Okay, we said that was our last of our long series of daily guest and then the blog crew Best of the Year posts, but our own Nicola has managed to get away from her work and academic studies (at which she is, of course, extremely diligent and, no sir, she does not sit in class with an Adventure Time comic hidden inside her textbooks, oh no, not all) and compiled her own list, so here we go, absolutely, totally our final Best of the Year (really, well, you know, probably) – Over to Nic ( – Joe):
Here is my ‘Best of’ for 2012. Maybe I shouldn’t deliver it particularly triumphantly, seeing as we are now two weeks into January – yeah, sorry about that. Regardless, from my limited recollection of the year that just happened, I attempted to recall three of my favourite titles from the past twelve months. I won’t lie; I tend to favour superhero and mainstream comics. I do try to branch out – I mean, I read a whole Jeffery Brown book once – but I always come back to superheroes. I don’t know why, it’s probably their capes. Capes are cool. However I digress, so here they are: my top three titles of 2012.
I don’t think I’ve shut up about this book since it first came out. I love it; the colour scheme, David Aja’s minimalist approach to the art and Matt Fraction’s delightfully sarcastic sense of the humour. This is a series that doesn’t take itself too seriously and it’s that exact freedom that carries it. The ability to make a reader laugh out loud should never be overlooked. Hawkeye is everything that was missing from your pull-list, a cheerful reminder that, sometimes, comics can just be really fun.
Hawkeye focuses of the lives of Clint Barton and Kate Bishop. Bishop, who readers might recognise from Young Avengers, is sort of like Barton’s apprentice – although she’s had to rescue him on more than one occasion. Even on the page, they have a great chemistry and their banter with each other is entertaining to read. While there’s action and bad guys, this is mainly the life of a man who has a mean arrow-shot and more money than I’ll ever see in my lifetime. When he’s not being an Avenger, he’s not sure what to do – and that’s what makes Clint Barton not so different from any other directionless young adult. He dedicates his free time to saving stray dogs, has sex with strange woman and… er, forges political assassinations (although maybe only a select few of us partake in that last one).
Matt Fraction and David Aja are a dream team. This series was a favourite of mine last year and one that I’ll continue to lap up in 2013. It’s unlike anything that mainstream comics are producing at the moment and– actually, you know what, I don’t know what else I can possibly say about this. Just read it already.
Hawkeye is an on-going series by Matt Fraction, David Aja and Matt Hollingsworth, published by Marvel. #8 is due out on 27th February, the first collected volume is out from Marvel in mid March.
I was introduced to comics by Grant Morrison. Not personally – although that would’ve been cool – but his comics were the first ones I ever read. Retrospectively, as a sixteen year old girl, maybe The Filth wasn’t the most apt introduction to comics – but hey, we’ve all got to start somewhere and I still love his writing today. Morrison said himself that Batman was “too sexy” a character to walk away from which is why, unlike other books, he returns again and again with more havoc to wreak on Gotham. It’s of no surprise to anyone that Batman Incorporated features on my ‘best of’ anything list.
This year, Batman Incorporated returned. This wasn’t a series intended to tie in with the New 52 but, thankfully, doesn’t suffer from being forced into the reboot. Instead of a questionable filler issue for DC’s Zero initiative, we were treated to a smirk-worthy origin story with art from the wonderful Frazer Irving. DC’s agenda aside, Morrison is back to tell the story he always intended to tell. He has Batman Incorporated mapped out to the bitter(sweet) end and has given himself twelve issues to do it.
Batman Incorporated’s first run saw Bruce Wayne build a global empire of heroes willing to join Batman. In the first issue, we saw Batman and Catwoman frolic across Tokyo’s skyline. In the current run, all eyes are on Gotham as Talia and Leviathan get set to wage war against Batman. Caught up in all of this is Damien Wayne, the son of Bruce and Talia, a mere eleven years old (although, if the New 52 timeline is to be considered, he was celebrating 2.2 birthdays a year). His own mother has put a bounty on his head and the battle ensues.
So, what’s so great about this comic? You have the delightfully bratty Damian Wayne, Morrison villains like Professor Pyg and the return of Matches Malone. Make no mistake, this isn’t the ‘jumping on’ point that most of the New 52 titles intended to be. I’m excited to see how it concludes and will be extremely disappointed to see it end. All love for Morrison aside, I can sum up my love for Batman Incorporated in one word: Bat-cow.
Batman Incorporated is an on-going series by Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham, published by DC comics. #7 is due out on February 27th. The first series of Batman Incorporated is available in trade paperback, also by DC comics.
Punk Rock Jesus
Punk Rock Jesus was a six-part series written and inked by Sean Murphy. Fast-paced and addictively gritty, the only anti-punk aspect of this book is the precision with which Murphy executed this story. A scathing commentary on reality television, celebrity culture and the media, it also dealt heavily with faith and religion. Despite its radical premise – a reality TV show that depicts the life of the clone of Jesus Christ – the book was remarkably humane and, where other writers would have fallen short, Murphy carried a clever and convincing plot right until the very end.
The book provokes some serious questions. Does the media too much power? Why did we become such a celebrity-obsessed culture? In an age where people are famed for drinking too much (Geordie Shore) and being married for a month (Keeping up with the Kardashians), maybe Murphy’s suggestion that someone would create a reality show depicting the cloning of Jesus Christ isn’t quite as far-fetched as it should be. The treatment of Chris’ dysfunctional mother, Gwen, highlights the extent some people will go to for entertainment – she suffers from emotional and physical abuse, to the point where her life is endangered. Would we really risk someone’s life to make entertaining television? The answer should disgust you.
Told entirely in black and white, adding to the punk ethic of the book, as the book’s appearance and thick-stock pages resemble a fanzine, Murphy’s art loses nothing from the lack of colour. If anything, it gains from it. Perhaps best known for his work on Grant Morrison’s Joe the Barbarian, his inks are detailed and the standard of art throughout the book is sensational. It captures the chaos of the book perfectly and both detailed cityscapes and character’s expressions stand out as a result of Murphy’s talent.
What makes this book the most compelling is the contrast between Chris and his bodyguard, Thomas. Thomas, who is linked with the IRA, hasn’t led a saint-like life. But he’s a man of faith and he dedicates his life to protecting Chris, no matter what happens. Chris, on the other hand, rejects his alleged heritage and the idea that he’s the Second Coming of anything. You have a huge ex-IRA bodyguard struggling with faith and trying to find meaning in his existence and you have a scrawny teenager who plays punk rock shows to avenge the life’s he had forced on him. Thomas and Chris learn a lot from each other and, as readers, we learn a lot from each of them. Hands down, one of the best comics I’ve read – not just of 2012.
Punk Rock Jesus was a series by Sean Murphy, which concluded in January 2013. The trade paperback will be available by Vertigo on the 3rd of April.