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Contains spoilers for Amazing Spider-Man, Justice League and Demon Knights

Trigger warnings for sexism and homophobia

Best Overall Story From a Licensed Property - Avatar: the Promise

The story based in between the Last Airbender and Legend of Korra shows, the Promise was intended to tie-up any loose threads from the former and lay the foundations for the latter. What happened instead was an actually great exercise in world building, with the writer Gene Yang building upon already established things from Airbender and following what appears to be the natural progression of events. I particularly liked how, for example, that the wide-eyed idealistic approach used to solve problems within Airbender didn't quite work here due to the situation being a lot more complicated. Sending all Fire Nation citizens back to their homecountry from land their country occupied over the course of a 100 year war isn't the most simple thing, considering a lot of intermarrying and the like has happened since then, for example.

That said, the book isn't perfect. There are parts in the second volume that tend to drag, despite them kind of being essential to both the third act and the Legend of Korra's backstory (Aang and Katara's relationship, and the antics of Toph's metalbending school for two examples). But on the flipside we see the characters becoming more mature, and even some previously flat characters getting a bit more depth, the previous Big Bad Ozai for example. In all a great miniseries, though it's probably best read in one go, as opposed to three individual installments.

Best Original Comic - Nelson

Published late last year, but I wasn't able to get a copy until 2012 so I say it still counts... sort of. Anyways, Nelson is a biographical comic about the titular Nelson Baker, a young woman born in London at the end of 1960s, as the story follows her through her life up to 2011. A collaborative work between 54 artists from around the UK comics scene, from big names like D'Israeli to webcomic artists such as Scary Go Round's John Allison, Nelson is a wonderful book in of itself. Great art, an interesting character piece, and an excellent story all around. Great fun. Plus all the profits from the book go to a homeless charity, so you're actually helping out people in need while you're reading it as well.

Best New Couple - Ystin and Exoristos

She's an Amazon exiled from Themyscira. He/she is a ten thousand year old, possibly bigender Celtic knight on a never ending search for the Holy Grail. Something managed to blossom between the two while their band of heroes was trapped in Hell, though we have to see whether it actually leads anywhere further.

Runner-Up - Superman and Wonder Woman, Justice League

Rumours that this one would happen were floating around even before the relaunch last year was even fully confirmed to be a reboot. And yet despite it coming about for kind of daft reasons (they're both strong and kind of detached from regular folk) and at the expense of Lois and Clark's marriage... what we've seen so far is actually surprisingly sweet. It doesn't really fit in with Superman or Wonder Woman's own books that much, but as an insular thing within Justice League it's interesting to watch unfold as Clark takes Diana to a Smallville diner to help her mingle with normal people or teach her the glasses trick to her amusement. It's really just fluff at this point, but it is interesting to see people in the DCnU just hanging out and enjoying each other's company for once.

Best Villain (comic) - the Joker

2012 saw the return of the Joker to the Bat Books after a year's absence, and in turn gives Batman writer Scott Snyder a chance to demonstrate his horror writing abilities that he's demonstrated in his other books, such as American Vampire and Severed. While his new appearance, "murder superpowers" and seemingly complete knowledge of everyone he comes across hasn't exactly been embraced by some fans (a significant amount of them in the "Why doesn't Batman just kill the Joker?" camp), personally I think that they work within the context of the story (like the different versions of Batman) and they're not exactly things he hasn't demonstrated before.

The use of fear and the sense that he'll get you despite whatever precautions you take was part of the character even when he was introduced back in the 1940s, for example. Death of the Family sees a return to the Joker as a diabolical mastermind of the Gotham Cast, and creates a significant amount of interest in what he might do next. Though he seems to be best written by Snyder, as some of his other appearances, in Catwoman and Suicide Squad particularly, don't really fit the tone of the main story, and even undermine it somewhat in Catwoman's case.

Runner-Up - Cyclops, Avengers vs. X-Men onwards

This one may be a case of YMMV, but for me Scott Summers has somehow evolved into being the second most prominent supervillain of the year. Some people have interpreted him as a good man who has to make harsh choices in order to best serve his people... but there's two sides to every revolutionary. First there was his attempt to bring the cosmic entity Phoenix to Earth, despite it EATING numerous planets on the way here, due to him believing that it will possess the "Mutant Messiah" Hope and restart the numbers of mutants in the Marvel Universe, whether Hope wants it or not. Things begin to go downhill rapidly after the Avengers invade the mutants' island home to take Hope away to a safe location where the Phoenix won't end possibly killing everyone, leading to a series of events where Scott and his cabal of ruling mutants get a power-boost and try to take over the world, doing things like kill Charles Xavier and hunting the Avengers for being "terrorists".

Some people have said that him and his Phoenix-boosted friends managing to generally improve the quality of life of people proves the ends justify the means, and that their many, many acts of death and destruction are down to the Phoenix making them mentally unstable... but that seems kind of shallow to me. Scott refusing to acknowledge that he did something wrong after he was depowered, JUST because he wasn't "in control" and mutant population numbers were now on the rise (not all of the new mutants are happy with this) is just the nail in the coffin to me. There's being a well intentioned extremist, and then there's effectively being a fascist, which is ironic considering he descended to using Godwin's Law in a press release regarding the Avenger's attempt to extract Hope. The potential was there to make him akin to Magneto at his best, but the end result appears to be someone willing to do horrible things to get what he wants, even if the people he's doing it for don't want it, and then complains when people try to call him out about it.

Most Stupid Supervillain Concept - One-Face, Batman: the Dark Knight

Complete with accidental Homophobia! Yeah, Bane decided to dope the inmates of Arkham Asylum with venom for some reason, leading to a roided up Harvey Dent making this bizarre declaration.

Most Horrible Scene Award - Amazing Spider-Man 699

Peter Parker reliving Dr Ock's memory of having sex with Aunt May, complete with feeling the physical sensation of sleeping with his elderly aunt! Somehow I don't see him retaining this memory if regular Peter Parker resurfaces in the future.

Most Amusingly Rage-Inducing Marvel Comic - Amazing Spider-Man 700

I'm not a huge fan of mainstream Spider-Man, the amount of continuity behind him kind of put me off, as well as the fact that he seems to almost constantly miserable. Seriously, even Batman seems to have more occasion to crack a smile than Peter Parker without it seeming forced. As such, the sheer amount of RAGE on display over the final book in the long running Spider-man series was really kind of funny to me, as a primarily DC fan. I don't think that it's going to stick, but this is a change to the character that looks like it's going to upset people for some time to come for multiple reasons. From the pedantic (Dr Ock is the new Spider-Man, boo!) to the genuinely kind of skeevy (MJ finally gets back together with Peter... only it's actually an older man inhabiting Parker's body and controlling it... Ick). People sending the writer Dan Slott death threats are over reacting more than just a tad, and should get a bit of perspective really.

Runner-Up: Avengers Arena

With DC's odd fetish for killing off teenage superheroes having mostly run its course with the incredibly confusing Teen Titans/Legion of Superheroes storyline involving the THIRD supervillain in DC called Harvest, Marvel decided to take a stab at the "Killing superpowered young folk" thing with Avengers Arena. Overtly inspired by the current buzz surrounding Hunger Games, and with cover art inspired by the earlier entry into the subgenre of teenage deathmatches Battle Royale, this series does deserve some props for getting all of the silliness of plot and the like over with, and focusing instead in killing off characters. Just 'cause. Few series have had this much hatred directed at them from just the announcement, let alone the issues themselves. Yeesh.

Worst Case of Unintentional Misogyny In A Comicbook - Blue Beetle

Ah, Blue Beetle. Once a series about a kid learning how to be a superhero while still having the support of his family and friends while he did so... not so much with the reboot. Now the scarab that grants him his powers physically stops him from sharing his secret identity with his friends and relatives, amongst other things that generally make both Jaime and the readers miserable. One example of this came where, after the Scarab make Jaime kill his friend Paco against his will, the scarab then regenerated Paco as a more overly destructive version of himself. When Black Beetle/Paco goes on a rampage, Jaime is forced to pick one of his female friends or relatives to kill to show that he isn't in control of his body. He ends up picking his friend Brenda, and literally slaps her in the face "for her own good". Might not have been intended that way, but yeah, playing domestic abuse excuses straight isn't cool DC.

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