In Q & A, a weekly feature of Fantastic Fangirls, we ask our staff to tackle a simple question — then open the floor to comments.
What’s your favorite comics-fandom moment of 2008?
I hate the first Batman movie. Michael Keaton can play Batman but he is no Bruce Wayne. Vicki Vale bears so little resemblance to the comic book character I wonder at the choice to call her by name. And I quite simply cannot watch Jack Nicholson’s Joker. Also — it’s boring. I literally fell asleep the first time I tried to watch it; I woke up and fake!Vicki was in the Bat Cave. Bruce doesn’t bring his girlfriends into the Bat Cave, especially not the fake ones.
However, I love Batman Begins. I’ve had a crush on Christian Bale since he played Laurie in Little Women. He’s absolutely believable as Batman and there cannot be a better Bruce. Michael Caine is a genius. Liam Neeson. Morgan Freeman. Gary Oldman. Guh. The movie is amazing and the cast is amazing. All but one Ms. Katie Holmes (who I honestly like but not in this role at ALL).
My favorite comics-fandom moment of 2008 is a little movie called The Dark Knight. The brilliant cast is back with the one wee shake up exchanging Katie for Maggie Gyllenhaall. And not only do I prefer Maggie, I prefer Rachel. She has a certain depth that was distinctly lacking in the first movie. I find myself not just caring about her, I identify with her. Rachel loves the Bruce-who-is-Batman-unmasked more than Bruce-who-is-not-Batman or Batman. Just like me.
My favorite things in comics in 2008 can all go under the heading of “Matt Fraction’s Marvel Universe.” A year ago, Fraction could have been described as an indie comics writer with a few Marvel projects. Now, he’s got a finger in every corner of the Marvel Universe. Whether he was wrapping up the short and not entirely unhappy history of The Order, to launching a great new take on Iron Man, to (along with co-writer Ed Brubaker) giving the X-Men a new start on the West Coast, Fraction’s Marvel stories always felt fresh and compelling, while still remaining grounded in what came before.
If I had to pick one piece of writing to represent the Fraction of 2008, it would be Immortal Iron Fist #16. This issue stands alone, but it’s also the coda to a long arc Fraction wrote together with Brubaker. Iron Fist Danny Rand has returned from the mystical city that is the source of his powers, having learned a dark secret about the source of his earthly wealth. While other heroes might slip into a self-destructive cycle, Danny considers what he has learned and decides to turn it around and make the world a better place. Not by donning a costume (he doesn’t wear one in the entire issue), but in very concrete ways: he teaches martial arts to kids, he feeds homeless veterans, he proposes to his old partner Luke Cage, “Let’s see what happens to the world’s problems when we throw craploads of money at them.” It might not be a poetic sentiment, but it’s about getting things done, and being willing to reinvent what it means to be a hero.
My favorite comics moment of 2008 isn’t so much a moment as a feeling, a feeling that struck me with growing intensity as the year wore on. It was the feeling, for the first time, of being a real comics fan–of having that descriptor as part of my identity, and being comfortable with it.
Two summers ago, when I first started reading comics, I was manning the front desk at my local public library, taking advantage of the slow day to devour a TPB of Fables. Then one of my coworkers, trying to get my attention, called out, “Hey, comic book girl!” I spun around, looking for the person she was calling. Surely one of my friends had arrived. Surely she wasn’t talking about me. I’d only just begun reading comics! I didn’t have the credentials to be called “comic book girl.” There was a whole universe of comics out there, and I’d only begun to scratch the surface.
But in 2008, as I wrote and discussed my senior thesis on Captain America; as I explained the resurrection of Bucky to a fifth Ivy League professor; as I set up a pull list for the first time at my LCS; as I attended my third con of the year; as I became, with my friends, a comic book blogger… well, slowly but surely, I began to realize that, yeah, I am a “comic book girl.” In 2008, I chose to make comic books and the culture around them a huge and lasting part of my life, and I couldn’t be happier about it.
My favorite moment as a comics fan in 2008 has got to be the satisfyingly bittersweet ending to Joss Whedon’s twenty-five issues of Astonishing X-Men. I have gripes about his run, all of them having to do with delays and scheduling and, and — nrrghh. During the arcs of “Torn” and “Unstoppable” I stopped looking forward to the next issue, that’s how bad it got. But my response to “Torn” when it was done was a love letter to Joss Whedon’s X-Men. I never wrote up how I felt about “Unstoppable” because it was too jumbled. I never found the right words, not yet. But Joss excels at explaining how incredibly hard and rewarding and damnably hard it is to be a grownup and live a responsible, ethical, heroic life. The end of his run on AXM made me sit back with a sad and satisfied sigh.