Biggest Surprise Read:
I haven't cared one way or the other about Barbara Gordon since the relaunch began. I haven't liked most of her portrayals but Batgirl #25 was a good change of pace. It came as a surprise that she was written in a way that didn't annoy the hell out of me. Most of the time I see Batgirl/Barbara she's being bitchy to allies, we're constantly told how brilliant she is, told/shown how much she suffered and/or she comes off very flat. While I still think Batgirl #25 could have been about someone else it still reminded me of things I liked about the character. The chief thing being her stubbornness. It was a much needed and refreshing take on Barbara Gordon after other lackluster appearances.
This one wasn't a simple choice because there were a few. I was upset that Sword of Sorcery was cancelled but in terms of the actual content of the books? I was let down by the overblown hype in Batman with the Death of the Family storyline that failed to live up to. The let down with Booster Golds' guest appearance in All Star Western. But more than anything else I was disappointed by many issues of James Tynion the Fourth's Red Hood and the Outlaws. That series ranked as my favorite when Lobdell was writing. After all the development Jason Todd's character had it was ignored to make him this gulliable puppet with or without his memories intact. This take was such a let down. The storyline seemed to go on forever and it was pretty dull. Tynion just doesn't get what made the book and characters great. How could he when it doesn't even read like he did more than glance at Lobdell's run and basically rewrote a good chunk of the mythos.
The Funniest Thing I Read:
The one that sticks out the most is from the one shot Time Warp #1, the Rip Hunter story. It's a combo of things that makes this hilarious to me. A lot of it stems from the second Booster Gold series and how everyone said he was being too mean to Booster. Rip's FAR worse to himself as he proceeds to curse and insult his younger self. The story is pretty simple, it doesn't really make much sense if you think about it but just seeing him treat himself like shit made me laugh. Especially when one comment he makes in regards to his appearance was the same thing I was thinking.
Most Annoying Disregard for Canon:
Far too many starting with Grant Morrison's Batman Inc., then Tomasi's having Bruce pointlessly attempting to bring Damian back without a body, and lastly Tynion's take of RHATO. I'll pick Tynion because this storyline went on for too long and seemed to go out of it's way to contradict the previous run. More often than not this made quite a bit nonsensical.
Best Supporting Character:
I'm going to give this one to Alfred Pennyworth. What really made him stand out this year was a few guest appearances, the thought that harm would come to him and one arc that came from a storyline I didn't care for. The grieving arc of Batman and Robin to be exact. While I wish he did more the last scene with Alfreds' guilt over Damians' death was well handled. It also did the near impossible and got Bruce to stop being so caught up in his own pain to notice someone else suffering. Alfred also turned up in Justice League and Red Hood and the Outlaws. In these guest appearances he interacted with Jason Todd, which is something that I've been waiting for ever since Jason returned from the dead. As Jason says everyone should have a Alfred, and these appearances reminds us why he's so beloved.
Best Character Development:
I would have said Jason Todd again for his (brief) reunion with Bruce Wayne but that didn't last and his characterization took a nose dive soon after. Instead I have to say Amaya from Sword of Sorcery. She was always great but at the end of the series she really came into her own. At the start Amaya (Amy then) didn't fit in and sort of stumbled into things. By her last issue she's calling the shots for the final battle, not as naïve (thanks to Constantine's betrayal) and determined to set things right.
Best Female Character:
Much as I love Amaya I'm giving this one to Ellie from The Last of Us: American Dreams. This was the prequel to the video game Last of Us and shows her when she was 13. It fills in some details that were mentioned in the game and shows more of her story. Ellie becomes a badass but she always had those traits. Just the moments with Ellie trying to make it through such a horrific world were fantastic and had such depth. Her bravery, rebellious side, sense of humor, loneness, there was just so much of her personality that was showcased. I normally don't care for horror related material but Ellie is a character that makes the story compelling and damn fun to read.
Best Male Character:
Even though his development was erased in a very literal sense and pretty much ignored I have to go with Jason Todd when he was written by Scott Lobdell. Now Lobdell may have his faults but he really did write the best Jason Todd. Yes better than even Winick because he actually got Jason past his one note anger at Bruce. In issues #17 and #18 in particular Lobdell shows how Jason relates to others and while he's better off he's still suffering from his past. Caught at a crossroads where his actions could harm those around him unless he lets go of the past. The scene where Bruce and him mend their relationship hardly has any words and it doesn't need them. That's how well crafted these issues are. Jason went from a guy in issue one that tells Roy the bats are worse than the bad guys to someone that's willing to bury the hatchet with Bruce.
I almost want to give this to someone else but Bruce Wayne wins this spot easily. His portrayal under Tomasi in the grieving arc of Batman and Robin sunk the character down to a new low. This is the worst I EVER read Batman acting. Much like how I came to dislike Damian in Tomasis' care I loathed Bruce and couldn't feel any sympathy for him. First he does nothing to punish Damian for all the things he did against his own wishes and has no idea where he is most of the time or what he does. Then there's the treatment of his other sons.
He acted like a jackass to Tim and what he did to Jason is the worst thing he's ever done. For him to do that to another son he lost, the one he mourned for years, I still can't forgive him for that. I certainly can't feel bad for Bruce or feel much of anything for him afterwards because of his behavior. What makes it worse is that he'll never atone for it. The whole thing will be swept under the rug like so many of his cruel behavior plotlines are. No one will ever call him on it or if they do it'll never come to much. Bruce will still act like a raging asshole to those that support him. How can I root for someone that constantly abuses those close to him emotionally and at times physically to make himself feel better? It's a vicious cycle made worse by the fact these are his kids.