Having read ALL of the New 52 comics to date, I figured I was well-placed to present some awards based on the first six months of the relaunch.
It’s going to be subjective as hell, but what random blog isn’t?
And apologies for the terrible name I’m giving these awards. Haha.
Without further ado …
Best Ongoing Series
Nominees: Animal Man, Aquaman, Batman, Resurrection Man, Swamp Thing
Each of these titles has deeply impressed me and, to my pleasant surprise, three of them (Animal Man, Resurrection Man and Swamp Thing) weren’t really on my ‘must read’ list when the relaunch titles were announced. Boasting four consecutive 4.5-rated issues (#2-#5) and the most time spent at the top of my One Sentence Review leaderboard, Swamp Thing narrowly took out this tight contest.
Winner: Swamp Thing
Best Miniseries or One Shot
Nominees: Batman – Noel, Huntress, Penguin – Pain and Prejudice, The Ray, The Shade
This was another tight contest, which was hard to judge because some of them aren’t even close to being finished yet. Batman – Noel was a very impressive one-shot and The Ray bristles with energy and enthusiasm, while the Penguin surprised me with its willingness to poke around in the dark corners of the title character’s world, but The Shade has so far offered something quite unlike anything else on the comic shelves of late.
Winner: The Shade
Nominees: Animal Man #1, Batman #5, Justice League Dark #2, Resurrection Man #5, Swamp Thing #2
This was a no-brainer for me. I’ve only rated one issue 5/5 so far and Batman’s twisty descent into paranoia and drug-induced madness, with the Court of Owls poised to finish him off, was it.
Winner: Batman #5
Nominees: Geoff Johns (Aquaman, Green Lantern, Justice League), Jeff Lemire (Animal Man, Frankestein – Agent of S.H.A.D.E.), Scott Lobdell (Red Hood and the Outlaws, Superboy, Teen Titans), Scott Snyder (Batman, Swamp Thing), Peter Tomasi (Batman and Robin, Green Lantern Corps)
Yeah, Johns is on the list and Morrison isn’t. The more I think about it, the more dissatisfied I am with Morrison’s approach to most of his comic writing. I don’t like shelling out coin to be confused. Also, I’ve given Lobdell a nomination because, while I haven’t loved everything he’s done in the relaunch, I think he has been the writer doing the most world-building in the New 52. And after the flub that was Red Hood and the Outlaws #1, he hasn’t really dropped the ball since. For me, though, Snyder is absolutely killing it at the moment.
Winner: Scott Snyder (Batman, Swamp Thing)
Best Artist or Penciller
Nominees: Greg Capullo (Batman), Mikel Janin (Justice League Dark), Jim Lee (Justice League), Francis Manapul (The Flash), J. H. Williams III (Batwoman)
Lee is a superstar for a reason and it’s great to see Capullo on a more mainstream title. Meanwhile, Janin has made a fan of me – stunning work. But I think Manapul and Williams III are probably setting the standard currently, with the latter being in a whole new stratosphere to your average comic book artist.
Winner: J. H. Williams III (Batwoman)
Nominees: Animal Man, Aquaman, Batman, Mitch Shelley (Resurrection Man), Sinestro (Green Lantern)
Yeah, Sinestro’s nomination is a bit of a stir (especially considering the next category), but the rest all definitely deserve their spots on the list. In the end, I’ve gone with the character I personally relate to the most. As a father, Buddy Baker’s efforts to protect his family have really resonated with me.
Winner: Animal Man
Nominees: Catwoman, Deadshot (Suicide Squad), Deathstroke, Jonah Hex (All Star Western), The Shade
Surprisingly, this was one of the hardest shortlists to create, as I had a lot of names in contention. I very nearly gave The Shade the nod, but there is something about Floyd Lawton that has always appealed to me. Sure, he’s an assassin, but he seems honourable in his own way. Along with Harley Quinn, he has made Suicide Squad an enjoyable title – even if it can’t match up to the tragically cancelled Secret Six.
Winner: Deadshot (Suicide Squad)
Nominees: The Court of Owls (Batman), Harry Tanner (Stormwatch), The Keepers (Green Lantern Corps), Massacre (Batwing), William Arcane (Swamp Thing)
This was another very open contest, with many characters/groups coming close to a nomination. I’m not even 100 per cent sure yet that Harry Tanner is even a villain, but he most certainly is a traitor and his turn of bastardry was very memorable. William Arcane with his control of The Rot is easily the most chilling of this bunch, while Massacre is a distinctly African villain with lots of promise. But perhaps the villains we’ve seen the least of, the Court of Owls, have been my favourites (perhaps because of the way Snyder has draped them in sinister mysteriousness).
Winner: The Court of Owls (Batman)
Nominees: Birds of Prey, Justice League, Justice League Dark, Stormwatch, Suicide Squad
This was mostly a two-horse race between Birds of Prey and Stormwatch. My great affection for new bird on the block, Starling, and the confusion Stormwatch #1 evoked is what gave the girls from Gotham the edge.
Winner: Birds of Prey
Best Supporting Character
Nominees: Alfred Pennyworth (Batman, Batman – The Dark Knight, Batman and Robin, Detective Comics); Daryl Roth, AKA The Transhuman (Resurrection Man); Lady Frankenstein (Frankenstein, Agent of S.H.A.D.E.); Maxine Baker (Animal Man); Mera (Aquaman)
Plenty of worthy nominations here, but Alfred’s class sets him apart. I’ve commented before that Batman and Robin could alternatively be titled Batman and Robin and Alfred.
Winner: Alfred Pennyworth (Batman, Batman – The Dark Knight, Batman and Robin, Detective Comics)
Best New Character/s
Nominees: Caitlin “Red” Fairchild (Superboy), Harry Tanner (Stormwatch), The Mean Machine (Green Lantern Corps), Pandora (all ongoing titles), Starling (Birds of Prey),
I wish I could give a nomination to Andrew Bennet (I, Vampire), but even though I wasn’t familiar with him, he isn’t really new. I have, however, including “Red” from Superboy, because she has changed to the point of being an all-new character, in my view. Honestly, this contest isn’t even close, though. Starling has been the best addition to the DC Universe in the New 52.
Winner: Starling (Birds of Prey)
Most Improved Character
Nominees: Animal Man, Aquaman, Batwing, Supergirl, Wonder Woman
Lemire is doing great things to make Animal Man a character I’m busting to read about every month, while Azzarello should be commended for taking Wonder Woman in a bold, new direction. Similarly, Green and Johnson have taken a previously muddled character, in Supergirl, boiled her down to the basics and started building her back up from scratch. I think Winnick has also done a great job of imbuing Batwing with a distinctive African flavor that makes him more than just a Batman-clone. Finally, I know that not everyone is a Johns fan and that some grew tired of the meta jokes in Aquaman very quickly, but for me he has taken a character that many creators have tried and failed to make interesting and delivered some good, solid entertainment … and for that reason, he’s my winner.
I’d love to do awards for Inkers, Colourists and Letterers, but honestly these are things I usually only notice if they are done poorly. That mightn’t be very fair to those who are experts at their craft, but the best I can say is that if I don’t know who they are, chances are they are very, very good at their jobs.
Disagree with any of the above? Leave a comment and tell me who your winners are.