The list of faux pas from DC is pretty long this year: The controversy of Before Watchmen followed by a selection of mostly lackluster prequels, the general sex and violence focus (and low quality) of most of the New 52 books, and the degrading output of Vertigo Comics (culminating in the departure of some of their top talent, John Constantine, and probably the most important editor in the history of the medium, Karen Berger). DC Comics has set up mostly disappointment this year all round. As the company becomes less interesting and sheds its top talent, or not encouraging their non-superhero work, the second half of the Big 2 publishers looks more and more like an evil corporation unable to keep a lid on their poor staff management than a place of creativity and ingenuity. And creators have been less than silent about their treatment, from Rob Liefeld’s noisy departure to Gail Simone’s firing (and rehiring) via email earlier this month. Especially as rival publishers like Dark Horse, Valiant, and Image have spent the year putting out some of the best independent work of the year, from Saga to Fatale to a myriad of other works, DC is falling behind critically, commercially, and maybe even ethically.
Runner-Up: The Dark Knight Rises
The foundation of Chris Nolan's Gotham artifice was a locale and its residents which were utterly palpable, which subsequently muted and even gave credence to the lead man's costumed super-heroics. With the third installment of his Dark Knight trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, Nolan loses grasp of the corporeal Gotham with several logical inconsistencies and a wholly sensationalized premise, while still attempting unsuccessfully to maintain the dour demeanor of his previous two Batman films. It doesn't make the grade, and although it isn't one of the worst comic book adaptations I've seen, the film is at certain points difficult to palate let alone believe and often plays like an unintentional, overwrought pastiche of Nolan's own work on the Batman films. Despite the pleasant plot twists, the sheer amount of necessary resolution caused the film to suffer from a break-neck pace. With high velocity storytelling and too many characters to include, the result left most actors with a less-than-meaningful impact, a true shame when you consider all the star-power in the cast. Most disappointing was the final bout between Bane and Batman, they slug it out just like earlier in the film, only somehow Batman is stronger this time. There were no gadgets, no new fighting techniques, no brains, just Batman swinging really really hard (wasn't he trained by ninjas or something?).
Finally, who do we think did the best job putting out quality comics this year? Our award for Best Publisher is next!