If you've been a PanelBeats reader for any length of time, you'll be aware that for one reason and another, we haven't had an incredibly busy year in terms of writing about comics. But we've still been reading them, and so with the end of the year upon us, it seems a good time to check in and let you know what we've enjoyed in 2015, in case you've missed any of it yourself. Look, it's an end-of-year post: you know how these things work.
Rather than doing a ranked countdown based on any kind of consensus, we've instead individually written about which books stood out for us this year. As ever, our tastes and consumption habits can vary hugely (although there is some crossover); and of course, we're aware that we don't necessarily cover the full spectrum of everything that was published across the industry in 2015. Nevertheless, if we've mentioned it below, then as far as this site's concerned, it was a highlight of our year - and is well worth checking out if you haven't already.
While it's difficult to take any of the events of Secret Wars
- that is, the destruction of Marvel's entire continuity - with any serious conviction until the series ends and we learn the new post-relaunch status quo, one thing that seems a pretty safe bet is that the Ultimate Universe experiment is finally, fifteen years after it began, coming to an end. Of course, we've been here at least twice before - both Ultimatum
were pitched as events that were going to bring things to an close - but it really does all feel rather more final this time, particularly with the confirmation that Miles Morales is going to join the regular Marvel U.
And so it seems as good a time as any to look back over the past decade-and-a-half of revamped, alternate-universe Marvel stories. And to do so in as much punishing detail as possible, by examining the merits of every single
ongoing and mini series published under the imprint.
It is 2015, and it looks like we are basically getting a live-action adaptation of Flash of Two Worlds. Or at the very least, something heavily inspired by it. I can reasonably say without hyperbole that it doesn't get much better than this.
In 1985, Swedish synth-pop band A-ha had a huge hit with their debut single "Take on Me". It reached #2 in the UK (kept off the top by Jennifer Rush's "The Power of Love", a song that is staggeringly inferior to its two mid-80s namesakes) and #1 in the US. This success was due in no small part (although not entirely - it is
a fantastic record) to its music video, directed by future Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
helmer Steve Barron. In case you've somehow never seen it, it portrays a young woman reading a comic in a cafe, who finds herself drawn into its pages by the handsome lead character (A-ha's singer Morten Harket, converted to pencil form by rotoscoped animation), before helping him escape from its confines.
It's filled with incredibly striking imagery - and although the soft pencil lines look like no actual comic ever published (I've often wondered if the woman was actually meant to be the artist herself, looking at a rough draft of her own work), it's sort of surprising that in the thirty years since it was made, there hasn't been a single comic that's gone "Hey, this is an iconic pop culture image that plays with our form, we should try and make use of it somehow!"
Batman is easily one of the most popular characters in action figure history, with several hundred different figures of him having been produced over the years. Unfortunately, he also - with the odd exception
- has tended not to change his costume in especially dramatic ways, save for the occasional switch from grey to black, or the addition and subtraction of the famous yellow oval.
Despite this obvious handicap, his popularity in plastic form is such that toy manufacturers have never been shy in coming up with wild, inventive and frequently batshit mental
alternative costumes to flog to unsuspecting parents the world over. Here, then, are thirty particular favourites of ours...
Oh look, it's another one of those Comixology sales where the entirety of a brilliant series is going super-cheap
. It's not really possible to pick out individual issues or arcs from Garth Ennis and Steve Dillon's late '90s Vertigo series Preacher
and recommend them over others - the series as a whole is a sprawling epic that really needs to be followed through from the beginning rather than dipping in and buying bits of it. But because of the handful of spinoff, character-background-filling-in miniseries that were released alongside it, and the fact that different trade editions have collected some things in slightly different orders, it's useful to put together an arc-by-arc reading guide for if you do end up buying it in this single-issue form. And at the same time I'll give a quick précis of each arc and where I think it stands in the great scheme of things.
Ahead of the publication of Phonogram: The Immaterial Girl in August, I'm taking an unnecessarily personal look back at the two previous volumes of Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie's breakout work. In part one, I covered the first volume,
Rue Britannia. In this concluding chapter, unsurprisingly, I look at volume two:
The Singles Club.
First and foremost, it's worth noting that the six-minute promo video for CBS' Supergirl
that's gone online today shouldn't be considered a "trailer" as such. Instead, it's what's known as a "cutdown" - essentially, an edited blast through the pilot episode designed to help sell the show to advertisers and the like.
Nevertheless, it seems to serve as a pretty good indication of what the new Melissa Benoist-starring series (or, at the very least, its first episode) is going to be like... and it's a very encouraging one, for this Supergirl fan at least. Here are five things that particularly jumped out as giving us reason for enthusiasm...
So DC's massive Convergence
event - in which basically the entire DCU is going on hold for two months while a load of past versions of characters get smooshed together for a big universe-crossover that is in no way similar to the one Marvel are doing almost immediately afterwards - kicks off in earnest next week (after an introductory zero issue this Wednesday). And to celebrate, the publisher has been running a Road to Convergence sale on Comixology
, designed to give confused readers an entry point into their history of multiverses and reboots.
Unfortunately, said sale basically just consists of the assorted miniseries - Crisis on Infinite Earths
, Zero Hour
and so on - in which said reboots have occurred, along with a couple of New 52-era minis that set up some of the plot of Convergence
itself. So none of them are really much help if you want to get a handle on the old incarnations of characters that will suddenly start appearing for two-issue minis in April and May. And that's where we come in. Instead of giving you a guide to which of the previous crossovers are worth buying, we've gone through every single one
of the upcoming miniseries and picked a single, individual comic you can buy digitally that we feel in some way introduces, encapsulates, or otherwise explains the character. And yes, we even got one for Hawkman.