It’s only a little over a week until the new year and this is the time when everybody starts making lists. Since I love making lists I decided that this year I will
torture you with post my own as well.
I will do lists for comic books, movies, TV shows, maybe performances (TV and film), maybe theater? I never get around to reading the new books or listening to the new music (I live in a world of my own as far as books and music go) so I’m afraid I will have to skip that.
Now let’s start with
2012 Comic Books Top Ten
A couple of rules: I included new and continuing series and minis as long as I’ve read more than 3 issues. For that reason - and that reason only - some of my current faves like Lil’ Gotham, Ghost, Happy, Avengers Assemble, Journey Into Mystery and All-New X-Men didn’t make the list (this year!).
Honorable mentions: Buffy The Vampire Slayer Season Nine (Dark Horse), Captain Marvel (Marvel), Conan the Barbarian (Dark Horse), Husbands (Dark Horse), Punk Rock Jesus (Vertigo), The Ray (DC), Saucer Country (Vertigo), Superman Family Adventures (DC), Sweet Tooth (Vertigo), Wolverine and the X-Men (Marvel).
10. The Massive (Brian Wood, Dark Horse) - an epic post-apocalyptic political drama, Wood’s sharp storytelling finds its strength in the complete lack of the supernatural. The apocalypse is not zombies or aliens or creepy mutated creatures - it’s in us.
9. Fables (Bill Willingham, Vertigo) - the continuing fantasy from Bill Willingham is now past the 100 issues mark and keeps being engaging, thanks to its rich and diverse cast of characters. The Cubs in Toyland arc masterfully focused on some new blood, and it was mesmerizing.
8. Stumptown, volume 2 (Greg Rucka, Oni Press) - there is no one in modern American comic books who writes cop drama as well as Rucka, and in continuing the story of his unusual, flawed heroine he’s writing some of the best action you will ever see in a comic book without ever forgetting the humanity of the characters behind the car chases.
7. Daredevil (Mark Waid, Marvel) - there are times when I feel like Waid’s Daredevil is, right now, the best superhero comic book out there. I’ve ranked a few higher, but those titles are explorations of different sides of the classic superhero while Waid’s book is the sum of all classic Superhero themes, atmospheres and iconicity brought to a perfect combination. It’s dark, but also human and occasionally amusing, it doesn’t take itself too seriously but it has excellent dramatic gravitas, it manages to be exciting with simple, straightforward storytelling.
6. Mind the Gap (Jim McCann, Image) - 6 issues in and I’m still not quite sure what is going on, but my god I keep wanting more. McCann was able to build up a very intricate world from very little that sucked me in from the first page. The “real” world is so specific (I don’t think there’s ever been a comic book in which the main characters are crewmembers of a real-life Broadway show), and the supernatural aspect is intriguing and still so mysterious. This is definitely the book to read if you want things to fuck with your mind.
5. Fatale (Ed Brubaker, Image) - Brubaker’s noir with hints of H.P. Lovecraft is quite the intoxicating experience. The world Brubaker creates is so familiar to anyone who’s even half a cinephile (and I’m a full-time cinephile) and when he introduces new elements…well, let’s say that I jumped on my seat more than once while reading this. The presence of the (literal) beasts of Hollywood is palpable and the sense of doom and lurking terror is terribly haunting.
4. Rachel Rising (Terry Moore, Abstract Studio) - Terry Moore’s book is bar none the best horror book on the shelves right now. Moore took a fairly simple story and setting (witch trials, an ancient curse) and worked it into his vision of everyday small-town American life. It’s quite unsettling, the way his characters seem to react in the most mundane way to the most unusual and horrific happenings, and the icy black and white art makes it even more compelling and absorbing, and quietly terrifying.
3. Hawkeye (Matt Fraction, Marvel) - really all I should write about this book is: FUN. Lots and lots of fun. So we live in a world where grim and gritty Batman at the movies makes loads of money and where DC’s almost entire offerings are filled with nothing but unending angst. So Marvel says, fuck that, let’s have a book with a buck naked Hawkeye jumping around and a teenage girl who searches his junk and a whole issue dedicated to a puppy and trick arrows and soft pastel colors. The result is just…just do yourself a favor and read it.
2. Animal Man (Jeff Lemire, DC) - you’ve probably noticed a lack of DC in this list, yet if you know me at all you will know that I’m a DC fanboy through and through. So what happened? The reboot happened of course. I don’t feel comfortable in the DCnU. If I decided to include old comics in this list it would probably be filled with old DCU titles I’ve read this year for the first time. But the harsh reality is that what DC has to offer since it gave the finger to 30 years of continuity is not for me. All my favorite characters are either gone or drastically changed and after trying ALL the new books I just decided to give up because every month it became more and more painful. But I am reading Animal Man. Oh man am I reading Animal Man. This is the kind of book I long for from DC. While officially labeled New 52, I don’t see how this isn’t the continuation of what Grant Morrison started. And while Lemire is not as twisted as Morrison, he gets the character so well. Buddy Baker is a father first, then a hero. And he’s a hero because he’s one hell of a good dad. Lemire’s storytelling is so perfectly balanced between the familiar and the supernatural, the innocent and the creepy. It’s actually quite gory but it never feels grim and gritty just for the heck of it because there’s so much heart in these characters.
1. Saga (Brian K. Vaughan, Image) - you just can’t get better than this. Vaughan creates worlds with just a few choice words and suddenly everything in them makes perfect sense, including TV-headed robot sex. That’s what being a great storyteller is, you lure your reader in and even the most absurd of fantasies are acceptable because they’re never gratuitous, there’s an universal human truth behind it that is what really keeps you going back for more. Sure the creatures look amazing (Fiona Staples is a goddess) and the mythology is intriguing, but the core of the book, its heart and soul and its strength are the wonderfully lived-in romance of Marko and Alana, their complicity, their feral love for the life they made together. It’s beautiful, and moving, and if you get space battles, robot sex, a spider lady, dismembered ghosts and an unicorn sorceress out of it as well hey why the heck not.