The Second Annual Vulcan Quiche Awards: Part 3

Sandman_014In between the big issues, the massive story arcs and the character defining changes, there are the spaces in between. These are the little moments, the panels, the moments of dialogue, the spreads that stay for years. This is a celebration of those moments.

The Prepare to Fire – Awarded to standout single page, double page spreads or panels in comics.

Runners Updo-dogs-dream-of-sheepdogsManhattan Projects #14 nearly made the list for a final moment when only Laika, the semi-sentient dog astronaut sees the horror the team has wrought. Black Panther and Namor’s tense declarations of war in New Avengers #7 shows the potency of a team of characters with a longstanding history. Thor’s first strike against the Builders in Infinity #4 almost placed with a legitimately riling kill that shows the strength the Galactic Council was bringing to the war.

Fifth Placethor_-_god_of_thunder_009-005The Battle Begins – Thor God of Thunder #9

As the war between the Thors and Gorr the Godslayer began, Esad Ribic redefined what a splash page should be with a deeply evocative moment defining the power of its protagonists and the forces they’re arrayed against. It’s among the best splash pages since Walt Simonson’s work on Thor and a standout moment from a great story arc.

Fourth Place2rcpglz.jpg“You will always be my friend” – Green Lantern #20

Geoff Johns’ transformation of Sinestro, from domineering would be conqueror out to make sure Hal Jordan stayed dead, to sympathetic, deeply conflicted Green Lantern, to a somewhat unwilling host of Parallax is what made Green Lantern #20 such a triumph. Watching the final crushing battle between Hal and Sinestro shows the deep, rich characterization of two people trying their best to be heroes and their few differences end up defining and separating them in Johns’ landmark final issue.

Third Placebr18_1“Love and respect” – Batman and Robin #18

In a notably passionate silent issue, Bruce Wayne and Alfred try to deal with the death of Damian after his murder. While Bruce delves deeper and deeper into his war on crime, Alfred silently views the legacy he hoped for slowly be erased. All those simmering, contradictory emotions brutally rise to the top as Bruce reads Damian’s last letter and screams in pain and rage for a child who even in defiance, offered him his only chance for hope.

Second PlaceSuperiorFoes4-p13“Total Heisenberg Moment” – Superior Foes of Spider-Man #4

It’s no surprise Fred Meyers would see himself as Breaking Bad’s self-mythologizing sociopath but his moment breaking the rest of his team from the back of a prison transport shows off exactly why he’s earned that honor. Fred’s a hyperbolic, narcissistic social climber and his one moment of unmitigated heroism is something worth remembering.

And the winner is…xmenlegacy20658“Gestalt” – X-Men Legacy #20

I’ve written extensively on this incredible issue but the single image of David, passionately embraced by his first power is a beautiful moment for a damaged hero and shows the power and self control he’s finally been able to seize.

Coming Up: We’re getting close to the top awards but it’s time to pick out the best series of the year. It’s going to be tough but get ready to see if your favorite makes the list.

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“You need never pray again” – A god becomes so much more in Thor: God of Thunder #11

3240960-thor+-+god+of+thunder+011-009In terms of getting a character to connect to an audience, only Thor has a harder time than Superman. Thor’s near invulnerability, his many resurrections and his nearly unlimited fighting ability makes him a hard character to humanize and a difficult one to serialize and that’s ignoring the character’s godhood. The general way to connect Thor to readers have been to overplay his viking roots or to push him over the top in a way which often feels hacky. The best creators have realized that and refused to let the Odinson be a man. He’s an epic hero, one who is at his best when he’s doing the impossibly, becoming the legend he’s always wanted to be.

Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic have focused on that theme alone in the exceptional Thor: God of Thunder, teaming the hero with a past and future version of himself and facing him against Gorr, The God Butcher, a seemingly immortal killing machine focused on removing divinity from existence. Gorr has been around since the series’ first issue and Aaron has done the seemingly impossible, creating a new character I want to see become a permanent part of the Marvel Universe. He’s a driven, sinister villain, one who thinks he’s working for the greater good and he has the power to impose his will. His battles with the three Thors are the stuff that splash pages are made for and he earns every one of them.

thor_-_god_of_thunder_009-005Thor’s struggle against Gorr has allowed the sort of mythic storytelling the character deserves. Giving Thor an enemy he can’t possibly defeat, backing him into the corner and giving only the most dangerous out against the Godbomb lets the character go beyond being a God and an Avenger but gives the story an epic, mythic vibe so rarely seen in superhero comics.

In the final pages of the issue, the surviving gods return to Asgard, hoping to find a home now that worshippers and worlds have been destroyed but godhood isn’t what’s important anymore. As Thor returns to speak with a girl who once needed him, he gives her hope that people will always be looking over her, protecting the world from what’s coming. It’s a wonderfully understated moment, one which speaks to the power myths have over the way we view our lives. In the end, Thor is about inspiration, heroism and the way we define our lives with stories, whether they be holy or secular.

Stray ObservationsWOLVXMEN2011034-int-LR-2-8efa7This was a pretty anticipated week for comics fans with one of the best books on the market returning from hiatus and Marvel’s newest event starting up. Let’s jump in.

  • Jason Aaron’s other big book this week was Wolverine and the X-Men, my favorite Marvel book and maybe my favorite comic on shelves today. This week’s #34 is a hell of an issue, between Iceman as an anime inspired mecha, Doop’s home movies and Kade’s staunch refusal to accept defeat. It’s going to be interesting to see what the young king’s plans were in the Hellfire Saga’s final part at the end of the month.
  • In the hiatus, I’d forgotten how much I missed Saga but issue #13 reminded me instantly what makes this book so special. The ghostly return of The Stalk just helped matters.
  • I think I’ve been pretty clear about my dislike of Nick Spencer’s Secret Avengers but #7 finally used the series’ mind erasing premise to it’s advantage, with Maria Hill making a dangerous judgement call on AIM Island.
  • It’s been less than two months since Age of Ultron so I guess it’s high time for the next massive event. Despite much of Infinity #1 having already been revealed in previews, interviews and this year’s FCBD issue, it’s still a fun promising issue. I’m looking forward to what’s coming.
  • It took everything I had not to write about East of West again this week and #5 is really great. The revelation about The Message, Death and Xiaolian’s child and Chamberlain’s indifference to the oncoming Apocalypse cements why this is the best new series of the year.