With the Big Two focused on massive crossovers and building up their revamped universes, the fine tradition of the mini-series or one-shot seemed to be forgotten in 2012, Luckily, there were still some fine writers and artists to give those quick, powerful stories more than their due.
The Shorties – Saluting excellence in a limited series or one-shot.
The Axe Cop stories have always been a gleeful celebration of what comics can be. There’s little devotion to story, characterization or coherence but the pure spectacle and reckless creative abandon are always a joy to behold.
Amanda Conner and Darwyn Cooke paired the exoticism, drug culture and empty philosophies of the ’60s with the painful mother/daughter dynamic that defined the Spectre to create one of the best books of the controversial series. It’s a book more open to experimentation than any of the other Before Watchmen titles and more importantly, strayed far enough from the source material to give an important new look at defining a life through pain, crime and failure.
Grant Morrison seemed to be going in a bizarre new direction in his story about a hitman who suddenly starts seeing and talking to a blue cartoon horse but it’s still filled with the same sort of bizarre metatextuality the writer brings to much of his work. It’s a bloody, violent, occasionally revolting piece of entertainment but it never makes readers forget about the genius who’s pulling the strings.
Film noir meets “Waterworld” meets “A Clockwork Orange” and so much more in Brian Azzarello and Edward Risso’s excellent meditation on the future, reality television, identity, guilt and celebrity culture. Risso’s exceptional cartoony, expressive art sets a dingy tone for a world that reached for the stars only to be burned upon arrival. Spaceman is about how the hopes of an individual are crushed by reality in a story which watches as the past and the present are ground down by the choices we’re forced into.
What does it mean to fail? What does it mean to be a hero when the world has long since passed you by? Who are you when the people you loved are gone? Alan Moore’s brilliant final chapter of the League’s adventures asks all of these questions of its three protagonists, the immortal gender swapping Orlando, the sectioned vampire Mina Harker and the heroin addicted homeless adventurer Alan Quartermain. The final chapter sees the heroes at their lowest as Prospero asks them to avert the Apocalypse that they’ve already failed to stop. The end is coming. There’s nothing left to do. It’s in that condition that Orlando, Mina and eventually Alan’s actions shine all the brighter as the League has one last chance to keep the darkness at bay and maybe be the heroes the world has always wanted them to be.
Next Up: We’re getting to the biggest awards of the year. Star crossed lovers, mercenaries, killers, companies, schools and scientists are all competing for the title of best series of the year.