This will be the last news feature of the year.  If you want to see more of these in 2010, please drop a comment!

1. DEADPOOL.  The potty-mouthed lunatic assassin gets lots of mentions on this page, but deservedly so.  Unlike Spider-Man in the late 1970s, or Wolverine now, Deadpool’s appearances in 4+ books per month haven’t watered the character down.  In fact, the second of his three monthly series, Deadpool: Merc With A Mouth, is coming close to surpassing his original book in terms of quality, suspense, and balls-out action.  And that’s not an easy task.  In the most recent vanilla Deadpool, which capped off a story arc with the X-Men, Deadpool exposed some of the hypocrisy of the X-Men’s “mission” to serve mutantkind and wholly and believably outsmarted Cyclops, Marvel Comics’ greatest tactician.  He blindsided Summers so completely that even I, as the reader, didn’t see it coming.  Merc With A Mouth started out a bit slowly, but it’s turned into an hysterical read—what with Deadpool learning that he, himself, is a biological weapon sought by Hydra.  Or, at least his severed zombie head from another dimension.  If you’re not reading it, I can’t explain it, but this month’s issue (#6) concludes the first story arc, which means it should be out in a bound volume soon.  Get it.  Seriously.  Because it not only has zombies and a hot scientist chick, but it’s also got AIM versus Hydra, and Man-Thing.  Oh, and every cover is a take on a classic horror film.  Nice!

2. BEST OF THE DECADE. Comics Alliance posted the worst comics of the decade. Some are spot on, but Dark Knight Strikes Again and Identity Crisis? That’s a little harsh, dudes.

3.  X-MEN ORIGINS: FIRST CLASS. Okay, I couldn’t be more excited about this: Bryan Singer is signed with Fox to direct the next X-movie, and it will be a tale of the real original X-Men—not the version from the first (fantastic) X-Men movie (that Singer also directed)—and how Xavier and Magneto developed their frenemy relationship.  Singer’s super-credentials are strong, with both X1 and X2 to his credit (but Superman Returns to his debit), and God knows there need to be way more X-movies being made.

4.  MARVIN THE MARTIAN. Not to be confused with Marvin the Paranoid Android, Looney Tunes’ favorite disintegrator-ray wielding, broom-hatted, is getting his own feature film.  Okay, this could suck or it could be cool as hell.  It’ll be a Christmas movie, so . . . It will probably suck.

5.  AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. If you’re not reading it, now’s a good time to pick it up.  The new story arc, “The Gauntlet,” is reintroducing all of the classic (sinister six) baddies revamped and renovated for a post-Brand New Day era.  You don’t need to know a whole lot about how Spidey got where he is to appreciate and follow the story.  The last three issues focused on Electro (via The Mad Thinking), and #615 is the new Sandman story.  It’s not a great comic, but it’s generally reliable.  And Mysterio and The Vulture should be coming soon.

6.  FRACTION ON THOR. Marvel has announced a Free Comic Book Day special starring Iron Man and Thor (who both have movies coming out in 2010—what a coincidence!) and will be written and drawn by—get this—Matt Fraction and John Romita, Jr.  I dunno if they’ve ever worked together before, but wow.  One of Marvel’s best new writers and Marvel’s greatest living artist, together.  Plus, after that Fraction will take over writing duties on the Thor book.  I’m just now beginning to read the JMS reboot of Thor in trade paperback, and I have to say it has completely blown me away.  Fraction coming on board can only be an asset—especially given as how he’s taken Invincible Iron Man to places that book hasn’t been since the David Michelinie/Bob Layton/alcoholic days.

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