The Gold Standard Top Fifty Books Of 2012: 40-31

Well this took longer than expected! Not the writing so much, as this was mostly done, but man, how busy is Superbowl week? Maybe it’s just coincidence, but I was go-go-go from Wednesday until about an hour ago, but hey, my Ravens won!

So last week I dropped the first ten entires in my top fifty, and here I am today with the next ten, and if I get off my lazy butt you should have the next batch by the weekend! This week brings us a list that, by sheer chance, is made up almost entirely of books I buy digitally (eight of the ten), and man, it is quite the awesome digital pull list!

Let’s get this started!


40. Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season Nine – The ongoing adventures of Buffy Summers really did help break down a barrier for me this year, as far as my journey into lesser known books by any and all companies out of the big two was concerned. Actually, to this day, the only series from Dark Horse I’ve paid any attention to have been Buffy centric, but that’s just me. I like Buffy. This year we saw a pregnancy scare gone robot, as the Buffy Bot returned in a peculiar way. Ex-Slayers working security, which led into Wolfram and Hart trying to take over the world via EVIL social media. And then, hey look, Billy the Vampire Slayer. It was a fun year, and this year looks to keep that up. Zompires have made for fun villains to have in quantity, and Buffy remains, well, Buffy. Not a must read for everybody, but definitely worth the scope if you’re a fan of Whedon’s baby.


39. America’s Got Powers – This is a book I have absolutely devoured when it’s been available. Bryan Hitch at the top of his game, turning in some of his most inspired art in years, while Jonathan Ross is absolutely killing it with the plotting. It’s Rising Stars meets X-Men with a reality TV twist. It’s brutal, kinetic, and over the top. It’s also just really refreshing to see Hitch draw something that isn’t owned by Marvel for the first time since Ultimates, he brings a different level of life and energy to the book that hadn’t been seen out of him in quite a while. Really, the biggest problem this book had was its inability to ship all six issues in 2012, only managing to get four onto shelves despite being a six part mini. Still, beats the Ultimates delays any day of the week. Here’s hoping to see Hitch’s Superman sometime in 2013!


38. X-Treme X-Men – This book came out of nowhere to become one of my inaugural digital pull titles. I love Exiles, don’t mind Dazzler, and have been hit or miss with Greg Pak. I gave it a shot, and eight issues and a point one regular later, I’m going to miss this book when it gets cancelled before its time. The Exiles curse, right? It’s a reality hopping good time with Dazzler and friends trying to kill evil versions of Xavier, and the point one was awesome as all hell. Dazzler goes home and refuses to believe that it’s not another alternate Earth, because of all the ridiculous events of AvX. It has been a fun and original title, and while it’s probably too late for a batch of new readers to pop on and save it, I don’t think anybody reading this would be disappointed with the few issues that are left.


37. Justice League Beyond – Dustin Nguyen proved himself to me as a writer with this book (I had never read anything where he was the writer, to my knowledge, before), because not only does he nail the feel of the future Justice League, but he succeeds in something incredibly epic. He picked up on the final Batman Beyond arc (of the show) with Kobra’s willingness to go to ridiculous limits for their goals, and creates a galaxy wide threat involving them. Along the way we also were treated to the origins of Warhawk and Aquagirl, as well as the reasons for Barda’s exile (and then 2013 opened with Micron’s origin, but that doesn’t count for this list). And the best part of the way it happened? It’s still not over yet, sixteen issues in 2012 and the story is still ongoing. Thanks to the nature of the medium, and how DC collects and sells the book, there’s no need to try and tell stories for trade. When Nguyen needs a break from drawing, they get a fill in artist and do an origin story, or a story from the past. Oh, yeah, and the book features ETRIGAN! This is one of the books that made me love digital.


36. Suicide Squad – There’s something about a book with a body count that just sits well with me, and I’m not totally sure why that is. Adam Glass took a book that, at first glance, looked like all style and no substance, with the Harley Quinn revamp and, well, excessive violence, and then went ahead and just pumped in the substance. It’s a dark and gritty book that doesn’t pull punches, and it features characters who lack the moral issues that would cause friction in their missions. Their missions being the kinds of things you wouldn’t see the Justice League dealing with; like Basilisk. In the old universe Kobra was around as a lingering threat, occasionally popping up to try and take something over. In the New 52 we have Basilisk, who are everywhere from Birds of Prey to Swords of Sorcery, but they have been a major focus for the missions of Amanda Waller’s Suicide Squad this year. I would not be surprised to see them grow out of the confines of this book and become a more active and obvious threat, especially with them being worked into the history of the New 52 in Team 7.


35. Batman Beyond – Not unlike what Dustin Nguyen did in Justice League Beyond, Adam Beechen did a very similar thing in Batman Beyond. He’s spent the entirety of 2012 making us take The Jokerz seriously as they waged war on Gotham, led by the Joker King….Doug Tan. Dana’s older brother. Which means that Batman’s new enemy this year is his girlfriends older brother. But wait, there’s more! Bruce Wayne’s constantly deteriorating health! Adam has done a great job rebuilding the animated universe and feel in this book, and it’s the kind of book where you just get happy to see a new issues every week or two. Some of the best Batman on the market. 10,000 Clowns has just been an amazing nearly year long arc. My only complaint? Not enough Max! But it’s been made up for with plenty of Old Man Dick Grayson, the new Catwoman and Vigilante, and the best MAD STAN story ever!


34. Green Lantern: New Guardians – Kyle Rayner retcons be damned, this isn’t a bad book. Sure, Kyle’s origin is saved on a nearly monthly basis, but the flip side to that is some great characterization from the most human of the Green Lantern’s, not to mention a supporting cast that more than carries their own weight. Arkillo and Saint Walker have been absolute stars, Larfleeze brought the funny, and Carol has been proving to be a solid mentor. Kyle’s quest to embrace and understand the full spectrum has been intriguing, and while by now we all know the end result, the journey was definitely worth it. Hell, if the retcons hadn’t been so numerous, this book probably would have been ten spots higher.


33. Wolverine and the X-Men – A solid, but slightly inconsistent title, it spent the early part of the year chugging along as Jason Aaron found his footing with the ensemble cast before being sucked into AVX for the middle half of the year, and then got right back to it. He made the most of everything, and was fortunate enough to have some top notch artists like Chris Bachalo, Nick Bradshaw, and Jorge Molina amongst others. We saw aliens gambling on the Phoenix’s path of destruction, Wolverine’s legs get utterly destroyed, oh, and Kitty got pregnant. With Broodlings. And then had a date with Phoenix Five Colossus. Really, it was a pretty damn good year that should especially be remembered for the time Mike Allred showed up to draw an issue and the spotlight turned to Doop.


32. Edison Rex – When Chris Roberson left DC out of issues with integrity and morality, and hitched himself to Alan Moore, I was ready to completely write him off. Then he started writing Edison Rex and all was forgiven. For as much as I don’t like what DC has done to Lex Luthor by trying to make him more like his silver age self, I absolutely love this book that is, really, just that. Edison Rex is a super genius criminal mastermind who has spent his career as the arch enemy of a Superman analog named Valiant. The series opens up with him convincing the hero to commit suicide for the sake of the planet and then deciding to fill that vacuum himself. There’s your pitch, the bad guy wins and then decides to be a hero, but everybody he used to work with doesn’t buy it, and the people still look at him like a super villain. It’s brilliant. It makes me wish he’d had a chance to write actual Superman and not just fill in for JMS and his crappy idea to walk Superman across the country.


31. Birds of Prey – Duane Swierczynski has really carved out a pretty cool niche in his area of the Bat family. It’s Canary’s book, plain and simple, but he makes great use of Babs (who I firmly believe is on the team to help market the book), and told a great Poison Ivy story this year. He makes the most of the unique situation the book is in, where you have the clear Bat associations bringing him in (Night of Owls) as well as all the allusions to Dinah’s days in Team 7. I mean, for all intents and purposes, at first glance, this should be a continuity heavy book, and it never feels like it. Sure, I’m still thinking that Dinah and Babs have an incredibly forced relationship in an attempt to salvage something from the old universe, but it’s never really something focused on, rather, Duane keeps the focus on the stories he wants to tell. Not the ones that would attempt to answer questions in ways that not everybody is going to like. And hey, you know how good DC thought this book was? Katana left the team at the end of the year so that she can join the JLA next month and get a solo book.


And another ten bite the dust! Love it? Hate it? Let me know, and be sure to check back in for more!

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