The Top 10 Comics For May, 2012

What do a giant monster, two bats, and a walrus have in common? They're all the lead characters in some of the best comics that came out this May! So let's get to it:

10. Chew #26

You can check out an extended version of why this issue of Chew, in particular, worked so well for me here. But the boiled down version is that this one-shot type issue combines everything that’s best about the series - humor, crazy ideas, an alternate universe surprisingly close to our own, yet intrinsically different - and adds in a poignant, emotional family dynamic that is sometimes missing from all the goofy goings-on. Chew is undoubtedly a great comic book series; this is one of its best issues.

9. Godzilla #1

Jason Statham fights Godzilla in a collapsing building. What more do you want? Okay, fine, writer Duane Swierczynski plays this out as the monster movie of our dreams, with Godzilla going nuts in Washington, and finally pissing off the wrong guy. It’s a great mash-up of everything that’s fun about Kaiju, with a deep, understated human element as well. Expendables versus Giant Monsters? We’re on board.

8. Batman #9

Officially kicking off the Night of the Owls crossover, the first half of this issue is basically one big action sequence, but it’s a doozy. The evil, undead Talons have invaded Wayne Manor, and Batman - dressed in a giant suit of armor is all that stands between them and the destruction of his home... Oh, and that dinosaur in the Batcave. That stands in their way too, in one of the best pay-off moments in Bat history.

7. Near Death #8

I’ve been steadily reading Jay Faerber’s quirky noir book since it launched, but this is the first month where, upon seeing the issue released, excitedly said to myself, “Oh boy! New ‘Near Death!’” Which is when I realized that I was totally hooked. The book, for those who aren’t reading it, is about a master criminal who comes back to life, and decides to save people to even the score. Every issue so far is a stand-alone story, plays out like a fantastic, gritty TV series... But never forgets the slow journey its central character is going on. This issue, in particular, is a great twisted “case,” as several generations of a family keep killing each other, and our main guy has to decide whether it’s worth stopping them.

6. Angel & Faith #10

It may be Chris Samnee’s superb art that elevate this issue of what is already a pretty great series; but I think, if anything, it’s writer Chris Gage’s razor sharp focus on the characters that makes this work. While Buffy the Vampire Slayer boldly pushes forwards to the future, Angel & Faith is all about the past; and whether Gage is exploring the title characters, or more about enigmatic (and dead) Watcher Giles, he never forgets how our mistakes shape who we are today. Also, there’s a hilarious, awesome sequence involving a series of monsters attacks that is laugh out loud funny. So, that’s nice too.

5. Batgirl #9

Also a Night of the Owls crossover issue, Batgirl gets elevated over the “main” title for not only bringing the kick-ass action, but also giving a raw grounding of emotion that manages to introduce a brand new character, and then have her breaking our hearts in under twenty pages. That’s some superb writing on Gail Simone’s part, and proves that in the past few issues this has hit its stride as not just the best Bat-title, but one of the best books DC currently publishes.

4. Cow Boy

We’ve sung the praises of this beautiful All-Ages Western before, but with the official release of the hardcover from Archaia this past week, it’s time to break out the banjo, gather ‘round the campfire, and sing ‘em again: Cow Boy is truly a book for everyone. Chris Eliopoulos’ carefully crafted and emotive characters - including title cowboy Boyd - have humor and heart, as does the superb script by Nate Cosby. Plus, in this volume you get some delightful short stories from some of the best in the business. Archaia has broken from the pack as a comics publisher willing to take some true risks in publishing “non-traditional” material, and here, that bet pays off in spades.

3. Locke & Key: Clockworks #6

We’ve also already gone on at length about why this issue of Locke & Key - and the series as a whole - so superb, but this issue brings together everything that’s great about Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez’s creation. Big payoffs for long time readers, a willingness to prove that no character is safe, and panels that echo (appropriately, given the “past repeating itself” theme of the book) previous events underscore that this is an epic story told on a small, personal scale. Also, it’s frickin’ terrifying.

2. Snarked #8

Roger Langridge’s Snarked has always excelled at goofy, vaudeville-esque antics set in the world of Lewis Carroll’s Wonderland books. But the past two issues have brought a raw emotion to bear, one that’s been running under the surface the whole time, as the crooked, scamming Walrus fell in love with a penguin, and learned to follow his heart. Only in comics, folks, but it works, and beautifully. The build has been slow, but now that it’s paying off, we’re laughing - but now through our tears, as well.

1. Daredevil #12

It makes me angry how good this book is. I realize that’s a weird emotion to have, but it almost seems unfair to other comic books to have to read them after reading an issue of Daredevil: there’s just no way they can compare. From the perfect, iconic, sexy cover, to the first few pages that pull a bait and switch on the audience, to the wonderful flashback story showing how Matt Murdock and Foggy Nelson became friends, there isn’t a non-perfect page in this book. Laugh out loud funny, poignant, and some of the best superhero comics ever, Daredevil is so good, it should be illegal to not read every issue. Happily, the next issue (which also came out this month) was only really, really good, instead of perfect, so we know there’s a chink in the armor. Granted, that chink is made out of diamonds, and increasing the overall worth of the armor. But still: I’ve got your number, guys.