Independent publisher Image Comics remained a bastion of strongly reviewed creator-owned comics in 2013, continuing last year's trend. In addition, DC Comics shored up its Vertigo line with the return of Neil Gaiman's “Sandman,” which is also in development as a film.
The following are my selections for the 10 best comic book series of 2013. This year was deep in terms of quality; it wouldn't be difficult to find 50 well-regarded sequential titles released in 2013. Check back next week for a list of the top 10 graphic novels of the year.
1.Lazarus (Image Comics): Greg Rucka and Michael Lark created an apocalyptic crime tale that was the year's best serial release. A handful of powerful families have become the de facto governments of a post-apocalyptic world. Each family has a “Lazarus,” who has been genetically modified to be a powerful agent to protect the family's interests. Forever Carlyle, the central character of “Lazarus,” fills that role for the Carlyle clan in this canny thriller.
2.Saga (Image Comics): Writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Fiona Staples continue the story of lovers on the run with their child in the midst of a galactic conflict. This mature-readers comic provides a brilliantly drawn space opera with both a heart and brain. The widely diverse cast of characters in the expanding world makes “Saga” always compelling.
3.Sandman: Overture (DC Comics-Vertigo): Neil Gaiman returns to his best-known comic-book creation, Morpheus, the lord of the dreaming. Artist J.H. Williams crafts moody dreamscapes in the high-profile miniseries.
4.Hawkeye (Marvel Comics): Former “Iron Fist” collaborators Matt Fraction and David Aja continue to make “Hawkeye” a blue-collar superhero who mixes comedy and action with aplomb.
5.Five Ghosts (Image Comics): Treasure hunter Fabian Gray is possessed by five literary ghosts and has access to their unusual abilities. Writer Frank J. Barbiere and artist Chris Mooneyham create a pulp-infused adventure filled with literary reference and allusion. Issue six was drawn by Garry Brown.
6.Fatale (Image Comics): Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips explore Josephine, the femme fatale, through a series of vignettes set in different eras before turning to Seattle in the 1990s.
7.Young Avengers (Marvel Comics): Teenage Marvel heroes Wiccan, Hulkling and Hawkeye unite with Loki, Marvel Boy and Ms. America in a series from writer Kieron Gillen and artist Jamie McKelvie that does a good job capturing the drama and excitement of youth.
8.Astro City (DC Comics-Vertigo): After a long hiatus, Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson returned to “Astro City,” where superheroes rub shoulders with regular folks, and the behind-the-scenes stories of superheroic adventure are explored.
9.Black Beetle (Dark Horse Comics): “The Black Beetle” is a throwback to the pulp action titles of the 1930s and 1940s written and drawn by Franco Francavilla. It's 1941 in Colt City as The Black Beetle, a masked adventurer, seeks out the mastermind Labyrinto.
10.East of West (Image Comics): Jonathan Hickman writes a dystopian Western that follows Death, one of the horsemen of the Apocalypse, in a complex, interwoven story.