What a year 2013 was for comics. As individuals, Multiversity’s writers agree that this was a great year, but when looking through the lists each of us came up with – note: we create our rankings by having every writer create individual lists and having each ranking worth a certain point total – we were thrilled by the diversity and strength of each of the lists.
By far the hardest section of our Year in Review to predict is Best Issue. With so many comics dropping yearly and so many different contributors to the site, it ends up being an absolute cluster of options. The following list is the result of that, and one that’s all over the place, but, like the rest of our lists, really shows what a fantastic year it actually was.
10. Thor: God of Thunder #11
Why It Ranks (David Henderson): Jason Aaron is the best writer Thor has ever had. There, I said it. It’s not exactly an unpopular opinion, but it’s one that informs why this issue is on this list. Even from issue one of “Thor: God Of Thunder”, Aaron infused the character and his story with such a sense of grandeur and an epic scope that has never been seen in the pages of a Thor comic. Then he and Ribic top themselves consistently with each issue, bringing “Oh, shit!” moments to every issue, until #11 where they change Thor comics forever.
Three Thors. A God Butcher. A Godbomb. Thor wielding two Mjolnirs. All the Gods who ever existed praying to Thor in one moment. This is the issue that changed Thor for the better in so many different ways. It’s also the issue that made me sob into my hands in the final pages because in the end, Thor still answers a little girl’s prayer.
9. Zero #3
Why It Ranks (David Harper): After three issues, I’d typically hope we’re at a point where I’m invested as a reader. I just want the book to make me care a bit, and certainly make me intrigued to be still all about the book. Zero #3 was certainly a book that exceeded third issue expectations, by a mile. It’s an incredible issue, and while much of its power comes from the fact that in the second issue, Ales Kot, Tradd Moore, Jordie Bellaire and the rest made us deeply care about the relationship of Edward Zero and Mina Thorpe, they still needed to bring the story home here. And what job that team – with Mateus Santolouco replacing Moore on art – did, as they delivered a classic misdirection, seemingly giving us a thrilling, engaging spy story and then remixing at the last second to deliver one of the biggest gut punch moments in comics in 2013.
The delivery of the final moment in that book is utterly devastating, if only because of the nature of Edward and Mina’s relationship, but also because of what it means in the scheme of their line of work. Spies don’t have friends. They’ve been conditioned to not care. Take your one friend away, and what does that do to a person? I’m excited to explore that going forward.
Plus, I have to say that Ginsberg Nova, the Casanova-esque villain introduced here, is one of the best and most intriguing creations of the year. I don’t know what the relationship between him and Zero is, but man, I’m in.
Zero is a genre-hopping showstopper of a comic, proving itself as one of the most complete packages in comics in just 3 issues. In my mind, this issue is the best we’ve seen yet, but some, maybe later on this list, may disagree.
8. Sweet Tooth #40
Why It Ranks (Matt Meylikhov): Gosh, was there anything more bittersweet than Sweet Tooth’s finale this year? A lot of books came and went, but Jeff Lemire’s first major creator-owned book closed its door in a truly touching fashion as we said goodbye to Gus and his unique little post-apocalyptic world.
Lemire’s book always existed with this sort of melancholy glaze over the whole outlook, as we dealt with this poor child with a distorted world view surviving in a world that didn’t want or need him even in its ashes. But as all of the threads came together at the end of Sweet Tooth, it was remarkable to see how far things had come from Gus’ initial outing when he left his home. Early interviews conducted with Lemire on the book had always seen him cagey about his endgame, but it’s actually rather astonishing to see what he chose to tie-off in the end and how he chose to do it. Sweet Tooth’s last issue was a sad affair, but it was also an opportunity for us to be happy at a funeral — a situation where you truly celebrated the life and times of a character as he said goodbye to all of us.Continued below
It was clearly influenced by some of the greatest Vertigo finales (Y: the Last Man in particular stands out as an obvious reference point), but with this over-sized final issue, Lemire sent Gus and his world off in a grand style, and truly placed Sweet Tooth in the heart of the Silver Age of Vertigo Comics. Saying goodbye to this series was hard, but like with most of his work, Lemire did it with his signature form of heart and compassion present in all his creator-owned endeavors.
7 (tie). Batman #24
Why It Ranks (Brandon Burpee): This right here ladies and gentleman was my vote for the best issue of the year. This was the issue that really brought it home to me that Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo were really doing Batman for a new generation. It really hit home with me after this issue that were weren’t seeing a retelling of another Batman origin story but instead were getting THEIR Batman origin. I know we’ve seen it before but this is the one that falls within continuity. This is the one that will define the character moving forward in the New 52. It easily could have been met with a large amount of bitching moaning, as the internet is want to do, but instead it has been embraced for the incredible workmanship that has gone into it.
This issue in particular brought to a head the story of Red Hood and began the story of the Joker in a way that paid homage to the past but also presented everything in a more modern and without the need to be beholden to what was previously established. The art and writing was terrific as usual and you could feel the love the creators involved have for the title and the characters. The flawless execution of this issue also speaks volumes of the talent level here as this issue doesn’t feel like an an origin that will be put aside first chance but rather the defining origin of the Joker in the New 52.
I love me some Joker and I truly loved Batman #24. This was the issue that left me the most excited this year without a shadow of a doubt.
7 (tie). The Private Eye #1
Why It Ranks (Brandon Burpee): What Brian K. Vaughn and Marcos Martin did with the first issue of this series was nothing short of revolutionary. They teased a new book and let the world salivate in anticipation of it’s arrival. Then the very next day, WHAM! that shit was here and available from the comfort of your own home DRM free online and at the competitive price of well…whatever the hell you wanted to pay for it. I mean tell me when something like this has happened before with creators of such stature. It was an incredibly ballsy move that could have backfired with a large amount of financial blowback on the creators. Instead it was embraced and revered for what it is. A modern digital era masterpiece.
Now, let’s talk about the actual issue shall we?! This issue was stunning to look at and was filled with sci-fi concepts that felt very relatable and based off of the here and now. It wasn’t a retread of every other sci-fi story this one was the kind that gets ideas stolen from it and repurposed in other stories. Paparazzi as private detectives and the press as police in a world where the cloud has burst and people’s most private secrets have been released to the world. The people taking on avatars and masks in a way that, while extreme, is a valid extension of the modern digital era where people connect using screen names almost more often than in person. It’s just a brilliant book from top to bottom.
Whenever you can make a comic an experience that exists not only within the pages but in the manner in which it connects with the audience you have a masterpiece. This is that. It is an issue that will be remembered fondly and appreciated even more so when looked upon through the lens of history and time.Continued below
It also finished way to low on the list for my liking on this list. Just saying.
5. Sex Criminals #1
Why It Ranks (David Harper): A good comic is a wonderful thing. It can be something that slowly builds up and then rocks your world, or something that blows your mind in a quick, blast of a read. Sometimes, like with this book, it could be something you didn’t expect, but then all of a sudden you’re holding on for dear life and having one of the best experiences of your life.
When we first meet Suzie in this issue, we don’t know what to expect, but what we’re given is one of the most natural and inviting introductory reads to any character or world we’ve been given in recent comics history. It makes you fall in love with her, like you guys got matched up on eHarmony and it turned out that your match wasn’t just algorithms getting things right, but true magic. It doesn’t even focus that much on the “criminals” aspect of the title, rather developing who Suzie is, that way when we get to that part we’re going to be all the more invested. It works oh so well, and when it’s all said and done, you can’t help but smoke a cigarette and think about what round two could be like.
Plus, Zdarsky does things like this:
The. Dutch. Microwave.
This fucking comic.
4. Hawkeye #7
Why It Ranks (David Henderson): This issue should have been impossible. Well, most comics should be impossible, but this one especially. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy which devastated most of the east coast of the United States and other areas, the “Hawkeye” team dropped what they were doing and went to work. Not only was this issue a heart-warming tale of survival and the human spirit in a way only Matt Fraction could tell, but the issue’s proceeds went directly to the Red Cross for relief effort in the wake of the storm.
This was a rare opportunity to see superheroes, often just paper and ink, do some real good and inspire people to do their part and help people affected by the storm. This was a special moment in comics and a big moment for this year.
3. Green Lantern #20
Why It Ranks (Brian Salvatore): It is rare that writers get to end a run this epic, this character-changing, this publisher defining, on their own terms. Surviving a universal reboot, a poor film adaptation, an expansion into multiple spin-offs, and two huge company wide events based around the book, nothing suggested that the Geoff Johns era of “Green Lantern” could have ended so perfectly. While the arc leading up to this was far from perfect, this oversized issue gave Johns the chance to use every trick in his utility belt, as well as reveal (potential) futures for each of the Earth-based Green Lanterns. A masterful ending to the run that brought me back into comics.
2. Hawkeye #11
Why It Ranks (Matthew Meylikhov): If I’d asked you what you thought one of the best issues of 2013 would be in 2012, chances are you wouldn’t say that it would be a comic from a major publisher from the point of view of a dog. But, hey, look at that: here we are, and “Hawkeye” #11 is one of the best books on the market still!
With a Chris Ware-esque attention to detail, Aja, Fraction, Hollingsworth and Eliopoulos all shined brightly on this issue, offering up perhaps one of the most cohesive collaborations in a Big Two comic to date. It’s actually rather astonishing that they were able to get away with it at all, all things considered, because the issue is such a wild concept in the grand scheme of things… and yet, with every member of the team bringing a unique approach to the issue — Fraction’s light-hearted writing (“writing”, in this issue, I guess), Aja’s on point character work in an animal, Hollingsworth’s truly exceptional and perfectly aimed colors and Eliopoulos’ wonderful execution of symbols as words — we’re given something that is truly the best of what Marvel comics has to offer.Continued below
I mean, people like to rag on Big Two comics as a place where nothing inventive or exciting happens in comics, but those people haven’t read Hawkeye.
1. Zero #2
Why It Ranks (James Johnston): Zero is one of, if not the best, series to debut in 2013. That’s not really a debate at this point. It was for a hot second, in the interlude between the first issue and the second where the grand idea behind “Zero” really demonstrated its potential. The first issue was a great gritty book that was undoubtedly an amazing depiction of 21st century war, but it’s somewhat easy to compare it to something like Metal Gear Solid: another story that says it’ll subvert war but ends up indulging in its tropes. “Zero” #2 however dispels any doubts about the series, through a look at the childhood of Edward Zero that humanizes the agent by showing the harsh environment he was raised in, as well as his strange relationships with superior officer Zizek and childhood sweetheart Mina Thorpe, culminating in the first assassination mission young Zero was ever a part of.
And while that would have been a fine issue on its own, Tradd Moore’s art beautifully depicts the broken innocence of the Agency’s children in addition to the violence they have to witness or incur. Without spoiling too much, Moore draws what is undoubtedly the headshot of 2013. The stark contrast between Moore’s more exaggerated form clasingh with Michael Walsh’s gritty lines from issue one to proves that the technical premise behind “Zero,” that each issue will be drawn by a different artist, will work wonders to create diverse stories that will be masterfully colored by Jordie Bellaire to unify each story.
Really, “Zero” #2 isn’t just a fantastic story about childhood, espionage, and the IRA. It’s the moment when “Zero” went from an interesting idea with a very compelling first issue to the series that’s going to dominate the industry’s attention for the foreseeable future.