Monday, July 25, 2011

The Dissector Special #10: Autopsy Awards 2010 Winners.

DISCLAIMER (angry creators, please read)


You'll forgive me if I'm not too elaborate; but this is long overdue. There weren't many votes, and not many people (except my most loyal readers) cared about the awards, so I kept kicking the date back... but here they are.
Best Writing Dissection:

Fifty percent of the votes went toward this little gem's victory.

W01-"THIS SMELLS LIKE BULLSHIT..." (The Dissector #147, 01/29/10)

COMMENT: With all the tools at Fraction's disposition, I was surprised he'd do something this dumb.

TITLE: Uncanny X-Men (Marvel).

ISSUE: 520.

CULPRIT: Matt Fraction (writer).

DISSECTION: We get it, Wolverine has amazingly keen senses... but I will not accept that he can track a prey by smell from the top of a building in NEW YORK CITY, A 468.9 SQUARE MILES, 1,214.4 SQUARE KILOMETERS, 8,363,710 CITY INHABITANTS, AND 19,006,798 METRO AREA POPULATION CITY!!!

DISSECT-O-METER: 10 Bazzars. Not only does he track his prey (a Predator X) to a SEWER, but he knows that Fantomex (who carries no scent) is there because he smelled, and I quote, "a you-shaped hole in the smell of this dump". Fraction, Logan has a very acute sense of smell, not an echolocation device in his nostrils.
Best Art Dissection:

This blog's readers don't condone laziness, at least, 77% of them don't.

A02-"FACE IS NOT IN MURDOCK'S BOOK.." (The Dissector #161, 05/08/10)

COMMENT: Simplification is one thing; plain old laziness is another.

TITLE: A-Team: War Stories: Murdock (IDW).

ISSUE: One-shot.

CULPRIT: Guiu Vilanova (penciller).

DISSECTION: Artists, and particularly IDW artists, are known to not draw faces on background characters. While it's a practice I don't consider correct, it's understandable. Some IDW artists, however, most specifically, the ones in most of their Star Trek books, have done it to characters that, while not important to the scene, are not in the background. This time, however, Vilanova has taken it too far:

Come on! This is outrageous! Those are the ONLY TWO CHARACTERS IN THE PANEL!!! ONE OF THEM IS THE STAR OF THE BOOK, AND THE OTHER ONE IS TALKING!!! WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU, YOU LAZY MOTHERFUCKER!??!!?!?!?!?!?!? Not happy with that, he does it twice more, once again to Murdock, star of the book, WHILE HE'S TALKING AND IS ONE OF THE ONLY TWO CHARACTERS IN THE PANEL, AND THEN AGAIN... but in that panel Murdock is not talking, at least.

DISSECT-O-METER: 10 Bazzars.
Best Coloring Dissection:

Reading the script is apparently a requirement...

C03-"THE GRAY HOOD." (The Dissector #181, 10/14/10)

COMMENT: This was just baffling.

TITLE: Red Hood: The Lost Days (DC).

ISSUE: 05 of 06.

CULPRIT: Brian Reber (colorist).

DISSECTION: Jason Todd is trying to find a girl in a car that's, unwittingly, carrying a bomb. Over the phone, he asks her what kind of car she's in, and she says the car is red. But the colorist made the car gray or black...

Best Lettering Dissection:

My readership is loyal, and is bothered by the same things I am.

L03-"HÉRR." (The Dissector #185, 11/19/10)

COMMENT: Two of my pet peeves (well, the same one twice, basically), mixed together.

TITLE: The Amazing Spider-Man V1 (Marvel).

ISSUE: 647.

CULPRIT: Joe Caramagna (letterer).

DISSECTION: Joe's one of my favorite letterers, and that makes this dissection worse... he letter's what's supposed to be the word "Señor" as "Senõr". Not only that, he makes the "o" smaller because of the tilde. *sigh*

DISSECT-O-METER: 8 Bazzar's for fucking up the word, 7 for the smaller letter.
Best Other Dissection:

This one was weird enough to not be ignored.

O04-"FIRST ISSUE EVER... AGAIN!" (The Dissector #187, 11/23/10)

COMMENT: There's hype, and then there's lying and being ridiculous.

TITLE: Spider-Girl V2 (Marvel).

ISSUE: 01.

CULPRIT: Stephen Wacker (senior editor), Nate Cosby (editor), Tom Brennan (associate editor), and Mike Horwitz (assistant editor).

DISSECTION: Cover for this first issue says it's the "most synapse-shattering super hero debut of the decade". Really? Can someone explain to me how that's possible? Araña has been around since 2004; and she changed costume and name months ago, jumping around other books with it since then... This is not a debut in any way... at least not a "super hero debut". It might be a "solo series debut" (which would be partially correct), but not what they say...

Now, the positive awards on which you could vote:
Best Quote:

This category was a tie; so I had to choose between the winner and another one. The winner was, ultimately, the one that worked well without knowing who said it (even if we do know) of the two.

Q03-"This station will be ground up with your bones into the finest powder which we will snort in our victory orgy." Drenx commander, S.W.O.R.D. #5. (The Dissector #154, 03/19/10)
Best Moment:

Not my choice; but it was one of the "he had it coming" moments of the year.

M03-From Siege #4: It's over, Norman. (The Dissector #155, 03/26/10)

Best Cover:

I don't think this was even a contest, I just had to put a few covers around it to give options.

T02-From The Amazing Spider-Man V1 #625. The Gauntlet could get a bit repetitive, but the Rhino storyline was definitely compelling. Cover by Marko Djurdjevic. (The Dissector #155, 03/26/10)

Best Fight:

Yeah, this was pretty badass.

F03-Don't mess with John Walker (the former U.S.Agent), even when he's missing limbs! From Thunderbolts #147 (The Dissector #175, 09/07/10)

Now it's time for those awards that are given just for sheer dissection quantities:
Company With Most Dissections: Marvel wins again; but unlike last year, when the difference was only 24 dissections, in this case it's almost ten times that; 232. Marvel had 1110 dissections, and DC 878.
Company With Most Dissections Per Titles Ratio: DC wins this year, with a ratio of 6.2 from 878 dissections in 103 different titles I dissected during 2010; against Dynamite's 7.7 ratio (116 dissections in 15 titles), and Marvel's ratio of 6.2 (1110 dissections in 178 titles). I read more Dynamite books this year, it seems, than last year.
Book With Most Dissections: Zorro doesn't win this year, even with 57 dissections, because there's another title with 63 dissections of its own... The Dissector. However, two things disqualify this column:

1) First, it's not a comic. I only review my own dissections because fair is fair.

2) X-Men Forever V2 (50 dissections), and X-Men Forever 2 (26 dissections) are basically the same book. They share the same characters, the same storyline; Chris Claremont writes both, and Tom Grummett is the main penciller in the first book and one of the most important two in the second one; plus, they share other creators (like letterer Tom Orzechowski). Combined, these two books get 76 dissections, and win this award.
Book Family With Most Dissections: The X-Men family, with 369 dissections. Well behind are the Batman books with 206, and the Green Lantern books with 131. It's interesting to see how GL, with only three monthly books gets that third spot. No surprise to see the X-Men family get the first spot, since it's probably the most prolific family; although Batman is close, and I don't read all Bat books all the time... but then again, I don't read the half-dozen Wolverine books either.
Most Dissected Writer: I got most dissections this year, with 59; but for the same reasons as above, the award goes to Chris Claremont's 52 dissections. Far behind, Matt Fraction and Matt Wagner share a spot with 39 each.
Most Dissected Artist: Mark Bagley and Freddie Williams II share first spot with 21, Ivan Reis gets second spot with 16, and 15 dissections each gets Ardian Syaf and Mike Mayhew a shared third spot.
Most Dissected Colorist: Hi-Fi takes top spot with 44 dissections, but I suspect they're actually a team and not one person. Dissector old friend Jeromy Cox (48 dissections) is second place, and Peter Pantazis gets third with 22 dissections.
Most Dissected Letterer: Simon Bowland is only third place with 43 dissections, workhorse Joe Caramagna (for sheer volume of work, not for dissection ratio) gets second spot with 45, and this category's winner is another workhorse, Dave Lanphear, with 69 dissections.
Most Dissected "Other": The Marvel Handbooks are even more riddled with mistakes than before, giving their head writer/coordinator Michael Hoskin a first place with 32 dissections. Stephen Wacker is far, far behind in his second place (9 dissections), and Tom Brennan and Jeff Christiansen share a third spot with 8 dissections each.
Single Issue With Most Dissections: Fantastic Four In... Ataque Del M.O.D.O.K.! (Marvel); a one-shot with forty-six dissections; forty-three of them being smaller accented letters or Ñs (something I no longer report in the column, but I did report it last year, so...). This issue was responsible for 62% of the dissections that gave Dave Lanphear the top spot in the Letterer category.
And now, special awards given because... well, because I damn pleased, and because of certain merits or lack thereof.
Cyclone Fashion Award To The Most Mutable Costume: Dick Grayson's Batman costume. Frank Quitely (I think) designed it, but almost nobody else could keep it straight; even changing the shape of his chest emblem between pages.
Most Puzzling Mistake: Last year, Marvel started using a new font (here's an example) for credits, "next issue" blurbs and so on; in some of their books.

Most comic book fonts are all capital letters; and some feature two all-caps versions with slight differences, depending on whether you type lower case or capital text. This particular font has a difference in the "A" (though I don't know if it comes from caps/not caps); as you can see in the image linked above. Some "A"s have a small addendum on their upper left corner; something that would be pretty stupid in languages that use accented letters, but well, not in English.

However, Marvel could never decide when to use this modified "A". Was it for the larger letters in the last names? Well, no, as you can see in the first line of last names with Gage and Buchman, one with, and the other without. Was it only for the smaller letters in first names? No, as you can see in "Dan" (with) Buckley and "Rachel" (without) Pinnelas.

Sometimes they were used for the first letter of names beginning in A; sometimes they were used in all "A"s in the page; sometimes for none except one, etc... In one "also on sale this month" page "Secret Avengers" would have the special A, but Avengers Academy (in the same font, size, and usage) would not; then in another comic "Avengers Academy" in the same font, size and usage in a "also on sale" page would get the special "A" for both words. And so on. In any combination you can imagine.

From the examples I had saved to write this column, and from what I can see from a quick search, it looks it was something used exclusively for the Avengers line; except for a couple of exceptions (that I could find, Young Allies and Captain America: Forever Allies). Also, it seems to be something done by Virtual Calligraphy letterers. Then again, those are only the books I took note of because the lettering was inconsistent... sometimes, by sheer coincidence, they were consistent (using all special "A"s, or only for last names, etc).

Obviously, this is not something horrible; and it's not even something I will keep reporting, as previously mentioned. But it was, without a doubt, baffling. And it will continue to baffle me, both as a reader, and as a (new, very green) letterer.
The You Make Doc Brown Cry Timeline Fuck-Up Award: DC Universe Legacies (DC) uses the age-old plot device of showing the history of the fictional universe through the eyes of a common citizen... but fails miserably. I've said it every time the book came out; because every time they made it worse: the book's main character starts out as a young boy in the late 30s or early 40s and is swayed away from a life of crime after being impressed by the JSA in their first appearances; but then, as the book progresses, he's shown as a young, fit policeman when Superman first appears, when Doomsday kills Superman, etc.
Coal-Fueled Diesel Trainwreck Issue Award: An award reserved for an issue that was really, really bad; this time around it doesn't go to a comic book, but to a handbook; Heroic Age: Heroes (Marvel). Apart from the usual load of mistakes (spelling mistakes, continuity errors, etc); in this case, what gets this issue the award is the fact that it fails at the very purpose of a handbook.

For some reason, perhaps due to being written in-universe by Steve Rogers, the usual Marvel Handbook power meters are not used. Instead, a power grid consisting of the following attributes is used: power, conscience, altruism, wisdom, courage, determination, free will, and vulnerability (in a scale from 1 to 10). Apparently, Hoskin and his writers have no idea what many of these words mean; look at how some characters are measured according to those attributes:

  • Beast has an altruism of 9, while Angel, Reed Richards, Mockingbird, NAMORA, COLLECTIVE MAN, RADIOACTIVE MAN, Thor, Longshot, and JIMMY WOO have 10??!?!?!?!?!?

  • Wolverine has a 5 altruism? Toro (the new bull-mutated kid, not the WWII Kid Torch) has a 7?

  • Paladin (a mercenary) has an altruism of 7, same as Northstar, and more than Moon Knight? And Elixir, a healer gets 5?

  • A-Bomb has a power of 8, while Angel has a 7, and American Eagle an 8. In what world are those characters of comparable power?

Vulnerability seems to be a mixture of physical and mental/emotional vulnerability, and even if you mix up the words "vulnerability" "invulnerability", switching the ends of the spectrum, it's still very fucked up:

  • A-Bomb and American Eagle have the same rating, 8; and Angel a 6... making Angel less vulnerable than those two? Or only two points more vulnerable?

  • Asgardians as a race have a vulnerability of 6. The same as Angel and Luke Cage.

  • Captain Britain has a vulnerability of 2... if it's a physical attribute, he's not that resistant, if it's a mental/emotional attribute, his insecurities are not reflected.

  • Despite his looks, the Thing is one of the most mentally stable characters in the whole Marvel universe, not to mention one of the most powerful, physically speaking. Then why does he get a vulnerability rating of 6?

  • Darwin, one of the most unbalancedly powerful characters in the X-teams, has a vulnerability of 5, when he's basically indestructible?

This is delicate... Normally, a detail like this wouldn't score too high; but because this is a handbook, the attributes in the power grid are a basic part of the book. Furthermore, it's done by Steve Rogers, who's one of the better judges of character and tactical minds in the Marvel universe, so these fucked up ratings make him look like an idiot.

Something like this garners the handbook team the "Golden Bonesaw Award" for catastrophic underachievement.
Best Book Of The Year: Captain America: Patriot (Marvel). Yes, a miniseries; but it got best book of the week each time it came out, and in fact, since this year the best book of the week really varied from week to week, it ended up being the only book with more than three "best book of the week" notches. To quote myself when I chose the first issue as best book of its week: "Karl Kesel is a veteran character writer, and he gets the 40s dialogue and feel perfectly. For a book with a lot of narration (in the form of newspaper articles), it reads easily. Artist Mitch Breitweiser, with colorist and wife Bettie Breitweiser, draw a story that's both modern and WWII... like a (good) propaganda poster come to life."

Maybe I enjoyed other books more over the course of the year; since they were ongoings; or had characters (like Spidey, Green Lantern or the Legion) that I enjoy more; and this book was going to get (regardless of the "best book" count) "best miniseries"... but I have to concede it gets top spot for 2010.

Worst Book Of The Year: JSA All-Stars almost made it because of the horrible art; having been worst book of the week four times; but in the end Teen Titans had that spot six times in the year... half the times it came out (and I'm not counting specials like Teen Titans: Cold Case). No fixed creative time, writers that didn't seem to get the characters, and artists who just didn't cut it. Some samples of what I said about the book when I picked it as worst book of the week:

"(...) boring story, confusing dialogue, plain art. That simple."

"(...) the Dakota plot was weak, and Holocaust was insanely powerful (even with a power-up), taking on Superboy, Miss Martian, Kid Flash and Wonder Girl head-to-head... plus, I hate this new trend of allowing Beast Boy to shapeshift into alien or mythological animals..."

"(...) The art is not as bad as it's been before, but it still shows at certain points where Luís didn't put any effort into faces, and writer Felicia D. Henderson... should stay away from the Titans... cheesy dialogues, weird plot twists, characters behaving like jerks, and harebrained power-effects make for a bad comic."

Creator That I'm Sorry I Have To Dissect Award: Fred Van Lente. I love his writing, and when I find errors in it, I hate to point them out.
Worst Character Depiction Although You Obviously Have Talent Award: In Uncanny X-Men #527 Whilce Portacio and Leonard Kirk make Emma Frost seem like a crack whore, and Colossus like a mentally deficient jock. I was shocked.
Breakout Book Of The Year: The Sixth Gun (Oni Press). Great read; without being really groundbreaking, but it stands out as a new book of the year to pay attention to. Excellent for anyone who likes westerns with a touch of supernatural, and quite possibly a good read for those who don't usually read comics.
Bloody Stumps With Blunt Crayolas Award: With a single bound, Leandro Oliveira lands a Superman issue, with art that looks like this:

Yes, Rod Reis's unusually bad coloring helps, but look at those characters... man...
Best Character Of The Year: Once more, the single best written, more entertaining character is Spider-Man. Both by the Spider-Brain Trust or now in solitary by Dan Slott (although he makes appearances in Avenger and FF books), the character grows and evolves at the same time it's still portrayed according to his essence, to his basic characterization.
Worst Character Of The Year: Red Robin. Come on, I understand the need to get Tim Drake a niche of his own, but Jr. Batman isn't really the way to go!
Best Event Of The Year: Superman: Last Stand of New Krypton. Pretty much self-contained, and action packed, despite some slight mistakes and the occasional weak art.
Worst Event Of The Year: The Return Of Bruce Wayne (as "The Insider"). The whole miniseries by Morrison was boring, but the whole plot point as "The Insider" was even wrose.


Best Publisher Of The Year: Personally, I liked a lot of the stuff DC put out this year, but they also had a lot of weak moves (see above, for example). Marvel, all in all, offered a great all-around spread of books with in every family of books (X-Men, Avengers, street heroes, etc).
Worst Publisher Of The Year: Dynamite Comics, again, because they keep publishing books with gross Spanish mistake, and it's obvious they don't care, despite publishing a lot of good stuff.
Funniest Book Of The Year: Atomic Robo (Red 5 Comics); in any of its permutations, always fun and funny.
Best Creator Of The Year: Shared by Paul Levitz and Yildiray Cinar, for bringing back the Legion in style. I'm sad Cinar gradually did less and less of the LSH art, and that he won't be working on the team anymore. He was made for the book, and what can I say about Levitz? He still has it.
Worst Creator Of The Year: I only read one book with art by him, and Leandro Oliveira (who did this) gets this award. Yes, a lot of other creators fucked up, but at least they do it in the process of delivering otherwise good stuff. Even Simon Spurrier... wait, I was going to excuse Simon, but he wrote an X-book where Dr. Nemesis said "Science-Gaze sees all, brainfail! There WILL be crotch-punching!", so... they share.
Dumbest Plot Move: Bruce Wayne reveals he's behind Batman, and has been for years.

Batman, Inc. is a good concept, but I believe it's stupid for Bruce Wayne to reveal he's behind Batman, particularly when he a) still runs around inside a Batman costume, b) his three closest costumed associates are his children (two adoptive and one biological), c) those three sons are the exact heights and builds as the other Batman, Red Robin, and Robin and he paraded them in front of the press even if Damian hadn't been introduced to the public, and d) half of Gotham's population might suspect him of being Batman anyway. Add on top of that the fact that he's going around the world fronting Batman, Inc. and dealing with foreign governments and police departments, behaving in ways that completely throw overboard his playboy persona, and it's like he doesn't care if his cover is blown... Wait, maybe he just gave up on hiding it altogether! Of course, he has protection, so do his friends and associates... man, what a great moment to be a random employee of Wayne Enterprises!!!

Most Baffling Dyslexia: Dear comic book writers, "physiognomy" does not mean the same as "physiology" or "anatomy". In case you're too lazy to click on links or crack open a fucking dictionary, here are the definitions of "physiognomy":

1. the face or countenance, esp. when considered as an index to the character: a fierce physiognomy.
2. Also called anthroposcopy. the art of determining character or personal characteristics from the form or features of the body, esp. of the face.
3. the outward appearance of anything, taken as offering some insight into its character: the physiognomy of a nation.

It is not, I repeat, NOT, a word that you can use to refer to mutant physiology/anatomy (like I dissected before on an X-Men book), nor a word you can use to refer to the digitized information of a person's body for teleportation...
That's it for this year; I'll be on the outlook for more nominees, because (almost) nothing escapes...