to write this article in the company of Jim, Paul, Gordon, Sonia and Paul Din — the editorial staff never ceases to amaze me! Their creativity and talent have set the bar quite high, week after week. And, of course, the iFanbase: you are the gift of the year. You have supported the podcast and the site and made everyone produce our best work. Your comments, suggestions, stories, rants, and raves have helped make this one of the most vibrant web communities out there — thank you for reading, thank you for participating and thank you for making iFanboy.com such a blast to visit. Speaking of which, a mighty shout out to the site’s technical puppet master, Dave, for making it all happen.

I hope you and your families have a chance to have a peaceful, happy holiday week and I wish you a safe, prosperous and healthy 2009.

See ya next year!

 


Mike Romo is an actor in Los Angeles, where 47° is regarded as “cold” and Santas are often seen in sunglasses and shorts. He can be reached at mike@ifanboy.com, followed on Twitter and lurks on XBox Live as zensen.


Comments

  1. I’d say Jason Aaron gave us some great gifts this year.

    Scalped.

    Black Panther 3 issue Secret Invasion tie in.

    Penguin one shot.

    Even that Punisher X-Mas special one shot.

    Wish that All Star Superman hardcover volume 2 came out this year, but I read it in issues and it was great.

  2. I have you agree with just about everything. Well done.

    I’ve also been watching the first season of Heroes through Netflix, and as good as it has usually been, the "Company Man" episode blew me away.

  3. You nailed it. I’ve been wrestling with my brain in a vain attempt to even remember what non-election things even happened this year, but I was drawing nothing but blanks until I read this list. Which I will now steal and claim as my own if anyone asks.

  4. If someone hates Grant Morrisson, I think it’s fair to say they probably don’t think he’s brought incredible stories their way. Personally, I think as long as he continues to stay the hell away from my beloved Marvel comics, he can do as he pleases. 🙂

    Also, I’m wondering: Can anyone tell me what Spider-Man stories they’re currently telling (or recently told) that were simply impossible to do with a married Peter Parker? I’m curious. 🙂

     

  5. @Diabhol – Just about every Spider-Man story during BND.

  6. have a good holiday mike enjoy it