CBR's Top 100 Comics of 2013, #25 - 11

Tue, December 31st, 2013 at 5:58am PST | Updated: December 31st, 2013 at 4:11pm

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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 kick it into high gear as we enter the Top 25! (Check out #100-76 here, #75-51 here and #50-26 here.) Below you'll find entries #25 to 11, and in that selective group there are a number of creator-owned series including brand new hits alongside standout books of the past 20 years. Not to be outdone, there are a number of recently reinvented franchises that have been blowing up the sales charts as well as standout graphic novels about real life, imaginary worlds and more. B sure to check back at Noon Pacific today to see the Top 10 comics of 2013! 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

25. Pretty Deadly
Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick
Drawn by Emma Rios
Published by Image Comics

"Although 'Pretty Deadly' is only three issues in, it has already proved itself to be one of the most stunning, intricate books of the year. With sophisticated plotting and naturalistic dialogue, Kelly Sue DeConnick's every move feels deliberate and calculated and the payoff is already starting to show. Emma Rios rocks on art with gorgeous character designs and cinematic layouts, ultimately giving the book its distinct, legendary feel. Together, DeConnick and Rios have a breathtaking, goosebump-inducing masterpiece on their hands."

-- CBR Reviewer Meagan Damore

"It's astounding how lyrical and how charmingly dark this book is. Emma Ríos & Kelly Sue DeConnick, along with colorist Jordie Bellaire and letterist Clayton Clowes sing a song of death and beauty, of mysticism and brutality. The book feels like a story being told in an old dive found in some forgotten corner in Mexico, the words softly spoken through a haze of tequila and smoke and just a little bit of blood. 'Pretty Deadly' is palpable on every level, it scratches all the literary itches: it's Western, it's Fantasy, it's Revenge. It's a song I don't ever want to end, a song that haunts me. It is the best book Image has put out this year, and these four creators are the band I want playing when Ginny comes riding for us all."

-- CBR Contributor Ryan Burton

24. Superior Foes of Spider-Man
Written by Nick Spencer
Drawn by Steve Lieber
Published by Marvel Comics

"This is the funniest monthly book being published. It reads like 'It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia' as superheroes -- terrible people being terrible to each other and the staggeringly funny fallout of those actions. Fred Myers is the second best narrator in a Marvel book. It tops my list because of the quality of story and the sheer surprise on my part that the concept is executed this well. Spencer and Lieber seem like they're in each others' heads as storytellers. Go buy it already."

-- CBR Reviewer Matt Little

"Who knew that Spidey's foes would be ideally suited to a comedy caper book? Proof that there is always room for unique, creative standalone storytelling within a company-owned superhero universe."

-- CBR Contributor Josh Bell

23. Locke & Key
Written by Joe Hill
Drawn by Gabriel Rodriguez
Published by IDW

"From start to finish, Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez's 'Locke & Key' has been one of the strongest comics on the market, and the duo finished strong this year, wrapping the series in an entirely satisfying conclusion. Although the book on the Locke family has closed, this year brought a number of strong issues in 'Locke & Key: Omega' and 'Locke & Key: Alpha,' all of which brought a cap on some of the best storytelling comics has seen."

-- CBR Reviews Editor Steve Sunu

"Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriquez have been building an imaginative and emotional horror story brick-by-brick, telling the story of the grief-stricken Locke family. This year, they closed the door on the story with the expected amounts of tragedy, blood and shadow demons. But even as the darkness increased with each chapter, the last issue still managed to be an emotional knockout full of tough, bittersweet farewells, making it one of the most memorable comic series conclusions."

-- CBR Contributor Ryan Ingram

22. Mind MGMT
Written & Drawn by Matt Kindt
Published by Dark Horse

"It is astonishing how inventive Matt Kindt is with 'Mind MGMT' on an ongoing basis. How his mind is able to come up with so many clever ideas every single month is staggering to me. In the second year of this excellent series, Kindt spends more time exploring the mythology of the mysterious agency behind the title of the series and examining the various agents behind the group. It is fascinating material."

-- Comics Should Be Good Editor Brian Cronin

"Matt Kindt's 'Mind MGMT' is the comic book equivalent of a puzzle box, as you flip it every which way looking for the solution that will open it up and reveal all its secrets. A mixture of secret organizations, world travel, and psychic powers, Kindt's stories mix clues and long-simmering plot threads into the narrative, and each new installment gets us one step closer to fully understanding 'Mind MGMT.' If you mixed 'Lost' with 'X-Men,' you'd get an inferior version of 'Mind MGMT.'"

-- Comics Should Be Good Writer Greg McElhatton

21. Trillium
Written & Drawn by Jeff Lemire
Published by Vertigo/DC Comics

"The latest Vertigo series from modern master Jeff Lemire debuted by turning the comic book industry on its head -- literally. Launching with a flip book-style first issue, Lemire's hauntingly homegrown art matches his roughneck writing for 'Trillium' perfectly. And after telling epic stories with Lester, Gus and Jack Joseph, I'm loving the Canadian cartoonist's latest, which features a mercurial female scientist with a name that evokes the madness of Nikola Tesla."

-- CBR Staff Writer Jeffrey Renaud

"Jeff Lemire has stacked mirror stories about a broken former soldier in 1921 and a crusading scientist at humanity's end on top of an intoxicating romance that breaks through that nearly 2,000 year gap. It's hard to believe that Lemire can wrap up this gargantuan story in only five more installments, but it's also exciting to know that this is quickly building to a grand conclusion."

-- CBR Contributor Jason Tabrys

20. Batman
Written by Scott Snyder
Drawn by Greg Capullo, Rafael Albuquerque
Published by DC Comics

"What can you say about 'Batman' that hasn't been said before? That it's a modern classic in the making? That Snyder and Capullo have redefined the character for an entire generation of fans? I'll just leave it by adding that 'Zero Year' is the crowning achievement of an already flawless run -- now is the time to be a Batman fan."

-- CBR Staff Writer Josie Campbell

"Scott Snyder, Greg Capullo and company continue to tell wildly entertaining and detailed Batman stories in a world where so many corporate superhero comics feel like they're just going through the motions."

-- CBR Staff Writer TJ Dietsch

19. The Fifth Beatle
Written by Vivek J. Tiwary
Drawn by Andrew Robinson & Kyle Baker
Published by Dark Horse

"Everyone knows who The Beatles were and many know of their history, but few knew much of their manager Brian Epstein, who guided the world's greatest musical act into uncharted waters and unprecedented success, even as personal happiness and satisfaction eluded him. Vivek J. Tiwary examines the life of a very lonely man whose homosexuality in a homophobic society kept him from ever finding true love; a man who buried himself in a very hectic and very public life as the man who made The Beatles. Beautifully illustrated, it tragically shows the life of a visionary who had everything, except what he truly needed."

-- CBR Reviewer Jim Thompson

"'The Fifth Beatle' is one of the most impressive graphic novels of the year. The story of Brian Epstein, the Beatles' longtime manager, is interesting on its own, but Vivek J. Tiwary, Andrew Robinson and Kyle Baker craft a graphic novel that pushes the boundaries of the comic medium's capabilities for an impressively rendered biography."

-- CBR Reviews Editor Steve Sunu

"This beautiful biography of Brian Epstein is an amazing storytelling journey through the life of the man responsible for the success of the world's greatest band. Epstein's tireless dedication to the band is touching and heartbreaking. It's a lyrical, almost dreamlike dance through his life. Robinson and Baker's art is full of life, interpreting the script in a free-form cartooning style not dissimilar to the work in the Beatles' own animated output. A wonderful work of art."

-- CBR Reviewer Matt Little

18. Hellboy In Hell
Written & Drawn by Mike Mignola
Published by Dark Horse

"Mignola is awake now, summoning whatever chthonic gods he worships, channeling their obscene power into each and every panel of 'Hellboy in Hell.' It's the last book in the pile, always. And it's so very frightening how well this book is put together. Daunting, yet inviting; the end product is a physical metaphor of the place Hellboy finds himself in his latest chapter of misadventure. The entire team, down to Clemens and Allie, meticulously craft each issue with such adoration, such care -- the weight of it all is at once overwhelming and inspirational. The book is beautiful, from the fast moments to the quiet moments. But most importantly, the moments in-between where we glimpse the secret prayers Mignola utters to his old gods."

-- CBR Contributor Ryan Burton

"'Hellboy in Hell' is witnessing an artist in his purest form and Mike Mignola at the top of his game. An absolute treat as he continues to challenge the medium and make some of the best comics ever."

-- CBR Contributor Dave Scheidt

17. Fatale
Written by Ed Brubaker
Drawn by Sean Phillips
Published by Image Comics

"Last year Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips kicked off 'Fatale,' a dark, beautiful, ethereal and often nightmarish comic that perfectly melds the horror and crime genres together. This year they deepened the mysteries surrounding the series' central protagonist Josephine with a series of flashback issues that took place in different eras and expertly captured the feel of each one. Then they kicked off the current captivating arc which is a haunting look at music, magic and madness."

-- CBR Staff Writer Dave Richards

"It feels like Phillips and Brubaker have been sharpening their craft for decades and finally they have the ability to pierce through space and time to suck us all into this perfect crime/noir/horror comic black hole that's simply captivating."

-- CBR Contributor Ryan K Lindsay

16. The Property
Written & Drawn by Rutu Modan
Published by Drawn & Quarterly

"With her second full-length graphic novel, Modan has established herself as one of the world's greatest cartoonists. The Property is a complex and humane portrait of individuals, families, communities and countries. It is about the past and the present. It is a dark, moving and ultimately beautiful portrait of life."

-- CBR Staff Writer Alex Dueben

"As a longtime fan of Modan's work, I loved that her graphic novel 'The Property' both felt like everything she's done before and also different. Chronicling the journey of a woman and her grandmother as they return to Warsaw in an attempt to reclaim property that they were forced to abandon in the war, Modan elegantly relays the tale without any cloying sentimentality. And yet it is rife with emotion and poignancy. Her art, as always, is subtle and effective, exquisitely and efficiently relaying her tale. There is nothing loud or demanding about Modan's visuals; in fact, they are all the more beautiful for their subdued simplicity and almost matter-of-fact-ness. The characters here are complex, their motivations layered and their humanity bared, they feel absolutely real and as a result both tragic and joyous, like life. There is always a sense of hope in Modan's work, a lightness that transcends and lifts the reader toward what is next."

-- CBR Reviewer Kelly Thompson

"'The Property' is a graphic novel that reads like a novel, with strong characters, a plot that pulls you along, and several subplots to add complexity. Modan's art is superb, and the cemetery scene in particular is a thing of beauty all on its own. Overall, this book is a perfect blend of art and story."

-- CBR & Robot 6 Contributor Brigid Alverson

15. Astro City
Written by Kurt Busiek
Drawn by Brent Anderson & Alex Ross
Published by Vertigo/DC Comics

"I didn't realize how much I missed 'Astro City' until it came back. Kurt Busiek is still the master at telling relatable human stories in a superhero world, and he's pretty great at telling straight-up superhero stories, too."

-- CBR Contributor Josh Bell

"After a nearly three year absence, 'Astro City' returns! Kurt Busiek, Brent Anderson, Alex Ross and the rest of the team return to put on an absolute clinic on how amazing superhero comics can be when they're done right. The series is largely comprised of stand alone tales, focusing on different heroes, villains and those on neither side who occupy the city of Astro City and the large world in general. This time though, Busiek's seeding an ongoing arc involving the enigmatic and unstable Broken Man. Exactly how the individual issues tie together has yet to be reveled, but as long as they keep cranking out fantastic stories like the two-parter about superpowered people attempting to live ordinary lives, Busiek can take all the time in the world."

-- Comics Should Be Good Columnist Ken Haley

"I'm very glad to see this title back on a monthly basis. Kurt Busiek and Brent Anderson are doing amazing work on this title. The second issue really clicked with me and was, at least for me, the best comic of the year. This is a must read for anyone that wants to see what can really be done with superhero storytelling."

-- CBR Columnist John Mayo

14. Bad Houses
Written by Sara Ryan
Drawn by Carla Speed McNeil
Published by Dark Horse

"Sara Ryan and Carla Speed McNeil's original graphic novel 'Bad Houses' is the sort of book that defies categorization, as it follows two young people (her mother's a horder, his mother arranges estate sales for families of the deceased) as their lives interact with one another. Is this a family drama? A romance? An exploration of a slowly doomed town? It's ultimately all and none at the same time. Ryan's shift from comic shorts to a full graphic novel (although she has several prose novels to her credit) is stunning, and McNeil's art is as excellent as ever. This is probably one of the best comics that you never heard of."

-- Comics Should Be Good Writer Greg McElhatton

"Ryan and McNeil are both incredibly strong writers -- so to see them collaborate on a story such is this proved to be the equivalent of when George Lucas and Steven Spielberg decided to make a story together -- in other words, you get a damn good story. The narrative reminds me of something that a young Robert Altman might have told -- several people's lives converging around one small town and the intricacies of estate sales. Much of the book's appeal is neatly summarized in one sentence by Ryan in the book's afterword: 'And you can't go to estate sales without thinking about mortality, family, and inheritance.'"

-- Robot 6 Columnist Tim O'Shea

13. Sex Criminals

Written by Matt Fraction
Drawn by Chip Zdarsky
Published by Image Comics

"With 'Sex Criminals,' Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky are telling an allegedly scandalous story about a thoroughly orgasmic (and eventually criminal) meet-cute that is as sexy and brilliant as it is hilarious and adorable.

"Add those lovely escapades to an unraveling mystery about the true nature of The Quiet and the sparklingly snarky way that Fraction is taking on Apple and the book's scarlet letter, and it's easy to see why this book is both addictive and vital."

-- CBR Contributor Jason Tabrys

"Meeting John and Suzi was the moment I finally found peers in comic books -- people who were quirky without being twee, weird without being pretentious, and sexy without being a caricature. 'Sex Criminals' is like 'The Wonder Years' for the grunge generation, except with woods porn and dildo fights. It makes me feel nostalgic without making me feel irrelevant."

-- CBR Staff Writer Casey Gilly

"Not quite sure why it took so long for comic books to have a raunchy sci-fi sex comedy, but 'Sex Criminals' was worth the wait. With just three issues out in 2013, writer Matt Fraction and artist Chip Zdarsky quickly proved to be a perfect match on an Image Comics series about sex, crime and the much more complicated issue of making a genuine human connection. Each issue thus far is positively, um, dripping with imagination and ideas (like the gleefully implausible sex position montage in issue #1) that make it clear this is a work of true inspiration, with charmingly filthy results."

-- CBR Senior Editor Albert Ching

12. The Private Eye
Written by Brian K. Vaughan
Drawn by Marcos Martin
Published by Panel Syndicate

"Before 'Beyonce,' there was 'Private Eye.' This comic book from the medium's heaviest of hitters came out of nowhere as a digital-only release, proving that you don't need tie-ins, promos and hype to get attention -- you just need to make good comics."

-- CBR Columnist Brett White

"The pay-what-you-want, DRM-free business model isn't the only bold move of this digital comic. Vaughan, Martin and colorist Muntsa Vicente have released five issues of their sci-fi mystery, half way to their projected end point. The team magically mixes forward-thinking, truly insightful speculative fiction on technology and how it's changing our culture with just the right dash of retro nostalgia for the good ol' days of analog."

-- Robot 6 Writer Corey Blake

"Call me old school but I like my comics on paper. Digital comics are fine but I hadn't seen one that I felt was done right. Then my podcast co-host suggested we review 'The Private Eye.' This is digital comics done the way I think they should be done. The pages perfectly fit my tablet and feel natural in the landscape mode. None of the crazy click through each of a million word balloons or faked out animation, just plain old solid story telling. I'm glad the title was a few issue in when I read the first issue because I wanted to read more. This is available on a 'pay what you think it is worth' model and the creators are clearly doing everything they can to earn our money. I really respect that."

-- CBR Columnist John Mayo

11. Superior Spider-Man
Written by Dan Slott
Drawn by Ryan Stegman, Humberto Ramos, Giuseppe Camuncoli
Published by Marvel Comics

"Doc Ock as Spider-Man has played out a lot longer and a lot better than I would ever have imagined. Anyone that dropped the title with the change over to the 'Superior Spider-Man' has missed out on some great stories. Dan Slott and company have been redefining what it means to be Spider-Man."

-- CBR Columnist John Mayo

"Yo, you gotta get over Pete dying and see how fun this book is. Peter Parker was my spirit animal, but his death was moving and it left Spider-Man in a place that he's never been before. To Ock, creating efficiency in the pursuit of the greater good is what constitutes superiority, which makes sense -- he's a brilliant scientist and strategist. Watching his ego slowly pull apart his own work has been a hell of a ride. Slott earned my trust a long time ago. The art squad of Ryan Stegman, Humberto Ramos, and Giuseppe Camuncoli have been giving us fast-paced, intense superhero work."

-- CBR Reviewer Matt Little

"Dan Slott's 'Superior Spider-Man' has had a banner first year. With a double-shipping schedule, the adventures of Spider-Ock continue to be a breath of fresh air for the series -- albeit a somewhat frustrating breath to see Otto Octavius continue his charade of being Peter Parker. But Slott's masterful handling of the entire Spider-verse, plus the addition of Miguel O'Hara to the book's cast has been a pleasure to behold. Here's to a Superior first year and hope for an even better second!"

-- CBR Reviews Editor Steve Sunu

Check back today at Noon Pacific for the final installment of CBR's Top 100 Comics of 2013, when we reveal the Top 10 comics of 2013!

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