It’s been an eventful year in comics, what with Marvel Now, Before Watchmen, Image’s 20th anniversary and the ongoing clusterfuck that is DC’s the New52.
But let’s take a look at the characters who’ve done the best in 2012.
5. Hawkeye (both of them)
At a time when DC is convinced that more than one Batgirl will make readers’ heads explode, Marvel is putting out a book featuring two Hawkeyes, with no explanation beyond: “Clint Barton is Hawkeye. Kate Bishop is also Hawkeye.” No convoluted origins, no trying to give Kate a new superhero alias. In the year that Barton got major big screen exposure, you’d think it would make logical sense to put out a book just about him. So full credit to Marvel for focusing on both characters, and making them better than they’ve ever been.
4. The Joker
After a year of “resting,” the most famous villain in comics returned in 2012 more twisted than ever. He may have a new look, but this is still the sick, unsettlingly funny Joker we know and love. Whether he’s slaughtering the Gotham City Police Department (again), torturing Alfred or rejoicing in the company of the one person he loves (and it ain’t Harley), Joker has been better than ever.
3. Psylocke (Uncanny X-Force)
Psylocke went from the X-Men’s winsome psychic ninja who occasionally popped up for the odd speech bubble cameo, to one of X-Forces most interesting, conflicted and essential members. It’s fair to say that Psylocke was the defining character of “Uncanny X-Force” and overall, it’s been a good year for her, reminding us she’s not just a hot ninja in a swimsuit, but a fully realized bad assassin!
2. Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel)
Not only did she get her own ongoing series this year, but she also got a snazzy new costume and the title Captain Marvel. No longer a female version of a long-gone character, Carol is now very deservedly a Captain. By the end of the first issue, you couldn’t work out how it took Marvel so damn long to promote her.
1. Kaine Parker (Scarlet Spider)
Kaine Parker had all the wrong potential to be just another Spidey knock-off, but thankfully, the ex-bastard Peter Parker clone with a new reason to live became more than just “hardcore Spidey.” Kaine is as interesting and complex as his clone, a Peter Parker with a new set of moral obligations contrasting against his killer instinct and an nasty past that keeps trying to catch up with him.
And while I’ve emphasized that Kaine’s interesting beyond his penchant to not always do the right thing, sleep with strangers, rip doors off moving cabs and get super-violent at the drop of a hat, there really isn’t anything quite like a Spider-Man with no qualms about breaking both a villains arms or if he’s having a really bad day; just killing them stone dead. The gloves are off with Kaine Parker, while he at least tries to do the right thing.
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