Picking my top five horror comic books of the year was a lot harder than picking my top five horror films.
There were a lot more comic books that I loved than films, though in fairness I read a lot more horror comics than saw horror films (shame, shame I know). I had a list of about 17 titles that I thought were outstanding and whittling it down to about 12 was easy, but picking five from that was torture. How could I include one without this one? People should know about that one, I need to put that one there! But I did it, I’ve picked a top five but I have to give an honorable mention to some titles.
Honorable mention: Eric Powell’s The Goon stayed in top form this year, the quality of the series hasn’t dwindled at all and is just as funny and heartbreaking as ever. Alex Link and Riley Rossmo’s Rebel Blood. The pair have concocted a very peculiar zombie tale with some unique artwork, it’s a lot better than most of the zombie comics out there. Tim Seeley and Mike Norton’s Revival. What makes this comic stand out from the other undead/horror tales is the setting and the noir writing. It bills itself as a “rural noir” which is a perfect description.
Heres’ my top 5…
Ragemoor is the kind of comic that would be totally common place 40 years ago. Naysayers might claim that’s why the comic receives such high praise, and yes, the fact that it’s different makes it stand out but the quality of the work alone is mountains better than many comics I read this year. Jan Strnad penned a remarkably creepy story that features some seriously twisted imagery and a plot that will keep Poe and Lovecraft fans begging for more. But where Ragemoor truly succeeds is in Richard Corben’s art. Corben is a horror comic legend and the fact that he continues to do phenomenal work makes me want to quit now.
#4 Godzilla: The Half Century War
This is the third Godzilla series (I believe, could be fourth) that IDW Publishing has done since getting the license for the big fella and it’s a close tie for the best. What’s difficult to do with Godzilla comics is make them personal and create human characters that are interesting to the readers and Half Century War pulls it off. James Stokoe both writes and draws this new series about a man that fought Godzilla when he first appeared and continues to try and destroy him for…you guessed it, the next fifty years. His story is very relatable because at it’s core it’s simply a man chasing a monster, which we’ve all done whether literally or figuratively, and it really helps that his splash pages of Godzilla and the other monsters are totally gorgeous.
#3 Locke & Key: Grindhouse
Locke & Key is one of my absolute favorite series. If we want to get technical there are three different Locke & Key series I could have chosen: Clockworks, Omega, and Grindhouse, but I went with the Grindhouse one-shot for a few reasons. Grindhouse tells a self contained story that anyone can pick up and follow along with. Joe Hill sets up the premise for what the series as a whole is about and manages to create a story that is just as engaging and demented. One thing that fans will notice about this one-shot over the others is the way the art really sticks to the tone of the story, it’s darker, it’s nastier looking, and it’s a welcome addition to the other Locke & Key issues that have gone a different route. One more thing, a closet that eats people.
#2 Sweet Tooth
I wish I could tell you exactly what it is about this series that makes me love it so much (we would be here all day) but I think it’s that Jeff Lemire writes the most sympathetic characters in existence. Gus, Mr. Jepperd, Wendy, Bobby, this comic has the best cast and there are only a handful in the series that you don’t want to be sage. Lemire has changed the series into something totally unexpected from the first issue but it’s just as engaging and soul crushingly sad as it has ever been.
#1 Frankenstein Alive, Alive!
I told you when I reviewed the first issue of this comic that it would be in my “Best of” and here it is at the very top. What is so great about this comic is that both parties involved have so much respect for the original text and character that their sequel here feels like the perfect continuation of what would happen. Steve Niles is no stranger to monsters so writing the grandfather of all the monsters is an easy task, and he’s had practice with it before, but what is the real selling point here is Bernie Wrightson’s artwork. Wrightson squeezes more detail into one splash page then a lot of artists do for some of the most high selling comics on the market. Niles and Wrightson should be proud of this series because the comic world needed it.
More 2012 Year-End Coverage: Best & Worst Posters of the Year