Monday, July 15, 2013

In the Beginning

I feel I would be remiss if I did not introduce you to one of Jack Chick's most infamous creations, Bob Williams.  Generally, Chick tracts do not have recurring characters save for Scary Faceless God and Satan.  However, there are two series within his overall tract catalog that break this pattern: the Li'l Suzy tracts, aimed at children and headed by the titular Suzy (who is supposed to be sweet and cute but comes off as a homophobic, xenophobic, bullying little monster) and the Bible Stories series of tracts, headed by Bob Williams.

Who is Bob Williams?  A smug, fanatical computer repairman who has the (possibly demonic) power to convert most anyone he meets.  He is so prolific that he proselytizes in twenty-five tracts.  What compelling arguments must he make to warrant being such a major presence in Chick's oeuvre?  Let's find out in his debut story!

In the beginning, giraffes and apatosauruses had a contest to see whose neck was the longest, and the apatosaurus won.  Then the giraffes were such sore losers that they stood on each other's shoulders until they reached the asteroid belt by Mars and knocked one such asteroid into the Earth, driving the dinosaurs into extinction.  Giraffes are hardcore.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Why is Mary Crying?

If you are anything like my mother, when you read the dissection for the 2013 rewrite of The Last Generation, in between laughing at the ridiculousness of everything in the tract, you may have asked why Chick kept Mary around as the Mother Goddess when that future decried Jesus.

Well, this tract answers that.  And regardless of whether you're an atheist, a non-Christian, a Catholic, or even a Christian who rejects the immaculate conception and veneration of Mary, it will still be an incredibly stupid answer.

For bonus points, we'll also get a glimpse of Chick's massive issues with women!

It's okay, Mary.  I'd cry too if I were in a Chick tract.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Last Generation, 2013

In the 1972 edition of Jack Chick's asinine attempt to be George Orwell, the plot more or less stayed consistent.  In the future, America will be overrun by a pseudo-Christian theocracy that will torture and kill those who believe in the divinity of Jesus.

In the 2013 reprint?  Far less consistency and far more "let's take potshots at everything Jack Chick dislikes!" Those things being Catholicism, homosexuality, Catholicism, divorce, the veneration of the Blessed Virgin Mary, people who call using religion to justify bigotry "intolerant," Catholicism, Wiccans, and Catholicism.

So sit back and hold on tight, because it's a Last Generation for, uh, the new generation.

The New World Order isn't messing around anymore!  Gone is the ocean and in is the saturated green.  But forty-one years later and they still can't finish his hat.  On the plus side, the curve of that snake and the green color make him look sort of like a KKK Riddler if you squint, and everyone loves the Riddler.

Monday, June 10, 2013

The Last Generation, 1972

 In my dissection of Somebody Goofed, I mentioned that certain Chick tracts are occasionally updated and reprinted.  In Somebody Goofed, the tract was virtually unchanged, right down to the 1960s pop culture references.  But this isn't always the case.  Sometimes fonts are changed to be more legible, current issues are added in - in the 1980s, the tract That Crazy Guy! was changed from being about immoral sex leading to herpes to cover immoral sex leading to AIDS - and the art is revised.

And sometimes, as in the case of The Last Generation, the entire plot is altered based on what Jack Chick's pet issues are at the time.  While the publication from 1972 is as ludicrous as the version of Chick's site today, the deterioration of his writing and plot are clear to see between the two versions.

I am going by scans of an older tract, so these images will not be as clear as in other posts.

Big Brother's nightmarish world order is just around the corner.  Christ is coming soon for believers.  Will you be left behind?
Somehow, I don't think George Orwell had the imaginary persecution of Christian fundamentalists in mind when he wrote 1984.

This is one of the tracts drawn by Fred Carter, the other artist for the company.  He's far more talented than Chick himself.

It's like he threw every EVIL cliche he could into one cover.  KKK, United Nations, drugs, a peace symbol (which is really the sign of the Antichrist!  Booga booga!) and a doctor's symbol.  Wait, what's evil about doctor's staffs?  Is it that psychiatry generally doesn't advocate taking a rod to your child?  And why is the top of his pointy hat cut off when there's plenty more cover above him?  And why does he appear to be standing in the ocean?

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Flight 144

Gunslinger was published in 1997.  Flight 144 was published in 1998.  In just one year, Chick managed to produce a tract that completely contradicted everything about Gunslinger.  Flight 144 is meant to be another argument for sola fide, or faith alone, the theological position that good works do not bring you into Heaven.  Instead, it ends up being an argument for running like hell away from Jack Chick's idea of God.

A couple spends 50 years on the mission field, trusting in their good works. But when they die and stand before God, they learn that good works can’t save… only Jesus can.


Originally I was going to make my next dissection about a tract attacking Islam or Catholicism or something, just to display Chick's blatant lies and total hypocrisy.  But I feel I would be remiss if I did not first introduce you to Jack's completely ludicrous take on the concept of "for by grace you have been saved" and how it makes the theme of salvation from tract to tract entirely contradictory.  So today's dissection will be Gunslinger, followed by a dissection of Flight 144, to demonstrate Chick's inability to keep his views consistent and display how horrific his vision of God is.

A hired killer trusts Christ and, at death, goes to heaven.  But the law-abiding marshal who hunted him rejects Christ and goes to hell.  Clearly shows that salvation is through grace, not works. 

No Chick, you fool!  The gunslinger isn't the man in black!  It's "The man in black fled across the desert and the gunslinger followed," not, "the man in black who was also the gunslinger followed himself."  This is a very disappointing fan fic of Stephen King's Dark Tower series so far.

Is that steam shooting out of his ears?  I'd be pretty angry too if I had no neck, a hole through one ear, and a face that could curdle milk.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Fairy Tales

Since my first dissection covered one of Chick's oldest tracts, here's one of his newer works from 2007.  This is the description of Fairy Tales from Jack Chick's website:

They were just fantasy games … all in fun. But they influenced Harry to make the biggest mistake of his life.

What dastardly games are these?  No, not Dungeons & Dragons or Harry Potter, as you may be thinking.  That would be too logical.  Also, he's already made tracts denouncing those.

Before we begin, I would like to mention in the mid-nineties, Chick suffered a stroke.  The effect on his art and writing afterward is, in my opinion, pretty noticeable.

In other news, Chick likes to take swipes at gay people regardless of whether or not they're relevant to the content of the tract.  Here, they're not, but get it?  "Fairy" can mean gay!  Isn't that clever?

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Somebody Goofed

Somebody Goofed was initially published in either 1966 or 1969 (I've found contrasting sources, and it's possibly even older than that).  Despite most of Chick's more moderate comics coming out during this time, it still bears all the classic signs of a Chick tract: making the villains repulsive so we will presumably find their beliefs equally repulsive, dialogue no one would ever say, rabid anti-Christianity, and a sudden turn into madness.

The description from Chick Publications:

A young man goofs when he is talked out of receiving Jesus as Saviour.

"We ordered Tickle-Me Elmos, not Tickle-Me demons!"

Jack Chick: An Introduction to Insanity

It was 2007.  I was behind the counter at the movie theater, watching the minutes tick by until people would come in for the next showing and there’d be something to do.  The counters were wiped down, drinks and candy restocked, new batches of popcorn whirring in the machines, the lobby vacuumed – everything was taken care of.  There was nothing to do and nothing to talk about.

That is, until Amy came back from cleaning up trash in the parking lot.  She’d found two little comic books, three inches high and five inches wide, twenty pages each.  One bore a yellow cover and the title The Little Bride, the other, a purple cover reading Kidnapped!.  She’d glanced at them briefly outside and decided they had to be brought in.  And boy, was she right.  We spent so much time staring at them that our boss had to give us a lecture on focusing on our jobs.

Here are some of the many lessons I learned just from those two comics:

If the police catch you beating your husband with household items, you won’t be charged or even have an official warning so long as you promise to go back to church.  However, the same police officer will pull you over for driving over the double yellow line on the road just once.  Children walking home alone will be immediately kidnapped, but children walking to a stranger’s house without their parents in the morning to talk about religion will be just fine.   

The prophet Muhammad was a pedophile, and living in a different time period is no excuse.  There are “magic words” that will make you a Muslim forever if you say them even once.  When you pray, God speaks directly to you through a ray of light and provides advice that you should have had the common sense to figure out already.  Metaphors do not exist.  And most importantly, shouting “GOD’S GOING TO GET YOU FOR THIS!” at your kidnapper will drive him into a panic.

 I wouldn’t learn until a few days later, when we had free time in English class and I did some Googling, that I’d been introduced to Chick tracts:  little comics containing evangelical messages put out by fundamentalist writer/artist Jack T. Chick.  They are anti-evolution, anti-rock and roll, anti-ecumenical movement, anti-homosexuality, anti-Santa, anti-everything. 
Chick, who is reclusive and mostly a figure of mystery, published his first tract, Why No Revival?, in 1961.  Since that time, Chick Publications – classified as an active hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center – has produced over 230 comic tracts in addition to other books and films, and printed over 800 million tracts.  Jack Chick is the most published comic author in the world.

He’s also completely batshit.

Chick tracts have developed a cult following among non-fundamentalists for their ludicrous plotlines, terrible art, stilted dialogue, contradictions, and their poorly researched, often offensive themes.  The tracts are meant to be passed on indefinitely, with a person reading one, accepting Christ as their savior, and handing it off to another.  However, many people collect them for their entertainment value, and it’s easy to see why.

There are a number of hilarious websites dedicated to dissecting Chick tracts panel by panel, such as Enter the Jabberwock, Holeee Cow, and Boolean Union.  I’ve enjoyed both their dissections and the ridiculous tracts themselves for years, and want to throw my hat in the ring of mockery, beginning with one of the oldest, most well-known tracts, Somebody Goofed.

As a disclaimer, I don’t care what anyone’s religious beliefs (or lack thereof) are, so long as they’re not trying to force those beliefs (or lack thereof) on others, trying to make their views on theology into law, or using their views as an excuse for discrimination and hatred.  The point of these dissections will not be to mock or attempt to disprove Christianity.  The point of these dissections is to laugh at the absurdity and point out the flawed logic.

So sit back, grab the popcorn, and enter the nightmare world of Jack T. Chick.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

What's the Big Deal about Orson Scott Card and Superman?

Update:  The comic artist meant to illustrate Card's Superman story left the project, and the story has been shelved, possibly (hopefully) forever.

A week ago DC Comics announced that one of the writers for their new digital anthology series, Adventures of Superman, would be author Orson Scott Card, and then the Internet exploded.

Since the announcement, LGBTQ individuals and allies have written letters of protest, created a petition against Card’s hiring, and threatened to boycott the series, if not boycott DC Comics as a whole. I’ve seen much online debate about Card’s “right to work” and about how those calling for his work not to be published are trying to force their morals on the world just as much as Card himself does. Beyond that, I’ve seen much misinformation, and today I’m going to address the debate, point by point, to get the facts out to those who will listen.

Who is Orson Scott Card?

Orson Scott Card is an author primarily known for publishing the Ender’s Game series. He has also written various comics for Marvel, such as an Ender’s Game adaptation and Ultimate Iron Man. He is a board member for the National Organization for Marriage, a non-profit organization considered an anti-gay hate group by many.

What are Orson Scott Card’s views on homosexuality?

Orson Scott Card believes that people are made homosexual through rape, molestation, and abuse. He has stated that is a lie to say gays are not allowed to marry, because they have every right to marry someone of the opposite gender (Source).

He has advocated for overthrowing the government were gay marriage to become legal (Source.)

He rewrote Hamlet to make Hamlet’s father a pedophile who molested Horatio, Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and Laertes, turning them gay in the process (Source).

What is the National Organization for Marriage?

The National Organization for Marriage is a non-profit anti-gay hate group established in 2007 to fight gay marriage and gay adoption. NOM was instrumental in the passing of Proposition 8 in California (Source) and was the primary contributor for Stand For Marriage Maine, which was successful in repealing the state’s gay marriage legislature (Source).

NOM is under investagion by the Maine Ethics Commission for refusing to disclose its donors as well as failing to register as a ballot question committee with the state (Source). The Human Rights Campaign, a civil rights organization for LGBT individuals, dedicated a blog to cataloguing NOM’s hateful statements, with a long and appalling list of entries: NOM Exposed.

Orson Scott Card is a board member for NOM. As a director of a 501(k) non-profit organization, he has both influence and control of the group’s agenda, such as where their money is budgeted and what programs they run. Therefore, he is complicit with NOM’s views and is responsible for their actions.

What is the protest about?

LGBTQ consumers and allies object to DC Comics hiring a bigot who actively works to deny civil rights to others, especially as Card was hired to write Superman, a character who believes in compassion for everyone. Given DC’s promise to create a “more modern, diverse DC Universe” for their relaunch in 2011, protestors feel this decision is a step backwards and a slap in the face. They are angry that DC is providing money to Card, who may well use it to fight against their rights. They are also angry that DC chose to hire Card in the first place.

These individuals will boycott the two issues of Adventures of Superman penned by Card, and have signed a petition against DC publishing his work. They may also have written to the president of DC Entertainment, Diane Nelson, to express their complaints. Some have suggested that DC should not run Card’s issues or that they replace Card’s issues with those of an LGBTQ creator, and that they publish a queer-friendly standalone comic and donate the proceeds to a pro-gay organization.

Isn’t this just Card’s opinion? There are other conservative creators at DC Comics, and you’re not calling for them to be fired.

It ceased to be just his opinion when Card joined the board of a hate group that hopes to deny people their civil rights and has succeeded in doing so multiple times. Creators such as Chuck Dixon and Ethan Van Sciver may be conservative, but they are not members of hate groups. DC Comics would not publish the work of a Klansman or a Neo Nazi, and they should not publish Card’s.

What about Orson Scott Card’s freedom of speech?

Freedom of speech means freedom from government censorship. It does not mean freedom from criticism, or freedom to publish works for DC Comics. Freedom of speech works both ways. He is free to say as many hateful and homophobic things as he wants, and others are free to organize a boycott of his work as a result. It is the protestor’s freedom of speech to petition DC to drop Card’s issues.

They’re calling for him to be unemployed. How is that okay?

Card has already completed and been paid for the issues he penned. No one is asking for DC to revoke that payment. They are asking that DC never hire him again. This is not blacklisting – these protestors have no governmental authority. They are consumers telling a company what they want.

It isn’t as if DC Comics is all that stands between Card and destitution. DC could never hire him again for as long as he lived and he would be fine.

Aren’t the protestors being just as intolerant as they say Orson Scott Card is?

This line of thinking gets trotted out whenever an oppressed minority dares to complain. The LGBTQ community does not have to be tolerant of anyone who seeks to deny their civil rights. It is not just an opinion, it is bigotry that poses a risk of significant harm to them. Orson Scott Card has helped to deny civil rights on multiple occasions. We live in a world in which people are beaten, harassed, shamed, disowned, murdered, and even driven to suicide for being born different. That is not something anyone should have to tolerate.

Where were these protestors when Marvel was publishing Card’s work?

Orson Scott Card was not on the board of NOM during his time at Marvel.

Do you honestly think DC Comics is going to let Card publish something anti-gay?

This is not about the content of his work, it is about DC’s decision to hire him in the first place. His views will likely not appear in the issues, but he is still a bigot who actively harms others and the protests are in regards to the choice to hire him at all.

I’m gay and I think this whole protest is stupid.

That is your right.

I didn’t care about this before, but all your bitching has convinced me to buy twelve issues! Suck on that!

Enjoy being an asshole and wasting your money. You are within your rights as a consumer to buy what you want.

I’m angry at DC for this decision and I want to make my voice heard. What can I do?

First and foremost, do not buy Card’s issues of Adventures of Superman. They will be available in a digital format on DC’s website and in print later on. If you are financially able and interested in Superman, you may want to buy the issues after Card’s to make it clear that you don’t object to the series as a whole, just Orson Scott Card.

Sign the All Out petition and pass it on to others. It does not require an account to sign.

Contact DC Comics, either through @DCComics on Twitter or the Contact Page on their website. Make your voice heard.

Write a physical letter, not an email, and send it to the president of DC Entertainment, Diane Nelson. This is the best way to make a point, as it gives physical copies for DC to view instead of a list of petition signatures and emails. Her address is:

Diane Nelson
President, DC Entertainment
Warner Bros. Entertainment, Inc.
4000 Warner Blvd., Bldg 2, #103
Burbank, CA 91522

Finally, if you can, make a financial contribution to an organization that fights for equality, be it The Human Rights Campaign, The Trevor Project, The Born This Way Foundation, or another group. No matter how small, every cent helps in the fight toward equal rights. Get involved, if you can. See if there’s any way you can contribute to equality in your community.

Superman would never stand for hate and intolerance. Neither should we.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Who Gets to be a Homicidal Clown? Anyone Who Wants to Be!

Note:  This post deals with problematic attitudes regarding comics and their film adaptations.  I mock these views by pretending to agree.  I do not support the idea that the Joker (or any character) must be portrayed by a white cis male.

Consider the Joker. Not the one on the playing card, the one in the Batman comics. What do you consider the defining traits of the Joker? A murderous sense of humor? A total disregard for human life? A purple suit?

What are you, new at this? All of that pales in comparison to the things that truly make the Joker the villain we know and love today: Caucasian ethnicity and a penis!

Sorry, Prince, you're just too awesome.

…This may require some explanation. So because I am a masochist who enjoys making my blood pressure do back flips, I occasionally head over to the Comic Book Resources forums in search of nuanced and rational discussion. And what to my wondering eyes should appear today but a thread entitled Should the Joker ever be played by women or non-whites, with ten whole pages of discussion. Oh boy, sounds like this will be as fun and painless as sticking my foot in a bear trap!

Now, you may be thinking that things like skin color or gender shouldn’t be the defining factor of a casting decision. After all, Denzel Washington did a much better job than Keanu Reeves did when they played brothers in Much Ado About Nothing and Cate Blanchett’s performance as Bob Dylan in I’m Not There was phenomenal.  So perhaps you’re under the impression that the ability to portray the character is the most important thing. But you’d be wrong. And if you need some convincing, allow me to summarize some brilliant arguments from the thread that could all be prefaced with “I’m not racist, but” in order to persuade you!

We start out strong with an important consideration:

“I'm Black, and I say keep the Joker as he's supposed to be. It was fine when Billy D. Williams played Harvey Dent and even when Michael Clarke Duncan played the Kingpin in Daredevil, but it's different when a character is as iconic and such a household name as the Joker is; would you want an Asian, Black, etc person playing Batman or Superman? I think you are just trolling with this post...” 

Yeah, definitely trolling. I mean, a black Superman? Who would ever let that happen?

Oh. But that’s Grant Morrison. That doesn’t count, right? Besides, we couldn’t have a non-Caucasian Batman! The story of an orphan out to avenge his parents’ murder by instilling fear in criminals would fall apart if he weren’t white.

Now, any actor who’s portrayed the Joker, from Romero to Ledger, has had all their visible body slathered in white makeup to match the unnatural, chemically bleached tone of the clown’s skin. So you may be asking what difference the color of an actor makes when they’ll be covered in greasepaint. Luckily for you, they’ve thought of that as well.

“I agree to a point, but The Joker's face is quite characteristically caucasian in that his nose is very thin and long.”

“The Joker is as iconic for his looks as he is for his actions. We do not need an origin story for us to know that he is white. His facial features are blatantly caucasian.” 

Well, that is what white people look like. Non-Caucasians don’t know the pain of constantly being asked if they can use our cheekbones to slice meat deli-style, or the care we have to take in turning corners to ensure our noses don’t put out the eyes of hapless passerby. Have a moment to reflect on how the features of all the Joker’s actors perfectly match the above image—I’m taking a break to open some soup cans with my chin.

 Okay, I’m back. Now that we’ve established that the Joker’s features are not a clownish caricature, but unmistakable ethnic markers that only white people have ever had, let us go move onto another point raised in that second quote: “ We do not need an origin story for us to know that he is white.” I’d like to point out that the Joker does have an origin story, and before we saw him with snow white skin, this is how he was portrayed:

Using your keen detective skills, you may have noticed that neither his skin nor his face is visible. But after careful examination, I have concluded that only a white person would wear that thing on his head, so there you go.

 Besides, in The Laughing Fish the Joker made a smart-ass remark about being Irish, and because the Joker is a trustworthy and upstanding gentleman, we should take that seriously. Also, only white dudes have ever lived in Ireland or claimed to be from there.

I wish I could tell you that people didn’t claim Cesar Romero doesn’t count as a Latino actor because he can pass as white. I wish I could tell you that—but this is no comic book world.

Let us assume that these flawless arguments have convinced you that the Joker of comic lore is in fact the whitest kid you know. But since the original question posed was about actors, you may be wondering why an actor’s ethnicity cannot vary from the character’s. Because the audience might confused, of course!

“What the hell? Really guys? That would just be weird as hell. He's been white for a long time and that would confuse a lot of folks. I remember going "WTF" when I saw a black Nick Fury, but then I read Ultimate Avengers and realized they must have been portraying that Fury. I cannot remember Joker being portrayed as anything other than a white person. I mean, he has Caucasian features.” 

Plus, casting a non-white actor as to play a white character just doesn’t work and is symptomatic of political correctness gone mad:

“In the Daredevil movie, the kingpin is African American, and at first i did not recognize the character. He did not seem the same as i the comics, and i believe this was a casting mistake.”

“In fact the idea of casting somebody against their culture could easily create some backlash against the movie. (Heimedal in Thor?)”

“I personally feel it would be either stunt casting to gain cheap media attention or trying to hard to be politically correct like the Thor movie.” 

Yeah, I remember the way my jaw dropped when I first saw Idris Elba as Heimdall in Thor. I gaped at the screen with only one thought in my head: Those are the damn fakest-looking contacts I’ve ever seen. This movie must have had a budget of millions and they couldn’t spring a pair that actually mimicked the texture of the iris?

It was generally considered wrong to make the characters in The Last Airbender white, so it must be equally wrong to make white characters into minorities. The controversy with Airbender was all about the race change in and of itself , and not that whites are overrepresented in Hollywood while everyone else is underrepresented. Why, I’m sure the exact same people who were mad about a white actor portraying Bane are furious about Laurence Fishburne playing Perry White in Man of Steel, because that’s apparently the exact same thing.

“Let me ask you this would it be fine to make a whit Falcon, or Blade of course not they're be a huge uproar, look at what happend with Last Airbender. If it's racist and wrong to cast a white person in a non white role then the reverse also holds true. Racism isn't a one way street, and it's not just white people who are racist. And yes I know there's a historically valid reason for it but even that amounts to litle beyond blaming a entire race for the actions of a stupider generation and the actions of a few.”

And why would we want more diversity in portrayals of preexisting characters when we should be creating new minority characters? It’s impossible to do both at once, you see.

“so instead of changing character make and support new ones. It's not a successful blow for diversity to go hey you know that one guy..he's black now. really I think that's a little insulting.” 

But at the end of the day, apparently white actors are just superior at some things?

“In general I'm against changing a character's race as I haven't seen it sucessfully done. Michael Clark Duncan's version of kingpin didn't work because you really needed that air of cold contempt and merciless ambition that only an older white male can pull off.”

 “Can [black actors] pull it off? Yes. Can they pull it off when being directly compared to someone like say Jeremy Irons or Alan Rickman? If you seen such a feat then please direct me to it.”

“Then they should have used make up to make [Michael Clarke Duncan] look white, and did a voice-over, because he came across as a big fat black guy, not a big fat white guy. I'm sorry, but that ruined the movie for me.” 

Yeah, holy shit. Those are so horribly racist I can’t even mock them.

But let’s not forget the other horror lurking on the horizon: What if the Joker were portrayed by a woman?

“To be fateful to the source, he should be male”

“I don't have a problem with switching the race, but I do agree with those that draw the line at changing the gender.”

“Never a woman though. Too much of a change.” 

Back off, women! You’d ruin the Batman/Joker dynamic with your feminine ways! Suck on that, Joker lady. 

Wait, who the hell is that freak? It appears that I just linked to myself in talking about gender roles in comic fandom for the sake of shameless self-promotion. Must have been a Freudian slip; I meant this Joker lady. 

And that’s the only time the Joker’s ever been portrayed as female.


Well, clearly those are isolated incidents from people who just don't get the character.  I mean, usually he's a bastion of masculinity.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

2012: A Year in Comic Review

While I started reading monthly comics on a regular basis in 2011, I began in September.  2012 has made up the majority of my time as a consistent customer so far, so here's a tribute to the comics of the past year and my personal favorite moments.

Funniest Moment:

In the first issue of Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham's New 52 Batman Inc., Batman and the current Robin, his son Damian al Ghul-Wayne, fight villains in a slaughterhouse, which leads to Robin becoming covered in animal blood.  He then announces:

Look at the bat logo on that cow's face and the shape of that blood puddle.  Perfection.

Most Heartwarming Moment:

Anyone who's read this blog before must have seen this one coming. From Gail Simone and Ardian Syaf's Batgirl issue 6, it's a two parter.  First, Barbara Gordon flashes back to Batman's visit to her hospital room on the night she was rendered paraplegic by the Joker's bullet:

Later on, after Batgirl rescues Bruce Wayne from mind control by the issue's villain, he has a message for her:

What can I say beyond "Awwwww"?

Most Shocking Moment:

In Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's Batman issue 14, Bruce returns home to find Alfred missing and a cassette tape from the Joker explaining where the butler has gone.  On the tape, we hear Alfred proclaim that he's not intimidated by the blindfold the Joker put on him.  The Joker replies that there isn't any blindfold...


Best Overall Moment for Comic Fans:

This one is not a book, but a film.  Two films, actually.  The world of comic fandom and of movie goers in general was lucky enough to have both The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises released in the same summer.  How awesome is that?

Which leads into...

Best Comic Character Portrayal Onscreen:

Like there's any contest.

Anne Hathaway.  And now that the world has seen her equally brilliant performance in Les Mis, let's hope Catwoman steals all this year's Oscars.

Favorite Single Issue:

I thought for sure while compiling this list that this honor would go to Batgirl 6, a comic I gush over at every opportunity.   And while Batgirl 6 is a must-read, fantastic, all around perfect issue, there is one comic that beat it by just a hair.

Batman 5 has a simple plot: Batman has been abducted by the Court of Owls, a group controlling Gotham from the shadows, an organization Bruce insisted did not exist.  Dumped in a labyrinth with no exit and nothing but drugged water to sustain him, the Court doesn't even bother taking Batman's mask, to show just how insignificant they find him.  Batman spends the issue wandering the maze, his resolve and grip on reality crumbling beneath him.

What makes Batman 5 such a stand out is partly the creative team's willingness to show Batman, a character most write as an untouchable god, as weakened, frightened, and defeated by his enemies.  It can be hard to feel fear for Batman, sometimes - we all know he's going to succeed - but here, they pull it off, and it makes his struggles all the more poignant and engaging.

Another huge reason the book succeeds is Greg Capullo's ingenious art throughout the issue.  As Batman's connection to reality weakens, the art becomes more and more abstract, eventually flipping upside down and sideways.  Readers are forced to flip the book over and over and turn pages backward to follow the story, making a frustrating, disorienting experience not unlike Batman's own.  The advertisement pages scattered throughout the book at their usual orientations ought to be a distraction, but instead they add to the surreal confusion of the experience.  It's rare to see sequential art meld so perfectly with its subject matter, and that success here makes this my favorite single issue of the year.

Favorite New Comic:

 While DC Comics released their New 52 lineup in September of 2011, the Second and Third Waves of the New 52 happened in 2012.  The Waves introduced new books replacing the titles selling poorly in the New 52, and the Third Wave gave us Christy Marx and Aaron Lopresti's Sword of Sorcery.

The book is a double feature, with its main storyline reviving Amethyst, the tale of teenager Amy Winston.  On her seventeenth birthday, Amy discovers she is not from Earth, but from another world where she's known as Princess Amaya of House Amethyst.  Together, she and her mother must return to their home world and fight Amaya's evil aunt for control of the kingdom.  The back up story consists of various fantasy-based miniseries, with the first being a futuristic version of Beowulf.

It sounds like a cheesy cartoon from the eighties.  And the similarities don't disappear when one starts reading the series.  But despite the cliched storyline that we've all seen before, Marx's writing makes it work.  The story is nothing spectacular, but the genuine emotion Marx puts into Amaya's relationship with her mother gives the book something extra that most eighties cartoons lacked.  When Amaya's mother speaks on the importance of the power of love, it doesn't feel like a moral speech shoved into a script and recited by talking heads.  It feels genuine, which can be said of the entire book, and which is what makes it work so well. 

Aaron Lopresti's beautiful art is also a big incentive.

Favorite New Comic Character:

Batgirl 10 introduced us to Ricky, a car thief turned friend of Batgirl's after she rescued him from the villain Knightfall.  Ricky lost his leg in the process.  Under Gail Simone's writing, a character who could have been a throwaway hostage turned into a device not just to show Barbara's compassion and difference from her enemies, but a well-developed and moving addition to the story.  Ricky feels real, and while he has no powers or special training and has recently been disabled, he's still brave and willing to help.  He's the sort of person we all wish we could be if we found ourselves in Gotham.

Plus, how can you not love a guy with scenes like this?

Favorite Comic Series of 2012:

I think anyone who's read this blog before knows I'm putting Batgirl in this slot, and I have a whole backlog of posts to say why, so I won't spend too much time on it here.  All you really need to know about the greatness of Batgirl is this: In December of 2012, its writer, Gail Simone, was dismissed from the book despite the title being a consistently high seller.  The fan outcry was so huge that DC reinstated her just twelve days after her dismissal.  If that's not a sign she was kicking ass at telling Batgirl's story, I don't know what is.

Favorite Overall Art in a Comic Series:

Whether or not you're enjoying the storyline of J.H. Williams III and Haden Blackman's Batwoman, you can't deny that the art is consistently breathtaking.  Williams's remarkably creative page layouts and attention to detail make this title a keeper for the visuals alone.

Favorite Comic Cover:

You all knew this was coming.  Behold the remarkable Adam Hughes cover for Batgirl 6:

And that's it for the comics of 2012.  Let's hope 2013 has even more greatness to offer.