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The Homies 2012

As we’re about to hit the end of the year, Paul and I are thinking about the next episode of House to Astonish, which will be our end-of-year wrap-up. As part of this, we’re going to be inaugurating House to Astonish’s own awards – the Homies – where we’re going to hand out gongs in eight categories. The best part is, we want YOU to help – Paul and I are each going to select our winners in the following categories, but we’re also going to read out what our listeners think on the next episode. So check out the categories below, and let us know who or what you’d award each glittering prize to if you were us!

BEST NEW SERIES

This one’s pretty self-explanatory – any comic whose first issue was published between 1 January 2012 and the date of broadcast (likely to be the 29th or 30th of December) is eligible. What new series got your attention the most this year?

BEST ACTUALLY NEW SERIES

This one’s a little less self-explanatory – what series, again first published between 1 January and date of broadcast, did you think was best, with the proviso that it has to be something where the property wasn’t in existence prior to the start of 2012. We’re counting re-use of titles as well as concepts, so Prophet, X-Men Legacy or Dial H wouldn’t be eligible, but (for example) Saga would.

MOST WANTED

This is for the comic, series or graphic novel that saw print this year which you’d want to see more of, whether that be a book that was cancelled before its time, a one-shot or mini that just begs for a follow-up, or an OGN that you’d love to see a sequel to.

MOST PLEASANT SURPRISE

It may have seemed unappealing when you read about it online, and those preview pages may have looked unremarkable, but when you finally got the winner of this category in your hands you were ready to eat your words. What comic, series or graphic novel did you find yourself enjoying much more than you thought you would?

STIFF DRINK AWARD

This award will go to the comic or graphic novel that most made us gasp with surprise – an unexpected plot twist, a daring cliffhanger or a shocking denouement will stand a book in good stead here.

THE JOE CHILL AWARD FOR SERVICES TO REFRIGERATORS

Here we’re looking for the most egregious example of bad gender relations in the comics world, whether that’s a disservice done to female characters or to a female creator(s) or participant(s) in comics fandom.

THE NEW COKE AWARD FOR MOST ILL-JUDGED MARKETING

What move did a comics company or creator make this calendar year that had the effect of most making you want not to read a particular book or buy a particular company’s comics? We’re looking for abrasive interviews, ridiculous variants and counterproductive advertising here.

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT

This is exactly what it says – which creator, creative team or publisher really knocked it out of the park this year?

Let us have your picks in the comments thread below, along with your thinking on each one – we’ll read out a range of the responses on our big end-of-year show. Happy nominating!

16 Comments

BEST NEW SERIES: All-New X-Men, by Bendis and Immonen, for offering a genuinely accessible and compelling perspective with the return of the originals

BEST REALLY NEW SERIES: Saga, by Vaughan and Staples, a brilliant high concept written and illustrated beautifully

MOST WANTED: Kieron Gillen’s Uncanny X-Men, which I felt never got the chance to develop its own story outside of Schism and AvX

MOST PLEASANT SURPRISE: Uncanny Avengers, by Remender and Cassaday, which was far higher quality than the premise has any right to be

STIFF DRINK AWARD: The ending of the Boys by Garth Ennis, especially the lead-up (not gonna spoil it here, read the damn thing people)

JOE CHILL AWARD: Gail Simone’s unceremonious firing; even though I disliked the new/old Batgirl direction, she didn’t deserve that awful treatment

NEW COKE AWARD: Captain America’s new costume, made of gaudy materials I still can’t decipher

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT: Image Comics, for continuing and launching so many great series

BEST NEW SERIES: Courtney Crumrin by Ted Naifeh. I guess this counts in this category instead of the “Really New” series, since it is a continuation of the various mini-series that preceded it. A nice spin on the “kid introduced into the world of magic” trope, it’s one of those titles that really has the potential to be quite the crossover success given access to the right audience.

BEST REALLY NEW SERIES: Mudman by Paul Grist. Grist is one of those great, truly talented creators who just never seems to get the recognition (or sales) he deserves. I was sad to see Jack Staff end prematurely, but part of that blow has bene softened by getting Mudman and having it be every bit as good.

MOST WANTED: Nexus by Mike Baron & Steve Rude. Horatio and company finally returned to comics after wayyyy too long an absence. Sadly, it was just for a one-shot’s worth of stories in the pages of Dark Horse Presents. Hopefully the story, as well as the new Omnibus collections, will help Nexus find a new audience and will lead to Baron & Rude coming back with some more new stories.

MOST PLEASANT SURPRISE: Worlds’ Finest by Paul Levitz, George Perez, and Kevin Maguire. I started picking this title up because it featured one of my favorite characters, the Huntress, back in her original form as Batman & Catwoman’s daughter. Plus, it had artwork by Perez AND Maguire, so it shouldn’t have been a surprise. But Levitz’s writing has always been hit or miss with me, even in his 80′s heyday, and my interest in the New 52 from DC has been reduced to practically zilch. And yet, WF has pleasingly caught my interest and had me eagerly awaiting what happens next in each story. Levitz has done a nice balancing act with the two main characters and crafted some good “old fashioned” style superhero comics in the process. And oh yeah, the artwork is beautiful.

STIFF DRINK AWARD: No one here except maybe Greg will get this reference, but there was a plot twist in the latest volume of the Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service manga from Dark Horse that actually made me gasp out loud. It regarded the revelation behind two characters’ true relationship to each other and of course left us waiting until (hopefully) the next volume to get more explanation…

JOE CHILL: I like Neil’s nomination for the Simone firing, but I’ll go with the Guillem March Catwoman cover controversy. The internet fanbase went nuts about it, and I saw it rile up more creators, female or male, than just about anything else I can think of this year. Some of the parodies I saw online were hilarious and DC DID change the cover, but the damage was kind of done by then…

NEW COKE: Avengers Arena. The concept as described in the solicitations just sounds atrocious, as I have no interest in watching Marvel rid themselves of promising new teen characters via bloodbath. The Battle Royale reference on issue #1′s cover didn’t help either. At this point, I don’t even care if Hopeless has a clever twist for the story, I just want the whole comic swept under the carpet and forgotten about.

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT: To Peter David and the various artists, especially Leonard Kirk, who have kept X-Factor the most consistently entertaining monthly comic on the stands. Every issue this year has been a joy to read, with David doing some clever things with the characters amid the various Marvel events he has had to work around in the process. Not to mention doing it for somewhere around 18 times a year! Kudos to the whole creative staff. Honorable mention to Peter Milligan, Guiseppe Camuncoli and Simon Bisley for all they’ve done for John C. and cast in Hellblazer in what is now the book’s final full year of publication. The old punter couldn’t have asked for a better crew to send him off into the long dark goodnight.

Best New Series: Deadpool by Posehn, Duggan, and Moore: I was sad to see way go (so sad that I’m giving his Thunderbolts run one arc to impress me just to see his Deadpool), but the first three issues have been amazing. Some of the funniest stuff I’ve ever read.

Best Really New Series: I’m ashamed to say that nothing I’ve read this year fits the bill. I’m getting tired of reorganizing longboxes (to the point that if a large enough tablet is ever released I’m going all digital for my singles), so anything that I can’t think of as a continuation of something else goes to trades.

Most Wanted: More Cullen Bunn Wolverine! He truly nailed the little things, like having him drink way nicer beer than Molson (aside: Yes, it’s called “Canadian”, but we don’t actually drink it unless we are cheap or hipsters. Think of it as PBR with a maple leaf), and having him insult a villain by insinuating that he was a rapist. Another aside, I swear that Paul Pelletier is the designated artist for things I love that won’t last. I first discovered his work during McDuffie’s amazing FF run, then i did Nova before it was cancelled the last time, and now this.

Most Pleasant Surprise: All-New X-Men, and more generally Bendis on the X-Men. I’ve never been the biggest fan of his Avengers other than Dark Avengers (though I was never a hater), but I’ve loved his handling of the cast so far. I’m dropping All-New after the first arc (Again, longbox issues. The first arc I can justify as being part of Uncanny.), but I’m eagerly awaiting subsequent trades.

Stiff Drink Award: Illyana explains to Colossus that she is truly evil. I forget what issue of what book, either Uncanny or AvX, but wow. Almost cried.

Joe Chill Award: Tony Harris and the “Fake Geek Girls”.

New Coke Award: The Hellblazer cancellation. It cast a pall over the launch of the new book. Had they launched the new book, seen how they both did, and then cancelled the original if it didn’t sell well enough then I would have been happy to read them both, but now I’m not even 100% sure I’ll pick up the trade of the new one. But I probably will if only for the Guedes art. He’s such a fit for the character.

Whoops, forgot the last one:
Outstanding Achievement: Kieron Gillen, for making Cyclops by far the most interesting character in comics. Consequences made me very sad that his run won’t be continuing.

Ah! I new I was forgetting something for my Stiff Drink nomination. Andrew and I simulposted, and when I went back and read what he wrote I remembered the end of X-Factor #247. He made us care about Pip, and then…

New series: I have to go two categories here, one for series that are far enough in that we know they’re good (5+ issues), and one for series that just started int he last few months and have a ton of promise, but it’s a little too early to tell. For the former, I’ll say Manhattan Projects as my top choice, with Fatale, Prophet, Glory, The Massive, Mind MGMT, and Hawkeye as nice contenders. For the latter category, I’d say Indestructible Hulk, Deadpool, and Mighty Thor all look outstanding so far.

Actually new series: Definitely has to go to Manhattan Projects, which is not just original, but VERY original, if that makes sense. Fatale, The Massive, and Mind MGMT also all qualify. And Saga is good, but not as good as many people are making it out to be (I have similar problems as Burgas with the series, but I do enjoy it and continue to buy it).

Most Wanted: I thought Omac and Frankenstein were both very fun series from DC, but got cancelled (Franky ends next month). But I think this award has to go to Walt SImonson’s Judas Coin, which could easily have been 400 pages instead of 100, and really ought to have a sequel or three.

Most pleasant surprise: If you’re willing to give this to a line instead of a specific book, I’d say the Extreme revival at Image is deserving, considering Prophet and Glory were tow of the best books of the year, and Supreme has at least been pretty good. But if you need a specific title, I might say the new Deadpool series. It’s only 3 issues in, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun.

Stiff Drink: I think this has to go to DC losing the two most talented women in the company (Karen Berger & Gail Simone) in a ten day span. What a disaster. I can’t recall anything actually in a comic really taking me by huge surprise this year.

Joe chill award: It’s funny, because I wrote my answer for the previous award before even reading what the next category was. DC for the double win! Fuck yeah Danny D, keep collecting those trophies.

New coke award: probably moving Constantine from Vertigo to the New 52. It’s just one of several things over the last few months, but virtually everything DC has done lately has made me not want to buy their comics.

Outstanding achievement: I really want to give this to Jason Aaron, for 1) making Wolverine the Best X book in at least 5 years, and a totally original and fun read, and 2) for ending Scalped so well. When I think of 2012 in comics, I’ll think of the following (in order): DC alienating me more than I ever thought was possible, Jason Aaron knocking it out of the park, the shockingly great Extreme relaunch, and a pretty good start to Marvel Now.

…Dalarsco reminded me that I should make my Joe Chill award tie with the Tony Harris thing, wherein a grown-ass man acted like a member of the He-Man Woman Haters Club.

On House to Astonish, my suggestion for the Joe Chill award was DC continuing to act like DC. For too many years, too many examples of “bad gender relations in the comics world” have involved DC.

BEST NEW SERIES – ARCHER & ARMSTRONG (Valiant)

BEST ACTUALLY NEW SERIES – HAPPY (Image)

MOST WANTED – THE SHADE (DC)

MOST PLEASANT SURPRISE – COURTNEY CRUMRIN (Oni)

STIFF DRINK AWARD – GIANT TESTICLES IN SAGA (Image)

THE JOE CHILL AWARD FOR SERVICES TO REFRIGERATORS – DEATH THREATS TO DAN SLOTT OVER ASM 700

THE NEW COKE AWARD FOR MOST ILL-JUDGED MARKETING – BEFORE WATCHMEN (DC)

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT – SCOTT SNYDER & GREG CAPULLO ON BATMAN (DC)

I hope the awards will be those little figures that you can get in the machines where you put 2 quarters in and get one of those little “eggs” with a little “urban” figure in it.

Y’know, Homies.

See here:

http://www.homies.tv/

BEST NEW SERIES
Did the revamped “Glory” debut this year? If so, that’s my choice, for the inspired approach they’ve taken to a painfully derivative character. If not, the new “Thor” is looking pretty good so far, as it strives for the scale and ambition that the character so badly requires.

BEST ACTUALLY NEW SERIES

I’m going with Bendis and Oeming’s “Takio” in here. It’s fun and energetic without losing track of the characters. Too many series that go for being “fun” waste their time and energy with “high concepts” like ninja dinosaurs or robot pirates and nothing else behind the curtain, and while I’m sure there’s an audience for that kind of stuff I’m glad to report Takio is not that kind of stuff. It’s more reminiscent of “Ultimate Spider-Man”, but the characters are different in practically every way that matters, and the story moves along with a sense of purpose that too many other books lack. Takio is good stuff, and it’s all-ages without ever talking down to its readers. Recommended!

MOST WANTED

I want more of Kieron Gillen’s Cyclops. Too often Cyclops is portrayed as a dull single-minded stiff, when in reality he’s a fascinating single-minded stiff. And that moment between Cyclops and the Beast after Av/X was over and Cyke was disgraced and in prison, but still made a triumphant “X” with his arms when he learned that the mutant race had been reborn? I cheered out loud “F%#K YEAH!”, because Cyclops was the REAL hero of that story. Cyclops was right, no matter what Cap tells himself in the mirror!

MOST PLEASANT SURPRISE

If the revamped “Glory” debuted this year, it’s my choice for this category too. If not, I can’t think of any series that really surprised me positively. Maybe “Av/X: Consequences” due to Cyclops’ final triumph against all haters.

STIFF DRINK AWARD

“The Boys” without a doubt. The resolution of the Homelander situation, the final confrontation on the last arc, and the carefully-landed ending. The only reason this series isn’t among its writer’s top achievements is because the writer in question has an extremely strong bibliography, but even a bad issue of the Boys was still superior to practically everything else on the stands. What began as a tongue-in-cheek acid parody of the genre evolved into something more, and it remained one of my favorite books in every year it was published (even though there were some bumps along its run).

THE JOE CHILL AWARD FOR SERVICES TO REFRIGERATORS

Even though DC in general leaps to mind when I think of this category, to be fair nothing did a bigger disservice to gender relations in comics this year than Tony Harris’ rant. That $#!% was just embarrassing and counterproductive on too many levels. Karen Berger’s departure was a regrettable mistake but I feel her departure from Vertigo was a blow to Vertigo and DC themselves, more than for gender relations in comics. Because what made Mrs. Berger’s contribution so vital wasn’t her gender, it was her competence. DC clearly doesn’t have so many competent people among their management that they can afford to lose someone like Karen Berger.

THE NEW COKE AWARD FOR MOST ILL-JUDGED MARKETING

The “Before Watchmen” thing, it just disgusts me. For me personally it worked as anti-marketing, inspiring me to walk away from DC except for “Batman Incorporated”, and when that ends I don’t see anything else I’d be interested in from that publisher. Sometimes I bought something else out of curiosity but so far I have been disappointed every time – I honestly didn’t find anything special about Snyder’s Batman or the new Wonder Woman, the last time I looked Aquaman was still telling us how awesome/important Aquaman is instead of showing it, Barbara Gordon being back as Batgirl was a monumental disservice to her character that was forced by marketing demands and not because it was a good idea, Morrison is spinning his wheels aimlessly over at “Action Comics”, and the admittedly-exuberant artwork in Batwoman doesn’t quite excuse the thin plots and flat characterization (a writer in the artist’s level would be a step in the right direction).

And if it weren’t for “Before Watchmen” then my choice in this category would’ve been the neutering of John Constantine, reduced to a plainclothes Doc Strange who shoots magic bolts from his fingertips at generic demons while surrounded by teammates who wear tight spandex. Once upon a time that hypothetical scenario was ridiculed mercilessly, the very IDEA of turning Constantine into a superhero was considered laughable and rightfully spoofed. How far we have come, and how far DC has sunk.

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT

I’m going with Dalarsco on this one: The award goes to Kieron Gillen for turning Cyclops into the most interesting character at Marvel. I’d follow a regular Cyclops series by Gillen without hesitation. He was consistent with previous characterizations, and yet organically landed so far from where he had begun! The runner-up in this category would also be Gillen, for the masterful coda to Kid Loki in “Journey into Mystery”.

BEST NEW SERIES – All New X-Men
BEST ACTUALLY NEW SERIES – Saga and Mind MGMT are a dead heat for me, with Rachel Rising coming close behind.
MOST WANTED – AvX Consequences. A mediocre event spawned what I thought was one of the best minis of the past several years. Turns out, conversations CAN be good comics. Are you reading this, Brian Michael Bendis?
MOST PLEASANT SURPRISE – Journey Into Mystery Now! I’ve never given a whit about Sif before this, but the first two issues were my favorite Marvel Now stuff.
STIFF DRINK AWARD – The body switch of Doc Ock and Spider-Man. Can’t argue with the end of The Boys, though. Terrific end that left me wanting more, when I’d kind of gotten sick of the series about twenty issues ago.
THE JOE CHILL AWARD FOR SERVICES TO REFRIGERATORS – Firing Gail Simone through e-mail. Way to treat someone responsible for major characters and titles for a decade, guys. Is it clear that Karen Berger left acrimoniously? I’m not sure her retirement really qualifies for this category.
THE NEW COKE AWARD FOR MOST ILL-JUDGED MARKETING – Cancelling Amazing Spidey and replacing with Superior, just to sell books. I won’t buy it on principle. But Before Watchmen is a good entry, too.
OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT – DC’s Wonder Woman reboot. It continues to be awesome, and is the only truly fresh concept over at DC these days. Plus, it’s basically “event” and “cross-over” free—which is why it’s so good when so much else at DC these days…Isn’t. If someone can vote for X-Factor (which I agree with), then the WW ongoing should also qualify here.

BEST NEW SERIES: Courtney Crumrin ongoing, by Ted Naifeh. He’s really doing a great job of using the rich history and excellent supporting cast that he’d created in the various mini-series, and adding more layers to it. Every issue moves the story forward and shows new sides to some of the characters, even ones who seemed very flat and boring in the mini-series. There’s no sense of decompression or wasted issues and the art complements the story perfectly.

BEST REALLY NEW SERIES: Saga, by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. Every issue is a page-turner and the story moves at a great pace. The characters drive the story rather than being caught up in it, so it’s easy to get invested in things. The art is excellent, with some incredible design work on the characters and a real sense of a world around them. I love that every issue has a cliffhanger, but even if they didn’t, I’d still come back for more.

MOST WANTED: The Ray from DC Comics, by Jimmy Palmiotti, Justin Gray and Jamal Igle. Great supporting cast, great character design, and an interesting take on the character. It was one of the few DC New 52 books that I really enjoyed. The character looks set to appear in other books (he shows up in the disappointing Phantom Lady and Doll Man) and a team book will probably follow, but I suspect we’ll lose the most interesting things about the character (personal doubts, supporting cast, interesting base of operations) in that case.

MOST PLEASANT SURPRISE: Dark Avengers by Jeff Parker, Kev Walker and Declan Shalvey. When I heard about the Thunderbolts being renamed the Dark Avengers and the cast members who were being brought in, I thought it would kill the book. The characters just didn’t seem at all interesting – their appearances to date had been boring and bland – but Jeff Parker turned in a complex, fun, layered story that let the existing Thunderbolts continue to shine while giving some of the new characters a proper reason to exist. Excellent work, even after the changes brought in by the newest issue.

STIFF DRINK AWARD: Amazing Spider-Man #698. No spoilers. Dan Slott does it again – he’s been doing great work on Amazing Spider-Man but all the advertising for Superior Spider-Man left me feeling a little cold. This issue rekindled my interest big time. The pacing of the issue, the reveals, the tension and drama – it’s perfect. And the moment when the door closes and two characters are left alone and one starts to speak…

JOE CHILL AWARD: Gail Simone being removed from Batgirl. It speaks for itself. The way it appeared to the public, it was incredibly disrespectful to her as a writer and person.

NEW COKE AWARD: I’ve been thoroughly put off by everything about Avengers Arena, from the advertising focused on how cool it is to have characters killing each other off, through Christos Gage’s half-hearted defense of Marvel’s decision to waste and butcher his characters (letters page of the final issue of Avengers Academy), to the cover of the first issue screaming “this is a rip-off of someone else’s work”. It’s a bad concept and a waste of good characters. The marketing is lazy and shoddy, relying on shock value and recognition of the properties that are being ripped off. I’ve read a friend’s copy of issue one, and it’s poorly written and just as bad as one might expect.

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT: Peter David on X-Factor. The book is consistently brilliant and as a bonus, it doesn’t get involved in any crossovers or big events. It has an unmatched depth of characterization, a consistently unpredictable and interesting plot, a great sense of humor, and a unique place at the “Big Two”. Peter David deserves the recognition for creating such a superb book and keeping the quality consistent for so long. The only writer that comes close on a “Big Two” book is Dan Slott on Amazing Spider-Man – I debated nominating Dan Slott, in fact.

Can I rectify one of my choices? I’ve committed a most grievous omission. This year’s best new series was a miniseries – Garth Ennis and Goran Parlov’s “Fury: My War Gone By”, published on “Fury MAX”. It was also the best thing Marvel published all year, but admittedly that’s a lower bar than “best new book”.

This miniseries is also a powerful contender for “Most Wanted”… I’d love to see a regular series focused on Fury’s career in espionage by the same creative team.

Oops.

BEST NEW SERIES – HAWKEYE. The fact that it reads more like an indie book than a Marvel Comic is what keeps me coming back every month for more.

BEST ACTUALLY NEW SERIES – SAGA. Brian K. Vaughn is back and is just as brilliant as I remember him to be. (Honorable Mention) REVIVAL

MOST WANTED – I don’t know if this counts, but I would like Vertigo Comics to experience a second renaissance and bring back the same innovation and excitement it had in its original inception.

MOST PLEASANT SURPRISE – ALL NEW X-MEN. I thought this book was gonna suck. I really did. Boy was I wrong.

STIFF DRINK AWARD – WALKING DEAD #100. The death of Glenn. It was unforgiving, brutal, emotional, hard to read and it brought tears to my eyes.

THE JOE CHILL AWARD FOR SERVICES TO REFRIGERATORS – DEATH THREATS TO DAN SLOTT.. It’s not cute or funny. There is absolutely no excuse for this kind of behavior whatsoever. In fact, get the fuck outta here. We as fans don’t want you pathetic losers associated with us.

THE NEW COKE AWARD FOR MOST ILL-JUDGED MARKETING – MARVEL for waaaay too many Avengers or X-Men books. With such a rich stable of characters there should be more diversity in their line. Not to mention bi-weekly shipping for some of their titles. $3.99 a book is steep enough without having to fork down that cash for the same book every weeks.

OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENT – The WALKING DEAD. Over 100 issue into this zombie epic and Kirkman and Adlard continue to bring it home month in and month out. Over ten years running and it’s still the first comic I read when I get home from my local comic shop.

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