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From Bostonherald.com

This years comic world runs amok with creative disasters (whedon mention)

By Mark A. Perigard

Saturday 1 January 2005, by Webmaster

There were casualties in the never-ending four-color war against evil: Good folks died, a company folded and some creative folks just ran dry. Here now is a look at the best and worst in comics in 2004.

Worst writer: Everything Marvel’s Brian Michael Bendis touched turned to toilet paper. One could fill an entire column with Bendis’ missteps over the year, but just consider two: the gross, gratuitous death of Gwen Stacy in ``Ultimate Spider-Man’’ and his epic ``Avengers Disassembled,’’ which wrecked Marvel’s premier team.

The latter’s climax consisted of the world’s greatest heroes standing around as one character explained the entire plot to them (and readers) and then watching as Magneto, one of the world’s greatest villains, swooped in and carried away one of their members. Way to destroy a legacy.

Best writer: There are a lot of Hollywood types who think they can write comics (Hi, Kevin Smith), but Marvel’s Joss Whedon blew everyone away with ``Astonishing X-Men,’’ one of the few comics to actually live up to its name. The ``Buffy the Vampire Slayer’’ scribe staked the competition - the other 93 X-Men titles - with exciting stories that were immediately accessible to new readers and rich with nuance for veterans.

Best artist: ``Astonishing X-Men’’ wouldn’t have half the snikt without artist John Cassaday’s renderings.

Worst artist: It is the holiday season, so let’s just all give Marvel’s Rob Liefeld a break.

Worst relaunch: DC’s ``Doom Patrol.’’ But they’re dead! No, they’re alive! We’re not telling you anything more. And you shouldn’t buy it.

Best relaunch: DC’s ``Legion of Super-Heroes’’ (in stores this week) re-captures the glory of super-powered teens in the 30th century. Artist Barry Kitson makes it all look easy.

Best book of the year: ``Astonishing X-Men.’’ It reminded me of why I loved not only comics but the X-Men.

Biggest loss: After four years, Crossgen Comics - which delivered consistently beautiful looking comics, if not stories - went out of business - just as its first crossover miniseries, ``Negation War,’’ was getting readers stoked.

Funniest book and best TV tie-in: Bongo Entertainment’s ``Simpsons Comics,’’ which recently reached its 100th issue milestone, consistently tells amusing stories to readers of all ages who need even more of Homer and the gang. (And that’s me.)

Scariest book: IDW’s ``30 Days of Night: Bloodsucker Tales’’ continues with twisted tales from Steve Niles’ unnerving universe of bloodsuckers.

Toughest read: DC’s ``Identity Crisis’’ killed off a few supporting players in a murder mystery that revealed that the heroes of the Justice League had been brainwashing their enemies’ minds - and that members even tinkered with Batman’s memories!

Writer Brad Meltzer’s story still leaves this reader feeling conflicted - and wondering if the company is smart enough to follow up on the natural beats of the story. If I were a member of the Justice League, I would be darn terrified of the repercussions when Bats finds out his teammates mucked with his mind.

Toughest read part two: In Marvel’s ``Amazing Spider-Man,’’ J. Michael Straczynski revealed that Gwen Stacy had secretly slept with Norman Osborn, the Green Goblin,and gave birth to his twins, who were hyper-aged by daddy’s DNA and out to kill Spider-Man.

In the immortal words of Xander Harris: ``What? Huh? What?’’ Best company: No contest. DC challenged readers. Marvel picked their pockets.

Biggest need: The one question I am consistently asked is, ``What comics can I get for my son or daughter?’’

Few comics are appropriate for the under-10 set. Marvel and DC both launched some kid-friendly titles in 2004 (essentially continuity-lite stories about Batman, Spider-Man or the Teen Titans), but these comics don’t stick out enough on the stacks for anyone to find them. Today’s kids will be tomorrow’s readers - at least, they could be.