The Pointless, Worthless List for 01.19.11

Top 8* Comic Books of 2010**

Now, don’t just stand there awestruck by your terrific luck in women. Let’s go kill this son of a bitch.

1. Uncanny X-Force. I know, I’m as surprised as you are. For the uninitiated, X-Force has a long and convoluted history which I’m not about to go into, so we’ll just cover the last couple of years. Scott Summers (aka Cyclops), de facto leader of all things X, recently decided that it was dark days for the mutant community so he put together a secret assassination squad to proactively seek out and kill the X-Men’s major enemies. (This being comics, where no one stays dead forever, this seems rather pointless. But it makes the team seem badass.)

Nothing stays secret forever and when the rest of the X-Men find out about X-Force, some of them are quite upset. At the same time, Cyclops decides that he doesn’t really need a black ops team anymore and dissolves X-Force. Ten minutes later, Wolverine and Archangel decide to keep X-Force going but without Scott’s (or anyone else’s) knowledge — and so is born Uncanny X-Force. Which brings us to our first Pointless, Worthless List Within the Pointless, Worthless List:

Top 4 Reasons Uncanny X-Force is Awesome

I. Warren and Betsy, together again. Warren Worthington III (aka Angel, aka Archangel) is my favorite X-Man. Betsy Braddock (aka Psylocke) is my favorite X-Woman. Sometime in the late ’80s or early ’90s (it’s all a blur) someone decided to make them a couple. Which was a great relief to anyone who was sick and tired of the Scott/Jean and Rogue/Gambit couplings that dominated the X-Books at the time. Then Chris Claremont came back and broke them up for no damn good reason. But now they’re back together and all is right with the X-world.

II. The fewer the better. Far too many team books these days are bloated messes (especially “Uncanny X-Men”) with too many characters running around and no room to develop them. So far X-Force has maintained a reasonable cast of five: Angel, Psylocke, Wolverine (he’s contractually obligated to be on every team at Marvel except the Fantastic Four), Fantomex and Deadpool.

III. No Scott and Emma. Remember in the third X-Men movie when Cyclops died and no one cared? There’s a reason for that. Summers has come to dominate the X-Books and I for one am tired of him. So it’s nice to have a book where he and his annoying lady friend are out of the loop. Let’s hope it lasts.

IV. The talent. I wasn’t familiar with writer Rick Remender or artist Jerome Opena before this, but they’ve both really impressed me here.

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It’s nice. Both of us being alive at the same time. Seems rare lately.

2. Hawkeye and Mockingbird. I don’t have anything new to say about this title (check the archives if you just got here). Marvel finally gives Hawkeye his own book with a talented writer/artist team, and it’s canceled after 6 issues. Stupid Nerds. You’d rather buy “Cry for Justice” and “Rise of Arsenal” and “Booster Gold” instead of a fun, light-hearted spy/superhero romp. No wonder the world mocks you.

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My best friend’s a robot. My best gal pal knows size matters, and my boss thinks he knows it all. Put it all together and what does it spell?

3. The Doom Patrol. When I wasn’t running from bears or admiring the purple mountains majesty while on vacation in Montana, I was sitting poolside reading the first Showcase edition of The Doom Patrol. I love the Doom Patrol. It was the Marvel comic that was accidentally published by DC. It tells the story of a brilliant egomaniac in a wheelchair named The Chief who brings together a trio of misfits — Robotman, Negative Man and Elasti-Girl — and makes them heroes. They fight, they bicker, they love each other. They’re so dysfunctional it’s hard to believe they were the property of DC Comics. They’re just so Marvel.

DC published Doom Patrol comics from 1963-1968. In their final issue they were actually killed off — blown up, to be exact. Of course, being comic book characters — and especially with one of them being metallic — getting blown up isn’t the end of the world. The DP has been revived several times over the years, but most of these reboots miss the point. The Doom Patrol isn’t a team where you change the lineup and add new members. The DP is Chief, Larry, Rita and Cliff. Accept no substitutes.

Keith Giffen, mastermind behind the latest revamp alongside artist Matt Clark, seems to understand. When I got back from Montana I picked up the collected edition of the first 6 issues of the current Doom Patrol series and the focus is clearly on the dysfunctional four. I plan to continue reading the series in trades, but it looks like sales are dismal so it will probably be canceled any day now. Stupid Nerds.

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I’ll give you Hawkeye, but the rest of my Ultimates stay a million miles from your black ops crap.

Fine by me. Hawkeye’s the only cool one, anyway.

4. Ultimate Comics Avengers: Next Generation. In which Nick Fury puts together a secret assassination squad to proactively seek out and kill the major bad guys. What can I say, I’m a sucker for black ops superhero teams.

Mark Millar returns to the Ultimate Marvel universe for another over-the-top, high-octane adventure. He’s joined by artist Carlos Pacheco, who does some beautiful work here — particularly a 6-page sequence in the first issue in which Hawkeye has to jump, sans parachute, out of a helicopter to save Captain America. It’s as well done as anything you’d find in an action movie.

The ending’s a bit weak — Cap stops an all-powerful Red Skull by flying an airplane into him — but I never said this was a list of perfect comics.

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Super bad girl team-up! I like it!

5. Gotham City Sirens. I’m a fan of Paul Dini, whose work I first enjoyed on “Batman: The Animated Series” as well as the Superman and Justice League cartoons. He then went on to comics, where he had an entertaining run on “Detective Comics” and crafted the best story in the “Batman: Black and White” series.

In “Gotham City Sirens,” Dini brings together Batman vixens Catwoman, Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn. He also throws in my favorite Bat-villian, the Riddler, as a supporting character. It’s a fun book and Guillem March’s art complements the storytelling.

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Couldn’t it be anybody but Emma Frost needin’ rescue?

Anna, I think it’s fair to say that no one here disagrees with your feelings…but she is an X-man now.

6. X-Women. Italian artist Milo Manara, best known for his erotic art, draws the X-Women. And that’s all you need to know about that. There’s a story here by Chris Claremont but it’s no great shakes — I’m not even sure it makes sense. But I did enjoy the scene where the ladies debate whether they have to rescue Emma Frost (I’m not the only one who doesn’t care for her).

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…double rainbow

7. Thor: The Mighty Avenger. You say you’re not interested in superhero assassination squads or sexy superheroines? You say you want a comic that’s fun and charming? You want a comic that your kids can read? You want the perfect, all-ages comic book?

Good news, weirdo. “Thor: The Mighty Avenger,” by Roger Langridge and Chris Samnee, is all that and more. Exiled from his home in Asgard, Thor has many adventures with new friend Jane Foster. It’s adorable.

What’s that? It’s been canceled? Oh, you f****** nerds!

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That colorful creature must have been their pet.

8. Wednesday Comics. I was going to leave this out but then I figured if I’m letting “X-Women” have a spot solely based on the art, then this deserves a spot as well.

Released as a 12-issue mini-series in 2009, “Wednesday Comics” was an attempt to recreate the color Sunday Comics newspaper supplements (it’s called ‘Wednesday Comics’ because that’s the day new comic books arrive in shops). It was all collected into an oversized hardcover last year which is how I read it.

The artwork ranges for adequate to gorgeous and the large size makes the art really stand out. Of particular note are Ryan Sook’s lovely version of “Kamandi,”  Eduardo Risso’s dark and moody “Batman” and Paul Pope’s outlandish “Strange Adventures.”

Where the book falls down for me is in the writing. Despite bringing together some of the top talents in the business, nobody knocked it out of the park, story-wise. Anthologies are always a mixed-bag, but usually at least one story stands out from the pack. That doesn’t happen here, most of the stories are decent but nothing truly memorable. My favorite of the pack is probably the goofy “Supergirl” tale by Jimmy Palmiotti and Amanda Conner.

* Sorry, I couldn’t come up with 10.

** These are books I read in 2010, not necessarily books that were published in 2010. My list, my rules.

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