Comic books so permeated the culture in 2012 that compiling a list of comic goodies that aren’t actually comics is perhaps a fool’s errand. Nevertheless, this fool is pretty happy to live in a world where there’s a comic-book or superhero version of just about anything item you can think of. Here are the highlights of 2012′s stuff that wouldn’t exist without a little inspiration from our beloved comics themselves…
11. Superhero Belts
Buckle up! Don’t get caught with your pants down. Imagine a world where our pants are supported by the likes of Batman, Spider-Man and/or the Mighty Avengers. Is it strange to want your pants held up by your favorite superheroes? Maybe. Nevertheless, these seatbelt style belts (featuring yoour choice of Marvel or DC characters) are the best trouser support for 2012 by far.
10. Vintage Style DC Posters
Sure, we’d all like to have a few original Kirby pages hanging on our walls, but for those who can’t afford the King’s original pencils, why not try something a little different. 2012 was a great year for comics-inspired prints of all kinds, including offerings from the DC Archival Print line and a slightly more indie source. Seems to me that these eye-catching takes on classic heroes are worthy of a place of prominence in the homes of even the most discerning art collectors.
9. The Avengers Initiative Game
Simply put, the Avengers Initiative is a really cool handheld touch brawler for both IOS and Android. You’re the Hulk in the story and your mission is to…well…smash. It’s simple stuff when all is said and done, but it’s also a lot of fun to Hulk out on the game’s various baddies, plus the graphics are top-notch. Not recommended for rocket scientists looking for a challenge to the grey matter, but most certainly the best of its breed for 2012.
8. Lego Superheroes: The Batcave Set
Hey look! It’s the Batcave in convenient, hundreds of pieces to assemble Lego form. Okay, it’s not exactly a “cave” per se, but Lego’s Batcave set is tops when it comes to the year’s big box superhero Lego sets. Mini-figs included: Batman, Bruce Wayne, Poison Ivy and Bane. Aflred not included, but still the 2012′s best Lego Batcave money can buy.
7. Threadless T-shirts/Marvel Design Contests
Certainly no shortage of comic book T-shirts to be had in 2012, but the folks over at Threadless took things to new heights by teaming up with Marvel for a series of T-shirt design contests. Though only one winner was picked from each contest, the galleries of entries were varied, awesome and inspired. Check out a sampling of the Iron Man and Spider-Man challenges here.
6. Marvel Universe Action Figures
Newest Marvel Universe series of action figures gets props for its willingness to go for the “deep cuts” in terms of characters. This iteration of the little plastic pals for young and old offers some great Marvel players, including Kraven the Hunter and Beta-Ray Bill. Marvel Universe Figures, you had me at Beta-Ray Bill. Multiple points of articulation are standard, of course.
5. Comic Store Heroes
The National Geographic Channel (aka “Nat-Geo “) offered up a cool peek behind the scenes of big time comic store Midtown Comics with Comic Store Heroes. This “special” was apparently a pilot for a potential series, but generally worked well as a sort of mini-doc centered around the world’s biggest LCS and its inhabitants. Still no word on if the show will return for more installments.
4. Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth
As for comics-based video games, 2012 presented a close race for “best” between Marvel Avengers: Battle for Earth and Lego Batman 2: DC Superheroes. They’re very different games. That said, I’m going with the Avengers as the best of 2012, not because I’m a lifelong Marvelite but because it doesn’t rely on the Lego “cute-ification” to get the job done. Yes, it’s really just a superhero brawl-fest, but pair it with the XBOX 360′s Kinect system and you have the best “air-puncher” out there.
3. Marvel’s AR App
Though it’s still a bit rough around the edges, the Marvel AR app came of age in 2012 and shows a lot of potential when it comes to giving comic book readers a little extra something. Sure, there are times when the content the AR app feels a bit low on production value, but in terms of augmenting your reality and bringing your comic pages to life by simply aiming your mobile device at a page, it’s pretty dang cool.
2. The Dark Knight Trilogy on Blu-Ray
Christopher Nolan’s kick-ass treatment of Batman gets the kick-ass home video treatment in this box set that is by far the best comic book Blu-Ray of the year. Along with Nolan’s three flicks, the 5-disc Blu-Ray set includes two full discs of special features and a 64-page collectible booklet on the making of the films. Sure, we all know there will be a new bigger and better version of this box sometime in the future, but for now, this set is 2012′s best for the comics-obsessed cinephile.
1. Marvel Comics: The Untold Story
Comics have come a long way, baby, but if you’re longing for a journey back in time to the Marvel days of yore, then Sean How’s Marvel Comics: The Untold Story is really something special. Comprised of over a 150 interviews with folks connected to the 73 years of the real life Marvel universe, this beautifully dense book is a history lesson that no self-respecting fanboy should pass up. Admittedly, Howe’s effort could use more in the way of pictures/illustrations seeing as its core focus is a visual medium, but the end product is a labor of comic book love worthy of the title of “Best of 2012.”