The following are my ten favorite comic book series of the year. Each one was charming in its own way, managing to keep me entertained long enough to read the next issue, and the next… until we came to this point; the point where I hold each book near and dear to my heart — books that have become a part of my life and something I look forward to every month. Without further ado:
The Other Dead
TOD has been a crazy ride, and I would like to give it credit for that. However, still in its infancy and not quite reaching the level of quality these other books have shown, I cannot include it in my top ten.
Resident Alien: The Suicide Blonde
A gripping tale and for sure my favorite mystery comic of the year, Resident Alien: The Suicide Blonde was one of my first Dark Horse books ever. Unfortunately, Resident Alien only lasted a brief three issues and didn’t give itself enough time to really expand on certain elements.
Although DJ Kirkbride doesn’t much like the notion I have taken to comparing this series to Watchmen. That’s because it is a modern equivalent to that revolutionary comic in the way that DJ Kirkbride and Adam P. Knave weave their intricate story through a whole bunch of different eras. I was really blown away by the first couple of issues.
Although still just warming up, Manifest Destiny has been one hectic, intense piece of historical fiction. Two issues in this comic is giving me the shivers, what will it do in a year?
Damian Wayne died in Batman Inc. ‘Nuff said.
Wolverine and the X-Men
Jason Aaron’s zany X-Men series was terrific in it’s last year. A great mix of humor, quippy writing and a whole lot of bamfs. A terrific and incredibly enjoyable series.
10. Thanos Rising
I feel like I am very alone with this choice. I haven’t seen it appear on any best of lists yet, and I didn’t really hear any hype about it when it first came out. Anyways, I just wanted to give Jason Aaron’s Marvel mini a little recognition.
When this mini-series first came out I didn’t know that much about Thanos. It was a nice break from all of the superhero stuff Marvel is putting out as this book is raw emotion. From the very first page you have to feel sympathy for the Mad Titan, an odd notion indeed, but a very effective storytelling method. While we see Thanos make his way from a different and unaccepted young child to a ferocious conqueror of worlds we get to really dig deep into what made him go through this transformation.
While the ending was very unexpected, it wasn’t exactly inspiring. This comic is my tenth favorite series of 2013 for it’s gritty writing and eerie artwork, not for its great message.
Notable Reviews: Thanos Rising #1 | Thanos Rising #3
9. Uncanny X-Men
There isn’t much to say about this comic except that it is a roller coaster ride of fun. It’s a little bit of a biased choice for me because I am such a big fan of the X-Men, but this comic deserves at least my #9 spot. It has been well written, full of fun character moments and all around just a good time.
Aside from All-New, this is the best X-Men book out there if you are looking for a really different X-Men experience. The tough, battle hardened, X-Men veterans’ beaten spirits after the events of AvX juxtapose nicely with the joyful, exuberance of the wonderful cast of new X-Men. The Uncanny X-Men are a joyful group comprised of very different mutants.
Through and through I enjoy this comic for its presence in the X-Verse. It tells a very different side of the overall story than the one taking place at the JGS and provides a slightly less lighthearted look at things.
Illustrations have always been one of Uncanny’s strong suits. From Chris Bachalo’s fun stippling to Frazer Irving’s epic art, this book has been a lot of fun to look at.
Uncanny X-Men has been a joy to read but really hasn’t done anything groundbreaking yet with the team. For now, this book will stay in a (very respectable) ninth place.
Notable Reviews: Uncanny X-Men #10 | Uncanny X-Men #14 |Uncanny X-Men #15
8. BPRD 1948
Although the bulk of this miniseries came out in 2012, I still think it fair to include it in my list, since it was just such a kick-ass story. I only read this series in trade form but still loved every page of it.
I am a sucker for stories that make us question history or include fantastical elements to stories we know are historical. BPRD 1948 did both. A tale of monsters and crazy fantasy but also a very accurate account of what the Manhattan Projects were like. It’s a fun story and one that should definitely be taken seriously.
What made this trade so great, was to see these characters, some entirely new, grow and develop with each playing an important part in the story and ultimately the conclusion. Mignola is the master at perfectly crafting each character’s personality so they stay with you, even after the final page.
This is a beautifully rendered, well told narrative that expands the Mignola-verse and makes any long-time Hellboy fans beam in delight. This is only #8 on my list because of its fierce competition, but, I would like to give it credit for how great a read it was.
Notable Reviews : BPRD 1948
7. Daredevil: Dark Nights
This series was totally overlooked, and what a colossal shame that is. Lee Weeks is adept at the genre — crafting a gritty, suspenseful tale that made me feel chills in the heat of the summer. This is truly a story for the ages and one of the best DD tales ever.
The story of a true hero; Daredevil fights street level thugs and a violent blizzard to deliver a heart transplant to a girl in need. There are no dressed-up psychopaths, no corrupt leaders, just a natural occurrence, an especially devastating one. What makes these three issues so memorable is the intensity of them, and how much suspense can come out of a simple plot.
The storytelling is top notch, every aspect of it. From the beautifully rendered scenery and snow to the personal and realistic writing, Lee Weeks makes you Daredevil, if only for a short while. I can say with a good deal of certainty, besides Mark Waid’s current run on Daredevil, The Man Without Fear’s radar sense has never been better displayed in a comic book.
The story is in no way attached to any other stories and has no effects in the Marvel U, it’s just a nice little story that should be enjoyed by itself. If anything, it inspires you to read more DD material because it’s such a fantastic representation of what the character is all about. It’s the kind of story that you’ll remember fondly, one whose simple magic will be enough to make it a very recommendable book.
I haven’t really loved the series since Lee Weeks left it. I skipped the second arc all together and have only sort of enjoyed the final story. This series landed itself at a solid seventh place because Lee Weeks made the first three issues just so goddamn beautiful. Daredevil: Dark Nights isn’t higher up on this list because it didn’t hold my interest for much longer than those first three.
Notable Reviews: Daredevil: Dark Nights #3
This one might be confusing to some because the Adventures in Poor Taste reviews of the first two issues of Zero (Zero #1 and Zero #2) are pretty negative. Well, my friends, that can be quite easily explained. My co-writer Jordan was originally reviewing this series before I snatched it from him and we have different viewpoints on the series. This may be my best decision of 2013. Zero is seriously awesome, so awesome I gave both issues #3 and 4 a perfect ten out of ten.
Zero is a brutal, intricate series made up of one-shots. Each issue tells a standalone story but works to build up the universe that Zero lives in. Each issue is devastating in the end, but all of these tragedies work to make Zero a tougher and more hardened spy.
Ales Kot has done a great job characterizing Zero and delivering powerful short stories with great messages and interesting conclusions. The art has been a highlight of the series, each issue sporting a new, incredibly talented artist, perfectly matched for the tale being told. Everything looks and reads beautifully.
Although it’s only been going on for roughly a third of 2013 Zero has made enough of an impression to be my sixth favorite comic of the year.
Scott Snyder is the bomb.com, and excluding Batman from any end of the year list is almost criminal. He understands what Batman fans want, and delivers just that. In his third year on the book Snyder ended the Joker masterpiece, Death of the Family, and comes close to the end of his retelling of the Batman origin, Death of the Family.
As I said in my Year in Review: Comic Book Crossovers of 2013 article, Death of the Family ended incredibly, with an equal parts creepy and deep finale. DotF is a storyline I will never forget, and never want to. I was less happy with the Requiem issue, but I mean, DC does have its annoying policies. The Clayface mini-arc was actually pretty good, despite the blandness of the character. Certainly nothing as groundbreaking as DotF or Court of the Owls, but still, good. And then came Zero Year…
I have very mixed views on Zero Year. At times I love it, and at times I find it utterly forgettable, it just seems to be sort of… inconsistent. It started off with a great first issue: Batman #21 was one of the best of Snyder’s run and made the beginning of Zero Year really exciting. From then on, things just sort of went downhill; strange pacing and confusing jumps around the timeline in the following issues of Zero Year were disappointing. It was not until Batman #25 that I really was engaged again.
From issue #25 and onward Zero Year steadily got better and much more intriguing with a more cohesive story and a more gripping narrative. I’ve been very happy with the entirety of the “Dark City” portion of Zero Year and hope for it’s continuing quality.
Other than that, everything else has been said. People love Batman right now, and for very good reason. It’s one of the best written books out there and is very easy for people to relate to. Bruce Wayne is a great character as well as Batman because of the terrific writing. The art and coloring have both gone up in quality since the end of DotF and the book looks good. There really is no debate that this book deserves a top space on my list.
Notable Reviews: Batman #17 | Batman #24 | Batman #25
Before this year up until about a third of 2013, I read very little from the realm of independent comics. That’s a real shame, because there are some truly delightful indie comics out there. Buzzkill is one of them. A concept that everyone loved and a story executed perfectly, Buzzkill is what happens when a good idea comes to fruition.
Newcomer Donny Cates (who was super fun to interview) makes a hell of a debut with a fresh and ambitious miniseries. An interesting concept is built on top of an extremely human and emotional foundation. The protagonist of the comic, Francis is very easy to sympathize with while being the core of a totally new universe. He is extremely well written and his progress as a character is moving. In only four issues Donny Cates managed to show us everything important to see about this character and not waste any time with meaningless exposition or trivial exploration of the universe.
What really impressed me about this comic was its incredible sense of emotion and how amazing the ending was. There were plenty of values and a ton of insight, from the well chosen epigraphs to the crushing defeats you felt it all emotionally in Buzzkill. Because of the very serious topic (alcohol and drug addiction) Donny Cates makes this book very much about how much such a dangerous condition can affect lives, just on a larger scale.
Even with a very serious tone and message, this mini was a very fun read with plenty of clever dialogue. Dr. Blaqk is a lovely addition to the small cast and provides (much needed) comic relief. The rest of the cast isn’t quite as interesting and isn’t really explored all that much but serve their own purposes in expanding the universe.
Geoff Shaw holds nothing back in his artwork with a dynamic, sharp style that showed scope nicely and really gave all of the superheros in the mini a distinct look. His stippling in the opening pages of issue four was masterful and provides a nice change of aesthetic.
Buzzkill is fourth on my list because it was an absolutely gripping concept and was written and drawn so well it might have been #1, had it gone on a little longer. I loved every moment of this series, I just wish there were more moments to love. Four issues just isn’t enough for this great an idea, if it had been expanded 2, 3 more issues, then it would definitely be my comic of the year.
Notable Reviews: Buzzkill #2 | Buzzkill #3 | Buzzkill #4
3. All-New X-Men
The most consistently entertaining X-Men comic has been knocking it out since it’s debut issue a couple months before 2013 began. With a fantastic blend of humor and incredibly human moments this series has become a staple of every Marvelite’s diet leading the story of the X-Universe and making the first phase of Bendis’ (hopefully lengthy) X-Men run a whole lot of fun.
All-New X-Men is the story of two generations clashing; revelations are made, relationships are tested, and you, the reader, get to watch it all unfold. Some of the most interesting dynamics in comics take place in this title as X-Men from all different times and teams interact, realizing things about themselves and mutantkind that only these events could teach them.
It is minorly disappointing that all of the hard work put into making All-New so great was only to ensure that the Battle of the Atom crossover sold well but all in all I had a great time watching the Original 5 manuever in the present.
All-New X-Men has been a blast from the start but hasn’t had quite as many breathtaking moments as Thor, thus landing it at (a still terrific) #3 spot.
Notable Reviews: All New X-Men #15 | All New X-Men #17 | All New X-Men #18
2. Thor: God of Thunder
Thor may be the God of Thunder, but Jason Aaron is the god of Thor. Jason Aaron spun the hands down, greatest, most powerful Thor story since Simonson throughout the course of the God Butcher story arc. On numerous websites and in more than a couple of real life conversations I found multiple people expressing how in this series Thor was gaining new life; an oftentimes boring and tedious character becoming epic. I, myself, also subscribe to the belief that Thor really wasn’t all that badass until Thor: God of Thunder.
The feeling of newness can be attributed mostly to the concept of telling a Thor story in three different ages. We switch off scenes from present day Thor (the least interesting of the three) to scenes depicting the lives of both old King Thor in the far off future and an arrogant, immature Thor from the past. By telling the story this way there is a lot more character development and an overall feeling of completeness to the narrative.
And let the titular speak for itself; the God Butcher is an incredible character and an entertaining villain. From his breathtaking origin to his sinister plot, the God Butcher steals the show as the most insane, brutal villain of the year. There is a clear endgame in mind for this character and his story arc, there was no guessing where the story would go but it all felt very natural as it came.
This is not only a story of gods, but a story of mortals. A story of two mortals who found their elements in this tale and made an incredible 11 issues. Yes, these mortals I speak of are none other than master scribe Jason Aaron and Esad Ribic, both of whose styles are perfectly used in the making of The God Butcher. Jason Aaron’s tough-as-nails when it needs to be, funny when you want it to be, generally sarcastic dialogue isn’t wasted on these characters, especially when the tensions are high and the plot calls for a good dose of epic. Esad Ribic makes everything look great with his oily, pastel-like style. The blend of realism and cosmic beauty leads Thor: God of Thunder to be gripping in its visuals as well as its writing.
I loved the God Butcher arc and will continue to rejoice in its wonderful content, but I can’t say the same for The Accursed. Four issues in this arc has yet to impress me. It feels like Jason Aaron isn’t being as ambitious and thus not striking the adventure story gold he did in his first 10 months on the series. The dialogue is stiff, the action bland, and the story without a clear thesis. However, I will hold out until the next arc to see if All-New Marvel Now ushers in a better Thor arc.
Thor is my second choice for the groundbreaking and marvelous first arc, but fails to take the gold because of its disappointing follow-up arc.
Notable Reviews: Thor: God of Thunder #7 | Thor: God of Thunder #9 | Thor: God of Thunder #11
In Saga’s second year we got the pleasure of seeing what will be remembered as a masterpiece of the genre; a whole year of beautiful art and some really touching and insightful writing. Brian K. Vaughn balances the bizarre creativity with a strangely emotional and human side. In the second act of Saga, we see Marko and Alana learn a lot about themselves through Marko’s parents, the arc ended in one of the most heartfelt death this reviewers ever read in a funny book.
The third arc of this series was really playful and probably the most lighthearted of the three arcs. All of our heroes are stuck on Quietus with the two parents’ favorite author, D. Oswald Heist. During their stay on Quietus they continue to learn about parenting and what it means to be a family. Of course there is a good bit of the dirty, subtle humor Saga is known for as well as truthful and meaningful scenes.
The Will, Gwendolyn and Sophia keep their side of the story moving along with plenty of awkwardness and several troubles. Prince Robot IV also proves to be a very interesting and complex antagonist who provides a little bit of a darker, less hopeful thread in the otherwise pretty cheerful weave of stories.
Marko and Alana are joyful characters and their mishaps and adventures make for entertaining issues and set the stage for some great character development and meaningful story telling. Brian K. Vaughn has taken this story to a completely unexpected and wonderful place by making it so exceptionally human. Not only is it a sci-fi delight with wonderful action and a great universe to build up, it’s a very easy to grasp story with some underlying themes and nuances that make the tale deep and thoughtful.
It’s a treat to be able to read Saga every month and I really hope the upcoming hiatus doesn’t last too long. It’s very easily my favorite comic of the year for its clever and emotional writing and incredible art.
Be sure to check out fellow Adventures in Poor Taste writer JR’s Top 10 Comics of 2013 for a different perspective on the past year’s best offerings from the comic book industry.
Agree/disagree? Did we leave anything out? Do you want to tell us how infallible our writing is and how awesome we are at parties? Sound off in the comments.