The Top 10 Ongoing Comics of 2012

Well, it’s that time of the year: the time when every obsessive with an Internet connection (and some obsessives, like me, without one) make lists.  Best Album of 2012 leads into Worst Album of 2012 and culminates in Best Comeback Performance in 2012 Of An Artist Who Started His Career in the 1980s But Suffered Setbacks In The 90s.

We here at read/RANT like to keep things pretty simple.  We talk about what we know: comics.  Also, sometimes, TV and movies.  We’re Renaissance Men, capable of being interested in many things at once.  But, admittedly, it’s mostly comics.

Last year, there was just a single list: The 10 Best Graphic Novels of 2011.  This year, I’m splitting my Top 10 into two separate lists: Top 10 Ongoings – what you are reading now – and an upcoming book on the Top 10 Graphic Novels.  There are some books that may be thrilling as ongoings, but only very good as collections – or books that had a fantastic year, but don’t yet have a collection released!

So I’m hoping this will help bring a little diversity to the lists.  We’ll see.  Anyway, click through for the first list: The Top 10 Ongoing Comics of 2012, then chime in down in the comments and let me know what your favorite books were this year!

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This Week In Comics: 6/27/2012

This week in comics, Before Watchmen: Nite Owl shows us why we should have feared this whole silly prequel business more, Abnett & Lanning launch a new superhero book for Boom! and two of Gotham’s many, many massive criminal conspiracies clash in All-Star Western.  Would you like to know more?

Everyone is super hostile to the kindly old man inviting them all into his house. It’s like a gritty retelling of The Sandlot.

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This Week In Comics: 6/6/2012

This week in comics, DC’s attempt to cash-in on Watchmen 25 years too late (and a few years too late for the film) begins with Before Watchmen: Minutemen, Boom! launches some a pair of new ongoings, and Morrison kills Clark Kent, that bastard!

Swamp Thing #10 wins this week’s award for Most Misleading Cover, ignoring the book’s creepy imagery and muted colors for a bland-looking fight that doesn’t actually happen. It also wins the award for Molestiest Cover, unfortunately.

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Review: Superbia #1 (of 4)

For a little while, at least, Desperate Housewives was a pretty friggin’ good show.  I know the rough demographics of the comic reading audience, and presumably that audience doubles as our readership here, so I suspect I won’t get a lot of support on that statement, but I’m pretty comfortable saying it’s true.  In its first season, at least, it was a heady combination of suburban soap and darkly comic whodunit.  With compelling characters and a simple, interesting plot, it was an easy show to enjoy.  Now, I mention all this because, in my opinion, Desperate Housewives meets the Justice League is the easiest elevator pitch for Boom! Studio’s excellent new mini-series, Superbia, a book that looks easy to dismiss but conceals some pretty fascinating stuff just beneath the surface.

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iPad Comics Apps Review

It’s impossible to ignore the fact that monthly comics are failing fast. There are a hundred different reasons for that, but one of the most obvious is also one of the most simple – and one of the hardest to fight.


Comics are no longer impulse buys – at 3-4$, they’re expensive as hell, and what’s more, a single issue isn’t a full story, or half a story, or even reallyt a single chapter of a story. Most are exposition-filled action scenes, it often seems. You have to go to a special store, often driving 20+ miles, to spend an obscene amount of money on a fraction of a store.

High printing costs and shipping costs and travel times can all be removed by making comics a force on e-readers and the iPad. Comics can become affordable for kids again. Women, frequently reporting a hostile vibe at some comics shops, can pick up comics regularly (I suspect DC’s underrated MINX line, for example, would have fared significantly better digitally).

With that in mind and a shiny new iPad in hand – thank you, Chrimbus! – I thought I’d explore the company-specific iPad apps that are must-haves for any comics fans. So, here you have your (very brief) reviews of the following apps: Marvel, DC, Boom!, Image and IDW.

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Top 5 Best Comics of September 2010


I read 28 comics in September, and these were the best.

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Darwyn Cooke and Mark Waid Are My Heroes

This week found Darwyn Cooke and Mark Waid at the center of two distinct media blitz in the world of comics. First, when asked what he would change about the way Marvel and DC do buisness he responded:

Second Mark Waid used his keynote speech at the Harvey Awards Nomination ceremony to give his insights on digital piracy.

I’ve been asked a lot to speak about digital, because it’s such a passion with me and I’m such an advocate. But saying “Let’s cheer for digital comics!” seems kind of mundane. I want to talk tonight instead about how we fret about downloads and “piracy” and their impact. How we’re in danger because people are breaking copyright. But, first, let’s talk a little about copyright and its history. [Continue Reading]

Both theirs words have been taken a little out of context; Cooke has been accused of homophobia and Waid has been accused of supporting piracy. I, however,  don’t think their words could have been more timely.

Top 5 Best Comics of January 2010

I read 17 comics in January, and these were the best.

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Review: Incorruptible #2

Incorruptible’s premise is best summed up by its main character, “World’s greatest superhero has gone berserk. He’ll destroy the world. Somebody needs to step up.” Max Damage, former feared supervillain, is trying to be that somebody. The world’s greatest superhero in question is the Plutonian, the main character of Irredeemable. Incorruptible is Irredeemable’s companion, and you really shouldn’t read it without reading Irredeemable first. That’s probably Incorruptible’s biggest flaw. However, as a companion, Incorruptible works quite well.

While Irredeemable deals with larger than life superheroics and messages about the abuses of power and Internet trolls, Incorruptible is a more intimate look at a turning point in a bad man’s life, as well as the consequences of the actions we see in Irredeemable. Not only do we see shots of mass devastation, we’re informed, “Church attendance is up six hundred percent. Suicides, sixteen hundred, and that’s nationwide.

Besides further establishing the book’s tone, Mark Waid familiarizes us with his characters, mostly the aforementioned Max Damage and the hilariously adorable Jailbait. There’s a terrific shaving scene where Jailbait attempts to seduce the newly reformed Max. Not only does this provide some humorous antics, it informs us that Max Damage’s power is near-robotic after he’s awake for an hour or so in the morning. Not only does Max become impervious to bullets, he can’t eat or shave either.

Jean Diaz draws the book, and you’re almost sure to like his work. He’s able to handle the quieter, comical scenes with Jailbait, as well as Max’s first outing as a superhero. Diaz’s style is like most popular realistic artists these days, like Ivan Reis, and his style fits the down to earth feel of the comic.

Mark Waid is producing some of the best work of his career at BOOM! Studios. If you can only read one Waid comic, make it Irredeemable. And, if you like that, give Incorruptible a try. It’s worth it.

Grade: B+

-Bruce Castle

Top 5 Best Comics of December 2009

I read 20 comics in December, and these were the best.

5. Hellboy: Bride of Hell

Another classic Hellboy one-shot. Richard Corben, showing the whippersnappers how terrible they are, produces wonderful work that surpasses his Eisner-winning accomplishment on Hellboy: The Crooked Man. That alone makes this comic special. But, Mignola’s there too, providing a riveting, tragic tale.

4. Captain America: Reborn #5

This might as well be the conclusion of Reborn. We all know how it’s going to end. Even before Marvel ruined it, we knew. I’d rather have it end here. Sharon Carter in the hands of Red Skull. Sin destroying Vision with an Arnim Zola contraption. Crossbones, and his army of robotic killing machines, shooting the heroes. Red Skull, in the body of Steve Rogers, battling Bucky on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, while the Red Skull duels Steve in his own brain. This, rendered by Bryan Hitch and written by Ed Brubaker, is good stuff.

3. Astonishing X-Men #33

Ellis & Jimenez make larger-than-life superheroics look easy, when few books actually do it well. Fraction may be writing a great, diplomatic Cyclops over in Uncanny X-Men, but Ellis’ Cyclops is a bitter, war-forged mutant with the power of a nuke in his eyeballs. He cuts through a Brood-fused Krakoa like butter. Ellis provides humor, entertainment, and enough X-history to make the fanboys squeal, and Jimenez makes it all look pretty.

2. Irredeemable #9

Nine issues in and Waid continues to keep things fresh. This is extremism at its finest. Demons crawling out of mouths, villains hiding in friends, and “upgrading” used for torture, are just a few of this issue’s memorable moments. If Waid’s not commenting on Internet trolls, he’s commenting on the corruption of power. But, have no fear, there’s plenty of entertainment to be found. The subtext is just the icing on the cake.

1. Detective Comics #860

The final part of Kate’s origin feels more than a little Year One-esque, and Williams continues to give his best rendition of Mazzucchelli. We see the natural progression of Kate’s vigilantism evolving into so much more. Kate and the Colonel bond over the experience, which makes the issue’s Shakespearean conclusion all the more painful. Of course, Williams and Stewart, the best art team around, are the stars of the show, but Rucka pulls his weight and then some. With Batwoman at the helm, Detective Comics is, once again, the best comic of the month.

-Bruce Castle

Review: Incorruptible #1

Incorruptible is the companion of Mark Waid’s other BOOM! ongoing, Irredeemable. In fact, they take place in the same world, and the Plutonian’s actions are felt even in this first issue. If the Plutonian sounds unfamiliar, stop reading, and go pick up the first Irredeemable trade. It’s only ten dollars, and it’s a fine comic. If you’re reading this review to find out if you should read Incorruptible in addition to Irredeemable, I’d say yes, based on this first issue.

Max Damage is one hell of a badass. As the opening rap sheet informs us, “Max Damage is the only super-being able to survive physical combat with the Plutonian.” Max Damage has gone missing, and his crew is running a job without him. He returns as a Max unfamiliar to them. It seems Max has had a change of heart. The “why” is answered in this very issue.

Jean Diaz provides the art. He wields a post-Bryan Hitch style that’s quite effective. In fact, it’s safe to say that Incorruptible is a prettier book than Irredeemable. However, Irredeemable shows worlds ending, skeleton people, and all sorts of imaginative brilliance. Incorruptible is, so far, a street-level comic. But, from what Diaz has produced so far, it’s impressive.

We know what the premise is, and it’s intriguing. We’ve met the key players, and they’re interesting, with humorous names like “Jailbait”. And, most importantly, we’ve been entertained. This is a good first issue.

Grade: B

-Bruce Castle

Review: Irredeemable #9

Irredeemable’s focus has shifted. The Plutonian isn’t the star anymore. In fact, he spends the bulk of this issue in the fetal position. I’m not even sure he’s a threat anymore. Try telling that to Charybdis or the military. They’re still taking things seriously, summoning all their power. Speaking of power, with Plutonian out of the spotlight, Waid’s not commenting on Internet trolls anymore. No, he’s more concerned with the corruption of power. One of this issue’s patented two cliffhangers shows just how bad power can be, even in the hands of the good guys.

But, forget about the subtext, and Waid still entertains you. He finds a comfortable blend of the thought-provoking and the fun. What can be more fun than villains making cosmic deals, the military using demons, and the heroes beginning to fight amongst themselves. Oh, and Waid still manages to feed us some more backstory on the Plutonian, and all of Paradigm.

Waid’s firing on all cylinders, and Krause is rendering his writer’s madness with ease. Irredeemable continues to be one of the best superhero comics around.

Grade: A-

-Bruce Castle

Review: Azrael #1


I didn’t read the two Annuals leading up to this launch, despite the last one featuring the Question and Huntress, two characters for whom I share more than a passing fondness.  The extremely heightened price tag and my so-so interest in Azrael, combined with the fact that I prefer a tongue-in-cheek Nicieza to a grim-n-gritty one, made them fairly skippable.  But Nicieza does still have some good will with me, and the Batman-family relaunches have been fairly interesting to follow, so it seemed worthwhile to give the main title a shot.

Nicieza’s writing here seems to be all over the place.  There are some aspects of it that are stellar, including a bizarre, memorable cliffhanger, and there are some that are downright ridiculous, like the fact that the cliffhanger happens ‘6 months, 6 days, and 6 hours’ after… I’m assuming that ‘Now’ always refers to the start of the issue, but it is nonetheless a clumsy device used by a writer trying to be too cute by half.  The bulk of the issue falls somewhere in between those two extremes, with a quickly-solved mystery that largely functions as an examination of how Azrael will operate and a very brief introduction to Azrael’s seemingly bland supporting cast.

Ramon Bachs is almost certain to be the subject of a great deal of argument amongst the book’s readers.  His broad, cartoonish style hurts some of the books slower moments, and give some of the action sequences a fairly stiff, posed quality that takes away from the excitement.  However, alongside inker John Stanisci and colorist JD Smith, he also manages to create some genuinely memorable images, whether it’s the single, bright red band on Bullock’s hat in the otherwise sepia-colored flash forwards or the crackling afterglow of Azrael’s swords.

Overall, Azrael is a strange book.  An awkwardly-conceived religious warrior with a pair of magic swords, he doesn’t seem to fit Gotham’s image terribly well, and a lack of consistency may turn off potentially interested readers.  Nicieza appears to have some solid ideas as to where he wants to take the book, but he offers little evidence that he’ll be able to consistently keep the book interesting long enough to pull an audience with him.

Grade: C

– Cal Cleary