Is it possible this March was one of the best months in comic book history? If the lengthy list of stand-out titles we had to agonize over before narrowing this list to a top ten is any indication, the answer is a definitive yes. That said, narrow we did, as there were a few stand-outs from the pack, titles so good, so fun, or so heartbreaking they easily slotted into our list. Here they are, then, without further delay… The ten best comic books of March, 2012:
10. STAR TREK #7
Been waiting years to see the crew of the Nu-Enterprise pick up where the reboot left off? Now’s your chance. We’ve been casually reading this series for months now, and haven’t been quite drawn in by the new takes on Original Series stories. This issue changed all that, as it mixed the old continuity with a direct sequel to the most recent movie. Exciting, twisty, and with a great reveal at the end, this is the issue Trekkies (I refuse to call them Trekkers, sorry) have been waiting for.
9. SMOKE AND MIRRORS #1
IDW has worked out two niches for themselves: nostalgia; and weird new magical worlds. Lucky for the publisher, most of their output on the latter has been very, very good, from the superb Locke & Key, to the excellent new Memorial. And while those both turned in great issues this month, we wanted to make room for the new kid on the block. S&M (uh-oh) takes place in a world where there’s magic instead of science, and then throws a magician from our Earth into the mix. The first issue is mostly set-up, but it’s such an interesting, fully realized world that we can’t wait to read more.
8. THE SHADE #6
Every issue, we fall a little more in love with this series from writer James Robinson. This time around, The Shade is teaming up with a Spanish vampire to take down a mad-man. And while we’d feel like taking three issues to tell this story, when we only have twelve issues of the series feels a little indulgent, it’s also so damn good it hardly matters. Plus Javier Pulido’s art is nothing short of perfection. We recently interviewed Robinson about his books, and he said he was trying to bring fun back to comics. With The Shade, at least, he’s succeeded.
7. THE STRANGE TALENT OF LUTHER STRODE #6
Spoiler alert: hero Luther Strode strangles a villain to death with his own intestines, in the most graphic, shocking, and hilariously over the top action sequence of the month. This series has been a superb introduction to a new character and world that feels perfectly at home with other Image heroes like Invincible and Savage Dragon (maybe it’s all the blood?), and we’re salivating for the upcoming Legend of Luther Strode series. More, please.
6. WOLVERINE & THE X-MEN #7
Without checking, we probably said this last month, but: Jason Aaron knows how to perfectly balance insane danger, hilarious set-pieces, and actual growth for his characters like no other writer today. Wolverine & The X-Men is literally everything we’d want from an X-Men book, and then it goes crazier. This month, we got a new villain, a cosmic casino, and thousands of Brood invading Kitty Pryde’s womb. It doesn’t get weirder – and more exciting – than that.
5. THE FLASH #7
Granted, we have pretty high standards for The Flash – he is our favorite character after all – but this series has been a slow burn regardless, as the new team got a handle now just on the world, but the characters, and even in some cases, writing a comic book. This is the issue where it all came together. A brutal, exciting fight with a newly powered Captain Cold, an impulsive decision worthy of the Fastest Man Alive, and Francis Manapul’s stunning art… The Flash is back.
4. THE UNWRITTEN #35
“Apocalyptic” is probably a bit of an understatement for this issue… Everything in the series has been building to these moments, and Mike Carey and Peter Gross don’t disappoint, bringing Tommy Taylor to the point of being the hero he always should have been, but without significant losses on both sides. We have no idea where everything is going now – this issue was the equivalent of Sydney Bristow destroying SD-6 after the Superbowl (where my Alias fans at?), events that fundamentally change the idea of the series – but we can’t wait to find out.
3. THE MIGHTY THOR #12
Good gravy, this issue was fun. If there’s a developing theme this month, it’s, “That took a while, but we’re finally there.” And the same applies to this issue… Writer Matt Fraction has written some great Thor stories, but his run on Mighty Thor has seemed significantly less than, well, mighty. This arc however, has been a delight, as the evil troll Ulik took the place of Thor, and in this issue, Thor returns to take his place back. From pounding on the heart of a gigantic god-eater in order to break back into reality, to pointing his hammer at Ulik and shouting, “You. Troll. Unhand my mother,” this issue is pure rock and roll. We’d love to see Fraction write a Clash of the Titans movie, because given his track record – and this issue in particular – we think he’d nail it the way the movies haven’t yet.
2. THE GOON #38
We’ve written a bunch already about this issue, but suffice to say that even if you’ve never read The Goon, you can get right into this heartbreaking – and then warming – story of the woman who raised our titular hero. Based in part on the life of creator Eric Powell’s own grandmother, this is a beautiful short story that hits all the humor and horror that makes The Goon a superb comic book series, while also working in pure, raw emotion that will connect with anyone who had a parent, grandparent, or any sort of caregiver that made them the person they are today. So meaning, all of us.
1. SAGA #1
Quite simply one of the best single issues of all time… But did we expect any less from writer Brian K. Vaughan, who created similar superb launch issues for nearly every other series he’s created. What we didn’t expect though is how stellar Fiona Staples work would be. Whether it’s drawing armies fighting in a chasm, or a couple sharing a moment alone with their new born baby, this is a stunning looking book. Luckily, the story is up to snuff, too, creating a new universe we can’t wait to spend more time in, in forty simple pages. This is the next great comic book series, so get on board now.