Major Spoilers Year in Review: Five Star Books for 2012 – Part 1

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Thanks to a fine Major Spoilerite, we have an updated database of all of the reviews written for the site, in an easy to digest and analyze format. Since 2012 is officially over, it’s time to take a look back at those issues that earned the Major Spoilers Five Star Rating.

NOTE: Because people are so concerned over rankings and numberings, and since that is not what this list is about, we’re presenting these books in a monthly breakdown.

January

mudman2MUDMAN #2 (Reviewer: Matthew)

Creator: Paul Grist
Welcome to Burnbridge on Sea. Ideal for that quiet little break when you want to get away from the crowd. Or the law. But Bank Robbers Vince and Dobromil find it’s not as quiet as it used to be. Not with Mudman around!

BOTTOM LINE: Listen to the podcast to hear why this book received 5 Stars.

 

 

batwoman5

BATMWOMAN #5 (Reviewer: Jimmy)
Co-writer and Artist: J.H. Williams III
Co-writer: W. Haden Blackman
Colors: Dave Stewart
Letters: Todd Klein
Asst. Editor: Rickey Purdin
Assoc. Editor: Harvey Richards
Editor: Mike Marts
“Hydrology,” the first arc of the critically acclaimed new BATWOMAN series, reaches its powerful conclusion! After the horrors Batwoman has faced, she has a final showdown with The Weeping Woman – a specter with the power to dredge up Kate’s deepest pain. Can she finally forgive herself so she can dispel this evil? And how will she respond when Chase and the DEO tighten their grip, forcing Kate to make an impossible decision?

BOTTOM LINE: Still One of the Best Books DC is Putting Out

Overall Batwoman #5 continues to be one of the top books of the relaunch, getting a perfect 5 out of 5 star rating.

batman5BATMAN #5 (Reviewer: Stephen)
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo
Inker: Jonathan Glapion
Colorist: FCO
Letterer: Richard Starkings
Editor: Mike Marts
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
Deep beneath Gotham City lies the Court of Owls’ deadliest trap – and Batman has fallen right into it! Can he escape, or will he perish in a maze of nightmare? Enter the labyrinth, Batman – if you dare!

BOTTOM LINE: SCOTT SNYDER TOLD ME SO

After my last review, writer Scott Snyder contacted me to let me know that my mind would be blown with issue #5. I was skeptical, but willing to give Snyder another chance. Snyder and company delivers with this issue, knocking it out of the ballpark, blowing it out of the water, and whatever other metaphors exist to express something that is spectacular in every single way. From the story, to the art, to the layouts, Batman #5 is a treat that should be on your must buy list. Totally gonna read this about 10 more times today, Batman #5 earns 5 out of 5 Stars.

Supergirl-5SUPERGIRL #5 (Reviewer: Ashley)
Cover by: Mahmud Asrar
Art by: Mahmud Asrar
Written by: Michael Green and Michael Johnson
Colored by: Dave McCaig
Publisher: DC
Cover Price: $2.99
Supergirl’s nightmare is finally over – she has left Earth and has somehow made it back to Argo City! But it’s not the home she remembers, and a deadly new adversary stands in her way.

BOTTOM LINE: GREAT ISSUE!

This was a great issue; I loved every minute while reading it. I love to see Kara’s human side, her emotions, and her heart. Your shown she’s vulnerable and this makes her relatable. Even with super human powers she can be hurt. With the introduction to this new character called Reign, we learn important information that has exciting potential for future issues. This story arc has definitely been set up very nicely to captivate the reader, not only by Kara but by the villains she is facing. You want to know more about it all. I highly recommend this issue as a must read, and give it 5 out of 5 Stars.

chew23CHEW #23 (Reviewer: Zach)
Writer: John Layman
Art: Rob Guillory
Letterer: John Layman
Color Assists: Taylor Wells
Publisher: Image
Cover Price: $2.99
Hey, remember that dead baseball player we put on the back cover of Issue #15? Tony learns his story this issue. And not voluntarily, either.

BOTTOM LINE: DID YOU EXPECT ANYTHING LESS?

John Layman and Rob Guillory are on a 23-issue streak for creating comic greatness, and don’t expect that streak to end anytime soon. This pairing creates dynamic characterization through the writing and art, along with a plot that is well paced and entertaining. Chew #23 exemplifies everything that makes Chew what it is and earns 5 out of 5 stars.

archie629ARCHIE #629 (Reviewer: Matthew)
Writer: Alex Segura
Penciler: Dan Parent
Inker: Rich Koslowski
Letterer: Jack Morelli
Colorist: Digikore Studios
Editor: Victor Gorelick
Publisher: Archie Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
Rock ‘n Roll All Fright” – In part three of the most historic team-up in comics, the Archies learn more about what brought the KISS members to Riverdale, and how the two groups have to unite to stop a band of monsters from turning Riverdale into a forgotten town, full of zombified teens!

BOTTOM LINE: I DIG THIS…

I have always been a sucker for meta storytelling, so it’s no surprise that I’m marking out for this story arc.  There are references in this story to all sorts of media, including Monster Squad and Sabrina’s various appearances on TV and in comics, and even a shot at our self-absorbed Facebooking “real world” mentalities.  The story hinges on Sabrina, long set up as an element of Riverdale’s world, making the stretch to superheroic guys in studs and leather less tortured, but the real joy is how easy it is to accept that KISS are really guys with powers who protect the world with the power of crunchy bass lines.  This is a fun story about how stories are no fun anymore, leading to the awesome realization that, by reading the thing, you’re actually part of the solution!  (Let’s all clap for Tinkerbell…  Errr, Peter Criss.)  Archie #629 is slam-bang fun that seems to effortlessly leap all the hurdles to an awesome story (including a priceless moment where Kevin Keller pulls off a Big Damn Heroes moment armed only with a boombox) earning a dead-solid 5 out of 5 stars overall.

FEBRUARY

Irredeemable34_CVAIRREDEEMABLE #34 (Reviewer: Jimmy)
Written by Mark Waid
Drawn by Diego Barreto
SC, 32pgs, FC, SRP: $3.99

The Paradigm finds itself severely weakened by the death of in-progress megalomaniac Survivor, but the situation is even more dire than they realize, as an old enemy walks among them… meanwhile, the Plutonian wrestles with his origins as he faces…his parents. This is the perfect jumping-on point for new readers to experience Mark Waid’s superhero-gone-wrong masterpiece!

BOTTOM LINE: Listen to the podcast to hear why this book received 5 Stars.

loneranger2THE LONE RANGER #2 (Reviewer: Stephen)
Writer: Ande Parks
Artist: Esteve Polls
Colorist: Marcelo Pinto
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Cover: Francesco Francavilla
Editor: Joseph Rybandt
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Cover Price: $3.99
The Lone Ranger and Tonto enter the rough, legendary old west town of Abilene, Kansas. While in town to deliver outlaws to the local Marshal, Lone Ranger encounters an infamous lawman turned gunfighter at the end of his career. After a brutal and bloody shootout, the gunfighter faces off against an angry, vengeful mob, and Lone Ranger is caught in the middle. How does a hero who has sworn not to kill resolve a dispute between so many men, with so many guns?

BOTTOM LINE: AWESOME

While Clay Woodson is not a real person, the approach Parks and Polls approach this issue makes it seem very real. The Lone Ranger #2 is one of the few works of fiction that actually “gets” Western Kansas – and I should know, I’ve been living here on and off for the last 20 years. Another great story, with fantastic art has skyrocketed Dynamite Entertainment’s The Lone Ranger to the top of my must buy pile, and it should be on yours, too. The Lone Ranger #2 earns 5 out of 5 Stars.

lk_clockworks_4_color_by_gabrielrodriguez-d4m3u4c-163x250LOCKE & KEY: CLOCKWORKS #4 (Reviewer: Stephen)
Writer: Joe Hill
Artist: Gabriel Rodriguez
Colorist: Jay Fotos
Letterer: Robbie Robbins
Editor: Chris Ryall
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Cover Price: $3.99
The tamers of The Tempest — Rendell Locke, Dodge Caravaggio, and their friends — descend into the Drowning Cave to open the Black Door, hoping to get their hands on some of the fabled whispering iron, the material from which all of the keys are forged. And everything goes according to plan! Not.

BOTTOM LINE: BUY IT! BUY IT NOW!

No, seriously, buy it now…

This is issue works on so many different levels. The Locke kids and the reader have been on a journey of discovery all these issues, and just when we think the big questions will never get answers, Joe Hill delivers a story that spells it out for us. Gabriel Rodriguez continues to mesmerize, and the creatures on the other side of the black door are creepier than I remember. Masterful storytelling and great art earns Locke & Key: Clockworks #4 5 out of 5 Stars.

Penguin-Pain-and-Prejudice-5-CoverPenguin: Pain and Prejudice #5 (of 5) (Reviewer: Jimmy)
Writer: Gregg Hurwitz
Artist: Szymon Kudranski
Colorist: John Kalisz
Letterer: Rob Leigh
Assistant Editor: Katie Kubert
Editor: Mike Marts
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
In the finale of Gregg Hurwitz and Szymon Kudranski’s miniseries exploring the motivations of one of Batman’s most peculiar foes, the ultimate revenge plot explodes into action. The lives of Gotham City’s children are on the line, and The Dark Knight will have to race the clock to save them. But can Batman save them all? Find out in this unnerving conclusion!

BOTTOM LINE: The Best Book of the Relaunch So Far

While DC has been putting out a number of excellent titles since their relaunch (Batwoman, Demon Knights, The Flash), Penguin: Pain and Prejudice has consistently been my favorite. Gregg Hurwitz and Szymon Kudranski have given us a truly powerful story told equally through words and art—the ultimate expression of what the comic book has to offer as a medium. Needless to say, this book gets a full five out of five stars from me, and I hope to see much more from both Hurwitz and Kudranski at DC.

chew24CHEW #24 (Reviewer: Zach)
Writer: John Layman
Artist: Rob Guillory
MAJOR LEAGUE CHEW,” Part Four
This issue we give new meaning to the phrase “death by chocolate.”

BOTTOM LINE: Listen to the podcast to hear why this book received 5 Stars.

MARCH

SMP2STEED AND MRS. PEEL #2 (Reviewer: Matthew)
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Ian Gibson
Letterer: Ellie DeVille
Original Series Editor: Dick Hannigan
Editor: Bryce Carlson
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Cover Price: $3.99
From the one and only Grant Morrison — “The Golden Game Part Two: Hare and Hounds!” Your favorite Avengers John Steed and Emma Peel continue the search for Tara King, who was kidnapped by a mysterious organization. The reunion kicks into high gear, featuring gorgeous art from Ian Gibson, best known for his work with Alan Moore on “The Ballad of Halo Jones.”

BOTTOM LINE: A-PEELING TO ME…

I admit it:  I am a mark for this series (and the female lead in particular), which means that I probably have a predisposition towards enjoyment of this issue, but it IS a good one, and it’s not your standard superhero bombast, something I know Stephen appreciates.  (That is, so long as the bombast doesn’t have a scalloped cape, then he’ll drink all the Kool-Aid you got.)  All in all, the first run of this book came at a point where Eclipse Comics was on the way out, and Grant Morrison was just a little-known guy working for Vertigo.  Steed And Mrs. Peel #2 is a pretty cool book, well-written and gorgeous, earning itself a lovely 5 out of 5 stars overall.  I’m totally psyched to finally get to read the END of this story!  Now, can somebody bring back The Liberty Project?

fatale3FATALE #3 (Reviewer: Stephen)
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Sean Phillips
What will Detective Walt Booker sacrifice, to what gods? And is he looking for redemption or revenge? In part three of BRUBAKER and PHILLIPS’ new horror/noir masterpiece, the threads of the first arc twist together… into a noose around the neck of a corrupt cop in late ’50s San Francisco.

BOTTOM LINE: Listen to the podcast to hear why this book received 5 Stars.

TheManhattanProjects1COVERTHE MANHATTAN PROJECTS #1 (Reviewer: Zach)
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Nick Pitarra
Colors: Cris Peter
Letters: Rus Wooton
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.50
What if the research and development department created to produce the first atomic bomb was a front for a series of other, more unusual, programs? What if the union of a generation’s brightest minds was not a signal for optimism, but foreboding? What if everything… went wrong?

BOTTOM LINE: IT’S GOING PLACES

I was never entirely sure what was going to happen in this first issue; with the premise of alternate programs surrounding the creation of the atom bomb, the door seemed open wide with possibilities. Every part of this book, words, coloring, page layouts, Feynman’s quotes, is crafted so that the story is king. The Manhattan Projects #1 is a very well done first issue that promises to shoot off big, and that is why I’m giving it 5 out of 5 stars.

Flash2THE FLASH #7 (Reviewer: Matthew)
Writer(s): Francis Manapul & Brian Buccellato
Artist: Francis Manapul
Colorist: Brian Buccellato
Letterer: Wes Abbott
Editor: Brian Cunningham
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
Captain Cold is back – and he’s more dangerous than ever! Seeking revenge on The Flash, he must convince the rest of the Rogues to reunite one last time. But what tore them apart before? And what did The Flash do to earn their deadly scorn? Find out here!

BOTTOM LINE:  WELL, THIS IS INTERESTING…

The Flash is one of two characters with whom I have an unhealthy love/hate (or perhaps, more accurately and Add/Drop) relationship.  Barry Allen was one of the characters who drew me into this crazy comic book habit to begin with, and I’ve been reading his stories for so long that I find myself easily dropping the book when a writer doesn’t fit my personal views of what The Flash should be.  Still smarting from the ignoble lack of closure given Wally West after Final Crisis, I didn’t want to embrace this title, but Manapul and Buccallato (whose name always make me want to go to Starbucks) have crafted an issue that is fast-paced without being short-attention-spanned, and offers an exciting glimpse into a fully-fleshed-out world for The Flash to run through and around.  The Flash #7 is beautiful, well-paced and entertaining, earning a completely unexpected 5 out of 5 stars overall.  This is a great example of how to tell an ongoing story while still crafting an enjoyable single issue reading experience.

April

DareDevil10COVERDAREDEVIL #10 (Reviewer: Zach)
Writer: Mark Waid
Pencils: Paolo Rivera
Inks: Joe Rivera
Colors: Javier Rodriguez
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Editor: Stephen Wacker
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
Meet Matt Murdock, one of New York’s finest attorneys by day and the crime-fighter Daredevil by night! Discover the dark secrets behind his first days in the costume, as the man without sight became the Man Without Fear!

BOTTOM LINE: A LESSON IN CHARACTER BUILDING

From cover to cover this book is dedicated to giving the reader a deeper understanding of the inner turmoil Matt Murdock, and even The Mole Man, face. Even during the fight scene the fighting was secondary to the dialogue flying between the two opponents. Ultimately what it boils down to is that Mark Waid is pulling me into this book not through giant action sequences or head spinning plot, but by making my genuinely care about the man underneath the mask. Every issue you read of Daredevil makes you want to keep reading more and Daredevil #10 is no exception, and is why I’m giving it 5 out of 5 stars.

invincible90INVINCIBLE #90 (Reviewer: Jimmy)
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Penciler: Ryan Ottley
Inker: Cliff Rathburn
Colorist: John Rauch
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Editor: Sina Grace
Cover: Ryan Ottley and FCO Plascencia
Publisher: Image Comics (Skybound Imprint)
Cover Price: $2.99
Everything is different now.

BOTTOM LINE: STILL THE BEST SUPERHERO COMIC IN THE UNIVERSE!

Every contributor to this book is on top of their game right now; with the Scourge virus taking its toll on Mark we’re really getting to see the rest of the cast shine. Dinosaurus has been made into a compelling character who I hope we continue to see more of, and (Major Spoiler Alert) it looks like we’re going to get to see Invincible back in action next issue – if you’ve been a fan of the title in the past and dropped off, this is a great time to get back into the world of Invincible! I’m giving Invincible #90 a full 5 out of 5 stars for being a perfect synthesis of great writing and fantastic art.

asm1999683_dc11_lr_0001-131x200AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #683 (Reviewer: Rob)
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Stefano Caselli
Colorist: Frank Martin Jr
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Artist: Gabriele Dell’Otto or Michael Del Mundo
Editor: Stephen Wacker
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Price: $3.99

• The Biggest Movie Stars Of The Summer Team Up As The Amazing Spider-Man And The Avengers Square Off Against Doc Ock And The Sinister Six!

•The World May Be Ready To Buckle Under And Give In To Doctor Octopus’ Demands…But Spider-Man And His Fellow Avengers Sure Ain’t!

BOTTOM LINE: GREAT SETUP

Ends of the Earth is gearing up to be as good as Spider-Island, of course with Slott still at the helm, I didn’t expect anything less. This issue gave us a great fight, some good character moments for both main and side characters (the JJJ vs Horizon Labs side bit is making me hate JJJ all over again) and a lead in that has me eager for the next ish. All in all, I don’t believe I could be happier with the book and I have to give it a 5 for 5.

saga2SAGA #2 (Reviewer: Matthew)
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Fiona Staples
Letterer/Designer: Fonographics
Coordinator: Eric Stephenson
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
The ongoing epic continues! After deserting their galactic armies, former soldiers Marko and Alana must now protect their newborn girl from the lethal killers dispatched to destroy their family.

BOTTOM LINE: WHOA…

In short, this is a book that makes me wish I had run to the store on the Wednesday that #1 came out.  (We sold out on day of release for Saga #1.)  This issue isn’t your standard comics fare, expertly written, and exquisitely drawn, and you’re going to be sorry if you didn’t buy it.  Saga #2 nails execution, package and delivery, earning 5 out of 5 stars overall.  I don’t usually say this, but in this case, it’s okay to believe the hype…

scarlet_spider_4_cover_by_ryanstegman-d4nhs0f-131x200SCARLET SPIDER #4 (Reviewer: Shane)
Writer: Chris Yost
Pencils: Ryan Stegman
Colors: Edgar Delgado
Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel
Cover: $2.99
Kaine aka the Scarlet Spider, prepares for an onslaught unlike any he’s ever faced before! The ruthless Assassins Guild has arrived in Houston with one objective- take down the Scarlet Spider at any cost! Will Kaine’s super-human abilities be enough to outwit the band of murderous assassins gunning for his head?

BOTTOM LINE: Obv

Google how many Scarlet Spider #1 reviews were written and compare it to the amount of #4 reviews. I regret to inform you that you won’t find many reviews outside of personal blogs. I’m here to tell you right now to pick up this series. I wish I would have posted this on Wednesday, but either way, pick it up. Did I mention I think you should exchange your monies for Scarlet Spider #1-4 at your local comic shop? I didn’t? Well you go do that and experience a series in which Scarlet Spider #4 earned 5 out of 5 stars.

secret1SECRET #1 (Reviewer: Matthew)
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Ryan Bodenhelm
Publisher: Image Comics
A man gets shot in London, a law firm gets broken into in Washington, an accountant gives away the password to his computer, and something put to sleep 20 years ago awakens. What is the unsavory relationship all these things share, and how could it bring down two of the largest governments in the history of the world?

BOTTOM LINE: Listen to the podcast to hear why this book received 5 Stars.

That wraps it up for the first quarter of 2012.  A wide selection of books and publishers received 5 Stars, and that is a good thing for comics in general.