As I sit here and welcome 2013 by watching what is shaping up to be an awesomely exciting football contest between Georgia and Nebraska, I find myself thinking about the good comics I read this past year. Well, I think about the bad ones too, but not as much. I’ve been thinking about what to talk about here since I promised Bitter Girl I would find time to do this over my break, and this being the last real day of that break, procrastination seems to have paid off. So, without further ado, my favorite series this year. . .
Honorable Mention :: Avengers vs. X-Men
I had to at least mention this book, cause it was everything my Marvel fanboy heart could have wanted in a mega Avengers vs. X-Men kinda crossover. I remember that Marvel tackled this same subject matter years back, though in a much less world-shaking manner. And lets face it, you put Bendis in charge, things are gonna get shaken up. This was the groundwork for the Marvel NOW initiative, which has been pretty enjoyable thus far, and given us lots of cool books (and some not so cool, but you’ll have that), and also served to wrap up loose ends that had been dangling around since House of M, which seems like it was 10 years ago. So, it did everything that something like Avengers vs. X-Men should do: lots of fun to read, shakes things up, and plus Scott killed Xavier. Tell me you saw that coming.
If I hadn’t picked up Revival just a few days ago, then AvX would be in this spot. This new book from Image has been very fresh and unlike anything I’ve read this year, and that’s important to me. I like to read stuff that makes me sit up and say “Holy Shit!”, and the first issue of Revival had a few of those moments (such as an old lady pulling her teeth out with a pair of pliers). The idea here is that this is a zombie book, but it has a crazy twist in that they aren’t zombies, they’re just like they used to be, like you remember them, except that they’re probably inherently evil, and you just don’t know it until it’s too late. The book reminds me of a TV show in the way it is written, lots of different stories and characters to keep track of, and they all find ways to interact cuz it’s told in a small town. I’ve enjoyed it because it surprises me, and that’s what I read comics for.
Speaking of surprises, here’s Happy, brought to you by Grant Morrison. A washed up ex-cop who sees a cartoon unicorn hallucination and sets out to save the daughter he never knew he had from sadistic kiddie porn mobsters. What else do I need to say?
Now admittedly, I’ve always been a Batman fanboy at heart. He’s the only character that DC has that I really give two shits about. Year One, Dark Knight Returns, No Man’s Land, there’s all these great stories that you can tell with Batman cuz he’s such a fucked-up character to begin with. I could never really get into what Morrison did with Batman during his run, but the New 52 brought a new creative team of Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo (it’s so cool to see this guy drawing a monthly book again!). I read issue one, it was cool, but then I laid off for a while. But along comes the Death of the Family story, and here comes the Joker, and it’s great. It’s a Joker heavily influenced by Heath Ledger’s version, but taken to a whole other level, mostly cuz his face is gone and he wears what used to be his face as a mask. So, yeah, he’s that crazy. Plus, he’s out to kill the family, and he’s crazy smart, and the feeling of dread and tension in this book month after month just makes it so much fun to read. Every month, you’re asking yourself “What’s this crazy villain gonna do next?”, and then you read about it, and it blows your mind, cause your mind doesn’t work that way.
Dude. This book is just fantastic. Brian K. Vaughn’s space opera with a dash of Romeo and Juliet and some breathtaking art that Fiona Staples does on her computer consistently blows me away. You could spend days looking at these pages, and weeks trying to decide what might happen next (you should just stop that and just enjoy it. . . ). It’s really unlike nothing you’ve ever seen/read/experienced before, and Staples is a big part of creating this awesome experience every month. I can’t say enough about her art. It’s ridiculous. It’s gonna be a helluva ride, and it’s something I plan to be a part of for the duration.
Damnit, I’m in love with this book. I look forward to it every single month, and in the end, that’s what comics is about. It used to be the trip to the comic shop, on a weekly basis, but there was that one book that you looked forward to more than the others, that made that trip worth it, and this is that book. Except I download it now. Matt Fraction and David Aja tell street level comics stories, with humor and intrigue and suspense. Billed as ”what Hawkeye does when he’s not being an Avenger”, it usually involves getting into some sort of trouble with gangsters that want the apartment building he lives in, or with helping some damsel in distress, but also trying to set up his home theater system, and above all making things right. And Kate Bishop is always along for the ride, usually bailing his ass out of some sort of peril, helping out whether Hawkeye wants her to or not (so far, it’s a good thing she does). But most of all, here’s a hero that is relatable, that is just a normal dude who happens to be an excellent marksman and has an Avengers membership card. He’s got problems like you and I have. It’s the superhero book for people who hate superhero books, and that’s what makes it good my favorite book of 2012.
So, there you have it. My best of 2012. 2013 looks like it’s shaping up to be a pretty exciting year for comics. The two big comic book films of the last year have turned more people onto comics than ever, and the creators have stepped up their game in turn. Here are some things I’m keeping in mind as the calendar rolls over to 2013. . .
- Superior Spider-Man, which is going to be interesting to say the least . . .
- I keep finding more and more Image Comics in my queue month after month . . .
- I need to give Mark Waid’s Daredevil run a solid chance to impress me . . .
- I also need to check out the new Captain Marvel book. Heard lots of good things . . .
- Neil Gaiman is doing Sandman again . . .
- I really want Uncanny Avengers to be good . . .
- Bendis and Chris Bachalo are doing Uncanny X-Men . . .
- Scott Snyder and Jim Lee are doing a Superman book? Go ahead and sign me up . . .
It looks like 2013 is going to be a good year!
You know, I was going to talk about “Uncanny Avengers” in this space today, but then I got to thinking, why not talk about the book that I really enjoyed the most this week, and that book was none other than “Batman” #13, the beginning of the “Death of the Family” arc and the triumphant return of the Joker!
Now, first things first, I haven’t been following this New 52 Batman, and don’t know too much about the previous 12 issues. I know there is this Court of Owls or something that Batman has been dealing with, I know that for some reason someone cut off Joker’s face (right, like he wasn’t creepy enough to begin with), and that the whole Batman family or incorporated or whatever they’re calling themselves are all accounted for (Damian is still Robin, Barbara Gordon is Batgirl again, etc).
This is essentially a classic Joker story. He arrives in a “Forget Me Not” floral delivery van and immediately proceeds to kill a bunch of cops and steal his face back while Jim Gordon is helpless to stop him. He then starts toying with Batman and Gordon like he always has, making use of Joker toxin and murdering people on broadcast television, just classic Joker stuff. This is more in line with Heath Ledger’s Joker from the “The Dark Knight”, just a sadistic killer with a twisted sense of humor and a well thought out game plan for terrorizing Gotham and the Batman family.
Joker’s plan is to take out the Batman family one by one. Harley Quinn delivers this message to Batman as he is trapped in a vat that is slowly filling with acid, and she also lets Batman know that this Joker if different, he’s not the Mr. J that she knows and loves, and she’s afraid of him. As our issue ends, it appears as though Alfred is going to be first on Joker’s list. . .
All in all, a really good issue to introduce this arc. I’m not quite sure if I’m going to read all of the tie-ins or just the issues of Batman that are involved, but I’m interested and kinda hooked on the story at this point. Scott Snyder does a great job of pacing and building to the conclusion, and writes a sick, twisted Joker that is right on in character. As always, Greg Capullo’s pencils are just fun to look at. He draws an awesome Batman, and throws some really cool panels at you (the last page panel comes to mind, as does Joker’s arrival at the GCPD). The storytelling here is really well done on Capullo’s part, even though it seems like sometimes he’s having to try and squeeze too many panels on one page, it somehow works and works really well. Jonathan Glapion’s inks are great too, lots of blacks and dark colors, because this is Batman and it’s supposed to be that way. There’s a short backup story also written by Snyder, and drawn by Jock, which expands on why Harley Quinn is no longer a Mr. J fan, and it’s just as good as the rest of the book.
I’m on board with this “Death of the Family” storyline (an obvious play on the old “Death in the Family” arc which saw the death of Jason Todd, who then came back as the Red Hood, and of course way back in the day, the original Joker was originally known as the Red Hood, but I digress. . . ). I think it’ll be a fun read, and I’ve always been a casual Batman fan, so I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of hell the Joker is going to put Batman through.
To prepare gamers for the release of Batman: Arkham City Game of the Year Edition, Rocksteady has released a behind the scenes video featuring some of the more notable voice actors in the game. Namely Kevin Conroy, Mark Hamill, and Stana Katic.
Check it out here!
I’ve gotta say, it’s pretty cool seeing Kevin and Mark at work. They’ve been playing Batman and the Joker for over twenty years now. They know the characters, and in some ways(especially with Mark Hamill) they ARE Batman and the Joker. Like it was said in the video, when you read Batman comics, you hear Kevin’s voice as Batman and Mark’s voice as the Joker.
And I’ve gotta say, when I found out that Stana Katic was going to play Talia al Ghul, I was a little surprised, but excited at the same time. Then come to find out, she’s a fan of the Batman comics and Talia in particular and that she knows the character. I like Stana Katic. For those who don’t know who she is, she stars alongside the always awesome Nathan Fillion in the ABC mystery drama TV series Castle. I’m not usually a fan of the cop drama shows on TV but I’ll watch and enjoy anything with Nathan Fillion, he DID do voice work and was a main character in Halo games.
To say the least, it was very cool to get an inside look at what goes on behind the scenes of my favorite game of 2011 and see the people behind the characters.
Remember, Batman: Arkham City Game of the Year Edition comes out this Tuesday, May 29th. This will include the new DLC campaign “Harley Quinn’s Revenge,” along with the Catwoman, Robin, and Nightwing packs, the classic skins pack and the challenge map packs, and will include other special features and will also include a copy of the animated movie, “Batman: Year One.” For the people like me who have already owned the retail game for some time, we can purchase the Harley Quinn DLC from the XBL Marketplace or thru the Playstation Network for PS3 gamers which will also be available for purchase on May 29th.