The end of one year and the beginning of another means a time for traditions, and CBR is here to share our very favorite way to turn the clock: counting down the Top 100 Comics of the Year!
Each year, we wrap our coverage of the comics industry with a massive, extensive and intensive cataloging of the best comics released over the past twelve months. To make our rankings, every CBR staffer -- from the homepage news hounds to the pontificating columnists and from the up-to-the-minute bloggers to our intelligent reviewers -- chips in their list of favorite comic books, web comics and graphic novels for an all-out cage match to determine the Top 100.
2013 saw a record number of participants in this experiment with just over 40 staffers nominating over 200 comics for consideration. While the comics industry continued its strong swing of sales and critical love this year, the prevailing sentiment amongst the staff was that there were few undeniable breakout comics published of late. That's not to say there weren't many amazing and entertaining books written, drawn and released in 2013. But while past years have had obvious hot ticket favorites amongst readers, this year was more of a wide open field. Who'll take #1? You'll have to wait to find out.
Today, we get things rolling with entries #100 to 76. And while the high quality of the books that just barely missed our list were top notch, Team CBR feels that the books that ranked represent some of the very best comics on the market today. Get rolling below, talk about our choices on Twitter with #cbrtop100 and check out Part 2, featuring #75-51!
And while you're at it, revisit our Top 100 lists from previous years:
- CBR's Top 100 Comics of 2012
- CBR's Top 100 Comics of 2011
- CBR's Top 100 Comics of 2010
- CBR's Top 100 Comics of 2009
- CBR's Top 100 Comics of 2008
"Carey and Gross' story about stories took some intriguing turns throughout the year, de-emphasizing the role of Tom(my) Taylor for a time but also revealing more of his origins in the 'Ship that Sank Twice' graphic novel. The 'Fables' crossover that closed out Volume One (a new #1 beginning the concluding arc will launch in January) was not a high point of the series, but nevertheless well worth doing for its exploration of where the two series' concepts intersect. Over the course of nearly sixty issues to date, the creators have kept up a thought-provoking and engaging epic of particular interest to people who care about books and reading -- which, really, ought to be a pretty good segment of the comics-buying community."
-- CBR Contributing Writer Shaun Manning
"Until 'Superman Unchained,' I found myself severely disappointed in the New 52's interpretation of the Man of Steel. The 'Man of Steel' motion picture offered up big screen effects, but lacked soul. "Adventures of Superman" scratches all the itches that no other Superman offering could approach. Boasting a stunning lineup of talent, the digital first comic offers readers of all ages and exposure levels a Superman story (or a dozen) to regale in and celebrate the Last Son of Krypton's durability. Jeff Parker, Chris Samnee, Tim Seeley, Jeff Lemire, Mike Norton, Pete Woods, Joshua Hale Fialkov, Joelle Jones and Sean Galloway are just a sample of the creators who have passed through this title with many more on the slate for 2014. Offered as a weekly digital or monthly print comic, 'Adventures of Superman' is a can't-miss for fans of steel."
-- CBR Reviewer Doug Zawisza
"Conspiracies. Messianic figures. The power of the written world. The quest for immortality. The inevitability of death. These are the central elements to David B’s excellent, surreal tale, tinged with enough of a pulp sensibility to keep things from getting too profound. Here archeologists literally comb through mountains of books, while a centuries-old madman seeks to cheat the grim reaper by literally inserting himself into a text. Deftly blending horror, humor, melodrama and philosophy, Incidents is a book I’ve been anxious to see translated into English and I’m so grateful to Uncivilized Books for taking on the task this year."
-- Robot 6 Writer Chris Mautner
"If I have to lose the terrific version of The Spider these two did that's ending with #18, well, this new hard-edged take on the Shadow makes up for it. This is another updated-pulp title, that takes as its jumping-off point the Chaykin 'Shadow' miniseries from the 1980s, and goes in a completely different direction. (Seriously, I could have easily given you a pulp-adaptation comic from Dynamite for each of my ten entries, it's pretty much my pull list. They own me.)"
-- Comics Should Be Good Writer Greg Hatcher
"Mare Odomo’s poetry slips between images, phrases and narrators like the thoughts of some ADHD-infected Internet fiend, yet makes not this struggle of attention a dark, cynical observation but instead a thing of wonder. A beautiful debut from Sacred Prism, 'Internet Comics' leans on floating, dream weaving momentum to encapsulate images, smells and memories, and it does so freely, saying more in 12 pages than most anything else."
-- Comics Should Be Good Columnist Alec Berry
"Kurtis J. Wiebe continues to build unique and intriguing worlds at Image Comics. His latest launch, 'Rat Queens,' features a quartet of badass lady warriors running amok in a town that wants nothing to do with them dynamically drawn by Roc Upchurch. Much like 'Skullkickers' before it, 'Rat Queens' is basically a comic for people who don't always get into those corners of the geekiverse."
-- CBR Staff Writer TJ Dietsch
"Rugg is a storyteller that many would consider at the top of his game. Yet given the fellow’s inherent intellectual curiosity -- and the stated goal of this project (to explore comics [which he regards as a "rapidly evolving art form"] and document his examination) I think the writer/artist has only scratched the surface of his storytelling skillset. It may be only 60 pages, but it is a jam-packed diverse collection of comics -- complete with an index."
-- Robot 6 Columnist Tim O'Shea
"When comedian Brian Posehn and Gerry Duggan began their run, I knew they’d make me laugh -- I didn’t realize they’d also break my heart. 'The Good, The Bad & The Ugly' is a bitter exploration of the person Wade could have been, and any team who can reduce me to tears as Deadpool screams at a pile of corpses more than deserves their place on this list."
-- CBR Staff Writer Josie Campbell
"A love letter to superheroes and direct market comics in general, 'Edison Rex' accomplishes a rare feet in action funnybooks: charm. Though the series set-up of 'Ultimate villain trying to turn good' is well worn ground at this point, Roberson and Culver succeed by never letting their four-color world slide in to the dour territory that so many superhero homages tend to drift towards these days. And while the constant Easter Eggs Roberson's scripts offer up can put a smile on the face of anyone capable of rattling off defunct comic publishers, his overall story remains engaging and fun. Culver meanwhile has shown a strength not only in character design but character work as well. Here's hoping there are many milestone issues to come."
-- CBR News Editor Kiel Phegley
"Tom Taylor has built up an amazing alternate version of the New 52 DC Universe by slowly pushing at the boundaries of what can happen to these characters. The characters are put into situations outside the restrictions imposed by the 'never ending battle' of monthly comics and what was once unthinkable seems like a natural progression for the characters. No doubt many people skipped this title because they figured it was a meaningless tie-in to the video game. I've never played the game and I'm loving this title."
-- CBR Columnist John Mayo
"'2000 AD' got a long-deserved Eisner Nomination this year, and the only crime was that they didn’t win it. With people like Al Ewing, Ian Edginton, Si Spurrier, Alec Worley, John Wagner and Rob Williams contributing stories every week, this book is better than it’s every been. This is the new golden age."
-- CBR Staff Writer Karl Keily
"What if it isn’t the other person that’s at fault in your relationship? What if you’re actually the asshole? What if that special person just isn’t as into you as you thought they were? That’s the central thrust of Woodring’s magnificent graphic novel, as our cartoon hero Frank emotionally wounds his lady love, attempts to win her back but discovers that not only is she happy to be free of him, she isn’t anything at all like he imagined. All this is set within Woodring's surreal Unifactor world, adding a layer of unease and genuine horror at various key moments, just to drive the point home -- you aren’t as great a boyfriend as you think, pal."
-- Robot 6 Columnist Chris Mautner
"With their debut book from Dark Horse, newcomers Damon Gentry and Aaron Conley handed down a free education -- an education brimming with swagger and sass -- to all those in the field, to all those wanting better comics, to all those thinking original thought was dead. Their thesis was simple: 'We will you give you everything you wanted that you never knew you actually needed.' A weakling becomes a tiger, fights a mastodon mathematician with the aid of a cloud god, eats a psychotropic grasshopper, and nips a bad guy’s lunch box in the process. Ideas like these, ladies and gentlemen, are solid gold. And Gentry and Conley have an entire graphic novel’s worth of this type of coinage."
-- CBR Contributor Ryan Burton
"What amazes me about Nicole Georges' (roughly) autobiographical tale 'Calling Dr. Laura' is that the two big hooks of the book, the fact that Georges' family lied to her about her father's death for decades and the fact that the progressive Portland resident Georges looks to the conservative talk show host Dr. Laura Schlessinger for advice really are not the focus of the book. Instead, it is just an examination of Georges' life which she delivers in such a well-written fashion that you are riveted. The book alternates between charming and terribly sad, as Georges' life has some real darkness to it. Georges' artwork is strong, changing styles during the present and the past."
-- Comics Should Be Good Editor Brian Cronin
"Hajime Isayama's 'Attack on Titan' is currently waving a ride of popularity, and for good reason! What starts out as a zombie-esque humanity under siege story has been full of twists and turns from the start, and after nine volumes there's virtually no sign of this slowing down. Isamaya throws out revelation after revelation, crafting an intriguing world that you can't help but be drawn into. Add in some of the most kinetic action scenes to grace the printed page, and it's easy to see why it's become such an international hit."
-- Comics Should Be Good Writer Ken Haley
"Set in Montreal in the 1960s, this is the story of a teenager who finds an escape from everyday life in the Boy Scouts. Rabagliati creates a complex and believable world for Paul, including his mildly dysfunctional family, the gently idealistic Boy Scout leaders, and, in the background, the violence of the Quebec separatist movement, then throws the reader a hard curve toward the end."
-- CBR & Robot 6 Contributor Brigid Alverson
"The Phoenix is one of my very favorite things in the World, and this year they celebrated 100 consecutive issues of top-quality kids comics. Boasting an incredible line-up of creators including Neill Cameron, Laura Anderson, Jamie Turner, Zak Simmonds-Hurn, Garen Ewing, Patrice and John Aggs, Adam Murphy and so many more I can't even begin to list, the stories have really pushed and experimented this last year, establishing The Phoenix as THE comic to read. Share it with your kids, share it with your friends, share it with your grandparents -- this is the best advert for comics as a medium that I've seen in years."
-- CBR Contributor Steve Morris
"A journey down further and further. If you thought Garth Ennis and Goran Parlov had done a number deconstructing and demystifying Frank Castle, the utter destruction of everything noble and cool about Nick Fury made that look like a birthday party. Death, misery, and all for nothing until we're left with the most pathethic 'hero' one can find, piss drunk, rambling, and wishing for the death he's earned but doesn't deserve. Not yet."
-- Comics Should Be Good Writer Chad Nevett
"Hilarious, engaging storytelling that'll be like manna from heaven for fans of 'Superbad' and geek humor."
-- CBR Columnist Hannibal Tabu
"Some creators are well matched to the characters they work. Others are flat-out perfect. Jason Aaron is the best writer Thor could have right now and Thor is the best character for Aaron’s range. From Gorr, the god-butcher, to a revitalized and crazier-than-ever take on Malekith, Aaron keeps delivering Thor adventures that redefine the god of thunder while strengthening his mythology. There isn't a comic book on the stands better suited to welcome in moviegoers and transform them into new readers by matching and exceeding their expectations."
-- CBR Reviewer Doug Zawisza
"Dean Haspiel has long flirted with the edges of superhero comics while producing more mainstream literary work, but with 'The Fox' the artist has finally found a capes-and-tights corner to claim as his own, and the results have been outrageously fun. Hanging his hat on the basic concept of a superhero who wants a normal life, Haspiel has turned out page-after-page of Toth-inspired insanity that still retains the brow-beated everyman quality of his more personal work."
-- CBR News Editor Kiel Phegley
"'Change' shrinks you, yet its density and hyper-ness link you to something larger, simultaneously. It’s a tough work to pinpoint because while reading, even though laid to paper, it appears to morph, unfiltered, but there’s something of artist Morgan Jeske’s adherence to the script -- his attention to clearly portraying this abstract thing -- that helps us hold onto something so rapid. It feels like there’s a chance at happiness."
-- Comics Should Be Good Columnist Alec Berry
"Brian Michael Bendis spent years dragging Daredevil through the depths of despair in the ongoing title, but he wasn't through yet, so he returned with this series to finally finish off Matt Murdock. And that was just the first issue. The remainder of the series was a dark but fascinating journey through the near-future where reporter Ben Urich is determined to find out about the heroic life Daredevil led. Tracking down many of DD's past friends, foes and allies, Urich is determined to unravel the mystery of "Mapone," the last word to leave Murdock's lips. It was a mystery that had readers on the edge of their seat for the duration of the eight-issue series and was one of the most anticipated comics during its run."
-- CBR Reviewer Jim Johnson
"'Adventure Time' comic writer Ryan North's Kickstarter-funded 'choosable adventure' version of Shakespeare's 'Hamlet' is every bit as brilliant as you think it's going to be. It is maybe not a comic, strictly speaking -- or even loosely speaking -- but it has spot illos from David Malki, Kate Beaton, Jim Zub, Kazu Kibuishi, Ray Fawkes, and many, many (MANY!), more, so let's count it. Each reveals a spectacular death for Hamlet, Ophelia, or King Hamlet, Sr. A word of warning, though: Mr. North's anti-murder bias can lead into some frustrating corridors, mostly ending in the POV character's demise. But at least you'll enjoy the ride."
-- CBR Contributor Shaun Manning
"After the tremendous upheavals in the last issue, I wasn't sure if the brothers would be able to keep the momentum going with new cast members. My concerns were completely unfounded though, and the intense stories of these characters weaves itself beautifully into the world of 'Love & Rockets,' creating a richer tapestry than ever."