“Top 10 comics and/or graphic novels I happened to read in 2012, several of which were published well before 2012, I’m afraid,” by Adam Warren…
Brandon Graham, Simon Roy, Farel Dalrymple, and Giannis Milonogiannis
Full-on SF badassery with its “sense of wonder” level cranked all the way up, making for one truly unique reading experience. Took quite the groundbreaking book to nudge my rut-lodged self into rolling by the ol’ Local Comics Store on a regular basis again, but nudge me it did.
2. One Soul
Yeah, yeah, this majestic slab of sheer awesomeness was actually published in 2011, but I didn’t read the book until this year, so you’re just gonna have to deal with it, folks. SUNGLASSES DESCEND (Hell, I might even put ONE SOUL in my “best of 2013” list when I reread it next year).
Matt Fraction and David Aja
Oh, yay, thrill to the non-spectacle of me praising the same Marvel book everyone else is praising. What can I say, though? The book really is that damn good. But goshdarnit, how am I to show that I am indeed a special little extra-unique snowflake of glittering individuality via my (admittedly middlebrow) taste in comics?
4. The Nao of Brown
Well, recommending this book sure certainly won’t help, either, as it’s on many of the “10 Best of 2012” lists I’ve seen—as well it g-d should be. Beautiful art, moving story, ‘nuff said.
5. God and Science: Return of the Ti-Girls
Jaime plus superheroines for 134 wonderful pages? I’d say, “Yes, please!”—if, that is, I didn’t despise that hackneyed phrase with unquenchably burning rage. On the other hand, I do in fact love this book enough to say, with painful reluctance and through gritted teeth, “Yes please!” CUE SOUND OF GRINDING ENAMEL
Brian Wood, Becky Cloonan, and James Harren
If I went back in time and told 10-Year-Old Me that I would one day genuinely relish reading a Conan comic not actually drawn by John Frickin’ Buscema, 10-Year-Old-Me would have shrieked in disbelieving horror and leapt out a window to his welcome death. Then the time loop would collapse, and Aged Me would pop out of existence, too. So, best to avoid this scenario and leave 10-Year-Old Me to his blissful ignorance, I’d say; besides, the poor kid has enough problems already.
7. King City
If I didn’t despise the following bit of overused hackery almost as much as “Yes, please!” I’d say: “THIS.” Delightfully imaginative SF of a very different (and exponentially more pun-intensive) stripe than Prophet, showing plenty of range and versatility in tone and narrative technique. Plus, hey, bonus: I get to feel extra-lousy for never having bought the book’s earlier TokyoPop incarnation! Sorry for the lack of support circa 2008, Brandon.
8. 20th Century Boys
An ongoing master class in comics storytelling, yet much cheaper than any art class I ever paid for. Quite the bargain! KA-CHINGG
9. Air Gear
Caught up on the closing 20-odd volumes of this gonzo (to put it mildly) manga over the summer. Can’t claim that the series delivers the story-and-art-in-exquisite-harmony “total package” experience of, say, 20th Century Boys; in truth, I prefer to buy Air Gear untranslated, to insulate myself from the full absurdity and demented goofiness of its writing. Howeva, the wildly kinetic artwork of superhuman manga-ka Oh! Great (and his equally godlike assistants) is, at times, so spectacular and unearthly that it “carries” the series for me, regardless of the other flaws plaguing it.
10. Empowered Vol. 7
Just kidding, folks! While I’ve made a few more steps towards flowering into the shamelessly self-promoting artdouche that surviving in this field requires, I’m not quite artdouchey enough to recommend my own book. Nay, rather, my final choice for Best Comic of 2012 is (of course):
10. Mind MGMT
Took me a few issues to fully warm up to the series, though I was perhaps a wee bit too fond of the series’ ever-changing “bleed page” riffs from the very start. Once the book properly engaged me, though, I was thoroughly hooked. To repeat the aforementioned tiresome hackery: “Yes, please!” “THIS.”
Honorable Mentions: Bad Machine (John Allison), Godzilla: The Half-Century War (James Stokoe), Glory (Joe Keatinge, Ross Campbell), Wolves (Becky Cloonan), Makeshift Miracle (Jim Zubkavich/Shun Hong Chan), Just the Usual Superpowers (Faith Erin Hicks)