AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #676 (Marvel)
Spider-Man ends the year but not showing up in his book at all! This issue focuses on, and sets up, the big Doc Ock/Sinister Six Vs. Spider-Man storyline starting in 2012 and does it in a big way! The Six are no longer being treated as jokes as writer Dan Slott ups the ante with their viciousness and showcases what these character can really do and the best way to show how evil a group of villains really are is by having them take out ANOTHER group of villains. In this case it’s The Intelligencia headed by M.O.D.O.K. and when these groups meet it doesn’t end well for some long time villains! If this is any kind of indicator of what Slott has in store for this series in 2012 then Spider-Island is only the first step in a long and entertaining run on this series! I’m Making Mine Slott on Amazing Spider-Man in 2012! -Skott Jimenez
ANNIHILATORS: EARTHFALL #4 of 4 (Marvel)
The general feeling here is this is the end of the road for Marvel Cosmic. If this is true it’s a sad day. Marvel Cosmic has not been this much fun for this long in a very long time! Starting with the ending of the Thanos ongoing and the Drax miniseries in 2004/06 the Marvel Cosmic line has shown how much fun it can be with the right writers and artists leading it. Annihilators ends with the apparent capture of the Magus, Adam Warlock’s evil half, and no teases at any future threat. It’s almost lackluster the way it wrapped up, like watching the final episode of a show you watched for years. I mean final episodes are rarely what you’d like them to be, right? Perhaps the best line of the whole series was Quasar telling Captain America that he, and the other Avengers, need “to start understanding the scale. It’s your job to save the world, but this is just one world. There’s stuff out there that’s so big, you can’t imagine.” Let’s hope that means Marvel Cosmic isn’t over yet! And that ending of the Rocket Raccoon/Groot backup? Perhaps the less said the better. I really didn’t like the very short and quick wrap up for this one. The first story they did was MUCH better! I would love to see another one to make up for this story! -Skott Jimenez
DARK SHADOWS #2 (Dynamite)
There are very few books that I read as a television show, usually I’m seeing them as animated or feature film in my mind’s eye, but this series so fits the TV format from which is originated that it’s like the show has actually continued! The writing of Stuart Manning is so well done that, well, I simply cannot say enough good about it. The story continues as the evil witch Angelique continues her efforts to return to the land of the living and torment Barnabas even more but this time she’s using the entire Collins family to do so! Barnabas must work with Quinten Collins, who is also a werewolf and doesn’t seem to much like Barnabas, and try to stop her before it’s to late…which it may already be! My hat goes off to Dynamite for bringing this series back and treating it with the respect it deserves! I’m looking forward to much more in 2012! -Skott Jimenez
FABLES #112 (Vertigo)
First, look at this cover. How gorgeous is that?
Okay, this one is the rare ‘extra length’ issue, one of only three (that I can recall) that were more than the normal $2.99 price. This is also only the second Christmas themed issue (though in the Fables: 1001 Nights of Snowfall there was a Christmas story) and brings back Santa Claus. It also introduces a talking cricket that doesn’t give its name but we all know who that is.
Some time back, Rose Red agreed to become a paladin of hope of the Good Lady. The time has come for her to decide what sort of Hope she wants to represent. She goes on a Christmas Carol-type adventure and is introduced to three other representatives of different types of hope to better help her decide.
Without giving too much away, she might have made an agreement with someone that might come back to haunt her later and ultimately we aren’t sure if her mind is made up or not by nights end.
We also begin to see more development in the different paths the children of Snow White and Bigby are going to be taking.
Finally, someone gives one of the kids a toy boat for Christmas. Important? Maybe…with this series you never know! -Skott Jimenez
GODZILLA: KINGDOM OF MONSTERS #10 (IDW)
Besides a GREAT cover, officially my favorite of the whole series, this issue is the beginning of pulling everything together. Mechagodzilla and Godzilla are fighting in Washington, D.C. after Godzilla already defeated Ghidorah and the spooky, evil twins are bringing Battra and Rodan to the area in hopes of being able to get control over Godzilla as well.
Things seems to be going in the direction of human success until one Mechagodzilla’s weapons is used and it revives Ghidorah AND heals Godzilla of his wounds gained during an extended battle between him and two other monsters, well, ONE monster and one big robot.
After this the only way out is Mechagodzilla’s most powerful weapon: The Plasma Grenade, which was powered by Godzilla’s own radioactive breath!
After discharging it and putting both Godzilla and Ghidorah down, Mechagodzilla returns to Detroit as the Twins arrive and begin the task of gaining control over the King of Monsters!
This series continues to entertain me in the exact same way the movies do with one difference: this is a movie that doesn’t end! My hat again goes off to Eric Powell for creating the ultimate Godzilla experience! -Skott Jimenez
LEGION OF MONSTERS #3 of 4 (Marvel)
The mystery of the monster virus continues and takes Elsa and Morbius all the way to Transylvania and the castle of Dracula! The Vampire Lord spins a tale of how the virus was actually created(?) by the woman Morbius has teamed up with to stop. She’s a vampire witch who wanted to use the virus to create an undead army but the virus worked too well and killed her soldiers before she could use them. With Morbius’ aid she was able to keep her soldiers alive longer but Dracula took it upon himself to end her madness in his own way. He killed her.
So, where has the virus returned from? Does it have something to so with the bite Morbius got from one of the infected monsters he was working on? Probably.
I’m still on the fence with this series. I love the idea of Elsa Bloodstone, in her Nextwave persona, being in a series and seeing old fave Morbius is always nice. It was also nice seeing Dracula’s traditional outfit, which almost made his god-awful looking current look bearable, but I think the drawback here is the art. It isn’t very consistent and Morbius bug-eyed look is very distracting. Beyond that, however, it is a highly entertaining story! -Skott Jimenez
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES #5 (IDW)
All the pieces are coming together! We have Casey Jones and Raph in an unofficial team, Raph has also been reunited with his brothers and Splinter, April is being developed and is coming along nicely…This issue takes it further with Splinter’s back story which gives more hints (building on the teases in the Raphael Microseries) of the introduction of long time Turtles fave villain…and if you don’t know who I’m referring to then you probably have no idea why TMNT is so much fun.
This issue also introduces different colored eye bands which was done in a very cool manner.
Splinter’s back story is more the story of, I assume, his former owner, though he hints that he might be the reincarnated soul of a now dead former leader of what is now the feared Foot Clan.
I have to say, again, I never intended to read this series on a monthly level. I was always more of a passing fan of the Turtles but this series is so much fun I simply can’t stop reading it. The art is a nice throwback to the way independent books in the 90′s looked and makes me want to search out other indie books from that era. If you aren’t reading this series you really need to, it’s more than enough fun! -Skott Jimenez
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES MICRO-SERIES: MICHELANGELO (IDW)
This solo adventure shows a little more of how Michelangelo’s mind really works. On the surface he appears to be bored with all the lessons and training that he and his brothers go through and he seems very uninterested in what his brothers really enjoy but on this night out on his own we find that he relies more on this stuff than he shows! All this is done as he goes out looking for some fun on New Year’s Eve and finds a costume party in a museum! Soon he becomes involved with a group of people trying to steal something and he has to rely on what his brothers have taught him to get through it all.
I have the feeling that, in all this, there are some hints as to what’s coming for the Turtles in the coming year as the object here is the Dresdon Diamond which is wanted by someone very important because it’s had prolonged exposure to radiation, which makes the diamond green…like the Ooze that made the Turtles who they are today. So…mystery: Who is the man behind the crime? -Skott Jimenez
So, that’s it. The final books of 2011! I’d like to thank everyone who has read, commented, shared and contributed to this column this past year. I hope you all have enjoyed them as much as I’ve enjoyed presenting them. But that doesn’t mean you can stop! Keep reading and commenting! We LOVE feedback here!