Welcome back for the second installment of The Crank File. The Crank File is an open forum where I will offer speculations, reviews and ravings on all things comics.
Holy crap folks. It’s two thousand and fifteen. Glad you’re still with us. We should have a good year ahead according to Back to the Future. Look out for hover boards, flying cars and fax machine booths coming to a corner near you.
Looking back at it, 2014 was an awesome year to be a comic book fan. Big two super heroes and heroines continued their domination over box offices and set top boxes alike. Independent publishers and creator owned series remain popular among readers and their continued success has given talented writers and artists freedom to pursue new ideas and tell new stories. I wasn’t able to check out everything and some of what I saw wasn’t exactly what you would call inspired, but you take the bad with the good. Here’s some of the good from the last 365 days.
Favorite continuing series: Manifest Destiny (Image)
Lewis and Clark’s ragtag group of explorers continued their expedition across the America’s frontier, encountering new monstrosities and adventures along the way. We were also brought in for a closer look at the members of our menagerie, scabs and all. It was an exhilarating read and a whole lot of fun to look at. There was one page in every issue of Manifest Destiny where I would have to stop and just admire the terror, beauty and detail found in the artwork. This westward journey has been a delightful mix of action, adventure, horror and humor and has consistently turned out entertaining, thought provoking yarns month after month and was my favorite book of 2014. Manifest Destiny #13 is out January 21, and the volume 2 trade paper back collecting issues #s 7 – 12 will be available the week before on January 14.
Honorable mentions: Saga, Batman New 52, East of West
Favorite mini series: Multiversity (DC)
Pax Americana may be my favorite single issue published last year. I understand Grant Morrison isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. The words “easily accessible” probably won’t be found anywhere on his bio. But if you can navigate the dense tangle of intertwining plot lines and characters, you will find a story that transcends traditional comic book mythology and delivers a new experience operating on a metafictional level. Multiversity is an ambitious project with an all-star creative team exploring the connection between fiction and reality. So far the results have been brilliant, albeit slightly confusing. DC will be publishing a Multiversity Guidebook on January 21 which will hopefully help make sense of current events in the DC Multiverse.
Honorable mentions: The Wake, Wool, Sandman Overture
Favorite new comer: Copperhead (Image)
I love me a good western. Not just the Sergio Leone spaghettis, but any story depicting life on the edge of the frontier. Copperhead brings a unique voice to the futuristic, space-western genre. In Copperhead the technology and futurism serve as a backdrop for the characters and plot, giving the story a modern yet classic feel. Every resident living in the mining town of Copperhead is well defined and feels like a real person. Writer Jay Faeber keeps his characters fresh by twisting traditional Western stereotypes, like having the new sheriff in town also be an ass-kicking single mother. The Dialogue has been whip smart and the characters memorable. Copperhead remains intriguing through four issues and we’ve just scratched the surface. I can’t wait to see what we unearth this year. Copperhead #5 hits shelves on January 14.
Honorable mentions: Autumnlands: Tooth & Claw, Roche Limit, 13 Coins
Favorite film adaptation: X-Men Days of Future Past (Marvel)
The Days of Future Past story arc is arguably Claremont and Byrne’s masterpiece during their legendary run on Uncanny X-Men. In two expertly crafted issues, they weave a tale of dystopian societies, time traveling heroes and alternate time lines. I was really impressed by how the movie was able to stay true to the source material while making the story unique by changing the main character from Kitty Pride to Wolverine.The film remained light and fun while steering clear of the campy humor that plagued the original X trilogy. Days of Future Past delivered the action, humanity and social commentary that we expect from the X-men franchise and I was pleased to see my beloved X-men taking another step towards respectability on the big screen. But despite all the things that Days of Future Past got right, I just can’t get past tall Wolverine. Did you know Wolvie is supposed to be 5’3″? They can make Boliver Trask look normal sized but can’t make Hugh Jackman shorter? Ridiculous.
Honorable mentions: Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain America Winter Soldier
Happy 2015 everyone. The path ahead is long and there are many miles to go. See you further on down the road.