Comic Books

Top 10 Indie Comics of 2013

William Rosenthal ’16 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer

This list includes series that either started or continued during 2013. This emphasis is placed on the creators and their independence from major companies. But more importantly, it’s the creativity and enjoyment from their installments that earns them a place on this list.

10. East of West by Image Comics

Written by Jonathan Hickman with art by Nick Dragotta, East of West follows the horseman Death as he takes revenge against his fellow horsemen for attempting to start the apocalypse. Meanwhile, the story takes place in an alternate future, where the Union and Confederacy are still at war, the Native Americans operate as a unified tribe, and Chinese government occupies the west coast. The world it builds is quite impressive and the premise only is captivating, but where it starts to take some hits is in its tone. It tends to take itself too seriously at time and the plot can feel trudging at times. But judging from Hickman’s style, he tends to expand on his ideas when given enough time and Dragotta’s art is entertaining.

9. Deathmatch by BOOM! Studios

In this series by Paul Jenkins (writer) and Carlos Magno (artist), superheroes and super villains find themselves locked in a mysterious prison and are pitted against each other in one-on-one fights to the death. Of course, there are some objections, but once they’re in the arena, they remember the circumstances of their imprisonment and the blood sport begins. Jerkins keeps the plot moving and always gripping. The heroes and villains are stand-ins for flagship characters from the big two, Marvel and DC, making for some matches to feel straight out of a fan fiction.

8. Pretty Deadly by Image Comics

From the team of Kelly Sue DeConnick (writer) and Emma Rios (art), Pretty Deadly is a mysterious revenge tale featuring the Wild West, revenge, and the daughter of Death. The series is currently on issue #3, so too much might spoil it for new readers. Rios’ art is a standout with captivating work and interesting flow to the panels. Towards the beginning of the series, it felt as though the story did not have a clear direction, but as it continued, it showed itself that it was bloody with Death’s daughter at the helm.

7. Satellite Sam by Image Comics

A Noir murder mystery about sex and a  ’50 television show, Satellite Sam delivers. The most striking part of the comic is its art. Howard Chaykin does an all black and white style with some truly standout inking. If not just for the art, Matt Fraction crafts a dark, pacing mystery that leaves anticipation for the next issue every time.

6. Zero by Image Comics

As though Blade Runner met James Bond, Zero by Ales Kot and Michael Walsh kicks with serious grit. Each issue works like a mission recalled by secret agent Zero of the Agency. Kot has yet to write an issue twice with the same tone or scenario as one before. Zero goes from military espionage to classified assassination from book to book, finding himself at the center of the crossfire. Meanwhile, Walsh pulls no punches  in showing it. Zero #1 has its own review on Emertainment, as well.

5. Sex by Image Comics

Sex by Joe Casey and Piotr Kowalski goes like this: The superhero, the Saint, goes into retirement and returns to his place as head of a megacorporation. The twist? This hero who embodied celibacy and abstinence realizes he’s sexually frustrated in a city saturated by prostitution. Sex isn’t afraid to dive deep into this largely overlooked aspect of superheroes: their masked and sometimes forgotten sexuality.

4. Morning Glories by Image Comics

Even though Morning Glories has been running since 2010, it still remains one of the best of the Indie comics running. The story follows several students as they unravel the dark secrets surrounding their high school, where they are prisoners of an unspecified higher purpose. Nick Spencer and Joe Eisma craft a story with the twists and surreal elements reminiscent of the early season of Lost  that continues to deliver after over three years.

3. Nowhere Men by Image Comics

The Beatles of science accidentally create the Fantastic Four. If you were at all intrigued by that, check out Nowhere Men. In an alternate present where “science is the new rock n’ roll,” four scientists who started a corporation to fuel their creativity fight among each other using subversive projects to destroy each other. Their lives and pasts are largely revealed through news articles and interviews, but the focus of the present story is a group of twelve scientists trapped on a space station who become victims to the old men’s plans.

2. Sex Criminals by Image Comics

Perhaps the most creative of this past year’s comics, Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky is the story of Suzie and Jon, a couple who find out that the share the same ability: to stop time with their orgasms. That’s all that should be said about this one. It’s fun and takes sex maturely without demonizing it. It’s something that should be experienced and not read about so go read Sex Criminals.

1. Saga by Image Comics

This series is the most difficult to describe, seeing as it’s not about the plot or a gimmick. It’s about amazingly written characters on an epic adventure written by comics veteran Brian K. Vaughan with some phenomenal art provided by Fiona Staples. This is the series that belongs up there with Watchmen and Sandman, a rare event for why people read comics.

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