We'd already written up some of our thoughts on the best comics and movies of last year, but as the week rolled on, we wanted to recognize some of the standout talents of 2012 on an individual basis, as well.
What were some of the books, creators and characters we loved, that didn't find their way onto another list for one reason or another?
Wrapping up his run on Marvel Comics's Captain America family of titles this year, Ed Brubaker captured the imagination of fans in a big way with his brilliant and best-selling Fatale for Image Comics.
It's far from the first time he's done creator-owned work -- in fact, it's far from the first time he's done it with collaborator Sean Phillips -- but walking away from Big Two comics for the time being seems to have laid all of his cards on the table in favor of Fatale. That connected with fans and has kept enthusiasm high, driving the comic to change from a miniseries to an ongoing.
Runners up: Brian K. Vaughan (Saga), Scott Snyder (Batman, Swamp Thing), Kelly Sue DeConnick (Captain Marvel), Ron Marz (Artifacts)
Everybody loves Batman, and sales are spectacular. Nobody's going to say that has nothing to do with Scott Snyder, but Capullo is an absolute beast on this title, and the success of the book has been more evidence that Capullo's work has been underrated for years. The pair have become a truly great creative team in spite of acknowledging that their work styles didn't necessarily gel at first.
It's rare you get a mainstream superhero comic that's as beautiful as indie books, but Capullo's Batman fits the bill.
Runners up: Terry Moore (Rachel Rising), J.H. Williams III (Batwoman), Fiona Staples (Saga), Sean Murphy (Punk Rock Jesus)
Best Digital Comic: Bandette
Absolutely gorgeous, hugely entertaining and one of the best launches of the year, digital or not, this arguably the best book from Monkeybrain's launch--and that's saying something, considering that almost every other great digital comic we could come up with came from the same publisher.
Best Webcomic: Theater Hopper
There are so many webcomics, it's hard to nail down a "best of" that's meaningful at all, and so this really does come down to personal taste--but Theater Hopper is an unambiguously great one. A hilarious comic with some great characters, we'll miss the heck out of it in 2013 (its last strip ran just the other day--go read it!)
Oh, and the series is about to start running a Kickstarter to fund startup on eBooks for the years not yet collected in print. You should check that out and, if it's live by the time you're reading this, consider a donation. I want to own all of these on my Nook.
Best Publisher: Image Comics
This was a banner year for Image, as we discussed when we named their publisher, Eric Stephenson, our person of the year. Nearly every launch they had this year was a huge success and even the ones that didn't sell out every issue were critically well-received. This would have been a no-brainer, except for the only publisher who even came remotely close...
Runner up: Monkeybrain Comics
Best Hero: Savage Dragon
Let's be honest here - everybody knows we love Erik Larsen's Savage Dragon. But why recognize the character in this way? Well, first of all, he turned 20 in great style, taking down the guy who "killed" him in dramatic fashion. Secondly, Larsen managed to really change the game for the character, telling stories in a number of different genres throughout 2012 (war, superhero, science fiction, and even some philosophical stuff) and really setting the bar high for next year.
Best Villain: Dr. Octopus
Best New Character: Edison Rex
A book that manages to be smart and complex, but still fun. In that way, it's like almost every Monkeybrain title. If you're not reading this, you really, really should be.
Biggest Turnaround: The Fury of Firestorm the Nuclear Man0comments
Yeah, it's only a couple of issues in 2012, but the first year of this comic was downright terrible, so its status as "biggest turnaround" is a gimme. Most other books that bad don't survive the experience.
Writer/artist Dan Jurgens has managed to stop the bleeding, which is absolutely huge on a book that's mathematically got to be on the cancellation bubble already, and as an added bonus, the book is an objectively good title--even if it hadn't been a mess before, it would be worth taking note.