Comics Update: My Current Lineup and 2019 Pros and Cons

Comics 2019!

Nearly all my 2019 purchases, sorted in alphabetical piles from A to Y.

Comics collecting has been my primary geek interest since age 6, but I have a tough time writing about it with any regularity. My comics-judging criteria can seem weird and unfair to other fans who don’t share them. I like discussing them if asked, which is rare, but I loathe debating them. It doesn’t help that I skip most crossovers and tend to gravitate toward titles with smaller audiences. Whenever a larger company axes titles for the sake of their bottom line or internal politics, my favorites are usually first on the chopping block. I doubt many comics readers follow MCC anyway, so it’s really the best possible place for me to talk about comics unharmed, albeit all to myself. Whee.

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My 2019 at the Movies, Part 2 of 2: The Top Ten

The Farewell!

Okay, who wants to tell Grandma that Awkwafina won a Golden Globe and she didn’t?

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: In 2019 I made 28 trips to the theater to see films made that same year. In Part 1 we ranked the majority from pretty-keen to The Worst. And now, the countdown concludes with the ten most relatively awesome:

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My 2019 at the Movies, Part 1 of 2: Everything Below the Top Ten

James McAvoy!

James McAvoy gave his all for three different movies, all sunken into this list’s bottom half. Better luck next year, my dude.

It’s listing time again! In today’s entertainment consumption sphere, all experiences must be pitted against each other and assigned numeric values that are ultimately arbitrary to anyone except the writer themselves. It’s just this fun thing some of us love doing even though the rules are made up and the points don’t matter.

I saw 32 films in theaters in 2019 — another new personal record, beating last year’s record-breaking — but four were Best Picture nominees officially released in 2018 and therefore disqualified from this list, because I’m an unreasonable stickler about dates. Ranking those four from Best to Least Best:

  1. The Favourite
  2. Vice
  3. Bohemian Rhapsody
  4. Green Book

Of the remaining 28 contenders that I saw in theaters, we had seven super-hero films; three animated films; nine non-superhero sequels, two of those animated; just one prequel; and four book adaptations. Obviously you’ll note the following list is far from comprehensive in covering 2019’s release slate. Once again this was a busy year during which I failed to spend gas money on every film that caught my attention.

Here’s the rundown of what I didn’t miss in theaters in 2019, for better or worst-of-the-worst. Links to past reviews and thoughts are provided for historical reference. And now, on with the bottom half of the countdown:

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The CW’s “Crisis on Infinite Earths” Midterm Report

Crisis Poster!

Shows will live! Shows will die! And The CW’s Arrowverse will never be the same!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: the landmark 1985-1986 maxiseries Crisis on Infinite Earths left such a massive impression on me as a young teen who’d been collecting comics since age 6, it changed the DC Universe forever as promised and factored into the naming of this very website 7½ years ago. It wasn’t easy for older fans to watch fifty years of comics canon and continuity get shredded and/or remixed, but youngsters with less of an emotional investment had front-row seats for The End of, and the subsequent rebirth of, the DC Universe as we knew it. Between Crisis, Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons’ Watchmen, and Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, 1986 was a grandly historic time for DC on multiple fronts. And I was there for it.

Fast-forward 34 years later: I’m a different, older, creakier guy, but I’m still at the comic shop every Wednesday, and still partaking in superhero fare, albeit decreasingly in moderation. DC is still here, still banking on superheroes and trying much harder than I am to stay young-looking. They’ve spent the past eight years unleashing hundreds of their characters onto The CW across six TV series and counting. Here in 2019 going on 2020, it’s their turn for a Crisis.

(Let me throw a courtesy spoiler warning up front: this entry isn’t a full recap, but remarks are up ahead about plot points, surprises, and possibilities in the fourth and fifth chapters that’ll conclude the major crossover event on January 14th. If you’re planning to catch up on your own between now and then, the exits are clearly marked on your browser.)

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Indiana State Fair 2019 Encore: Last Day, Last Call

FAIR us!

We’re the Goldens. This is who we are and what we do.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

It’s that time again! The Indiana State Fair is an annual celebration of Hoosier pride, farming, food, and 4-H, with amusement park rides, cooking demos, concerts by musicians either nearly or formerly popular, and farm animals competing for cash prizes without their knowledge. My wife Anne and I attend each year as a date-day to seek new forms of creativity and imagination within a local context…

But then four days later we drove once more out to the east side and enjoyed a 4-hour whirlwind do-over. It all comes down to this: one final gallery of what else we did at this year’s Indiana State Fair — the superheroes, the animals, and the one ride we rode. Enjoy!

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Indiana State Fair 2019 Photos, Part 3 of 6: The Marvel/DC CAN-ematic Universe

CAN Black Panther!

Black CANther welcomes you to WaCANda, homeland of King TIN’Challa. (Look, I didn’t start it, okay?)

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

It’s that time again! The Indiana State Fair is an annual celebration of Hoosier pride, farming, food, and 4-H, with amusement park rides, cooking demos, concerts by musicians either nearly or formerly popular, and farm animals competing for cash prizes without their knowledge. My wife Anne and I attend each year as a date-day to seek new forms of creativity and imagination within a local context…

One of the many creative events each year is the Canstruction contest, which isn’t necessarily exclusive to local 4-H youngsters. Canstruction is a charitable organization that holds nationwide events in which engineers and other clever planners compete against each other in building the best sculpture made entirely from canned goods, preferably in recognizable shapes and not ordinary stacks with boring titles like “Can Do!” After the judging and the public displaying are over, all those meticulously planned figures are torn down and the components are donated to local hunger relief charities, who in turn forward them to needy families totally unaware their next few meals used to be Art.

In keeping with this year’s “Heroes in the Heartland” theme and its inclusion of beloved mainstream superheroes, contestants were asked to make superheroes out of cans. The results were amusing for all but the most cantankerous.

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Indiana State Fair 2019 Photos, Part 2 of 6: The Heroes Theme

FAIR me!

FAIR. Just like a superhero should be!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

It’s that time again! The Indiana State Fair is an annual celebration of Hoosier pride, farming, food, and 4-H, with amusement park rides, cooking demos, concerts by musicians either nearly or formerly popular, and farm animals competing for cash prizes without their knowledge. My wife Anne and I attend each year as a date-day to seek new forms of creativity and imagination within a local context…

Each year they used to celebrate a specific food theme. For 2019 they took a different direction and declared the fair’s overall theme “Heroes in the Heartland”. In the Midwest “hero” can mean many things, though first responders come immediately to mind for many. Being that this is a Midwest state fair, the definition had to have enough latitude to include farmers. As explained further on the official site:

“This year we will pay serious tribute to the heroism of everyday Hoosiers whose exceptional commitment and caring enrich our lives without the benefit of capes, costumes or superpowers. They are our nurturers, protectors, guardians, and guides –- our support and our strength. They grow our food. They feed our minds. They keep us safe and free.

“Here’s to our Hoosier farmers, first responders, teachers, law officers, firefighters, and Armed Forces members past and present — our Heroes in the Heartland!”

Many participants approached the theme with a different idea in mind: superheroes!

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“Dark Phoenix”: X-huming and X-amining the End of the Ex-Series

Dark Phoenix!

The all-new Firestar from a grim-and-gritty Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends.

Remember the glory days when the prospect of a new X-Men film excited anyone who’d previously thrilled to their greatest spectacles, and not just the unconditional superfans?

Dark Phoenix isn’t the worst superhero film I’ve seen this year, but after the waste of resources that was X-Men: Apocalypse, I was fine with waiting until its fourth weekend to see it using free passes, sitting in a theater with half a dozen other viewers who likewise couldn’t be bothered to rush out to the not-quite-grand finale to Fox’s X-Men era (unless we keep holding our breath waiting for New Mutants). Their 19-year run had its highlights, but writer/director/producer Simon Kinberg’s Hail Mary of a retread isn’t one of them.

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“Avengers: Endgame”: The All-Spoiler Entry

Rocket War Machine!

Bow before the combined might of ROCKET MACHINE!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: Avengers: Endgame is here! You’ve seen it, I’ve seen it, an audience roughly one-third the size of Thanos’ human casualties has seen it. I was fine with cranking out the obligatory “I liked it, it was much better than Cats” entry, but as with a few past blockbusters, I’m in the mood to type more paragraphs about its pros, its cons, and the questions it begs that could go either way depending on how sensible or stupid the answers are.

Random thoughts in very little particular order ahead. COURTESY SPOILER WARNING FOR THE WHOLE THREE-HOUR SHEBANG.

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“Avengers: Endgame”: It. Is. FINISHED.

Rocket Raccoon!

Thanos made this cute, fuzzy antihero cry. Now he must PAY.

One of the most exhilarating parts of seeing highly anticipated event films ASAP is the firm pivot point you pass between “before” and “after”. Once you’ve seen it, spoilers can no longer damage your viewer experience. Months and years of news sites hazarding half-baked guesses to the film’s content see all their handiwork either rendered obsolete and worthless or proven right but ultimately irrelevant once the thing becomes a reality rather than a theoretical construct in quantum-superpositional flux. Once the film “is”, the number of possibilities of how it “might be” dwindles ever downward toward one (1).

That’s not to say everyone has seen it yet, though Entertainment Weekly and other ill-mannered organizations live or die on the operating principle that every popular thing is instantly consumed now-now-NOW by the smartest, coolest readerships who are the only humans in the universe that matter. For folks who know how to use the word “courtesy” in a sentence, it means being careful with blaring spoilers in the faces of everyone who might glance in our direction. (When it comes to movies, at least. As someone who live-tweets the occasional CW super-hero show, I’ll own up to some hypocrisy here.)

It’s in that spirit of keeping up the spoiler-free environment for what’s left of this weekend that our obligatory Avengers: Endgame write-up was composed to the best of my ability. Fair warning: if you were so hardcore about no-spoiler purity that you’ve even avoided all the trailers and TV spots, I’m not sure I can help you at quite that level of dedication.

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Yes, There Are Scenes During AND After the “Shazam!” End Credits

Shazam!

At long last, everyone will know what Gomer Pyle was always exclaiming about.

The never-ending battle to distance us all from Dawn of Justice continues as DC Comics proudly presents the mostly lighthearted Shazam!, based on a 1940s alleged Superman copycat that DC acquired in 1953 after they sued original publisher Fawcett Comics into oblivion. His original name was Captain Marvel, which DC kept using in multiple series and projects for the next few decades but made sure never to print on any covers lest their competition sue them, even though Fawcett’s Captain Marvel predated Marvel’s Captain Marvel by almost 28 years. Prior to this nomenclatural conflict, Fawcett’s Captain Marvel was conceived with the name Captain Thunder, but this was also the name of a non-superhero character in a series called Jungle Comics published by Fiction House, neither of which survived past the mid-’50s. Technically DC could call him Captain Thunder without repercussions today except no one wants that.

Comic Books: Overcomplicating What Should Be the Simplest Things Since 1939.

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C2E2 2019 Photos, Part 3: Marvel and DC Cosplay

Thor family!

Friday in Asgard: Thor, Odin (with Huginn and Muninn!), Malekith and Hela.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

It’s that time again! My wife Anne and I just got home from the tenth annual Chicago Comic and Entertainment Exposition (“C2E2″), another three-day extravaganza of comic books, actors, creators, toys, props, publishers, freebies, Funko Pops, anime we don’t recognize, and walking and walking and walking and walking. Each year C2E2 keeps inching ever closer to its goal of becoming the Midwest’s answer to the legendary San Diego Comic Con and other famous conventions in larger, more popular states. We missed the first year, but have attended every year since 2011 as a team…

…and do our best to take cosplay photos as a team. we’re fans of costumes and try to keep an eye out for heroes, villains, antiheroes, supporting casts, and various oddities that look impressive and/or we haven’t seen at other cons. First up: a great big batch of characters from assorted iterations of the worlds of Marvel and DC Comics, from their movies and shows as well as their comics. Caveats for first-time visitors to Midlife Crisis Crossover:

1. My wife and I are not professional photographers, nor do we believe ourselves worthy of press passes. These were taken as best as possible with the intent to share with fellow fans out of a sincere appreciation for the works inspired by the heroes, hobbies, artistic expressions, and/or intellectual properties that brought us geeks together under one vaulted roof for the weekend. We did what we could with the tools and circumstances at hand. We don’t use selfie sticks, tripods, or cameras that cost more than a month’s worth of groceries.

2. It’s impossible for any human or organization to capture every costume on hand. What’s presented in this series will be a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of a fraction of the sum total costume experience. Other corners of the internet will represent those other fractions that we missed, which is the cool part of having so many people doing this sort of thing.

3. We didn’t attend Sunday. As previously explained at excessive length, we also nearly never do costume contests anymore. Sincere apologies to anyone we missed as a result.

4. Corrections and comments are always welcome, especially when we get to Part 5, which will include at least two characters we young geezers didn’t recognize. I do like learning new names and universes even if you’re more immersed in them than I am.

5. Enjoy!

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Comics Update 2018, Part 5 of 5: And the Rest

Comics Finale!

Hey, kids! There’s more to comics life than Marvel or DC! Art by (clockwise from top left) Joe Quinones; David Aja,; Andy Clarke and Dan Brown; Jock; Geoff Shaw and Gabe Eltaeb; and Scott Wegener and Anthony Clark.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Comics collecting has been my primary geek interest since age 6, but I have a tough time writing about it with any regularity. Over the course of the next four entries…I’ll be sharing what I’m currently buying every Wednesday at my local comic shop — series and miniseries alike, budget permitting, broken down by publisher as of the very end of February 2019, including lists of 2018 works that are either done or dead to me.

The miniseries concludes at last! I’m happier when my weekly reading pile covers a gamut of publishers, genres, and voices, not just Big Two superheroes. In some respects I wish this section were a little longer, but for now this’ll do.

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Comics Update 2018, Part 4 of 5: My Year in Image

Image Comics 2018!

Cool covers from the past 15 months. Art by (clockwise from top left) Bill Sienkiewicz; Jason Howard; Nick Pitarra and Michael Garland; Alex Ross; Darick Robertson and Diego Rodriguez; and Jeff Lemire.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Comics collecting has been my primary geek interest since age 6, but I have a tough time writing about it with any regularity. Over the course of the next four entries…I’ll be sharing what I’m currently buying every Wednesday at my local comic shop — series and miniseries alike, budget permitting, broken down by publisher as of the very end of February 2019, including lists of 2018 works that are either done or dead to me.

Image Comics has come a long way since the days of the original seven founders. Though most of them don’t keep their hand in the medium on anything approaching a monthly basis anymore, other creators continue to flourish under their aegis, happy to have a publishing home that lets them prove there’s more to comics than superheroes and movies.

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Yes, There Are Scenes During AND After the “Captain Marvel” End Credits

Captain Marvel!

My son had to remind me Brie Larson used to be on Community. I thought he was confusing her with Alison Brie, but no, he remembered Brie Larson was Abed’s girlfriend Rachel, and I’m like WHOOOOOOA.

Years from now we’ll all look back on the historical debacle that was the Not-Great Captain Marvel Flame War of 2019 and we’ll laugh about it if only to keep from breaking down in tears at how deeply the fandom-at-large had reached yet another embarrassing nadir. Until then, here’s a shout-out to those millions of kids out there finding delight and inspiration in the sight of a wondrous super-woman punching her way through an evil spaceship armada at hyperspeed, like a young Princess Diana plowing through German soldiers.

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Comics Update 2018, Part 3 of 5: My Year in DC

Darkseid Eats!

DARKSEID EATS. From Mister Miracle #11; art by Mitch Gerads.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Comics collecting has been my primary geek interest since age 6, but I have a tough time writing about it with any regularity. Over the course of the next four entries…I’ll be sharing what I’m currently buying every Wednesday at my local comic shop — series and miniseries alike, budget permitting, broken down by publisher as of the very end of February 2019, including lists of 2018 works that are either done or dead to me.

Years after the New 52 soured my status as a full-time DC Comics fan, I’m still creeping my way back into their universe, inch by inch. I’m in no hurry, particularly with my aforementioned rules against team books and crossovers in effect. With the help of “Rebirth” and a few bright spots from the Vertigo and Young Animal imprints, DC got my attention a bit more this year than the past few years. We’re getting there.

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Comics Update 2018, Part 2 of 5: My Year in Marvel

Spider-Ham & Lockjaw!

Don’t mind me, just pandering to fellow Spider-Verse fans out there.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

Comics collecting has been my primary geek interest since age 6, but I have a tough time writing about it with any regularity. Over the course of the next four entries…I’ll be sharing what I’m currently buying every Wednesday at my local comic shop — series and miniseries alike, budget permitting, broken down by publisher as of the very end of February 2019, including lists of 2018 works that are either done or dead to me.

In tallying the figures, I was a little surprised to discover I’d tried more projects from merry Marvel than from any other company. That doesn’t mean I loved them all unconditionally, merely that so far they’ve held my attention even though I loathe crossovers and avoid team books, which tend to be their bestsellers and constitute some 80% of their lineup nowadays. With the size advantage and with Captain Marvel hitting theaters this Friday, why not let them go first.

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Comics Update 2018, Part 1 of 5: A Prologue Pondering Prodigious Piles of Printed Pulp

Comics 2018!

Nearly all the single issues I bought in 2018, sorted into alphabetical piles for better boxing, from Action Comics #1000 to X-Men: Grand Design – Second Genesis #2.

Comics collecting has been my primary geek interest since age 6, but I have a tough time writing about it with any regularity. My comics-judging criteria can seem weird and unfair to other fans who don’t share them. I like discussing them if asked, which is rare, but I loathe debating them. It doesn’t help that I skip most crossovers and tend to gravitate toward titles with smaller audiences. Whenever the larger companies need to save a buck, my favorites are usually first on the chopping block. I doubt many comics readers follow MCC anyway, so it’s really the best possible place for me to talk about comics unharmed, albeit all to myself. Whee.

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Sorting Out the “Glass” Menagerie

Glass!

Nick Fury, Professor X, and John McClane walk into a hospital…, or, if you prefer, John Shaft, Mr. Tumnus, and David Addison…

Sometimes I’m too persuadable for my own good.

I saw M. Night Shyamalan’s Unbreakable in theaters way back in 2000, thought it had intriguing concepts and believable use of a comics-fandom backdrop, but I lost patience with its plodding, lugubrious tone (years before The Walking Dead and Marvel’s Netflix shows made snail-speed pretentiousness an acceptable norm) as well as the Dragnet-esque text-only ending that cheated the viewer out of any earned closure. Cutting a story short after the final twist worked well for Rod Serling, but not so much for other writers.

I saw Shyamalan’s Split in 2017 when word-of-mouth suggested we could call it a comeback, but it lost me with its To Be Continued ending that recast the otherwise taut thriller as the second chapter in Shyamalan’s very own superhero universe.

That brings us to the final act of the trilogy, Glass. I’ve skipped several Shyamalan films, but curiosity got the best of me. Was there a remote chance it would tie together the threads of the first two films with some sense of thematic satisfaction and retroactively redeem them, or at least provide a better sense of closure? Dare I hope?

Yep, I dared.

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My 2018 at the Movies, Part 2 of 2: The Year’s Least Worst

mary poppins returns!

Off we go!

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover: In 2018 I made 24 trips to the theater to see films made that same year. In Part 1 we ranked the bottom twelve. And now, the countdown concludes with the twelve most relatively awesome:

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