It's been a great year for horror comics. We've seen a proliferation of new series from small publishers, horror publishing mainstays, and even the big guys. Now it's time to take a look at our favorite issues over the past year. We're not talking about the series as a whole here, just our favorite comic books of 2012. Whether the series itself was awesome, terrible, or non-horror, we're going to celebrate the difference a single issue can make!
Batman No. 13
"But Batman's not a horror series!" Yes, correct. But let's break down every fudged up thing that happens in issue 13. The Joker lurks in the shadows, recovering from having his face sliced off. Batman himself remarks that Joker's threats and attacks are more brutal and sinister than ever before. Joker systematically kills a precinct full of cops. Harley Quinn is terrified of him. And when we finally see the Joker it's revealed that he's made a mask out of his own sliced off face. Shit. So forget about Batman and what you expect from the series. This issue is about a (once-loveable?) serial killer who's been deformed, gets nasty, dark, and vile, and… I can't stress this enough… makes a mask out of his sliced off face! Scary, huh?
Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. No. 0
The Issue 0's that DC put out this year were hit and miss. Any issue 0 related to a superhero property was a miss. Any issue 0 related to a horror property was a hit. We got the good end of that deal, for sure. Frankenstein: Agent of S.H.A.D.E. No. 0 gave horror fans the best of both worlds. The first half of the issue was the classic Frankenstein's Monster tale we all know and love (with a comic book spin on it, of course). Then we cut ahead and see Frank in active duty as an agent of S.H.A.D.E. and it's all high action and adventure. But even if the story wasn't up to snuff, the artwork in this issue alone would have been enough to keep this issue on our radar. For a story that's been beat to death, one might say this comic is… ALIVE! (Sorry, had to.)
I, Zombie No. 28
Oh, I, Zombie, you're my favorite comic about eco-conscious, hipster monsters. Done with heart, big emotion, and a lot of… brains, this final issue is a lot of fun. It's touching, inventive, and brings together a slew of loose ends that unfurled over the series' short two year run. The emotional highs are allowed to soar just as high as the action scenes, as Gwen the gravedigging zombie detective makes a final sacrifice to save the world. With a Lovecraftian unspeakable horror bearing down on the world, Gwen pays the ultimate price and paves the way for a new world where humans and monsters can coexist. It's classic "final issue" material, but like everything I, Zombie did before, this issue is filled with nuance and grace.
Swamp Thing No. 0
Another 0 issue! And it's awesome. Though the rest of Swamp Thing's series lags, get confusing, and trips over its own feet sometimes, issue 0 sets up the story perfectly. We see who the Thing was before he became a monster set to protect the world from "the rot." And we see one of the most vile villains in fantasy/horror comics, Anton Arcane, do what he does best (which is, of course, to eat people and hide in their skin). Arcane runs wild in this issue as it all builds up to how he's going to kill the would-be Swamp Thing. The artwork is flashy and tricky, using the borders between panels to add to the feel of the book (the borders look like stitched up skin, and sometimes maggots crawl out of them). And, of final note, any comic where a hero gets his head bitten off by a monster is A-OK in my book!
The Walking Dead No. 100
If you didn't expect to see this issue on this list you must live in a barricaded zombie-proof safe-house (either that, or you stopped reading The Walking Dead when they left the prison). Here's an issue that will quiet even the staunchest supporters of the "nothing happens in The Walking Dead" complaint. SPOILERS AHEAD. For real, spoilers for the comic if you haven't read it yet, and spoilers, probably, for the TV show if they stay on the air long enough to get to this arc. Glenn's death was so slow, so painful, and so mournful… there are no words for it. Negan, one of the nastiest characters I have ever read, is so vile in this issue. Fans of the series will never forget the bluntness of the issue. I think we were expecting some big, exciting moment. Instead Robert Kirkman killed one of our favorite characters with a baseball bat. Sad, brutal, scary… it's what every good horror comic should aspire to.