Here are the top ten moments that shaped 2011 in the world of comic books.

2011 was certainly a monumental year in the comic book industry. It will undoubtedly be talked about for years to come. Lots of big stuff from both Marvel and DC Comics this year. I have chosen to only cover Marvel and DC here, so if you feel angry I included no indies, don’t. I had to scratch Buffy Season 9 from my list!

Anyways, here are the top ten moments I feel shaped 2011 in the world of comic books:

#10 – Mark Waid on Daredevil; Relaunched with a new #1

Oh Matt Murdock, the last couple of years have not been kind. From having your identity almost revealed, your wife getting driven insane and institutionalized, being put in prison and finally going nutzo and declaring yourself the new Kingpin of the underworld. After that where do you go? Enter Mark Waid, one of the most respected and best writers in comics history. He decided enough is enough, Matt had been through enough and famously said at a convention “I want to make it so you don’t feel like you need a stiff drink after you read an issue of Daredevil.” Waid’s idea was to bring Matt through to the other side, bring out the swashbuckling, more colorful Daredevil. After a decade of Bendis, Brubaker and Diggle putting Matt through high hell, its refreshing to see this side of Matt, but the undertones are still there. This book is a joy to read every month, with the amazing throwback art of Marcos Martin and others. It really is just a fun, well written super-hero book and in this industry right now what more can you ask for? Issue #7 is out now and the hardcover for the first six issues comes out on Feb 8, 2012. [Get the hardcover here]

#9 – Scott Snyder on Batman 

Scott Snyder IS the next Geoff Johns. That’s what many people are saying and I am inclined to agree. With the launch of DC’s New 52, Scott Snyder got to take the reigns of the main Batman title and start it with a new #1 (which hasn’t been done since 1940). Batman #1-4 (what’s been released so far) are far and away the best Batman stories written in years. It washed the horrible taste of Grant Morrison out of my mouth. Yes, he acknowledges Morrison’s stuff, but Batman goes back to being a ‘Dark Detective’ instead of a multi-colored leader of an army of Batmen. Each issue is better than the last. Snyder, who got his start on American Vampire and Detective Comics for Vertigo and DC respectively, is an AMAZING writer. Add to that the gorgeous art from Greg Capullo (Spawn) and you have THE best Batman book on the stands and one of the best in a long time. Bottom line… check out Batman #1-4 at your nearest comic retailer. Trust me.

#8 – X-Force: The Dark Angel Saga

First of all, if you are not reading Uncanny X-Force by Rick Remender than do yourself a favor… kick yourself and go buy every issue! Seriously. It’s probably, if not the best X-book published, but one of the very best comics period. Every issue will kick your ass! One of the big storylines from 2011 which just finished was the The Dark Angel Saga. Basically Archangel has now taken over where Apocalypse left off and feels the need to cleanse the world of the weak. In order to help their teammate, X-Force must travel to the Age of Apocalypse (a famous alternate reality where Professor X died and instead Apocalypse took over) to find the dark entity that has his soul. While they are there, they encounter familiar friends who may no longer be alive in their own reality, and at the end of it a team member is killed and lost for good. A fantastic thrill ride. You can pick up the storyline split into 2 hardcovers. Book 1 is out now and Book 2 will be released on March 14th.

#7 –  War of the Green Lanterns

War of the Green Lanterns was DC’s big attempt to cash in on the excitement for the Green Lantern movie in June. (We all know how that movie turned out.) It was a ten-issue storyline that crossed over between Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps, and Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors. It was spearheaded by keeper of the GL lore, Geoff Johns, and a multitude of talented artists. The story is how the Green Lanterns become mind controlled by the rogue guardian Krona and leaves Hal Jordan, Kyle Rayner, Guy Gardner and John Stewart left to deal with this. The cool twist is since they can’t use their Green Lanterns anymore, they have to choose one of the other Corps to join (Red Lanterns, Blue Lanterns, Indigo Lanterns, Sinestro Corps, Star Stapphires) and some of the choices are SHOCKING. At the end, the main Green Lantern of Earth (Sector 2814) is NO longer Hal Jordan. It’s a huge event with obvious long lasting effects to the mythos. You can pick up the collected hardcover right now!

#6 – X-Men: Schism/X-Men: Regenesis 

2011 was a huge year for the X-Men universe, with X-Men: First Class rejuvenating the franchise in film and with Schism and then Regenesis retooling the X-Men in time for next year’s HUGE “Avengers vs. X-Men” event. Before X-Men: Schism began this past summer, Cyclops had united all the X-Men in San Francisco under a new island to live on called Utopia which was basically a safe-haven for all mutants. At the beginning of Schism #1 a major anti-mutant attack is unleashed on Utopia and it tears the X-Men right down the middle on what to do. It ends up with Cyclops and Wolverine facing off and having a huge parting of the ways. With X-Men: Regenesis, the X-Men are split in half. Half of the team decides to stay in Utopia with Cyclops and continue to try to live in peace, while the other half follow Wolverine off Utopia to New York where he’s had the X-Mansion rebuilt in tribute to Jean Grey and decides to reopen the school for young mutants with him as headmaster. X-Men: Schism has been collected into a hardcover that will be released on Jan 11th, 2012 and X-Men: Regenesis has two main titles: Uncanny X-Men by Kieron Gillen and Carlos Pacheco and Wolverine and the X-Men by Jason Aaaron and Chris Bachelo, both of which are up to issue #3.

#5 – The New Ultimate Spider-Man

In one of the most controversial stories of 2011, Marvel Comics decided to kill off Peter Parker. Wait… not THAT Peter Parker. The Peter Parker of the Ultimate Universe (think of it as an alternate Marvel Universe, cause it is). Nonetheless, this character had been around since 2000 and was written by Brian Michael Bendis every step of the way. But, finally, Bendis decided to end Parker’s story and start a new one with a new Spider-Man. A Spider-Man who is multicultural. Enter Miles Morales, who is African American/Hispanic. Then enter the internet cracking in half with controversy. To me, Spider-Man is all of us and I can see the point Bendis was making. The way Parker dies and becomes the Uncle Ben in Miles’ case to influence him to become the new Spider-Man is an absolutely seamless and beautifully told story. Bendis masterfully pulls a full circle story. I won’t get into the specifics, but it’s a definite must read. To read the demise of Peter Parker, check out the Ultimate Spider-Man: Death of Spider-Man hardcover that came out on November 2nd. To start and keep up with the new adventures of Miles Morales as Spider-Man, check out the monthly Ultimate Spider-Man comic, of which issue #5 just came out. Or, if you are trade-waiter… the hardcover of the first 6 issues comes out in February.

#4 –  Fear Itself

Fear Itself was Marvel’s “event” for 2011, and the first line-wide crossover they have done since 2008’s Secret Invasion. Written by Matt Fraction with art by Stuart Immonen, the story deals with the rise of an Asgardian fear deity named “The Serpent” who causes global panic on Earth. The twist is the Serpent, we find out, is attempting to reclaim the throne to Asgard he lost by his brother Odin. The entire Marvel Universe is faced with fear and doubt including the Super-heroes themselves. Obviously, like past Marvel events like Civil War, this is Marvel’s way to touch on the real fear going on in the world right now. The series goes through many twists and turns in its seven issues and there was also multiple tie-ins and miniseries that deal with pretty much every Marvel character. Some heroes don’t make it out unscathed, and it does have lasting impact on the Marvel Universe. The event itself is being collected in a hardcover available on Jan 18, 2012, with the minis and tie-ins to follow shortly after.

#3 –  Spider-Island

Spider-Island was the Spider-Man mega event of 2011 that ran through Amazing Spider-Man, Venom and numerous one-shots and minis. It is a basic story of what happens when… all the people in Manhattan gain Spider-Man’s abilities. The core bit to the story is that not all have been taught “with great power comes great responsibility.” Can Spider-Man keep the peace or will havoc ensue? As you read that I’m sure you are thinking what everyone thought: “This is going to be silly and terrible.” In fact, it was quite the opposite, as it was a really strong character piece about what makes Peter Parker special and why not just anyone with spider-powers can be Spider-Man. It is written by Dan Slott, who has been hitting it out of the park on Amazing Spider-Man for the past couple years and is without a doubt one of the BEST writers of all time on Spidey. It features some great moments such as seeing what J. Jonah Jameson and more importantly Mary Jane would be like with the powers of Spider-Man. This comes highly recommended and is without a doubt my favorite “event” of 2011. It’s currently being collected in hardcover for release on Jan 25, 2012.

#2 – Flashpoint

Flashpoint was supposed to be just DC’s big summer event for 2011. It turned out to be much, much more. Flashpoint was a mini-series that ran from May-Aug 2011 with a 5-issue main series and tons of tie-in minis and one-shots. The basic plot is that Barry Allen wakes up in an altered reality where the Flash never existed, Captain Cold is Central City’s protector, Wonder Woman and Aquaman have been married, Batman exists but kills and is it even Bruce Wayne?, Superman and the Justice League don’t exist and Cyborg is the world’s greatest hero. Everyone believed it would be a standard alternate reality thing where Barry has to find his way back to his own world. It was then revealed that this IS the world now. Everything has changed. Half the fun is finding out what changed, how it did and WHY. Finally, even when things end… the world isn’t restored to how it was before. Highly recommended. Geoff Johns is the best Flash writer and Andy Kuburt kills on the art duties. You can pick up the Flashpoint hardcover now.

#1 –  DC Comics 52 Reboot

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard about this… even the non-comic book readers have. In the biggest move in more than a decade, DC Comics decided in August to reboot their entire comic book universe (for the most part) and start 52 comics at issue #1. While much speculation and guessing was thrown around, it turned out to be a MASSIVE success, the likes of which the comic industry hasn’t seen in some time. It got people reading comics again, people talking about comics again, and an influx of new readers as a result. For the first time since sales estimates have been recorded, DC Comics won the market share over competitor Marvel Comics. Marvel has since laid off many employees and is underway in cancelling a number of their lower selling titles due to this. The dominance of Marvel Comics in the comic industry was over. In September, the first full month of the new 52, they had an outlandish 20 out of 25 of the top selling comics for that month. It was unheard of. The reboot itself brought with it many changes to the DC characters, some major and some minor. The biggest announcement was the all-star creative team on Justice League of Geoff Johns and Jim Lee. The most effected was DC’s flagship character Superman. Wiped away was the marriage of Clark Kent and Lois Lane that had existed since 1996. Gone was Jonathan and Martha Kent being alive. Gone was the familiar costume. Reestablished was the love triangle of Lois Lane, Clark Kent, and Superman, with Lois’ knowledge of his secret gone. Other heroes were majorly changed as well. Barry Allen, The Flash, was no longer married to Iris Allen (is there any comic marriages intact now besides Reed and Sue Richards?). Probably the most controversial change to a character was that of Barbara Gordon no longer being the wheelchair-bound Oracle and instead walking and re-donning the cowl of Batgirl. The two characters least effected by the reboot were Batman and Green Lantern. Pretty much it was seen as if it ain’t broke, so don’t fix it. Geoff Johns would continue the story of Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps from where he left off. Batman was given a new creative team but all previous continuity had still happened. DC Comics dominated the comic industry from September 2011 to the very end of 2011. The question now is… will their reboot still bring them the market share in 2012 or will Marvel have a major league comeback in store for them? To check the reboot out (they are on issue #4 of all 52 titles) go to your local comic store or check out the AMAZING New 52 Hardcover that contains all 52 #1s in one ginormous 1000 page hardcover.

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  • I’m very interested in the new Ultimate Spiderman, that sounds quite interesting. I’m going to play a little Devil’s advocate here and say that my opinion is this; Rebooting everything is a sad solution to get people interested in a comic series. While I do agree that they can be very interesting and good stories when they are rebooted, I can’t help but get this big message from publishers of “it’s easier to start over than continue with the mess we’ve made… ” (speaking of messes, dear God Marvel why are you going BACK to Age of Apocalypse?! The series that ended my interest in X-Men and Marvel!).

    Marvel also has this habit of milking to death any successful concept that seems to come along every 10 – 15 years for them. In this case, Civil War was their success so now I have this bad feeling they’re going to keep making super hero team vs. super team splits and controversy until we all get sick of it.

    None the less, great post and review you definitely introduced me to some series I had no idea about but am now very interested in. Thanks Bryan!

    • Ultimate Spider-man isn’t exactly a reboot (if you were adding it to that category), more of a handing of the torch off. So far it’s been pretty good. The Death of Spider Man arc was really good.

  • Thanks Dave! I appreciate it!

    Gerren, I agree those were probably more impactful but I am biased towards Spidey as he is my favorite character and I thought it was a more well written event then the others.