Panel Patter Returns! James' Favorite Comics of 2023

Don't call it a comeback! Or do, I don't know. I've kind of retired from comics review, but I couldn't let the end of a year go by without putting together a post of my favorites. My second favorite thing about comics, after reading them, is sharing what I love with others.

So here are my favorite comics of 2023. As always, these aren't the BEST comics, just my personal favorites that meant something to me during this year. I hope you find something you enjoy!

20th Century Men by Deniz Camp, Stipan Morian, and Aditya Bidikar, published by Image Comics
This miniseries is a fantastic realpolitik take on the idea of superheroes. What if America had a super-soldier? And he became President? And what if the Soviet counterpart was deeply enmeshed in the war in Afghanistan in the 1980's? This fantastic comic takes the Watchmen-esque approach that rather than be out there doing general vigilante activity, superheroes would be a pure extension of the state and really of the military-industrial complex. The art from Stipan Morian is just fantastic - emotive and dynamic and at points quite brutal. This is a clever, thoughtful, emotional series that will reward repeat readings.

Asadora Vol. 7 by Naoki Urasawa, published by Viz Media
Asadora is back with a new volume this year, which is great news for fans of this thrilling, action-packed story about a remarkable girl (now young woman) names Asa Asadora, who had a fateful encounter with a Kaiju during WWII and has made it her life's mission to fight them and to protect the people of Japan. This volume was all killer, no filler. Currently Asa is out dealing with a Kaiju in order to keep Tokyo safe and keep the Kaiju away from the 1964 Olympics. There's action and drama for Asa and her friends. This series is a great, fun read and as always the art and storytelling from Urasawa is top-notch.

Batman Superman World's Finest by Mark Waid, Dan Mora, and Tamra Bonvillain, published by DC Comics
This book is honestly the platonic idea of a superhero book. It's fun, action-packed, full of humor and heart, the stories are engaging and understandable, and the art and colors are absolutely gorgeous, with dynamic lines, great emotion and humor and action, and colors that pop off the page. Mark Waid (doing terrific work since his return to DC) and Dan Mora (who has a style that's quite modern and clean but also calls to mind classic Silver-age art) and Tamra Bonvillain (who always does great work, particularly with Mora) are putting together something special in this book. And this year the book has been even more exciting because it's tied back into the events of Kingdom Come! Which, you don't have to have read but you definitely should. Anyway, this book is absolute loads of fun, and highly recommended particularly if you haven't picked up a superhero comic in a while. But it's also full of stuff that rewards long-time superhero readers. It's just great.

Birds of Prey by Kelly Thompson, Leonardo Romero and Jordie Bellaire, published by DC Comics

Speaking of superhero books that are a delight, Birds of Prey is such a fun book. This book is about a motley crew of heroes that goes on a mission that unsurprisingly goes awry. Kelly Thompson is a fantastic writer generally and does great dialogue, and her style meshes perfectly with the neo-classic style of artist Leonardo Romero and the flat, fun, old-school colors of Jordie Bellaire. There have only been 4 issues so far, but I'll keep reading this one as long as it is published. 

Black Cloak by Kelly Thompson, Meredith McClaren and Becca Carey, published by Image Comics

The first arc of Black Cloak was a really fun, strong story. It's a police procedural set in a world that has both fantasy and sci-fi elements. This is a world where there's one human city left, but there are also elves and mermaids (very scary, don't mess with them) and other fantastical humanoid creatures. There's a member of the royal family that's been murdered, and one of their own exiled members is now a police investigator (or "Black Cloak"). The art for this series is a lot of fun - the characters are exaggerated and "cartoonish" in an appealing way, but the action flows really well and some of the art is almost diagrammatic in its precision showing the world. The dialogue from Kelly Thompson is great and very naturalistic - no surprise, she's a fantastic writer of very realistic interactions, even those involving elves and mermaids. This story is up to more than it seems, and I can't wait for more. 

Briar by Christopher Cantwell, Germán García and Matheus Lopes, published by Boom! Studios

I really enjoyed the first arc of Briar. It's a spin on the Sleeping Beauty story, where there's no prince that wakes up the sleeping princess, but she does wake up 100 years later and everything is different and terrible and her family and kingdom are all forgotten. It's a clever story from Christopher Cantwell, and an absolutely gorgeous one from the amazing team of German Garcia on line art and Mat Lopes on colors. Garcia has a varied art style throughout the series, and Lopes brings wonderfully imaginative, gorgeous colors throughout. If you enjoy clever takes on the traditional fairy tale stories, you'll absolutely love Briar.

Clementine Vol. 2 by Tillie Walden, published by Image Comics/Skybound Entertainment

I liked The Walking Dead comic but wasn't particularly a huge fan, nor did I ever watch the TV show. However, it is a measure of how much I love Tillie Walden's work that I was incredibly excited for vol. 1 of her series of graphic novels about the character of Clementine, who originated in The Walking Dead videogame, and I was thrilled that vol. 1 did not disappoint and and I can say that I think I liked vol. 2 even more than the first volume.  Walden is a creator of incredible skill, talent, and compassion. Spinning is an incredible memoir of her years figure skating as a kid. Are You Listening is a remarkable story of a drive through a surreal very dark night. And On a Sunbeam is an absolute masterpiece - a story of young queer love in a heartbreakingly beautiful, sad, weird universe full of surprises. This is a really strong story. Zombies and scarcity of resources and a post-industrial world are all a fact of life for all of the characters, and so I'd definitely call this a horror story. But like the best stories in TWD, this isn't a story about zombies at all, it's a story of people and how they cope with tragedy and loss and adversity. Walden continues to do remarkable work here, bringing her compassion and drama and humor and fear to every single page. I'm excited for volume 3.

Danger Street by Tom King, Jorge Fornes and Dave Stewart, published by DC Comics
Danger Street is an incredibly fun, weird comic with a series of interconnected stories that follow a number of different oddball characters in the DC universe. There's a group of kids that are up to mischief and then things go terribly wrong. There's the lady cop who's following them.  There are C and D-list heroes that decide that the way to level up is to bag a big-time villain. There's a vigilante who's also maybe getting a new job as a broadcaster/TV host. It's a motley crew of characters, but it somehow all adds up to a terrific series. I'm (as a general matter) along for the ride on whatever story Tom King wants to tell, and my loyalty was rewarded with a great story here. With the incredible Jorge Fornes on art and Dave Stewart on colors, the book couldn't look any better (and absolutely evokes classic comics from decades ago while still feeling fresh and modern). This book is a fun, smart, weird ride that you don't want to miss.

Eight Billion Genies by Charles Soule and Ryan Browne, published by Image Comics

Every single person on Earth gets a genie! And every single person gets a wish granted at the exact same time! If that sounds absurd and incredibly chaotic and fun, guess what. It is! Eight Billion Genies was a lot of fun which I knew it would be based on the creative team of writer Charles Soule and artist Ryan Browne (Curse Words). I knew it would be fun. But I was not prepared for how emotional and dark and poignant and dramatic it would be. This series was an incredible ride, and an explosion of creativity. Do yourself a favor and pick it up.

The Enfield Gang Massacre by Chris Condon and Jacob Phillips, published by Image Comics

That Texas Blood has been one of my favorite comics the past few years. Writer Chris Condon and artist Jacob Phillips, co-creators of the series, have been building up a history and mythology of Ambrose County, Texas, and various crimes and stories over the course of time from the 1970's to the present day. It's a terrific, grimy series full of great drama and sometimes grisly crime. For The Enfield Gang Massacre, Condon and Phillips decided to go back 100+ years to explore a grisly massacre that was foundational in making the county what it is now. And they're doing more than that. They're exploring the link between history, mythology, and propaganda, and the specific ways in which, even in real time, history is written by the victors. There's a terrific concurrent "article" that explores the history and mythology of this tragic story, which is incredibly interesting and additive to the story. If you're looking for a terrific story that deconstructs the mythology of the Old West, you won't find a better comic than The Enfield Gang Massacre.

Fishflies by Jeff Lemire, published by Image Comics

Any story that's written and drawn by Jeff Lemire is going to get my attention. Lemire is one of my favorite storytellers in comics, whether illustrating his own story or working with talented artists. He's got a distinctive voice that often tells stories of loneliness or melancholy, and people making the most of weird or bad situations. Fishflies fits well into that tradition. Fishflies is an unlikely story of a lonely kid and a criminal on the run, and their unlikely bond. There are also lots of weird gross flies, but don't let that stop you. This is a heartfelt, fun, weird story.

The Forged by Greg Rucka, Eric Trautmann, and Mike Henderson, published by Image Comics 
I love to be reading a great sci-fi/action book, and The Forged is a great read in that genre. Written by Greg Rucka and Eric Trautmann, with art from the terrific Mike Henderson. This is big, epic science fiction in the vein of Star Wars or Dune. We are 11,000 years into the reign of the Eternal Empress, and her elite soldiers, The Forged (a group of very badass women), are out on a mission when they encounter very hostile alien life. From there, the story is full of action, romance, political intrigue, and more. This story is full of fantastic characters, and the Eternal Empress was not what I would expect. Henderson's art is full of life and personality, and he does incredible action as well as character design. Each issue is oversized, as is the collected edition. Do yourself a favor and pick this up, it's a blast.

Gotham City Year One by Tom King, Phil Hester, Eric Gapstur, and Jordie Bellaire, published by DC Comics

Gotham City: Year One is a crime series set in the Gotham City of the 1960's, when the city was still full of hope and promise and wasn't the home of all manner of insane costumed villains, and a vigilante that's as scary as the villains. This story is about the Wayne family and a kidnapping that took place two generations prior to Bruce Wayne and Batman being active in the city. It's a terrific crime/detective series, with wonderful art drawn by Phil Hester, inked by Eric Gapstur, and colored by Jordie Bellaire. The art has a terrific angular quality to it, and everyone is exaggerated but it suits the story perfectly and is never distracting. King has a great ear for the old-timey dialogue of the story, and it flows very well. This is a highly compelling read. 

The He-Man Effect by Brian "Box" Brown, published by First Second
Brian "Box" Brown must be either the exact same age as me, or very close. Because the moments and events depicted in this book, I remember them more clearly than I remember most stuff that's far more recent. This is a story about the toy business and its connection with the television business, and the way they combined to create the ultimate synergy of toys and TV shows and advertising in the 1980's. It's an incredibly engaging and informative book, and Brown's art style continues to be very accessible even for those people that may not be particularly familiar with the visual language of comics. The book is insightful and a great trip down memory lane for those of us who came of age in the 1980's.

Heart Eyes by Dennis Hopeless, Victor Ibanez, Addison Duke and Simon Bowland, published by Vault Comics

Heart Eyes was a delightful surprise of a series. Monsters have arrived and pretty much destroyed civilization. Anyone who's left lives in heavily fortified locations and in constant fear of death. Well, everyone except for Lupe. She just wanders around, a happy, free spirit. She's not afraid and she really seems completely unworried about the monsters. We follow Lupe through the story, as she meets different people who encounter the different monsters, to whom Lupe may have a connection? This is a fun series with a good sense of wit and humor, but it definitely also has a sense of longing and sadness in it as well. Lupe wants to connect with people, but that's been difficult. Dennis Hopeless is an excellent writer and one who communicates a lot of heart and humor in his stories. And the art in this series from Victor Ibanez and color artist Addison Duke is really great. It's detailed, has a ton of personality, and really brings the world to life.

Hexagon Bridge by Richard Blake, published by Image Comics
In writing about Hexagon Bridge, I'm struggling to exactly describe Richard Blake's art style. This is a sign that something feels entirely original to me - the fact that I feel like I lack the vocabulary to describe what I'm looking at. Blake's art is a revelation, as is this comic. This story takes place several thousands of years in the future, as a husband and wife who are cartographers who have traveled into another dimension in order to map it, and have gone missing. Their daughter, along with her grandfather and a team of scientists, have spent years searching for a way to navigate into this other dimension. They're now doing so with the help of the help of a highly advanced robot built for this purpose and linked telepathically to the daughter. That's the plot of the story, but none of that serves to describe how original and weird and beautiful this story looks. Blake's art style feels vaguely evocative of Moebius, but only in the intricate and complex nature of the worlds, not so much in the specific linework. He uses delicate lines for his work, and the worlds he is building are remarkable. The story is often a blend of what look like old classical European cities, mixed with impossibly complicated futuristic geometric shapes and towers. Blake himself notes that his work is full of experimental, abstract elements. Maps and cartography are a great way to further understand this series, as so much of the art here feels very "designed" and "mapped". It feels a lot like puzzle pieces, as sometimes the art on the page feels like a selection of the pieces of a puzzle floating in nothingness. It's otherworldly. Blake's background is in fine art and film, and remarkably Hexagon Bridge is his very first published comic artwork. That's incredible but in some ways not surprising - having spent so much time doing something other than drawing comics, Blake's style is much less bound by traditional comic art norms, and is more influenced by images and by the language of film. This is a remarkable, special comic and I highly recommend you pick it up. 

The Human Target by Tom King and Greg Smallwood, published by DC Comics
Human Target is a must-read and one of my favorite comics of the past few years. I knew very little about the character of the Human Target, and that wasn't a problem for me, and it won't be a problem for you either. People hire him to impersonate them if they think someone is trying to kill them. And then he catches them, in some cases by "dying". That's it. But now the Human Target actually is dying, and he has 12 days to figure out who is responsible. That's the premise, and it's a terrific one. But also, this is among the most gorgeous comics you'll read. Seriously, Greg Smallwood has outdone himself. He conjures a world that is ostensibly set in the modern day but evokes the stylish 1960's. It's bright, lively work, with incredible style and panache and skill as a storyteller. I was such a huge fan of his work in the Moon Knight series he did with Jeff Lemire and Jordie Bellaire. He has a clean line, and immaculate character work, and his panel payout is incredibly interesting and innovative. If you're looking for a fun, stylish, sexy (in an old-timey noir way) series, this is a perfect read.

The Immortal Thor by Al Ewing, Martin Coccolo and Matt Wilson, published by Marvel Comics
Al Ewing wrapped up a 50-issue run on The Immortal Hulk a few years ago, and it was an immense, incredibly rewarding, dense, wonderful, horrifying read. And one of my favorite superhero-related comics in the past decade. I'm thrilled that he's now bringing his "Immortal" mind over to Thor, to tell what is setting up to be an immense story full of drama, mystery, and epic forces. We're only 5 issues in, but Ewing is telling a huge story, and he has wonderful artistic partners in the extremely talented Martin Coccolo and the always-excellent Matt Wilson. I don't think I knew Coccolo's work at all, but it's wonderful. It's big and epic and classic all at once, and is well-suited for stories of gods and ultra-gods and universal forces. Ewing has a great handle on the voice of Thor and the other characters, and I'm thrilled to see where this goes. 

The Incredible Hulk by Phillip Kennedy Johnson, Nic Klein, Travel Foreman, and Matt Wilson, published by Marvel Comics
Speaking of The Immortal Hulk, I loved that series so much and felt a loss when it ended. The Hulk series that followed was not really for me. However, I'm thrilled to say that the current run of The Incredible Hulk is very much for me. This story is very rooted in Hulk's origins as a horrific creature, and explores Hulk's ties to some of the other "monsters" of the Marvel Universe. Hulk is a loner, and he and Banner are at odds, and they've picked up a sidekick in a troubled teen who sees the strength of the Hulk and wants to be strong like him. The art duties have been split between Nic Klein and Travel Foreman. They have very different styles from one another but both of them are incredibly skilled storytellers, and both of them excel at drawing some of the most HORRIFYING things you'll see in a mainstream superhero comic. Like when Banner turns into Hulk - yikes, it's pretty horrific. But that's awesome. I love seeing Hulk explored as a monster among monsters; it's an incredible read. 

Indigo Children by Curt Pires, Rockwell White, Alex Diotto, Dee Cunniffe, and Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou, published by Image Comics
I kind of missed Indigo Children when it was published as individual issues, but I'm so glad that I picked it up in a collected edition. This is engaging science fiction at its best. There's a group of children with remarkable abilities (sure, a common story) but and they were previously gathered and educated/trained together. But they've been separated, and most of them don't remember their true lives. They all have remarkable abilities, and they may or may not be reincarnated Martians. But there's mystery, action, political intrigue, and more. The art from Alex Diotto, with colors by Dee Cunniffe, is fantastic. Very analog (in the best way) with a pulpy crime vibe. I really enjoyed this comic, and fans of sci-fi mysteries will enjoy it as well. 

Kaya by Wes Craig, Jason Wordie and Andworld Design, published by Image Comics
Kaya is a highly engaging adventure series from writer/artist Wes Craig, with colors by Jason Wordie and letters by Andworld. For those who only know Craig from Deadly Class, his art is as dynamic and fun as ever, but the subject matter is very different, and a lot more family-friendly. Kaya is a warrior girl and she is on a quest with her younger half-brother (who is human, and Kaya is not). They encounter obstacles, threats, and allies along the way. And along the journey they face tragedy and difficult decisions. But this isn't a sad story, it's just an incredibly compelling one. Craig is a masterful visual storyteller, conveying drama and humor and action and quiet reflection, all with great skill. The colors from Jason Wordie have been excellent and have complemented this fantastical story perfectly. This is a fun, dramatic, action-packed adventure story that you don't want to miss. 

Love Everlasting by Tom King, Elsa Charretier, Matt Hollingsworth, and Clayton Cowles, published by Image Comics
Love Everlasting is an absolutely gorgeous comic book that feels simultaneously of the past and the present. It's a smart, self-aware story that's also dramatically over-the-top, and raises lots of interesting questions. I love when people swing for the fences creatively, and Love Everlasting feels like the creators are swinging for the fences. This comic is big and bombastic and full of hyperbolic emotion, consistent with the sorts of scenes and tropes you are likely familiar with from romance comics across the decades. My impression in reading this comic is that it's full of all sorts of nods and homages if you're really well-versed in romance comics. But even if you're not, this is an incredibly accessible read. Elsa Charretier does incredible work in this book. Charretier is one of my favorite artists working today. More specifically, she's one of my favorite artists with regard to a story that's fundamentally rooted in human relationships. I particularly feel this way after the conclusion of the November series. November is a series of 4 hardcover graphic novellas, and it tells the story of 3 different women and the ways in which their lives intersect on one terrible, dramatic night, and Charretier does stunning work there, in a style that she evolves for Love Everlasting. Charretier has an incredibly appealing style that's exaggerated in a "cartoonish" way, but never for the purpose of mocking the characters or just to be funny. Romance stories are full of heightened emotions, and Charretier's knack for showing so much in facial expressions really works perfectly. Even if this were a wordless comic, we could still get the gist because her storytelling is so strong. And Hollingsworth's colors are bright and evocative and entirely era-appropriate. This is a must-read.

Night Fever and Where the Body Was, both by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, colors by Jacob Phillips, published by Image Comics
This is my annual inclusion of whatever work artist Sean Phillips and writer Ed Brubaker have cooked up that year. The two have been working together for decades now and have created some of the most iconic, memorable comics of the 2000's. There appear to be no signs that they are slowing down! This year they released 2 different graphic novels, both of which I loved and thought were excellent. The first is called Night Fever and it's a fantastic story of a straight-laced guy on a business trip in Europe in the 70's who is frustrated with his boring everyday life and decides to take a trip on the wild side, and the terrifying, insane things that happen as a result. Is it a metaphor for midlife crises, or impostor syndrome? Possibly, but it's also just a hell of an entertaining fever dream of a trip for a guy into a weird, wild nightlife that's world's apart from his everyday existence (kind of an Eyes Wide Shut situation). Where the Body Was is very different but also excellent. It takes place over the course of a few weeks or months in one neighborhood in the summer of 1984, and there's a whole cast of characters. What's great is that we hear about various events in the story from the point of view of each of the characters (not a Rashomon situation, the narrator just switches from one voice to another from time to time). We see the interactions of these various people, and learn about their interconnected lives, and the secrets they are keeping from one another. There's a dead body, but the story is less about a murder mystery than about the weird, lonely, messed-up lives of all of the various people in this neighborhood. Both of these stories are exceptional and I highly recommend them both, along with anything else from Brubaker/Phillips that you decide to read.

Roaming by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki, published by Drawn & Quarterly
Roaming was such a delight of a graphic novel, I'm only sorry I waited as long as I did before reading the copy I picked up! Roaming tells the story of 2 Canadian friends who are now Freshman at different colleges, that meet up in NYC in 2009 to spend Spring Break together. One of them brings along her friend/roommate from college. So...that leads to all sorts of consequences, as this was going to just be a "2 best friends together" trip and it turns into something very different. There's all sorts of awkward dynamics and so many of them are incredibly awkward and true to life. I *know* some of these characters, they are so vividly brought to life. Mariko and Jillian work brilliantly together. Jillian's art is wonderful; the characters are done in an exaggerated style, but everything about their environment is brought to life in a very real way. Her attention to detail is unmatched, and I really *feel* the streets of NYC circa 2009. I absolutely adore this book, and would recommend it for anyone looking for a great story of relationships, and trips gone awry, and what it's like to be young and uncertain and make dumb mistakes. 

Scarlet Witch by Steve Orlando, Sara Pichelli, Matt Wilson, and more, published by Marvel Comics

The Scarlet Witch has been through a lot in comics in recent years. I'm pretty sure she died, and people are still mad at her about that whole "no more mutants" thing years ago. Anyway, she seem to be better these days, and she's opened her door to help other people who don't have any other place to turn. I'm happy to say that this series (recently concluded) has been a delight. Wanda (the Scarlet Witch) is a character of tremendous compassion, wisdom, and perspective, having been through about as much as a character can go through. She helps people with problems, and has some great adventures along the way. Her sidekick is a woman named Darcy (like from the MCU) and she's an absolute delight as well. Writer Steve Orlando has a great voice for these characters, and Sara Pichelli and other artists do wonderful work.

Specs by David Booher, Chris Shehan, and Roman Stevens, published by Boom! Studios
Specs is a very fun story in the classic Twilight Zone "monkey's paw" tradition. It's the 1980's, and 2 teens send away for a pair of magic sunglasses, and those specs really do seem to have power to them, and seem to be a lot more than the kids bargained for. It a great setup, and the creative tream really delivers in an emotional and surprising story. The story from David Booher was tremendous fun, and it was brought to life in a very appealing way by Chris Shehan and Roman Stevens. This is an excellent quick read that you'll really enjoy.

Spy Superb by Matt and Sharlene Kindt, published by Dark Horse
I am here for any new content from Matt and Sharlene Kindt, particularly if it is drawn by Matt and colored by Sharlene. I love Matt Kindt as a comics writer, but I particularly am a huge fan of when he and Sharlene go full cartoonist. One of Kindt's earlier series, Super Spy, is a favorite of mine, as it has many different interconnected spy stories set in the same universe (and was rereleased by Dark Horse in a beautiful hardcover). Spy Superb is the new series from the Kindts and it seems to be set in the same universe as Super Spy. It concerns the delightful premise of a "non-traditional" spy. Honestly I don't want to say too much more about the premise, but it is a fun and delightful premise. The story has twists and turns and the art from the Kindts has never been better.

Subgenre by Matt Kindt and Wilfredo Torres, published by Dark Horse

There have only been 2 issues so far of this series so it's a little early to add to my list of favorites. Nevertheless, I love it and think it's worthy of special recognition. Matt Kindt is a person whose fiction ideas really resonate with me. He loves stories about secret societies, and conspiracies, and meta-fiction that crosses over from one world to another (Mind MGMT, Super Spy, etc.). In Subgenre he's bringing a number of those story elements to life with the talented Wilfredo Torres. Kindt and Torres previously collaborated on another meta-story called Bang! which was an espionage story but clearly also something much bigger and weirder than that. This is a story about either a barbarian who dreams that he's a futuristic private detective, or maybe vice versa, or maybe neither! It's a story that's bursting with big ideas and mystery and weirdness, so it's right up my alley. If any of this appeals to you, you should absolutely check this story out, and the other stories I've mentioned.

Superman Space Age by Mark Russell, and Mike and Laura Allred, published by DC Comics
Superman: Space Age was something I was highly anticipating, and it ended up being even more beautiful and poignant and fun than I thought it would be. Writer Mark Russell is one of my favorite writers in comics. He's written some of the smartest, funniest, and most poignant comics I've read in recent years. Mike and Laura Allred are (similarly) one of my favorite art teams in comics. I think that they capture the spirit and pop sensibility of the 60's, and Allred is a spiritual successor to Kirby in his style and spirit. So, this amazing team has combined together to create something really moving. It's grounded in a real-ish place in history, but also very much feels like the DC universe. It is fun and heartfelt but also takes some pretty dark turns. But like the best comics, this is a story that will really move you. And again, the art here is just stunning. The Allreds really make this book sing.

Ultimate Invasion by Jonathan Hickman and Bryan Hitch, published by Marvel Comics

If you were designing a Marvel comic for me to want to read it, you could not do much better than "written by Jonathan Hickman" and "drawn by Bryan Hitch". Hickman is the ultimate architect; I've loved everything he's ever done in the Marvel Universe, and his versions of comics have become the favorite/definitive versions for me. Hitch was the guy who brought the modern vision of the Marvel Universe to life in the pages of The Ultimates. Think what you want about Mark Millar's story, but those comics looked INCREDIBLE and were basically the basis for the MCU. Hitch is still out there doing terrific work (his Hawkman run was a personal favorite of mine), and the combination of Hickman and Hitch is very much a peanut butter and chocolate situation. Hickman is bringing back the Ultimate universe, in a new way, and he's brought along one of my favorite villains, The Maker (i.e., evil Reed Richards). The Maker is building a new universe, and it's full of action and threats and secret political intrigue (a Hickman special) and complex science. This is a blast and Hickman is going to be masterminding the new Ultimate Universe. I'm thrilled to see what he does, and this series was a great start.

W0rldtr33 by James Tynion IV, Fernando Blanco, Jordie Bellaire, and Aditya Bidikar, published by Image Comics

James Tynion knows how to write comics that really tap into the zeitgiest, from Memetic to The Department of Truth to The Nice House on the Lake, Tynion puts our fears and anxieties and flaws on full display. That's present here as well in W0rldtr33, a story about how the dark web (the Underweb) is brainwashing people and is going to bring about the end of the world. This is an incredibly dark, gruesome, and troubling series, but it's also a fun, stylish read. Fernando Blanco is doing great work, from the terrifying naked tattooed lady who keeps killing people, to the action and interpersonal drama and the action and the total weirdness. Jordie Bellaire does wonderful work in bringing a lot of that weirdness to life in the use of strange, unsettling color. This is not a series for the faint of heart, but if you're looking for a wild series that feels very of the moment, this is a great read.

Wonder Woman by Tom King, Daniel Sampere, and Tomeu Morey, published by DC Comics

I've loved pretty much any comic that Tom King has written (as evidenced by the fact that there are 5 King comics on this list), but I particularly enjoy when King gets political. He's a sharp writer and not afraid to ruffle feathers. As he does here, in Wonder Woman. King is telling a story that is sure to anger dude-bros everywhere, as he goes right at the heart of male fragile masculinity. Wonder Woman and the Amazons come to represent a threat to that, and it makes for a glorious story. King's writing is as smart as ever, and he has a wonderful artistic partner in Daniel Sampere. The character work in this story is absolutely gorgeous, as the Amazons look appropriately goddess-like. The action is as good as the character work, and Sampere is as good at quiet moments as he is epic ones. This is a great read.