2012 was a big year for comics, with the major publishers trying to outdo each other with one major crossover/reboot after the other, but the real gems of this year were the slew of incredible #1’s that graced shelves over the past twelve months. Over the course of the year, we were lucky enough to be gifted with more than our fair share of noteworthy premiere issues, from both established creators and upcoming talent. Quantifying the subjective is always a tricky business, so take the following numerical order with a healthy grain of salt, while recalling the #1 issues you’ve enjoyed over the past year and perhaps discovering a few new gems along the way.
MELISSA GREY’S TOP 5 COMICS OF 2012
10. Batman Incorporated #1 (DC Comics)
Grant Morrison’s run on “Batman Incorporated” was, by turns, brilliant, mind-boggling, and occasionally frustrating and his return to the title in 2012, alongside artist Chris Burnham, brought a joyful exuberance to the Dynamic Duo that we haven’t seen in quite some time. The issue combined the best of Morrison’s whirlwind writing and Burnham’s dynamic art but the a personal highlight of the issue was the debut appearance of one of Morrison’s single greatest comic creations: Bat-Cow.
9. Southern Dog #1 (215 Ink)
Writer Jeremy Holt stated that several publishers passed on “Southern Dog” before it was accepted by 215 Ink and it’s hardly a surprise. The very first issue tackles issues of race, bigotry, and violence in America that few publishers would be brave enough to back. With the success of franchises like Twilight and Teen Wolf, werewolves are having their day, but Holt and artist Alex Diotto bring something unique to their take on what it means to be marked as “other” in a heavily conservative American town.
8. Peter Panzerfaust #1 (Image Comics)
The story of Peter Pan has seen more than its fair share of adaptations over the years, but writer Kurtis J. Weibe has managed to make the story of Peter and his Lost Boys feel new and exciting again, as he transplants the ragtag group of orphans from J.M. Barrie’s Neverland to a war-ravaged France. Tyler Jenkins long leans lines and Alex Sallazzo’s rich earth tones bring to the ragtag group of orphans to life as they evade German forces in World War II era Calais. Issue #1 is, as an aged Tootles, one of Peter’s lost boys, says “the beginning of a fantastic story.”
7. Captain Marvel #1 (Marvel)
Carol Danvers underwent the makeover of the year in “Captain Marvel” #1. Gone was the bathing suit and strategically placed scarf combo of yesteryear. The new and improved Captain Marvel came armed with a new suit, a new ‘do, and a new cast of brilliant supporting characters. Issue #1 saw writer Kelly Sue DeConnick and artist Dexter Soy populating Captain Marvel’s world with a group of strong, capable lady pilots who aren’t afraid to break the glass ceiling (and a few faces) along the way.
6. Ghost #1 (Dark Horse Comics)
We might as well call Kelly Sue DeConnick butter because she is on a roll (I’m sorry, I’ll show myself out). DeConnick makes her second appearance on this list with the relaunch of Dark Horse’s “Ghost,” which saw her team up with artist Phil Noto as they resurrected the well loved enigmatic phantom. The supernatural mystery of DeConnick’s story combined with the vintage feel of Phil Noto’s art to make a book that looked and felt like no other.
5. Uncanny Avengers #1 (Marvel)
After talking a big game about improving their track record with shipping titles on time, Marvel failed to live up to their own promises when it was announced that fans would have to wait several weeks for Rick Remender’s “Uncanny Avengers” #2. The wait was made particularly excruciating consider just how good the first issue was. “Uncanny Avengers” was like a breath of fresh air after months of AvX-induced fatigue and it was a dynamic way to kick off the slew of Marvel NOW titles that followed. John Cassaday’s art is rich with detail and was worth the price of admission on its own. Now, if only we could work on those delays…
4. Fatale #1 (Image Comics)
On the cover of the first issue of “Fatale,” a toothy, tentacly red-eyed demon brandishes a tommy gun with maniacal glee. If that isn’t enough to sell you on the merits of the book, I don’t know what is. Writer Ed Brubaker and artist Sean Phillips joined forces to deliver a series debut that combines a film noir aesthetic, gangster shoot-outs and, of course, a mysterious bombshell who may just be the key to it all. Every part of the issue is lovingly crafted from Brubaker’s richly layered storytelling to Phillips’ expert realism and Dave Stewart’s tightly controlled palette. It was a heady beginning for an excellent series.
3. Revival #1 (Image Comics)
Writer Tim Seeley and artist Mike Norton took us to backwoods Wisconsin for “Revival Day,” which saw the dead rise in the most gloriously twisted ways. “Revival” isn’t just notable for its expert storytelling or appropriately atmospheric art either. The book sets out a well-rounded, diverse cast of characters who break the mold in terms of our expectations of gender and race. The industry has seen a handful of conversations about diversity spring up over the course of the year, but it tends to feel like talking the talk more often than not. From the very first issue of “Revival,” Seeley walks the walk as he sets up a densely packed narrative that’s as delightfully layered as the most delicious parfait.
2. Hawkeye #1 (Marvel)
Full disclosure: I’ve never really cared for Hawkeye as a character. He’s always floated at the periphery of my comic consciousness as a sort of non-entity. With a single issue of Hawkeye, writer Matt Fraction and artist David Aja made me do an about face on the issue of Clint Barton. “Hawkeye” #1 follows Clint through a wickedly mundane day as he navigates the daily indignities of civilian life. There are rescue dog sidekicks, immoral landlords, pizza, and snark and it all adds up to create a portrait of a character that is refreshing enough to convert this non-believer for good.
1. Saga #1 (Image Comics)
Brian K. Vaughan made his triumphant return to comics with one of this year’s freshest new series, “Saga.” Working alongside artist Fiona Staples, Vaughan spins an interspecies romance of galactic proportions, as Marko and Alana, soldiers on opposing sides of a long and brutal conflict, find love in a hopeless place. The first issue packs an impressive amount of world building and character development in 45 pages that fly by all too quickly. “Saga” is equal parts space opera, love story, and action epic and it’s easily one of the most exciting new series to debut in 2012.
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