Tag Archives: best of

The Best of 2014 Has Begun!

the best comics of 2014I attempt to hold off as long as possible before starting to cover all of the “best of” lists for the year. They’re already trickling out from various sites, even with more than a month and 6 Wednesdays to go! We’ll have our list on January 1 out of respect for all of the creators out there.

But, in the mean time, we’ll be covering the horse race in a couple of ways.

  • First, we’re compiling a list of all of the “best of” lists out there. Here’s this year’s list which has already started. The rest of the sites are all the sites we found in 2013. If you don’t see a list on ours, please let us know and we’ll add it.
  • Second, we take all of those lists, and make on master list. We’ve already started it. We mark how many times a series was mentioned, if they were ranked, and then we sort it out to find the best reviewed comic and graphic novels of the year.

To make this all easier to find, we’ve built a handy page where you can find the two posts above and check back for regular updates. You can also find previous year’s coverage.

Any guesses as to who will top this year’s list?

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Which are the Best Comics of 2014?

We’ve been keeping track of all of the “Best Of” lists for 2014, but overall, where do all of this years’ releases stand? Which comics stand out as the best of the best?

Below is all of those lists combined and sorted by the top books (how many times they’re mentioned) and then if there’s a tie, by rankings and alphabetically. There’s also a column with the “ranking” of the book if a list had such a thing.

This list combines regular series, limited series, trade paperpacks, and graphic novels, so it’s not a completely fair comparison, after all some people just reviewed one or the other, but it’s pretty clear which releases have stood out this year.

This will be updated as more lists are added to the tally.

The List of Best of 2014 Lists

awardEach year we gather the various “Best Of” lists focused on comic books and graphic novels. We’ll have ours on January 1, so as to give everything released in 2014 a chance to make our list.

Below is the list of sites (and lists) we found last year. We’ll be focusing on this list, but if there’s a list we missed, either comment below, or send us a message in our contact form.

Here’s this year’s edition:

We’ll be updating this with lists as we see them, but feel free to add lists in the comments or contact us!

Best Comics of 2013

It’s the first day of a new year and so that means we’re doing our “best of” listing of the top comic books for 2013. Generally these are comic books that came out in 2013, though some are from earlier times and I got around to reading them, or limited series that continued. Keep in mind, this is what I have read. If it’s not on here, I just might not have read it.

Best Super Hero Comic – Hawkeye

Hawkeye_2_CoverHawkeye, Marvel Comics’ least likely hit is as cool as the minimalist covers by David Aja. Written by Matt Fraction with art by Aja among others, Hawkeye follows the Avenger and shows him not as his cockiest (as portrayed elsewhere), but instead as a character who isn’t totally sure of himself. The series is a deconstruction of this hero, putting him at the street level, as likely to take on Hydra as his is some petty street thugs who say “Bro” a lot. For that, among many reasons, the comic repeats as the best super hero series out there.

The series has a pulp sense about it, but there’s something with Hawkeye’s simple story telling that makes it stand above the rest. The art, the story, the covers, it’s all there blending perfectly. It doesn’t hurt the series also boasted some of the best single issues this year.

There’s a fantastic mix of action, humor and simple human interaction that pulls together to make it the best super hero comic I’m reading. While last year it got recognition, that seems to have grown this year, with the series earning a devoted following and it’s place on not just this list, but many others.

Runners Up:

  • All-New X-Men - This series seriously shouldn’t work, but somehow it did. Writer Brian Michael Bendis has take an idea, pulling the original X-Men to the present, and gave us a solid series that actually spun into Marvel’s best event of this year.
  • Daredevil – A strong contender for this year’s top spot, and past winner, this series is still one of the best comics on the market. Mark Waid’s writing is fantastic as he took Matt Murdock down further holes (literally and metaphorically), and gave him the struggle of dealing with a real life situation, his best friend’s fight with cancer. Next year will shake up the series, here’s hoping it doesn’t suffer.
  • FF – The art, the writing, this series is one of the craziest superhero comics out there and one with amazing heart.  Not shockingly it’s also written by Hawkeye‘s Matt Fraction.
  • The Superior Spider-Man – Much like All-New X-Men above, this series is a concept that shouldn’t work. Dan Slott has switched Peter Parker with Doc Ock and given us the struggle of a villain trying to be a hero. We all know it won’t last, but it’s been one hell of a fun ride so far.

Best Non-Super Hero Comic – Saga

saga15_coverIt shouldn’t be shocking this Image series by writer Brian K. Vaughan with art by Fiona Staples is in this spot. It’s one of the most decorated comics both this year and last, dominating “best of” lists and it’s well deserved.

The comic is a mix of science fiction and fantasy, following two individuals from opposite warring sides who fall in love, have a kid, and go on the run, pursued by both those sides.

The writing and art are just superb with characters and settings so creative no description does it justice. This is the series I’d hand non-comic readers to show them how amazing the medium can be.

Runners Ups:

  • Imagine Agents – Take Ghostbusters and mix it with Men in Black and you get this series of agents dealing with imaginary friends. The series has been fantastic and I can only want more of it! A feather in the cap for publisher BOOM! Studios’ stellar year.
  • Mind MGMT- Matt Kindt is an amazing writer and this series involving mind controlling secret agents is trippy and exciting as they come. The art is his usual water color like style, unique and recognizable in today’s comics. The comic feels like Ah-Ha’s Take On Me music video, with psychics and world traveling, aka, it’s awesome and the best comic you’re most likely not reading.
  • Revival- Did you hear zombies are still big in entertainment? This new series follows a town locked down by the CDC after the dead come back to life. What’s the cause? What exactly is going on? Little by little we’re finding out, but the focus is really the realistic characters dealing with this strange world.
  • Think Tank – This series deserves more attention. Published by Top Cow and written by Matt Hawkins with art by Rashan Ekedel, it’s real world take and well thought out scenarios and technology make it eerily prescient and a reflection of what the world might really be like when it comes to war in the near future.

Best Limited Series or One Shot – The Wake

The Wake #4 coverScott Snyder is a hell of a writer and the first part of this maxi-series wrapped up recently, leaving me with my jaw on the floor. A story that spans centuries, to say more would be to ruin the shock.

What I can say is the series’ first part evokes classic horror movies and spins out into something completely different by the end. It’s just so good and I don’t want to ruin it.

Snyder is backed up with art by Sean Murphy whose gritty pencils add to Snyder’s scary (good) scripts. Catch up on it now before the next volume begins.

Runners Up:

  • The Black Beetle – Francesco Francavilla, he alone is the reason this series is on this list. The Black Beetle is a return to fun pulp comics of the past, and Francavilla’s writing and his amazing artist (my favorite of the year) make this an amazing read. Can’t wait to see, and read, more.
  • Buzzkill – Don’t know this one? This limited series deals with a hero who only gets his powers through drugs. The problem is, he’s trying to get clean. A solid series full of ultra violence. I’m hoping for a second volume, which would be interesting considering how this one ended.
  • Demeter – The final release of Becky Cloonan’s indie comic trilogy, it’s just creepy. I’d include The Mire and Wolves which round out the set, but those came out before this year. This shows how many of the best comics are independent comics.
  • Trillium – A max-series from Vertigo covers love across time and space. It’s trippy in ways I can’t describe. The series mixes heart and sci-fi in awesome ways. Luckily we have many issues to go over the next year.

Best Graphic Novel/Trade Paperback – March Book One

March-cover-100dpi.105340March is a brilliant accounting of Congressman John Lewis’ story for new generations and those with similar struggles around the world. This amazing biographical graphic novel is written by Cong. Lewis in collaboration with co-writer Andrew Aydin and New York Times best-selling artist Nate Powell. The result is one of the best graphic novels in recent memory and an amazing depiction of history that’s accessible to all.

This graphic novel is a piece of history, capturing the Congressman’s experiences testifying to a movement whose echoes will be heard for generations. This isn’t just a graphic novel for folks to pick up and enjoy, it’s a work of art and history that should be in every school teaching about our country’s modern struggles.

Seeing as it’s only the first book in a trilogy, expect it to be on a few more lists to come.

Runners Up:

  • Battling Boy – Comics should be fun and Paul Pope’s throwback series featuring a hero sent to Earth as a test is modern Jack Kirby. Just an amazing read with fantastic art, it was a pleasant surprise. The worst part was, I wanted to read more than just this first volume.
  • Boxers & Saints – Covering the Boxer Rebellion, this dual graphic novels take the perspective of the Chinese rebels and the Christian missionaries. Again, an excellent look at history, it’s two books that can be read apart or together.
  • The Fifth Beatle – The only book so far to look at the life of Beatle’s manager Brian Epstein, it’s writing is terrific and art amazing. It was a tough decision as to which would be the top graphic novel, and this one was a close second. Just a fantastic read for comic fans, history fans, music fans and Beatle fans. It’s both uplifting and touching. It’s being made into a movie, so expect buzz about this for many more years.
  • Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes – Matt Kindt’s graphic novel follows a series of crimes and the detective who deals with them. There’s a twist at the end that makes this amazing. Add in Kindt’s unique and beautiful art, and it’s easy to see why this makes the list.

Best New Series – The Superior Foes of Spider-Man

SuperiorFoesOfSpiderMan_1_CoverMarvel’s “superior” line of comics has been just that and stands out as Marvel’s best line of comics and this series is a challenger for the best one of the line. Following Spider-Man’s C-list (ok maybe D-list) villains, we get to see things from their perspective.

The series so far has been amazing with writing that’s entertaining, fun, funny and witty. These are bad guys, and for some reason, each issue, I come out rooting for them to succeed. I also feel bad for them, because they’re just not all that good at their jobs.

Eventually Spider-Man will stop being superior, and I hope when that time comes, we don’t see the end of this, because the comics stands out as one that lives up to it’s title, it truly is superior.

  • Afterlife With Archie – I live an Archie comic! In fairness I dig Mega Man, but this is the first that features the Riverdale cast. That cast is now dealing with a zombie outbreak, but this adult Archie Comic has shown the publisher is willing to try things and the series is boosted by the art of Francesco Francavilla.
  • The Bunker – I had to include this digital series which comes to print next year. It’s apocalypse meets Lost story is beyond amazing and art is fantastic. More individuals will hopefully see what the buzz is all about when it comes to print next year, published by Oni.
  • The Fox – The second “Archie” comic in the list is a throwback character that’s fun and entertaining. This is a superhero comic that’s great for the family.
  • Letter 44 - Charles Soule is the hardest working many in comics, writing so far 7 comics a month in 2014. This is his creator owned series that mixes politics and science fiction. Two issues in, I want more!

Best Single Issue – Hawkeye #11

hawkeye #11 coverHawkeye is the top superhero comic of the year, and this issue alone would qualify it to be on any “best of” list.

The issue is told from the perspective of Hawkeye’s dog Lucky, who is now also known as Pizza Dog. The issue is from the dog’s perspective using iconography and muffled dialogue instead of the normal dialogue we’d expect.

I like the fact the comic is original and switches it up from the main character as quite a few issues in this series did this year. But, it’s a pretty high profile comic series focused on a dog! Gutsy and fun at the same time how can you not like that? To say the issue was unique this year is an understatement.

Overall, it’s a brilliant issue on so many levels, it’s just an amazing comic and one of the best for many years. The fact that it spun out a fanbase for the dog says enough.

This was a top issue of a series that had many stand-outs.

Worst Single Issue of the Year – Avengers: Endless Wartime

Avengers_Endless_Wartime_Vol_1_1Marvel announced it was releasing new original graphic novels and this was the much-hyped first release from the creative team of Warren Ellis and Mike McKone. If it’s goal was to gain new readers, boy did it fail.

While the comic has an interesting start, the set-up is much more impressive than the follow through. Underneath the shallow exterior, there’s a greater debate about modern war, both the outsourcing of the battles fought and the pressing a button to kill your enemies thousands of miles away through drones. Overall, the disconnect and dissociation of modern war is a recurring theme throughout the comic. That’s great, if it was discussed more than some glancing dialogue here and there. Unfortunately, that very important discussion and worthwhile exploration is presented with bad guys that seem like something out of a kids cartoon and in a narrative that at times doesn’t make much sense.

The art is average, matching a blah story. I think the character designs are a bit off from what we’ve seen and not always consistent throughout the book and the monsters that are battled aren’t quite clear as to what they are.

It’s the only purchase this year I’ve wanted my money back.

Best Event of the Year – Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: City Fall

180px-TMNT_25AI’ll admit I generally ignored TMNT for much of the year, but this event made quite a few lists and I sat down and read it all over the holiday and holy crap did I miss out. The series follows Shredder’s power grab of New York City and the Turtle’s attempt to stop them.

But the best thing was all of the moments that just made it awesome for long tim TMNT fans. With the appearance of Bebop and Rocksteady, Leonardo turning evil, and so much more, this was the culmination of a long time build up.

This has drawn me back in and has me reading the series now each month to make sure I don’t miss out.

Runners Up:

  • Battle of the Atom – Marvel has been not doing it for me when it comes to events so this one which brought X-Men from the future to deal with the X-Men from the past was a pleasant surprise.
  • Forever Evil - DC has been hit and miss, but this event has been pretty solid. Especially when you look at it as commentary between the dark and gritty villains of modern times versus the cleaner villains of yesteryear
  • Harbinger Wars – Valiant’s major event was full of damage, destruction and set the universe off in a whole new direction. this is how you do an event right.
  • Transformers: Dark Cybertron – IDW’s Transformers series have been awesome and this is the culmination of long going stories. Thankfully we have much to go to enjoy.

Best Genre of the Year – Indie Comics

Is it a “genre”? We can argue about that, but lets face it, 2012 was a year we saw major creators shrug off the big two, instead launching creator owned series at other publishers, digitally or through Kickstarter. We saw more comics, in more varieties, on more subjects and more ways to consume them, than any time before. It really wasn’t the year of the Big Two, this was a year that we as consumers could continue to find something that’d fit our tastes.

With more channels for distribution and more ways to produce comics, we’re in a golden age where the old ways of publishing no longer hold back the creativity that abounds.

Runners Up:

  • Zombies – Zombies have become a cultural phenomenon, lead marching shuffling along by The Walking Dead. Revival changed the genre a bit, with so many releases giving us so many other spins and perspectives. The genre has crossed over in to movies, television, books, toys and more. We’ll see how soon before it all comes grinding to a halt and rots away.
  • Digital Comics – Digital first. Digital exclusive. Web comics. This was the year digital comics began to break through. Lead by the platform comiXology, we also saw some creativity in how to sell digitally by Viz and Archie. This distribution method will only grow in 2014 as more ways to gain revenue from it are explored.

Best Surprise of the Year – Image’s continued come back

image comicsImage celebrated it’s 20th anniversary in 2012, and it came back in 2013 and kicked even more ass. It continued to do so this year, adding to the previous year’s hits with even more hot new series. Each release seemed to create bigger and bigger buzz with constant sell-outs. And should it be any shock this was the case?

Image drew some of the biggest talent in the comic industry as creators continued to throw off the shackles of the big two and instead released quality indie comic after indie comic. Pretty Deadly, Manifest Destiny, East of West, Black Science and more debuted in 2013 and that’s on top of The Walking Dead, Saga and many more of the hit comics they already published. It’s truly impressive how much quality and buzz the publisher generated with each release.

They also pushed the distribution envelope selling DRM free comics directly to fans, though questions do remain about that whole announcement.

There was something for everyone this past year from Image, and they continued to move beyond their reputation of big guns and pecks comics, instead bringing us varied titles that at times pushed the medium.

Biggest Disappointment of the Year – Kickstarter

KickstarterLast year’s “publisher of the year” showed its issues as projects were delayed, vapor ware, or not as advertised. Also add in issues on the creator end of folks pledging high amounts and then disputing the charges, at times getting the goods. Add in the platform’s unwillingness to step in to deal with either situation and you get a tech company showing off it’s greed. What was once the toast of the town has shown its cracks which will only get worse.

The crowdfunding platform became a way for creators to raise funds for projects, only to get picked up by publishers, at times delaying projects and leaving bad tastes in the mouths of fans. If all creators were held to the standards of some of the best users of the system, there’d be no issue, but over 90% of the projects I’ve pledged to have been delayed or non-existence only creating angry backers and fans.

These issues have lead this site to rethink what we promote and how we do so.

Oh how the mighty have fallen.

Publisher of the Year – BOOM! Studios

comics-boom-studios-logoA lot of thought has gone into this one and we discussed much of this on this week’s radio show. To me, the publisher of the year is BOOM! Studios and its imprints, KaBOOM!, BOOM! Box and Archaia.

For me a publisher should be more than just the comics it produces, and this one is, but lets start there. BOOM! has show diversity with it’s various lines, with interesting and fun series that span many genres and comics that are good for adults and kids. The publisher has licensed comics and original series that’s something for everyone.

Then there’s the fact they’ve expanded their market. The publisher merged with Archaia, adding to their impressive line-up and talent. Then there was the release of 2 Guns in theaters, a success for the first time movie maker. Then there’s the deal with 20th Century Fox that sees the comic creator as an IP generator for the movie studio. All solid moves that would be impressive to themselves.

Finally there’s the diversity of staff. The company has show diversity works. The amount of women working for the publisher in numerous positions is amazing and in an industry that has a bad reputation when it comes to inclusion, this was the publisher that showed it’s possible and leads to success.

It’d be hard not to applaud the company and they deserve recognition for their hard work that’s paid off.

Runners Up:

  • IDW Publishing – IDW is a publisher that thinks outside of the box when it comes to building it’s readership and that’s why they’re on this list. Not only did they make a fantastic move in including their comics in Transformers toys, an event first issue even, but they also used QR codes to get those toy collectors to check out their app. Also they’ve repackaged their My Little Pony comics to better sell in big box retailers, again something new and interesting as far as marketing. With this, plus some other moves when it comes to partnerships, expansion into tv and movies and games, the publisher is thinking bigger than the comic market.
  • Dark Horse – Conan, The Massive, The Strain, the Goon, Dark Horse Presents, Mind MGMT, Ghost, Buzzkill and I could go on and on. Dark Horse gave us some amazing monthly series, but also collections of modern comics as well as classic comic archives. Consistently some of the best comics out each week and some fantastic gems.
  • Monkeybrain Comics – The digital comic publisher is showing digital works and their move to collect series and get them into print second is a fantastic model I expect many others to try out. Add on top of that an expansive library with enough different titles to appeal to anyone, it’s not a surprise they’re getting accolades across the industry.
  • Titan Books – While none of their books made this list, this publisher would easily fill the 5-10 slots for most of these categories with amazing comics such as A1 (my top anthology), Death Sentence, Chronos Commandos, Tomorrowland and more. They have a second wave of books announced for 2014 that sounds like they’ll be competing for publisher next year and challenging for many of these categories.
Related articles

Which are the Best Comics of 2013?

We’ve been keeping track of all of the “Best Of” lists for 2013, but overall, where do all of this years’ releases stand? Which comics stand out as the best of the best?

Below is all of those lists combined and sorted by the top books (how many times they’re mentioned) and then if there’s a tie, by rankings and alphabetically. There’s also a column with the “ranking” of the book if a list had such a thing.

This list combines regular series, limited series and graphic novels, so it’s not a completely fair comparison, after all some people just reviewed one or the other, but it’s pretty clear which releases have stood out this year.

This will be updated as more lists are added to the tally.

The List of Best of 2013 Lists

awardEach year we gather the various “Best Of” lists focused on comic books and graphic novels. We’ll have ours on January 1, so as to give everything released in 2013 a chance to make our list.

Here’s this year’s edition:

We’ll be updating this with lists as we see them, but feel free to add lists in the comments or contact us!

Listen to Graphic Policy Radio’s Best of 2012 Episode!

Last night we had our “Best of 2012″ episode of Graphic Policy Radio. The whole team was on, Brett, Elana and Kenneth. Who and what did we pick as the best comics of 2012? Listen in and find out!

Listen to
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A New Episode of Graphic Policy Radio Tonight!

GP Radio pic MondayIt’s Monday, and a new episode of Graphic Policy Radio hits the air tonight at 10pm airing on BlogTalkRadio.

This Monday, we’ve got the full team on the show and we’re discussing the Best Comics of 2012!

2012 was a banner year for comic books and fans could find more varied comics and be able to read them in more ways than any time before.

So join the team and hear what we thought were some of the best of the best and make sure to join in on the conversation and let us know your thoughts as to what were your picks for the best comics.

Join the chat on Twitter, @graphicpolicy, or call in at (619) 768-2952 to chat.

You can find Brett’s picks already and also see what the comic community as a whole thinks.

Best Comics of 2012

It’s the first day of a new year and so that means we’re doing our “best of” listing of the top comic books for 2012. Generally these are comic books that came out in 2012, though some are from earlier times and I got around to reading them, or limited series that continued. Keep in mind, this is what I have read. If it’s not on here, I just might not have read it.

Best Super Hero Comic – Hawkeye

Hawkeye_2_CoverHawkeye, Marvel Comics’ least likely hit is as cool as the minimalist covers by David Aja. Written by Matt Fraction with art by Aja, Hawkeye follows the Avenger and shows him not as his cockiest (as portrayed elsewhere), but instead as a character who isn’t totally sure of himself. The series is a deconstruction of this hero, putting him at the street level, as likely to take on Hydra as his is some petty street thugs who say “Bro” a lot.

The series shares a lot with last year’s winner Daredevil. Both have a pulp sense about them, but there’s something with Hawkeye’s simple story telling that makes it stand above the rest. The art, the story, the covers, it’s all there blending perfectly.

There’s a fantastic mix of action, humor and simple human interaction that pulls together to make it the best super hero comic I’m reading, but also one of the best debuts of the year. Hopefully the comic finds the audience it deserves as accolades are poured upon it, but if nothing else, this is a series that’ll be looked upon as at the top of it’s game, no matter the year.

Runners Up:

  • Daredevil – Last year’s winner is still one of the best comics on the market. Mark Waid’s writing is fantastic as he took Matt Murdock down holes (literally and metaphorically). We again questioned Murdock’s sanity and Waid was able to mix in pulp fun with super heroes and not make it all seem silly when we got our reveal at the end.
  • Idolized - Aspen Comics’ first entry into true super heroes was a comic I looked forward to reading each month. Centered around a reality tv super hero contest, we’re given a character we can relate to, cheer on as well as scold all at the same time. The art is top notch and here’s hoping it lasts for quite some time.
  • Batman - Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have put together a Batman run that’s up there with the best. This year they’ve given us the Court of Owls and Talons which are villains that feel appropriate for Batman but also his equal in every way.
  • Wolverine & The X-Men - Wolverine is now the headmaster at a school that’s as chaotic as him in beserker mode. Each issue I walk away smiling after a few laughs. In a year of uneven “X” books, this one has been consistent fun.

Best Non-Super Hero Comic -The Massive

massivepromoNYCC_2_swimWriter Brian Wood‘s DMZ won last year, so is it any surprise his new series by Dark Horse is this year’s winner? This to me is not just the best non-super hero comic, but also the best “new series” and “best series” of the year. It’s that damn good. It’s the future after a massive environmental disaster and aboard a ship the Kapital is a crew of environmental activists on a mission to survive as well as find their sister ship The Massive.

The comic is as good as they come, with an amazing cast of characters that we slowly get to learn more about as layers pealed apart issue by issue. The world is destroyed and while familiar, the environmental devastation has left it so that we’re kept on our toes.

The cast of characters are some of the most realistic and interesting in any comic out there right now. It’s diverse and varied in backgrounds, motivations, attitudes, everything. There’s someone for everyone to cheer for and hiss at. We have heroes and villains and motivations that still remain murky and elusive.

The Massive is the one series I immediately read upon release no matter what I have going on. The downside is, I have to wait a month to do so between each issue.

Runners Ups:

  • Saga - Brian K. Vaughn has written some modern classics and Saga looks like it’ll be right up there with his past works. An epic in the making that’s a mix of science fiction and fantasy following two enemy soldiers who fall in love, have a kid, and go on the run. Each issue keeps you on your toes as to what expect next.
  • Revival- Did you hear zombies are still big in entertainment? This new series follows a town locked down by the CDC after the dead come back to life. What’s the cause? What exactly is going on? Little by little we’re finding out, but the focus is really the realistic characters dealing with this strange world.
  • Mind MGMT- Matt Kindt is an amazing writer and this series involving mind controlling secret agents is trippy and exciting as they come. The art is his usual water color like style, unique and recognizable in today’s comics. The comic feels like Ah-Ha’s Take On Me music video, with psychics and world traveling, aka, it’s awesome.
  • Rachel Rising – Another horror comic that’s fantastic each and every issue. Another people coming back from the dead comic that again keeps you on your toes as what’s going on plays out slowly over each issue. This is a slow build, page turner.

Best Limited Series or One Shot – Princeless

PRINCELESS_TPB_CVRFairy tales are rather played out. Girl needs a prince to rescue her from the tower and to do so, the prince must defeat the dragon. Then, comes in Princeless, which takes all of that and skewers it with some of the best female empowering political/societal skewering this year. The lead is a female black princess out to save her sisters. It’s girl power and it’s awesome.

The sly commentary about society and gender roles makes this first volume and it’s two one-shots stick out. The fact it’s done in a package that’s as fun for kids as it is for adults, makes it one of the best of the year.

The comic has gotten praise, landing on a few other lists and even receiving Eisner nods, all the accolades are deserved. We get a second volume in February, and you better pre-order it to make sure you get a copy.

If you’re looking for a comic to hand to your kids, female or male, this is a great one to start, but lets be honest, it’s so entertaining, you’ll be the one reading it.

Runners Up:

  • Point of ImpactImage Comics released this series which is only in it’s third issue, but it’s basically Law & Order, the comic book. The story is as solid as you’d see on that show and should be a great crossover to draw fans of that television series over to comic books. If you’re a fan of that tv show, even a casual one, go grab this series if you can find it.
  • Stumptown Vol. 2Greg Rucka brings back his detective series for a second volume. This one focusing on musicians and the drug trade. The series is still playing out and man it’s good. The series also decided to try some things new visually, like having you turn the pages during a car chase. Solid story and innovative art to boot!
  • The New Deadwardians – Vertigo’s limited series is the British upper crust meets vampires and zombies. Did I also mention that it’s a detective thriller?
  • Archaia Free Comic Book Day – You have to give Archaia props for this free comic, not just due to the excellent content within, which included Rust, The Return of the Dapper Men and more, but it also was a hardcover comic. The absolute best presentation and giveaway for Free Comic Book Day ever.

Best Single Issue – Batman #5

Batman #5 CoverScott Snyder‘s Batman epic event Court of Owls was an amazing read, giving us a villain that seemed the equal or better of Batman. Something that hasn’t been felt in a long time. But, the story was helped by Greg Capullo‘s art. If you need evidence of how important that was, then go back to this issue. Though it came out in the beginning of the year, it’s stuck with me since.

Batman is captured and dumped in the Owls’ maze. As he’s drugged and descends in to madness, we’re taken with him. Before we know it, we’ve turned the issue on it’s side, then completely upside down as we go down the spiral with our hero. We’ve scene that sort of visual before, in movies, on television, but the tactile holding of the book, instead of the passive watching ads an element that drags us into the experience.

It’s a perfect example of the marriage of story and art and why comics are an entertainment medium unlike any other.

Worst Single Issue of the Year – Thunderbolts (Marvel Now) #1

Thunderbolts_01_CoverI’ve loved Marvel’s Thunderbolts in ever version we’ve gotten over the years. Even their latest time travel spin, while silly at times, ended well enough to justify the trip. Marvel NOW! was supposed to be the best creative teams creating some of the best comics, but this first issue is such a stinker, it’s sad and I wonder how it got approved.

The issue is the very non-creative gathering of the members of the team. In a movie, it’d maybe be 10 or 15 minutes, and possibly covered in the opening credits. Add on top of it we wonder how General Ross is getting from place to place, the entire issue is poorly plotted, thought out and just beyond boring. Add in a waste of art talent and I can only hope things get better going forward, cause this was really bad.

It’s a shame to see such cool character be used so poorly with a set-up that is predictable and at the same time, make no sense. The fact this is supposed to get people excited and draw them in since it’s Marvel NOW! just makes it even more of a travesty.

Runners Up:

  • Deadpool (Marvel Now) #1- Deadpool versus zombie versions of past Presidents. The story arc is silly and just pointless. This is not Deadpool at his best.
  • Happy! (any issue) – If there was an award for the most use of “fuck” in comics, this would win. If that’s supposed to be edgy and entertaining, I’ll pass.

Best Graphic Novel/Trade Paperback – Economix: How Our Economy Works & Doesn’t Work

Economix_Cover-300x426Take a complicated subject of economics and most people’s eyes glaze over just before they fall asleep. What this graphic novel does, is take a complicated and dense subject and makes it easy to understand, and somehow does it in an entertaining fashion.

The graphic novel begins in the early stages of economics and follows through to modern times, including the fiscal meltdown over the last decade. Not only are the philosophies that impacted the thought of the time discussed, but the major events of the time are added in to give us a perspective as to how it all fits together.

The graphic novel isn’t preachy at all, instead it allows us to make up our own mind as to how it all works together. We’re presented with the history without the personal opinion or perspective (for the most part).

This is a graphic novel that should be a required reading in all high schools and colleges. Not only does it educated, but it also entertains. In one read, I learned more on the subject than all of my education put together. For that the graphic novel deserves accolades.

This is a prime example of how graphic novels and comics have transcended their origins and are more than silly heroes in tights.

Runners Up:

  • My Friend Dahmer – Want to know the “origin” of Jeffrey Dahmer? Well here you go, directly from a person who knew him in high school. This graphic novel will leave you scratching your head and disturbed at the killer and monster he was, but also wonder how anyone could of stopped it.
  • Jerusalem: Chronicles from the Holy City – Guy Delisle’s latest about his time spent in Israel. The commentary and perspective of his experiences is amazing and really gets you to think. A travel guide like no other, Delisle’s work is beyond entertaining perfect for comic and non-comic fans alike.
  • Harvey Pekar’s Cleveland and Not the Israel My Parents Promised Me – These are some of Harvey Pekar’s last works before his passing this year. Both are as personal as they come discussing his faith and growing up in Cleveland. Masterpieces both.
  • Building Stories – The most praised release of the year is a collection of stories in a box the size of a board game. The interconnected stories make you rethink what comic books are and could be.

Best Writer of the Year – Brian Wood

Brian WoodThe Massive would put Wood in the running this year, but add in his run on Conan the Barbarian and his release of Mara and Brian Wood is the best writer this year. Each series is varied in topics and characters, but what they all have in common is strong characters.

Wood, throughout everything he’s written has focused on that. They voices he writes through run through the spectrum, and through it all he tackles some great socio and political commentary. His writing is a commentary in the world we live in or a world we could live in.

All three series are some of the top of the year, and with Star Wars on the horizon in 2013, there’s a good chance he’ll be towards the top of the list then too.

Runners Up:

  • Mark Waid – Waid is a master writer turning anything he touches into gold. He’s got Daredevil, last years best series, and take the reigns on the Indestructible Hulk, plus there’s his work at Thrillbent. I can’t wait to see what he releases in 2013!
  • Scott Snyder – The man has injected excitement and new ideas into Batman, giving us new bad guys that seem like a threat and the return of the Joker. On top of that there’s his work on American Vampire and Swamp Thing. 2013 sees Man of Steel from DC comics, we’ll see if he can give us the Superman we deserve.
  • Matt Kindt – Mind MGMT has gotten Kindt on to the list. The story and how it’s laid out, with fake ads and small details in the margins makes it a series that sucks you in, in every way.
  • Brian Michael Bendis – The man wrapped up his epic run on the Avengers and gave us the All-New X-Men after juggling the epic battle of Avengers Vs. X-Men. Probably the most controversial person on the list, he’s taken concepts that shouldn’t work and some how have made them so.

Best Event of the Year – Court of Owls

Court of OwlsScott Snyder’s Batman event has given us a threat that really makes us think Batman has met his match. Talons, undead assassins are unleashed on Gotham to cleanse it and bring in the reign of the Court of Owls a secret society that’s been around since the cities’ earliest of days.

We got some retconning and wedging in of the concept, but it all works. Snyder pulled it off giving us a hell of an exciting story and one I wish went on longer. It’s only downside was it was too short, but I’m sure it’s ramifications will be felt in the long run, setting up a plot line for Batman that’ll be around for years.

Runners Up:

  • Rotworld – Swamp Thing and Animal take on the Rot, which might consumer us all. The least talked about event and story-arc of the year is one of DC’s best.
  • Avengers Vs. X-Men – It should of been horrible, but every battle, every fight was entertaining and filled up that small part of us that want to see comic characters beat the crap out of each other. Oh yeah, and the Phoenix returned. It gave us the new Marvel status-quo, so it was also one of the most important story arcs.
  • Uncanny X-Force: Final Execution – Will Kid Apocalypse turn evil? This is what the series has been leading to, and in the end it’s all a comment on nature vs. nurture.
  • Return of Valiant – Valiant is back! And while the comics are all over the map in quality, they’re all good to great. 2013 sees the publisher’s first big events, so we’ll see where they land next year. Welcome back Valiant, you’ve been missed!

Best Genre of the Year – Indie Comics

Is it a “genre”? We can argue about that, but lets face it, 2012 was a year we saw major creators shrug off the big two, instead launching creator owned series at other publishers, digitally or through Kickstarter. We saw more comics, in more varieties, on more subjects and more ways to consume them, than any time before. It really wasn’t the year of the Big Two, this was a year that we as consumers could find something that’d fit our tastes.

With more channels for distribution and more ways to produce comics, we’re in a golden age where the old ways of publishing no longer hold back the creativity that abounds.

Runners Up:

  • Zombies – Zombies have become a cultural phenomenon, lead marching shuffling along by The Walking Dead. Revival changed the genre a bit, with so many releases giving us so many other spins and perspectives. The genre has crossed over in to movies, television, books, toys and more. We’ll see how soon before it all comes grinding to a halt.
  • Digital Comics – Digital first. Digital exclusive. Web comics. This was the year digital comics began to break through. Lead by the platform comiXology, we also saw some creativity in how to sell digitally by Viz. This distribution method will only grow in 2013 as more ways to gain revenue from it are explored.

Best Comic Tie-In of the Year – The Walking Dead Episodes 1 to 5

wd gameThe game has gained numerous accolades in the video game industry. It released as episodes, mimicking comic books and the television series it built off of. You make choices and try to survive in a world filled with zombies, with your decisions impacting the story. It also was a break through for episodic video game content, something toyed with, but not really ever gaining the acceptance it deserved.

This is the video game based on a comic book that didn’t suck. Something rare when it comes to video games. A second volume is out in 2013, so expect this to make numerous lists then too.

Runners Up:

  • Marvel and DC Lego Sets – How awesome are these? I have all the sets released, plus the key chains and some of the limited edition figs. All are awesome, and there’s more out in 2013!
  • The Walking Dead (Facebook game) – Take The Walking Dead and make it a fun social game you can play on Facebook. A fun time sink that plays off it’s source material perfectly.
  • Minimates – Kind of like Lego figures, but more points of articulation and so many choices to make. There’s over 50 sets out and the characters and properties they cover is massive. A great niche form of toys and one I got in to in 2012.
  • Marvel Universe – The out put this year seems to have dropped of these G.I. Joe like toys. But, the quality was up there. Topping the list for me was my Guardians of the Galaxy toy set with Rocket Raccoon and Groot!

Best Comic Book Related Movie/TV Show – The Walking Dead

WalkingDeadSeason3Poster-610x903This was a juggernaut. The television series based on the Skybound/Image Comics comic dominated television, putting up ratings that haven’t been scene before in a cable television series. It crushes the competition in key demographic categories and only seems to be getting bigger and bigger.

It become a focal point between AMC and television cable companies in their battles this year. It also has driven people to pick up the source material. The Walking Dead television series has done what no other movie or television series based on comics has done, it’s driven people to buy comics. The Walking Dead trade paperbacks have been in the top ten of lists for much of the year and stores can’t keep them in stock.

Issue 100 of the series was one of the biggest selling comics of the last decade driven by the popularity of the television show. It’s back in February and I’m expecting only bigger ratings and fandom to come.

Runners Up:

  • Comic-Con Episode IV: A Fan’s Hope – A celebration of fandom, the movie took us to San Diego Comic-Con and helped us understand the buzz and comic fans, never talking down about or making fun of them. A documentary that truly celebrates it’s subject.
  • Avengers- The movie was flawed, but Marvel and Joss Whedon pulled off what many thought was impossible, pulling together Marvel’s characters and creating a cohesive comic movie universe. That gets it to make the list.
  • The Dark Knight Rises- The end of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy fails to stand on it’s own, but it’s a great end cap to the three movies wrapping up it’s themes nicely. The whole is stronger than any individual part.
  • Batman: The Dark Knight Returns Part 1 – The source material is fantastic, so not a shock the animated feature is any less. Now I want part 2!

Best Surprise of the Year – Image’s come back

image comicsImage celebrated it’s 20th anniversary this year, and it came back and kicked ass. Each released seemed to create bigger and bigger buzz with constant sell-outs. And should it be any shock this was the case? Image drew some of the biggest talent in the comic industry as creators threw off the shackles of the big two and instead released quality indie comic after indie comic.

There was something for everyone this year from Image, and they moved passed their reputation of big guns and pecks comics, instead bringing us varied titles that at times pushed the medium.

Biggest Disappointment of the Year – Marvel NOW!

Marvel ComicsI’ll start off by saying there’s some great comics in Marvel NOW!. But, there’s also some real stinkers. We were promised the best creative teams tackling the best characters, but so far, this big shake up has seemed like business as usual. Sure, there’s solid comics, All-New X-Men, Thor, Avengers, but for each good one, there seems to be some turds too.

Add on top of that, a promise of promotion that hasn’t been scene. There was Jimmy Kimmel, but that seemed to make fun of comic books. There was Jeopardy that every contestant avoided like the plague.

What should of been a huge multi-media event instead turned into another launch point aimed at people already reading comics, offering nothing new or different. Just the same old comics, with different creative teams.

Sure there’s the Marvel augmented reality, but do I want to pull out my phone to read a comic? It’s a toy added to what should be the real draw, the comic story and art. This just feels like an accessory to the action figure that’s not needed.

We also have a release schedule that makes me slap my head. Some issues see their fifth issue out in less than two months. Some are a weekly release, some are monthly. This is overload of the worst kind when it comes to releases.

Instead of innovating and challenging what comics are and who reads them, we get what’s come before with some new polish.

Best Character – Callum Israel

callum israelCallum Israel is the main character of Brian Wood‘s The Massive. A former mercenary who worked for a Blackwater like operation, is now the leader of an environmental group trying to find their sister ship in a world destroyed by ecological disaster.

We’re still learning more and more about this character, much like everyone in Wood’s amazing read. We know were he’s from, that’s brought up a lot. We know a bit about his past and partially why he stopped his former life. There’s a gap however between then and when he became an environmental crusader and so much else we don’t know about.

A leader whose mysterious and tough. Israel is a character I want to learn more about.

Runner Up:

  • Batman – A successful comic series and event(s) plus a successful movie that end caps a fantastic movie trilogy. That was followed up about rumors as to how he’ll be handled in the upcoming Justice League movie. This was Batman’s year when it comes to super heroes.

Publisher of the Year – Kickstarter

KickstarterI thought long and hard about who should have this mantle. I decided there should be a couple of factors when choosing the “Publisher of the Year.” I wanted a “publisher” that not only put out solid comic books, but in this digital age, pushed the envelope some how. While not technically a publisher Kickstarter did both.

Kickstarter is a crowdfunding platform where individuals put up projects and people submit pledges to help those projects meet their goals. Pledges may contain various gifts back, like digital comics, printed comics, posters, prints, t-shirts or more.

Kickstarter is now roughly the third largest publisher in it’s output each month, but what’s more amazing is that it’s democratized the creation process. In the past the publisher was the one that decided what was printed and what the masses could read. Sure there was indie comics, but for the most part the the decision process was top down.

Instead, Kickstarter is a publishing platform, allowing creators to pitch their ideas and creations and allow the masses to decide what gets funded, and by being funded, what gets printed. It destroys the creation process and throws out the out-dated beliefs.

Comics you’d never see otherwise are now getting created and in to the hands of fans. Some of the most buzzed about projects are starting there first and then going to publishers. Some of the industry’s biggest creators are going there to get their projects out there.

Kickstarter has really gotten the ball rolling in a change that will fundamentally change the entertainment we enjoy and will eventually lead to a publishing process years from now we don’t even recognize today. What’s more amazing is, it’s just getting started.

Runners Up:

  • Image Comics – Image has had a banner year, getting past stereotypes of the type of comics you’d expect from them and drawing in some of the industry’s biggest creators. It gave us some of the most talked about comics of the years, creating some of the biggest buzz. All of which during it’s 20th anniversary.
  • Dark Horse – Conan, The Massive, The Strain, the Goon, Dark Horse Presents, Mind MGMT, Ghost and I could go on and on. Dark Horse gave us some amazing monthly series, but also collections of modern comics as well as classic comic archives.
  • Viz Media – I don’t read Manga. I’m not the biggest fan, but I’m checking it out more and more. Why Viz Media makes the list is because they’re changing up revenue models. Not only did they launch Neon Alley, but they have given a digital Manga platform which you can pay for or read digital comics by watching ads. Add in a deal with CafePress and this is a company willing to try new things and see what works.
  • Archaia – Archaia has put out some of the most beautiful comics this year. They went digital first, which I think hurt a bit, but the comics themselves are fantastic. They really have something for everyone and if you want to get someone in to comics, this is a company to start with. The presentation alone will get people to change their minds. When I think of Archaia, I think quality.

Which are the Best Comics of 2012?

We’ve been keeping track of all of the “Best Of” lists for 2012, but overall, where do all of this years’ releases stand? Which comics stand out as the best of the best?

Below is all of those lists combined and sorted by the top books (how many times they’re mentioned) and then alphabetically if there’s ties. There’s also a column with the “ranking” of the book if a list had such a thing.

This list combines regular series, limited series and graphic novels, so it’s not a completely fair comparison, after all some people just reviewed one or the other, but it’s pretty clear which releases have stood out this year.

This will be updated as more lists are added to the tally.

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