- Black Panther
One of the biggest surprises of the year: Black Panther is still being published. After sales dropped below the 20,000 level, few people expected Marvel to keep this title around, no matter how successful it is critically. The attempt to attract new readers with the ambitious, complex five-part Enemy of The State II storyline was rather unsuccessful in raising the sales figures, but once again it showed that Priest is one of the best-kept secrets of the comic world. Intricate plotting, deft characterisation, plus excellent art from the team of Jim Velluto and Bob Almond. As the year closes, the title has changed its direction somewhat, becoming now of a police procedural thriller, and no-one expects it to last the whole of 2003. I certainly hope that it does.
- New X-Men
Last year, the X-Men finally stepped out of the Claremont shadow, thanks to Grant Morrison. This year has been somewhat less dramatic but still very interesting. The repair work on Cyclops is staggering; he's now one of the more fascinating characters on the team, rather than being the lifeless leader of the team. There's been amusing revelations about The Beast, intriguing new members like Xorn, and there's the resurfacing of the Phoenix. The book hasn't been as exciting for over a decade. And who knew that Grant loved Storm Shadow so much?
- Three Days In Europe
A slight cheat here, as I've only read one issue of this so far. If the rest of the series is up to the same standard, this is going to be a very funny series. It has all the charm and wit of a classic romantic comedy, and I hope that it continues on this high note.
- Transformers: Target: 2006
It's not a new comic, but this Titan release is probably the first time that many people will have seen the story, so I feel justified in including it here. I like to think that it's not nostalgia clouding my judgement here; this is a classic children's adventure story, as deserving of praise as any Disney film. As Simon Furman's first epic Transformers story, it has dated somewhat, but it still holds up rather well (it's not as overwritten as most 1980's Marvel comics), and has an enjoyable mix of interesting storytelling devices, twists and revelations, and plenty of robot devestation. All the things a growing boy needs. Plus an ending which can still bring twenty-somethings to their knees...
- Blue Monday
The best teen films that John Hughes never made. And Chynna Chugston-Major made me realise there was more to The Beat than 'Mirror In the Bathroom'. You can get hold of the first collection of Blue Monday on Amazon, and I urge you to try it out.