9 to Watch in 2009: Comic Book Characters

9 to Watch in 2009: Characters

Wolverine: Weapon X #1

Part 1 of 5

The New Year is wide open with comics firing on all cylinders in the upper echelons of superhero comics to the vibrant field of modern comics. But who rests at the top? Who are the biggest and brightest – who are the ones who pose to make 2009 a breakout year for themselves? From characters to comics to creators, and even to the wider spectrum of television and movies – who will be the breakout stars?

Newsarama gathered the facts, analyzed the fiction and reviewed the rumors to delineate who we think will the top – the 9 to Watch in '09. All this week, we'll be picking out the 9 To Watch in '09 in five categories: comic characters, comic creators, comic series/books, movies and television shows. The first three are clearly comics-centric, while the last two are wide open.

First off, we start with the pillar of comics storytelling: the characters. They're the ones who bring it all together, making the story stronger, making the creators strive higher and being the glue that holds the whole package together. Without them, it'd be a faceless story – with them, it's the thumbtack that pins it down for us to remember. But who will matter most in '09? Our crystal ball is broken but our speculation is running wild – here's who we think will be the 9 Comic Characters to Watch in '09. Yes – there are some familiar faces…

Wolverine (Marvel Comics)

The character of Wolverine has been a contender since the day he was first born – err, published in 1974, but 2009 will see him reach his pinnacle of a storied life. With four solo comic book series (Wolverine, Wolverine: Origins, Wolverine: First Class and the upcoming Wolverine: Weapon X), a member of countless team comic books, an upcoming movie (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) and an animated series (Wolverine & The X-Men), he truly is the "it" character for the X-universe, and arguably the larger Marvel Universe. He's synonymous with the X-men brand, and is the only character to be included in every media adaptation of the X-Men franchise including film, television, computer and video games. He's gone by many names, but no matter what you call him – everyone calls him integral to comics.

Batman: Battle for the Cowl teaser

Batman (DC Comics) (okay, okay… “Batman”)

2009 could be Batman's biggest year yet – but will he even be around to enjoy it? In comics he's gone --- presumed dead – and his close friends and enemies are fighting for his cowl – literally—in the upcoming Battle for the Cowl miniseries. And although there's no Batman movie this year, the fruits of the blockbuster Dark Knight movie will be reaped in awards season in several categories. And there's always speculation on future Batman movies from Nolan, Bale and co. In comics we're trying to wrap our heads around someone besides Bruce Wayne being Batman, while we're still holding out hope that we haven't seen the last of him. It is comics, after all, isn't it?

Oh – and of course – there’s Batman: Brave and the Bold on Cartoon Network – returning this Friday, January 2nd.

Supergirl #36

Supergirl (DC Comics)

Although she is the female counterpart to DC's signature superhero, she's never quite lived up to her birthright until now. Her ongoing series has finally (finally!) gotten its footing with writer Sterling Gates, and Supergirl is emerging as a key part of the larger DC Universe not as Superman's proverbial “kid sister” but as her own person. Far from a Superman in women's clothing, Supergirl has begun to emerge and reach her full potential – and her fans couldn't be happier.

WWC: Hickman on Secret Warriors
WWC: Hickman on Secret Warriors
Nick Fury

Nick Fury (Marvel)

He's always been the rough and tumble type, from his army days with Sgt. Fury & His Howling Commandos to his transition to resident super-spy as part of S.H.I.E.L.D. – but now he's got a new lease on life as he occupies a central role in the Marvel Universe. In recent years we've seen him quit his job at S.H.I.E.L.D., make an unannounced appearance in the Iron Man movie, and come back to save the world in Secret Invasion as head of a new group of 'Commandos' and him as 'Agent of Nothing' in the forthcoming Secret Warriors series. All that, from a man who fought in World War 2 and in 2009 is still in his prime. They sure don't make them like they used to.

Dr. Strange (Marvel)

By far one of the most enigmatic characters as of late in the Marvel Universe, if solicitations are to be trusted the good Doctor is in for his own life-changing experience in 2009. According to interview with Marvel architect Brian Michael Bendis, Dr. Strange is to lose his role as Sorceror Supreme as a response to using dark magic as seen in New Avengers Annual #2. He's been off the playing field for most of Secret Invasion, but his 2009 looks to see him back in the mix. The mantle of Sorcerer Supreme is up for grabs, and one of his most formidable foes, Dormammu, has reappeared as the benefactor of the Hood. And Hollywood might be in Dr. Strange's future too, with a tentative 2012 movie planned to be directed by Guillermo Del Toro and possibly scripted by Neil Gaiman. There's a lot of questions out there for Doctor Strange, but that's how he seems to like it.

Green Lantern

Green Lantern (DC Comics)

His ongoing series is at the height of his power thanks to writer Geoff Johns and he's grown his own family of titles in the DCU Umbrella with Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps and the show-stealing Sinestro Corps War miniseries. As the resident super cop in the DC universe, Green Lantern’s own series is one of the highlights of the modern DC universe, and if the Trinity was one more – that fourth would be wearing a Green Lantern ring. Hollywood has its sights on Green Lantern as well, with some comparing its movie potential as similar in scope to Marvel's Iron Man. Production of the movie is tentatively scheduled to begin in 2009 for a 2010 release, with director Greg Berlanti. What does the future hold for the Green Lantern – from his space-faring ways, even sky isn't a limit.

Norman Osborn (Marvel)

We might think of him as the Green Goblin, but in the Marvel Universe he's seen as earth's greatest hero. His assumption of a leadership role in Thunderbolts was just the beginning, as in Secret Invasion #8 he took an orchestrated lead role in the final charge against the Skrull invasion – with cameras rolling. That moment lead to the President of the United States making Osborn head of the replacement to S.H.I.E.L.D., H.A.M.M.E.R. Out with the Iron Man, in with the Green Goblin. Just as Tony Stark was seemingly in every Marvel comic in the past 18 months, Norman Osborn has filled that role as someone who you can truly love to hate, as we’ve seen in his post Secret Invasion #8, that was just the beginning.

Marvel Preview: Mighty Avengers #21
Marvel Preview: Mighty Avengers #21
Mighty Avengers #21 cover detail

Scarlet Witch (Marvel)

Where In The World is That Witch Wanda? That's the question on the lips of Marvel fans after the events of House of M. She was briefly glimpsed in an issue of New Avengers, but 2009 looks to be her full-fledged return to the Marvel U as she is a member of Mighty Avengers as of issue #21, and also in contention for the vacant Sorcerer Supreme spot now that Doctor Strange has vacated the role. As one of the most popular females in Marvel comics, it's anyone's guess as to her rightful place in the Marvel Universe. But after the events of House of M, she's one to be watched by heroes, villains and fans alike.

Power Girl #1

Power Girl (DC Comics)

In recent years, Power Girl has gone from occasional supporting character to team leader of JSA and solo super-power as seen in JLA Classified. In 2009 a new ongoing series is to be released, that will reestablish Power Girl's civilian identity of software developer Karen Starr and created by writers Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and preeminent Power Girl artist Amanda Conner.

In The Corner Of Our Eye:

There are several characters on the cusp of greatness in the coming months, and you can't count them out for a blockbuster 2009. They are:

Static (DC Comics): He's back and like his Milestone kin will be integrated in the DC Universe. His animation career has overshadowed his comics prowess, and 2009 might be the time to reach his full potential.

Spider-Woman (Marvel Comics): She's the face of the Skrull Secret Invasion, but that's not who she really is. Writer Brian Michael Bendis brought her back to prominence in the pages of New Avengers, and the long-awaited ongoing series from Bendis and artist Alex Maleev promises to let Spider-Woman come full circle.

The Flash (DC Comics): Always running at a breakneck pace, in the past few years he's been off the mark but 2009 looks to be different. Longtime scribe Geoff Johns and artist Ethan Vansciver have set their sights on the world's fastest hero – the returning Barry Allen, so 2009 could be the year that the Flash gets good again.

Scott Pilgrim (Oni Press): Don't count him out – with volume 5 of his award-winning series promising to be the "it" book for New York Comic Con 2009 and his eagerly anticipated movie in production now from director Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead), this could be the year that Pilgrim goes from critics darling to a new icon in comic book lore.

But…that’s just us...and there are many, many close calls to this list - Hawkeye and Mockingbird, Aquaman, Hawkman, heck, we've even heard rumblings about Firestorm. What say you? Who’s poised to make 2009 their year to the largest audience in comics? Not just a name – get your reasons in there as well…

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