Hello folks, it’s that time of the year where all of us so-called “experts” come out and pick the finest moments of the year. In this piece. Cardinal Gary and I will be tackling the DC Universe. (I”m more of a DC reader, so I picked 10; he’s got 5.. the bum.) And no one had more sacks this year than Scott Snyder. While comic writing superstar Geoff Johns should receive an immense amount of credit for making Aquaman viable — hell, that comic could very well be the New 52’s most consistent — Snyder’s takes on Swamp Thing and, particularly, Batman had far too many memorable moments. With that, let the games begin!
GHG’s Best 10 DC Comics of 2012:
10. Green Lantern Corps – This was the year where I felt Corps finally caught up with the primary title. Peter Tomasi should be more than credited for making Guy Gardner the most interesting Lantern of the bunch. This year’s Green Lantern event “Rise of the Third Army” has been just the shocking emotional roller-coaster ride for Guy as it has for the handcuffed-to-Sinestro Hal Jordan and heartfelt arrival of Simon Baz over in Green Lantern. Guy’s inner-workings of the ever-sadistic Guardians (resignation; off-beat beef with Batman) made GLC all the more compelling. The only two issues I’d have with the title are the recent lack of John Stewart (sure, there was a whole arc about the Alpha’s murder rap on Stew, but now his dealings with Fatality have played second fiddle) and Fernando Pasarin’s art — while attractive, perhaps a bit too — doesn’t live up to what Patrick Gleason accomplished in years past.
9. Demon Knights – Perhaps the most underrated DC Comic of the Year, DK was DC’s panel-to-page version of “Game of Thrones” — with that throne very well being Camelot. While the often jumbled mix of characters could leave one spastic, there were far too many great moments of medieval charm and wit. Kudos to Paul Cornell for his twisted modern.. uh.. twist on King Arthur’s legacy!
8. All-Star Western – This book had an underworld look at the origins of politic in Gotham City in the 1800’s and somehow found its way to effortlessly tie-in with the “Court of Owls”. Yes. Awesome.
7. Batwoman – Who’d a thunk a Greg Rucka-less Batwoman book would succeed? Well, having J.H. Williams III on the art is apparently all you need. Acclaimed Star Wars comic writer W. Haden Blackman has also done quite the bang-up job lending a hand, with only a slip up in its latest issue #15. Batwoman also incorporated the help of one Diana Prince — after a bit of a hella-scuffle — and an assortment of both enemies and allies, to give Katie Kane.. oh.. a bit of her own Gotham. If the series lost a step through the way at all, it was during the non-linear story arc (around issues #8-10) that made following Katie and the 10 other less significant characters a tad more difficult. And, it’d be nice to have Williams III drawing the entire run, despite serviceable performances from both Trevor McCarthy and Amy Reeder. But, hey, that’s just Moody being selfish. ‘Tis the season!
6. *tie* Batman Inc./Justice League Dark – These titles actually almost didn’t make the list, since Grant Morrison’s Batman saga didn’t actually continue until about 7 months ago with arguably one of the year’s single best issues in the 5-Bible deserving Batman Incorporated #1 (Volume 2). That issue alone, in addition to some other high peaks, such as Talia’s relentless domination and the latest issue, #5, where the writer establishes the dark future of a Damien Dark Knight. Only five issues of Inc. and still enough to hit the Top 10. Justice League Dark has also gone through a similar situation when rising superstar Jeff Lemire took over with issue #9. Since, Lemire has made JLD the finest team book in all of DCU, involving John Constantine and Zatanna in a compelling love triangle, in addition to bringing back Frankenstein to his forefront. Typically magic books — this side of Brian K. Vaughan’s Doctor Strange and Rick Remender’s Doctor Voodoo — haven’t been my cup of tea; now, thanks to Lemire and such friends like Deadman and Black Orchid, I’m starting to think it’s a preference.
5. I, Vampire – Never in a gazillion years did I think I’d be reading a vampire comic in DC. Sure, Marvel had the great Gene Colon on Tomb of Dracula, and then succeeded with blood-midnight-fangs in both Blade and Captain Britain & the MI:13. However, a twisted love-story between a raging, shape-shifting vampire bitch, Mary (Queen of the Damned!) and her just as aloofly crazy boyfriend/foe/boyfriend/foe Andrew Bennett, in addition to some detective time with Bats, Van Helsing and a war between vampires and zombies (!!) certainly made I, Vampire the breakout New 52 book of the year. Don’t forget Andrea Sorrentino’s amazing artwork either. I haven’t read a series that visually establishes both pace and mood quite like this in some time. I, Vampire ain’t ya sista’s Twilight fugazi, that’s ferrsurre.
Cardinal Gary: 5. Green Lantern Corps – Funny how your #10 was my #5, as GLC had barely just snuck onto our lists. I can honestly say (’cause you’ve been known to say things dishonestly? -Editor) that I only got myself to read this title during crossover events. As a monthly book, it doesn’t usually hold my attention– as I could care less about what Guy Gardner or John Stewart are doing on a monthly basis . That being said, GLC is often great when it ties into Green Lantern. I suppose, the shit just hits the fan when the stakes are higher (Gardner “quitting,” Stewie murdering planets again). Tomasi’ and Pasarin have found the right stride in the past 6 months.
4. Aquaman – While Justice League didn’t live up to the enormous expectations of Johns dream-teaming with legendary artist Jim Lee, at least DC’s “flagship” writer and CCO more than made up for it with Aquaman?!? No longer the running joke of comics — and “Entourage” — Arthur Curry proved that orange-clad scales can be bad-ass too. In fact, there was arguably no bigger bad ass in of the DCU than Aqua…unless you’re talking Curry’s arch-enemy, Black Manta. In addition to Johns handing the pitchfork-bearing blondie his own “Joker,” the writer also doused Atlantis’ First Son with his own “Avengers,” as well, in The Others. Along with stellar art from Ivan Reis and Joe Prado, Aqua’s girl Mera also proved to be one of the comics’ breakout players. Must read, indeed.
Cardinal Gary: 4. Green Lantern: I love Green Lantern! How could you not have this book on your list, Mr Moody? Hal Jordan is simply a great character. Geoff Johns does an amazing job — as usual — and it don’t get any better than Doug Mahnke’s artwork. As far as the whole 52 reboot is concerned, I’m not crazy about Hal being Sinestro’s bitch and not having his own ring. Hal is at his best when he can let loose, and it’s a little tough to do that with the depowered shit he has now. As for the current crossover event, “Rise of the Third Army”, I’d say this title is getting the best of it– despite the quite generic-looking Third Army. And, yo, it’s about time those Guardian Smurfs are showing their true colors. When I first saw the cover of Green Lantern #0, you know the silly one with Johns’ new character, Simon Baz, holding a pistol (!?!), I couldn’t help but contemplate how truly dumb that was. If he has a ring, what does he need a fricking gun for? Apparently he doesn’t trust the ring yet? OK. Maybe time will tell if Simon is here to stay or just another Lantern to kill off later.
*tie* 3. Animal Man/Swamp Thing – Well, Gary, I think Green Lantern was that book I read first every time I got it and enjoyed it but it just never stood out to me this side of the two Simon Baz issues. You were right about Sinestro’s bitch, although that did deliver some awkwardly great moments between the two, as well. Moving on, I hate to be that guy with all of the ties (well, no I don’t — there were 12 worthy book’s this year, bitch!), but no two titles are more deserving of a Top 3 “tie” than these two. Animal Man writer Jeff Lemire and Swamp Thing scribe Scott Snyder are best friends, both books have their own events — “The Red” and “The Green”, which both tie larger in scope to “Rotworld”. Both books have had consistently solid art (despite both Travel Foreman and Yanick Paquette’s constant comings and goings), and there’s no surprise both writers really stole the limelight in 2012. It’s hard to pick a better book because both writers take such a distinctive difference in their approach (Lemire, with a seething, deliberate humor and menace; Snyder with a trepid, thrilling tale of dramatic psyche).
Cardinal Gary: 3. The Dark Knight – This book could easily fall to #4 on my list if not for David Finch’s amazing artwork and the tie-ins it has had with Batman. I’m loving the current Scarecrow arc.
2. Wonder Woman – Are you kidding me? I think Christopher Nolan’s movie titles may have a little something to do with that. While I have heard that TDK title does read better (having Gregg Hurwitz on it now may have something to do with that), I just can’t get myself to read yet another Batman title. I dropped Batgirl, Batwing, and the Birds of Prey — which all started off great for the first 8 issues or so — and I’m still enjoying Batman & Robin (although I guess not enough to make the Top 10). As for my second choice, Wonder Woman has just been a tremendous book through and through. No writer has been able to capture a seamless blend of modern Diana Prince and her deep mythological parameters like Brian Azzarrelo, and artist Cliff Chang has easily been the star of this show.
Cardinal Gary: 2. Justice League – What can I say, Jim Lee is my favorite artist of all time! Anything he draws I will read, add that to the fact that Johns is writing it and you have a home run. It’s true there’s been a few fill in artists during Lee’s run, but, then again, you can’t go wrong with guys like Tony Daniels and Gary Frank (two of the best in the biz). Reintroducing us to the JLA roster hasn’t been that easy — but admiringly effective — and throwing some new (Graves) and old (Darkseid) baddies has kept things interesting. Now with this week’s new crossover with Aquaman, “Throne of Atlantis”, hitting comic shops to rave reviews in Justice League #15, things are looking bigger and brighter than ever! Keep it rolling, fellas!
1. Batman – It’s that simple. Snyder erased fond memories of an epic Grant Morrison run in two stories alone: “The Court of Owls” and “Death in the Family”. Just when you thought it was epic, the most haunting portrayal of the Joker since Heath Ledger arrives and pulls us all back in. Snyder’s Clown Prince of Mayhem’s latest mindfuckery over the Wayne troupe has my fingers shaking on every page — or every swipe — evidenced in his ever-masterful GCPD takeover in Batman #13 (after the heart-clenching conclusion of “The Court of Owls” in #12). Above all else, Batman #5 may be the the creative team’s finest point, as only artist Greg Capullo could take Bruce down the same riveting, hallucinogenic path. The entire issue is a nightmare. For fans, the entire 2012 run of Batman has been a dream.
Cardinal Gary: 1. Batman – Make that two for two– I love this book! I’ve been a fan of Capullo’s art since his days on Spawn. He had big shoes to fill back then stepping in for Todd McFarlane, and filled them well. Now, the guy’s simply better than ever. And, you know what: I wasn’t originally to keen on the Owls storyline and crossover, but then it just landed. It was pretty incredible. Talk about a great new villain for the Bat (sorry, can’t spoil him. Shhh…) and the tie-in also proved great for the Nightwing mytho, as well.”The Court of Owls” took the Batman to his breaking point mentally and physically in spectacular, gut-wrenching fashion. After all that, here comes the Joker! Geesh! Bravo, Mr. Snyder for such a great year.
Well, there you have it. 2012 was indeed The Year of the Bat. Hopefully next year will be the Year of the Fish…….