5. Uncanny X-Force
This time last year everyone was heaping praises on the recently concluded ‘Dark Angel Saga.’ This year, much was expected of Rick Remender’s little X-book that could, and while its final story-arc ‘Final Execution’ didn’t quite reach the fantastic heights of DAS, it was still one of the best books on the stand. “X-Force” took a major blow in the art department this year with the loss of both Jerome Opeña and Dean White. However, the book still featured some incredible character work from Remender, and themes that have permeated the series from the beginning were payed off brilliantly. It’s a shame that the series had to end after only two years (with a whopping 35 issues mind you, along with two point one issues) but it was definitely a brilliant ride while it lasted.
4. Wonder Woman
This book started off the year with a bit of a slow burn, but writer Brian Azzarello ended his first year of “Wonder Woman” in the biggest way he could; the return of the New Gods. From that moment on “Wonder Woman” has been going full throttle. This isn’t a book that’s afraid to get its hands dirty, and at times feels as if it would be just as at home under the Vertigo imprint as in the New 52. The gods and goddesses of Greek mythology, along with new creations, form a fantastic and quirky supporting cast, the likes of which DC’s Amazonian princess has never had. Add in fantastic art from Cliff Chiang and Tony Akins and you have one of the best super-hero books on the stand.
3. I, Vampire
“I, Vampire” was one of the biggest surprises of the New 52 when it released last year to astounding critical acclaim. With a twisty-turny plot, an incredible cast, a tragic love story, and a complete disregard for mainstream comic story telling conventions, this is not just another throwaway vampire story. We saw lead Andrew Bennett go from heroic vampire, to mystical messiah, to villain all in a single year’s worth of stories. Guest appearances from Batman and the Justice League Dark helped round out the already fantastic cast, and Fialkov delivered the signal best portrayal of Stormwatch so far in the New 52. I can’t go without mentioning the unbelievable art of Andrea Sorrentino, who gave this book an clear visual identity while not missing a single issue. The new year sees Sorrentino leaving “I, Vampire” for “Green Arrow” with Jeff Lemire, which is a major blow. Hopefully Fialkov will continue to deliver the same caliber of story in 2013, even without the moody and atmospheric art the series is known for.
2. Journey into Mystery
Another fantastic Marvel run that ended far earlier than I would like, Journey into Mystery was a book unlike any other. The closest thing the Gaiman’s “Sandman” that Marvel has ever published, this was, at its heart, a story about stories. Told through the eyes of the lovable Kid Loki, a crazy concept that writer Keiron Gillen not only made work, but made preferable to the traditional old trickster fans have known for ages. Like “Uncanny X-Force,” JiM started the year off a bit slow but quickly picked up with crossovers between “New Mutants” and “The Mighty Thor.” The latter story, “Everything Burns,” was a fantastic culmination of the many plot threads Gillen weaved over the title’s short run, leading to a finale issue with the power of an emotional freight train. This comedy in 30 parts, tragedy in 31, will go down as one of my all-time favorite runs.
1. Green Lantern
Some might scoff, but this book still continues to wow after nearly 7 years. Geoff Johns’ “Green Lantern” may have hit a slump in the aftermath of ‘Blackest Night,’ but the New 52 has completely reinvigorated the title. This year brought revelations about the Indigo Tribe (finally!), the return of Black Hand, and a brand new Green Lantern of Earth. Simon Baz, a Lebanese American living in Dearborn, Michigan, is one of the breakout characters of the year and breath of fresh air. Of course, the book would be nothing without the work of Doug Mankhe, who managed to keep a better pace on the book than he did in 2011. His art is strangely extraterrestrial, perfect for a book about alien space cops and blue munchkins. With the rise of the third army and the coming of the First Lantern, it’s clear that Johns still has plenty of ideas to keep these book interesting and engaging. As long as Johns keeps up this level of quality, I’ll keep coming back to see what he cooks up next.