Welcome back, faithful readers.
A month's a long time to go between columns, especially when it comes to comic book news - and especially at this time of the year.
I rang in my New Year's with a stack of back issues and a notepad. Now's the time to surf sites such as Comic Book Resources for all the year-end lists of what critics, creators and others in the industry considered to be the best and worst. Sure, it's all just opinion, but even as a pretty avid reader and collector of comics, I missed a lot of the best stuff from the last 12 months.
Masks, including “V for Vendetta,” left, are displayed at a Ricky’s Halloween store in New York. Television audiences across China watched an anarchist antihero rebel against a totalitarian government and persuade the people to rule themselves. Soon the Internet was crackling with quotes of “V for Vendetta’s” famous line: “People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.” The airing of the movie Friday night, Dec. 14, on China Central Television stunned viewers and raised hopes that China is loosening censorship.
That's one of the best (and worst) things about comics. Even though I read them and collect them pretty consistently, there's always something to re-read, rediscover or pick up for the first time.
So, whatever you thought of 2012's comic book output, I'm sure we'll continue discovering some of the good stuff from this past year all throughout 2013 - and that's on top of whatever the new year holds in store for us.
This month marks the beginning of Marvel's "Superior Spider-Man."
That's right, as has been mentioned the last two months in this column, there's a big change happening with Spidey in Marvel's main continuity.
Issue No. 700 of "Amazing Spider-Man" was released Christmas Day and is the last issue of the long-running Marvel series - and readers are pretty torn about the story told in the comic.
So, what happened?
Well, the Spider-Man we've known for so many years is no longer with us anymore.
Peter Parker is dead. But oddly enough, Peter Parker is alive and will remain Spider-Man in the comics. And despite that seeming impossible, the story doesn't even involve the Jackal or clones (as has been employed in the past).
No, writer Dan Slott has thought up something new for the comic. There's no more of the Peter Parker we knew, but instead, someone else is living out his life - and only we really know the truth.
Here's a brief synopsis of what happened in issue No. 700 with no holding back on spoilers:
Doc Ock brain-swapped with our plucky young hero just as his own body bordered on shuffling loose Marvel's mortal coil. And despite the real Peter Parker's best efforts, his last-ditch plan for a switch back fell short just as Doc Ock's body (with Peter Parker's mind) did fail - leaving, yep, you guessed it, ol' Octavius's main brain in our beloved Web Head's body. But in his last remaining moments, Peter hit Ock with some morality and, "With great power comes great responsibility," so now he's going to be a good guy. And only we know his secret. Though some of Spidey's supporting cast might have some suspicions.
Slott got death threats after the reveal of the storyline. And people are still pretty upset about a villain being the new Spider-Man.
But, detractors are just that, folks - people looking to draw down and take away from something to reduce the value, importance and quality of it. Marvel's 700th issue of "Amazing Spider-Man" has as many fans as it does detractors, so let those unhappy with dramatic change in comics speak ill and belittle it all they want.
Starting this month, Marvel will begin publishing its new title, "Superior Spider-Man." Slott and artist Ryan Stegman will put out the book twice-monthly, with Doctor Octopus working to be the greatest Spider-Man the world has ever known.
"But can he keep up the ruse?" Marvel asks in teasers for the book. "Will Spidey's closest allies discover the fate of Peter Parker? And can this Spider-Man truly be a hero?"
NO MORE NEIL
I love Neil Gaiman, but the guy broke my heart last month.
In December, the comic book writer, novelist and children's author announced he will be doing his last ever book-signing tour in 2013.
"They're exhausting, on a level that's hard to believe," Gaiman said on his website. "I love meeting people, but the sixth hour of signing, for people who have been standing in a line for seven hours, is no fun for anybody. ... So I'm going to try and make this tour the glorious last US book signing tour, and then stop doing book signing tours for good."
Gaiman is responsible for DC's now classic series "The Sandman" as well as the novels "American Gods," "Anansi Boys" and more. With a new novel due out this year, the coming book-signing dates will surely feature longer-than-normal-lines - as this will be it, the last signing tour. According to the author, a signing Gaiman did in Georgia in 2009, which wasn't a part of any book tour, took more than seven hours, and he signed for more than 1,000.
Here's hoping he comes somewhere close by. I could see taking a special road trip to meet the man before he quits public signings for good.
Of course, according to the website Comic Book Resources, where I first read this news, Gaiman's not ruling out impromptu signings.
"I might even sign books if I feel like it," the writer said, citing a "ninja book signing" at St. Mark's Bookshop in New York he announced via Twitter a few hours before it happened.
In the weird news category, China made entertainment headlines in December after CCTV producers aired the comic book movie "V For Vendetta."
The film never appeared in Chinese theaters, though, according to The Associated Press, it's unclear whether it was ever banned. The AP published a story late last month about the film's having been aired in China, saying it raised hopes that China is loosening censorship.
Written by Alan Moore, "V For Vendetta" is owned by DC Comics and was made into a movie in 2006. In the story, a person known only as "V" rebels against a totalitarian British government and makes a plea for people to rule themselves.
Not familiar with either the movie or its source material? Well, chances are you saw the Guy Fawkes masks from the film on TV during the Occupy Wall Street protests.
The AP story about the airing was pretty extensive and posed questions about what it meant for China to air the movie. All I can really think about is what the Chinese viewers thought of Natalie Portman's big bald head.
I work full time at a restaurant called "Forte" in downtown Jamestown.
Each week we host a trivia challenge for customers, where teams can compete for a gift card and other prizes.
The questions that get asked cover a number of topics and areas of knowledge. However, in recent months, there's been a new addition to the weekly list of quiz questions.
The guy who runs the Wednesday night get-together now has a weekly comic book question courtesy of yours truly.
That's right, you can nerd out weekly if you want, but only at our in-house trivia challenge. Can't make the Wednesday night gig? No sweat. I figured I'd make comic book trivia a regular part of my monthly column from now on.
For those who remember, I used to have a weekly trivia question in my "Late Night Spotlight" article, which ran for a while in The Post-Journal. Don't know why I didn't think of adding a question to this column sooner.
So, for this column's first ever trivia question, name the writer credited with co-creating both Swamp Thing and Wolverine, as well as other X-Men team members Nightcrawler, Storm and Colossus.
TOY JAM 2013
Coming next month I'll have more info about an event happening on Feb. 10 called "Winter Toy Jam 2013."
The two guys organizing the local toy show reached out to me recently, and what they're planning sounds like something deserving of a mention here in Nerding Out.
Set to be held in Frewsburg, Winter Toy Jam 2013 will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. with early bird admission at 9 a.m.
According to organizer Ron Caldwell, there will be 45 tables for vendors with everything from vintage and antique toys from the 1940s all the way on up through the 1980s and today. Think Mego, Tonka, Strutco, Star Wars, Barbie and more. There will be comic books, vintage train sets, sports memorabilia and even vintage video game venders.
More than just a toy show, the event will feature a model car contest, which will be open to all ages.
Check back here next month for even more details on the first-ever Winter Toy Jam in Chautauqua County. February's column prints Sunday, Feb. 3, and the Toy Jam is scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 10.
Well, the new year brought with it news of AMC's "The Walking Dead."
Just the other day, AMC debuted footage from the second half of season three of the show, which is now on hiatus.
Only another month of waiting, folks, and then the show will return to the air for the second half of its better-than-ever third season.
Last year exceeded expectations in terms of comic books, comic book movies and all areas of entertainment. Here's hoping 2013 can do the same.
And lastly, in answer to the trivia question posed earlier in this month's column, the writer credited with co-creating both Swamp Thing and Wolverine, as well as other X-Men team members, is none other than Len Wein. He co-created the character Swamp Thing, for crying out loud. Check out "House of Secrets" No. 98 in the next month if you get a chance. That's the issue where ol' Swampy debuted. Then I'll see you back here in February for another extended mess of comic book blather.
Nerding Out With Nick Dean is a monthly column about comic books, movies and more. For more, visit Nerding Out With Nick Dean.blogspot.com.