The 25 best comics of 2023

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It's always daunting compiling a list like this. 2023 was a simply incredible year for comics, with a steady stream of quality titles coming from every corner of the industry. There's so much great stuff published each month that narrowing things down to just 25 is really difficult. 

When putting together this list, then, we looked back at the comics that had really made an impact on us personally, from the boldest superhero stories like DC's new take on Wonder Woman to some gripping horror comics and the most promising new books, like DSTLRY's Somna, which is only one issue into its run, but has already cast its strange spell on us. So join us now as we look back on a fantastic 12 months in comics and look forward to all the treats that 2024 has in store.

Note: The comics we've included here were released between January 1 and December 31, 2023 in the UK. We'll have a separate piece on the top 10 manga of 2023 soon.

25. Local Man (Image Comics)

Art from Local Man

(Image credit: Image Comics)

The '90s introduced plenty of over-the-top, extreme superheroes, and a postmodern look at the legacy of those types of characters forms the crux of Local Man. Created by Tim Seeley and Tony Fleecs, the series follows hard-on-his-luck Jack Xaver, who used to be the former superhero Crossjack as part of the superstar hero team Third Gen. Retreating back to his parents' home in the Midwest after enduring a public scandal, he finds himself in the middle of a murder mystery and is forced to clear his name as he reconciles with his past. With both Fleecs and Seeley artists themselves, Fleecs handles the art for the sequences in modern-day while Seeley illustrates the flashbacks sequences of Crossjack's glory days. After establishing their premise and cast, Local Man has really leaned into some of its major influences, bringing in familiar faces from other Image titles as they build their own shared universe. A treat for anyone who read '90s superhero comics, especially the first generation of Image titles, Local Man brings spectacle to its existential meditation on the genre. Sam Stone

24. Peacemaker Tries Hard! (DC)

Art from Peacemaker Tries Hard

(Image credit: DC)

Of all the obscure DC characters to become a surprise breakout character in film and television, Peacemaker wasn't probably at the top of most people's lists a few years ago. Fortunately, filmmaker James Gunn and actor John Cena have made him a multimedia success story and that influence is felt in the DC Black Label miniseries Peacemaker Tries Hard!. Written by Kyle Starks and illustrated by Steve Pugh, the comic book feels like the spiritual successor to the Max original series, though set in its own continuity. Given his acclaimed library of action comedy creator-owned work, Starks is the perfect writer to lean into the '80s action-influenced sensibilities behind the modern depiction of Peacemaker. Pugh, with colorist Jordie Bellaire, matches Starks' madcap energy, intuitively dialing up for the series' memorable action set pieces and delicately capturing those rare moments of vulnerability. 

For fans who can't wait to see Cena as Peacemaker again, this comic is a fantastic way to see a similar version of the character deftly balancing absurd humor and bombastic action. Sam Stone

23. Kill Your Darlings (Image Comics)

Art from Kill Your Darlings

(Image credit: Image Comics)

Three issues in, we're still not entirely sure what Kill Your Darlings actually is, but we've been mesmerized by it. In part, it's a horror story where our protagonist Rose is haunted by some connection to a series of witch hunts from centuries past. But then it's also a cuddly fantasy epic, where Rose's childhood daydreams of ruling a realm full of stuffed animals have somehow bled into reality years later. The one thing that's certain is that something very bad is happening, and that kingdom's rivers are running red with the blood of toys. It's a fascinating setup, and one that's buoyed by fantastic dialogue that effortlessly manages to bridge the gap between violent horror and adventurous fantasy. Dustin Bailey

22. Scarlet Witch (Marvel)

Art from Scarlet Witch

(Image credit: Marvel)

Wanda Maximoff has been a villain for so long now that it's often easy to forget that she started out as a hero. Marvel's Scarlet Witch book, which began in January, rectifies the situation by giving her a starring role in a great monthly comic book, and by showing her sincere and well-earned redemption. MCU character Darcy Lewis is finally brought into comics continuity, and a crossover with Loki adds to the sense of mischief. Writer Steve Orlando and artist Sara Pichelli have crafted a vibrant, characterful comic that's fast and fun, but also shot through with melancholy at Wanda's past, while still placing the focus firmly on her exciting new future. Will Salmon

21. 2000 AD (Rebellion)

Art from 2000 AD

(Image credit: Rebellion)

Britain's foremost comic export remains as reliably thrill-packed as ever 46 years after it first launched and made a morally questionable icon of future Lawman Judge Dredd. This year saw the permanent departure of classic character Judge Hershey in a story arc by Rob Williams and Simon Fraser that was both elegiac and moving, and set up a thrilling whodunnit for a furious Dredd to solve. Elsewhere, Dan Abnett and Tazio Bettin launched new cyberpunk saga Azimuth, and Peter Milligan and Rufus Dayglo began sci-fi love story The Devil's Railroad. Plus there were new adventures for long-running favourites like Strontium Dog and Rogue Trooper. All these years on and the self proclaimed Galaxy's Greatest Comic still delivers on its promise of maximum Thrill-Power. Will Salmon

20. Miracleman: The Silver Age (Marvel)

Art from Miracleman: The Silver Age

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It may have been three decades in the making, but Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham's Miracleman: The Silver Age has been well worth waiting for. Focusing on Young Miracleman, we see everything from the endearingly naïve Dickie Dauntless' perspective as he flees Miracleman's Olympus headquarters after being disturbed by its fantastical aliens and boundless sexual freedoms. Setting out on a quest to discover his true identity, Gaiman and Buckingham's story gets intriguingly meta as it incorporates call-backs not only to Mick Anglo's original '50s comics but also Alan Moore, Garry Leach, and Alan Davis's early '80s strips as Dickie journeys to Dr Gargunza's abandoned Cotswolds laboratory. Combining fine linework with intricate layouts, Buckingham's art has never looked better. With #7's final instalment due early next year, it sets the scene perfectly for the upcoming Bronze Age. Stephen Jewell

19. Void Rivals (Skybound)

Art from Void Rivals

(Image credit: Skybound)

Stealth releasing Void Rivals as the first offering from Skybound Entertainment's new shared Energon Universe was a stroke of genius. Journeying from a desolate planet to their satellite home the Sacred Ring, Agorrian Darak and Zetonian Solila - the titular Void Rivals - gradually bond as they uncover the sinister conspiracy at the heart of the long-running war between their two bitterly opposing alien races. Aided by Lorenzo De Felici's kinetic art, Robert Kirkman wisely keeps appearances from any Autobots or Decepticons to a minimum, although he peppers his script with deeper references to the wider Transformers universe. With #6's cliffhanger bringing the first arc to a thrilling close, fans at least have Transformers, and the upcoming Duke and Cobra Commander books to keep them busy until Void Rivals returns in March. Stephen Jewell

18. Amazing Spider-Man (Marvel)

Art from Amazing Spider-Man

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Look, we're not unaware of the controversies around the current Amazing Spider-Man run from writer Zeb Wells and artists John Romita Jr., Ed McGuinness, and Patrick Gleason (we've dug into it in depth, in fact. More than once). So it may seem a bit odd to name such a polarizing title which has had its share of missteps as one of our highlights of 2023. But the fact is, when the title is at its best, it stands out as one of the most interesting and gripping Spider-Man runs in some time.

The crux of Amazing Spider-Man's success lies in the ongoing story of Norman Osborn and his tenuous search for redemption after being purged of his Green Goblin dark side. There's a complex tension in the relationship between Peter and Norman, especially as Amazing Spider-Man seems to be charging forward to a major climax for Norman's arc, and we're expecting some very bittersweet fireworks. George Marston

17. Barnstormers (ComiXology Originals/Dark Horse Comics)

Art from Barnstormers

(Image credit: Comixology / Dark Horse Comics)

Scott Snyder and Tula Lotay teamed up for the sweeping period piece romance title Barnstormers, which debuted on ComiXology Originals before receiving a print release through Dark Horse Comics. Set nearly a decade after the conclusion of World War I when aviators pulled off death-defying aerial stunts known as barnstorming, the story has war veteran Hawk meet a young woman named Tillie who shares his love of the open skies. As the two become implicated for a shocking crime, these young aerial daredevils go on the run while the era of barnstorming comes to an abrupt end around them. 

More than just a high-flying approach to Bonnie & Clyde archetypes, Barnstormers unabashedly romanticizes a bygone era when aviation reached the masses and had so much unregulated passion and freedom. Hawk and Tillie are united by their mutual love of the seemingly endless possibilities in the skies, striking up a romance as their deepest passion comes under threat. But the real standout for Barnstormers is Lotay's artwork, who creates a timeless portrait of the era, with colorist Dee Cunniffe's work beautifully complemented by Lotay's own colors to bring this award-winning story to lush life. Sam Stone

16. Jean Grey (Marvel)

Art from Jean Grey

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

The retro trend has been big in comics in 2023, especially at Marvel, which has made something of an art of bringing classic creators back to the characters that they're best associated with for flashback stories. The Jean Grey limited series technically qualifies thanks to writer Louise Simonson's long association with the character, but this story has taken a different approach to the idea by showing what might have been if just a few things had happened differently across several eras of Jean's life.
With looks back at the team's earliest days in a story that ties into their time in the present day, a devastating look at an alternate outcome for the Dark Phoenix saga, and more, Simonson and artist Bernard Chang have made a fitting tribute not just to life of Jean Grey, but to the history of the X-Men as a team. George Marston

15. Rare Flavours (BOOM! Studios)

Art from Rare Flavours

(Image credit: BOOM! Studios)

After creating the critically hailed The Many Deaths of Laila Starr, Ram V and Filipe Andrade reunite at BOOM! Studios for the new miniseries Rare Flavours. The six-issue story involves traveling gourmand Rubin Baksh, who enlists a filmmaker named Mo to document him touring the best Indian restaurants in the world. However, Rubin has a demonic secret about his true nature and intentions as Mo gets to know his enigmatic business partner in their culinary odyssey. Ram V has written for most of the major American comic book publishers, bringing a decidedly humanist focus on even his most otherworldly stories. That continues with Rare Flavours, with the writer and artist Filipe Andrade improving upon their already impressive collaborative energy to create something unique and special on the stands. If Blue in Green was Ram V's love letter to jazz, Rare Flavours is a love letter to Indian cuisine with a narratively sinister edge. Sam Stone

14. Batman: Gargoyle of Gotham (DC)

Art from Batman: Gargoyle of Gotham

(Image credit: DC)

Pitting the Caped Crusader against Crytoon, a serial killer modelled on an old animated series, Gargoyle of Gotham stands out by putting a unique spin on what can often seem like a well-worn Batman tale. Like many of the best Bat stories, this Black Label title has social justice at its heart, opening by focusing on the city's almost Dickensian slums as Batman breaks up a drugs lab. Having collaborated with him on 2020's The Dark Knight Returns: The Golden Child, Grampa's debt to Frank Miller is apparent in his sinewy figurework and vibrant layouts. Naming incidental characters after Batman creator Bob Kane, Stan Lee and Se7en director David Fincher and writer Andrew Kevin Walker, he wears his other influences on his sleeve, although his sleek Dark Detective also brings to mind Paul Pope. And he also draws a mean Batmobile! Stephen Jewell

13. Killadelphia (Image Comics)

Art from Killadelphia

(Image credit: Image Comics)

Rodney Barnes' and Jason Shawn Alexander's Killadelphia turned five this year. What started out as an atmospheric tale of cops, crime, and vampires in Philly has evolved into something a lot grander and more ambitious over the years, involving evil dead Presidents and a battle between the forces of Heaven and Hell. The most recent few issues have really turned up the heat by introducing Spawn (yes, that Spawn) into the Killadelphia mythology - and that was just the start of what looks set to become a crossover for the ages with another classic Image character, Savage Dragon, entering the fray in #32, with Count Dracula and b-movie icon Blacula to follow. And yet the truly impressive thing about Killadelphia is that it still feels uniquely like itself: gruesome, moody, bleakly funny and like no other book on stands right now. Will Salmon

12. Daredevil (Marvel)

Art from Daredevil

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Daredevil lucked out bigtime in 2023 with the explosive finale of writer Chip Zdarsky and artist Marco Checchetto's years-long run on the title, followed up by a relaunch by writer Saladin Ahmed and artist Aaron Kuder that's already finding its footing as an intriguing new era for the Man Without Fear. Zdarsky and Checcetto's volume ended with fireworks, sending Matt Murdock to Hell as he sacrificed himself to end the Hand once and for all. Ahmed and Kuder's run has picked up that baton by bringing Matt back to Earth as a priest who helps run a foster home, while pitting him against literal demons and devils - a supernatural twist that takes Daredevil in a new direction while still sticking to his gritty, street-level roots. All in all, the end of one volume of Daredevil and the beginning of a new one has served the title well, managing to find new challenges and new foes for Matt Murdock that feel like a natural progression for the character. George Marston

11. Ultimate Invasion (Marvel)

Art from Ultimate Invasion

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Considering the current popularity of the multiverse concept, reviving Marvel's Ultimate Universe is a move long overdue, and with his reputation for constructing elaborate, densely plotted storylines Jonathan Hickman is the perfect choice to script it. Perhaps not so accessible to those not in the know, there's nevertheless plenty of pay-offs for those up to date with current Marvel continuity as evil Reed Richards doppelganger The Maker escapes into a parallel dimension where Howard Stark is Iron Man. 

With each issue varying in length, Bryan Hitch is given plenty of space to lay out his impressively cinematic art, which seems even more heavily detailed than ever. Too many plot threads might have been left dangling, but along with the recent Ultimate Universe, this four-parter sets the scene nicely for 2024's range of new Ultimate titles. Stephen Jewell

10. The Flash (DC)

Art from The Flash

(Image credit: DC)

Si Spurrier and Mike Deodato Jr's reinvention of The Flash is one of the year's more surprising super-books. Wally West has had a pretty stable family set up for quite some time now, but Spurrier and Deodato's run is hellbent on destabilizing things and introducing a note of genuine strangeness to the comic. While the Park-West family hasn't quite come apart, both Wally and Linda are struggling with different aspects of super-life and the strain is certainly starting to show. There's something wrong with the Speed Force, and that has allowed the creators to add a touch of cosmic horror to the book. Deodato Jr's art, especially, is incredibly evocative and uncanny, his idiosyncratic use of panels adding to the sense that this would have made a top Vertigo title back in the day. A fabulously unexpected reinvention of a major character. Will Salmon

9. Somna (DSTLRY)

Art from Somna

(Image credit: DSTLRY)

Becky Cloonan and Tula Lotay's collaboration is only one issue deep so far, but what an incredible issue. One of the first releases from new publisher DSTLRY, Somna #1 is a devastatingly effective folk horror tale set in the 17th century. We follow Ingrid, the wife of the local witchfinder, as she becomes ever more intrigued by the mysterious and sinister figure that's haunting her dreams. Taking place in both Ingrid's waking life and her unconscious mind, the book is both sensual and scary, with a strong erotic element. Cloonan and Lotay write and draw the book in tandem, with Cloonan handling the more "realistic" waking world scenes and Lotay depicting the more surreal dreamscapes. Together, they've produced a striking and distinctive new comic that stands out as the best of DSTLRY's first wave of releases. Will Salmon 

8. Fantastic Four (Marvel)

Art from Fantastic Four

(Image credit: Marvel)

Whether they're taking the Richards family on a funny, freewheeling adventure, or digging earnestly into the cosmic impossible, writer Ryan North and artist Iban Coello have taken the Fantastic Four to a place that has seemed out of reach for the venerable team for some time. Their loving, laughing take on the FF brings forward the emotional heart of the Richards Family without losing the sense of sci-fi wonder, in a balance that has often been elusive in recent decades. There's a kindness to North and Coello's FF that brings the reader in, reminding us that more than anything the Fantastic Four are a family above all, and which never loses sight of what the larger goals of their run have been: to redefine the Fantastic Four in a way that holds on dearly to their roots while also setting them distinctly apart from other contemporary superhero comics. George Marston

7. Fire & Ice: Welcome to Smallville (DC)

Art from Fire and Ice

(Image credit: DC)

Fire and Ice are done with being underestimated in Joanne Starer, Natacha Bustos, and Tamra Bonvillain's effortlessly fresh and funny book. The duo move into an old beauty salon in Smallville with their obsequious robot L-Ron, determined to make a name for themselves away from the Justice League by taking on the enemies that have slipped through the cracks (Grodd's little sister Linka, anyone?). It doesn't quite go according to plan, and neither does Fire's attempt to make it big on social media. Instead, they find unexpected friends in the form of snarky teenager Tam (who, at one point, asks Jimmy Olsen "So when you're a turtle are you into other turtles? Or still ladies?") and a community of hapless heroes and villains. Who needs Superman, when Fire & Ice: Welcome to Smallville is so genuinely delightful and unexpectedly heartwarming. Will Salmon

6. Wonder Woman (DC)

Wonder Woman

(Image credit: DC)

Tom King, Daniel Sampere and Tomeu Morey's politically-charged take on Wonder Woman has proven divisive, but as with the latest run of The Flash, it proved that DC isn't afraid to take big swings with its tentpole characters. Emelie, an Amazon woman, is assaulted by a group of drunk thugs. She fights back and ends up killing them all - an act that sparks a new wave of anti-Amazon sentiment in the United States. Tensions rise and the US military despatches first Sgt. Steel (here reinvented as a kind of malevolent, misogynist Ted Lasso) and then the army to deal with Wonder Woman. While the concurrently-running Amazons Attack fills in some of bigger picture and is the more overtly fun of the two books, the core Wonder Woman title has an urgency and an anger that feels very apt for our present moment. Will Salmon

5. Immortal Thor (Marvel)

Art from Immortal Thor

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

A god doesn't always stand out in a world of superheroes, and the lines between divine beings and the uber-powerful mortals of the Marvel universe have always been a bit fuzzy. That's why The Immortal Thor is so impressive - it's not just a book about superheroes. It's a book about gods. Just as writer Al Ewing successfully returned Hulk to his horror roots, Ewing has now brought Thor back to his mythological origins, giving us a God of Thunder ripped from the verses of the ancient epics. The Immortal Thor doesn't lose its comic book heart, either, with plenty of massive battles, old-school cameos, and humor to punctuate its dramatically loquacious dialog. It's a fantastic blend of immortal bombast and mortal heart - a perfect combination for Thor. Dustin Bailey

4. Birds of Prey (DC)

Art from Birds of Prey

(Image credit: DC)

Kelly Thompson and Leonardo Romero's fresh take on Birds of Prey is one of the year's most effortlessly fun superhero comics. Bringing together a new lineup (Black Canary, Batgirl, Big Barda, Zealot, Harley Quinn and - perhaps most intriguingly - Meridian, a future version of Mia Mizoguchi) it has pitched the gang straight into a tangle with the Amazons (who, it has to be said, are having quite a bad time at the moment what with this and the core Wonder Woman book). The action is satisfyingly punchy thanks to Romero's art, and the coloring from the incredible Jordie Bellaire is just a dream, presenting the book in a gorgeous palette of pastels. As ever, Kelly Thompson's dialogue soars and makes you fall immediately in love with this mismatched crew of weirdoes. Will Salmon

3. W0rldtr33 (Image Comics)

Art from W0rldtr33

(Image credit: Image Comics)

The year's best and bleakest horror comic found new terrors in the scariest place on Earth: the internet. James Tynion IV and Fernando Blanco's tale of a group of hackers fighting to prevent the rise of the "Undernet", a malevolent entity residing online that drives people to acts of violence is unflinchingly brutal and chilling. As the mystery starts to reveal itself over the course of the first arc so a slew of influences, from Stephen King's IT to various possession films, become clear. Its real horror, however, is thematic. For all of W0rldtr33's science fiction conceits and naked assassins, this is a book both about online radicalisation, and the fear of your loved ones being exposed to something truly terrible. It's both timely and terrifying. Will Salmon

2. Transformers (Skybound)

Art from Transformers #2

(Image credit: Skybound)

Who would have thought a licensed book about toy robots would prove to be one of the year's most satisfying new comics? The reveal of Skybound's new shared Energon Universe was a headline-grabbing surprise, but that would have meant nothing if the books themselves weren't good. In fact, writer/artist Daniel Warren Johnson's Transformers has been a joy from the first panel. Effectively a ground-up reboot of the franchise, the book starts with the initial crash of the Autobots on Earth, and then follows a pair of human teens as they tag along with Optimus Prime and the gang as they desperately flee the first wave of attacking Decepticons, while the residents of a nearby town try to resist - with tragic results. Although firmly a family comic, Transformers hasn't shied away from darker moments or shock twists, including the apparent death of a major Autobot in the first issue, but it also perfectly recaptures the Saturday morning feel of the old animated series.

But really the main reason for its success is simple: Johnson is a master of comics, his art style striking the right balance of detailed and cartoony, kinetic and weighty. If you're looking for a seriously fun, non-superhero comic, then this is it. Will Salmon

1. Avengers Inc. (Marvel)

Art from Avengers Inc

(Image credit: Marvel Comics)

Avengers Inc. is only a few issues into its sadly truncated run, which will cap off at #5, but this unexpectedly charming Avengers spin-off has brought Janet Van Dyne back into the forefront of the Marvel Universe in a big way while also rekindling her extended corner of the Avengers franchise. Relying on a case-of-the-week format, Avengers Inc. has taken Janet and her strange new sidekick Vic Shade on a whirlwind tour of the Marvel Universe while also building a mystery that ties into the shared past between the lead characters and their larger family of Avengers characters including Hank Pym, Vision, Grim Reaper, and more.

It's especially exciting the way that writer Al Ewing and artist Leonard Kirk have leaned into aspects of Avengers history that have fallen by the wayside in recent years while also pushing those themes forward with new stories and new characters. The current blockbuster era of the Avengers has its upsides, but the absence of the deeper lore that once formed the backbone of the title has been a bit noticeable. There's something magically 'Marvel' about it all, a perfect balance of the old school Avengers vibe that has often been missing from the team in the MCU era, with new ideas designed to push those classic concepts to new places rather than stagnating in the continuity of it all.

It's far past due time for Janet Van Dyne to reclaim a seat at the Avengers table, and Avengers Inc. has given her a much deserved spotlight. We'll be sad to see it go in just a few short months, but we’re also hopeful Ewing and Kirk will get to pick these threads back up soon. George Marston

So there you have our picks for the best comics of 2023! 

To keep up with the latest comics from DC and Marvel check out our regularly-updated solicitations page, which includes every comic coming your way from the Big Two in the next few months.

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