Creators Pick The Best Comics of 2012
Writer: Near Death, Point of Impact
STUMPTOWN – Greg Rucka and I share a love of the private eye genre, and I feel like he and Matthew Southworth are making this book just for me. The fact that you all get to read it too is just gravy.
DAREDEVIL – Mark Waid gives a master class in how to revamp a classic character. His take on Daredevil doesn't contradict or retcon anything that came before it, yet the book is incredibly fresh and takes the character in a totally different direction than we've seen in the past decade. And Waid is perfectly complimented by artists like Chris Samnee and Paolo Rivera.
NOWHERE MEN – Eric Stephenson's been talking about this book for almost as long as I've known him (going on ten years now) and the book was totally worth the wait. Eric's decision to barely reveal anything about the concept or characters ahead of time has really paid off, resulting in an unpredictable book filled with interesting ciphers, brought to life by Nate Bellegarde. It's gonna be fun watching this unfold.
SAGA – I love that Brian Vaughan never goes back to the same well. Runaways is as different from Y The Last Man as Ex Machina is from Pride of Baghdad. And Saga, his Image series (featuring breathtaking art by Fiona Staples) is totally different from all of them. It's fun, big, world-building on an interstellar scale.
ROCKETEER: CARGO OF DOOM – I'll buy anything Chris Samnee draws, even if the story sucks. But thankfully, that's not an issue here because Mark Waid's the writer and he and Samnee cranked out a beautiful, fun, surprising pulp adventure.
Writer: Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E., Mind MGMT, Men of War
Terminal by David Cirillo. This is serialized fiction at its most fun. Cirillo is publishing this fiction like the best kind of TV show with a new "episode" every couple months. He's doing it all digitally via Amazon and he's got three episodes up to date and I can't wait for the next. It's got everything I like in it – super-spies, world-wide conspiracy, and assassins that can kill you with a whisper.
The Sixth Gun by Bunn & Hurtt. Who's doing fun, well drawn, colorful super natural western stories with a giant mummy as a main character? Nobody but Brian and Cullen! I love this book, if anything, just for the wonderful use of sound effects.
Underwater Welder by Jeff Lemire. A real towering achievement by Lemire. He's done a lot of fantastic work (Sweet Tooth, Essex County) but this one is even better than those. One of comics most unique and important voices and this is his best to date.
Darwyn Cooke's Parker books. I love these. Classic crime stories illustrated by one of the greatest cartoonist of our times. For pure storytelling ability and fantastically spare art, these books can't be beat.
This is How You Lose Her by Junot Diaz. Reading anything by Diaz is like eating candy. I love it. No one puts more seemingly obscure references in their writing but if you grew up reading comics and science-fiction and had a Planet of the Apes lunch box…you'll get them all.
MICHAEL AVON OEMING
Writer/Artist: The Victories, Artist: Powers, The Mice Templar
David Mazzucchelli's Daredevil Born Again Artist Edition. What can be said about this one that hasn't been said in an audible gasp or sigh of contentment. IDW did an amazing job of putting together this beautiful book that is a time capsule as much as a creative masterpiece. I remember the days of red-line overlays, white out and punch holes on a page. Reading this is as if you were in the production room at Marvel during the 80s. As a an artist, it allows me to study David's work meticulously and as a fan, it allows me to relive the awe I had in this book as a kid. Bravo.
Oms en Série By Mike Hawthorne. So this is a weird one because I haven't actually read it! It's only in French right now, but even without being able to read it, I could follow the familiar story and was completely engulfed in the strange world. That's a compliment not only to Mike's art, but the writing as well. This is an under-appreciated work that I think is pure genius and a breakthrough for one of the finest artists in the industry, Mike Hawthorne. This book is pure fantasy, a daydream.
Blacksad by Juan Diaz Canale. Yet an another painted anthropromorphic detective noir novel. This series has always and will always blow me away by transcending every genre it touches.
Parker: The Score by Richard Stark and Darwyn Cooke. Hard boiled, unapologetic noir. Stark's writing and Darwyn's art and adaptation sets a new bar with its retro feel and forward-moving storytelling. The Parker graphic novels have become the prime example of how literature and comics meet together to create a new creative machine that is better than all of its parts. Darwyn makes some bold choices here, and for me, they always work.
Hellboy Library Edition Volume 5. Really, need I say more? Duncan Fredrego's art, Mike Mignola's art and writing mix together a visual and narrative lore that reaches back into Welsh mythology and punches you in the face with Kirby fantasy, somehow able to be both kinetic and poetic at the same time. The oversized volume on this only ads to the epicness that is Hellboy. I just love holding this book in my lap, cutting off my blood circulation and dozing off with dreams of black shapes and fantastic places. Seriously.
Writer: Hack/Slash, Revival
This year was a pretty "jaded" year for me, so as much as I hate to admit it, I just didn't love like I shoulda. There was a lot of stuff that I heard was great that I just couldn't get myself to pick up. I will rectify this in 2013.
BUT, I did really enjoy some comics that I think deserve some love, and I'm gonna go out of my way here not to use this a place to plug comix books by me or my friends and family, even if they did make some of my favorite stuff. So, neurosis aside…
THE SIXTH GUN from ONI, by Cullen Bunn, Brian Hurtt, Tyler Crook & Bill Crabtree. This is such a consistently great comic that it makes me mad it's not more popular. Hm. That "jaded" thing is sneaking in! This year saw some of the best issues of the book (which, admittedly, I read in trade form) which constantly builds from the very simple concept of "six cursed guns that everyone in the ol' West wants." Excellent character work, and panel-to-panel storytelling. Reads like a "how to" of cartooning.
IDW's TRANSFORMERS RELAUNCH. I'm consistently amazed with these books. I've always had at least an affection for Transformers, but I hadn't regularly read their comics since I was 12. But that changed with the intriguing "space soap opera" relaunches, More Than Meets The Eye, and Robots In Disguise. While the Michael Bay movies show just how dull, incoherent, and uninteresting transforming robots can be, the two IDW books give us political drama, epic sci-fi action, and, yeah, I'm going to say it, intense character exploration, all while making comics that can be shared with kids. Great templates for all long-standing "boys action" properties, and superhero comics too.
HAWKEYE from Marvel, by Matt Fraction & David Aja – Another well done, back-to-fun superhero book from Marvel, in the vein of the equally great Daredevil by Mark Waid. Sometimes you just want to read about good natured, well meaning dudes fighting evil, in clever stories that take full advantage of the comics medium, and HAWKEYE delivers.
ARCHER & ARMSTRONG from Valiant, By Fred VanLente and Clayton Henry – Speaking of that thing that HAWKEYE does so well….Archer & Armstrong plays to all the things that have always made Fred VanLente's work so great. It's pulp hero action, with heart, smarts, and though it's all-ages, it's also got an edge of satire that not every reader will (or needs to) pick up on. That's the way ya do it.
IMAGE COMICS in general – 2012 just seemed like a banner year for Image, with a whole lot of attention on Walking Dead, and a host of creator owned hits every month. Image successfully launched a space opera, which features a loving married couple, and also a giant ogre with dirty balls. I mean… Jesus… that's pretty incredible. Not a cape, crossover, or dead sidekick to be seen.
BLACKSAD: A SILENT HELL from Dark Horse by Juan Diaz Canale & Guarnido – Just so damn good. Crime and kitty cats. I liked it so much, I went as ol' Blacksad for Halloween, even though most people thought I was "some kind of Thundercat."
Writer/Artist: The Goon, Billy The Kid's Old Timey Oddities & The Orm of Loch Ness
My top 5 of 2012
Special acknowledgement as mixer: Redbull
There you have it, folks – a lot of ideas to add to your reading lists, and a slew of hooch to drink while you read. Happy new year, and enjoy comics!