nenena: (W.I.T.C.H. - Irma rocks)
A few of my favorite things amongst this year's offerings from the comic book industry:

Marceline and the Scream Queens
It's everything I ever wanted an Adventure Time comic to be: Marceline and Princess Bubblegum have ridiculous adventures together and actually grow as characters because of their influence on each other, the artwork by Meredith Gran and a roster of talented guest artists is fantastic, and the jokes fly fast and furiously while still being every bit as sophisticated and layered as you'd expect Adventure Time humor to be.  Absolutely one of the best comics I've read this year. Cannot be recommended enough.

Bandette
My favorite among Monkeybrain's launch titles. The dialogue and characters are delightfully over-the-top, and Colleen Coover's slick, stylized, yet cartoonish artwork fits the tone of the book perfectly. Dueling master thieves! A grumpy detective in over his head! A villainous matadorista! Terrorist organizations that need to be thwarted, hostages in a bank robbery that need to be rescued, cute dogs, rare books, and stolen Rembrandts - and that's all just in the first three issues. I can't wait to read more of this.

My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
Oh look, it's the comic book that spawned over twenty variant covers and that sold over 100,000 issues in pre-orders alone. And that's just for the very first issue.  But hey, this is one of those cases where the success of the comic is richly deserved. Andy Price's artwork looks nothing like the style of the cartoon series, but it fits the comic book medium perfectly. Katie Cook's storyline centers around a fan-favorite villain, yet never really kowtows to the Brony fan base the way that many of us feared that it would; the story, the characters, and the humor in the comic remain true to everything that makes the cartoon great. So in short, this comic book is basically perfect.

Krishna
Abhishek Singh is still one of the most criminally under-appreciated comic artists working today. I probably can't write anything here that will convince you to buy his new (utterly gorgeous) graphic novel that will be more persuasive than simply showing you a selection of some artwork from the book and letting that speak for itself, so here you go: http://abhiart.blogspot.com/2012/09/krishna-journey-within.html

Hawkeye
Everything that you've heard about this series is true: It really IS that good.  And I'm saying this as somebody who normally doesn't care for Clint Barton as a character. I don't dislike him or anything, but in most comics that I read I just don't find Clint that interesting of a character. To be honest, I started reading this series because I'd heard that it co-stars Kate Bishop being completely awesome (which it does and she is), but by the end of the series (ETA: first six issues, as this actually an ongoing and not a miniseries like I mistakenly assumed!) I was definitely reading it for Clint. I love this comic. I love the interplay between Clint and Kate, I love the artwork, and I love the way that Matt Fraction writes Clint's narrative voice. It's a fantastic series.  I'll recommend it even if (like me) you're usually not that much of a Clint fan.

Astonishing X-Men
Still hands-down the best X-Men title every month. I loved the conclusion to the epic Mauraders/Karma/Susan/gay wedding/Madripoor story arc.  I love Karma getting to take a starring role in any story arc, period.  I loved the wedding. I love Iceman, Gambit, and Northstar being bros. I loved Danger and Emma co-starring in one of my favorite standalone issues I've read this year. I just love the way that this series is so consistently good, and it's hard not to acknowledge that this is largely because Marvel keeps Astonishing mostly separate from whatever crossover event bullshit they're mucking up the other X-titles with.*  It was exactly that same tiresome crossover event bullshit (*cough*Avengers vs. X-Men*cough*) that turned X-Men Legacy from a series that I was enjoying immensely into a series that bored me to tears. Anywhoo, Astonishing is for that very reason still the only X-title on my pull list as I head into 2013, although to be honest I kind of hope that changes soon. I miss Rogue being awesome.

*Okay, I admit that I did really enjoy Schism. But Schism is basically the ONLY one of Marvel's big narrative "events" I've enjoyed in a long while, and it wasn't even a big crossover event at that.   Avengers vs. X-Men wasn't just bad, it was actively painful and boring.  Thank God that  Astonishing had nothing to do with that crap.
nenena: (Devi - Flaming Tara)
Due to health problems and not being able to work earlier this month, I've been spending a lot of time catching up with old comics and trying out a few new ones. In particular I've been gorging myself on webcomics lately, and although I usually end up either underwhelmed by or outright disliking most of the webcomics that I try reading, there are a few that I fall head-over-heels in love with. So, here are some thoughts about some things that I'm reading right now, whether I've been reading them for years or have only recently discovered them, all of which I would recommend to the comic-inclined.

Namesake. Just starting reading this last week and have barely been able to put it down step away from the computer screen. A beautifully-drawn and fiercely feminist fantasy story about fulfilling roles in fairy tales and taking charge of your own destiny. And it does more to establish the heroine's complex and believable personality in the first six pages of Chapter 1 than most webcomics manage to do in an entire volume. I'm only pointing this out because that is definitely one of my number-one pet peeves in the entire "normal girl gets sucked into a strange world" genre of web comics: When the author doesn't establish anything about the heroine's personality before having her suddenly end up in the other world. Or even worse, when the author wastes time with page after page of scenes of the heroine doing "normal everyday stuff" in order to establish how normal she is but STILL forgets to let her show any hint of a personality trait. This comic is one of the worst offenders I've seen to date in that particular area. On the opposite end of the spectrum and as an example of Doing It Right, however, we have Namesake and also [personal profile] animeshen's delightful Wendy and Sully in Candlyland, which takes a succinct eight pages to give the reader a solid grasp on Wendy and Sully's personalities and how they interact with each other, and does so in a fun and interesting way.

Unsounded. This comic is about a young monkey-thief who can swashbuckle with her feet and who suffers from Black Star-like delusions of grandeur. If that isn't enough to of a selling point for you, there's also a mysterious and handsome zombie with a tragic past. And a magical mountain-shaped monster that befriends a blind boy and his assistance flame-monster. (Why have an assistance dog when you can have an assistance flame-monster?) Unsounded is immediately engrossing and tons of fun to read, even if it does suffer from some significant flaws - namely that the overcomplicated artwork can sometimes get visually confusing, and the story throws a lot of made-up terminology at the reader without really pausing for some more comprehensible world-building. But those are really my only complaints about this beautiful, beautiful comic.

Gunnerkrigg Court. I've been hearing nothing but good things about this comic since it began in 2005, but I never got around to actually starting to read it until earlier this year. I wish I hadn't waited so long. It is every bit as good as everybody says it is.

The Less than Epic Adventures of TJ and Amal. Young man calls off his arranged marriage, comes out to his family, gets disowned, gets drunk, and wakes up the next morning with a *~quirky and free-spirited~* hottie frying eggs and singing in his kitchen. Oh, and apparently the two of them made a pact last night to drive across the country together. In the hands of a lesser writer this could have been every terrible gay-romance-for-straight-ladies cliche rolled up into a "wacky roadtrip" narrative. But somehow E.K. Weaver manages to infuse the story with actually believable characters, believable dialogue, and plenty of humor and warmth. Highly recommended.

Patchwork and Lace. The new-ish fantasy comic by [personal profile] furikku (who is also the creator of Reliquary). A pair of lady monster-hunters, a fantasmagoric set-up, and an intriguing fantasy world. Need I say more.

Oglaf. You may have heard of this one as "that epic fantasy porn comic that's actually really, really funny." A rare example of comedy porn that actually succeeds at being whip-smart and hilarious, while embracing a freewheeling variety of straight, gay, lesbian, vanilla, and kinky characters.

The Non-Adventures of Wonderella. Superhero parody comics come and go, but this one remains one of my absolute favorites and definitely the funniest.

X-Men canon: Keeping up with Astonishing X-Men, Exiled, Generation Hope, New Mutants, Uncanny X-Men, X-Men, and Wolverine & the X-Men. I dropped X-Factor a while back after sticking with it for far too long. And I just can't get into X-Force no matter how much I love Laura. But with the notable exceptions of a) all of X-Factor, no seriously all of it and b) Forge's epic character derail in Astonishing, I have to say: I LOVE the current X-Men canon, in a way that I haven't really loved the X-books since the early 2000s. I love all of the New Mutants story lines. I love Hope and all of the 5th-generation X-Men. I love Logan's sixty-year character arc finally coming full circle. I love Scott and Emma. I love Rogue so goddamn much. I love Magneto's redemption arc. Everything about the X-Men universe is so much fun to read right now. I think that the overall tone of the X-books has finally settled on a comfortable level of danger/angst/darkness without descending too far into the boring-ass depths of grimdarkness, which is a MUCH needed improvement after the epicly stupid, epicly boring, and pointlessly grimdark mess that was Messiah Complex and all of its aftermath.

Buffy Season 9. Much, much, much better than Season 8 so far. Much better. (Although I will forever and always love the Faith/Giles story arc from the beginning of Season 8. Best and arguably the only solidly good part of that entire series, if you ask me.)

Homestuck. "There's not a lot of style to invisibility. Primarily because nobody gets to see how damn smooth you're being." Homestuck, for all of its overhype and its failures and its flaws, is still just a goddamn delight to read with every update.

And as for DC Comics, well... I am taking a break from DC Comics for a while. Might try to reconnect with the Batfamily sometime later, but I don't know. I loved everything that Grant Morrison built up with the "death" of Bruce Wayne and the birth of Batman Inc, and I'm still bitter about the New 52 just wiping all of those years of character development and storyline setup right out of the DC Universe.

Yup, that's how you know that I'm a mainstream comics fan: Still bitter about an storyline-breaking editorial mandate from over a year ago. Still bitter.

And as for what's upcoming that I'm the most looking forward to: It's the Adventure Time spin-off comic about Princess Bubblegum joining Marceline's band. Hell. Fucking. Yes.