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CCL Podcast #345 – The 2012 Year in Review
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Regarding this post:
This is not a “Best Of” list as I have done in the past. Here in this post you’ll find a few notables of 2012 including recommendations, books with major misprints that you should completely avoid and even a set that costs $1,000 that you probably missed. Yeah, it’s all here: superheroes, comic strips, a few underground comics, OGN’s and the historical prose novels. Funny how when you look back at things you forget just what came out.
Regarding the podcast:
If you want more, please listen to the accompanying podcast. In the audio recording, I quickly go over many more books with much less detail. It’s my longest recording of the year and it does not need to be listened to in one sitting – in fact I recommend that you don’t listen to it at one time. It’s gets tedious and dull. But in spurts it’s a great show and one you’ll want to keep in your audio library (perhaps forever!).
Intro – 00:00
January – 5:34
February – 11:29
March – 17:33
April – 21:40
May – 26:47
June – 34:16
July – 42:42
August – 46:47
September – 50:43
October – 56:32
November – 1:02:55
December and Outro – 1:29:20
And if I missed a book or two, please forgive me. I had to go through over 3,000 trades, hardcovers, graphic novels.
and now 2012…
The year started of with DC’s The Annotated Sandman Vol. 1 HC (covering issues #1-#20, the first of a four volume series, $49.99). Compiled by noted historian by Leslie S. Klinger, this book (and the rest that will follow it) is a fully comprehensive retrospective of Neil Gaiman’s epic run. So many of us already own Sandman (the original issues, trade paperbacks, hardcovers and/or the Absolutes), you would really have to be a die-hard fan to pick these books up. Volume 2 was released in November.
GC Press and Michael Kronnenburg finally continued the EC Archive series started by Gemstone back in 2006. Vault Of Horror HC Volume 2 (Vault of Horror #18-23, $49.95) and Haunt Of Fear HC Volume 1 (Haunt of Fear #4-9, $49.95) are excellent in both presentation and reconstruction. I just wish more of these books would be published. By my count there are about 30 more volumes to complete the entire EC Comics Library.
Archie published Kevin Keller Volume 1 in a deluxe hardcover collecting Kevin’s first two appearances in Veronica #202 and #205 and the full 4-issue run of the Kevin Keller miniseries ($19.99). No doubt the character has caused a stir among the far right political groups and even some left-wingers have mixed reviews of their own. Either way, Kevin Keller is here to stay.
Brenda Starr: Reporter – The Collected Daily And Sunday Newspaper Strips Volume 1 HC, $60.00 was released from Hermes Press. This is the first time that the classic Brenda Starr newspaper comics have been reprinted in their entirety. Look for more volumes of the strip and a collection of Brenda Starr: The Complete Pre-Code Comics Volume 1: Good Girls, Bondage, and Other Fine Things from Hermes Press in 2013.
2012 proved once again that the demand for classic Steve Ditko material is alive and well. DC published The Steve Ditko Omnibus Volume 2 that included his short run on Legion Of Superheroes and even a few more recent comics including a Spectre tale from Legends of The DC Universe 80-Page Giant #1 (1998) and a Granny Goodness story from Tales Of The New Gods TP (2008). There was also the Steve Ditko Archives Volume 3: Mysterious Traveler HC, $39.99, from Fantagraphics and Blake Bell in May (Volume 4 is in the works) and The Creativity of Steve Ditko by Craig Yoe ($39.9), from IDW, which serves as an excellent companion work to Yoe’s first book The Art of Steve Ditko.
Marvel unleashed two Omnibus movie tie-ins: The Avengers Omnibus, Volume 1 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby HC (The Avengers #1-30, $99.99) and John Carter, Warlord Of Mars Omnibus HC (John Carter, Warlord Of Mars #1-28 and Annual #1-3, $99.99). One movie did great, the other not so much.
The most re-tweaked reprint of 2012 had to be Spider-Man Fights Substance Abuse. Originally titled Spider-Man: The PSA’s TPB it was to be 440 pages, $34.99 and collect Spider-Man Vs. The Prodigy; Spider-Man, Storm & Power Man; Spider-Man & Power Pack; Spider-Man Against Verbal Abuse; Spider-Man & The New Mutants Featuring Skids; Adventures In Reading Starring Spider-Man; Spider-Man: Chaos At The Construction Site; Spider-Man: Riot At Robotworld; Spider-Man Battles The Myth Monster; Spider-Man: Skating On Thin Ice; Spider-Man: Double Trouble; Spider-Man: Hit & Run; Spider-Man: Chaos In Calgary; Spider-Man: Dead Ball; Spider-Man: How To Beat The Bully/Jubilee: Peer Pressure; Spider-Man: Fatherhood; Fast Lane #1-4; Spider-Man On Bullying Prevention; Heroes Vs. Plaque: When Plaque Attacks; and Spider-Man: You’re Hired! But after some heavy editing – with no explanation it was retitled to Spider-Man Fights Substance Abuse TP, ran 200 pages, $24.99, and collected Amazing Spider-Man (1963) #96-#98; Spider-Man, Storm and Power Man; Amazing Spider-Man: Skating on Thin Ice!; Amazing Spider-Man: Double Trouble!; Fast Lane #1-#4; Spectacular Spider-Man #1000.
John Romita’s the Amazing Spider-Man: Artist’s Edition HC ($75) and Wally Wood’s EC Stories: Artist’s Edition HC ($125) were both released in February. What more can you say about IDW’s Artist’s Editions? The entire library of books deserves its own special category. I put them all together to showcase that there is a book for every comic fan: young, old, superhero, dark, comedic, realistic and cartoonish. Do yourself a favor: save your money and buy at least one of these books and never let go. You’ll come to understand the workmanship and process it takes to create a comic book page – and that is worth the price you pay for a masterpiece. IDW would also release David Mazzucchelli’s Daredevil Born Again Artist’s Edition HC, $125.00, Sergio Aragone’s Groo The Wanderer Artist’s Edition HC, $75.00 and Joe Kubert’s Tarzan of the Apes: Artist’s Edition HC, $75.00 in 2012.
DC published a new deluxe edition of Batman Year One hardcover (Batman #404-407, $24.99) as a companion to the Batman: Year One animated DVD and artist David Mazzucchelli was pissed off. He emphatically stated “they printed the color from corrupted, out-of-focus digital files, completely obscuring all of Richmond’s hand-painted work. Anybody who’s already paid for this should send it back to DC and demand a refund”. I still have yet to see a reply from DC Comics.
If Fredric Wertham was the one who shot down the comic book industry in the 1950’s then Crime Does Not Pay was one of the bullets. Touted in his “Seduction Of The Innocent”, the “true crime” series that ran from 1942-1955 was evidence that comic books were detrimental to youth and thus helped usher in the Comics Code Authority. After several attempts to get this series reprinted, the first hardcover volume was published in March (two more would follow in 2012). Dark Horse succeeded in getting it to market, but sales of the books remain low after Volume 1. It’ll be interesting to see if Dark Horse will be successful in completing the entire run.
Fantagraphics Books released Amazing Mysteries Bill Everett Archives Volume 1 HC, $39.99. Overseen and edited by Blake Bell, this volume of rare and never before published work by the creator of Namor, The Sub-Mariner, is a highlight of Golden Age reprint material of 2012. Volume 2 is in the works.
If there was a Man of the Year it would have been Grant Morrison, not only is the one of the architects for The New 52, but he had his own convention – MorrisonCon and one of his best works was reprinted in a gorgeous deluxe hardcover: Flex Mentallo: Man Of Muscle Mystery (Flex Mentallo #1-4, $22.99). A comic way ahead of its time, you’ll either love it or hate it. For me, it’s one of the best books of the year.
New editions of Batman: Knightfall (Batman: Vengeance Of Bane Special #1, Batman #491-500, Detective Comics #659-660, Showcase ’93 #7 and 8 And Batman: Shadow Of The Bat #17-18, 640 pages, $29.99) came out in oversized trade paperbacks. Three volumes in all, it would include the Knightsquest (Detective Comics #667-675, Batman #501-508, Batman: Shadow Of The Bat #19-28, Catwoman #6-7 and Robin #7, $29.99) and Knightsend (Batman #509, 510, 512-514, Batman: Shadow Of The Bat #29, 30, 32-34, Detective Comics #676, 677, 679-681, Batman: Legends Of The Dark Knight #62 And 63, Robin #8, 9, 11-13, Catwoman #12, 13 and Showcase 94 #10, $29.99) storylines.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The Ultimate Collection Volume 2 (#8-11, with the Michaelangelo, Leonardo and Donatello “micro-series” one-shots, B/W, $49.99). These collections from IDW just keep getting better and better. Volume 3 followed in August and volumes 4 and 5 will wrap up this series in 2013. IDW also debuted their “Limited Editions” in 2012. I have not had a chance to see one with my own eyes so I have no comment on them as of now. But I do hear that they are very nice and well worth the investment.
Without a doubt the month of May belonged to DC Comics. The New 52 collected editions started shipping and one of my favorites was Batman Vol. 1: The Court of Owls HC (Batman #1-6, $24.99). There were many excellent series and a few surprises (Swamp Thing, Animal Man, OMAC, Frankenstein) but no one story impacted me like Scott Snyder’s Batman. I was pretty skeptical going into his run, but after I read it, I’m proud to say that I am a Batman fanboy again.
DC also have several classics, too: Jack Kirby’s Spirit World HC, reprinting the impossible to find #1 and four stories completed for the second issue that appeared in Weird Mystery Tales 1-3 and Forbidden Tales Of Dark Mansion #6, $39.99; The 1975 comics adaptation of The Bible ($29.99); Absolute Batman Dark Victory HC (Batman: Dark Victory #0-13, $99.99) and MAD Archives Volume 3 (MAD Archives Volume 4 would be released in November). It took DC comics over 10 years to publish all four volumes, but they got it done on 2012.
Not to be outdone, Marvel had a ton of Avengers books just in time for the blockbuster movie but it was Silver Surfer: Parable Premiere Classic HC (Silver Surfer #1-2 and Silver Surfer: The Enslavers, $24.99) that caused a small ruckus. Too many artists, withers, and creative people passed away this year. One of them was Jean Giraud aka Moebius who is without a doubt a giant on both sides of the Atlantic. Parable (with Stan Lee) was first published by Marvel’s Epic line in 1988 as a two-issue series and won the Eisner Award for best finite/limited series in 1989. This book was solicited before Moebius’ passing and was published after his death and had major criticism from Joe Keatinge (Morbius: The Living Vampire) who offered to recolor it for free. Joe didn’t get the call back from Marvel and the book was released.
I think that DC only published the First Wave TP (First Wave #1-6 and Batman/Doc Savage #1, $24.99) only because of contractual obligations. I could be wrong. In any case this series was a complete failure and recently DC has stated that they have lost the rights to publish any new material of Doc Savage, The Spirit, Rima, and The Avenger. DC does retain reprint rights like The Spirit Archives.
Dark Horse continued their long running softcover Omnibus series with Star Wars Omnibus: Droids And Ewoks TP, $24.99. These “kiddie comics” are from Marvel’s Star imprint and this is the first time these hard-to-find comics have ever been reprinted.
Berkeley Breathed’s Outland: The Complete Collection (September 3, 1989 – March 26, 1995, $39.99) and Opus by Berkeley Breathed: The Complete Sunday Strips From 2003-2008 HC ($39.99, released in November). When you think of the great comic strips, Berkeley Breathed’s Bloom County ranks in the Top 10 all time. IDW did a wonderful job in collecting the entire run that past few years. In 2012 Breathed’s “sequels” were reprinted, too, thus reprinting everything in the universe of Opus the Penguin. And over the course of all the books the pre-Bloom County strip, Academia Waltz work is also complete.
Dark Horse had it going on in July with the release of Mike Norton’s Battlepug Volume 1 HC. This turned out to be a great collection of his very popular webcomic. There was also the Hellboy Library Edition Volume 5 HC (Darkness Calls and The Wild Hunt, $49.99). This is the best way to experience Hellboy. These oversized books are easy to read and also contain extensive notes and bonus material.
A few original graphic novels were also released in July. They include Batman: Earth One HC by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank ($22.99, DC Comics), Richard Stark’s Parker Volume 3 The Score HC by Darwyn Cooke ($24.99, IDW) and The Underwater Welder GN by Jeff Lemire ($19.95, Top Shelf). All three should be up for Eisner Awards in 2013.
Walt Disney’s Uncle Scrooge Volume 1 Only A Poor Old Man HC, $28.99, was published by Fantagraphics. If you ever get sick and tired of comic books and decide to sell them all on eBay, be sure to keep all books by Carl Barks. Ducks and all – it’s that damn good.
The Invisibles Omnibus HC (The Invisibles #1-25, The Invisibles Vol. 2 #1-22, The Invisibles Vol. 3 #12-1, and stories from Absolute Vertigo #1 and Vertigo: Winter’s Edge #1, $150.00) is a massive collection and is another Grant Morrison work that will be dissected until the end of time. You may want to sample an issue or two before buying in to the whole series. Like Sandman, this comic book isn’t for everyone.
The wedding of the year happened over in the Marvel Universe. Astonishing X-Men: Northstar HC (Astonishing X-Men #48-51 and material from Nation X #2, $24.99). Another somewhat controversial gay comic book character. But was it a good story? From what I gather it wasn’t.
Dark Horse released Grendel Omnibus TP Vol. 1: Hunter Rose, $24.99. This is an excellent way to read Matt Wagner’s masterpiece. Volume 2: The Legacy followed in December and Volume 3: Orion’s Reign and 4 (the final volume) are due in 2013.
Jeff Smith and Cartoon Books released RASL Volume 4 The Lost Journals Of Nikola Tesla TP (RASL #12–15, $19.95). It’s the final volume in the brilliant and way too short series. I’m sure that there will be a One Volume edition of the book in 2013.
Ted Turner once colorized Casablanca. It was panned over and over again. In 2012 Oni Press and Bryan Lee O’Malley colorized Scott Pilgrim Volume 1: Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life HC ($24.99) and was universally praised! The hardcover color editions contain bonus content such as original sketches and creator notes. Scott Pilgrim Color Hardcover Volume 2: Vs. The World was released in November. You can expect Volumes 3 and 4 in 2013 and Volumes 5 and 6 in 2014.
In gearing up for the (Green) Arrow TV show on the WB network, DC published a new edition of Mike Grell’s Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters (3-Issue 1987 Miniseries, $14.99). My only gripe is that is was a trade paperback. In DC’s age of Deluxe Editions, it should have been a hardcover. Speaking of hardcovers, DC also published Absolute Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps War HC (Green Lantern #21-25, Green Lantern Corps #14-19 and Green Lantern: Sinestro Corps Special #1, $99.99). This book failed to include the 3-issue Tales of The Sinestro Corp War. It’s a real shame, those were some good stories. I suggest you go out and buy the 3 regular trades or hardcovers to get the complete story.
Dark Horse finally got around to creating and publishing Star Wars – Crimson Empire III TP ($19.99) 13 years after Volume 2! A complete Star Wars: Crimson Empire Saga HC ($34.99) was also released.
Taschen America, who was responsible for 75 Years Of DC Comics: The Art Of Modern Mythmaking in 2010, released Robert Crumb: Sketchbooks 1982-2011, a 6 Volume Hardcover Set , 1344 pages, $1,000 making it the most expensive collection in 2012.
Sadly, Building Stories HC by Chris Ware ($50.00, Pantheon Books) may only get the recognition it deserves from publishing aficionados, the New York Times and comic book snobs. Very few will actually buy this work of art and those who do, only a handful will come to understand it and appreciate its’ brilliance. Truly it is the standout “book” of the year and must be placed on every single Top 10 list. If it’s not then the author of such list has no credibility with me. It will also win an Eisner Award in 2013. Like the monolith from 2001, it will be studied for generations to come.
Legends Of The Dark Knight: Alan Davis HC (Detective Comics #569-575, Batman: Full Circle #1 and a story from Batman: Gotham Knights #25, $39.99) was released but quickly recalled due to mis-printed pages. Look for replacement copies in January. Superman: Earth One Vol. 2 HC ($22.99) was also brought out by DC. I found this sequel to be much more interesting then Volume 1.
Valiant came back to comics with a vengeance in 2012. Releasing 5 comic book series, all are well written with strong artwork. They also got back in to reprinting their classic material, too. The first volume, Valiant Masters: Bloodshot Vol. 1 HC – Blood Of The Machine (Bloodshot  #1-8, $24.99) was produced with much more care then the Valiant hardcover reprints of 2008 headed up by Jim Shooter. The collected editions of 2012 Valiant material started to come out in December.
Fantagraphics Books released Harvey Kurtzman Corpse Of The Imjin And Other Stories HC ($28.99) and Wally Wood Came The Dawn And Other Stories HC ($24.99) showcasing the EC Comics work by creator. The reproduction work is flawless and rivals and in many cases surpasses the EC Library from Gemstone and GC Press. Look for the volumes ‘Taint The Meat It’s The Humanity! and Other Stories by Jack Davis ($28.99) and 50 Girls 50 and Other Stories by Al Williamson ($28.99) in February and Fall Guy For Murder And Other Stories by Johnny Craig ($28.99) and Child Of Tomorrow!: And Other Stories by Al Feldstein ($28.99) in April.
Marvel culminated their crossover event of the year with their Avengers vs. X-Men HC (Avengers Vs. X-Men #0-12; AVX: Vs. #1-6; Avengers Vs. X-Men: Infinite #1, #6, and #10; and material from Point One, 568 Pages, $75.00). Much better then the Fear Itself event A vs. X has now set the chess board that is Marvel NOW!
Marvel closed down their Premiere Classic line in 2012. The hardcover reprint program was expensive but did showcase some of the more notable Marvel Universe mini-series. Unfortunately the final book in the series Hulk: Abominable Premiere Classic HC (Incredible Hulk  #50-59, $34.99) came with a major misprint. It listed Volume number 103 on the spine, instead of the correct number 106. Marvel didn’t say a word about the mistake and now the program is just a memory.
Twomorrows Publishing finally released Matt Baker: The Art of Glamour ($39.95). It’s a gorgeous career retrospective of one of the finest artists of the Golden Age. I knew next to nothing about the man and his struggles as an African-American artist, but I could recognize his work – especially that famous Phantom Lady cover. Twomorrows also published Back Issue #61 – Tabloid-Size Special Issue ($10.95). This is exciting for no other reason because I contributed the Tabloids and Treasury Checklist that you can find in the centerfold. Yes, Chris Marshall: Centerfold.
In December 2011, DC Comics released the massive DC Comics: The New 52 that collected all the #1 issues, this time around DC collected New 52: Zero Issues Omnibus HC ($150) somehow I doubt we’ll get an Omnibus of the #2’s.
Dark Horse reprinted Rick Remender’s Fear Agent Library Volume 1 HC (#1-15, $49.99) as a deluxe hardcover. It also collected half of the Tales of the Fear Agent side stories, along with lots of bonus material. The book sold out fast, but I’m sure it will get a second printing when the final Volume 2 is released in May.
Judge Dredd may have come and gone in the American cinemas, but Judge Dredd: The Complete Brian Bolland HC ($49.99) from IDW should be a keeper. Judge Dredd: The Complete Carlos Ezquerra Vol. 1 will be out in February.
A total of 17 new hardcover Marvel Masterworks came out over the course of 12 months. They ranged from The Golden (3), Atlas (3) and Modern (11) ages. DC on the other hand published 7 DC Archives. That’s better the 2011 when they only published 2.
As far as a series goes, The Walking Dead trades and hardcovers outsold everyone. Robert Kirkman’s property continues to be one of the most profitable series of all time.
As far as historical and commentary comic book material goes there were several:
Overall, it was a pretty good year for the comic book reprint and collected editions market. The two majors, DC and Marvel, continued to pump out books in their usual way. Hitting every decade, the old superheroes of the Golden and Silver Age saw new life, while Batman and The Avengers took turns leaping from page to screen. Dark Horse, Image, IDW and Dynamite also reprinted classic tales all the while collecting their more recent lines of work. Newspaper strip reprints saw good improvement even though newspapers, themselves, dwindle.
Bring on 2013!