After much debating and deliberating, I’ve finished my top fifty books of the year that was, 2012. The world didn’t end, there was no apocalypse, and on top of that, we STILL have a comic boko industry! Life is awesome, right? So in 2012 there were way more than fifty books to hit stands, but I damn near drove myself crazy accumulating my top fifty, so going beyond that? No thank you, I don’t need a padded room.
There were some hiccups along the way, like remembering that Mike Carey finished X-Men Legacy in 2011, or that everyone who I ran the list by had the same thing to say “No Walking Dead? Fail!”. The thing is, I don’t read Walking Dead, and I can’t reasonably give it a top ten ranking when that’s the case. And just as it wouldn’t be fair to overrate something I haven’t read, the same goes for underrating it. So expect to see some omissions in terms of books I openly don’t read. That means Walking Dead, the Ultimate line, and virtually everything by Brian Bendis.
At the same time, expect some surprises, as even the most loyal readers of my randomly occurring column will be shocked and amazed by some of the books to make the final cut! So without further ado, here’s the first ten entries!
50. Batman Earth One – I’ve spent years calling for a Geoff Johns written Batman, and while recently we’ve been on the receiving end of that in Justice League…doesn’t it just seem odd that DC’s biggest writer has never had a Batman run? Geoff tackled a modern retelling of the Dark Knights’ origin in the Earth One OGN, and the end result was a much more true to the core and accessible book than JMS’s Superman of the same line. We were introduced to Gordon, a new take on Alfred, celebrity detective Harvey Bullock, and even witnessed the new origins of Arkham. A fantastic Batman book that firmly does not fit into the modern Bat mythos, but at the same time…if you were ever going to reboot the franchise for a new movie, this is easily the book you’d want to use as the bible.
49. Morning Glories – I sporadically picked this book up throughout the year, always enjoying it, but unless a situation arose where I was able to read three or four issues at a time, it was never a book where I truly knew what was happening. Really, if not for just how good it is when I enjoy it, and how much hell Pulse Glazer would give me since he knows I stay somewhat current, this book maybe have been the first book omitted (the infamous number fifty-one). But it’s a solid and enjoyable read, that I feel like I should just submit to reading in trade. After all, I have three digital trades of it sitting all nice and ready to be read on my tablet.
48. Scarlet Spider – I’m a fan of the Clone Saga, and not even ironically. It was a great era to get into Spider-Man, even if Marvel’s editorial team convoluted the crap out of it in an effort to extend it to an unnecessary degree. 2011 ended with Spider-Island, and that made room for 2012 to start with the Christ Yost written series about Kaine as the new Scarlet Spider in Houston. A new cast of supporting characters, a new mission statement, and a lead character who is Spider-Man, but is very much not Peter Parker. Superior Spider-Man may have debuted with a moment of Octo-Spidey not wanting to get his hands dirty, but being dragged in by the innate responsibility….but that was Kaine’s gimmick for the entire year! The only reason for the plummet is that I dropped the book during Minimum Carnage and haven’t picked it back up yet.
47. Li’l Gotham – Dustin Nguyen had a career year in 2012, and this, his first entry on my list, only ranks this low because of how new it is. Li’l Gotham is a holiday book, though which holiday doesn’t really matter. There’s continuity between issues, and it all seems to stem from his time with the Bat family from before the New 52. Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years Eve so far. Stories about Damian, the Gotham City Sirens, and even Penguin and his army of turkeys. The book is fun, light hearted, and even features Barbara Gordon in a wheelchair!
46. Masks and Mobsters – Joshua Williamson has taken a genre in crime noir, that I do not are at all about, and has made it a book that I buy up the second I see a new issue has been released. It’s about a place called Golden City, where people have begun to wear masks in their fight against the mob…but the mob isn’t taking it lightly. A new artist every issue also brings about new stories told within the city, rather than focusing on telling stories arc by arc. Monkey Brain is becoming one of the go-to publishers for “I’m buying because they’re releasing”. Quite literally the only downside to this book is that we’ve got five (really four and a half) issues and that’s it.
45. Lenore, The Cute Little Dead Girl – In 2011 Titan Books sent me a hardcover collection of Lenore, the Cute Little Dead Girl, and I fell in love. Such a fun and quirky book, and really, not my style at all all the way up until it became my style. It’s a real treat anytime I manage to pick up an issue or a trade, and hell, Titan sent me another one in 2012! The only real drawback to the book is the very lack of a steady shipping schedule, but three issues in 2012 was enough to get the book some recognition. I doubt I’ll ever miss an issue again.
44. Godzilla – On Black Friday IDW put up a sale of the first four issues of their Godzilla ongoing series, and I just ate those up. I grew up loving Gozilla movies, and the comic does a nice job of creating a new form of magic to bring me in and get me hooked. A group of people going across the globe as they get paid to take down giant monsters? Godzilla monsters in a monthly form? I dig it, and at some point this year I’ll be picking up the Half Century War.
43. Supergirl – This isn’t my only Superman title that will crop up on this list, but it is one of the easier to miss ones. Better than Superman and Superboy, without a doubt, and depending on the month, more understandable than Action Comics. Supergirl had become one of my anticipated reads every month before the Relaunch and the new versions of everyone, and once again, Kara has become a character I care about and am eager to read about. The tweaks to the characters for the New 52 have worked pretty well so far, giving her a clear difference from Superman outside of “gender swapped cousin”. She has unique powers and abilities, and different levels for the similar powers, and best of all, it’s all explained! 2012 also featured the New 52 revamp of the Silver Banshee in the pages of Supergirl, and in my honest opinion, it’s the best version of the character that I’ve seen. Siobhan has nicely fit in the role of Kara’s best friend and tour guide, especially since she’s also the one who has taught the Girl of Steel the majority of her English this year.
42. Flash – The story may lose me from time to time, but the art will always have me coming back for more. Flash is a revolution of kinetic art in a superhero comic thanks to co-writer-artists Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato bringing us a an art style as hyper as the title character. It’s still one of my top DC books, but it has slipped a bit from the strong debut as the story has dragged on a bit too long. The book operates in a truly soap opera atmosphere where plots are never truly resolved so much as moved to the backburner as something new takes over the foreground. So even the writing is really just as kinetic as the art. It’s a fantastic book to check out, and despite my missing of Wally West, thanks to Francis and Brian, I don’t mind spending my money on Barry Allen every month.
41. X-23 – The little book that could…not last long into 2012 (bias may push this up, as it only had three issues in 2012), and one of Marvel’s longest running female solo books in the past few years (she got past the first story arc, that in and of itself is a milestone at Marvel). Had this been the list of 2011, this would be a top 25 book, but there just wasn’t enough content out this year. Still, Marjorie Liu got to end things on her terms and help ease Laura into the next phase of her existence. That, in and of itself, is pretty impressive. Several of the plots from the book have survived into her run on Astonishing X-Men, and Laura’s active attempt to cease the killing was reflected in Avengers Academy, though looks to be on the way out in Avengers Arena. The book deserves some recognition, and it was one of the great losses of 2012.
And that’s it for day one! Did you like it? Love it? Hate it? Want to stab me for it? Let me know! And don’t forget to check back throughout the week, as the next batch isn’t far behind!
The Gold Standard
Tags: Best of 2012, Flash (DC Comics / Barry Allen), Godzilla, Morning Glories, Scarlet Spider, Supergirl, The Gold Standard, X-23