FeaturedBestOf2012P3

By Bobby Shortle

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Top ten list time, and I will not waste much time before diving into mine. Part of the reason I love these things is that they are snapshots of one moment in time, and not a static document, so please let me know what you think, and tell what should have been here! First off here are some quick honorable mentions…

Rachel Rising

Really strong stuff, with a great cast of characters, was closest to breaking onto the list.

Punk Rock Jesus

Was on my list until the release of the last issue, which I thought was very good, but did not close off the loop of the story in as satisfying away as I would have hoped.

Uncanny X-Force

With all my other catching up I haven’t had time to finish off the run, but this is astounding work and I can’t wait to take it all in.

Revival

I love this series, but I don’t feel as if it has laid out enough of its framework for me to know if it’s truly one of the greats.

Sarah and the Seed

An amazing amount of emotion in such a short piece, it’s something I’ll keep coming back to over and over again.

Alabaster Wolves

Like a Neil Gaiman short story married an H.P. Lovecraft yarn, I was quite taken by the storytelling and main character.

Alright so without further ado, here…..we…..go…..

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10. Saga

I was all set to be an outlier and not include Saga on my list of top ten books. It’s not that I hadn’t been really liking it, because I had, but that was just it, I really liked it. I was missing that spark that everyone else felt, that certain something that blew me away. So, on the first draft of this list it didn’t make the cut, and then I got on a plane, re read the entire series and BAM it hit me like a ton of bricks. This book is AWESOME. Not only is it beautifully illustrated by Fiona Staples, but it’s also oozing with originality, a complicated intergalactic mythology and set of layered, likable characters. Brian K. Vaughn is taking us on a journey, and while I have no idea where it will end up, I’m buckled up and ready for the rest of the ride.

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9. The Cape

This is by far the most messed up comic book I have ever read, hell it may be one of the most messed up things I’ve ever read, period. However, it’s also one of the best comic books I’ve ever consumed and for that it has a place on this list. Joe Hill and Jason Ciaramella bring Hill’s short story to the medium and the result is a grizzly, sometimes sickening, but always amazing tale about just how bad human nature can really be. It’s a testament to the ingenuity of a story when you keep saying to yourself, “it can’t get any crazier than this” and yet it still does, and does again.

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8. Cow Boy: A Boy and His Horse

This was perhaps the last new title I read in the calendar year 2012, and this book blindsided me like a free safety on a zone blitz of awesomeness.  Much like a title that will appear later on my list, Cow Boy: A Boy and His Horse someone manages to do a circus act that goes from being downright adorable, to laugh out loud hilarious, and then takes a turn into being starkly profound about the nature of life. Nate Crosby’s writing is so clever and so sharp that you feel as if Charles Shultz himself would have mightily approved.

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7. Aquaman

Geoff Johns is a master at exploring forgotten or ignored characters, and he has brought that expertise to bear on the King of Atlantis to tremendous success. Johns’ Aquaman is big, bold superhero storytelling with just the right amount of pathos, and it has amounted to it being one the most flat out entertaining books published right now.

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6. Hawkeye

Hawkeye is an adventure story, a heist film, and a modern day Robin Hood tale all squeezed into one purple and white package and its issues have yet to be anything short of stellar. What really sets the book apart is not just that, every word, panel, page and sequence of Matt Fraction and David Aja’s work oozes with style and charisma, but that they never let that style overcome the substance. Clint Barton is a fully realized character who you can’t help but root for and Kate Bishop is just full stop awesome.

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5. JL8

Yale Stewart’s tale of an eight year old Justice League, isn’t sanctioned in anyway by DC Entertainment, and that is a crying shame for the company, because JL8 is a funny, moving, strikingly adorable, and faithful representation of DC’s biggest characters. Most of the installments of JL8 are done in small, Sunday paper comic strip length chunks, and yet tells a fully cohesive story over its entire run. On top of its ever expanding story, Mr. Stewart also manages to land some social commentary and complicated character evolutions along the way. It’s great for all ages, and I do mean all.

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4. Punisher

If you would have asked me six months ago if a Punisher title would ever be on my list, I would have most likely scoffed, but that was before I began my journey with Frank Castle under the stewardship of writer Greg Rucka. In his hands the tale of vigilante justice became a Fincher-esque cerberal crime thriller, and one that painted the Punisher as a broken man, too far gone to be saved, but with enough humanity left to try and prevent others from following down his path. The book is brutal, with artist Marco Checchetto rendering some of the most effecting hand to hand fights I’ve ever seen, but it also never revels in its bloodshed.  This book doesn’t soften Frank Castle, but it doesn’t skirt the moral quandary of his existence either, and for that it gets a place on this list.

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3. Daredevil

Mark Waid’s take on the Man Without Fear is so original and fresh that it has resulted in a series that takes us from laugh out loud humor in one issue, to tear inducing character revelations the next. The adventures of Matt Murdoch are sometimes scary, sometimes sad, but are always entertaining, and even though there are books higher on my list, this is the series I would give to anyone looking to get into comics.

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2. Batman

Dark, intelligent, disturbing, beautifully rendered, but alway heroic, Batman is the epitome of what The Dark Knight Detective should be. There is a fantastic symmetry to the fact that the best book on the major superhero market, is also the biggest hero we’ve got. Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman has not yet had a down issue, and has reached heights comparable to the best Batman stories I have ever read.

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1. The Underwater Welder

There are some writers who just speak to you, and for me Jeff Lemire is one of those writers. His Underwater Welder blends strong characters, deep emotional baggage and tops it off with a  science fiction dressing that, for me, is the perfect combination of genres. This is raw, honest work that is not only highly entertaining, but also the kind of story you’ll be thinking about long after you’ve turned the final page.

 

 

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6 Responses

  1. Luciano M

    Interesting list Bobby but I was really expecting to see Unncanny X-Force in the top 10. You had it in your top 5 on the podcast, how did it drop so far?

    • Bobby Shortle

      Luciano,

      That is a great question! Honestly, my placing of Uncanny X-Force in my awards balloting during the show came out of a desire to have it in our conversation. I didn’t want to let our end of the year awards pass without out giving it the credit it deserved.

      It didn’t make my list purely because I hadn’t completed it, and din’t want to pass judgement fully before I did so. I will say that I think it will be on my mind for years to come and if I revised my list would probably sneak its way back on.

      If you had a list what would it be?

  2. M. Da Ponte

    After hearing Bobby praise JL8 numerous times on the podcast I decided to see what all the fuss was about, and boy, was I pleasantly surprised. There is better character development, and team cohesion here than on Geoff’s Justice League, and…Yale’s doing this one for free! This is the fun, lighthearted series that DC has been sorely lacking. DC has a great opportunity to snatch up a great up and coming talent and if not, the fans still get a free comic-strip, truly a win-win. Thanks for the recommendation Bobby!

    • Bobby Shortle

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it! It really is an amazing blend of silly and serious. It also has the best Superman going right now.

  3. Luciano M

    Actually Bobby this past year I just returned to comics in a big way after a few years away. I was always picking up issues of something here and there but not enough to have a top 10 list. I live in a small community where comics are hard to come by but luckily have connected with a great shop down south that now sends me my comics.

    Over the past year what I was reading and did love was Batman of course as it was one of the few comics I could find and as I mentioned X-force which I got the trades for. I to have not made it to the end of the series as I am waiting for the trades now but as you said it was something special.

    I also enjoyed AvX Consequences a great deal and even AvX had its moments for me but don’t tell Stephanie I said that.

    Take care and I look forward to being on board for a whole year of Talking Comics in 2013. Keep up the great work.

    • Bobby Shortle

      Luciano,

      Your situation with comics is much like Steve and I’s before we started Talking Comics and it seems to be shared by a lot of our listeners. I’m really happy we are taking this journey together into the world of comics, because it makes it all the more special to me. As far as access,

      I’m glad you found a great shop because that can really make a difference, but I will say that if you have an iPad or any other kind of tablet, do not write off digital distribution, because it can be a great way to keep up on books that are hard to get at your shop.

      Lastly, and I’m sure you know this from listening to the show, but I agree with you on AvX, I think it was a flawed series, but there were some great moments and AvX Consequences is what truly got me excited for Marvel NOW!

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