Comic Thanks by Jordan Ferguson
Hello again, friends, and welcome back to another year of... well, this column's never had a title, but it's never let a little thing like that get in its way before, it's not about to start now.
For any newcomers, this is typically the space where, as the sort of elder statesman gazing down on the comics landscape with a scowl and grimace, I shake my fists to the sky and try to do my small part to hold comics fandom to a higher standard.
At least, that's what I'd be doing under normal circumstances. But friends, I'm writing this on Thanksgiving evening. My belly is full, I've got a glass of whiskey on the table next to me, Minnie Ripperton on the stereo, and I just don't have it in me. The business of comics will never suffer a shortage of moments to make me rend my garments and drop to the floor in pained outrage, of that I have no doubt. But tonight, for one night only, let us celebrate everything worth being thankful for in the world of comics this year.
AvX is over
Just this week, Marvel's annual super-awesome-world-changing-nothing-will-ever-be-the-same! event drew to a close. Major characters died (again), others were jailed as war criminals, and one genie got put back in a bottle to see another one let out again. The conclusion of AvX clears the way for Marvel NOW!, the company's Nick Fury-race-switching, nothing at all like the New 52, 'don't call it a reboot' initiative. We all know it's a matter of time until another world shaker of a crisis comes around, but hopefully they'll need at least a year to put these specific ducks in a row, granting us all a brief respite. And for that, I am thankful.
Daredevil is awesome again
Things looked iffy for ol' Hornhead for a minute. After stellar runs by Brian Michael Bendis and Ed Brubaker, Daredevil took a baffling turn to the arcane in the inexcusable "Shadowland" story arc. When word came down that career franchise fixer Mark Waid was stepping in to return the character to its more swashbuckling roots, I'm sure I wasn't the only one skeptical it could be done. Well it can. In the hands of Waid and artist Paolo Manuel Rivera, Matt Murdock remains the street-level hero he's always been, and actually manages to have fun in the process. Plus, Daredevil rarely ties into the company crossover. And for that, I am thankful.
The Ascendancies of Jeff Lemire and Scott Snyder
Individually, they've reinvigorated Batman and made some of the most acclaimed creator-owned works in recent memory. Together, they've injected horror back into the DCU proper. Swamp Thing and Animal Man are two of the best books in the New 52, with no signs of dipping in quality, and the powers that be at DC are smart enough to know what they have in their hands, keeping the writers' plates filled with projects. Which is only good news for fans, and worth being thankful for.
Whither Mark Millar?
I've alluded to this in the past, but let me put it right out there in case there's ever been any misinterpretation: Mark Millar, and Mark Millar's body of work, with few exceptions, embody everything that is wrong with comics and comics fandom. He's a carnival barker pushing cheap shocks with graphic sex and violence, offering nothing new in the process: mind-blowing for the little brothers of the world, but utterly trite and boring for anyone over 12.
Miraculously, 2012 has found Millar playing in his various creator-owned sandboxes, catering to his demo and leaving the rest of us the hell alone. That is worth being very thankful for.
Gail Simone's Twitter Feed
She's long been one of the most reliable comics writers in the industry, with acclaimed runs on Birds of Prey and Secret Six. Currently, she's making even diehard Oracle fanboys like me warm up to Barbara Gordon as Batgirl. And maybe you've bought all of those books, but if you don't follow Gail Simone on Twitter, you're missing out on the genius of everything from Roommate Cthulu to Batman's Rage Cleavage to the lost James Bond movie, Thundersack. Maybe you people can afford to miss out on these sorts of things, but I refuse.
Comics aren't going anywhere
A fair bit of doom and gloom comes down the news cycle at least once a year on how decreased sales, the shrinkage of the direct market, online piracy, etc. will kill the artform. Yeah, no. I come from a time when Marvel was declaring bankruptcy and we had to worry if Time-Warner would one day decide that sinking money into DC was no longer a sound business plan. Those were the dark days. Today, fans not only have a healthy and thriving mainstream, but a wealth of independent and international options to sample as well. This is amazing, and we should all take a moment to give thanks for the overall health of the art form we all love so much. It'll continually let us down, without question, but at least it'll be here.