A definite underdog at the beginning of the year, “Prophet” marked the start of the Images revamped line of Rob Liefeld’s “Extreme” books. Writer Brandon Graham and artist Simon Roy took a dead 90’s property and turned it into one of the most brilliant hard sci-fi comics of 2012. The first three issue arc alone is full of high concepts and maddening ideas, characters, and settings to last an entire years worth of story. In a year where Image seemed to début a critically acclaimed new series every week, this book stood tall as one of the very best.
4. All-New X-Men
On paper, calling this book “All-New” this book seems a little pointless and silly. Bring the original five X-Men to the present and watch the consequences sounds like the potential for a Marvel comedy series. However, Bendis plays it straight in the devastating aftermath of Avengers vs. X-Men, giving us the best book of the initial Marvel NOW! books. Bendis perfectly captures the emotions of X-Men past and present, with both sides forced to examine the events that have beset them from an entirely new angle. Add in new mutants, a new status quo for Cyclops and the Extinction team, a new look for Beast, and unbelievable art from Stuart Immonen and you have the biggest X-book since Whedon’s “Astonishing X-Men.”
Everyone knew Brian K. Vaughan’s return to comics would be a big deal, but “Saga” exceeded almost all expectations when it debuted this year with an oversized first issue full of sci-fi/fantasy goodness. This is Star Wars for a new age, rolled up a with a bit of Romeo and Juliet. Vaughan’s ability to create engaging and lovable characters from the get go is unparalleled, as is Fiona Staple’s uncanny knack for expression and scope. If you aren’t reading this then you’re missing out on the biggest phenomenon in comics right now, bar none.
2. Manhattan Projects
This list is pretty heavily dominated by sci-fi, showing just how well represented the genre was this past year. Manhattan Projects started out as just a simple concept; there was more to the story than just the atomic bomb. From this point Jonathan Hickman, hot off of his groundbreaking run on Fantastic Four/FF, delves into the secret history of the US and world military science divisions in a post WWII world, and the results are spectacular. Prominent historical figures such as Oppenheimer, Einstein, F.D.R., and Truman are cast in fascinating new lights, and mad science runs amok with death monk powered teleportation portals and jelly-fish powered robots. This book is overflowing with so many wild and zany ideas that it nearly puts Grant Morrison to shame. Further drawing the Morrison comparison is artist Nick Pitarra, whose Frank Quitely-esque style gives the book a life of its own.
I literally cannot say enough good things about this book. I never thought I would like Hawkeye, who always seemed far inferior to DC’s Emerald Archer. Not even the ‘Avengers’ movie could get me interested in the character. However, Matt Fraction and David Aja have not only got me interested in a book about Hawkeye, they’ve made it my favorite book of the entire year, and in only six issues at that. This book has the best art, the best characters, the best plots, the best action of any other super hero book out there. “Hawkeye” is the new definition of high quality graphic storytelling.