Favorites of 2012: comic books

Over the course of December, I’ll present a series of my own end of 2012 lists. Unlike many, I won’t give you a best of list because that’s no fun. Instead I’ll give you lists of my favorite things from 2012. Because let’s face it: the best stuff isn’t always what you love the most.

My favorite comics of 2012:

Archer & Armstrong

Archer & Armstrong (Valiant)

Originally published in the early 1990s, this series got revitalized and rebooted by Valiant in August. I didn’t know anything about it, but picked it up thanks to a recommendation from the guys at Coast City Comics in Portland, Maine. It’s about Archer – a kid raised by a cult with corrupt intentions. He’s trained to be an assassin and kill a threat. Who exactly is that threat? You guessed it: Armstrong. He’s lived through a millennia and is now a drunk because. The two are forced to team up due to…I don’t want to spoil it for you. Just go pick up the series. While you’re at it check out more Valiant titles; I recommend Bloodshot and Harbinger.

The Creep

The Creep (Dark Horse)

This limited series kicked things off with a #0 issue in August with a killer cover drawn by Frank Miller. I knew he just did the cover, but I knew anything he figured was worth attaching himself to was worth my time. The series follows Oxel, a brute of a private eye as he gets entangled with a former lover and the suicide of two boys. It’s set to wrap up next Wednesday with a hardcover collected edition coming next spring. The series is one of those stories that I wish could go on forever and feel like there is so much to explore, but keeping it focused on this one case keeps it fresh. Do I think it could last well past these issues? Yeah, but maybe they’ll wrap it up perfectly. If you’re looking for another limited series, check out the vampire/zombie filled New Deadwardians (Vertigo), which just wrapped up its 8-issue run or the techy Think Tank (Top Cow) which will run for 10 issues total.

Hawkeye

Hawkeye (Marvel)

What sets this Avenger apart is how mundane he presents his life when he’s not running around with superheroes. But it’s not boring and it’s terrific. Really. Clint Barton was never on my radar as character I’d want to see have his own title (unlike Gambit, who is having a difficult time keeping me around now). Hawkeye is only a few issues in, but it definitely set itself apart with not only the writing, but the artwork as well. It’s probably the one thing that really drew me to the series. It’s muted and purple and awesome. There’s a lot of superhero titles that are nothing but tights and fights and then there are a few that focus on the person not the persona. This is filled with the latter, but still has it’s fair share of fights. The only difference is the action propels the plot forward. I’d definitely check out some of the Marvel NOW! titles if you’re looking for some new superhero titles. Especially All New X-Men.

Nightwing

Nightwing (DC Comics)

This is an example of my favorites not always being the “best” of something. It’s not the best superhero comic around. Hell, it’s not even the best Bat-title around (Batmanof course, but also check out Batgirl), but I’ve always liked Dick Grayson ever since I was little and wanted to be Batman’s sidekick. So it’s on the list. It explores Dick after he donned the cowl for a little bit, but now he’s back as Nightwing and there’s a lot of personal drama in his world. To be honest, I don’t really like all of the action bits of this (there’s some lameness to the villains), but I do love seeing Dick navigate through all of those storylines directly affecting Dick and not Nightwing. It’d definitely worth the read if you’re looking for some fun.

Thief of Thieves

Thief of Thieves (Image)

Written by the mind that created The Walking Dead, this series is about a thief who quits, but can’t walk away from the life he knows. Conrad Paulson is a terrific anti-hero and the story he’s involved in is a tangled web that is sometimes confusing, but always worth the read. There’s something extremely pleasing about reading a comic that isn’t really written like a comic. It doesn’t try to be over the top – which sometimes results in a certain dullness – but then it sucks you back in with character driven pages that you rarely see anywhere else. It already has a collected trade for the first seven issues, so catching up won’t be a problem. Bonus: there’s already a developmental deal with AMC to make it into a television series.

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