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Our favorite comic book moments from 2011


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In a year that gave us big screen blockbusters like “Captain America,” “Thor,” “Green Lantern” and “Transformers,” sometimes it’s nice to take a step back and appreciate the medium where these stories got their start.

With the book officially closed on 2011, I and my fellow contributor, Matt Singer, thought we’d offer up what were some of the best things we saw in comics over the last twelve months. If you are behind on your monthly reads or trade/digital waiting any series, please be advised that there are significant spoilers ahead.

Aunt May Gets A Hug

From “Ultimate Fallout #1”

Let’s face it, at this point, the only truly sad thing about most comic book deaths is the degree of desperation on the part of comic book companies who try to drum up interest in their characters by killing them off. The death of the Ultimate Universe’s Peter Parker in the pages of “Ultimate Spider-Man” is this year’s one notable exception. You could reassure yourself after Peter’s death at the hands of the Green Goblin by reminding yourself that the “real” Spider-Man was still alive and well in the pages of “Amazing Spider-Man,” but that didn’t make writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Mark Bagley’s work in the pages of the follow-up mini-series “Ultimate Fallout” any less devastating. In the best scene — one that literally brought tears to my eyes — Peter’s Aunt May reluctantly attends a public funeral for Spider-Man. As she walks into St. Patrick’s Cathedral, a little girl calls out to her. It turns out that Peter had saved this girl from a fire years earlier. If he hadn’t become Spider-Man — if he hadn’t made the same sort of heroic sacrifice that eventually took his life — she would be dead. She offers May a hug and they embrace. Aaaaaaand cue the embarrassing waterworks (“Oh, no, I’m not crying. No, it’s my allergies. Yes, in the dead of winter.”). I’ve been a die-hard Spider-Man fan my entire life and Bendis’ version of Peter Parker might be the best I’ve ever read. I’m going to miss reading his adventures. But it was worth losing him for a scene like that. – MS

A Cowboy in Gotham

From “All-Star Western #1

Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti had been writing the adventures of DC Western bounty hunter Jonah Hex for several years by the time they were handed the reins of “All-Star Western.” Plenty of their earlier Hex books are worth reading, but they really knocked it out of the park with this story, in which Hex comes to Gotham City in the late 1880s to solve a mystery and gets paired with an unlikely partner: criminal psychologist Amadeus Arkham (if you’ve played any Batman games on PS3 or Xbox lately, that name probably rings a bell). It’s an ingenious riff on Westerns and Holmesian detective fiction, with fittingly rough-hewn art by artist Moritat. DC cancelled all of their titles this year and replaced them with 52 new ones. Some were good, some were bad, some were great. Even though it’s set over a hundred years in the past, “All-Star Western” is one of the few that truly feels new. – MS

An Unexpected Sequel

From “Archie #627”

I love bad movies, and one of the best worst ones ever made is “KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park,” a 1978 live action TV movie about the hottest band in the world and their poorly written, even-more-poorly acted battle with an evil amusement park inventor. Everything about “KISS Meets the Phantom” is bad. Even the stunt doubles are bad (unless the movie was made during a brief, otherwise undocumented period of time when Ace Frehley became a black man). This, of course, makes it sublime. Technically the new “Archie Meets KISS” comic isn’t a sequel to “KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park,” but I’d be shocked if writer Alex Segura wasn’t a fan. Instead of a predictable storyline about the band playing a gig in Riverdale with Josie and the Pussycats or something, he concocted a story about the group getting accidentally summoned from another dimension by Sabrina the Teenage Witch. He even gave Gene “The Demon” Simmons “KISS Meets the Phantom”-tastic lines like “We can only slow them down. They have the DYNASTY AMULET!” There’s still a couple issues left to go in this crossover, but I’m already hanging on ever panel. A word of warning: if at some point in the story Space Ace is replaced for a page or two by an African American, my brain might explode. – MS

A Crossover Flies Under the Radar

In “Swamp Thing” and “Animal Man”

We can’t just pick one particular scene here, because different readers discovered this little bit of awesomeness one at different times. If you read “Swamp Thing” first, you discovered about the battle between The Green, The Red and The Rot alongside scientist Alec Holland. If you favor “Animal Man” on your pull list, you made your first journey into The Red with superhero Buddy Baker and his daughter Maxine. The crossover here by “Swamp Thing” writer Scott Snyder and “Animal Man” writer Jeff Lemire is so low-key that you don’t feel penalized if you only read one of the two books. But loyal readers of both were rewarded with an ultra-cool moment of realization when they discovered that these two books — two of the best of DC’s new universe — were covertly working together to lay the groundwork for what looks to be a massive and massively interesting storyline. I fully expect the payoff the wind up on our list of the best comic book moments of 2012. – MS

Meet the Mighty

From “Fear Itself #7”

It was probably inevitable from the moment in “Fear Itself #1” that the bad guys got their own versions of Thor’s enchanted hammer that the heroes would eventually get some badass Asgardian — “badasgardian” — weapons of their own. And they did, at last, in “Fear Itself #7, when Spider-Man, Iron Man, Wolverine, Dr. Strange, received some much-needed Odin-infused armaments and became The Mighty. Admittedly, The Mighty’s role in the “Fear Itself” finale was mighty anti-climactic, and I’m afraid the other sweeping changes made here to the company’s continuity won’t even last a year (some didn’t even last through the end of the series: see the death and return of Bucky). But the sight of all those classic Marvel do-gooders decked out in Stuart Immonen-designed Asgardian finery made for perhaps the coolest visual of the year in super hero comics. – MS


Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at


Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.


Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…