Thursday, December 10, 2009

Comic of the Decade?

Time posted their comics of the decade and came up with a sort of wonky top 10.

You can see it here.

Ultimates is listed as the best comic of the decade. And this, clearly, is wrong (unless you're a Marvel fanboy of the highest degree). Most successful at what it was trying to do? In many ways, I could agree. Some of the best artwork in comics? Absolutely.

As a time capsule of the belligerency of a decade where the American Spirit coalesced into an angry child damaging everything in his path to prove he isn't scared? Sure.

Ultimates started with a lot of promise. It took Avengers, one of my least favorite concepts in comics (and Lord knows I tried to enjoy it, because so many others liked it, and I wanted to understand why), turned the cartoon cut outs of the Avengers into 2.5 dimensional characters, and said "No, its 2006. What ARE these characters?", did a good six first issues, and then promptly lost its way as a comic about set-pieces rather than story, and abandoning the implicit, post-9/11 agreement in comics that images and scenes of mass destruction should have weight to them, and that destroyed cityscapes and body counts of "Authority" (who Ultimates was always more or less imitating, anyway, and which found itself at #6 on the list) were a thing of the past.

Its fairly clear that whomever penned the list is into the "kick-ass", Ellis-infused-Machismo aspect of comics that so defined the last decade. Its all about seeing superhuman feats (Authority, 100 Bullets, Planetary all make the list) by just-over-the-line-of-fascist-"heroes" taking on even more diabolical fascists. It's adolescent power fantasy realized by way of lack of moral compass. Again, more or less how I'll remember the 'Oughts, anyway.

It's not that I don't LIKE parts of Authority, Planetary, Ultimates, etc... all of which I've read (not 100 Bullets. Azzarello's work leaves me bored and sort of bemused in a way he probably wouldn't appreciate). Its just that I got so bored of the schtick by the second volume of Ultimates that I ultimately gave it up. That doesn't say "Best of Decade" to me by any stretch.

But maybe it does say "Encapsulating the Decade".

3 comments:

Michael Corley said...

I agree a great deal with "just-over-the-line-of-fascist-"heroes" taking on even more diabolical fascists" especially in regard to Authority. Of course, that was sort of his point, but I grew tired of rooting for someone I kind of hoped would loose because maybe a real hero would show up at some point. But not, they'll just melt heads or something and that will count as saving the day.

Ryan S. said...

Yeah, I could appreciate that was the point for a while, but it felt like it should have had a natural ending (and not one that necessarily gave them their comeuppance). But it didn't, and it felt like a one-note joke after a while.

I still recommend Action Comics #775 "What's So Funny About Truth, Justice and the American Way?"

Simon Mac Donald said...

Well I don't agree with The Ultimates as the best comic of the decade. They had 6 great issues, 6 okay issues and 6 terrible issues and so far their Ultimate Comics relaunch has been a disappointment.

I think All Star Superman should have been higher on the list and I wish Essex County was on it as well. All in all not a bad list as there is some damn good books on it.