Thursday, February 28, 2013

2012 in Review (Part 6): My Reads

This January AND February, for my traditional reviewing of the previous year, I will be writing a series of articles that would recap or evaluate some (if I have the time, then all) of the highlights of 2012 that involved, concerned, compelled, and/or fascinated me… this is the sixth of seven parts…

I’ve always loved reading.  And, just like every year, I read a lot in 2012.  The difference is, it’s the first time I’ve realized that I’ve been already doing more reading digitally than of actual print.  Times are indeed evolving.  That’s why fighting off legislation that put extreme limitations on Internet freedom – like those hazardous ones in 2012, the United States’ SOPA and PIPA and the Philippine’s Anti-Cyber Crime Law (because of flawed and tyrannical clauses, especially the anti-libel clause) – will always be necessary.

Most of my reading now involves massive amount of Internet articles and digital comics.  But this 2012, I still acquired some (printed) books – since I still find the E-Book format inconvenient to the eyes (though I may find this no longer the case if I finally get a tablet of my own. LOL) – the most notable being A Golden Compass (because, now, I have all three “His Dark Materials” books) and, a Jack Ryan thriller, Red Rabbit.  In 2012 however, novels and pocketbooks no longer made up the majority of my dose of fiction from literature.  It returned to comics again.  I’ve always read plenty of both comics and novels, but in the past years, the ratio of concentration I have for them was either more on novels or 50-50 at most; the last time I read more comics than novels was probably when I was still a kid.   Well, until 2012.   

I acquired some trade paperbacks (I now mostly purchase trade paperbacks or collections than individual comicbooks.  Saves some money) in 2012, but most of my comicbook reading was done through – yes – the Internet.  Massive amount of downloadable digital comics out there. 

Anyway, here were the highlights – things that easily come to mind as I write this – of my 2012 comicbook reading.

Katekyō Hitman Reborn! unexpectedly ended in 2012.   I was caught by surprise as I finished reading chapter 409.  Just like that, it was the last chapter.  There was no warning that the manga was going to end.  I love how all of Vongola’s antagonists throughout the manga’s run ended up becoming their allies eventually.  Still, I was disappointed it has to end just like that.  A mafia-themed manga/anime, regardless of being over the top, was a brilliant premise; there were still a lot of potential terrific concepts and stories to explore.  Bummer.  Anyway, 409 chapters was already a decent run.  So with Reborn! finished, and Hunter X Hunter undergoing another lengthy hiatus, I’m now down to following six mangas. 

DC Comics’ New 52 continues this 2012, though it feels it’s already losing its novelty and momentum.  The best comic title of DC in 2012 was, in my opinion, Batman.  I’ve also enjoyed Stormwatch much.  Also, last year, DC established a Superman and Wonder Woman relationship as the new status quo.
Interesting, but I still find the Clark Kent-Lois Lane-Superman “love triangle” more interesting.    

Over at Marvel, Hawkeye was the surprising best comic title of the year.  The writing and how the character – a B-list superhero – was handled were terrific.    

“Avengers vs. X-Men” was the annual major Marvel event of the year.  Just like “Civil War”, I found it a brilliant premise, but the execution of the story fell short.  Just like “Civil War”, “Avengers vs. X-Men” never became the epic clash I expected it to be

Late in the year, Marvel – in an obvious attempt to mimic the success of DC’s “New 52” relaunch gimmick – started the “Marvel NOW!” relaunch (which is still ongoing).      

2012 also marked the first time Earth-616 – the main Marvel continuity – and Earth-1610 – the Ultimate continuity – interacted with each other.  Contact between the two universes used to be off-limits; but it’s finally done in the Spider-Men mini-series, as 616 Peter Parker crossed over to the 1610 Universe – a reality in which his counterpart is dead – and met Miles Morales, the teenager who took the mantle of Spider-Man after the 1610 Spider-Man was killed.   

Speaking of Spider-Man, the biggest and most controversial comic book event of the year was in the shocking Amazing Spider-Man #700.  
A dying Otto Octavious was able to develop the technology and scheme to switch consciousness or bodies with Spider-Man. Thus, as he hijacks Peter Parker’s body, Peter is left trapped in Doc Ock’s dying body.  Pete (in Doc Ock’s body) made an attempt to re-gain his body back but failed.   Dying and defeated in Doc Ock’s body, a desperate Peter decided to transfer all his memories to Doc Ock (who is occupying Pete’s body).  This gambit worked, managing to “reform” Doc Ock.   After realizing what being Spider-Man is all about, Otto decided to live on as Spider-Man, to now fight for the side of good instead of the other way around.  This was the beginning of Otto Octavious as the Superior Spider-Man (as part of the Marvel NOW! relaunch).  Despite being a dramatic and original development, this didn’t sit well with us Spidey fans.  Writer Dan Slott even received death threats.  (Will be sharing my thoughts on the Superior Spider-Man some other time).   

Lastly, the best read I have this year was a children’s book by Jeffrey Brown titled “Darth Vader and Son.”  It’s incredibly clever, funny, and adorable; featuring situations of Darth Vader being a dad to a little Luke Skywalker.   Here is a glimpse of this terrific book:  

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