The Year 2003 for ABC
I want to take a look back at 2003 to wrap up what has happened in the world of America's Best Comics, as well as look forward to what we can expect this year.
The most important events for ABC in 2003: the opening of The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen movie, Alan Moore's 50th birthday and his announcement to retire from mainstream comics and to destroy his ABC universe. The LXG film has been enormously disappointing for fans of the comic and received lots of bad reviews, but it nevertheless produced much attention for the graphic novel, which turned out to be one of the best sellers of the year. Moore's birthday prompted numerous articles and even two books about the writer.
This website went from German to international this year, when I started to translate its whole content into English. It's a lot of work and there are still plenty of pages to translate, but I'll keep on working, I promise. In the other direction, I had the pleasure to translate Jess Nevins' excellent LOEG Annotations into German.
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
Volume II was completed in autumn, following massive delays. The result was a story which is as good as Volume I, if not even better. LOEG is the flagship of the ABC label, in terms of quality as well as commercially. The LOEG flick did at least a good job of increasing attention and drawing in new readers. Even after Alan Moore's retirement, this will be the book he will continue to write: he and Kevin O'Neill are already preparing for Volume III.
Like almost every other ABC book, Promethea had to deal with delays this year, due to some severe health problems in penciller J.H. Williams' family. But every time an issue hits the stands, it's clear that it was well worth the wait, because they are always extraordinary entertainment. Meanwhile, we know that the series will end with issue #32, which means we have four issues to go.
Once again: lots of delays, but without the payoff of superb stories. Most of the issues of 2003 were "okay", but not as good as other books of the ABC line. We saw one issue containing short stories, a three-part arc called "How Tom Stone Got Started" (drawn by Jerry Ordway) and two issues not written by Alan Moore, but by Peter Hogan. This marks the beginning of Moore's Good-Bye to ABC: the next issues are also written by various guest authors. So this series will most likely continue after Moore has retired. Hogan is also the author of the one-shot special The Many Worlds of Tesla Strong, which was an entertaining showcase for lots of talented artists.
Tom Strong's Terrific Tales
This title continued the trends of 2002: it was released infrequently and sported mediocre content (at least compared to other ABC books). In 2003, only three issues came out.
This six-issue miniseries was always on schedule and was completed within the year. The plot was co-planned by Alan Moore and Peter Hogan, who wrote the actual script alone. The series featured old heroes from the Golden Age, which appeared once in a Tom Strong story. So, Terra Obscura was a feast of nostalgic readers, but also an entertaining read for people who had never heard of these heroes. Not a masterpiece, but a solid superhero story. It's pretty likely that a second volume will follow.
This long-awaited miniseries featuring the "big blue" from the pages of Top 10 is my surprise of the year. A hilarious fantasy satire with countless gags and hidden references in the background, but nevertheless a gritty and exciting quest story. The final issue is not out yet, but I dare saying this series is a very good one.
ABC had an output of 26 single comic books (plus TPBs) which is slightly more than in 2003, but we have to note that not everything was written by Alan Moore himself. I think that guest authors will be a common thing in ABC's future. Promethea, Moore's most personal work, will be finished in 2004. Though Moore has announced that he will destroy the ABC universe in his last issues, I'm pretty sure there will still be some ABC books after that. Tom Strong is already written by guest authors, and there might also be a "Season Two" of Top 10. At least LOEG will be continued by Moore himself, but Vol. III won't appear until 2005.
Another work-in-progress is the The 49ers, a graphic novel by Moore and Gene Ha which deals with the history of Top 10's Neopolis.
© 2004 LeGuy.
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