Welcome back to Top of the Pile, Comic Vine's monthly wrap-up of what the staff loved over the past month. December was an enormous month for comics: AMAZING SPIDER-MAN came to a close and the fate of Peter Parker was decided, Aquaman and the Justice League faced a foe from below the surface in the start of Throne of Atlantis, and Marvel Now! continues to release more books than fans can afford. The staff came together to compile this list of their favorite issues over the past month, and this month, there were a lot of tough choices.
While it is the end of the year, we didn't want to make this into an "end of the year" wrap-up, so all of us picked one of our favorite moments from 2012. It could have been a single issue, a story line, or an event, but we wanted to let you all know what we loved this past year.
Tony "G-Man" Guerrero's Top of the Pile
1. HAWKEYE #6
This issue was pure fun. Matt Fraction knows how to combine humor, suspense and superhero action into the same story. The way he tells the story here isn't in the normal conventional format and it gives us a look into the daily activities of Clint. There is such a focus on his character that you can't help but get attached to the small details in his life. David Aja's art highlights the story by simply creating the atmosphere that sets the comic apart from others.
This issue was more about the story and where it's going to take us. Of couse I didn't love the outcome but I'm sure as hell interested in what the heck Dan Slott is going to do next with SUPERIOR Spider-Man. The issue is a piece of history and it's a great celebration of the series.
3. BATMAN #15
Batman continues to be one of my favorite titles. You just never know what's going to happen. The way this issue ends almost makes you afraid to see what's going to happen in issue 16. The other 'Death of the Family' tie ins have been hit or miss but this is what it's all about.
We have a new incredibly horrible 'villain' the survivors need to deal with. If you're looking for zombie action, you won't really find any in this issue. Carl has put himself in a bad situation and with Kirkman's track record, you simple never know who will or won't survive or what crazy thing is going to happen next.
This is where Geoff Johns shows everyone the importance of Aquaman. He's always been the butt of jokes but since the New 52 started, he's made it clear there is much more to the character. We've been wanting to see more crossovers with the characters in JL and the solo titles and now we're getting some. There's also some great interaction between Wonder Woman and Superman, which gives more characterization than we've seen in their own titles. The new art team is kicking ass here as well. Of course the back up with Shazam with art by Gary Frank is always an extra treat.
Favorite storyline of the year: Night of the Owls
I started looking back at the New Comics page to see what was released this year but knew that would take too long. Without giving it too much thought, I'd have to go with 'Night of the Owls.' It was basically a continuation from the 'A Court of Owls' story. We got to see Batman up against the wall. He was overconfident and was caught off guard. The twist with Lincoln March was great with its ties to the Silver Age continuity. We're still seeing repercussions in most of the Bat-titles from this arc. Great storytelling and great art just made it a wining combination.
Sara "Babs" Lima's Top of the Pile
Darwyn Cooke took characters that appeared briefly in Alan Moore's WATCHMEN and made them his own in this series. This issue is one of the best. It is beautifully written and illustrated and definitely ends on a serious cliff-hanger that left me wanting more.
One of the best final issues to an amazing series, period! After following the journey of these characters and this team for 34 issues, after watching their characters develop, seeing them get knocked down, we finally get a happy ending. While I'm sad to see Remender go, I can honestly say this was one of the best rides, ever.
Writer Brian Azzarello has been doing great, new and different things with Wonder Woman in her self-titled ongoing series, and so far it's been one heck of a ride! In this issue we finally see Diana meet Orion, which left me at the edge of my seat wanting more.
4. BATMAN #15
We've all been waiting for that moment when the Joker really breaks Batman, just to see how 'The Dark Knight' will react and that all starts here. Batman's decisions come into question when members of the Bat-Family confront him about a mistake he may have made. Beautifully written issue with gorgeous art by Greg Capullo.
This was a great first issue and an awesome start to a new and very unique series. The concept is unlike anything I've read, the story is exciting and well thought out and the art is gorgeous. This is definitely one series I am looking forward to reading in 2013.
Favorite story line of the year:'Final Execution'
When a series can make you laugh, cry, and fall in love with its characters, you know you're reading a great comic book. Over the course of the last year, I've read plenty of amazing stories and have enjoyed seeing the character development of plenty of great characters, but the one story that stands out to me as my favorite has to be the final arc in writer Rick Remender's run of UNCANNY X-FORCE. In it we see the death of Fantomex, Betsy's struggle, the full character development of Deadpool and the self realization and self discovery of Genesis. Aside from the fact that Remender focused on these characters individually and pulled on my heart strings over and over, he gave fans a happy ending, and I couldn't have been more happy. In retrospect this was, hands down, one of the best comic story arcs I've ever read. It was beautifully written, well thought out and most importantly, it was consistent.
Mat "Inferiorego" Elfring's Top of the Pile
1. SAGA #8
This book blows me away, month after month. I never understand how it keeps getting better and better. Alana and Marko do their own thing in this issue, and we get to learn a bit more about Marko's history, including how he met Alana. I love how Brian K Vaughan gives the reader a main story that is incredibly compelling, but also, especially in this issue, he gives us small bits and pieces of the history of these characters, which we see with how Alana and Marko met and also the big reveal at the end involving someone from Marko's past. On top of all of that, Fiona Staples art work is breathtaking.
Even though the Internets are enraged with Peter Parker and Spider-Man fans, flipping over theoretical cars and setting fire to metaphorical garbage cans, this landmark issue was pure brilliance. I still don't want to spoil anything, but this issue starts a brand new era for Spidey in a big way. Writer Dan Slott made some questionable decisions that really pay off here, and issue 700 is a bit of a tear-jerker that will piss you off at the same time, but in a good way. I, for one, cannot wait for SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN after this one.
A strange, off-the-wall, thrilling, and sometimes confusing comic book under the DC banner? Sign me up! Out off all the comics I've read this year, I've read this single issue the most and for all the right reasons. B. Clay Moore's story is extremely cool, and Tony Harris' art on this book is great. It's a new look on some classic DC characters, and it's a compelling read all the way through.
Yeah, I know. Total cop-out because I picked both of these issues and not just one of them. These were both Christmas presents that I was cool with being a day late. This is where the Throne of Atlantis story line kicked off, and while I thought that this cross over may be tough to swallow, it works so well thus far. I love seeing Aquaman trying to find his place in the world, even with his own brother, the king of Atlantis trying to sink multiple coastal cities. The last page of Aquaman was a pretty shocking moment, and for the first time since the series began, JUSTICE LEAGUE is a book I cannot wait to read.
5. CLONE #2
This was a book that went from my review list to my actual pull list. This last month's issue of CLONE was really cool as Luke finds out there's a lot more clones of him all contained in a camp. I love where this story is going and there's a lot of spy elements to this issue in particular that I thought worked extremely well.
Best Mini-series of 2012: SPIDER-MEN
The idea was simple, move Peter Parker from the 616 universe over to the Ultimate Universe, where he is dead, and newcomer Miles Morales has become the new Spider-Man. Oh man, it was so much more than that. This was one fantastic cross over mini-series that not only worked, but it became one of my favorite Marvel stories of all time. In fact, I even double dipped on it (bought the single issues and then the trade). My favorite moment of the series is when 616 Peter meets the ultimate versions of Gwen Stacy and Aunt May in a very touching and surreal homecoming.
Gregg Katzmann's Top of the Pile
Geoff Johns' title wasn't doing much for me before, but wow, this issue really steps its game up. 'Throne of Atlantis' is off to an amazing start and the conversation between Kal and Dina in Smallville was simply brilliant. I'm really looking forward to how this will all play out.
This issue was filled with so much heart. Oddly enough, it was Kaine's supporting cast and a silly group of Santa dressed robbers that made this issue so grand. Everything from the hilarious enforcement of the swear jar to the conversation about Kaine's relationship with the group was priceless. Then, as if matters couldn't get any better, Kaine showcased what could quite possibly be the best display of Christmas Spirit ever. A silly smile was slapped across my face during this entire read. Bravo, Yost.
3. HAWKEYE #6
What can I say that hasn't already been said a thousand times about this book? It's without question one of Marvel's top books and we were treated to two welcome returns: David Aja and the Bros. This Holiday themed issue wasn't necessarily as hysterical as the others, but it was incredibly moving. There's no reason why you shouldn't love Clint after this read.
4. BATMAN #15
Snyder / Capullo are the tag team champions of DC. 'Death of a Family's' latest developments were fantastic and, instead of putting a focus on horror, finally showed Joker tearing the bat family apart from the inside. The way the "secret" is discussed is superb.
5. SHADOWMAN #2
This was a huge surprise for me. It's no secret I'm not the biggest fan around of magic/fantasy based stories, but Valiant seems to be casting a very powerful spell here (har har). This was the one title I was expecting to finally NOT like from the publisher, but damn it, they proved me wrong. I highly recommend giving this new series a shot. The art is amazing, there's plenty of sweet action and they already have me caring about the primary cast of characters.
Issue of the year: HAWKEYE #3
Because boomerangs. But really, Matt Fraction provided a beyond top-notch script with this one. Hysterical beyond belief and absurdly entertaining, this is an issue you should absolutely read. Go read it. Now.
There you have it! This is what the staff at Comic Vine thought was the best of December! From the looks of things, BATMAN, AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, HAWKEYE, and JUSTICE LEAGUE were hits with most of us.
What do you guys think of the list? Were there some books not on here that are on the top of your pile? Let us know!