CBR's Top 100 Comics of 2012, #49 - 25

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 then read on for part three of our list featuring some of the biggest ongoing series, greatest finales and most heartbreaking graphic novels of the year.

49. Prince of Cats

Written & Drawn by Ronald Wimberly

Published by DC Comics/Vertigo

"'Verily, verily.' An all-black cast with Tyblat Capulet taking center stage; a book colored in swagger and style-and there's enough of both to knock your teeth in, if you're not careful. The book is like reading Shakespeare while listing to a mix tape of M.J., Prince, and Beastie Boys. Ronald Wimberly is a genius, and his book is a smart one. 'Prince of Cats' should be on everyone's favorite playlist, and that's that."

-- CBR Contributor Ryan Burton

48. Sweet Tooth

Written & Drawn by Jeff Lemire

Published by DC Comics/Vertigo

"'Sweet Tooth' is another great series reaching its finale in 2012 (as of this writing, the final issue #40 is not yet published). Jeff Lemire created an original, compelling post-apocalyptic world in which humanity begins dying quickly after the births of animal-hybrid children. Then, he put those children at the heart of the story, with the familiar cruelty of adults amplified in a struggle for survival. Bright lights like Jepperd and the select few other grown-ups who helped Gus and the others were shown as a different kind of product of their time, enduring the worst, falling far, and still finding salvation. Just a beautiful series, with some heart-wrenching moments.'"

-- CBR Contributor Shaun Manning

47. Empowered

Written & Drawn by Adam Warren

Published by Dark Horse

"Adam Warren's must read series about a down on her luck superheroine continues. He does a fantastic job at balancing comedy with the more serious and emotional aspects of his story, crafting believable and likable characters, and putting it all together with some gorgeous artwork and some of the best action scenes in American comics. "

-- Comics Should Be Good Columnist Ken Haley

46. Journey Into Mystery

Written by Kieron Gillen

Drawn by Doug Braithwaite & Carmine Di Giandomenico

Published by Marvel Comics

"I said it last year, but it really is astonishing how good this series is in spite of its constant entrapment within crossovers. (Out of Kieron Gillen's 24 issues, 16 were part of a crossover or event--not including the 'Shattered Heroes' Banner) But 'Journey Into Mystery' really is that damn good, that it can overcome what ought to be a fatal flaw and deliver a story that is at all turns exciting, funny, and heartbreaking. It's too early to tell whether Kathryn Immonen's Sif-centered run on the series will live up to the tragedy of Kid Loki, but I'd love to see 'JiM' continue as the place for fantastic stories of Asgard's less celebrated gods."

-- CBR Contributor Shaun Manning

45. The Punisher & Punisher War Zone

Written by Greg Rucka

Drawn by Marco Checchetto, Michael Lark, Mirko Colak, Mico Suayan, Carmine Di Giandomenico

Published by Marvel Comics

"This year writer Greg Rucka and his artists continued to show readers the dangerous and often morally complex role the Punisher plays in the Marvel Universe. One of the ways they did that was by showing us how fascinating supporting characters like Police Detectives Ozzy Clemons and Walter Bolt view the Punisher. And in especially compelling stories like the 'Omega Effect' crossover with 'Daredevil' and 'Avenging Spider-Man' and the current 'Punisher War Zone' mini-series, we got to see how Frank Castle interacts with heroes like Spider-Man, Daredevil, and the Avengers."

-- CBR Staff Writer Dave Richards

44. A Game For Swallows

Written & Drawn by Zeina Abirached

Published by Graphic Universe

"Abirached tells the story of the Lebanese Civil War from the perspective of a child, telling the story of a single apartment building in a single night. Visually dynamic, with more tension than most thrillers, it is a powerful tale about events that resonate to this day."

-- CBR Staff Writer Alex Dueben

43. Wizzywig

Written & Drawn by Ed Piskor

Published by Top Shelf

"From cover to cover, Ed Piskor's 'Wizzywig' reads like a Clowesian loser's eye view of hacking culture from its infancy to the present. The book is brisk, but the characters are vivid right up until the final pages, proving that Piskor has one of the finest inquisitive minds in comics right now. 'Wizzywig' should offer everyone a primer on Internet history, a few insights into hacker portrayals in the media and a fine ending that manages to wrap up the story with a timely and relevant finale."

-- CBR Contributor Brian Warmoth

42. Little White Duck

Written by Na Liu

Drawn by Andres Vera Martinez

Published by Graphic Universe

"This slim volume contains eight short stories about the writer Na Liu's girlhood in China in the late 1970s. She schemes with her sister to catch rats, she sees her parents mourn the death of Chairman Mao; she travels to the country to meet her father's family. Each story is a little gem, the art, by Na Liu's husband Andres Vera Martinez, is rich with details of everyday life. This book belongs on any top ten list on the strength of the art alone."

-- CBR Columnist & Robot 6 Blogger Brigid Alverson

41. Conan The Barbarian

Written by Brian Wood

Drawn by Becky Cloonan

Published by Dark Horse

"Bringing their kinetic 'Demo' energy to the barbarian, 'Conan' was a thrill for both new readers and Conan-stalwarts, and the duo did an amazing job translating the bloody nudist 'Queen Of The Black Coast' to the page, a feat alone which should qualify the book as one of the best in 2012."

-- CBR Staff Writer Josie Campbell

40. Mind MGMT

Written & Drawn by Mat Kindt

Published by Dark Horse

"The pace, tone and delivery of 'Mind MGMT' is bang-on. It's 'Argo' by way of 'The Men Who Stare at Goats' and while this story is fictitious (we think), it feels morbidly more believable than both those dramas thanks to the sheer brilliance of Matt Kindt. The writer/artist is building a world so dense, it would take a psychic spy on par with Henry Lyme to find all the answers left for readers between every line and panel. If you're not reading 'Mind MGMT,' you should because you're missing out on something special. "

-- CBR Staff Writer Jeffrey Renaud

39. Lose

Written & Drawn by Michael DeForge

Published by Koyama Press

"A classic one-man indie anthology by a prolific young artist who seems to follow no trends but rather creates an imaginative world distinctly his own. DeForge is the best cartoonist working today. His comics are exciting because they feel improvised but completely under control, and they're disturbing in the way they distort reality for nightmarish emotional impact. They're also beautiful in the most wonderfully deranged way. I love DeForge's work, and I love 'Lose' the most."

-- CBR Columnist Timothy Callahan

38. The Self-Published Comics of Michel Fiffe

Written & Drawn by Michel Fiffe

Self Published

"Part 'Suicide Squad' tribute comic turned into a commentary on 1980s genre comics that's fully aware of what it is but tells a thrilling story nonetheless, 'Copra' is the best traditional superhero comic of the year, and it's not at all traditional. It drips with visible influences but it feels like a personal statement of a unique variety."

-- CBR Columnist Timothy Callahan

"In the wake of 'Deathzone' and 'Copra' (Michel Fiffe's oddly personal twist on the superhero genre), I had to check out 'Zegas.' He uses similarly dynamic line work and vibrant coloring to convey the intimate human story of the Zegas kids making their way in the world. Like his previous works, this has the same incredibly high quality printing, but it is bigger and more ambitious storytelling. His appropriation of the visual language of the psychedelic and superheroic world serves in 'Zegas' to convey the fast movement of hyperbolic joy of life."

-- Comics Should Be Good Columnist Sonia Harris

37. Blade of The Immortal

Written & Drawn by Hiroaki Samura

Published by Dark Horse

"Fantastic art with amazing, creative and exciting action sequences. Characters who have changed and grown throughout the series in ways that make sense, and the beginning of a showdown with one of the most sadistic and disturbing characters I've ever come across."

-- Comics Should Be Good Columnist Ken Haley

36. Jennifer Blood

Written by Al Ewing

Drawn by Kewber Ball, et al.

Published by Dynamite Entertainment

"I started buying this out of a fondness for writer Al Ewing's black sense of humor, but I find more and more that it's one of my favorites every month. This year's story is the basic revenge plot taken to its logical conclusion. The main character has gone crazy and begins murdering revenge hitmen, people who may have seen her do things, people who suspect she may have done things, or for no reason at all. It stopped being consequence-free recently, which is also interesting, and again, Al Ewing puts a rather humorous spin on it in the bargain."

-- Comics Should Be Good Columnist Connie Cibula

35. Love & Rockets: New Stories

Written & Drawn by Los Bros Hernandez

Published by Fantagraphics

"Los Bros Hernandez made some old elements new again as Gilbert returned to Palomar to revisit some familiar faces and Jaime spun a Frogmouth story. 'Love and Rockets' turned 30 this year, and the Bros turned in another installment of comics that are simultaneously agonizing to witness and darkly funny while they're serving up stone-cold dramatic situations."

-- CBR Contributor Brian Warmoth

34. Goliath

Written & Drawn by Tom Gauld

Published by Drawn & Quarterly

"Tom Gauld takes the biblical tale of David and Goliath and turns it on its head, with scheming Philistines pushing a gentle giant reluctantly toward a showdown he is destined to lose. Gauld uses a simple style that evokes the drawings in a children's bible, and he is not afraid to leave plenty of empty space to around his figures. The result is elegant and surprisingly moving."

-- Robot 6 Blogger & CBR Columnist Brigid Alverson

33. Morning Glories

Written by Nick Spencer

Drawn by Joe Eisma

Published by Image Comics

"'Month after month, I remain consistently thrilled with 'Morning Glories' as a long-form mystery with exceptional writing and art. Nick Spencer is a master of hairpin plot twists and turns. I'm a jaded long-time lover of genre fiction, and Spencer continues to delight me by how his unpredictable pieces of story that fall into place with suspense and grace. Nick Spencer dialogue is clever and sharp, and he has a facility for rapid characterization. Joe Eisma's facial expressions and emotional timing through pacing and composition would be Oscar-worthy if his characters were actors and he was the director.

"'Morning Glories' #18 in particular blew me away both in its aesthetics and its story. Without making a huge hairy deal about it or any smell of tokenism, 'Morning Glories' is inclusive. I love that the cast is balanced in gender and has a wide range of race and geographical representation, without those features being foremost. I was amazed and incredibly happy to see that the first romantic relationship and sex scene of the title was beautifully drawn and colored, as well as being quietly ground-breaking for a mainstream American comic.'"

-- CBR Reviewer Jennifer Cheng

32. Thief of Thieves

Written by Robert Kirkman, Nick Spencer & James Asmus

Drawn by Shawn Martinbrough

Published by Image Comics/Skybound

"Robert Kirkman's 'Thief of Thieves' took a new approach to writing comics from the creator's time in the writers' room of 'The Walking Dead' television show -- and the results were awesome. Nick Spencer jumped on for the first arc and James Asmus continued with the second for an impressive result. "Thief of Thieves" shows that a heist television show can be told better in comic book form, especially with a master artist like Shawn Martinbrough at the helm."

-- CBR Reviews Editor Steve Sunu

31. Dial H

Written by China Mieville

Adapted & Drawn by Mateus Santoluoco & David Lapham

Published by DC Comics

"This dark superhero/fantasy tale feels like it was plucked out of Vertigo's early '90s golden age and transported to the modern era for our enjoyment. A compelling story with a fascinating, ever-evolving mythology, Mieville is undisputedly writing one of the best books of the New 52."

-- CBR Staff Writer Josie Campbell

30. The Zaucer of Zilk

Written by Brendan McCarthy and Al Ewing

Drawn by Brendan McCarthy

Published by 2000AD/IDW

"A glamtastic piece of phantasmagoria, a Wizard of Oz with David Bowie behind the curtain, McCarthy and Ewing's glo-pop Zaucer of Zilk spins the weirdest coming-of-age yarn you'll read all year, involving immortal heroes, other dimensions, magical pairs of pants, and a battle of youth vs. age, optimism vs. regret. It's witty, silly, wonderful, gorgeous, electric, alive."

-- CBR Reviewer Bill Reed

29. Chew

Written by John Layman

Drawn by Rob Guillery

Published by Image Comics

"John Layman's dialogue and plotting for 'Chew' has been consistently distinctive, funny, inventive and smart over 2012. He and Rob Guillory's food-centric world is hilariously detailed and they have built up a wild mix of characters in their cast. Also, Rob Guillory consistently amazes me with his ability to draw anything from homicidal (but endearing) roosters to dresses made of meat."

-- CBR Reviewer Jennifer Cheng

28. Batwoman

Written by JH Williams III & W. Haden Blackman

JH Williams III, Amy Reeder & Trevor McCarthy

Published by DC Comics

"I don't see how anybody can make a Top Ten comics list for 2012 without 'Batwoman' on it. It's JH Williams III drawing comics. Period. That alone qualified it for my Top Ten, let alone the great writing by both Williams and W. Haden Blackman. If you read comics, you should be reading 'Batwoman.' If you don't read comics, you should be reading 'Batwoman.'"

-- CBR Contributor Karl Keily

27. The Boys

Written by Garth Ennis

Drawn by Russ Braun & Darick Robertson

Published by Dynamite Entertainment

"'The Boys' came to a conclusion this year, and Ennis and his artists I believe stuck the landing. First off, Ennis finished the overarching story of the Boys versus the world's superheroes with a final battle that included a stunning twist that I certainly did not see coming but totally fit the entire series (essentially it asks the question, 'If you're a total evil scumbag, how hard is it to convince yourself that you did some crazy awful things that you don't remember doing?'). Then, when everything is seemingly settled, Ennis throws a whole second major twist into the series with the gripping final arc, as a surprising menace arises from the ashes of the previous conflict, pitting friend against friend. Braun did a wonderful job going from merely a 'fill-in' for Robertson to nearly making the book feel like his own. I await further Ennis/Braun projects with great anticipation. Robertson, of course, did great work when he was around (mostly the covers and the final issue)."

-- Comics Should Be Good Editor Brian Cronin

26. The Massive

Written by Brian Wood

Drawn by Kristian Donaldson & Garry Brown

Published by Dark Horse

"Brian Wood started with a brilliant high concept - a ship surviving in a post-environmental breakdown world - but it has been his characters who have truly carried this book. Wood, with Kristian Donaldson and Garry Brown, has populated this dense landscape with people to care about. It helps that the narrative built around them is also incredibly smart, hyper-detailed, and extremely good."

-- CBR Reviewer Ryan K. Lindsay

25. Revival

Written by Tim Seeley

Drawn by Mike Norton

Published by Image Comics

"It's clear that Tim Seeley and Mike Norton love comic books and great cable television style drama, because with their rural noir series 'Revival' they've given readers a series that combines the best elements of both mediums for a truly satisfying experience. You'll be drawn to 'Revival' by the weird mystery of a town where some of the dead come back to life, but you'll stay for eclectic, eccentric, and compelling cast of characters that populate said town."

-- CBR Star Writer Dave Richards

Stay tuned next week for more of CBR's Top 100 Comics of 2012, with #24-11 to be revealed Sunday, January 30!

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