iFanboy’s Best of 2012: The Best Characters

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These guys are the best at what they do, and what they do is make us want to read comics about them.

HopeandScarletWitch12. Hope Summers

Hope Summers is often seen as more of a plot point than a character–a lot of things happen around her or because of her. But she’ll be damned if she’s going to let anyone treat her that way. Stubborn and curmudgeonly, Hope can and will totally kick your ass. We’ve seen her handle the weight of her responsibilities with strength and grace both as the would-be Messiah of the Mutants and this year when facing the Phoenix force. Few would have the figurative balls to not only pass up the power of the Phoenix, but then train like hell to kick it’s fiery ass out of Scott Summers. Hope is every bit a hero.

 

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11. Doctor Octopus

Spider-Man has an extensive (and really awesome) rogues gallery. For years Norman Osborn/Green Goblin has held a special place above all the other villains. But not this year. Otto Octavius played the long con on Peter Parker, ultimately causing the demise of our friendly neighborhood wall crawler. Writer Dan Slott has been laying the groundwork with Doc Ock since back when he was part of the Spidey Brain Trust. And since then we’ve watched Ock, much like Ahab and his White Whale, chase after Spider-Man with maniacal obsession while his body rapidly deteriorates. Dan Slott cooked up one of the coldest dishes of revenge served up in comics, and this year it paid off brilliantly.

 

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10. Harper Row

I like to think of Harper as the girl who out-Batmanned Batman. When we first met the spunky, young electrical engineer, she came out of the shadows to jump start Batman’s heart with a set of jumper cables. In Batman #12 (with some awesome artwork from Becky Cloonan) we get to see what her life is like working on the city’s power grid and taking care of her younger brother, as well as the impact the Batman has had on her life. While the entire Bat Family was fumbling to find Bats when the Court of Owls has him strung up in their labyrinth, Harper rigs up an impressive tracking system to find the caped crusader and save his life. Top that, Robins.

 

LDB

9. Li’l Depressed Boy

Li’l Depressed Boy is one of those quietly surprising books. It’s a slice-of-life comic about relationships and insecurities and what it’s like to be young and figuring things out. But what brings me back to this book month after month is LDB himself. He’s all of your vulnerabilities and anxieties rolled up into a plushy round face. It would be easy to dismiss him as a bit of a sad-sack, but instead you see pieces of yourself in LDB, and you find yourself hoping things work out for him.

 

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8. Old King Thor

Sometimes it doesn’t take long to leave a big impression. And that’s exactly what Old King Thor has done in Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic’s wonderful new Thor: God of Thunder comic. We’ve seen young, brash Thor before. We’ve seen Thor the Mighty Avenger before. But we’ve never seen anything quite like the ancient, grizzled Thor with one eye using the Destroyer’s arm as a prosthetic while he runs head-first into battle with a God Butcher. And good lord do I want to see more of him.

 

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7. Laurie Jupiter/Silk Spectre

Regardless of how you felt about the publication of the Before Watchmen comics, the books set out to shed some more light on the world created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons all those years ago. And none of the new comics did it better than Before Watchmen: Silk Spectre. Darwyn Cooke and Amanda Conner took a character who always felt to me a like bit of the token girl on a team of men and showed us how brilliantly optimistic and wonderful she started out as. Not only did we have a chance to see the origin of a hero, but we got a beautiful glimpse at Laurie’s inner most feelings and emotions.

 

CowBoy

6. Boyd Linney

This kid! He just breaks my heart into itty, bitty pieces. You think you know what you’re getting with a 10-year-old bounty hunter in a hat twice as big as his head, but no. Boyd is full of dogged determination and cold righteousness. He’s made it his mission to bring in each and every one of his outlaw family members, starting with his dad. Boyd’s strict and steadfast moral code makes even Batman look wishy-washy.

 

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5. Jean Grey

Jean Grey may be dead, but she is still a huge presence in the Marvel Universe. She’s the namesake of Logan’s new school for mutant kids, giving her a status equal to Charles Xavier. With the Phoenix Force playing such a key role in this year’s Avengers vs. X-Men, Jean’s specter perpetually loomed over the event. Marvel made sure we knew Jean Grey still held power in the 616, just in time to reintroduce a teenage Jean in Brian Michael Bendis and Stuart Immonen’s time-bending All New X-Men. On top of that, she was an absolute joy in Denis Hopeless and Jamie McKelvie’s wonderful X-Men: Season One graphic novel.

 

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4. Dex Parios

Greg Rucka’s biggest and best strength as a writer is his characters. Each one is uniquely nuanced that they feel so very real. There’s an inherent truth to his characters that lets you instantly identify with them and helps ground the story, no matter how crazy things get. Dex Parios is no exception. The down-and-out private investigator from Stumptown, Dex gets her ass kicked, she flirts, she pokes her nose in where she shouldn’t. But she’s also damn good at her job. She’s the stubborn underdog and you just can’t help but root for.

 

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3. Scott Summers

If the Phoenix Force corrupts, absolute Phoenix Force corrupts absolutely.

Scott Summer’s tragic fall from grace in this year’s Avengers vs. X-Men (as well as it’s build up in Uncanny X-Men) was downright Shakespearean. Cyclops has been “the leader” of the X-Men for quite some time, but this year we saw him as both their political leader and military general, with the morally dubious Magneto and Emma Frost (and Namor, come to think of it) close at his side. If the ends are achieving Charles Xavier’s dream, then Scott has gotten extremely comfortable justifying the means. From the Extinction Team to the Phoenix Force Five, Cyclops’ plan this year was to keep humanity in awe of Mutantkind’s collective power–culminating with the Phoenix-induced murder of Charles Xavier, Scott’s long-time mentor and father figure.

 

AlanaMarko

2. Alana and Marko

If there was an award for the Most Kick-Ass Parents in the Galaxy, these two would win it no contest. There are so many things that are amazing about Saga, but for all the epic cosmic elements of the comic, it’s really a story about family and love. And no two characters embody that juxtaposition better than Alana and Marko. Yes, they bicker and fight. Things are not at all perfect and rosy for these two, but the motivation for every single one of their actions is protecting their new family. They are so deeply and brilliantly in love with each other and their baby Hazel that it shines through the rest of the comic and makes Saga the masterpiece it is.

 

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1. Kid Loki

This could have so easily been a cheap gag of a character–”We’ve already made Loki a lady, what if made him a kid?” But Kieron Gillen embraced that concept and ran with it in the most brilliant way possible. The premise behind the character (and Journey Into Mystery as a narrative) was simple and elegant: what happens when a kid who just wants to be hero like his big brother Thor only has powers based in deception and manipulation at his disposal? This year, we’ve watched Loki plot, scheme, and equivocate all in the name of protecting Asgardia and the Nine Realms. It hasn’t always worked out as expected and at times there were pretty disastrous results. But for once, in a very long time, Loki’s heart was in the right place. On top of all that, the kid was witty and charming, working his way into your heart. And just when you were good and in love with the mischievous bugger, Gillen pulls the rug from under you. Loki was forced to make a terribly difficult decision at the end of his story. Watching him take the hero’s route of self sacrifice makes you so proud of Kid Loki while breaking your heart at the same time. I haven’t cried so hard for a character in a long time.

 


Comments

  1. TomiH TomiH says:

    Great list, but… NEGAN

    “A baseball bat doesn’t have a pussy!”

    Seriously, he’s like my favorite Walking Dead character ever.

    Also, President Captain Steve Rogers.

    • IthoSapien IthoSapien says:

      I counted and most of the characters on this list are Marvel’s. It’s been awhile since I read any of the Ultimate comics, but I do think President Captain America should get an honorable mention. Right now one of favorite characters is Emerson Strange from “Nowhere Men”.

    • Negan is the most annoying and stupid character ever written into comics. He’s why I’m dropping the Walking Dead

  2. k5blazer k5blazer says:

    “Asgardia”? What happened to Asgard? When did this change happen?

    • Ali Colluccio Ali Colluccio (@WonderAli) says:

      I believe they’ve been calling the Broxton-based Asgard “Asgardia”. They used “Asgardia” a lot during the Everything Burns cross-over.

    • Nat_Lovin says:

      At the end of Fear Itself Odin left Earth, and the Allmother took over, Asgard was reborn as a republic (not like it’s really that much of one, but whatever) and was renamed Asgardia, and contains citizens from all the nine realms.

    • k5blazer k5blazer says:

      Ok since I was so turned off by the Fear Itself event I probably wasn’t paying close attention, thank you for the clarification…:)

  3. Firevine Firevine says:

    I couldn’t have cared less about Lil’ Depressed Boy until last night. I was flipping through the most recent issue we have at the shop to see if it was about time to pull it from the shelves. I saw LDB dressed up as Arnold Rimmer saying “I’m a hologram”.

    Fuck. Yes. Red Dwarf nods get me every time.

  4. optic00085 optic00085 says:

    A fantastic listfor sure. Very happy to see Harper Row on there, her one shot issue drawn by Cloonan was amazing. It was a much needed break after the court of Owls, and a fantastic Character Piece. Personally I would have added Frankenstein, but I can certainly understand how that might not be for everyone.

    • IthoSapien IthoSapien says:

      Why does everyone keep calling Cloonan’s art amazing? There’s nothing wrong with her art if you have Manga tastes, but I found her art in Batman #12 kinda annoying. Her art almost fit in Swamp Thing #13(?) since it was a love story, but I don’t think she is good at creating dark and creepy atmospheres.

    • wushugushu says:

      I wonder what would be going on during the banquet if there were dark and creepy atmospheres….

    • IthoSapien IthoSapien says:

      It was Swamp Thing Annual #1. I don’t know what banquet you’re referring to, I just think that if Snyder wants to give Cloonan more work it would fit better on titles that weren’t horror or required heavy use of shadow to create suspense.

    • Paul Montgomery Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

      I thought Cloonan did a great job on Batman. She’s also done some terrific horror. Her self-published WOLVES, for example.

    • IthoSapien IthoSapien says:

      I’ve heard of that series, reminds me of “The Grey”. I still didn’t care for Batman #12 because of her art. It’s fine when it’s just Harper and her brother, but at the end when it’s in the sewers with Bats… Just didn’t look right. ST Annual looked more like a love story than a horror, which was fine for that issue but it still didn’t look right when she tried to convey the darker elements. I have a similar issue with Jeff Lemire’s “Sweettooth”, the imagery is there but it doesn’t come across as scary.

  5. cosmo cosmo says:

    A good solid list. Kinda surprised that Snyder’s take on The Joker did not make the cut, though perhaps that’s being saved for next year. The Harper Row story was worthy of inclusion though . . .

    Loved that Kid Loki captured the top spot — that series was simply fantastic. If Young Avengers is only half as great, I’ll be quite happy . . .

  6. cosmo cosmo says:

    PS: I agree with optic00085 that Frankenstein would have made a great addition to the list — I’m gonna miss that book . . .

  7. Neeks Neeks says:

    Im really dissapointed the will wasnt in this but oh well

  8. IthoSapien IthoSapien says:

    Not a fan of Harper Row. I think her and the new companion in Doctor Who Oswald Oswin suffer from the same traits, except Harper has shown more background so far and seems less ridiculous. I’m not surprised Sally Jupiter did so well, she was one of the few Watchmen characters that had tons of room to be fleshed out. I’m glad Loki’s trying something new, in the JMS Amazing Spider-Man (and Thor) series he was portrayed as a character with shades of grey (much more so in ASM) instead of a straight diabolical schemer and I’ve been waiting for someone to pick up on that and develop it. As for Alana and Marko, the first love story I’ve cared about in forever, is there any other competition for best parents in a series since New 52 de-aged and un-married most of the parents in the DCU?

    • Buddy and Ellen Baker from Animal Man, maybe?

    • IthoSapien IthoSapien says:

      Completely forgot about them, however Buddy did let his whole family be consumed by the Rot so that may disqualifie them from Parents of the Year.

    • I think you can call that extenuating circumstances. These things sometimes happen when you fall into a time hole with a plant monster to fight the zombie king.

    • IthoSapien IthoSapien says:

      Good point, I thought I was the only one still reading both Rotworld crossovers. Still, I think there’s a case against Buddy Baker for negligence. At the very least child services needs to contact him after he and Alec Holland crawl out of the timehole and have him explain some things. Of couse, there is a lack of parents in the DCU post-52; it lost Oliver Queen, Wally West, Roy Harper, Barry Allen (Tornado Twins in the future), Plastic Man (assuming) etc. It’s not a big issue, just an observation. Worst I can say for Alana and Marko is that they lost their baby sitter, not bad for a Romeo and Juliet that has the whole galaxy against them (insert joke about star-crossed lovers).

    • wushugushu says:

      Did you even read Romeo and Juliet?

    • IthoSapien IthoSapien says:

      Yes I did, in high school. It was one of the most boring books ive ever had to read. I don’t remember where I read it, but when Saga first came out it was compared to Romeo & Juliet and I agree that at it’s face that’s a fair comparison ( two people in love, forbidden from being together, etc). Hopefully as the series goes on there won’t be any more connections made to Romeo & Juliet since I found Saga to be a much more exciting and genuine love story.

  9. tomdpimp tomdpimp says:

    BROO!

  10. Great list Ali!

    Kinda wish there was someone from Manhattan Projects though. Oppenheimer or Einstein have been great characters to read with that book.

    • Xtianhardy Xtianhardy (@Xtianhardy) says:

      I read a review somewhere either on this site or The A.V. Club that described Einstein as the Wolverine of the Manhattan Projects, and that just made me fall in love with his character even more.

  11. acroanidd says:

    Liked the list but after thinking who I would have put on it one thing is for sure, Chris (punk rock jesus)

  12. pyynk pyynk says:

    Some great characters and some great titles. And Kid Loki — man. I used to HATE the villain books that were out when I was a wee sprout. They were boring because either the villain never won (because he’s the bad guy after all) and they had little to no impact on events in the shared world. Because of those memories, I avoided Journey Into Mystery initially. I’m glad I got over that and got to spend time with Kid Loki.

  13. Milky Milky says:

    Hey,
    This list seems a little off if i’m being honest.

    I Thought with the year Image has had we’d have alot more creator owned characters up hear. Really shocked not to see Peter Panzerfaust and the Will from Saga, He Especailly shined in Sextillion issue (can’t remeber if it was issue 4 or 5?) On a personal note i’d love to see Kid Vigilante up there from Danger Club.

    Harper Row kinda throws me a little bit aswell. Especially with with no Joker or an owl on the list?

    I’m also shocked not to see daredevil or Hawkeye!

    Each to there own I guess!

  14. CaseyJustice CaseyJustice says:

    Oh, Kid Loki. What have you done to my precious feels?

    Great, great list, Ali. Thanks!

  15. APoetSomeday APoetSomeday says:

    No Aquaman!? For shame, iFanboy…

  16. Xtianhardy Xtianhardy (@Xtianhardy) says:

    Whenever I read people complain about Saga online, I mostly just ignore their criticisms and move on, because after all, I love this series, but Marko is a bland, uninteresting character. The stand-out character of Saga is The Will, which is why the best single issue of the series so far was #4. Alana and Marko’s relationship is the worst aspect of the series, and falls prey to every naive, cutesy, hipstery cliche the book is justly criticized for. I would love to see Marko bite the dust and inject some much needed drama back into the series, this whole “hanging with the grandparents” thing is lame.