Thought Balloon: Comics’ Best Bits 2012
2012 has been a tumultuous year for comics. It’s been the the proving ground for DC Comics’ reboot while the Marvel Comics relaunch is just beginning. Meanwhile, their most trusted creators are distancing themselves from the corporate superheroes in favour of creator-owned books.
To close out 2012, here are twelve of the best things comics gave us this year. Some are thoughtful, some are random. Hey, there’s a reason they’re called funny books, y’know.
N.B. There’s nothing spoiled here that hasn’t run the gamut of the internet already but key moments from Buffy and The Walking Dead comics are discussed.
After leaving our TV screens in 2003, Joss Whedon made comics the new home for Buffy Summers, from 2008’s canonical continuation of the TV show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer Season Eight. Now midway through Season Nine, Buffy is proving as topical as ever with this harrowing decision from Buffy Season Nine #6.
There hasn’t been a new Batman villain in years that had the same permeating menace of the Court of Owls, the secret society that’s been running Gotham from the shadows. In a story that began last year, Batman discovers what he thought he knew about Gotham was wrong. In 2012, the Court of Owls went for an all out assault on Batman that played out across multiple DC Comics.
Most Shocking Death
One really should be used to the unexpected at this point in The Walking Dead, but there are still some characters whom we can’t help feeling will get a reprieve for the duration of the series. In the milestone 100th issue, Robert Kirkman proved us wrong again by killing off everyone’s favourite, Glen.
J. Jonah Jameson comes face to face with Spider-Man after they’re both kidnapped by insurrectionist, subterranean moloid creatures.
Matt Murdock’s new girlfriend tries to get him to admit to his secret identity.
Long-time token gay character Northstar took the next great stride forward for representation in mainstream comics by marrying his partner in Astonishing X-Men #51. What was genuinely astonishing about this was the number of imitation weddings by gay couples it inspired.
And at Dragon Con in Atlanta…
Randall Munroe over at XKCD outdid himself in August with comic #1110, the immersive Click and Drag. We wasted a lot of potentially productive time that day. But for the effort that went into the strip when all we expected was a little science based joke of the day, it was worth it.
A moment the mildly obsessive have been clamouring for was realised in 2012 in the mini-series Spider-Men, when Peter Parker met his alternate-reality counterpart, the Ultimate Spider-Man. In the Ultimate Universe, Peter Parker is dead but his long-deceased first love Gwen Stacy is still very much alive…
Best Use of a Power/Skill
You’ve seen the Jeremy Renner sketch on SNL that takes the piss out of Hawkeye for being a guy who shoots arrows, yeah? Well, that actually aired after issue #3 of Hawkeye, one of the best new series of 2012. It’s an action packed issue that’s equal parts tongue-in-cheek and badass, wherein the heroes named Hawkeye fight crime with a bunch of trick arrows – including the Putty Arrow, Tracer Arrow, Sonic
2012 was the year of Scott Snyder. He injected fresh blood into the pages of both Batman and Swamp Thing to wide critical acclaim. His own ongoing series from Vertigo, American Vampire continues to be one of the most dependable reads each month, weaving the life story of a sadistic, drifter vampire and those who hunt him through characteristic eras of American history. A companion mini-series about Dracula, Lord of Nightmares was also published this year. Furthermore, Snyder’s horror mini-series Severed, which concluded this February, is the scariest story you’ll read this year, bar none.
Chris Burnham brings some of the best aspects of the superstar Frank Quietly’s work to Grant Morrison’s scripts on Batman Inc, with a fantastic sense of movement all his own. In a community that worships the collaborations of Morrison and Quietly, Burnham has been a revelation.
Emma Rios draws with the most beautiful, sweeping pencils that instantly catch your eye and then her panel breakdowns and her sense of movement pull you along with the story so that you can’t help but continue to read. Rios is dynamic, visually stunning and remarkably adaptable.
Last week, Karen Berger, long-time editor at the Vertigo imprint of DC Comics resigned her position, bringing to a close over twenty years at the helm of comics that pushed the envelope and re-defined the medium more than once. Berger launched the careers of comic book writers and artists who are considered superstars of the form today and brought the world some of the most beautiful and amazing stories, like The Sandman, Hellblazer, V for Vendetta, Fables, Preacher, The Invisibles, 100 Bullets, Y: The Last Man and American Vampire. Take a bow, Ms. Berger.
Best Ongoing Series
In the same year which Scalped ended and Saga began, Batman Inc returned from hiatus with its post-modern slant on sixties Batman conventions. Featuring a worldwide crime-fighting franchise of multi-ethnic Batmen, and Bruce Wayne’s snarky son Damian as Robin, Batman Inc is the most fun comic book experience available, replete with the knowledge that it’s the antithesis of what everyone thought a Batman comic should be.