Best of 2012: Aaron O’Neill

Best Writer
1. Mark Waid (Daredevil, Rocketeer)
2. Johnathan Hickman (Manhattan Projects, Fantastic Four)
3. Brian K. Vaughan (Saga)

Mark Waid is a man invigorated it seems as he is penning some of the finest work of his already legendary career.  His bold and alternative telling of Daredevil has already bagged him a handful of Eisner awards this year and how well deserved they are. Taking a series previously renowned for its dark and morose nature, Waid took a huge gamble completely flipping the tone and feel of the book. Daredevil now floats along with a wonderful silver age feel, teeming with great dialogue, wonderful characterisation and lots of heart. Coupled with his wonderful ride on The Rocketeer, Waid has been the model of consistency this year and has given the superhero genre a well needed shot in the arm.

Best Artist
1. J.H. Williams III (Batwoman)
2. Chris Samnee (Daredevil)
3. Fiona Staples (Saga)

This might seem like the easy way out but J.H. Williams III is one of the most lauded and decorated artists in comics for a reason. This is an artist you follow no matter what path he chooses to take and I would follow him into battle even if he was tackling “My Little Pony”. The man is truly an innovator and the king of the two page spread. His art on Batwoman this year has been breathtaking and when the writing is on song, it is one of the paramount superhero comics on the shelves. The attention to detail and the mind bending page layouts always make Batwoman a visual feast. If 2012 wasn’t a big enough year, next year the Third’s stunning skills will be seen on the highly anticipated Sandman prequel with Neil Gaiman.

Best Ongoing Series
1. Prophet
2. Saga
3. Manhattan Projects

The re-imagining of Rob Liefeld’s 90’s penned character is one of the most extraordinary comics I’ve ever read. The sci-fi epic has this inadvertent poetry to its world and its characters that make it unlike any comic on the shelves. Brandon Graham expertly captures the emptiness and infinite unknown of space using almost non-existent narration or dialogue. Despite this starkness, his characters are complex, the imaginative worlds we visit and their unorthodox inhabitants are totally immersive and the art that ties all this together is sublime. Never has my favourite aspect of a comic book been the colouring but the unfamiliar and complex colours used in Prophet make it an experience in itself. It’s hard to describe this comic to others but it is the challenge I love with Prophet and I cannot wait to see what 2013 has in store for hidden gem.

Best Ongoing Series (Superhero)
1. Daredevil
2. Batwoman
3. Batman

Daredevil has single handedly restored my faith in the superhero genre with the most refreshing and fun storytelling from the big 2. It’s been a year saturated with A’s vs X’s, supermen kissing wonder ladies and of course the compulsory, “he’s dead but he’ll be back in a few weeks to boost sales”. Hopefully Waid’s tale on Daredevil can inspire others to try something new and drastic and with Matt Fraction’s “Hawkeye”, it seems to already have happened.

Best New Series
1. Saga
2. Manhattan Projects
3. The Massive

It’s hard to add anything unique to one of the most loved and talked about comics of the year. You have to praise Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples for their shear fearlessness in telling this story. Many creators would have thought twice about putting some of the content shown in the pages of Saga but then again many creators don’t have the creativity that these two masters of the genre have. It’s been a good year for sci-fi comics and Saga is leading the pack!

Best Mini-Series
1. Punk Rock Jesus
2. Before Watchmen: Minutemen
3. Harvest

Punk Rock Jesus is the type of comic that you show to sceptics of the medium. The ones that still ignorantly believe they just contain silly men in tights and are written by the stereotypical nerd.  One of 2012’s most powerful and impactful releases, PRJ is packed with so much attitude, guts and controversy you might be careful who you decide to give it to for fear of scaring or offending that person. Tucked into this raw, black and white comic is a beating rebellion against the system, spearheaded at the media and religion. Sean Murphy speaks his mind through the supposed clone of Jesus Christ and sends out a big, fat middle finger in the process. A series that will genuinely get your heart rate racing, PRJ shows there is plenty of room for the rock n roll attitude in comics.

Best Single Issue or One-Shot
1. Punk Rock Jesus #1
2. Swamp Thing #7
3. Batman #5
Reading the opening issue of Punk Rock Jesus felt like a live game of Russian roulette, with the comic seemingly ready to blow up in your hands. It’s not often after reading I sit there for a few moments just staggered at what a comic had just thrown at me. It’s even rarer for a comic to occupy my thoughts for the remainder of the day until I go to sleep. Whether these thoughts were constructive or fruitless, when a comic makes you think that much you know its something a little special and different.
Favourite Character
1. Daredevil
2. Hiyohoiagn (Prophet)
3. Alana (Saga)

Yes that is the third award for Daredevil!

Honourable Mentions
1. Saucer Country
2. Fatale
3. Aquaman
While Vertigo seems to be going through a very sticky patch at the moment, titles such as “Punk Rock Jesus” and “Saucer Country”  instill me with hope for the publishers future. Political comic books are a challenge to pull off, so many things can potentially go wrong but Paul Cornell has fused a great blend of sci-fi fiction and political sensibility into Saucer Country. A Presidential candidate that has recently been anally probed by potential Earth invading extra-terrestrials  might seem like a car crash of an idea but Cornell’s writing is sharp and intelligent and he makes it stick with a great host of characters and endless possible avenues.

Favorite Other Things
1. Robert Liefeld Rant
2. Sandman Return
3. Continued Success of Image Comics

It was building and building to the stage where we didn’t think it would happen. This is a man of true resilience and possibly the holder of the stiffest upper lip in the comics industry but it finally happened. The face of the 90’s exploded like a balloon full of meat and boy was it worth the wait!