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Best X-Men Comics of 2012

January 8, 2013

So I decided to do it today, since I have no classes. Here’s my look back at the best – and some of the worst – of 2012.

1. X-Factor is my pick for the best X-comic of the year. It’s a no-brainer. I love that series. Sharp writing, clever dialogue, witty humour, compelling characterization, interesting stories, neat twists – the book continues to have everything you could want in a comic. Also, Terry kissing the Morrigan. Hot. Get well, Peter.

2. Uncanny X-Men. It has many of the same qualities as X-Factor. It spent a good chunk of this year tying in with AvX, but did an awesome job at it. The Sinister arc in the middle of AvX was a clear highlight – I spent the whole arc laughing. (His Journey Into Mystery also gets a special mention. It wasn’t an X-title, but it was an absolutely amazing title, with one of the most incredible finales you will ever find, featuring a meta-textual analysis of the transitory nature of change in comic books. Also, the Exiled crossover with New Mutants was really cool.)

3. Brian Wood’s run on X-Men. He never managed to sell me on the importance of the proto-mutants – that felt a little forced. (And that’s even before you take into account the fact that it’s unlikely to ever be referenced again, and will certainly have no long-term bearing on anything.) However, the characterization was very good, and the tension between the members of the team was done very well. The whole run had a really dark undertone. Pixie’s presence made it even more effective – her usual brightness contrasted with the dark tone, making it stand out even more.

4. Alpha Flight. I’m Canadian, I sorta have to. But even aside from that, it was a great series, ended far too soon. I loved Punk-Marrina. Puck’s conspiracy-theorist thing was hilarious, especially as he kept being proven right. Heather’s coldness was chilling. It was a good, well-written comic, and I really wish it had survived.

5. AvX Consequences. It was more of Gillen writing Scott. How could it not be awesome? Scott’s arc was great, the reveal of Brand as a mutant who supports Scott was really cool, and the fact that it spawned “Cyclops Was Right” t-shirts is awesome.

6. New Mutants. A lot of people were unimpressed, but I really enjoyed the DnA run on New Mutants. It had problems, certainly. I didn’t care for the art, for one thing. And there were occasional moments of mediocrity. But overall, they did a good job. Plus, the Exiled crossover with Journey Into Mystery was really cool. And I’m always glad to see Dani’s Valkyrie side referenced. (I’m really looking forward to Fearless Defenders.)

7. AvX Babies. It’s just one of the most adorable things ever. Go read it.

8. AvX VS. Not all the fights were good (I’m looking at you, Hawkeye vs. Angel), but a lot of them were. Storm vs. Black Panther was fantastic and heart-breaking. And VS. #6 was one of the funniest comics of the year. Just hilarious from start to finish.

9. Gambit. It’s been a lot of fun. And the last arc reminded me of how awesome Captain Britain and MI:13 was. I want a new Excalibur series. Anyway, Gambit’s been a fun adventure book.

10. All-New X-Men. It’s new, and it took a little while to get totally settled. But the last two issues have, I think, quieted any concerns about how good this will be.

As for the five worst, number one has to be Age of Apocalypse. It’s been a frustrating series. It’s ridiculously grimdark, almost to the point of satire, but it seems to take itself totally seriously. The characterization has been fairly shallow. And Prophet being a Mary Sue with events always fitting exactly into his plans got tiring very, very quickly. It’s just a terrible book.

2. Deadpool MAX. Stupid, puerile humour, and ugly art.

3. Jeph Loeb’s run on Wolverine. No one wanted a sequel to your stupid Evolution arc, Loeb. While we’re certainly glad to have the big revelations from it retconned, a writer who doesn’t suck could’ve done that. And now we’ve instead got another set of stupid and needless revelations into Wolverine’s past. Bah.

4. First X-Men. This mini was terrible. Ugly art, a stupid premise, and weak plotting. The dialogue’s mostly OK, but not really stellar.

5. Wolverine and the X-Men. Some of the shallowest characterization I’ve ever read, a lot of great characters reduced to wallpaper, dull stories, some of the worst villains ever in the Hellfire Brats (one of the most obnoxious concepts I’ve come across in comics), humour that falls flat by trying too hard to be wacky and to draw attention to its wackiness . . . there is very little to actually like about this book.

I never did a post explaining how I felt about AvX as a whole. Well, I thought it was OK. Probably the best Avengers-based event of the past ten years, but middling as an X-Men-based event. Some good parts, some lame parts. I can’t last it among the best stories of the year (though it did spawn some of my favourite arcs of the year in other titles) nor the worst.

And some honorable mentions. First, Avengers Academy. I loved that series. It was in my top 3 during its entire run, up with X-Factor and Journey Into Mystery. I loved the characters, and I loved the optimism of the book. The Runaways two-parter was cool, and both AvX tie-in arcs were good. And, of course, #38, crossing over with WatXM was great. That issue was hilarious, and did a better job with the JGS characters than Aaron’s done.

Captain Marvel has become one of my favourite books. Kelly Sue DeConnick writes strong, independent female characters. And she writes them as people first, women second. It reminds me, in an odd way, of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic. They’re both about strong women who have interests beyond boys, fashion, and other girly things. I actually liked the time travel arc, despite a lot of people not enjoying it, and the arc with Monica was awesome. I love this book.

Also deserving a mention is The Punisher. Normally, I couldn’t care less about him. But this was a fantastic series by Rucka. Rachel Cole-Alves’s character arc was exciting to watch, and had a perfect conclusion. I hope we haven’t seen the last of her. She’s too good a character to simply disappear. Secret Avengers seems like it would be a reasonable place for her, but I think she might be too cool for that book. I don’t want her stuck hanging around Fury, Jr.

Hulk and Red She-Hulk by Jeff Parker also deserve some love. When Parker took over Hulk, Rulk was a terrible Jeph Loeb character. Parker made him interesting and compelling, so he’s no longer Rulk, but Red Hulk, a character deserving of respect. And he’s continuing the excellence with Red She-Hulk.

Marvel had plenty of other great books this year. And a few stinkers. But I’ve gone on long enough, I think. So, go read the books I mentioned.

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From → 2012, Uncategorized

5 Comments
  1. Fantastic selections, but I wouldn’t expect any less! It was interesting to hear your thoughts on CAPTAIN MARVEL. I think KSD’s characterization and dialogue is fantastic, but the plotting seems to be a bit more where my issues lie. The climax of the time-travel arc was fantastic (especially thanks to Emma Rios on art) but the Monica storyline…I mean, I love Monica, and them merging together was interesting. But It hardly felt like I read a story! There just wasn’t much to it. I’ve loved her Dark Horse series GHOST much more.
    I don’t mean to clog your comments section, but you’re spot on about Punisher and Rulk (or Red Hulk!) and well I like WatXM more than you, your criticisms make sense. You present them with respect, which I really appreciate – many X-fans become blinded with rage if you so much as admit to being interested in that book. I surprisingly loved Cullen Bunn and Paul Pelettier’s WOLVERINE run. It wasn’t anything fresh or unique, but it was a fun Wolvie story. I didn’t even bother to pick up Loeb’s. And somehow I didn’t even NOTICE there was an ALPHA FLIGHT comic this year!!!! How did that happen?!?! As a fellow Canadian, those are some of my favourite characters! Stocked to see Puck in UXF!

    • I thought Bunn’s Wolverine run was good, too. He built on some stuff Aaron set up, and had a pretty decent handle on the character. Yeah, I liked it.

      Alpha Flight began in 2011, and wrapped up at the beginning of 2012. In all honesty, including it on my list is cheating. I don’t care. Alpha Flight kicks ass. And yeah, Puck in UXF should be good. I hope he’s still got that weird conspiracy-theorist thing going on, because that was great.

  2. I almost forgot how adorable AVX Babies was.

    Personally I preffered Uncanny X-Men over X-Factor, but they really were the best X-Men books this year.

    I’ve never actually read any Alpha Flight books – I probably should since I’m also Canadian. Where yould you recommend I start with them?

    Also, further retconning Wolverine’s already overcomplicated story? No thanks Loeb. I’d argue that it’s actually the worst of the year – at least AOA doesn’t take place in the main universe.

    • Alpha Flight’s first appearance was in Uncanny X-Men #120, in April 1979. They made a couple more appearances over the next couple years, then got their own series starting August 1983. It was very good, for the most part. So it’s pretty safe to start there. For the first volume, there’s only two TPBs, collecting #1-8, and #9-19. Or, you know, download it. We’re Canadian, downloading’s totally legal.

      • Yeah, but unfortunately the government is working on tightening up internet copyright laws. Concequence free downloading might not last much longer.

        Anyway, thanks for the recommendations.

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