Sunday 30 December 2012

Comic Zone - My Favourite Comics of 2012

2012 was the year that I really got into comics. I guess this can mainly be attributed to the DC New 52 launch that took place towards the end of 2011 - I decided to try a handful of these titles, and whenever I was in London at the brilliant Gosh Comics picking up my standing order I couldn't help but pick up other books that grabbed my fancy. I have stuck with only a few of those DC titles, but in the process have discovered some fantastic other titles, which have become firm favourites throughout the year. Many of these have been, or soon will be, released in collected TPB format and are well worth picking up. I should add that most of these are not suitable for kids but most of them would not be a problem for young adults.

Batman (DC Comics)

This title featuring my all-time favourite 'superhero' was right at the top of my wants list when DC relaunched back in 2011. Having already read and loved Batman: The Black Mirror and American Vampire I was already a huge fan of Scott Snyder's writing, but with the relaunched title he has taken Batman to a completely different level. The Court of Owls story is one of the best Batman stories I have read in a long, long time and must surely rank amongst the best ever (aided by the great artwork of Greg Capullo). And if that wasn't good enough, Snyder has continued to show amazing form with the latest Death of the Family story arc. In addition, I have also enjoyed his run on Swamp Thing, a character I had not read much of prior to the New 52 - in fact, although I am not a Superman fan I may even be tempted to buy his Superman comics that are due to start in 2013.

Batgirl (DC Comics)

It takes a lot of talent to be able to successfully give a well-loved character a new breath of life, but writer Gail Simone has talent by the bucket load. Barbara Gordon has spent the last twenty plus years in a wheelchair as a result of the Joker's attack in The Killing Joke. This did not prevent her from continuing to help in the war against crime in Gotham City, in her role as Oracle, with Stephanie Brown eventually donning the Batgirl costume. However, come the New 52 and Gail Simone's Batgirl is now a physically rehabilitated Barbara Gordon, and we follow her first attempts as the reborn Batgirl. This was a move that had many fans (of both Oracle and Stephanie Brown) up in arms and the title could quite easily have bombed. However, Gail Simone brought such depth to her character, and the dialogue was so well written, that she very quickly won over the detractors, making Batgirl one of the most eagerly awaited DC titles each month. I was gutted when I read that Gail had been replaced as writer, and even more elated when it was announced recently that she was back on.

Wonder Woman (DC Comics)

As a child I loved the Lynda Carter Wonder Woman TV series, and own the DVD boxset, but I have occasionally struggled with the comics. However, writer Brian Azzarello brought something very special to the New 52 Wonder Woman and I have loved reading the series so far. Aided by the stunning artwork of Cliff Chiang, Azzarello delivered something very different for the Amazonian princess - a horror story steeped in Greek mythology.

Peter Panzerfaust (Image Comics)

Peter Pan, but not as you know it, with the only magic in sight being Kurtis J Wiebe's writing and Tyler Jenkins' artwork. This book is perfect for fans of reimagined classics and fans of wartime stories alike. It manages to be cool and exciting, without glossing over the nastiness of war, and has moments that will bring an emotional lump to your throat. If you're not a fan of superheroes but love the comic medium then get your hands on the first collected volume of Peter Panzerfaust - it's brilliant!

The New Deadwardians (Vertigo)

Whilst all the titles I have mentioned so far are ongoing series with collected editions already available to buy, The New Deadwardians by Dan Abnett and I.N.G. Culbard was published as a limited series and the TPB is not due to be released until February 2013. With so many great comics coming from Image, I looked at the list of new Vertigo titles earlier in the year and though meh! Except that is for this title - I have friends love Abnett's writing and I have loved Culbard's work on the Sherlock Holmes GNs and the more recent adaptation of At The Mountains of Madness. I was not to be disappointed - The New Deadwardians is nothing short of superb in all ways - superb art, superb dialogue (and lots of it) and a superb story, bringing a freshness to the vampire and zombie mythos. Limited series often only get recommissioned if the collected edition sells well so this has to go down as a must-buy for February as I, and many others, want to see a lot more from this team.

Saga (Image Comics)

This is the book that will probably appear on the majority of Top 10 of 2012 lists, and rightly so. Long time readers of The Book Zone will know that I do not read a great deal of space opera science fiction, but there was a great deal of early buzz about this comic and I was lucky to get my hands on a copy of the first issue when it was released. I have loved every single issue, and if I had to recommend one 2012 comic to someone it would have to be this one. And this from someone who is often reluctant to 'believe the hype' - in this case the hype is fully deserved. In Saga, writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Fiona Staples deliver a comic that has everything a science fiction fan could ask for. Don't believe me? You could do a lot worse than head on over to Comixology where you can read issue #1 for free. I think like me you will be hooked. (I should add that of all these titles this is the one that should come with an age advisory warning from me. It includes sexual scenes, nudity, bad language and bloody violence and may therefore only be suitable for older readers).

There have been many more comics that I have enjoyed during 2012, including Thief of Thieves, Supercrooks, Nightwing, The Manhattan Projects, Mind the Gap, Dancer, and Epic Kill but the ones mentioned above ranked above all of these as my favourites of 2012. 


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