CBR's Top 100 Comics of 2012, #100 - 75

Each year, CBR wraps its coverage of the comics industry with a virtual nerd cage match to determine the very best comics of the year. Every single CBR staffer -- from our crack news team to our well-researched columnists and from CBR's many daily bloggers to our legion of comic reviewers -- had the chance to chip in their favorite books of the year with only the highest vote-getters ranking up on our massive Top 100 Comics list, and as always, neither the staff nor the comics disappointed.

2012 was an upbeat year for comics sales, but even as blockbuster superhero revivals and events stormed the Direct Market charts, dozens upon dozens of independent, alternative and literary titles worked their way into the hearts of readers and reviewers. From the creative resurgence of creator-owned comics to the die-hard horror titles that continue to shock fans and from the all-ages kids books cropping up everywhere to the darkest crime thrillers, we've got it all.

And while it's nearly impossible for even the combined staff of CBR to have read every single ongoing series, miniseries, one-shot, graphic novel and webcomic published in and throughout 2012, we are confident that you'll find no better indicator of the breadth and quality of the industry as it stands today than right here. Read on for part 1 of our list counting down #100 to 75, and tune in tomorrow to see more of the best comics of the year!

100. The Tick

Written by Benito Cereno

Drawn by Les McClaine

Published by NEC Press

"Comics most improbably successful absurdist superhero may have fallen off the radar of many readers in recent years, but under the watch of Cereno and McClaine, the big blue bug is in his best shape in years. The team's timely celebration of 100 issues of the Tick and Arthur's adventures not only put a fine cap on all their stories to date, but the practice of inviting guest stars like Robert Kirkman's Invincible and Mike Allred's Madman to the fray added a kick that put the comic over the top. The Tick works best when it's both a celebration of silly superhero stuff and a satire of the genre, and Cereno's remixing of his guest stars' well worn tropes accomplishes both. Short of creator Ben Edlund returning for new issues, I couldn't be happier with the book. Spoon, indeed."

-- CBR News Editor Kiel Phegley

99. My Friend Dahmer

Written & Drawn by Derf Backderf

Published by Abrams ComicArts

"A sad story about a boy who grew up to become a monster. Derf talks about his classmate, a troubled screwed up kid who became a cannibalistic serial killer, but rather than an exploitive tale, Derf reminds us that such people are made not born. A haunting, unforgettable portrait."

-- CBR Staff Writer Alex Dueben

98. Lookouts

Written by Ben McCool

Drawn by Robb Mommaerts

Published by Cryptozoic Entertainment

"Cryptozoic's first attempt at a print comic series was incredibly impressive -- and not just due to the high production value of Robb Mommartes' art and Ben McCool's writing. The serialization of the 'Penny Arcade' property explores a fantasy-style young wilderness rangers survival program that appeals to the D&D fan in all of us. Easily the sleeper hit of 2012, 'Lookouts' continues to impress."

-- CBR Reviews Editor Steve Sunu

97. Drama

Written & Drawn by Raina Telgemeier

Published by Scholastic

"The title of Raina Telgemeier's new graphic novel has an obvious double meaning -- it's about a group of middle school students putting on a musical, but it's also about the awkward tangle of friendships, romances, false starts, and near misses that is middle school life. Another artfully told story from the author of 'Smile,' who has obviously never forgotten what it was like to be an adolescent."

-- Robot 6 Blogger & CBR Columnist Brigid Alverson

96. The Shade

Written by James Robinson

Drawn by Frazer Irving, Jill Thompson, et al.

Published by DC Comics

"This maxi-series by James Robinson was a return to 'Starman,' one of the all-time best long-form superhero stories, and it did not disappoint. 'The Shade' lived up to the best of 'Starman' in both James Robinson's drawing-room-worthy dialogue and his distinctive historical narrative approach. Also, 'The Shade' had an all-star lineup of artists, all of whom brought their enthusiasm and their A-game."

-- CBR Reviewer Jennifer Cheng

95. iZombie

Written by Chris Roberson

Drawn by Mike Allred

Colored by Laura Allred

Published by DC Comics/Vertigo

"Another brilliant series ended too soon, 'iZombie's' final arc wrapped up every dangling thread and answered every unanswered question in one satisfying swoop. Beautiful and bittersweet, 'iZombie' isn't just one of the best comics of 2012 -- it's one of the best independent comics to come out of Vertigo in recent memory."

-- CBR Staff Writer Josie Campbell

94. Richie Rich GEMS

Written by Sid Jacobson

Drawn by Ernie Colón

Published by Ape Entertainment/Kizoic

"The proliferation of new comics aimed squarely at kids is a welcome development in the market. But while many of the all-ages material provide fun 21st century twists on old favorites, there's nothing quite like seeing legendary craftsmen return in top form. Jacobson and Colón's new work with the poor little rich boy they guided for decades has made for some short, sweet and completely charming comic tales. From alien invaders to pirates to haunted mansions and beyond, these Richie stories remind one what comics has lost but not entirely forgotten."

-- CBR News Editor Kiel Phegley

93. Hell Yeah

Written by Joe Keatinge

Drawn by Andre Szymanowicz

Published by Image Comics

"Decompression has no place in Joe Keatinge and Andre Szymanowicz's 'Hell Yeah.' This mash-up of superheroics and time travel has grown and changed in an exciting way over the first five issues and looks to do even more craziness in 2013. 'Hell Yeah' is proof that the superhero has plenty of life left in it."

-- CBR Staff Writer TJ Dietsch

92. The Shark King

Written & Drawn by R. Kikuo Johnson

Published by Toon Books

"Every once in a while an indie book rises up, takes a new look at an old concept or grabs an old concept that simply needs a first look and presents it to the masses. 'The Shark King' reaches into Hawaiian folklore and delivers a story that is sweet and sentimental without becoming sappy. Disguised as a kids' early reader, this graphic novel is marvelously entertaining and has cycled through the reading stacks of my entire family. Multiple times."

-- CBR Reviewer Doug Zawisza

91. Aquaman

Written by Geoff Johns

Drawn by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado & Rod Reis

Published by DC Comics

"Geoff Johns and the phenomenal art crew of Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Rod Reis have delivered consistently enjoyable (and sometimes great) stories in 'Aquaman.' As Johns did with the Green Lantern corner of the DC Universe, so he does with Aquaman, adding in former teammates and establishing a supporting cast around the titular character. Aquaman is no longer a joke and this title is a major reason why."

-- CBR Reviewer Doug Zawisza

90. RASL

Written & Drawn by Jeff Smith

Published by Cartoon Books

"The conclusion to Jeff Smith's weird inter-dimensional sci-fi treatise on Tesla jam-packed years worth of revelations into a few short issues, and managed to balance its storylines perfectly. A reminder of what a great, versatile cartoonist Smith remains."

-- CBR Contributor Daniel Glendening

89. Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service

Written by Eiji Otsuka

Drawn by Housui Yamazaki

Published by Dark Horse

"It was a pleasure to see Dark Horse bringing this series back from the dead after a two-year hiatus, and what could be more appropriate for a title about a group of college students that accept karmic payment from their deceased clients? While still maddeningly vague on details of its overarching plot (though the recent volume 12 dropped a serious twist into things), each volume is still full of one-shot-ish 'cases' that have the gang investigating the circumstances of life and death of their client. The characters skill sets (a traditional Japanese 'Itako' that can speak to the dead, a man that can dowse for bodies, an embalmer, et cetera) would be enough for an interesting story every time, but the subject matter of each is always an obscure and fascinating point of pop culture, history, or folklore. Watching the stories unravel is always a treat, and the tone is a perfect balance of dark humor, thriller, and splatter horror."

-- Comics Should Be Good Columnist Connie Cibula

88. Rohan at the Louvre

Written & Drawn by Hirohiko Araki

Published by NBM

"The long-running manga series 'Jojo's Bizarre Adventure' (107 volumes and counting!) never took off in America, but it is every bit as strange and special as its title indicates. This year saw the release of a one-shot French story that was part of the Louvre graphic novel series that NBM is translating into English. Familiarity with the main series is not necessary, as it follows a minor character through an unrelated horror story that starts with a sudden memory and takes him from Japan to the Louvre. The ending is quite terrifying in its way, and Hirohiko Araki's art is superb, with his unusual fondness for lime, teal, and magenta tying into the mood of the story throughout."

-- Comics Should Be Good Columnist Connie Cibula

87. Dotter of Her Fathers Eyes

Written by Mary Talbot

Drawn by Bryan Talbot

Published by Dark Horse

"Mary Talbot mingles her account of her upbringing as the child of a distant and moody James Joyce scholar with the story of Joyce's daughter, Lucia, a gifted dancer whose talents were ignored and ultimately squelched by her family. Mary's husband Bryan Talbot's illustrations are pitch-perfect, evoking the details of domestic life in 1950s England and 1920s Paris with sharp focus on just the right details."

-- Robot 6 Blogger & CBR Columnist Brigid Alverson

86. Harbinger

Written by Joshua Dysart

Drawn by Khari Evans and Lewis Larosa

Published by Valiant Entertainment

"Joshua Dysart has an excellent knack for daring, rapid, in depth-characterization and he has updated the cast in a way I wouldn't have predicted or thought possible, while retaining their core features. It's the best book out of the Valiant relaunch."

-- CBR Reviewer Jennifer Cheng

85. Irredeemable & Incorruptible

Written by Mark Waid

Drawn by Peter Krause, Diego Barreto & Damian Couceiro

Published by BOOM! Studios

"Mark Waid wrapped up his linked series about a superhero gone bad and a supervillian gone good with impeccable skill, bringing in serious themes about the nature of responsibility and the power of childhood influences while also telling a fun, action-packed superhero story."

-- CBR Contributor Josh Bell

84. Dancer

Written by Nathan Edmondson

Drawn by Nic Klein

Published by Image Comics

"This miniseries from Nathan Edmondson and Nic Klein came out of nowhere to be one of the greatest and most haunting crime stories told in some time. This book feels like a 70s crime character study and the moody art from Klein sets it all off perfectly. This book is all about atmosphere and mood, you'll feel transported back in time into the cold while reading it. 'Dancer' is the one book more people need to be talking about and sharing with friends who like great literature."

-- CBR Contributor & Reviewer Ryan K. Lindsay

83. The Secret History of D.B. Cooper

Written & Drawn by Brian Churilla

Published by Oni Press

"This five-issue mini by Brian Churilla just came out of nowhere and presented a great, weird little world. Conspiracy theory and ambitious storytelling made for a perfect match."

-- CBR Contributor Daniel Glendening

82. The Infinite Wait & Other Stories

Written & Drawn by Julia Wertz

Published by Koyama Press

"For years, Julia Wertz has been one of the funniest, most consistently entertaining diarist in web comics. But even after multiple print collections both big and small, that humor hadn't totally coalesced into something that rivaled the best comics memoirs on the stands. This book changed all of that. Writing about her battles with Lupus opened up Wertz's in a big way. 'The Infinite Wait' is a welcome leap forward for her storytelling skills, a book full of the small moments in life and the big fears as well."

-- CBR News Editor Kiel Phegley

81. Tales Designed To Thrizzle

Written & Drawn by Michael Kupperman

Published by Fantagraphics

"The latest 'Tales Designed to Thrizzle' very well might be the funniest edition of the annual comic yet! Kupperman's outrageously unpredictable sense of humor is on full force in this issue, with a brilliant take on a "train coloring book" (which contains some scenes you'll never unsee - like two trains making love) and a hilarious ad campaign for "pubic hair restoration" that somehow manages to get even crazier than merely the idea of selling "pubic hair restoration." The high point of the book, though, is the dizzying tale of how we landed on the moon. It is insane and yet wonderfully so. Imagine a space mission that involves Quincy, M.E....you know, in case there are any strange murders during the mission. That's just a drop in the bucket of delightful insanity that this tale (which is the longest story in the book) contains. I haven't even mentioned likely my favorite bit in the book, an ad campaign that goes along the bottom of the pages telling the space adventure. It is a salad dressing ad campaign that gets progressively...strange. Just get this book, people!"

-- Comics Should Be Good Editor Brian Cronin

80. Godzilla: Half Century War

Written by & Drawn by James Stokoe

Published by IDW

"Who on Earth doesn't want a James Stokoe Godzilla spread as a poster? Never cared for G-the lizard before, but when Stokoe's wet, organic art showcased the radioactive wrecking ball in all his glory, I was immediately sold. But to have him draw all the other darlings like Mothra is the icing on the cake. Seriously, Stokoe has made me a Godzilla fan. End of story."

-- CBR Contributor Ryan Burton

79. Baby's In Black

Written & Drawn by Arne Bellstorf

Published by First Second

"Stu Sutcliffe was an art student who came to Germany with the band he was playing with, The Beatles, and fell in love with a photographer, Astrid Kercherr. This charming graphic novel tells the story of their brief love affair, which ended with Sutcliffe's death, in a simple, casual style that looks like it could have been done with charcoal; the Beatles are really side characters in this story, but they make for an interesting supporting cast."

-- Robot 6 Blogger & CBR Columnist Brigid Alverson

78. Adventure Time

Written by Ryan North

Drawn by Shelli Paroline & Braden Lamb

Published by BOOM! Studios

"I've said it before and I'll say it one more time today: I enjoy this comic even more than the television series, and the television series is great. But there's something magical about Ryan North's imaginative writing, seemingly unrestrained by the need to follow the conventions of adventures or time or comic books. This is Ryan North unleashed, with clean lines by Paroline and Lamb and others, and it's colorful and vibrant and exciting and so much fun it should cost twice the price. (Note to BOOM: please don't raise the price, though. That was just a figure of speech.)"

-- CBR Columnist Timothy Callahan

77. Wolverine & The X-Men

Written by Jason Aaron

Drawn by Nick Bradshaw & Chris Bachalo

Published by Marvel Comics

"With a cast as huge as this one, and with as many subplots as Jason Aaron keeps adding to his juggling act, it was incredibly beneficial that this title shipped an astounding 18 issues in 2012. But everything from Kitty's Brood pregnancy to Kade Kilgore and Warbird's depressing origins, to a school dance was handled with the right mix of irreverence and off-kilter humor that this book is now known for."

-- CBR Columnist Brett White

76. NonNonBa

Written & Drawn by Shigeru Mizuki

Published by Drawn & Quarterly

"An incredible tale of childhood that encompasses childhood wars and adventures, family drama, Japanese folklore, a portrait of the artist as a boy and tragic social realism. A beautiful ambitious tale that is not just one of the greatest mangas I've ever read but one of the great portraits of childhood in the comics form. It reminded me of Mark Twain's classic novel Tom Sawyer and it's sad that only now that Mizuki is 90 are we finally getting a chance to read his work in North America."

-- CBR Staff Writer Alex Dueben

75. Crogan's Loyalty

Written & Drawn by Chris Schweizer

Published by Oni Press

"Chris Schweizer sets his tale of two brothers during the American Revolution and throws a curve ball by making the more sympathetic one loyal to the king, while the ragtag brother is a rebel. It's an unusual take, and there's a lot to be learned from looking at things from the point of view of the enemy. This is no earnest educational comic, though; Schweizer likes to have a good time, and his story is filled with action and wry humor."

-- Robot 6 Blogger & CBR Columnist Brigid Alverson

Click here for the next installment of CBR's Top 100 Comics of 2012!

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