It was a year of “big events” for comics from the X-Men’s Messiah Complex, to Secret Invasion, to the still ongoing Final Crisis you couldn’t barely pick up a comic that wasn’t tied to some sort of major event. This was, in my opinion, to the detriment of most comics involved. In 2008 no comic was an island unto intself which was a shame for those of who love solid stories of superheroic shenanigans contained in one, or at most two, titles. That being said 2008 was the year of sci-fi super-heroics for me and my most pleasurable reading moments were courtesy of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning.
The Abnett/Lanning duo reinvigorated Marvel’s space heroes in 2006 with their Annihilation mini-series. Spinning out of Annihilation was a Nova solo title and then sequel even Annihilation: Conquest. Spanning 2007/2008 saw some more great work from the duo with characters who, while long established in the Marvel Universe, were by all rights completely new and exciting to read about. Spinning out of Conquest is 2008’s best title Guardians of the Galaxy.
Guardians of the Galaxy follows a rag-tag band of heroes trying to seal rifts in the fabric of space-time. Starlord, Gamora, Quasar, Mantis, Rocket Raccoon, Drax, and Groot don’t always get along but they somehow manage to work well together as a team. Their base of operations is the hollowed out head of a Celestial, called Knowhere (and first seen in some of Abnett/Lannings earlier work) which means they get to interact with one of my favorite characters: Cosmo the intellegent and telepathic russian cosmonaut who heads up Knowhere’s security.
The Groot/Rocket Raccoon comedy due is pure genius. Never did I think that three words could ever be so consistantly entertaining (those three words being “I am Groot!”). Abnett/Lanning manage the twists and turns of an good sci-fi drama with deft hands and keen wit. Paul Pelletier does a knockout job on the art. I am particularly fond of the character designs and outfits of characters which walk the line between costume and uniform quite nicely by employing a uniform color scheme (black and red) with individual style. Pelletier excells at big action scenes and doesn’t overly rely on huge splash pages and even manages to include some rather interesting panel compositions. The series is packed full of action, drama, comedy and just plain awesome. If you aren’t already reading this book now’s the time to jump as Abnett and Lanning gear of for their War of Kings event.
Honorable Mentions: Green Lantern and Green Lantern Corps are consistantly entertaining books and Geoff Johns and company are expanding the Lantern mythology in new and interesting ways. Iconic writer Jim Starlin has had a great run on the recently cancelled Legion of Superheroes (issue 50 should be the last one). Teen drama, superheroics, and sci-fi action all rolled up in the mythology of the DC Universe makes for some great reading. The Superman titles tying in to the New Krypton arc are some great stuff as well, adding a dimension to the character that far eclipses any Superman title I’ve ever read. Last, but certainly not least, Incredible Hercules is a fun take on a character who had a true standout solo title. Much of the charm is due to teenage super-genius Amadeus Cho who manages to be great from both comic relief and actual help in the Prince of Power’s battles.