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Mike Duke’s Top 10 Comics of 2013

Hello, dear readers! I hope you all had a wonderful holiday.

Not to be outdone, I am posting my own top 10 list for the last year. However, as is my way, I’m going to do it in the way that makes the most sense to me.

These are not in any real order, and believe me when I say that there are many, many books that I would have liked to have on this list that are not. But, I feel like this list exemplifies not only the best books I read all year, but also my year in general–the year when I started writing reviews for Talking Comic Books dot com, when my own comic writing started to take off, and when comics in general took over my life.

Here we go:

Deadpool_7First, let’s start with the book I reviewed the most in 2013: Deadpool. Man, I’ve talked a lot aboutDeadpool this year. I will admit, it hasn’t all been great, but by and large it’s has been a joy to review and a lot of fun to read. The direction since the Marvel Now relaunch has been a little gonzo, a little haphazard, and spotted with some surprisingly serious moments, but I still look forward to each new issue when it hits my box.


batman_17_cover_notextNext, let’s talk about the no-brainer pick on my list: Batman. Seriously, I know there are a couple hundred thousand of you out there reading this book every month, but if you haven’t folded to the hype yet, you aren’t doing yourself any favors. This is the best book on the stands month to month, and I can almost guarantee that Zero Year will be on A LOT of top 10 lists at the end of 2014. Not much else can be said about the greatness that is the collaboration between Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo that makes Batman something special, but it really is deserving of all the praise and hype.


sledgehammer44_2_coverFor my favorite limited series, I’m going to talk about Sledgehammer 44. The universe of Hellboy, BPRD, Mike Mignola and company is vast and terrifyingly deep, but 2013 was the year that I finally started to dip my toe in. I read some Abe Sapien, a little Lobster Johnson, some Hellboy in Hell, but the title that really punched me in the chest was Sledgehammer 44. This is a book that reminded me that you don’t have to have six or eight or ten issue story arcs to make an impact on a reader. Sometimes you only need two. It looks like there isn’t going to be a collected edition of Sledgehammer until June 2014–after Lightning War wraps up–but if you come across this little mini in your local shop, be sure to check it out.

ff-05-allred-covI wanted one spot on this list to take the place of a “best art” category, and the first book that came to mind for me was FF. Not that I don’t also love the writing in FF, and not that all of my other picks don’t all have wonderful art, but FF is one of the very few books where I examine every page even after I’m done reading it. Mike and Laura Allred create something visually spectacular every month in the pages of FF and it’s a joy to witness every month. There is a lot of amazing art work being done out there in the comics world right now, and very few books seem to fall victim to the “house style” art concept anymore, but FF stands out even among the stand-outs as a visual treat.

BOOM_SUICIDERISK_004v1_ANext up is a comic that I absolutely love, but I haven’t gotten the opportunity to review for the site yet:Suicide Risk. I picked this one up on a whim earlier in the year and found the premise and the writing so good that I just couldn’t put it down. It shouldn’t surprise me: Suicide Risk writer Mike Carey is also responsible for The Unwritten–a comic that is not on this list only because I fell hopelessly behind on it. I’ve been really impressed with the creator-owned, original content that Boom Studios has put out this year, and whenever I talk about it, I mention Suicide Risk first. Volume 1 is available right now with Volume 2 on the way in March, or you can pick up the first issue on Comixology for two bucks. If you like alternate takes on superheroes, you should take a look at Sucide Risk.

Avengers_Arena_Vol_1_16_TextlessCresting over the middle of my list is a series that ended this year, but not because of low readership or creator differences. Avengers Arena ended because, after 18 issues, the story was over, and man, was it awesome. The Hunger Games/Battle Royale type story is a big deal right now, and putting superheroes in that scenario just seems like a natural fit. But, to take a group of little known, very young characters and put them through an ordeal like this makes the Hunger Games look like a Sunday afternoon bowling. A new story will begin with the same characters and creators in 2014 calledAvengers Undercover, and while I can’t wait, I will still look back at my time in Murder World with fondness.

2013-06-04-JLA_74BlackAdamNext up is my nominee for “best single issue” of the year: Justice League of America #7.4: Black Adam. You can stop laughing now because I know. Believe me, I know. But hear me out. I don’t know anyone who has fond memories of the debacle that was Villain’s Month, and it seems like there were few titles all month that were anything more than mediocre. Black Adam stood out to me as a rose among the trash heap. It was cool, it made me want to jump up and cheer, and it made me actually want to read Forever Evil, unlike its fellows. The Black Adam/Captain Marvel backup in Justice League was my favorite part of that book, and this Black Adam one-shot followed that story up beautifully. Sure, there were better issues over the course of the year, but none that surprised and delighted me more than Black Adam.

Ultimate-Comics-Spider-Man-25As my favorite comic published by one of the big 2 this year, I chose Ultimate Comics Spider-ManCataclysm notwithstanding, this is one of the best stories I’ve ever read. Bendis has been writingUltimate Spider-Man since 2000, and no one knows this world better. And Miles Morales might be the best new character created in the big 2 in decades. All around a great comic–it’s only problem is all of these silly events getting in the way. I’ve got my fingers crossed hoping that Cataclysm doesn’t kill this title for good, but until then, pick up a trade or two and enjoy.


manhattan projects_fermi posterFor my favorite independent/creator-owned comic this year, I’ve picked The Manhattan Projects. This was a slugfest, and despite how the list turned out overall, I actually read a lot of non-superhero, non-big 2 books. But, The Manhattan Projects is just too good, and it carries with it a fun factor that is absolutely undeniable. Also, the most recent story arc has opened the characters up considerably to show that they are more than just the gags they seem to be on the surface. Hickman is a master, and I believe that this is his masterpiece.


animalman18Finally, for my favorite comic book of 2013, I chose Animal Man. This is a book that has been consistently great month after month after month. It can be heart warming, it can be terrifying, and it can be awesome, and sometimes it’s all of those things in just one issue. Despite a small detour in a recent issue, there has not, in my humble opinion, been a bad book in this series. And, I am hard-pressed to find chracters that I care about more than the Baker family. Jeff Lemire’s recent announcement that this series will be ending soon was a blow to my heart, but I can only hope that he ends it with a bang.

So there it was, my top 10 of 2013. I hope you enjoyed the year as much as I did. I would love to hear your opinions, your heart-felt disagreements, and/or your casual comments below.

Thank you everyone for reading! Here’s to an even better 2014!

Mike is a husband, father, writer, gamer, and all around geek. His life’s ambition is to write the fictions, either in film, books, or comics. He is currently working on a couple of comics with artists local to his home in Denver, Colorado, which will be…

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