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. Check out part one of the countdown focusing on the comics #100 - 75 here and part two with #74 - 50 here, and part three running down #49 - 25 here. Then read on for part four of our list featuring some major superhero events, some of the biggest creator-owned smashes, a legendary anthology and the most inventive webcomic ever.
Written by John Arcudi, Mike Mignola & Scott Allie
Drawn by James Harren, Tyler Crook, Jason Latour, Max Fiumara, et al.
Colored by Dave Stewart
Published by Dark Horse
"A character driven drama at its core, but one that deals with paranormal and, in its recent arcs, the impending end of the world. All good things. 'B.P.R.D.' remains one of the most consistently entertaining, scary and often overlooked series in comics, but with its recent 'Return of the Master' arc, that last one may change soon."
-- CBR Contributor Daniel Glendening
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Drawn by Sara PichelliÂ & David Marquez
Published by Marvel Comics
"The ultimate team-up of ultimate team-ups put Spider-Man alongside Spider-Man. Bendis wrote a nice little story that brought the main Marvel Universe together with the Ultimate Universe while considerably raising the stock of the perennial Spidey punching bag, Mysterio. Pichelli's stunning art, filled with detail and emotion, dazzles on every page."
-- Comics Should Be Good Blogger Doug Zawisza
"The world of Miles Morales grew even richer in 2012, the year that saw David Marquez become the artist to watch. The true sign of this title's awesomeness in 2012? They tied into a crossover ('United We Stand') without derailing the series' momentum."
-- CBR Columnist Brett White
Written by Joe Hill
Drawn by Gabriel Rodriguez
Published by IDW
"Parts of last two arcs of this family horror saga, 'Clockworks' and 'Omega,' have been released in dribbles over 2012, but each installment has been worth the wait. Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez write and draw excellent supernatural horror and the artifact-riddled fantasy, but it's the strength of characterization and the relationships between friends and family that make 'Locke and Key' exceptional. ."
-- CBR Reviewer Jennifer Cheng
Written by Brian Azzarello
Drawn by Cliff Chiang & Tony Akins
Published by DC Comics
"For a character that's supposed to be part of DC Comics' trinity of characters, Wonder Woman's comic has struggled to find a compelling voice for some time now. Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang, and Tony Akins' redefining the character and her supporting cast of the Greek pantheon has changed everything, though; it feels fresh and original, a mixture of epic quest and modern adventure. At this point, the real wonder is how all three creators make this look so effortless."
-- Comics Should Be Good Blogger Greg McElhaton
Written and Drawn by Terry Moore
Published by Abstract Studios
"I think this was pretty much the last thing anyone expected from Terry Moore. Not only is 'Rachel Rising' a horror story, but Moore amps things up through his art; there's a palpable feeling of a nightmare in here, as characters pose in a way, or show a particular smile, that tells you that nothing is quite as it seems in this world, and nothing is right--nothing at all. It's a compelling story of a murder victim come back to life and the various other supernatural entities who cross her path, but it's the creepiness that makes it great."
-- CBR Contributor Shaun Manning
Written & Drawn by Randall Munroe
Self-Published at xkcd.com
"While other creators were pushing the boundaries of paper comics in 2012, Randall Munroe contributed what was arguably the most memorable webcomic strip of the year with "Click and Drag." Like Chris Ware this year, Munroe chose a building to anchor his tale about stories and expectations, and in doing so he crafted a comic installment true to greatest ambitions in webcomic storytelling."
-- CBR Contributor Brian Warmoth
Written by Alan Moore
Drawn by Kevin O'Neill
Published by Top Shelf
"It's the end of the road, and Moore and O'Neill have delivered on their unspoken promise: to go out with a bang and leave us guessing until the end. And-and!-it has one of the absolute best deaths in the History Of Ever, when the Harry Potter analogue takes his eyeball-covered prick out, and--ZAP!--shoots a bolt of lightening out of it, incinerating the drugged up Quartermain. And you can't help but smile and think 'Only in comics, man, only in comics.'
-- CBR Reviewer Ryan Burton
Written & Drawn by Sean Murphy
Published by DC Comics/Vertgio
"It's like 'The Truman Show' on speed with a religulous kicker. It took me awhile to get into 'Punk Rock Jesus,' but as Chris has matured and launched into the mother of all teen rebellions against his overlords and the mainstream media false idol factory, Sean Murphy's true genius has begun to shine through. "
-- CBR Contributor Jason Tabrys
Written by Mike Carey
Drawn by Peter Gross
Published by DC Comics/Vertigo
"Even after nearly 50 issues, Mike Carey and Peter Gross can still find new avenues to explore in their examination of the way storytelling influences every aspect of society, and they're constantly pushing their own storytelling abilities along the way. As emotionally affecting as it is intellectually challenging."
-- CBR Contributor Josh Bell
Written by Jim McCann
Drawn by Rodin Esquejo
Published by Image Comics
"A metaphysical whodunit where the comatose victim does her best to figure out who tried to kill her, 'Mind the Gap' has captured my imagination. Writer Jim McCann and artist Rodin Esquejo joined forces to create the kind of story that could work on TV or film, but works best in comics."
-- CBR Staff Writer TJ Dietsch
Written by Gene Luen Yang
Drawn by Gurihiru
Published by Dark Horse
"As a dedicated 'Avatar: The Last Airbender' fan, I went crazy when Dark Horse announced this series of original graphic novels bridging the gap from the original animated series and 'The Legend of Korra.' Writer Gene Luen Yang has perfectly captured the tone and spirit of the original animated series and Gurihiru presents it all with gorgeous, attentive illustrations. While Dark Horse has done a lot of licensed work, 'Avatar: The Last Airbender - The Promise' stands out as one of the best the publisher has ever produced and certainly deserves its accolades as one of the standout comics this year."
-- CBR Reviews Editor Steve Sunu
Edited by Matt Smith
Written Al Ewing, Si Spurrier, Rob Williams, Dan Abnett, Andy Diggle, John Wagner, Pat Mills, et al.
Drawn by Carl Critchlow, Jock, James McKay, Leigh Gallagher, Henry Flint et al.
Published by Rebellion
"My top spot for 2012 easily goes to 'Trifecta,' the epic, sprawling, surprising, hilarious, smart, brutal and clownish '2000 AD' mega-crossover between 'Judge Dredd,' 'Low Life' and 'The Simping Detective' by writers Al Ewing, Rob Williams and Si Spurrier. The story began as three completely separate stories in weekly UK anthology '2000 AD' before quietly and brilliantly bleeding in to one another unannounced over a few months. It culminated in the giant-sized 'Trifecta' that featured all three writers using all three characters to conclude all three stories in one balls-to-the-wall comic. If it sounds mind-blowing, that's because it was."
-- CBR Contributor Karl Keily
"Judge Dredd is good most every week, but this year saw the end of the epic Day of Chaos story, which was a storyline a year in the making. It has everything, including Cold War revenge plots (for events that were covered 30 years ago in the series), viral outbreaks, serial killer P.J. Maybe, Dark Judges, a Mayoral election, the destruction of a major arm of the Justice Department, and billions of deaths. My personal favorite was the way the disease that did the most damage escaped, despite numerous attempts to contain it. Following that week to week was a lot of fun. "
-- Comics Should Be Good Columnist Connie Cibula
Written by Scott Snyder & Jeff Lemire
Drawn by Yanick Paquette & Steve Pugh
Published by DC Comics
"Buddy Baker is the perfect superhero for Jeff Lemire because the Canadian cartoonist is so good at taking perfectly normal characters and everyday events and delivering content that far exceeds the expectations of such mundane happenings. As the quintessential D-lister, Animal Man needs that type of approach and Lemire and Steve Pugh have found a home for Buddy and his family in the New 52. Sure they're possessed by the Rot, but it's got to get better, right? Right?
"Meanwhile, after six issues of this horrifying epic where Scott Snyder and Yanick Paquette kept Swamp Thing locked away and featured Dr. Alec Holland (without missing a beat), the Green's Warrior-King was unleashed against Arcane's army in "Rotworld." That's when the smash hit became something even more powerful. With each panel of daring dialogue and impactful art, you can almost feel Swamp Thing connecting with the Earth's elemental powers and the positively-haunting Parliament of the Trees."
-- CBR Staff Writer Jeffrey Renaud
Written by Ed Brubaker
Drawn by Sean Phillips
Published by Image Comics
"If Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips just did a crime series that took a more sympathetic look at the femme fatale archetype it would be amazing, and 'Fatale' is that, but it's also an eerie and ominous horror story. On top of that it's also a great period piece that expertly explores the dark depravities and creepy cults that lurked in the shadows of the 1950s and the 1970s. The end result is a pulp Reese's Peanut Butter cup that combines the best elements of authors like Raymond Chandler and H.P. Lovecraft."
-- CBR Staff Writer Dave Richards
Stay tuned tomorrow for the revelation of CBR's Top Ten Comics of the Year!!!