CBR's Top 100 Comics of 2013, #50 - 26

Mon, December 30th, 2013 at 11:58am PST | Updated: December 31st, 2013 at 12:06pm

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CBR News Team, Editor

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Every year, CBR wraps our coverage of the comics industry with the Top 100 Comics of the Year -- 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 continue with part three, (Check out #100-76 here and #75-51 here) counting down from #50 to 26! Past the mid-way point, consensus builds around some of the biggest critical hits of the year and around some comics you may have missed in 2013. Below, our staff ranks some of the big ticket comics adaptations available, zeroes in on some graphic novels of historical and genre significance, talks up some of the funniest superhero stories on the stands and more!

Read on for the rundown of #50-26, talk about our choices on Twitter with #cbrtop100 and check back on Tuesday at 6:00 AM Pacific for our fourth installment! And while you're at it, revisit our Top 100 lists from previous years!

Story continues below

CBR's Top 100 Comics of 2013: 100 -> 76 | 75 -> 51 | 50 -> 26 | 25 -> 11 | 10 -> 1

50. Parker: Slayground
Written by Richard Stark (Donald Westlake)
Adapted and Drawn by Darwyn Cooke
Published by IDW

"Cooke's adaptations of Westlake's Parker novels bristle with cool-headed action, and the retro style makes them go down smooth. This slim volume finds Parker playing cat-and-mouse with gangsters and crooked cops in a shuttered amusement park; Cooke also shows off his storytelling chops with a short piece at the end. Great stuff."

-- CBR & Robot 6 Contributor Brigid Alverson

"Darwyn Cooke's Parker adaptations are always great, but the ones that stand out the most are the ones where Cooke takes advantage of his unique format to do things you wouldn't be able to do in a non-comic format, and 'Slayground' is definitely an example of this as he really tries some different approaches, including a pull-out map to the theme park at the heart of the story (as Parker is trapped inside an amusement park after a job goes wrong and is hunted down by crooked cops and the mob)."

-- Comics Should Be Good Editor Brian Cronin

49. Quantum & Woody
Written by James Asmus
Drawn by Tom Fowler & Ming Doyle
Published by Valiant Entertainment

"If mainstream comics became obsessed with depression this year, than 2013 should also be noted as the year when publishers like Dark Horse, IDW, Valiant and Image developed a sense of humor about themselves. Valiant in particular grabbed a whole bunch of the best comedic writers in comics for their new line of books, with James Asmus jumping straight into the poisoned chalice of 'Quantum & Woody.' Flanked by one of the most gifted cartoonists around in the shape of Tom Fowler, and aided immeasurably by the coloring of Jordie Bellaire, the book raced into top gear almost immediately and still hasn't let go of the throttle. It would have been incredibly easy for the book to crash and burn without Priest and Bright at the wheel, but the relaunch has been a smart and challenging humor title, constructing characters who feel realistic and understandable even whilst fighting monsters which explode into clowns."

-- CBR Contributor Steve Morris

48. Afterlife With Archie
Written by Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Drawn by Francesco Francavilla
Published by Archie Comics

"The most impressive Archie book in recent memory, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Francesco Francavilla's 'Afterlife With Archie' is an incredible departure from every other title in the publisher's massive library. Aguirre-Sacasa's incredible horror script combined with Francavilla's evocative artwork is a perfect match, making 'Afterlife With Archie' the biggest surprise must-read series of 2013."

-- CBR Reviews Editor Steve Sunu

47. Uncanny Avengers
Written by Rick Remender, Gerry Duggan
Drawn by John Cassaday, Olivier Copiel, Daniel Acuna, Andy Kubert, Salvador Larroca, Steve McNiven,
Published by Marvel Comics

"'Uncanny Avengers' is the Marvel Comics equivalent of a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup. The cast is composed of some of the most interesting characters from the X-Men and Avengers franchises and the tension filled dynamic between them is classic Marvel. On top of that, this year Remender and his artistic collaborators kicked an epic tale, with a grand scope and scale, into high gear. The best elements of Marvel's two biggest franchises are combined together in one exciting and very fun book."

-- CBR Staff Writer Dave Richards

"This book was incredible in 2013. The way Remender is able to weave X-Men and Avengers lore together is a treat to watch. He ended the year with some jaw-dropping moments that pretty much guarantee this book will have my attention to the end of 2014, too."

-- CBR Staff Writer Karl Keily

46. Kinski
Written & Drawn by Gabriel Hardman
Published by Monkeybrain Comics

"Hardman's digital comic explores obsession and diversion with humor and heart. Such human foibles are best reflected through a dog named Kinski, and Joe's efforts to rescue him. Completely captivating in its simplicity and focus, Kinski is so gracefully told with such clean storytelling and resonant dialogue, it almost instantly pulls you in. It's a beautiful story."

-- Robot 6 Contributor Corey Blake

"2013 was a year that many creators stepped outside of the comfort zone -- and Hardman is a prime example of that. As he noted in May 2013: 'I always intended to draw this story in a somewhat simpler style than my other work. That's reflected in both the line work and the six panel grid I'm working with, not to mention sticking with black and white instead of color. It's the cartooning equivalent of shooting a film guerrilla style.' I admire Hardman for attempting a story of a guy and a dog not his own -- and the complications that ensue."

-- Robot 6 Columnist Tim O'Shea

45. X-Men
Written by Brian Wood
Drawn by Olivier Coipel, Terry Dodson
Published by Marvel Comics

"While X-Men unfortunately (and unwisely) got pulled into a massive (and woefully unfulfilling) crossover early on in its run, the first arc of Brian Wood and Olivier Coipel's 'X-Men' was everything I have been wanting in a comic for nearly twenty years. Some of my favorite heroines brought together to kick ass and take names, with no punches pulled. Wood is a character driven writer that knows how to protect characters while also growing them exponentially. He's also one of the best comic book writers when it comes to flawlessly blending the epic and the intimate -- and there's no better book for the epic and the intimate crashing together so beautifully than an X-Men title."

-- CBR Reviewer Kelly Thompson

"Look, I know there's been some recent controversy over Brian Wood, but the man knows how to write female characters. His all-female X-Men team never felt like this pandering, desperate attempt to INCLUDE ALL GIRLS YAY CHEESECAKE, but instead felt thoughtful, powerful and right. He wrote heroes who just happened to be women, and who just happened to kick miles of ass."

-- CBR Staff Writer Casey Gilly

44. FF
Written by Matt Fraction & Lee Allred
Drawn by Mike & Laura Allred
Published by Marvel Comics

"[Mike] Allred's pop-art esthetic is a perfect fit for 'FF,' a superhero book equally about nostalgia and the past, as much as it is about looking to the future. Fraction, Mike and Lee Allred have created the most pure-fun book of the year, upping the action, comedy, heart, and micro-tiger appearances with each issue."

-- CBR Contributor Ryan Ingram

"Every issue of FF had at least one moment of something touching and genuinely moving. As outrageous and crazy as the comic is, it has been one of the most authentic and true reads of 2013. Matt Fraction and the entire Allred clan have made me smile and cringe and despair and look forward to every single issue."

-- Comics Should Be Good Writer Chad Nevett

43. Aw Yeah Comics
Written & Drawn by Art Baltazar, Franco Aureliani & Friends
Published by Aw Yeah Comics

"The insanely productive Art and Franco had a banner year in 2013 from the fun finale of their mini DCU in 'Superman Family Adventures' to the takeover of Mike Mignola's horror heroes in 'Itty Bitty Hellboy' and from a New 52 launch in 'The Green Team' to the announced return of their fan favorite 'Tiny Titans.' But the pair's biggest and best achievement of the year remains 'Aw Yeah Comics' -- their community-based, creator-owned kids anthology. By calling on friends in the Chicago comics scene and beyond to contribute and calling on fans to help launch the book via Kickstarter, the team had one of the DIY success stories of the year. But in the end, it's the inventive, insane and downright joyous stories of Action Cat and company that make this book sing, proving why Art and Franco are the modern masters of firing the synapses of seven-year-olds."

-- CBR News Editor Kiel Phegley

"One of Kickstarter's more enjoyable products, 'Aw Yeah Comics' is pure, unfiltered Art Baltazar and Franco Aureliani fun. Suitable and rewarding for readers of all ages, thanks to Kickstarter, this comic has gone from being a boutique offering that would have only been available at the Skokie, Illinois comic shop to an internet sensation, available digitally and in print. "

-- CBR Reviewer Doug Zawisza

42. Native American Classics
Written by Benjamin Truman, Joseph Bruchac, Jon Proudstar and more.
Drawn by Jim McMunn, Timothy Truman, Robby McMurtry, Tara Audibert, Terry LaBan and more.
Published by Graphic Classics/Eureka Productions

"One of the most important comics published this year. These stories are painful to read, because they reveal a deeper wound than simply taking someone's land. They're about stealing religion and culture as well. They're about the theft of souls. Which means that it's especially important for non-indigenous people to hear them and take in their point of view as a counter-balance to the version of history we most often hear."

-- Robot 6 Writer Michael May

"'Native American Classics' is another terrific collection from Tom Pomplun and the folks over at Graphic Classics. This one's definitely breaking new ground, as I don't believe anyone's ever given these stories the Classics Illustrated treatment before. This volume presents adaptations of early stories and poems by Native American writers including Charles Eastman, Zitkala-Sa, Alex Posey, E. Pauline Johnson and George Copway. The art, as always, is a splendid array of talent, featuring well-known comics artists like Tim Truman and Terry Laban alongside newer folks like Weshoyot Alvitre and Jay Odjick. A very cool thing about this book: every effort has been made to see to it that it's actual Native American folks working on the stories wherever possible– both writers and artists. That's a nice touch. I cannot stress enough how much I appreciate Graphic Classics both as a comics fan and also as an educator. They're just great books."

-- Comics Should Be Good Writer Greg Hatcher

41. Rachel Rising
Written & Drawn by Terry Moore
Published by Abstract Studios

"Terry Moore continues his brilliantly dark horror series 'Rachel Rising' in its second year as we further explore the revenge that Lilith has planned for the town that enraged her. This is a creepy comic, made all the more creepy by Moore's crisp, character-driven artwork. And man, there are some dark, dark twists in this series."

-- Comics Should Be Good Editor Brian Cronin

40. Relish: My Life In The Kitchen
Written & Drawn by Lucy Knisley
Published by First Second Books

"Lucy Knisley's probably best known for her online comics, but her memoir of growing up around food and learning to love it is the sort of book that would have made the perfect holiday gift for your foodie-friends and relatives. (Fortunately, they have birthdays coming up too.) Her soft lines and robustly saturated colors are gorgeous, but it's the way that she talks about food and how it was part of her life that will ultimately drag you in. Add in recipes drawn as comics for chapter breaks, and the only complaint you'll have about 'Relish' is that it's going to make you very hungry by the time you're done."

-- Comics Should Be Good Writer Greg McElhatton
"There's a notion out there that there's a comic for everyone, and that the medium is capable of telling just any type of story. First Second's 'Relish,' written and illustrated by Lucy Knisley, goes a long way in backing up both of those claims. The cartoonist provides a delightfully illustrated history of her own life through the lens of how it's intersected with food, along with providing artfully presented recipes and passing on lessons learned from her own gastronomical pursuits. It's funny, educational and something you can share with just about anyone, provided they fit into the 'likes to eat food' demographic."

-- CBR Senior Editor Albert Ching

39. Rocket Girl
Written by Brandon Monctlaire and Amy Reeder
Drawn by Amy Reeder
Published by Image Comics

"Brandon Monctlaire and Amy Reeder take readers on an awesome sci-fi time traveling adventure with 'Rocket Girl.' Filled with wonderful characters, the book also includes excellently designed versions of 80s New York City and an 80s-inspired future worth exploring."

-- CBR Staff Writer TJ Dietsch

38. Black Beetle
Written & Drawn by Francesco Francavilla
Published by Dark Horse

"A lot of people in comics talk about 'homage' when they mean 'swipe,' but The Black Beetle is the genuine article -- an homage to everything Francavilla thinks is cool. Film noir, jazz, pulp fiction, Republic adventure serials -- it's all here in one glorious mashup filtered through Francavilla's own unique sensibilities. It's a great read and breathtaking to look at."

-- Comics Should Be Good Writer Greg Hatcher

37. Marble Season
Written & Drawn by Gilbert Hernandez
Published by Fantagraphics

"What do you do if you're one of the most talented and prolific cartoonists working today and you've tried your hand at virtually every style and genre -- drama, melodrama, noir, avant-garde, horror, porn? You make a warm, affectionate all-ages story about childhood, that's what. 'Marble Season' deals with universal emotions and experiences -- the way we interact with our friends and family, our early obsessions, the way through playing we discover ourselves -- but it's so sharply observed that it feels both recognizable and specific. No mean feat, chalk another one up for Beto."

-- Robot 6 Writer Chris Mautner
"Gilbert Hernandez brings an incredibly deep sensibility into a simple story that'll make you smile and feel like a kid again."

-- CBR Contributor Dave Scheidt

36. Revival
Written by Tim Seeley
Drawn by Mike Norton
Published by Image Comics

"In the first year of 'Revival,' Seeley and Norton took readers to Wausau, Wisconsin, a small town full of interesting characters and strange mysteries. This year, those mysteries deepened and the characters became even more intriguing as the rural-noir offered up more clues behind the book's central enigma , the 'Revival Day,' when many of Wasau's deceased population rose up and continue with their lives. Plus we got some creepy, chilling and powerful moments as the book's protagonists dealt with murder mysteries, and a twisted smuggling ring that profited from stealing the organs of the Revived."

-- CBR Staff Writer Dave Richards

35. Wolverine & The X-Men
Written by Jason Aaron
Drawn by Nick Bradshaw, Ramon Perez
Published by Marvel Comics

"Dismissed by many as a blatant cash grab by Marvel when it was first announced, Jason Aaron's 'Wolverine & The X-Men' quickly established itself as the latest heir apparent to 'New Mutants.' Since the series debuted, readers have experienced the world of Marvel's mutants -- and their never-ending crossovers -- from a variety of unique perspectives, met new and engaging characters and just plain had a ton of fun."

-- CBR Senior Editor Stephen Gerding

34. Archer & Armstrong
Written by Fred Van Lente
Drawn by Emanuela Lupacchino, Pere Perez, Khari Evans, ChrisCross
Published by Valiant Entertainment

"I love a good buddy action comedy, and writer Fred Van Lente is the master of that type of story. In 'Archer & Armstrong' we get a great mismatched duo: Immortal, super-strong bon vivant Aram Anni-Padda (AKA Armstrong), and the youthful and naïve teen assassin Obadiah Archer. The pair battle the schemes of ancient secret societies out to control or destroy the world, so the book reads like an expert blend of the Indiana Jones films, the Highlander films, conspiracy theories, and biting humor. This year, Van Lente and his collaborators gave us all of those fun elements and more as they introduced readers to Aram's brother Gilad (AKA the Eternal Warrior) and Ivar (AKA the Timewalker), sent us to a dimension of full of dinosaurs and flying saucers and kicked off a 'Sect Civil War' that pitted the series villains and heroes all against each other."

-- CBR Staff Writer Dave Richards

"This is my favorite Valiant title. The characters are fun, the story engaging and the art amazing. All of the Valiant titles are worth checking out, but this is my favorite of the bunch by a wide margin."

-- CBR Columnist John Mayo

33. Lose #5
Written & Drawn by Michael DeForge
Published by Koyama Press

"What can you say about DeForge that hasn't been said already? (If you're Ng Suat Tong, the answer's 'plenty'). Just that he seems to improve and strengthen his chops with each successive issue of this yearly one-man anthology."

-- Robot 6 Writer Chris Mautner

"In 'Riders,' a lowly biker gang attains immortality by walking through a portal in Hell, only to be transformed into recognizable comic strip and cartoon characters. It's sort of a reverse-metaphor for the creepy cartooning brilliance Michael DeForge, whose comics are totally warped; rot–black funny and skin crawling. 'Riders' was originally printed last year, but it's in my favorite book of 2013, 'Very Casual' which pieces together many of DeForge's older stories. He created non-stop comics in 2013, including another twisted installment of his one-man anthology 'Lose,' so it was nice to have a chance to catch-up to a cartoonist so far ahead of the pack."

-- CBR Contributor Ryan Ingram

32. Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes
Written & Drawn by Matt Kindt
Published by First Second Books

"Kindt's 'Mind MGMT' will get a lot of love, as it should, but his standalone graphic novel is brilliant, too. A super detective who has never failed to solve a case comes up against several strange crimes, all of which lead him to an emotionally devastating answer. It's less epic than 'Mind MGMT,' but it's more focused and gripping."

-- Comics Should Be Good Writer Greg Burgas

"A clever collection of stories about seemingly preposterous crimes and the twisted logic behind them."

-- CBR & Robot 6 Writer Brigid Alverson

31. COPRA
Written & Drawn by Michael Fiffe
Self-Published

"You know what's impressive? When an artist can absorb the lessons of other great cartoonists -- Frank Miller, Steve Ditko -- and you can clearly see that influence on the page, and yet it doesn't feel like a pastiche, it doesn't feel like another lifeless copy. It feels like someone internalizing the methods and styles of their heroes and using that to create something wholly different and personal. God, if only all superhero comics were a tenth as intelligent, stylish and exciting as Copra. I'd certainly be reading a lot more superhero comics, I'll tell you that."

-- Robot 6 Writer Chris Mautner

"Michel Fiffe was a one-man kill squad of comics in 2013, sniping deadlines as he single-handedly exploded mailboxes with monthly deliveries of his super-powered action comic 'Copra.' Fiffe wore his inspirations on his sleeve -- using John Ostrander's run of 'Suicide Squad' as a starting point -- but Copra was never anything less than fresh. Even the Marvel and DC analogues in “Copra” were like unlike anything else on comic stands, as the team brawled their way through a dozen issues of bruising fights against thugs and trippy geometric bad guys, rooftop chases in Tokyo and visits to other dimensions. "

-- CBR Contributor Ryan Ingram

30. Journey Into Mystery
Written by Kathryn Immonen
Drawn by Valerio Schiti
Published by Marvel Comics

"The sister title to 'Thor: God of Thunder' probably would have received a nice boost from the Marvel NOW! rebranding, but those of us smart enough to read awesome books regardless of their fancy trade dress know what everyone else missed out on: Kathryn Immonen and Valerio Schiti gave us some of the most enjoyable Sif stories ever. This series had readers clamoring for a Sif solo flick while offering stories that traversed the Nine Realms and the Marvel Universe. Powerful and independent, this is a series I find myself going back to and enjoying again and again. "

-- CBR Reviewer Doug Zawisza

"Marvel perhaps threw this book to the sharks once Kieron Gillen left, but Kathryn Immonen and Valerio Schiti turned the double-dealing craftsmanship of 'JiM' into a ludicrous, sprawling, hilarious swashbuckler in his wake. Their work on the series is every bit as fun and entertaining as the Loki stories were, but this time placed Sif in the spotlight and showcased her, wildly. Filled with detail and imagination, Immonen's writing was as fast-paced and manic as ever, but in Schiti she was joined by an artist who really fed into her style of storytelling, and elevated the material to a whole new level."

-- CBR Contributor Steve Morris

29. Woman Rebel: The Margaret Sanger Story
Written & Drawn by Peter Bagge
Published by Drawn & Quarterly

"It's time to infuse a little politics and history into your reading list with Peter Bagge's outstanding biography of Margaret Sanger, the mother of modern birth control. Debunking myths and setting the record straight, Bagge has created an enthralling account of a woman who whose activism has undeniably changed the course of human history -- and if that doesn't convince you, let Bagge's entertaining historical notes and stellar artwork propel you into making this graphic novel a permanent addition to your shelf."

-- CBR Staff Writer Josie Campbell

"Peter Bagge turns his critically humorous eye onto one of the most controversial and misrepresented women of the last century. Charting her growth from conscientious young girl to world-alterning proponent of a woman's right to choose, Bagge unflinchingly examines every strange aspect of Sanger's life."

-- Comics Should Be Good Columnist Sonia Harris

28. Chew
Written by John Layman
Drawn by Rob Guillory
Published by Image Comics

"'Chew' took a grim and tragic turn at the end of 2012, lending a more sombre tone to this year's stories. Yet: still funny when it can be, which is quite a lot. As Layman and Guillory's epic entered its second half, the scope expanded, secondary characters rose to prominence, and Tony Chu found himself nibbling on his sister's severed toe in a desperate attempt to catch her killer even as Chu's daughter ate her mom's toe in an effort to meet the mother she never knew. So, basically, this is your heartwarming family drama comic."

-- CBR Contributor Shaun Manning

"'Chew' wasn't as emotionally wrenching this year as it was last year, but it still continues to be a phenomenal book. In the aftermath of the tragedy from last year, Tony has to drag himself out of his stupor and get back to work. Then Layman throws us another curve that allows Tony to move forward. Guillory, meanwhile, remains a tremendous artist, infusing every page with his unique sense of humor. They're a great team."

-- Comics Should Be Good Columnist Greg Burgas

27. Prophet
Written by Brandon Graham
Drawn by Brandon Graham, Simon Roy, Giannis Milonogiannis & more
Published by Image Comics

"Every issue is a surprise as Brandon Graham and his all-star art jam team let the story of a war in the future unfold slowly. There is no clear path, just a winding, meandering journey through history and space that baffles expectations and always leaves me pondering the issue that I just read."

-- Comics Should Be Good Writer Chad Nevett

"For its second year running, Brandon Graham, Simon Roy and Giannis Milonogiannis continue their trek into Insane Sci-Fi Possibilities. This year? We got -- well, the better question is “what didn't we get?” We got a universe-infused Badrock, Troll as an enormous moon-birthed squid, and countless versions of John Prophets. I can't think of another comic that drops you into the middle of such weirdness, and makes it so immersive, so believable, that you're totally okay when an entire issue deals with the main character enacting a tea ceremony with a bunch of lights and energy that used to be Suprema. Or another issue that tracks Diehard's life through the millennia, as we watch him go from war-machine, to peaceful family man. Please never end the insanity."

-- CBR Contributor Ryan Burton

26. The Lost Boy
Written & Drawn by Greg Ruth
Published by Scholastic Graphix

"Although it's a Scholastic book, technically for kids, Greg Ruth's twisted folklore has haunted me since the first reading. With elements of Ray Bradbury, Hammer Horror Films and 'Alice in Wonderland,' 'The Lost Boy' kept me enchanted and scared from beginning to end. The artwork is vivid and beautiful, with no corners cut for simplicity."

-- CBR Staff Writer Casey Gilly

"Greg Ruth's art is absolutely lovely. Theoretically, he could get away with drawing anything and it would be enjoyable to read. Luckily, he actually wrote a very engaging story about two children discovering a lost world, one which is at war with itself (in a sense). Readers can allow themselves to be drawn into the story by his captivating black and white art, safe in the knowledge that the journey of discovery and growth will be rewarding and inspiring."

-- Comics Should Be Good Columnist Sonia Harris

Check out positions #25-11 now, and the year's ten best comics later today!

TAGS:  top 100 comics of 2013

 
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