The New Year: New Comics & Manga Kids Grow Up

Fri, January 2nd, 2009 at 9:58am PST | Updated: January 2nd, 2009 at 10:49am

Comic Books
CBR News Team, Editor

As part of our traditional review of the year that was and looking forward to the year ahead, the CBR News staff has discussed and debated the following topics:

In this final installment of year-end pontifications, your CBR News staff talks about comic book projects they’re most eagerly anticipating to debut in this new year of 2009.

THE FLASH: REBIRTH

George Tramountanas:  I’m so torn about this one.  Barry Allen had one of the greatest deaths a hero could ask for, and his legacy was one that was carried with pride by his nephew Wally West.  So to bring him back just seems… wrong.  Then again, it worked for that Bucky fellow. And with Geoff Johns writing and Ethan Van Sciver on art, I’ll be there in a flash! (Insert rimshot sound-effect here.)

Tim Callahan: I think Van Sciver is completely wrong for this project, but I believe in Geoff Johns.  I have a t-shirt that says so.

Kiel Phegley: I always thought Barry Allen was a pretty boring character. I’m waiting to be proven wrong with this one.

100 BULLETS #100

Dave Richards: Okay, yes, I read this series in trades, and who knows if the final volume will come out in 2009 or not, but I can still say I've loved every volume of the series and I'm super excited to see how Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso's crime epic comes to an end.  Issue #100 hits stores this February.

Kiel Phegley: February? Seriously?!? I am so far behind on this one. Ugh.

George Tramountanas: And Vertigo loses another of its core series. At least they still have “Scalped.”

AGENTS OF ATLAS

Dave Richards: The stars of one of the best Marvel miniseries finally get what they deserve – an ongoing series written by Jeff Parker. I can't wait to see what happens in this series, especially with Jimmy Woo and his teammates now in charge of one of the most powerful criminal empires in the world. Formerly, anyway. Plus, one of the stars of this series is an ass-kicking, machine gun-toting, Gorilla. ‘NUFF SAID!

Kiel Phegley: Most. Anticipated. New. Series. Of. 2009.

Tim Callahan: I want to like this series.  I thought the miniseries was a great concept with a lackluster ending.  I'm hesitantly optimistic.

George Tramountanas:  If it doesn’t tie-in too closely with Dark Reign, count me in.  Jeff Parker is writing it again?  Aw hell, count me in anyway.

WAR OF KINGS

Dave Richards: Marvel’s next big cosmic event is shaping up to be better than the previous two. In War of Kings, the Shi'ar finally get involved in the bigger cosmic landscape of the Marvel Universe, and it looks like they've got some worthy opponents in the form of the Inhumans. Should be an interesting rumble, and I'm very excited to find out how this will affect Marvel's premier cosmic books "Nova" and "Guardians of the Galaxy."

Tim Callahan: Based on the in-house ads, this seems to have Skrulls in it.  So the question becomes: does the coolness of the Inhumans outweigh the potential to have to put up with more Skrulliness?  Not with Abnett and Lanning at the helm, since they haven't written a great comic since "The Legion."  But the "Secret Invasion: Inhumans" book was the best spin-off of Marvel's event this year, so maybe I'm primed for "War of Kings."  Maybe it will whisk me along on the DnA bandwagon again.

THE AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: CHARACTER ASSASSINATION

Dave Richards: If there's one thing the Spider-Man brain trust has proven, it's that they can build a pretty big story and deliver a satisfying payoff. So I'm very excited for "Character Assassination" – the next big arc in "Amazing Spider-Man," which begins in January and promises to answers a lot of the book’s big ongoing mysteries.

Tim Callahan: I'm on board with "Amazing Spider-Man" no matter what.  It hasn't been this good in nearly twenty years.

George Tramountanas:  Wasn’t the Clone Saga taking place twenty years ago? In any case, the book has presently proven to be a lot of fun. I mean, Mark Waid on “Amazing Spider-Man” – all I can say is, “It’s about damn time!”

Tim Callahan: And how about that Marcos Martin?  I know we're supposed to be talking about "Character Assassination" and Romita, Jr. is drawing that, but Marcos Martin's Spider-Man is the single greatest thing that's ever happened to Peter Parker (well, at least this year).  Romita, Jr. is pretty great too.  Sign me up for "Character Assassination" right now.  (The comic, not the actual...you know.)

Kiel Phegley: I think anyone who's enjoyed "Amazing" since Brand New Day will dig it. Anyone who hasn't been on board with the new direction won't. Shocker, right?

IMAGE UNITED

Tim Callahan: We were all around when Image first hit, right?  There was an immense energy there and it was an exciting time, but were any of that first wave of Image comics any good?  Not really.  I don't know how long the rest of you stuck around, but I probably bought a handful of issues of everything, and the charm quickly – very quickly in terms of issue numbers, delayed in terms of actual months – wore off.  I stuck with "Spawn" and "WildC.A.T.S." a bit longer than the rest. And while I certainly respect what Erik Larsen has done over the years with "Savage Dragon," it’s never particularly interested me. So I just don't hold out much hope for "Image United."  I just keep getting flashes of "Deathmate" in my head.

George Tramountanas: Tim, I do remember when Image first hit, and for the most part, I agree with you. But imagine if Robert Kirkman had been writing all those books initially? It might have been a different story…literally. So, to have the opportunity to read a Kirkman tale with all the original Image founders providing art now?  I’m there!  And as long as it ships quicker than “Image” #0 or the Image Comics tenth anniversary hardcover, we should be okay.

Wait, did the tenth anniversary book ship?

Kiel Phegley: I'll bet you $50 “Image United” does not ship in 2009.

Dave Richards: I agree with Tim too. In hindsight, the majority of the first wave of the Image books were all nice to look at, but suffered from a case of "Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain," because the writing on the books was generally poor to lackluster.  And, yes, it took me awhile to figure that out, but it does color my perception on anything related to the Image characters. So currently, I'm kind of "meh" on the prospect of “Image United.”

And like Kiel, I'm highly skeptical that we'll see more than two issues of this in 2009.

THE MANGA GENERATION GROWS UP

Kiel Phegley: Or they at least hit high school. For the past few years, manga kids have dominated sales of graphic novels in bookstores and fiercely divided longtime watchers of the comics industry into three camps: the "this is the wave of the future" folks, the "this is a fad that I'll dance on the grave of" folks, and the "I don't get it because they don't wear their underpants outside their regular pants... and what's with the cosplay?" folks.

With 2008 being a year of big sales in some areas (Viz's successful run of catching “Naruto” up to the Japanese editions) and some startling losses in others (everything that's gone down at TOKYOPOP, small manga publishers going tits up), 2009 is looking to be a watershed year in showing what the future of manga will be and how it will affect the sales of all comics.

Will manga kids keep with the form in the numbers that have supported it, or will sales crash harder than expected? Will the many aspiring manga artists find a way to sell their own stories and ideas in a way that doesn't involved their rights being stolen by a corporation? Will the sight of a 40-something man in a Flash T-shirt checking out an obviously-not-18-year-old girl in pink wig and schoolgirl outfit at a con ever stop being totally fucking skeevy? Okay, the answer to that last one is totally "No," but as for the rest of those questions, I really have no clue and am interested to see what the future holds.

Tim Callahan: I'm excited to see what happens when the manga influence permeates American comics completely.  We've seen some companies jump on the manga train, but those that only do it in a superficial way (I'm looking at you, "Big Hero 6") seem to have results which are more sad than good (like that guy in the Flash T-shirt).  But a true synthesis of the manga and American illustrative style could lead to some fresh-looking comics a few years from now.  And just think of all the great manga most of us still have to catch up on.

So what are you, our dear readers, looking forward to most in 2009? What did our writers forget? Stop by the CBR forums and let us know. Share your excitement!

Thanks for joining our annual Round-Up, and from all of us at CBR to all of you – Happy New Year!

TAGS:  year in review

 
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