Major Spoilers Year in Review: Five Star Books for 2012 – Part 2

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We’ve already taken a look at books that received the Major Spoilers Five Star Rating for the first four months of 2012, and today we continue the journey through the year that was with a look at even more books that received five stars.

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.

MAY

Spi2THE SPIDER #1 (Reviewer: Matthew)
Writer: David Liss
Artist: David Worley
Cover Artist(s): Alex Ross/John Cassaday/Francesco Francavilla/Ron Lesser
Letterer: Simon Bowland
Editor: Joe Rybandt
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Cover Price: $3.99
One of the greatest pulp characters of all time is now re-launched into the 21st century! The world knows Richard Wentworth as a decorated war hero and the son of a wealthy industrialist – but only a few confidants know the truth. As New York City slides into violence and despair, Wentworth has transformed himself into a force of justice as The Spider! With only his wits, his technology, and his pistols to aid him, he fights a one-man war against crime, but when a mysterious new villain threatens the city with an unspeakable horror, it may be more than even The Spider can handle. How far will a sane man go to restore order to an insane world?

BOTTOM LINE: OKAY, DYNAMITE…  I’M IN.

This issue is a great introduction to The Spider for new readers (or dilettantes like me), setting our stage, giving us his methods, his history and his fascinating world-view in the space of a single issue.  It’s not a traditionalist take on the character, but it seems to be a faithful update of the pulp hero, setting him firmly in the present and making him work in that setting.  The art is beautiful throughout the issue, and The Spider himself looks phenomenal in action.  I was worried about some of the cover images, as the red/black web motif made me worry that the creators were taking a bit too much from Wentworth’s cultural offspring, Spider-Man, but the balance of this issue is just right.  The Spider #1 hits all the right notes, and makes the rare jump straight into my pull list, earning 5 out of 5 stars overall, and serves as a perfect example of relaunch done right…

Fa2FAIREST #3 (Reviewer: Matthew)
Writer: Bill Willingham
Penciler: Phil Jiminez
Inker(s): Andy Lanning/Mark Farmer
Coloriest: Andrew Dalhouse
Letterer: Todd Klein
Editor: Shelly Bond
Publisher: Vertigo/DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
We want this third issue to be really big, so let’s have Briar Rose and Ali Baba captured by the Snow Queen! And let’s throw in seven good fairy godmothers and one really, really bad one. Let’s have dire curses and desperate fights and comic asides. Let’s show the consequences of attempting a second uninvited kiss. Basically let’s have everything in this but the kitchen sink. No, wait – let’s throw the kitchen sink in too!

BOTTOM LINE: PURTY

Short answer?  Fairest#3 is giving the main Fables title a run for its money as the best, most consistent title on the stands every month, hitting a home-run for 5 out of 5 stars overall. If you’re looking for an entertaining read, look no further.  If you want an alternative to superheroes, here’s your alternative.  If you want to see art so good it should be fattening, pig out…  What else can I say?

Um…  Umm…  I like cheese.

Locke-and-Key_Clockworks_6-665x10241LOCKE & KEY: CLOCKWORKS #6 (Reviewer: Stephen)
Writer: Joe HIll
Artist: Gabriel Rodriguez
Colorist: Jay Fotos
Letterer: Robbie Robbins
Editor: Chris Ryall
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Cover Price: $3.99
On a sweltering spring night, in the last days before graduation, the Keepers of the Keys face Dodge a final time, under three hundred feet of stone, in the darkness before the Black Door. Here, water will mix with blood, and the Drowning Cave will become a colossal tomb, in the final issue of the CLOCKWORKS storyline.

BOTTOM LINE: BUY IT!

While I do understand the need to have a contained story, I really don’t want this series to end. It’s been terrific from the very beginning, and this arc, and this issue in particular , is so thrilling it’s worth reading a couple more times before the final seven issues of Locke & Key arrive. Locke & Key: Clockworks #6 is terrifying in the storytelling, awe inspiring in the artistic detail, and a perfect ending chapter for this arc. This is a must buy issue, earning 5 out of 5 Stars.

NC2NEW CRUSADERS #1 (Reviewer:Matthew)
Writer: Ian Flynn
Penciler: Ben Bates
Inker: Gary Martin
Colorist: Matt Herms
Letterer: John Workman
Editor: Paul Kaminski
Publisher: Red Circle Comics/Archie Comics
Cover Price: 99 Cents
Red Circle Comics presents The New Crusaders: Our world demands heroes – a new generation must RISE! Over a decade ago, the super hero team known as The Mighty Crusaders did the impossible: they won. Successful in their battle against evil and finding they’d made the world a better place, the heroes settled down to the small town of Red Circle to start families, unwind and take a much-deserved rest. When the quiet town is rocked by the return of the ultimate evil, the super hero residents are obliterated! It’s up to their heirs to fight for justice and crusade against evil. They are our last, best hope. They are: THE NEW CRUSADERS!

BOTTOM LINE:  WELL-DONE, EVEN AT THIS LENGTH…

I think the most telling part of this issue comes in the fact that the 12 pages feel like a complete chapter of story, with some compact but effective character work, and a lot of intriguing questions raised throughout.  All the kids’ personalities are sketched out for us, and even though there’s no actual combat in the issue, the artists still give us some nice action work during a touch football game, and each character has a unique and definitive face and body structure.  The art is really good, and the coloring manages to channel the classic comic book look and feel without feeling flat or retro.  New Crusaders #1 is an impressive start for the new adventures of old friends, nailing a classic all-ages superhero vibe without being childish or simple, earning 5 out of 5 stars overall.  There’s nothing not to like here…

DBC3COVERThe Secret History of D.B. Cooper #3 (Reviewer: Zach)
Writer: Brian Churilla
Artist: Brian Churilla
Letterer: Ed Brisson
Designer: Keith Wood
Editor: James Lucas Jones
Publisher: Oni Press
Cover Price: $3.99
As CIA operative D.B. Cooper continues his political assassinations in the astral plane of “The Glut,” the missions take their toll on both his mind and physical body. Desperate to find the daughter he swore he would never lose, the gruff Cooper must travel the surreal landscape of the mind with his new teddy bear companion in search of his girl’s trail.

BOTTOM LINE: BOTTOM LINE: WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!

If you have yet to read this issue, or the previous two, please run to you local comic book shop or download them from your app of choice and get to reading! Brian Churilla is setting the standard for creator owned books, and he is setting it high. With art complementing the solid story telling this issue is worthy of multiple reads. The Secret History of D.B. Cooper #3 deserves nothing less than 5 out of 5 stars. I beg you go read this.

saga_03_2ndprint-covSAGA #3 (Reviewer: Rob)
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Fiona Staples
Letterer: Fonografiks
Cover Artist: Fiona Staples
Editor: Eric Stephenson
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $2.99
BKV’s and FIONA STAPLES’ controversial epic continues! Stranded on a mystical alien world, new parents Marko and Alana encounter their greatest fear.

BOTTOM LINE: Get the next printing

Saga is going to be a fantastic piece when it’s completed. At this point it’s already amazing and we are only in issue three. This issue issue even fixes the one problem I had previously, Hazel as the narrator. With the addition of the ghost concept, it even allows for her to die and still be able to tell this story, even if it may be the story of her parents after awhile. Saga delivers it all here, and I am happy to give it 5 of 5 stars.

manhattanprojects3MANHATTAN PROJECTS #3 (Reviewer: Stephen)
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Nick Pitarra
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Rus Wooton
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $3.50
The Death of FDR leaves the Manhattan Projects in chaos as questions of leadership arise. The world’s first Artificial Intelligence is created 40 years ahead of schedule. And whatever happened to the THIRD atomic bomb developed by Oppenheimer and his unparalleled Science Team?

BOTTOM LINE: I WANT TO BE ON WHATEVER HICKMAN IS ON

Manhattan Projects has quickly turned into one of my favorite series, and I can’t wait to see what is going to happen next, because no matter what crazy thing I can think up, Hickman has already thought up something that trumps it. Pitarra’s art has a European vibe that I really like in this story, and each panel gives me something interesting to look at before moving on. It isn’t too late to pick up the previous issues, and I’m giving Manhattan Projects #3 5 out of 5 Stars.

Irredeemable-39-CoverIRREDEEMABLE #37 (Reviewer: Jimmy)
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Diego Barreto
Colorist: Nolan Woodard
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
Editors: Matt Gagnon & Shannon Watters
Covers: Kalman Andrasofszky & Nolan Woodard; Matteo Scalera & Darrin Moore
THE FINAL ISSUE OF MARK WAID’S SEMINAL SUPERHERO SERIES! Can the Plutonian, seemingly IRREDEEMABLE, find his salvation? What is the true definition of a hero? And can a world, ravaged by loss and carnage, ever believe in such an idea again? The stunning, breathtaking conclusion to Mark Waid’s Eisner and Harvey Award-nominated superhero saga. DO NOT MISS THIS FINAL ISSUE OF A MASTER WRITER’S TOUR DE FORCE!

BOTTOM LINE: The Perfect Conclusion to One of my Favorite Series

Many writers don’t get an opportunity to end a series on their own terms; Mark Waid showed us what Neil Gaiman showed us with Sandman–how powerful it can be to simultaneously have a real ending, and yet have it be the ending that doesn’t end (one might say Gaiman’s Sandman was… Endless). Even more powerful, I asked Waid over twitter if this finale has been the endgame since he first began penning the series, and he confirmed it. I debated whether or not to include the big ending in this review, but I think it’s such a beautifully handled finale that I wouldn’t be able to do it justice; if you read the first arc or two of Irredeemable and for whatever reason dropped the title, at the very least you should pick up this issue. The little plot summary at the beginning of the issue will give you all the backstory you need, and you’ll really appreciate the way Mark Waid ended things. This book gets an easy five out of five stars from me, and I am frightenedly optimistic for the conclusion of Incorruptible as well.

JUNE

Batman-Incorporated-1-CoverBATMAN INCORPORATED #1 (Reviewer: Jimmy)
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Chris Burnham
Color: Nathan Fairbairn
Lettering: Patrick Brosseau
Cover: Burnham and Fairbairn
Variant Cover: Fran Quitely
Assistant Editor: Rickey Purdin
Associate Editor: Brian Smith
Editor: Mike Marts
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
BATMAN, INCORPORATED makes its NEW 52 debut with an all-new first issue!• The series hits the ground running as BATMAN and ROBIN face off against the assassin GOATBOY!• LEVIATHAN’S sinister mission revealed!

BOTTOM LINE: My Favorite Bat-title Yet Again

I have been enjoying Scott Snyder’s work on Batman, but I’ve been eagerly anticipating this book ever since the New 52 began. This is an absolutely perfect book, incredibly well-written and with fantastic art. Easy five out of five stars from me, and if you didn’t pick this up already you certainly should do so. Morrison and Burnham are the best writer/artist pair in comics right now.

mudman4MUDMAN #4 (Reviewer: Matthew)
Writer: Paul Grist
Artist: Paul Grist
Publisher: Image Comics
Burnbridge on Sea is under attack… from the sea? Mudman is the only person who can the tide – but when you’re made of mud, water isn’t the easiest thing to stop.

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

BM_Cv10BATMAN #10 (Reviewer: Stephen)
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo
Inker: Jonathan Glapion
Colorist: FCO Plascencia
Letterer: Richard Starkings and Jimmy B
Editor: Mike Marts
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
• BATMAN takes the fight to THE COURT OF OWLS!
• Discover the evil mastermind behind THE COURT.
• Plus: The “Fall of the House of Wayne” backup by SCOTT SNYDER, JAMES TYNION IV and RAFAEL ALBUQUERQUE.

BOTTOM LINE: GET THIS BOOK

It looks like DC is fully committed to the New 52, so Snyder’s story is going to be canon moving forward – providing March’s story isn’t a lie.  Batman #10 could be the issue that collections are made on. Scott Snyder delivers a story that had me engaged the entire time, and Capullo’s art sealed the deal – this is a book to own, earning 5 out of 5 Stars.

Batgirl10COVERBATGIRL #10 (Reviewer: Zach)
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Alitha Martinez
Inker: Vicente Cifuentes
Colors: Ulises Arreola
Letters: Dave Shrape
Editor: Brian Smith
Don’t miss the introduction of a villain destined to become Barbara’s greatest and most dangerous foe! • An innocent woman who was sentenced to life in ARKHAM ASYLUM, Knightfall is now free and more dangerous than the psychotics she was imprisoned with. Her bloody quest for revenge will be unlike anything Batgirl has ever seen.

BOTTOM LINE: GOING BACK TO THE START

After finishing my first read through Batgirl #10 I was deeply disappointed in myself for not picking up this title from the beginning. In a single issue she presented a character with Barbara that I felt connected with and cared for just as much as any character that I have read so far. Combine that with the art coming from Alitha Martinez and you have a completely engrossing book. If you couldn’t tell from my gushing already I’m giving this issue 5 out of 5 stars. I will now go “punish” myself for not reading the first nine issues by spending my money to buy every single one.

DEMONK_Cv101DEMON KNIGHTS #10 (Reviewer: Rob)
Writer: Paul Cornell
Artist: Diogenes Neves
Inkers: Oclair Albert and Julio Ferreira
Colorist: Marcelo Maiolo
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher
Cover Artist: Michael Choi
Editor: Chris Conroy
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99
• Part two of “ASSAULT ON AVALON!”
• While searching for MERLIN, our heroes find KING ARTHUR…both of him!

BOTTOM LINE: BUY THIS

Cornell has figured out the voice each of his characters wants and employed it quite masterfully. Neves work is a joy to behold. Demon Knights has probably been the best book in the entirety of the New 52 and Demon Knights #10 continues that earning itself a perfect and very well deserved 5 of 5 stars.

Saga4COVERSAGA #4 (Reviewer: Zach)
Writer: Brian K. Vaughn
Artist: Fiona Staples
Letters: Fonografiks
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
Welcome to SEXTILLION, a distant planet where even your darkest fantasies become reality. See why everyone’s talking about this hit new ongoing adventure from BRIAN K. VAUGHAN and FIONA STAPLES!

BOTTOM LINE: SHOULD BE ON YOUR PULL LIST

Saga #4 is an example of a book that should not only be on your monthly pull list but also on the top ten selling list every month. Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples are putting together a book that is doing the seemingly impossible by topping itself issue after issue. I could keep on gushing but that would take time away from you reading this brilliant series. 5 out of 5 stars. Go buy it now.

GLNG_Cv10_R1_01GREEN LANTERN: NEW GUARDIANS #10 (Reviewer: Rob)
Writer: Tony Bedard
Artist: Tomas Giorello
Colorists: Nathan Eyring & Hi-Fi
Letterer: Dave Sharpe
Cover Artist: Kirkham, Batt, & Ruffino
Editor: Pat McCallum
Publisher: DC Comics
Price: $2.99

• Part two of “THE FALL OF THE BLUE LANTERNS”!
• The NEW GUARDIANS reunite!
• Why is every CORPS coming apart at the seams? One word: LARFLEEZE!

BOTTOM LINE: Hope you get it

Green Lantern: New Guardians #10 is a gorgeous book and a compelling story. Bedard is doing very well with a huge cast of main and supporting characters, making sure that while each one is getting a focus, some even a full focus issue, none of them are feeling too important compared to any of the other primary characters. Even the supporting cast has enough time to develop at least a little. With the group cut down and desperate, Green Lantern: New Guardians #10 earns a perfect 5 out of 5 stars from me, having found nothing I dislike about this book and everything being great.

JULY

ProphetCoverPROPHET #26 (Reviewer: George)
Writer: Brandon Graham
Artist: Brandon Graham
Letters: Ed Brisson
Edits: Eric Stephenson
Cover: Brandon Graham
Publisher: Image Comics
Price: $2.99
Jaxson must find a way to warn John Prophet of the newly awakened Earth Empire.

BOTTOM LINE: WE NEED MORE COMICS LIKE THIS

Most of my comics reading is of the capes and tights variety. When I read something like Prophet #26, I feel humbled and more than a little guilty. Prophet is the kind of comic I should be spending more time and money on; ambitious in scope and beautifully executed, Prophet is a stunning example of what the comic book format can do. Still, as I unabashedly love Prophet, I recognize that some may not enjoy it as much as I do. The narrative is opaque – there is little explanatory handholding in this book. The central protagonist is not particularly identifiable or engaged in anything more sympathetic than survival. But what some might perceive as shortcomings are obviously central elements to the overall structure of the work. This is meant to be a strange experience that rewards the reader with glimpses of alien worlds unlike anything in our reality. If that doesn’t sound like something you are interested in, that’s fine. But if it tickles your fancy in the slightest, pick up an issue. Prophet #26 earns a rare and gladly given five out of five stars. Check it out.

The-Dark-Knight-10-CoverBATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT #10 (Reviewer: Jimmy)
Writer: Gregg Hurwitz
Penciller: David Finch
Inker: Richard Friend
Colorist: Sonia Oback
Letterer: Dezi Sienty
Cover: Finch and Friend with Jeromy Cox
Assistant Editor: Rickey Purdin
Editor: Mike Marts
Publisher: DC Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
• Welcome new series writer GREGG HURWITZ!
• Kicking off a major story pitting BATMAN against the most deadly version of the SCARECROW he’s ever seen!
• This isn’t about fear…it’s about TERROR!

BOTTOM LINE: The Ultimate Jumping On Point (and you SHOULD jump on)

Batman: The Dark Knight is a title that has sold incredibly well, but has not fared well in reviews due to poor and inconsistent writing. This marks the dawn of a new era with an incredible writer and the same gorgeous art that the title’s always had. DC Comics is putting out a bevy of fantastic Batman books right now, with Scott Snyder’s Batman getting the most critical acclaim and Morrison’s Batman Incorporated getting in gear, but I have a feeling the Bat-book I’m going to be most excited for on a month to month basis is Batman: The Dark Knight, issue 10 of which I give a full 5 out of 5 stars.

PoyoCOVERSECRET AGENT POYO ONE-SHOT (Reviewer: Zach)
Writer: John Layman
Artist: Rob Guillory
Letterer: John Layman
Color Assists: Taylor Wells
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
Hey retailers/readers/speculators! Still kicking yourself for not ordering and/or passing by CHEW #1, now that you see what it’s going for on eBay? Here’s your chance to get sweet, sweet, revenge, with an all-new CHEW #1, a one-shot spinning off CHEW’s most popular supporting character, and comics’ most beloved homicidal cybernetic kung-fu rooster. Concentrated mayhem. Feathers, rage and hate! Plus: an all-star pin-up gallery from some of the most staggeringly talented artists in the industry!

BOTTOM LINE: FIGHT FOR IT

I mean this. If there is but a single copy of Secret Agent Poyo at your LCS, it’s time to call Michael Buffer, oil up your body, and get ready to rumble because you need this issue. Layman and Guillory crafted an issue that brings what makes Chew the success that it is and take it up, at least, three notches. If you come into Poyo being a fan of Chew, you will love it. If you pick this up without knowing anything about Chew, well, you may think these two need locked up. They don’t, I promise. Secret Agent Poyo is a piece of work and earns 5 out of 5 stars.

revivalREVIVAL #1(Reviewer: Matthew)
Writer: Tim Seeley

Artist: Mike Norton
Publisher: Image Comics
Cover Price: $2.99
For one day in rural central Wisconsin, the dead came back to life. Now it’s up to Officer Dana Cypress to deal with the media scrutiny, religious zealots, and government quarantine that has come with them. In a town where the living have to learn to deal with those who are supposed to be dead, Officer Cypress must solve a brutal murder, and everyone, alive or undead, is a suspect. A beautiful “farm noir” that puts a new twist on the zombie genre, created by NYT Bestselling author TIM SEELEY and acclaimed artist MIKE NORTON.

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

MasksMobsters1-COVERMASKS AND MOBSTERS #1 (Reviewer: Zach)
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Mike Henderson
Title Page: Dylan Todd
Publisher: Monnkeybrain Comics
Cover Price: $0.99
During the Golden Age there was a sudden influx of costumed heroes and villains… but how did that affect the politics and business of the Mob? How did the Crime families deal with heroes who couldn’t be paid off, or even worse…Villains who didn’t pay up? Masks and Mobsters is a noir crime anthology written by Joshua Williamson with a rotating team of artists to showcase the standalone stories set in the fictional Golden City where the mob has started to fight back against those who would try to steal their piece of the pie.

BOTTOM LINE: BLOODY AMAZING

Is this not the greatest time to be reading comics in recorded history? We currently line a time where we have access to decades of stories right at our fingertips. Creators have easier avenues to tell stories they need to write, about characters of their own. Small publishers, like Monkeybrain, have the ability to distribute top of the line books, like Masks & Mobsters, at a reduced cost by way of digital comics. All of that to say, Masks & Mobsters is an excellently crafted book that tells a complete story at the measly cost of 99 cents. This has been my personal favorite read from the new line of books and earns 5 out of 5 stars.

Seems like a lot of books getting the five star treatment, but wait until you see the books that were tagged with the rating in August and September.