2012 was certainly a great year to be a comic book fan, weather you lean more towards DC, Marvel or the independent studios, there’s no denying that all of them gave us plenty of bang for our buck each month, this isn’t a top 10 list but rather just a few of the series I considered to be the cream of the crop for 2012.
CONAN THE BARBARIAN (Dark Horse Comics)
Writer: Brian Wood
Artists: Becky Cloonan, Declan Shalvey, Vasilis Lolos
Before reading this new ongoing series, I was never much of a fan of the Conan character; the old movies staring Arnold Schwarzenegger were okay but never really interested me all that much. That’s all changed thanks to Brian Wood and his stellar series.
It’s a fantastic jumping on point for new readers since it details the life of a young Conan as he begins his adventures across the world, its series that fully embraces its medieval, fantasy setting and offers plenty of adventure, blood, gore and sex.
Brian Wood understands the source material and uses our real world history to present a world that is eerily similar to our own, it just has all sorts of mythical creatures and monsters to see and fight, and the book managed to keep the quality of its art consistent despite switching 3 artists.
All of them have their own style but they feel like part of the same book, it gives the a book a certain consistently in the writing and art department which many series lack, you can’t go wrong by picking this bad boy up.
STAR WARS: DARTH VADER AND THE GHOST PRISON (Dark Horse Comics)
Writer: W. Haden Blackman
Artists: Augustin Alessio, Dave Wilkins, Tsuneo Sanda
A five issue mini series that gave us a look into not only the early days of the Empire, but a look into the society and psyche of the people living under this new regime while delivering a dark and often brutal story starring our favorite space faring evil badass Darth Vader.
W. Haden Blackman truly understands the Star Wars mythos and he manages to weave an exciting and surprisingly deep tale with all sorts of commentary on war, regimes and how power corrupts those who can’t control it properly.
The characters are all fleshed out, even the ones that have only little panel time have a rich history behind them and it perfectly falls in line with the established cannon without contradicting it, it also has some beautifully drawn vistas and amazing battles that capture the spirit of the films and in some areas surpasses them, Vader in particular gets a chance to show of his power and we see why he is so feared throughout the galaxy.
This is a must own for every Star Wars fan, but if you’re just a person who’s watched the movies you can safely jump into this story, its pretty much self contained and you don’t need to have much previous knowledge about the series or lore to enjoy it.
JOURNEY INTO MYSTERY (Marvel)
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artists: Doug Braithwaite, Richard Elson, Carmine Di Giandomenico, Alan Davis and Stephanie Hans
You probably don’t know this but Loki is my favorite Marvel villain, he’s such a slimy, manipulating bastard that you just have to love him, and an ongoing series with him as the main character certainly peaked me interest back in 2011, and I don’t regret picking it up.
While his run may be over, Kieron Gillen proved that he is the guy to write Loki, especially this new, more anti hero, kid version of the character; the writing is smart, funny while being appropriately dark and serious when the situation calls for it.
The characters are so full of emotion and they feel like real people despite essentially being gods, it also perfectly shows what a deep, and multi layered character Loki is, while giving plenty of charm and personality to his supporting cast as well.
The final issue alone is worth it; it reveals much of the back-story behind a certain character without it feeling contrived or convoluted as Marvel tends to do these days while giving an emotional kick to the balls for us readers.
STAR WARS: BLOOD TIES: BOBA FETT IS DEAD (Dark Horse Comics)
Writer: Tom Taylor
Artist: Chris Scalf
Yep, another Star Wars mini series, but I couldn’t resist because it was just so good it would be criminal to leave it out, this along with Ghost Prison more than proves that Dark Horse should NOT lose the rights to the Star Wars comic books, but that’s a rant for another day.
Blood Ties Boba Fett is Dead is the sequel to the original Blood Ties that came out a few years ago, from the title Boba Fett is apparently killed on Tatooine buy a group of elite mercenaries, his brother (sort of) Connor Freeman sets out to discover who really engineered the death of Fett.
There are certain characters in fiction that are just so badass the way they are, changing them can either make them better but more often than not will make them a LOT worse. This is not the case because Taylor gives Fett a humanity that he has lacked before while still keeping him the most badass mercenary ever to live in the galaxy far far away.
If you want yet another series with great and clever writing, jaw dropping art that rivals even Jim Lee (I shit you not) then you have to pick this four issue mini up right now, it is a much better read if you already read the original Blood Ties but it’s not mandatory.
WONDER WOMAN (DC Comics)
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artists: Cliff Chiang and Tony Akins
Wonder Woman has since her very inception been a very difficult character to write, like some of her fellow DC characters, every new writer that comes on has his/her own take on the character, giving her a sort of an identity crisis!
Horrible pun aside, Brian Azzarello knows his Greek mythology and perfectly places it in our 21st century and uses it to great effect for the story, the Greek gods are a….. Pretty fucked up family, with plenty of affairs, murder, back stabbing and all around bad sportsmanship.
Once you put Wonder Woman in this position, you get one of the best comic books of this year, while the revelation that Diana is the bastard daughter of Zeus might have been a cliché at first, it makes all her interaction with people like Hera, Ares, Poseidon all the more interesting.
This is also a pretty brutal book and it shows that while Diana may be viewed as this super hero in the media, she is still a warrior and she isn’t afraid to get her hands dirty on some Greek monsters.
History buffs like me are gonna love every second of reading this, and those of you looking for a strong female character to latch on to should also check it out.
BATMAN (DC Comics)
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artists: Greg Capullo, Becky Cloonan
Im probably the worst person to judge Snyder’s work, since he’s my favorite writer and Batman is my favorite character, but it goes without saying that I did not enjoy any comic book series more than Snyder’s Batman.
A series that combines nearly every interpretation of the character and manages to add some much needed humanity to the character, Snyder manages to pull off something I mentioned earlier, pull off character development for some one like Batman without taking away the badass factor.
While the general plots are written extremely well and go back to the very roots of Gotham itself or in the case of the latest arc explore the disturbing relationship between two mortal enemies, it’s the characters that make this series as great as it is.
Snyder perfectly gets what makes every single character in his stories tick and he writes them with perfect accuracy, never once will you see some one act weird or out of character and it gives the book a certain consistency that many others lack.
But this could not be accomplished without the stellar artwork of Greg Capullo, read issue 5 where Batman gets captured by the Court and you’ll see what I mean.
So there you go guys, my best comic book of 2012. Sure I left out some noticeable ones such as Daredevil and Saga, but those books either started going down hill for me or didn’t really interest me to begin with.
Overall this was a pretty good year for comic books, the independent publishers really stepped up their game and I was surprised to see a lot of big writers like Brubaker and Morrison leave the big two and take a shot with the indie crowd.
It is a shame that series like American Vampire and Greg Rucka’s Punisher had to be put on hold or canceled, especially since the new Thunderbolts is awful and I can’t believe Punisher was canceled for that piece of crap.
What were your top comics of this past year? Don’t forget to comment down below and be sure to come back once I give you the low down on the absolute worst comics of 2012.