Okay, fanboys and girls. 2011 is officially at an end and there was some epic stuff going on in the world of comics. DC had its companywide relaunch with their New 52 leading to record sales and an influx of new readers, Spider-Man dealt with a spider-powered New York City in Spider-Island, and filming of Christopher Nolan’s ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ has had fans rabid for any set pics and news. Now, it’s time to delve into 2012 and it looks like it has the potential to top last year in a massive way! So, without further ado, here are my picks for characters to watch in 2012…
With DC Comics’ New 52 relaunch last year, one of the most changed characters was the flagship of DC’s line… Superman. The Man of Steel underwent not only a costume change that got rid of the red undies on the outside, but writers Grant Morrison and George Perez (on the ‘Action Comics’ and ‘Superman’ titles respectively) gave him a personality overhaul. No longer the perfectly law-abiding “big blue boyscout”, Superman is now more of a grassroots, social justice kind of guy who isn’t above hanging corrupt businessmen off the edge of buildings until they confess. Plus, with legendary writing team of Keith Giffen and Dan Jurgens taking over the main ‘Superman’ title in March, the Last Son of Krypton is set to have a banner year.
Animal Man/Swamp Thing
Okay. So it might be a bit of a fudging to place two characters as one entry on this list, but if you’ve been reading my reviews of both of these series, you’ll note that, while they started off seemingly unrelated, they have slowly had their stories intertwined. ‘Swamp Thing’ is about the servant of The Green, the elemental force of all plant life on earth, while ‘Animal Man’ is the avatar of The Red, or the force of animal life. In both series, the heroes have been facing villains from The Rot (or The Other), which seems to be the element of death or decay. Add on to that the confirmation from DC that the titles are having an epic cross-over beginning with their 12th issue and these are definitely two comics that you should keep an eye on this year… especially if you’re into horror comics or want something a little different from the usual superhero fare.
Spider-Man just came out of a great year in 2011 with writer Dan Slott’s epic ‘Spider-Island’ storyline. Now, everyone’s favorite friendly neighborhood wall-crawler is set to kick it up a notch in 2012. Dan Slott is continuing as writer on the main ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ series while Spidey’s second title ‘Avenging Spider-Man’ is off to a wonderful start under the direction of writer Zeb Wells and the amazing art of Joe Madureira. To put the icing on the cake, Marvel is releasing a rebooted Spider-Man movie series next July with ‘Amazing Spider-Man’. It is indeed a good time to be a fan of the web-head.
Pandora (The mysterious robed woman of DC’s New 52)
When DC rebooted their entire universe at the end of last summer’s ‘Flashpoint’ series, fans were left wondering… who was that strange robed woman who appeared at the apex of the story as time warped into a single timeline? She only appeared in a single splash page in ‘Flashpoint’ #5 with no explanation of her identity. But when the relaunch of the DC universe began, eagle eyed fans began to notice that the mystery lady appeared in the first issue of every single relaunch title. She was hidden in the background and in a single panel of each book, so fans went on a scavenger hunt for all of her appearances. Heck! She even appeared in the kid title ‘Tiny Titans’! Finally, DC gave her a name but, other than that, there is still no word from DC as how the mystery woman ties into the new updated DC timeline but I expect that all will be revealed as 2012 rolls in.
Spider-Man might be the big kahuna at Marvel but it’s his cast of supporting characters that impressed me this past year. Venom was changed from a brain-eating psycho to a secret government agent. Carnage… well, Carnage didn’t change much but the first issue of ‘Carnage USA’ made the character interesting for the first time in ages. In 2012, Ex-villain and Peter Parker clone Kaine becomes the new Scarlet Spider and moves to Houston, Texas to battle corruption. Written by Chris Yost (‘X-Force’), the new ‘Scarlet Spider’ hits comic shelves on January 11.
Honorable mentions: Cable (in ‘Avengers: X-Sanction’), The Avengers, Jonah Hex and Amadeus Arkham