With 2012 officially behind us, I examine what I felt was the very best of the best the comic book industry had to offer; the creme de la crème, if you will. So sit back, chillax, and Youtube some Gangnam Style in another window as I take you through my End of the Year Awards for 2012!
1. Scott Snyder – Batman, Swamp Thing, and American Vampire…was there anything this man couldn’t do in 2012? This was the writer who showed me after a decade of Marvel fanboyism that a DC comic could fight it’s way to the top of my stack. With 2013 bringing Scott Snyder to new projects like Superman and The Wake, 2013 shows no signs of this awe inspiring newcomer slowing down!
1. Chris Samnee – It’s funny now, looking back at the very first article I did for Capeless Crusader earlier this year when I covered Daredevil #12 and speculated whether or not the new series artist Chris Samnee could do justice to the book. Not only did he do it justice, he rewrote the laws on which Daredevil or any comic book for that matter should live by. Coupled with his extraordinary take on The Rocketeer from IDW comics, Chris Samnee was an artist who couldn’t be ignored in 2012!
Best Ongoing Series (Superhero)
1. Uncanny X-Force – While I do believe Scott Snyder takes the cake as 2012’s best writer, there’s still something to be said for Rick Remender and his best book of the year Uncanny X-Force. This series took a concept weighed down solely by excessive blood and gore and instead added an emotional depth that changed what a book about super hero assassins could mean.
Best New Series
1. Hawkeye – If I could sum up Matt Fractions run on Hawkeye in one word, I would have to go with “wow.” Hawkeye has that new and exciting vibe Mark Waid’s Daredevil did when it had just come out last year. I’m so pleased with the slew of Marvel books that have abandoned the dark and gritty melodrama in favor of fun romps in super heroics, and Hawkeye takes the cake as most fun of 2012. It’s educational too, as it showed us the importance of always bringing along a boomerang arrow.
1. Infernal Man-Thing – When I heard that the late Steve Gerber had a “long lost” untold Man-Thing tale it was akin to finding war chests full of comic book gold. Because this one… This right here? This was the book. Never in my life have I connected with a comic book more. A troubled writer whose inner-demons become personified by the Man-Thing’s empathic powers?? This was the story Man-Thing was created for!
2. Rocketeer: Cargo of Doom – Earlier in this list I described a Mark Waid written tale that I was quite fond of. Now let me tell you about one I loved: the one that had dinosaurs with jetpacks. That’s right! Dinosaurs with jetpacks! Two great tastes we never knew tasted so sweet together! C.O.D. was so tongue in cheek that the figurative tongue nearly burst through several times and I really can’t applaud it enough. And even when you strip away the lighthearted campiness of it all, it’s still a provocative romance story, an off-the-chain action thriller, and an accurately depicted time piece. In short, this limited series had a little something for everyone, and I hope we get a lot more sometime soon.
3. Godzilla: Half–Century War – If there’s one thing I love about reading comic books, it’s those moments when I’m pushed beyond the limits of my “norm” and find myself captivated by something completely new. Godzilla: Half–Century War did just that when it took a concept I was only ever marginally interested in and produced a tale both wholly engaging and wonderfully drawn. While the narrative, of course, makes you feel for the poor humans who find themselves caught in Godzilla’s city-destroying rampages, on a deeper level it’s the monster himself who ends up deserving the most sympathy. Splash on some mesmerizing Tokyo pop art and you’ve got yourself a limited series that kicked some serious ass this year.
Best Single Issue or One-Shot
1. Batwoman #13 – This issue of Batwoman had so much weight to it. After a several month cold-streak of questionable plot points, we finally had concrete evidence that Batwoman could be a good book again, thanks in no small part to J.H. Williams III being back on art. And wow, the art. Who else but J.H. Williams III would think to put 8 panels of Kate’s dad and Bette staring intently at each other from across the pages while spread throughout the wings of a bird? And that bird I mentioned? Yeah, it was on fire. Not only was the art nothing short of perfection, it became one of the best written Wonder Woman stories of 2012, including Justice League and her own title.
2. Animal Man Annual #1 – For lack of a better word – this sh*t was just bananas. The story followed an avatar of the red living in 1894 as he became an Animal Man and somehow managed to make Canada look interesting. Oh man, and then there was that scene where the Swamp Thing (not the current version but a much more ancient and wise one) pulled a piece of himself off of…himself and made Animal Man eat it! It’s a good thing Timothy Green II excels at drawing splash pages because Animal Man seriously tripped major balls.
3. Wolverine & The X-Men #17 – Doop!
1. Fantomex – Fantomex has always oozed cool, dating way back to his first appearance in Grant Morrison’s New X-Men run. The thing that made him exceptionally cool in 2012 was how he finally began to look outside his own interests and play the traditional hero, going as far as to sacrifice himself in order to save the one’s he cared about. With Fantomex now split into 3 separate personas as a result of the conclusion of Uncanny X-Men, there’ll be even more Fantomex to love in 2013.
1. Jeff Parker’s Thunderbolts #169 – Thunderbolts was a team book that always carried with it tremendous potential, despite its inability to grasp the attention of a wide-scale audience. Issue #169 showcased what I believe to be the greatest representation of the outrageous team dynamic that made this book so fun to read. The Thunderbolts found themselves thrust backwards in time to the year 573 A.D where they encountered the medieval Black Knight (a character who, in this context, worked well for the very first time in all my reading). Seeing the Black Knight go head-to-head with Troll and shouting “Fie!” as Boomerang knocked the Ebony Blade from his hands was by and large one of the greatest scenes in comics of the year, and if you have no idea what I’m talking about look into it! Gorgeous art by Kev Walker brought this book to life as he depicted chivalrous knights, spell-casting mages, and dungeon-dwelling demons to perfection. Granted, I was playing A LOT of Skyrim when this issue came out so that may have influenced my overall opinion.
2. Before Watchmen: Ozymandias – Here me out on this one. I know Ozymandias isn’t the best written story in the Before Watchmen series; it’s pretty damn far from in it, in fact. Based solely on plot, it brings almost nothing compelling to the table that wasn’t already inferred upon in the original tale. I submit this book for your consideration, however, based upon one simple rule: a single panel from the beautiful hands of Jae Lee is worth an incalculable number of words, the sum of which not even Dr. Manhattan himself could fathom.
3. Secret Avengers – With all four Avengers titles that had launched out of Marvel’s “Heroic Age” in 2010, Secret Avengers may not have been the most consistent comic (Avengers and New Avengers were both consistently underwhelming and Avengers Academy was consistently average) but it did reach the greatest highs of any of the books, especially with the 2012 addition of Rick Remender.
Marvel – While DC, Dark Horse, Image and IDW all certainly had tremendous series in 2012, the majority of my pull list was absolutely dominated by Marvel. While the line-wide mega event that was AvX may have had more downs than ups, it certainly can’t be said that Marvel didn’t know how to sell a book! Their real glory rests, however, in books like Hawkeye, Daredevil, Uncanny X-Force and many others that I had me on the edge of my seat every week! And with just about everything that came out of Marvel NOW! being quite enjoyable, Marvel set a good example for all companies in 2012.
Thanks for reading my material this year and for sticking with us at Capeless Crusader! It’s the fans that make this all possible, and I’m excited to see how having some of the best fans in the world will push us in 2013!