We didn’t realize when we set out to list our favorite comic books of 2012 that it had been such a fun year to be a fan of the medium that we all love so much. How best to describe the format of Chris Ware’s extraordinary non-linear biography of a building and dissection of a life? When I first laid out the contents of Building Stories in front of me I realized what it most reminded me of was the haul one brings back from a small press comic convention — and it conjured all the excitement and wonder attendant to that experience. It’s almost a quarter century since Will Eisner introduced us to his New York tenement tales, and by some standards invented the graphic novel. In 2012 Matt Kindt continued to build upon his reputation as one of the most innovative and original voices working in comics.
The mysteries of Flight 815, heroine Meru’s fractured memory, and the spy organization known as Mind Management are intricate puzzles tightly woven into the story. Mitsuru Adachi’s Cross Game, the latest sports manga from the legendary, multiple award-winning artist, is a delight. The characters in Cross Game dream big, and we get to see how real life affects those dreams. Warren tells Empowered’s story in the form of short vignettes that contain themes and threads that build over the course of a couple hundred pages to create a fairly unique graphic novel experience.
But ambitious planning can happen, and it can work — and like Hannibal, I love it when a plan comes together. Gillen put some of his best work into a book that could have been a footnote in his surging career. Despite its grim premise, Uncanny X-Force was in reality an extremely funny, imaginative, thrilling, intelligent, thoughtful, fun and, at times, deeply sad comic. Written with earnestness and emotional depth and drawn with simplistic but purposeful black and white lines, Octopus Pie is likely the most honest comics account of what it’s like to truly grow into adulthood. Almost every persona is easily recognizable, full of defining characteristics, and perfectly at home in the comic’s setting of New York City.
Something wonderful happened when I read the first book in Johnny Ryan’s annual Prison Pit series back in 2009. The fourth installment of Prison Pit built on the catharsis supplied by books two and three and proved the most intense yet.
Set during the titular barbarian’s early 20s, this Conan story focuses squarely on his relationship with Belit, the dreaded pirate queen of the black coast who before had never found a mate worthy of her mystique and elemental beauty. If you’re going to adapt a novel to into a comic, you have to do something different. On a panel at San Diego Comic-Con earlier this year, Cooke said he believes that the late Donald Westlake, who used the pen name Richard Stark when writing his Parker novels, was a better writer than Raymond Chandler. In one of the more bittersweet news items of the year, Williams is leaving Batwoman to work with Neil Gaiman on a new Sandman story for Vertigo in the new year. In 2012 The Monkey King volume 2 finally arrived in the United States after a seven-year wait, and it is the most amazingly sleazy thing. In 2012 Bernie Wrightson returned to the character that he made his own in comics, Frankenstein, the subject of the artist’s revered 1983 adaptation of the Mary Shelley classic. Beyond his unparalleled draftsmanship, Wrightson has always been a master at depicting the sort of existential terror at the heart of Frankenstein — that here is a monster more afraid of us than we are of him.
For his part, Niles knows just when to turn the knife on us, and he also knows when to hang back in the shadows and let Wrightson’s work be the show. Jerusalem differed dramatically from some of Delisle’s past work because of how much the settings differ. Richard Corben is one of those guys who, when he dies, will be a trending topic on Twitter. As with every calendar year were are a lot of really good graphic novels and a lot of pretty great graphic novels to choose from when it came time to pick out a handful to assign as being among the best of 2012.
Some people only like Batman when he’s a grim, pulp-inspired loner, working on more realistic crimes without gadgets or other comic book weirdness involved. Fiffe followed-up his fan comic about a bunch of disposable roughneck antiheroes fighting weird, existential threats with, well, another bunch of disposable roughneck antiheroes fighting weird, existential threats. COPRA is a supreme labor of love, with Fiffe creating, writing, drawing, inking, hand-lettering, hand-coloring and distributing the whole thing every month. The last place I would expect to see a discussion of gun control and the effect guns have on our lives is in an action comic, but Keitaro Takahashi’s Jormungand is as well-researched and thoughtful as it is stylish and savage. That’s not necessarily a great structure for a fun action tale, but Takahashi somehow pulls it off. Jormungand looks like a good action comic where people get shot, stabbed, and smoke cigarettes. When Lemire departed the Frankenstein book halfway through the year, he left behind a great book for somebody to screw up. As I write this, only the first three issues of the five-issue miniseries have been released, but the shape of the story is clear: each issue depicts a decade-specific battle between the AMF (the Anti-Megalosaurus Force) and Godzilla (and friends), and as the years go on, things get increasingly more insane. While a publisher like Marvel or DC might allow a creator like Stokoe to play around with their characters in a jokey anthology project like Strange Tales or Bizarro World, IDW and Toho have given the cartoonist a chance to have some fun with the Godzillaverse characters in a miniseries that actually has a substantial plot and character development.
This is what you get when you give James Stokoe the steering wheel and he takes off, with the rest of the comics industry saying, “where the heck is he going? The comic book art I tend to enjoy most is that which aspires to create a world entirely different from the one in which I sit reading, and there are few creators who can do so as thoroughly as the writers, artists and other talents whose now-famous works made their earliest appearances in the pages of the original Dark Horse Presents. If only Ware had packaged Building Stories in a threadbare messenger bag decorated with handmade buttons, the comparison would have been complete. Chris Ware’s Chicago brownstone serves as a worthy neighbor, and by some standards a reinvention of the form. Along with the ferocious Captain Benjamin Daimio, Roger the homunculus and the great Hellboy himself, these characters are the modern classics of American comics; the Avengers and the Justice Leaguers of our darker age. His preoccupations with puzzles, memory, the mechanics of espionage, shadowy organizations, and altered realities came together in Mind MGMT to form the most mysterious, intriguing, and potentially most dense story in his bibliography.
So little is given away each issue while so many new questions are raised that when even the smallest answers are finally revealed, it feels like manna from Heaven. Adachi spends about as much time on the baseball as he does poking fun at his cast, exploring life in school, and cracking jokes about being a manga author. Being good at baseball is of course an issue in the book, obviously, but it isn’t the driving force. The tension comes from the conflicts between characters, but we rarely see anything particularly devastating or horrible happen.

Reproduced directly from Warrens’ tightly rendered, super expressive pencils, this comic revels in the joy of characterization, comedy, action, sex, a great love story, and just pure old fashioned cartooning. The book never got the time or the space it deserved, and Gillen worked around format and other industrial constraints that might have made other writers throw up their hands in despair, yet he made it stick.
For over thirty-five issues the series tracked the adventures of Wolverine and a group of fellow mutants who shared the common bond of lethality as they carried out ultra-violent and morally dubious missions without the knowledge of the rest of the X-Men.
The main character, Eve, is a woman approaching 30 and getting through life the best any of us can. Studios’ Adventure Time spinoff Marceline and the Scream Queens, which is also great. The cosmic criminal protagonist Cannibal F*ckface awakens from a previous skirmish the captive of psychic jerks clad in spiked 12-sided die helmets. Our allies aren’t usually symbiotic limbs that act as weapons or instruments of self-pleasure. Howard’s iconic warrior, where every issue feels like the hero has pulled some enormous weight from one fantastically exotic part of the ancient world to the other.
But what separates this book from the others is the portrayal of other characters, and the way Parker interacts with them. Further, each man has his own personality, his own quirks, the most notable being Grofield. Williams plays with icons, emblems and other visceral images like lightning bolts, floating bubbles and musical notes to various dramatic ends.
Amy Reeder’s manga-influenced storytelling style worked very well for the book, and Trevor McCarthy also has a gift for highly kinetic, elaborately staged action. One is forced to doubt the future of this most aesthetically pleasing superhero book, but only because Williams raised the bar so incredibly high with Batwoman in 2012.
It looks something like Richard Corben doing grimy gutter-fantasy with just a dash of Boris Vallejo. Here is a monster who is full of self-loathing and void, and whose initial urge in life is to seek revenge against the creator responsible for bringing him into terrible being.
Jerusalem is a city, not a country, but it’s a city full of different cultures, religions and elements of nations. People will talk about how great he was and there will be all kinds of lovely things said about him. Strnad collaborates beautifully with Corben, knowing both how to stay out of his way and still put him through his paces as a graphic storyteller. There are always far fewer important graphic novels, though; books that cover a difficult but vital subject matter delicately but boldly, fairly and yet with a point-of-view, books that do all of that and also happen to be really great on an artistic level. Evil twins, secret societies, vast conspiracies, poisoned reservoirs, secret identities and massive deathtraps — these are the things that Batman has had to deal with in that comic, and it just keeps getting bigger and bigger with each issue.
They’ve set the superhero action standard that the rest of DC should try to live up to.
He pulls in real life stats and research whenever he’s discussing weapons in Jormungand. I wasn’t expecting it to come with a history lesson, but that definitely makes it a better comic. That amazing movie from the late ’80s with John Gries as the Wolfman and that dickish older brother from The Wonder Years playing another dickish character?
This isn’t a pushed-to-the-side, oh-look-how-funny-it-is-for-this-indie-artist-to-draw-our-characters kind of comic. With its huge catalog of over 24,000 free comics, Comic Book Plus can become your new favorite web site.As usual, we like to bring bring you interesting and fun sites of free access, whether it is books, photographs or any other content. Diversity of style gives way to a jeweler’s precision, and the result is a world unpacked by a Masonic god. Weird fish guy Abe Sapien, disembodied German psychic Johann Krauss, moody pyrokinetic Elizabeth Sherman and non-powered field leader and beleaguered den mother Dr. The adroit reader can learn loads of information, it seems, without Kindt ever really telling us anything.
But Mind MGMT is magical realism about a conspiracy that goes back decades and spans the world; a maze that taunts you with the hope of escape before shifting and rearranging into a new pattern. It came to its natural end this year, Adachi having reached the end of his story, and it’s definitely a hallmark of the sports comics genre. But this was a third-tier book that seemed unlikely to last very long, with a traditionally antagonistic supporting character as its lead, and not two, not three, but four crossover events shackled to its ankles.
Eve’s friends are the typical assortment of baristas, small-time drug dealers, interns, freelancers, and other post-college people so easily defined as hipsters. Things don’t always work out, and even when they do, not everyone gets to live happily ever after. But let’s hope she saves time next year to continue Octopus Pie, one of the best ongoing serials on the web. He confronts his predicament like all of us wish we were able to, with a savage brand of defiance and constant dumb luck.
Our enemies are rarely literal scrotum-shaped mutants capable of birthing weapons of mass destruction from every one of their disgusting orifices.
The Score features a large group of men taking on a very large job — robbing an entire town.
As a fan of both the Parker novels and Cooke, I couldn’t imagine a more perfect marriage. Even characters within panels are sometimes depicted in contrasting ways, such as this year’s team-up with Wonder Woman, who was illustrated in a kind of ligne claire style even as she interacted directly with Batwoman, who Williams always presents in a tightly rendered and ink-washed, almost painterly fashion.
Some of the pages look like trashy fantasy novel covers, and others like the dirtiest fairy tale ever. Wrightson has all of that down, and you can read it just in the weight with which the creature moves through the panels and how he haunts every setting he’s put in.
Jerusalem is just a city, but, in a way, it’s a city bigger than any country in the world. His comic focuses on the culture and the lives of the people in the city more so than the political and religious issues that inform that culture and those lives (Delisle, for what it’s worth, is an atheist, so in one very important way, the various sects of Jews, Muslims and Christians that make their homes in Jerusalem and the surrounding environs have a lot more in common with one another than they have with Delisle).
Ragemoor is the scaly, gritty, grimy, body horror, claustrophobic return to brilliance that the genre has been crying out for.
One never before presented with the visceral immediacy of comics, and rarely from a long-time cartoonist who broke through to a whole new level of mastery of his form with this signature work.

In each monthly issue there have been a handful of innovative panels that manage to impress me with how well they use the language of comics to communicate the story. There are several scenes where one character talks about how efficient or impressive a weapon is while characters either concur or listen in awe. It’s mostly an issue about establishing the unusual and unexpected nature of the giant monster threat, and giving Godzilla a chance to unleash. A big, hard, heavy, six-pound box containing comics, pamphlets, folded strips, hardcovers, broadsheets, and even a back-boarded fold out that resembles a game board.
Ware can take us into private lives, behind doors, into thoughts, into the very lives and afterlives of insects, and at any scale the focus is the same. With every answer revealed to the reader, every victory Meru ekes out, the questions only multiply and the rabbit hole goes deeper. Some of them are exceptional, and some are just okay, but generally, they all perform on a competitive level. It’s an uplifting comic, the kind that makes you feel good whenever you read it, no matter what happens. Together, these four characters navigate a hyper-stylized and always cute and funny world of over-the-top villains, underpar superheroes and the variously compelling and humiliating mysteries of their own pasts. Plans are created by people with a vision of the whole, not just an idea about the destination.
And, perhaps most important, life never neatly wraps up events like plot lines, people continue to evolve and be defined, even dragged down, by their past actions. Octopus Pie also takes similarly hilarious liberties with reality, best showcased in the subplot of Eve belonging to a secret society of coffee pourers obsessed with rival beans and methods. It was like looking at a baby book of bad ideas from boyhood as an adult who’d learned to function in polite society. In every case, the multiple styles, disparate as they can be, are somehow complimentary, creating a singularly perfect image that’s beautiful, dark, violent, sometimes sexual, and everything else we love about comics in Gotham City.
Of particular note is a two-page spread of a gothic library where every book and thing in this impossibly cluttered room has been painstakingly drawn around the monster, and it is but one of the truly feats of artistry found in this miniseries.
So let’s celebrate him now, because in 2012 he and co-creator Jan Strnad put out one of the true monoliths in American horror comics with Ragemoor, the story of a living fortress and its infernal caretakers who must protect it from an invading horde of nightmarish creatures.
Stripped down to just pen and ink, Corben demonstrates why his line is one of the dominant horror lines of all time.
In a year that was relatively weak for the horror comics genre (Mike Mignola’s work exempt, of course), this book is a return to comic book horror glory by one of the masters who defined it. After 70 years, it feels like there are things we don’t know about these characters and how they work. The newest member of the squad is Jonah, a child soldier from a thinly veiled version of Afghanistan. The child soldier aspect is off-putting, but it’s handled in such an interesting way that I just have to keep up with Jormungand, despite my (minor) misgivings. The already massive scale got bigger, the whir of ideas came even faster, and the characters, already interesting and complex, seemed to grow even more relatable. By the time of issue #3, we’ve jumped ahead to 1975, the ragtag AMF-ers pilot a barely-souped-up Volkswagen van (with a trippy Mothra painted on the side) through the streets of Ghana, dodging giant spiders and lobster creatures and atomic breath blasts.
This is a great giant monster comic -– the best I’ve ever read -– that is full of humor and playfulness and absolutely stunning imagery. Readers are invited to unpack this orienteering map of a small universe either in orderly style or as an experience to dip in and out of.
If you are a new reader, here’s a helpful guide to the books and in what order you should read them. No other comic this year was as immersive or intriguing as the slowly-unfolding mystery that is Mind MGMT. Chris Claremont was always an outlier, and his hyper-extended trails of breadcrumbs may have put the whole idea out of vogue. An evil dude making his way across a barren hellscape bends anyone who gets in his way to his will through hyper-violent exchanges involving a cocktail of bodily fluids.
We try to act like adults and cope with daily chaos and get along with others, and that’s a good thing.
You can’t defend it as being anything progressive, but man, is one entertaining comic book.
It’s about what type of person possesses the most guns, the failure of our leaders to indulge in much-needed charity instead of indulging in asinine arm races, and more. With sprawling, scratchy, angry artwork from Alberto Ponticelli and Wayne Faucher, the adventures of Frankenstein and the Creature Commandos were like colossal Kirby sci-fi epics starring your childhood fears.
There are parts of the book that can be enjoyed curled up on the sofa with a hot drink, but one might as plausibly lay the parts out on the floor like a disassembled machine and try to understand how they fit together. Anyone curious and mentally dexterous enough can find so much more to love by seeking out the additional material, taking a second look, and playing along with the ongoing mind game. The extent of that plan only became clear to readers this year as his 25-issue run reached its conclusion, and the result was an enormously satisfying tale. That’s the Batman that Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo have been doing comics about for the past year, and they have been amazing. Seeds were planted, stories were tended, and plausible but unexpected pay-offs were harvested in abundance, and the satisfaction of the ending made the whole work greater. She’s young, talkative, goofy, and silly, up until the point where she decides you need to go and has one of her people take out all of your people. To download material in Comic Book Plus, you need to open an account (completely free) and wait for approval by site administrators (it takes a few hours).
The secret here is simple: Good endings make good stories, and good planning makes good endings. Each man in The Score reacts in their own unique way to the beginning of a heist, but none in a more entertaining way than the charming thief Grofield. In his novels, Stark tells you that Grofield loves to perform, but in this adaption, Cooke is the one who really makes him sing.

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