This was a big year in comics, particularly for DC which relaunched its entire line of books, meaning they cancelled everything and started over from issue one. As a result, I ended up becoming distant towards the company that used to dominate my list for favorite comics, and moving over to more Marvel fare.
Detective Comics #878 – 881 (Creators: Scott Snyder, Francesco Francavilla, Jock)
One of the few DC books I enjoyed was this final arc in the first volume of Detective Comics. Snyder really brought a sense of horror to the title and the sort of horror that truly hit home. While Gotham goes about its typical chaos, Jim Gordon Jr., the son of the Commissioner is hiding a dark secret. His cousin, Barbara (the former Batgirl, now Oracle) fails to convince Gordon about the sociopathic side of his son until its too late. Truly one of the best Batman stories of the decade.
Batwoman (Creators: J.H. Williams III, W. Haden Blackman)
The only title from the DC Comics relaunch that has really clicked with me, probably because these stories were written pre-re-launch. The series follows Kate Kane, the Batwoman, an heiress who fights crime in Gotham and isn’t just a “girl partner” to Batman. The series is made great thanks to Williams’ layouts which are unlike anything else coming from DC right now.
Avengers Academy (Creators: Christos Gage, Mike McKone)
I was probably least excited about this title during the big Avengers re-launch two years ago but it has grown to be my favorite of all the titles. I think it reminds me a lot of the old New Teen Titans issues I got my hands on in the 1990s. Its a simple fun series about some interesting characters. It also features some older heroes acting as teachers so you can have classic Marvel elements included from time to time (Quicksilver is an instructor, so his pop Magneto shows up one ish. My favorite part of this year was the weight they put on killing. One student, Mettle, has to kill an enemy during battle and its a plot line that carries on for the majority of the year as he struggles to deal with his actions.
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man (Creators: Brian Michael Bendis, Sara Pichelli)
While the media tried to turn this into a surface level “Spider-man Iz a Blacks Spanish Person!!! OMGZ” story, they ignored the fact that it was also a classic origin story. This was the perfect move to make the alt-verse Ultimate Spider-Man his own character and not have to simply be a parallel to the standard universe. The art and story here is perfect and feels fresh. This is the story you could hand to a kid and immediately have him hooked the way kids got hooked on Spidey back in the early 60s.
Wolverine & The X-Men (Creators: Jason Aaron, Chris Bachalo)
Speaking of fun, Jason Aaron, who I associated with darker work, has produced the most fun X-Men comic I have read in ages. Wolverine has split the X-Men proper and left their San Francisco island to re-start the Westchester School. Following him are Beast, Kitty Pryde, and Iceman as headmasters to a cast of adolescent mutants. The series is chock full of crazy ideas and it makes you groan when you come to the end of an issue, wanting to desperately get the next one in your hands.
Locke and Key (Creators: Joe Hill, Gabriel Rodriguez)
After Lost ended was despondent about what the next television series would be that evoked that same sense of mystery and questioning. Little did I know it would come in the form of a comic book series. Locke and Key is the story of a family’s dark secrets and house where a cache of keys each possess a magical effect. Looming over the family is a dark figure from the past who knows all the keys and how to manipulate them to achieve its ends, and is happy to kill whom ever gets in his way. One of the most exciting and intriguing comics published today.
Uncanny X-Force (Creators: Rick Remender, Jerome Opena, Robbi Rodriguez)
I never thought an X-title, much less an X-Force comic would top my favorites of the year list. Rick Remender, the mad bastard who came up with a Frankenstein-ed version of The Punisher last year, managed to take decades of convoluted and difficult continuity and turn it into an epic saga that even a novice comic reader could read and enjoy. The culmination of Remender’s story focused on the tragic Archangel was the first comic I have read in years that made me emotional. He gives a perfect superhero death scene that doesn’t go for crass shock and focuses on poignancy instead.