Gary’s Top Comic Books (of 2012)

The following post is by Gary Brown and is reprinted from his zine, Oblio.

Each year I take some time to look back on the previous 12 months and pontificate on what I think were the best dozen comic books of that period.
As in the past, I remind my readers that these are MY opinions. End of sentence. Of course, as a reader and collector of comic books for more than 50 years, I believe I’m qualified to put my own judgmental stamp on what is good and what is not so good. This year, I estimate I read between 800-1,00 comic books.
I also need to point out that I don’t read every comic book that comes out, meaning there is no doubt that there are titles that I miss or totally ignore here that should be mentioned. So, use that to balance just how you accept or reject my listings. With that said, here are my choices:

1. DARK HORSE PRESENTS (Dark Horse, an anthology, by various) — If I could only buy one comic book a month, it would be this one. A hodgepodge of excellent writers and artists giving readers a taste of their talents in short, often continued, stories. What is superb about this book is that it offers a wide variety of sto- ries and characters, ranging from super heroes and villains to oddball tales. It’s expensive — $7.95 an issue — but worth it.DH presents cover 001

2.FABLES (Vertigo, Bill Willingham, writer; Mark Buckingham, penciller) — This has been on my list for years now. Truth is, I still look forward to this comic book more than any other each month. Remarkably consistent writing and framing by Willingham, and Mark Buckingham’s work on this title has certainly put him in the upper echelon of artists in the comic book industry.
3. POPEYE (IDW, Roger Landridge, writer; Vince Musacchia, artist) — If you have ever enjoyed the brilliance and humor of E.C. Segar’s Popeye comic strips, you need to give this comic book a try. The star is Roger Land- ridge, who “gets” the reason the old Popeye was the best and translates it well into this comic book. Musacchil’s art is just as well one.
4. FATALE (Image, Ed Brubaker, writer; Sean Phillips, artist) — Ed Brubaker knows his stuff when it comes to hardcore detective stories and it shows in Fatale and the other titles in his crime series. Sean Phillips’ style of art fits well with this book. It never fails to challenge the reader and I like that.
5. SPONGEBOB COMICS (United Plankton, various writers and artists) — You don’t have to be a SpongeBob SquarePants fan to enjoy this comic book. It’s funny, wacky and clever beyond most comics out there. Somewhat like Dark Horse Presents, this title features an array of writers and artists, all of who are allowed to give their own take on t he famous TV cartoon character.
6. THE ROCKETEER: CARGO OF DOOM (IDW, Mark Waid, writer; Chris Samnee, artist) — I didn’t know Rocketeer creator (and fabulous artist) Dave Stevens, but I somehow get the feeling he would approve of this continuation (and others by IDW) of his most famous character. It’s a fun series and certainly appears to fit well in the type of stories Stevens did before his death.
7. BONGO COMICS (all of ‘em) — The Simpsons and the various spinoffs from that great TV cartoon series are still popular not on what happened years ago, but in the fresh and funny episodes the cast of writes and animators continue to produce. Simpsons’ creator Matt Groening has seen to it that such excellence has spilled over to his bankrolled line of comic books.
Special Mention: Before Watchmen (DC, various writers and artists).
I wrote early in 2012 of my distaste for DC’s going against The Watchmen creator Alan Moore’s wishes and continue to publish comic books expanding on his original series. My comment was that it was being done purely for financial and business reasons and would succeed no matter who they assigned to writer and draw the series.
My opinion hasn’t changed, but I do believe I should make notice of the excellent work being turned out by those assigned to the series. Darwyn Cooke, Amanda Conner, Len Wein, Art Adams, Jae Lee, Brian Azzarello, J.G. Jones, J. Michael Straczynski, Eduardo Risso and John Higgins have turned out superb work. They should be complimented and — I hope — richly compensated. But apparently DC wasn’t confident that these gentlemen and lady could do such extraordinary work on other characters. They had to assemble them for Before Watchmen, probably fearing that with regular, less accomplished creators, the project would fail.
Hooray for these writers and artists. And a continued shame on DC.
Marvel Now, etc., etc. — I, along with a lot of other fans, hate these major revamping of characters. They are done, obviously, to boost a failing line of comic books by jumping up and down about more No. 1 issues and how much better these characters will be. Just look at DC’s New 52 and you’ll see a surge in circulation for a few issues, then a drop to the same old levels as books are handed off to questionable talents. It appears as though Marvel and DC have narrowed down their business model to three aspects: 1. Keep running continual crossover series featuring various guest stars trying to save the country or the planet or the galaxy or the universe; 2. Pay a top name to write or draw a comic book for three to six issues to boost sales, then dump the title off on someone else; and 3. when all else fails, reboot the sucker.
Heroic Publications — A little known comic book company that has its own model: produce comic books — especially covers — featuring tall, nice looking women with huge breasts and engaged in various angles of crotch shots. I’m sure there are at least a half-dozen 16-year-olds out in comic book land who love these books, but then, who am I to deny them a bit of fun?

Gary Brown is a Florida journalist, who has been involved in comic book fandom since its inception in the 1960s. He has been a member for decades of both Capa Alpha and Southern Fandom Press Alliance, where his zine, Oblio, is one of the highlights of each mailing for me.

You can contact Gary at

About kentmcdanielwrites

Writer and musician.

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