Marvel Top 10: 2008 MomentsA column article, Comics Bulletin Soapbox by: Kevin Powers
10. Rulk Knocks Out Uatu: Hulk #4
I'm not going to lie about it: this was one of the most ridiculous, controversial, crazy and great moments of 2008. I personally do not like the new Jeph Loeb helmed Hulk series a hell of a lot, nor do I like the Red Hulk or "Rulk" as he is now called, but this moment was classic. The issue opened with Uatu giving his usual spiel and then BOOM! Rulk leaps up and then throws a massive punch at Uatu, knocking him out and on his back. It was one of those bizarre moments where you laugh with glee and roll your eyes at the sheer ridiculous nature of such an event, even if it happens in a comic book.
Equally as ludicrous moment: Rulk punting Thor's helmet after beating down the God of Thunder.
9. Kitty Pryde… Lost in Space: Giant Sized Astonishing X-Men #1
Joss Whedon's nearly three year run on Astonishing X-Men came to a close in 2008 and left a mark on the lives of many of the X-Men. Joss Whedon did many things during his run on Astonishing X-Men including inspiring X-Men 3: The Last Stand, bringing Colossus back from the grave and further deepening the relationship between Emma Frost and Cyclops. But one of the characters that Whedon put a subtle yet heavy focus on was Kitty Pryde. Kitty has always been popular amongst fans, and her popularity continued to increase during Whedon's run. There was a heated rivalry between Kitty and Emma, and Kitty's relationship with Colossus became increasingly passionate.
However, during their mission on the Breakworld to save Earth, Kitty joins the team that is attempting to stop a missile from destroying the Earth. She phases into the missile in an effort to destroy its circuitry. Instead, after phasing for a mile, she finds nothing, leading Beast to deduce that the missile is actually a bullet. After passing out from exhaustion, Kitty is awoken by Emma Frost and the two work together to help Kitty stop the bullet from hitting Earth. Using everything she's got left, Kitty phases the bullet through the Earth and is then lost in deep space. She remains inside the bullet and no one, including Dr. Strange and Mr. Fantastic, is able to save her. The X-Men consider her dead, a casualty of their war to save mutantkind and Earth.
Today, Colossus has left the X-Men following Kitty's death and Emma Frost is haunted by visions of Kitty. It will be interesting to see how Kitty's haunting of Emma comes into play during 2009 and "Dark Reign."
8. Ultimate Magneto Unleashes his Wrath: Ultimatum #1
The Ultimate Universe has always been that place where characters have been re-imagined and tweaked as well as that place where Marvel could get away with things they couldn't in their main universe. Regardless of how awful Ultimates 3 was, it set up the insane events that have occurred in the first two issues of Ultimatum. And with Ultimate Nick Fury gone, no one saw it coming.
Ultimates 3 saw the deaths of Scarlet Witch at the hands of Ultron and the accidental death of Quicksilver by Hawkeye. Overwhelmed with anger and grief, Magneto blames the Ultimates for his children's deaths and turns his attention to unleashing vengeance on the entire world. His first act was reversing the magnetic poles of the Earth, causing a massive tidal wave to hit New York City, killing millions and claiming the lives of some of the X-Men. This event also leaves Johnny Storm missing, Sue Storm in a coma, Captain America near death and the Ultimates scattered, and one member of the Ultimates meets a very disturbing end.
Magneto's second act is the murder of his longtime friend and rival, Charles Xavier, which will no doubt send the Ultimate Universe further into chaos.
7. Brand New Day is Actually Pretty Damn Good: Amazing Spider-Man #546
I hadn't consistently read the Spider-Man titles for years. I always cherry picked story-arcs or stayed completely engrossed in Stan Lee's original Amazing Spider-Man stories. But picking up the Spidey books every time they were released was just not something I found myself doing very often. However, with "Brand New Day" on the horizon earlier in the year, I decided to give Spidey a chance and start to pick up the books on a consistent basis. Everyone knew "Brand New Day" was coming, everyone knew something big was going to happen, something was going to change in the life of Peter Parker, and Marvel's Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada made the most controversial decision of his career. In a completely bizarre move, Peter Parker made a deal with the devil as he called for Mephisto to save his Aunt May. The price? Peter Parker's marriage to Mary Jane Watson.
Personally, I prefer Peter and MJ married and together, and at first I thought Marvel had just taken the most relatable character in comics and made him completely un-relatable as he literally made a deal with the devil. However, controversy aside, the change in Spidey's status quo was needed, especially his secret identity restored. While I thought the first few issues of "Brand New Day" started slowly, the "Spidey Braintrust" of creators is doing a phenomenal job creating new, classic feeling Spider-Man stories that are both entertaining and engaging. New villains have been introduced, new multi-issue plot threads abound, and Harry Osborn is alive. All in all, I'd say "Brand New Day" has proved many of the nay-sayers wrong, as the change in Spidey's status quo has indeed been a great Marvel moment of 2008.
6. Cyclops Tells off Tony Stark: Uncanny X-Men #495
Cyclops has always been viewed as a "boy scout" and Xavier's lap dog. The leader of the X-Men always played by the rules and followed along with whatever Xavier needed. However, over the past few years Cyclops has undergone a massive change. Since Xavier left the X-Men and since M-Day, Cyclops has become devoted to ensuring the survival of the mutant race. Cyclops' desire to save his people became a crusade following the events of "Messiah CompleX," and he developed an even more commanding presence. However, Cyclops' image and new attitude as a complete bad-ass was not cemented until earlier this year in Uncanny X-Men #495.
Tony Stark arrives in Westchester to survey the damage to the X-Mansion in the aftermath of the "Messiah CompleX." Tony wants to know why Cyclops didn't go to him for help. Sticking up for his people, Cyclops reminds Tony that mutants and the government don't mix. When Tony reminds Cyclops of the slaughter in Alaska at the beginning of "Messiah CompleX" and the attack by the Sentinels, he wants Cyclops and the X-Men to register with the initiative. What happens next is one of Cyclops' most character defining moments as well as the establishment of his new status quo. He lays into Tony Stark about the mutant struggle and how they are born a certain way and don't have secret identities. Tony takes it and flies away.
Following this confrontation, Cyclops uproots the X-Men and moves them to San Francisco where he creates a haven for mutants and a place for him to recruit his army.
5. Iron Man Takes Flight and the Hulk Smashes!: Marvel Studios:
2008 was a huge year for Marvel beyond just the comics. The first two Marvel films free of studio influence were released. One is now revered as one of--if not the-- greatest comic book movie ever produced, and the other has begun to build a massive following with its DVD release. Iron Man, the first film under the "Marvel Studios" roof, was a massive success, a film loved by many comic and non-comic fans and critics alike. Robert Downey Jr. owned the role of Tony Stark and audiences everywhere loved the fantastic action and edge-of-your-seat excitement the movie brought from start to finish. Each time Iron Man takes flight in his various armors, audiences were assured this film was something special. Even now as they both have been released on DVD, many people are taking a second look at The Dark Knight and Iron Man and coming to realize that Iron Man is indeed the best film of 2008.
Following Iron Man came the Incredible Hulk, a do-over of sorts for Marvel after Universal botched the 2003 version. The latest version of the film was action-packed, featured a phenomenal cast and set-up the forthcoming Captain America film. Incredible Hulk also tied directly into Iron Man and continued to lay the groundwork for the coming of the Avengers.
Marvel Studios takes the year off in 2009 with 20th Century Fox handling all the logistics on X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but 2010 promises movie-goers with Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and many others as Marvel continues to build on the momentum established in 2008.
4. Samuel L. Jackson is Nick Fury and Nick Fury Returns to the Comics: Iron Man, Secret Invasion
This movie moment makes this list because it made fanboys and non-fanboys alike go wild with excitement over what Marvel is doing with their movies. In Iron Man, Agent Coulson continuously tried to get the attention of Tony Stark and Pepper Potts. He worked for S.H.I.E.L.D., and while comic books fans knew exactly what that acronym means, many non-comic fans did not. So the burning question for those fans is "who runs this organization?" Well, after sitting through the rather long credits of the Iron Man film, Tony Stark returns home to find a man waiting for him in his home. That man informs Tony that he "isn't the only superhero in the world" and that he's "entering a whole new universe." When the man walks into the light, he reveals himself as none other than Nick Fury, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. played by Samuel L. Jackson, Director of B.A.D.A.S.S. Of course, Ultimate Nick Fury was modeled after Sam Jackson, and that was widely accepted by fans. Thus the amalgamation of the Ultimate Universe and 616 Universe has created the Marvel Movie Universe. Fans went AWOL over this moment that appeared after the credits and it even left non fans salivating for more from Marvel Studios.
Nick Fury also returned to the comics during "Secret Invasion," leading a group of young heroes dubbed the "Secret Warriors."
3. Steve Rogers' Spirit Appears Before Thor: Thor #11
The Marvel Universe--and the real world for that matter on a slow news day--was shocked in early 2007 when Captain America Steve Rogers was gunned down on his way to a federal courthouse after surrendering to Tony Stark following the superhero Civil War. While Rogers' former sidekick Bucky Barnes has returned and triumphantly assumed the role of his mentor, there is still a gap in the Marvel Universe without Steve Rogers. One hero who was dead at the time of Steve Rogers' death was Thor. However, because Thor is a god, and Ragnarok brings upon new life, Thor eventually returned.
In Thor #11 the one year anniversary of the death of Captain America comes, and Thor goes to pay respects to his fallen comrade and Avenger. Thor, not satisfied with Rogers' death or that he never got to speak with his longtime friend, tries to summon Rogers' spirit at the foot of Captain America's memorial. While the call goes unanswered at first, Steve Rogers eventually appears, dressed in his Captain America uniform and draped in a blue cloak.
The two men speak of death, and Thor wonders why Cap is not in Valhalla, and it is revealed that Steve Rogers' spirit still lingers on Earth. Thor swears vengeance on Cap's assailants, but Cap stops Thor. In a powerful dialogue between the two characters, Cap reveals that what has happened to him was blown out of proportion, that he was only doing what he thought was best for the country. Thor agrees to Cap's wishes and then takes off into space so he can disrupt every news broadcast and radio signal in the world for exactly one minute to honor his fallen friend.
2. Bucky Becomes Captain America: Captain America #34
I will be the first to admit that I hated the idea of someone other than Steve Rogers taking up the mantle of Captain America. But ever since Ed Brubaker broke one of the cardinal rules of comics, his run on Captain America has been one of the best storylines of the decade. Brubaker did what no one else ever dared: he brought Bucky Barnes back from the grave as the Winter Soldier. Following the death of Steve Rogers and the Red Skull's attempted takeover of the United States, Tony Stark recruited Bucky to take up the mantle of his mentor and become the new Captain America. At first, Bucky was just a hesitant as myself and other readers to accept the role. Brubaker wrote the character in a manner where the reader felt Bucky's insecurity, readers saw first hand that Bucky knew he had giant shoes to fill, but he was going to fill them in his own way.
This was apparent the moment Bucky first threw the shield. He threw it at A.I.M. agents to distract them, and then he pulled his pistol and opened fire, taking out the A.I.M. agents. Bucky has embraced his new role as he helped Falcon, Tony Stark and Sharon Carter take down the Red Skull, led the charge in the final battle against the Skrulls and has now re-formed the Avengers in a manner that Steve Rogers would see fit. Regardless of my preference for Steve Rogers, there is no denying how well Bucky's transition to the role has been executed. The character is being handled with a great deal of care, and it will be interesting to see what happens when Steve Rogers inevitably returns.
1. Norman Osborn Saves the Marvel Universe: Secret Invasion #8
No one saw it coming. He kept on saying that he was going to save the world, but no one paid attention. The greatest Marvel moment of 2008 happened, and no one expected it. Norman Osborn, who recently went off his rocker on Thunderbolts Mountain and once again became the Green Goblin, was the last person anyone expected to end the Skrull invasion when, in front of the entire world, he blew off the Skrull Queen's head.
The result? Marvel in 2009, namely "Dark Reign." The world hands its power and security to Norman Osborn on a silver platter. S.H.I.E.L.D. is dismantled, Osborn's H.A.M.M.E.R. takes control, the superhero registration act becomes a thing of the past, and Tony Stark is on the run with no more extremis. Osborn has also formed his own secret group of villains and "in-betweens" such as Emma Frost and Namor, to create his own twisted version of the Illuminati. 2009 will prove to be a very interesting year with a very evil and very unstable man sitting on the throne of the Marvel Universe. What will happen if Norman feels the need to do a little bit of jet-gliding?