Top Five Comic Books of 2012:
- Daredevil (Mark Waid and Paolo Rivera) – Mark Waid pushed aside the grim and gritty tone that has been with Daredevil since the 1980s and went back to the swashbuckling fun of the original character concept. Rivera’s smooth art, which is very reminiscent of David Mazzucchelli, compliments Waid’s efforts and really puts this book on everyone’s To Read pile.
- Saga (Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples) – I picked up this comic because it looked like something different and that’s exactly what I got. It’s one of those fun comic book experiences in that it goes beyond the mainstream and does something totally off-the-wall. I tried to describe it to my friend and fell short, coming up with something like it’s a “sci-fi fantasy with elements of Romeo & Juliet”.
- Batman (Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo) – To me, Snyder’s Batman is the big book that drove the new DC 52. His take captures everything you want in a Batman book and delivers a smart, emotional, and respectful story for such an iconic character. I was also impressed by Capullo’s efforts on this book, as I had always seen him more as a cartoonist, but he’s definitely taken his work to a higher level on this book.
- Wonder Woman (Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang) – Azzarello, who I normally find difficult to “get”, has done a great job on the reboot of this classic character along with artist Cliff Chiang. And what impressed me the most with Chiang’s art was the subtlety that he could communicate with what seemed to be such a simple art style. A fun super hero book with its roots in mythology that isn’t afraid of shaking things up a bit to tell a damn good story.
- Aquaman (Geoff John and Ivan Reis) – I’m just as surprised as you that Aquaman made it onto my Top Five list. While there’s a lot of attention for DC’s flagship book, Justice League, Geoff Johns has done incredible things with the King of the Seven Seas. He’s given Aquaman a solid background, grounding him a bit more in his humanity, a great expanded secondary cast, and along with Ivan Reis has produced one of the finest ongoing comic books of the year.
Top Five 1980s Reprints Of The Year
- The New Teen Titans Omnibus Vol. 2. Yes, this pick is from the Distinguished Competition, but it’s a wonderful volume that lavishly reprints some amazing stories by Marv Wolfman and George Perez. You can just smell the teen angst as soon as you open this thick hardcover. This omnibus reprints New Teen Titans #21-40.
- Avengers: The Trial of Yellowjacket. This Trade Paperback revisit Jim Shooter’s controversial run on the Avengers and the fall of long-standing and founding member Hank Pym. Shooter really had it out for poor, old Hank as he was turned him into a wife beater, a madman who callously took down surrendered villains and a traitor to his own team. Fortunately, Roger Stern helps out as he comes in as the new regular writer for the last three stories and has Hank pick up his pride and leave the Avengers with a bright future. This trade paperback collects The Might Avengers #212-230.
- Incredible Hulk: Pardoned/Incredible Hulk: Regression. Bill Mantlo and Sal Buscema had a great run on the Incredible Hulk in the early 1980s and really pushed beyond the TV stereotype. Incredible Hulk: Pardoned reprinted issues #269-285 while Incredible Hulk: Regression reprinted issues #286-300 and Annual #12.
- Alpha Flight Classic – Volume 3. The last volume reprinting John Byrne’s legendary run with Canada’s mightiest heroes, including the famous creator crossover that had Byrne move over to the Incredible Hulk and had Bill Mantlo and Mike Mignola take on Alpha Flight. This Trade Paperback reprints Alpha Flight #20-29 and Incredible Hulk #313.
- Avengers: West Coast Avengers: Zodiac Attack. Despite the Marvel Premiere line coming to an end, this volume is a reminder of what it delivered. While we’re not talking classic comic book stuff, this run by Steve Englehart and Al Migrom is some great fun from the 1980s. Over 200 pages of nostaglica fun that retells the battle between the West Coast Avengers and the Zodiac! This collection reprinted West Coast Avengers #25-30, Annual #2 and Avengers Annual #16.
Top Five TV Shows Of The Year
- American Horror Story – Not as subtle as season one, but definitely more visceral horror. Season two tells a completely different story, but what’s fun is watching some of the cast from season one in different roles. While season one haunted you and creeped you out, season two will shock, horrify, and ultimately give you a good fun scare.
- Dexter Season 7 – While this season of Dexter started a bit slow, it quickly picked up steam as it hit the mid-season mark. Guest star Ray Stevenson was amazing in his role as mobster Isaak Sirko. While the main story line was great and really had some clever twists and turns, I was impressed with how the show has started to spend some time on Dexter’s supporting cast. I can’t wait for the eighth and final season!
- Arrow – I was pleasantly surprised by the show since I was never a fan of Smallville. While I was concerned about the production, the storyline and the acting was impressive and drew enough from the comic book to remain faithful without watering him down.
- Supernatural Season 8 – Even though I feel this show is losing steam as it struggles to find an overall direction, it’s still a lot of fun. As there’s only been nine episodes aired so far, so it’s hard to judge the season as a whole, but some of the episodes have been great stand-alones, like “Citizen Fang” and “Bitten”. The cast and crew work so well together that even for an episode that might be a bit off, you’re still well served.
- Walking Dead Season 3 – I’m sneaking this one on the list not to praise it, but to ask what if it was actually good? I’m sorry, but this show has more plot holes and missteps than The Dark Knight Rises. I love the comic book and really wanted this show to be just as brilliant, but it has failed miserably. Straight forward dumb plot points fail to be picked out by the production staff. For example, how does Merle and a couple of gunmen from Woodbury take down a National Guard convoy? Seriously. Or how about when Rick and company need to get out of Woodbury when they’re behind enemy lines? Instead of sneaking out, they use smoke grenades to draw attention to themselves and fight their way through the front gates? It simply does not make sense and immediately pulls you out of the story.