Top 20 Issues in 2010

For my Top 20 Issues, I did not include any issues from my Top 5 #1 Issues or my Top 5 Miniseries selections. Instead, I chose stories I loved and reviewed in 2010. It was hard, especially as I know there were stories that I loved that didn’t make it here because the art didn’t live up to the writing or vice versa. It was hard to choose because it’s one thing to make a beautiful arc and another to make a kick-ass issue and have it fit into a beautiful arc. All these tales were ones that I could tell you immediately what they were about and why I loved them.

Here are my Top 20 Issues in 2010.

Spider-Woman #520. Spider-Woman #5 by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev

I love the art in this. The scene where Jessica dives off the rooftop to land in a little puddle of water, the water coming off her body is brilliantly beautiful. I love the technique. Simply gorgeous. Oh, how I wish comic art was this pretty all the time.

Of course, Jessica tells herself that she was only going back for her stuff. It’s a good excuse that helps her feel hard inside. So she doesn’t have to feel partially responsible for those policemen’s deaths. Oh, the stories that Jessica tells herself.

Okay, now the Thunderbolts are after her. But why? Why do they care? Jessica’s just a rogue superhero in a place not under the rule of H.A.M.M.E.R. Not to mention it’s also full of corruption.

Read all my reviews for Spider-Woman and buy Spider-Woman: Agent of S.W.O.R.D..

Zatanna #319. Zatanna #3 by Paul Dini and Stephane Roux

This comic is becoming rather awesome. Zatanna knows what she’s doing and knows how to use her skills. I always love character who use their brains as well as their powers. Likewise, I enjoy her team-up with Dale, because while Zatanna is the one to take down Brother Night, Dale isn’t running and hiding from him and isn’t going to be manipulated into backing off.

For an action-filled comic, the scenes were nicely paced. Roux’s does a great job with the art. I particularly love his page-layouts. The diamond-shapes bring a nice little reminder about Zatanna’s magical powers.

Zatanna has a lot of heart, and it’s really apparent when she saves her crew first. And that she takes the time to turn Mickey into her twin so Mickey can pull off the show Zatanna’s going to miss due to her fight with Brother Night.

I love Zatanna saving her father. I love her tears, while she maintains herself and her powers. A lesser hero would’ve folded under the emotional pressure of her/his father reappearing. The scene Zatanna has with him as she frees him, once again, is just lovely and perfect.

Zatanna’s take-down of Brother Night is likewise fitting. I love that she turns a powerless Brother Night into Dale, but knows that Brother Night will suffer more for the bargain he made with the devil.

Read all my reviews for Zatanna and buy Zatanna: The Mistress of Magic.

The New Avengers Annual #318. New Avengers Annual #3 by Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Mayhew

Thanks for the awesome birthday present, Bendis. At least, the way I’m looking at all the comics that came out on my birthday week is birthday presents for me. Well, the good ones anyway.

Finally, an all-girl rescue team. Seriously, those are some powerful women. They completely were overdue to shine in the light. Plus, Jessica back in her uniform. Though she needs to loose the earrings when fighting. Mine fall off when I’m changing my shirt, much less pumbling the Dark Avengers. Well at least they’re all wearing flats.

I rather loved the scenes with Clint tied up naked and being tortured. But that’s just me. Not to mention I’m pretty sure he distracted Bullseye from his target by flashing him. Because for some reason they decided to take off all his clothes. Okay, it’s an approved torture method by the CIA/military, but still my birthday present from Bendis.

Bendis’ take on Bobbi and Clint’s relationship is endearing. However, really similar to Jessica and Luke’s. Except perhaps Jessica and Luke are better communicators than Bobbi and Clint, believe it or not.

Read my reviews for New Avengers and buy New Avengers: Siege.

Wonder Woman #4017. Wonder Woman #40 by Gail Simone and Aaron Lopresti

I loved this issue so much. Simone encapsulated all the best sides of Diana in this issue.

Diana the fighter is stopping Quetzlotl and realizing it’s against Quetzlotl’s nature to have eaten humans. Good thing snake stomach fluids apparently don’t dissolve metal very quickly. Diana’s ability to use to reason while fighting works again and again.

I also love Diana’s scene with Etta and Steve. Etta is so awesome. She’s an incredibly realized character in that she’s made herself the star of her own world even with her husband and best friend being important heroes. And, of course, she’s going to feel bad about not telling them about being involved in Checkmate. I also love Diana feeling bad and wanting to be a good friend.

The manipulating “children” remind me a lot of the Hansel and Gretel episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer where evil spirits raised havoc about witches. Hopefully, Kara and Diana won’t get burned at the stake like Buffy and Willow. But does that mean Etta’s getting turned into the rat?

Love seeing Kara versus Diana and how much Diana cares about her. (Which actually does fit nicely into Diana’s theme of love over in the Blackest Night crossovers which don’t touch this book, thank the comic gods.)

Read all my Wonder Woman reviews and buy Wonder Woman: Contagion.

Atlas #516. Atlas #5 by Jeff Parker, Elizabeth Breitweiser, Gabriel Hardman, and Ramon Rosanas

This makes me so sad. I hate that this book is ending. I hate that this team isn’t going to have a monthly book and that all their fates are up in the air when it comes to future publication. I’m going to need to take a moment to weep in my oatmeal.

Atlas has been one of my favorite books since I first ventured into their world during the second run. And I made sure to buy the book in single issue format so it would keep being printed. *sigh* I suppose my taste in books don’t run the world. But it should!

Sadly, I wasn’t as enamored with this Echo Worlder plotline as I felt that I should’ve been. But I have to give major props to Parker and the artists for so deftly wrapping up the plot in such a short space. Wow, that was a jam-packed issue. And even enough the plot might’ve not been my favorite, I still enjoyed it.

I always like how Parker tells more about the characters through their actions than exposition. They aren’t just stopping bad guys; they are also sharing about themselves. I’m glad that Bob has decided to share what he looks like with his friends. Venus’ reaction was just perfect.

M-11 breaking through the Echo World, and Jimmy figuring out what was actually going on to link the worlds together was just perfect.

The ending seemed bittersweet since I’ll miss this book so much. The whole team walking through a field to get back to their world had a nice touch to it. As did Jimmy’s talk with Khan. Same with Chang’s narration and Mr. Lao saying not to focus on him too much.

*cries*

Read all my reviews for Atlas and buy Atlas: Return of the Three Dimensional Man.

Invincible Iron Man #2015. Invincible Iron Man #20 by Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca

The day this book came out, Twitter was abuzz with praise for it. My schedule doesn’t allow me to pick up books on Wednesdays or let me read them right after I buy them. So I’m happy to report that this issue was just as awesome as everyone said it was.

Pepper stood out in this issue. In many ways, Tony’s breakdown has been as much about her as it has been about him. She is his next of kin, his lover, his best friend, his right hand woman, his hope. Her mourning worked nicely in contrast to everyone else. To them, Tony was a fellow Avenger or a boss. Of course, Madame Masque is perhaps the only other character going through the grieving process the same way as Pepper. Whitney’s just a little more broken.

I got my wish of at least one more issue where Thor was in his Donald Blake persona.

Seeing Norman dismiss everyone from trailing Tony or trying to kill him was interesting. Probably means in the larger context of the Siege, Tony isn’t going to be playing the main hero.

Read all my reviews for Invincible Iron Man and buy Invincible Iron Man Vol. 4: Stark Disassembled.

Marvel Her-oes #314. Marvel Her-oes #3 by Grace Randolph and Craig Rousseau

Her-oes continues to be super fun and super cute. Rousseau’s art fits perfectly for this coming-of-age teen story.

I love Miss America showing up as an agent of the government in this story. While she explains the rules of this universe and how they deal with metas, she doesn’t stumble up the plot. That’s some great writing on Randolph’s part.

Jan is perfectly characterized here. She may be a fashion designer, but she’s also a hero in the making. Jan knows that locking up Jen is wrong. Not just because Jen’s her friend, but because she believes that Jen can control her powers. (And those of us who’ve read She-Hulk comics know that Jen eventually does just that.)

I love the teenage girl snark as they team up with Namora to save Jen from being taken away by the government. But I also love that Namora trusts Namor to be there to help her out. And is caught off-guard to find herself home alone (with Jan and Jen) and having other metas (seemingly bad ones) wanting Jen themselves.

Read my entire review for Marvel Her-oes and buy Marvel Her-Oes.

Question #3713. The Question #37 (Blackest Night tie-in) by Dennis O’Neil, Greg Rucka, and Denys Cowan

This issue made me really want to go back and read the 80’s Question series. I want to know more about Charlie and his life. The first few pages with the recaps of his life and deaths work so well to frame the story. A great kick-off to a great story.

This issue also made me so happy to have a full-sized issue dedicated to Renee’s storyline. I miss that. I miss having so much reading material at my fingertips. I love seeing her spunky and no-nonsense attitude.

But at the heart of it, this issue highlights the life of Tot Rodor. This said a lot about him that he purposefully pulled Charlie back into life and toward him and Renee. There are many questions, while Charlie asks, but it seems Tot’s always been the actual answer-seeker. In many ways, this is the burden of the side-kick. The researcher. The one left behind — whether on purpose or by situation — who tries to fill in the whys.

I love Shiva’s entrance. So her. Of course, she’s just going to show up, demanding a fight from Renee as warm-up, and Tot isn’t going to wonder why. That’s just Shiva.

At first, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like Cowan’s art. His art style isn’t my taste. But surprisingly, it grew on me. I think he was paired up with a great colorist (David Baron), and Cowan does a wonderful job with facial expression and making his characters look different from one another. It makes his sketchy pad style really work here.

Overall, this was an exceptional issue. It worked well in the frame of the giant Blackest Night crossover, but it also stood as a solid story on its own about the passing of the Question’s mantel, including his friends and foes.

Read all my reviews for The Question and buy Blackest Night: Rise of the Black Lanterns.

Black Widow #412. Black Widow #4 by Marjorie Liu and Daniel Acuna

I really loved this issue a lot. I thought Acuna’s art really shined through. I love his retro style.

Particularly, I enjoy the body-language which comes across in every character. From the concealed spy nature when Lady Bullseye and Natasha face off to the familiar affection between Bucky and Natasha. Bucky and Natasha looked like two glitzy retro movie actors in love. Acuna really brings this tale to life.

The piecing together of Natasha’s history has also been interesting. There were a few times when I was lost and felt like I was missing a piece. While I wouldn’t say Natasha is an unreliable narrator, she’s still a bit of a puzzle.

The flashbacks of Natasha’s team being hit and her relationship with Nikolai was perfect for giving context of the ghosts Natasha’s hunting. As does her visit with the family who knew her when she was young.

What I didn’t buy was Bucky selling her out. Unless, of course, he did it under her orders. Which I’m not ruling out.

Read all my reviews for Black Widow and buy Black Widow: The Name of the Rose.

Detective Comics #85811. Detective Comics #858 by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III

I wasn’t sure this issue would win me over. Mostly because I’m not sure how much I like this level of trauma as motivation in a character’s past. I’m rather a fan of characters who become superheros because that’s who they are. But Rucka manages to pull this off. We see Kate’s connection to Beth and their mother. We see her struggles for her father’s affections. It all works.

The flashbacks work beautifully as they’re interlaced with Colonel Kane looking for Alice/Beth’s body and Kate analyzing Alice/Beth’s DNA, while ignoring her father’s calls.

I liked that Kate’s mother’s death was political and tied to the Colonel’s work. Better than randomly killing her in that it plays nicely into Kate’s reaction at getting hunted by the Crime Bible Cult. Such horror and sadness. The art on the last page was just heart-wrenching.

In contrast, Renee’s backup story got a happy ending. Renee breaking out the women was very satisfying. The fight scenes were awesome, and I await her next adventure.

Read all my reviews for Detective Comics and buy Batwoman: Elegy.

Echo #2310. Echo #23 by Terry Moore

This is perhaps my favorite issue so far. I was feeling a little bit of a waning in my affections for this story, but Echo #23 really put this title back on my radar.

I love Ivy and Julie fighting. Julie calling Ivy a perv was great as Ivy tried to call up Annie by touching Julie’s breast. Their interactions felt so real. Especially since they’re under a ton of stress trying to stop what could be World War III, or at least another big evil in the world. Julie being obsessed with getting new clothes also felt incredibly true to the character. She’s stressed so she’s not focusing on how they’re going to stop the Phi Bomb, but the thing she can control, and that’s getting dressed.

I’m also enjoying how Ivy and Julie are discovering Julie’s powers bit-by-bit. I like the little things like Ivy being healed and looking 10 years younger. And Julie growing muscle and growing taller. I love how Moore takes it from a conversation about how Julie can’t fit into Ivy’s pants, to a revelation that Julie’s getting bigger.

And Cain’s appearance at Henri figures. Soon or later he would come knocking down their doors.

Read all my reviews for Echo and buy Echo: Black Hole.

Viking #59. Viking #5 by Ivan Brandon and Nic Klein

I really loved this issue. It really showcased all the characters and their different predicaments. It worked extremely well as a “season ender.” I hoping there’s more coming down the line, but this might have to be a title to pick up in trades. (Of course, that’s if this title’s sold enough in order to make it to trades.)

While I’m still not really clear on what’s going on at the castle itself, the stories of Anni and King Bram being held hostage comes together well.

Finn and Annikki’s storyline was my favorite. At first, I was a little gobsmacked at how quickly the plot moved along, especially Finn’s quick recovery from an almost fatal stabbing, but then I figured the story took place over the course of weeks. I liked how they gained affection for one another. I liked how Anni saw a free spirit in Finn and how she saw him as weak, even though he was one of her and her father’s captors. I liked how she ployed Finn to get his knife, and he knew it. How he asked her to stay. Clearly, she would’ve if her father hadn’t been there too.

Orm seemed really at peace out there hunting for deer. Apologizing to the deer before he killed it for food was a really nice touch to the story.

Egil and Bram’s stories were the least intriguing. Bram is correct in that Egil is a common criminal and that he’s the one who got his brother killed. However, Bram should learn some compassion. I supposed in the end, he did have compassion. Not to kill Egil, just burn the side of his face instead.

Oh, Viking, what are you going to do next?

Read all my reviews of Viking and buy Viking.

Batgirl #58. Batgirl #5 by Bryan Q. Miller and Lee Garbett

I really loved this issue. I thought the script pulled together nicely and the art fit it so well.

The opening fight scene of Stephanie taking on Diesel was perfect. I loved how it showed how much she and Babs have the same sensibilities and sense of humor. Stephanie’s quips were right on. It wasn’t her fault Diesel didn’t get them.

I loved, loved when Batman and Robin showed up and Diesel was super excited to fight a “real” hero. I also loved Stephanie saving the day by freezing Robin. And having Dick kick them out of the cave. (How awesome was it that Alfred gave Babs and Stephanie permission to use the Bat Cave, not Dick or Damien.) But seriously, Damien messed up first by just going in headstrong, because he’s a child which Miller seems to remember. Stephanie may have not saved all of them in the most graceful manner, but she did stop Diesel and stop the building from exploding.

Alfred is so sick of taking care of spoiled children. I loved his comment about taking away Damien’s knives.

Stephanie is so not stealthy when ease-dropping on Francisco Gracia. She is kind of lucky he gives her leeway. Probably because she’s a woman.

I loved Babs being setup Detective Nick. Of course, I hope this doesn’t cause conflict between Stephanie and Babs later. I can do without the women fighting over the man plot. Especially since this comic has been so good. I loved him just sticking his foot in his mouth about Babs’ disability and her calling him on it. Of course, she was still pissed at Dick. But when is she not?

I loved the art and the scene with Damien stalking Stephanie like the kid in The Omen. Hilarious. I love him in his “urban camouflage mode.” While drawing a stick figure of her as Batgirl and how he’s going to stab her. And then acting like a little boy.

Damien as Omen boy and snarking with Stephanie

Stephanie dressing up to surprise Fransisco is going to get her cover blown. And shot.

Read all my reviews of Batgirl and buy Batgirl: Rising.

Power Girl #87. Power Girl #8 by Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Amanda Conner

This was an awesome issue. I loved every bit of it. At first, I doubted this plotline; I didn’t know how Gray and Palmiotti were going to put a twist on the alien male suitor clich√©.

First, we have the undefeatable monster. The more Power Girl and Vartox beat on the monster, the stronger the monster seems to get. I love that Kara figures out how to defeat it, by breaking it apart and thus dividing its power down to nothing.

I think in this issue more than the earlier one, Vartox ‘s ship as a giant head works really well as his literal ego. I love Kara and Vartox debating about dinner. After fighting those monsters, Kara has to be hungry.

Satanna and her animal minions crack me up. Badger is super hilarious. So are the tiger guards asking if they can eat Badger, but no, they just have to sedate him.

Vartox ‘s seduction outfits are too funny. Then coupled with this chaos in the kitchen. I really like how Vartox cooking — a stereotypical feminine trait — gives the reader a little tip off about the twist. I love that they end up at Kara’s favorite take-out place eating pizza. Because, yes, she is so a take-out foodie.

I love how subtle Kara’s opinion of Vartox has changed. Enough that she’s willing to hear his proposition out, and how while not explicit, there’s definitely a frank discussion about how much work it actually is for the woman to carry a child and give birth to it.

The fertility room is genius. As is Vartox ‘s disgust at the idea of sex for reproduction. I mean, how could Kara think of something as gross as that? And of course, when she realized the children weren’t going to be “hers” and she wasn’t going to carry them that she did help.

And, of course, Vartox would run off with a thanks and Kara would stand up for herself.

Both Gray and Palmiotti really surprised me with this plot. I loved how they turned the cliche on its head.

Read all my Power Girl reviews and buy Power Girl Vol. 2: Aliens & Apes.

Detective Comics #8666. Detective Comics #866 by Dennis O’Neil and Dustin Nguyen

I’ve wanted for a while to read O’Neil’s ’80s Question run, and this Detective Comics was beyond fabulous and made me want to read more O’Neil right now. He’s such a great writer. The story just flows and seems so easy, which is a hallmark of a finely crafted story. I loved this. Plus, Nguyen does some of my favorite current Gotham art. I’m so glad to read a story worthy of his art.

This really is a perfect example of a flashback story. Both the story and the art ease the transition. I also appreciated that it was a scary look at the Joker. The Joker is the most scary Gotham villain, and I feel like so many writers try too hard to make him scary and then he isn’t. But O’Neil gives us just enough Joker, on-and-off-panel to bring the horror of the Joker out. Even when Joker’s drawn in his old school clown way.

I also enjoyed what this story said about Dick. It shows what a good detective Dick has become under the tutelage of Bruce. Dick connects all the pieces many, many years later of where the medallion went. I liked how O’Neil brings the protector in so the flashback can be about Dick, not just Bruce. I love what experience has taught Dick. I love how bent he is for justice, even for a crime that happened a very long time ago.

The ending is very scary, and I won’t spoil it for those of you who haven’t read it. You should read it. It’s completely worth the money and tracking it down. Excellent issue.

Read all my reviews for Detective Comics and you’ll have to head to your local comic book shop to pick up this issue as it has not been collected yet.

Power Girl #125. Power Girl #12 by Justin Gray, Jimmy Palmiotti, and Amanda Conner

I’m so sad that this creative team is leaving the book after this issue. I love Conner’s art so much. I think she’s spoiled us all for any other artist drawing Power Girl.

I loved how much this issue was a goodbye from the creative team. It made me sad, but in a happy way. Almost all the major characters from their 12-issue run appear for one last goodbye to Power Girl. (You never know which characters or storylines future writers will or won’t use.)

This comic starts off with a spa-day for Kara and Terra. After all, they had a hard battle last issue with poor Terra getting her body stolen by the Ultra-Humanite. And in what’s become Gray and Palmiotti’s classic Power Girl shtick, Kara and Terra wear ridiculously small “semi-organic neural interface clothing” and Kara gets embarrassed and flustered by it. I love how it ridiculously gives them headbands. In the ultimate girl-bonding, the clothing and spa channels their emotions, and Kara’s able to see through Terra’s eyes about the first time they met. They both become super relaxed on good emotions. (The clothing blocks bad ones.)

Satanna’s still up to no good, trying to defeat Power Girl. She’s extra pissed about having a tiger’s arm. (I could make so many jokes here, but I won’t because I’m being good right now.) She sleeps with Sivana in an attempt to get him to help her destroy Power Girl. However, she’s forgotten what the rest of us learned long ago, you have to get the evil man to give up his secret weapon before you sleep with him. Then you can reverse the situation and toss his ass out.

I love Kara meeting Terra’s family, while missing her own. Though in way, this story has been about Kara making her own family with the friends she’s met along the way. And of course, Stinky her cat. Of course, I loved the scene where she named him. I loved how we then see all the major characters in her story, and that her employees give her a party celebrating that she’s the best boss, albeit a busy, absent boss.

I’ll be missing this creative team. They’ve done such a wonderful job at revamping Power Girl and making her the character she always should’ve been.

Read all my Power Girl reviews and buy Power Girl Vol. 2: Aliens & Apes.

Doctor Who: The Whispering Gallery4. Doctor Who: The Whispering Gallery by Leah Moore, John Reppion, and Ben Templesmith

The Whispering Gallery was everything I wanted in a tie-in comic book. It stayed true to the characters and brought an interesting plot to the world.

I really enjoyed Templesmith’s art. I loved the sketchiness of it, and I also adored the water-coloring. The desaturated palette really sets the tone right for the journey the Doctor and Martha are on. Desaturation helps tell the story about a world where all emotions are kept bottled up. I also loved Morkon, the monster, in this art style as this spider-like blob would’ve been ridiculous without the watercolors and desaturation. Morkon is a hulking shadow instead of a bold black blob, which almost makes him actually scary. The pages are beautiful and a joy to read.

Martha’s characterization here was beyond perfect. She was human and emotional. Martha expressed sorrow about the Grattites’ Whispering Gallery, being full of portraits of their dead and their captured last words. She tugs at my heart as she starts matching up those that never were able to express their love to each other.

I love the Doctor walking in the rain to Grayla’s grave with his blue, green, and red umbrella. And how he keeps all his emotions under wraps until he’s in the graveyard. I adored how both the Doctor and Martha have the same reaction when Morkon sneaks up behind them, especially as they’re so absorbed in their emotions.

Morkon going splat with all the Doctor’s emotions was very classic Doctor Who. I also love the image of Morkon shaking Martha in the Tardis and Martha longing to be with her family one more time. (Particularly poignant after she listened to all those last words.)

I loved the Doctor giving Grayla the credit for changing the Grattites’ world and making them an emotion-filled people. It made her feel like a true companion even if the Doctor’s thoughts of her were mostly wishing that he’d asked her to stay aboard.

Overall, I really loved this story and would highly recommend it to anyone interested in reading a great Doctor Who comic.

Read all my Doctor Who comic book reviews and buy Doctor Who: Through Time and Space.

Batgirl #143. Batgirl #14 by Bryan Q. Miller and Lee Garbett

I continue to love this title at lot. Batgirl is probably my favorite on-going DC title. Sometimes, I feel like it hasn’t really gotten the props that it deserves because it is awesome. And this issue was no exception.

I loved that Miller did a Friday in the life of Stephanie Brown issue. As anyone who’s been reading this blog probably knows, I’m a big fan of these type of issues when done well. The bits of insight given about Stephanie are just great.

Plus, I completely identify with her college Friday night. While, I may not have hung out with my mom (who was a state away), I did get together every Friday night with my friends and watch geeky TV. Which does not fit the party stereotype of the college student. And like Batgirl’s night with Supergirl, I always had a good time and didn’t “miss” out on anything.

Sometimes, in comic books, when a writer introduces vampires into the plot, it feels like s/he’s run out other ideas. But the use of Dracula, as a 3-D screen projection and science experiment gone wrong, is pretty original and works well with this book’s tone.

Both Garbett’s art and Miller’s count-down as Stephanie and Kara fight through the 24 Draculas was well done. I really liked how the mission to kill the Draculas was incorporated into their night out. They did stop to eat ice cream and take their pictures in a photo booth.

The emo, 24th Dracula tied nicely back to the beginning where both Kara and Stephanie thought that the movie was both depressing and boring. Indeed, a sad vampire on a loop is just depressing.

I hope Miller sticks to the women’s pact to see each other more often and have nights like this.

Read all my reviews of Batgirl and buy Batgirl: The Flood.

Invincible Iron Man Annual #12. Invincible Iron Man Annual #1 by Matt Fraction and Carmine Di Giandomenico

The story of movie director Jun Shan and his wife Chuntao was extremely sad. In fact, this may be the most depressing comic book I’ve read in a long time. (At least a fictional one.) Fraction wrote one hell of a story about the Mandarin and his quest to have his biography — his version of his life — put on the big screen.

I also really loved Di Giandomenico’s art. His art is just dark enough and horrific enough to portray what’s going on. I appreciated that as the Mandarin turns Chuntao into a whore and Di Giandomenico doesn’t go all t&a like lesser artists might’ve. Instead, she’s incredibly sad.

If this is Fraction relaunching the Mandarin as a legitimate villain, then this is fabulous. It’s really important to not just have the Mandarin going up against Iron Man, especially since Iron Man’s Vietnam-Cold War origins and him having an originally stereotypical Asian villain can be tricky to avoid the racial pitfalls when writing him. Which is why Shan, as another Asian man, being the one whose life is destroyed by the Mandarin makes this tale powerful. Pitting Iron Man as an obsession of the Mandarin’s and putting the Mandarin in the Iron Man movie without feeling cheesy is also incredibly effective.

The Mandarin’s tale of himself off-set with the story about how he actually grew up worked well. His delusions about being a hero compared to the reality of what he knows he did was great. As his lies about being part of Mao’s Communist Revolution. I think it’s interesting that the Mandarin almost gives himself a Tony Stark-like background, rich dead Western parents. Which rather makes him a good foil for Tony.

I love Shan, the film director, as the truth-seeker here. I love how despite the horrible threat of death — and his wife’s death — Shan still wants to tell a good story, a true story. Let his camera speak, like any artist would. I also love that he never gives up hope. Even if the ending of this story is heartbreaking. And seemingly inconsequential to the Mandarin.

If you haven’t been reading Fraction’s Iron Man, I highly suggest picking up this issue. It’s basically a one-shot, so you don’t have to worry about story lines. Both Fraction and Di Giandomenico gives 100%. Beautiful and haunting.

Read all my reviews for Invincible Iron Man and buy Invincible Iron Man Vol. 4: Stark Disassembled.

Detective Comics #8601. Detective Comics #860 by Greg Rucka and J.H. Williams III

Hooray, Rucka finally gave Colonel Kane a first name: Jake. (I’m such a completest.)

Anyway, this issue was as gorgeous as always. But in a very bittersweet way as this is the last issue of Detective Comics for the dynamic duo of Rucka and Williams. Yes, I know Batwoman’s going to be getting her own series. (And Bruce is coming back in April.) However, it was so nice to have a comic led by a woman character that didn’t have her name in the title or wasn’t pigeonholed as a woman’s comic. It’ll be interesting to see what Rucka does with the rest of his time as writer on the title, but that alone doesn’t guarantee I’ll follow it. (This may largely depend on where the Question back-up story lands and her upcoming title.)

The confrontation between Kate and Renee was perfect with Kate info-gathering in seedy bars for her Batman-like take down of the thugs. (How hilarious was it that they thought she was Batman?) And of course, Renee just thought Kate had fell further down the rung of doing nothing with her life.

I loved that Jake knew exactly what Kate was up to. And how instead of busting her ass or turning her in for theft, he decided to support her. Jake was right that Kate had already lost if she was just looking for revenge for her sister and mother. I’m also glad that the issue explained how Kate got her paramilitary training to fight bad guys.

The moment Jake revealed the Batwoman costume version 1.0, I knew there was a fall coming. Father and daughter were just too close. And of course, the set-up has been the entire arch with the reveal of Alice being long-thought-dead Beth. Poor Kate.

I’m loving the backup story team up of Renee and Helena. They are so awesome together. I also adored them finally discovering their shared connection of Charlie/Vic Sage/The Question. Helena’s awkward question about if Renee had slept with him was almost too much.

Read all my reviews for Detective Comics and buy Batwoman: Elegy.

2010 was a bountiful year for some amazing comic books, and I expect 2011 to be even better. I’ll be here: reading and reviewing.

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