Comics are my number one passion in life. While some may see me as childish or geeky, I believe comic books are one of the most powerful storytelling mediums around. If you disagree, let the mighty hammer of Thor rain down upon you. The point is that while some dismiss comics for lacking in maturity, comics are just as potent and intelligent as any other art form. I read an unhealthy amount of comics (seriously, it’s a problem), and I like to think that by know I know what makes a good comic. The books in my top 10 list range from indie graphic novels to New 52 ongoings in order to represent the wide array of quality comics from 2012.
I had a really tough time narrowing down my list. Starting with roughly 20 titles, I cut it to 10, then ordered them over and over again. I never would have guessed that my number one series of the year would be a zombie/vampire book.
LONNIE NADLER’S TOP 10 COMICS OF 2012
10. Alabaster: Wolves (Dark Horse Comics )
There’s just something about Caitlin R Kiernan’s white albino huntress that had me head over heals in love from issue #1. Kiernan bizarre world is so vast and unlike any dark fantasy I’ve ever encountered. While “Alabaster: Wolves” was just a brief miniseries, the fact that I liked it this much how much potential exists within this edgy fantasy world. This is the kind of fiction that is not grounded in our reality, but rather takes place in a reality of its own; a reality that is estranged, beautiful, and powerful.
9. Monocyte (IDW Publishing)
Prior to menton3 and Kasra Gahnbari’s endeavors with 44FLOOD, the duo released “Monocyte”, the story of a one-eyed necromancer who is awoken to put two immortal races to rest. It’s a bleak and gothic look into the future of humanity. I’ve read the book over several times, and while I can’t say I fully understand it, “Monocyte” is the most poetic comic I read this year.
8. Queen Crab (Image Comics)
When I heard that Jimmy Palmiotti was writing an original graphic novel being marketed at Stephen Kind meets David Lynch, I knew it would be on this list before I even read it. Ginger’s journey throughout “Queen Crab” is an absurd one, but more importantly it is an exploration how we try to find meaning in a world that is inherently without meaning. While “Queen Crab” is a story of female empowerment and male castration, it is so much more. Bold in his delivery, Palmiotti twists the classic horror movie monster into something far more beautiful and far more human.
7. Animal Man (DC Comics)
Jeff Lemire took a hero nobody believed in, and made him one of the most popular titles at DC. A horror title nonetheless. Buddy Baker is a family oriented man, and there’s nothing Lemire writes better than family drama. Sure, The Rot is dreadfully awesome, but what separates this book from the rest of DC’s lineup that Buddy Baker is far more relatable than most heroes. The horror is not strictly derived from Animal Man’s grotesque enemies, but more so from fear of what might happen to his beloved family.
6. Severed (Image Comics)
“Severed” is a classic horror story. It throws back to 1916 where fears of childhood and leaving home were ripe. Snyder and Tuft base their twisted villain on real life serial killer, Albert Fish; a brilliant move that reminds us of the sick people that exist in the real world. In the final few issues, nearly every page is heart pounding, packed with real suspense and true scares that are rarely seen in comics.
5. My Friend Dahmer (Abrams ComicArts)
If you dig horror, chances are you’ve stumbled across the Wikipedia pages of the most infamous serial killers. Jeffrey Dahmer is perhaps the most notorious of the bunch. Writer and artist Derf Backderf grounds his work in his own experiences, recounting his life and times with high-school friend, Jeffrey Dahmer. Backderf doesn’t shy away from the disturbing subject matter, making “My Friend Dahmer” a potent character study. This is a fascinating look into a broken world that bred a monster.
4. Sweet Tooth (Vertigo Comics)
“Sweet Tooth” represents all I love about Jeff Lemire. While I would have liked to put “Underwater Welder” on this list, “Sweet Tooth” has been too good and too close to my heart to leave it out. This series showcases Lemire’s compassionate writing and his unique, naïve artistic style. The post-apocalyptic hybrid creatures are cute, but the pervasive sense of danger throughout the series gives it a weight unlike any other series.
3. Saga (Image Comics)
I doubt that there will be a single Best Comics of 2012 list that does not pay tribute to Brian K Vaughan and Finoa Staples masterpiece that is “Saga”. Part sci-fi epic, part love story, part adventure, BKV draws from all genres to create a lush world that is as imaginative as it is dangerous. I cannot even begin to comprehend how BKV’s mind works, but I’m glad we have him on our side.
2. Locke & Key (IDW Publishing)
Just when I thought this series couldn’t get any better, Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez deliver “Locke & Key: Clockworks”. “Clockworks” is a testament to Hill’s ability to shape multifaceted storylines as he ties the plot all the way back to the first arc. I have grown so attached to the doomed Locke family that I do now know how I will go through life once they are gone in 2013.
1. The New Deadwardians (Vertigo Comics)
If you had told me at the start of the year that a zombie/vampire book would be my favorite series of the year, I would have said you were batshit crazy. However, Abnett seamlessly blends in all the key elements of Gothic fiction with modern horror to create an extremely intriguing mystery that bleeds with whit, magic, and innovation. I’ve grown weary of the countless undead stories out there, but “The New Deadwardians” is the most ferociously original series I read all year. From the clever play on words to the rich elements of Victorian history, “The New Deadwardians” is proof that there is still plenty of life left in vampire/zombie fiction.
Colder (Dark Horse Comics)
Harvest (Image Comics)
The Hive (Pantheon)
Thanks everyone for a great year. See you in 2013!