The Best Comic Books of 2023

John Cassillo
13 min readDec 15, 2023

For starters, this is a list of my “favorite” individual comic book issues published in 2023. The headline I opted for is more for SEO purposes than anything else.

Given the focus on individual issues, this list also probably looks a little different than similar write-ups all over the internet. That means some series may appear higher than most would rank, while others appear lower. And while many of the individual issues here are just the most excellent representative in a great series, some are simply great one-offs.

I really enjoyed each of these issues, and hopefully you’ve enjoyed some of them as well. And if not, perhaps it’s a helpful guide for catching up on some titles in 2024.

If there are other recommendations not included here, too, please feel free to share. I’m always interested in checking out new titles.

After all of that, here are my 25 “best” individual comic book issues of 2023:

(warning: spoilers abound for the rest of this article)

(image credit: DC Comics, Xermánico)
  1. DC: Batman: One Bad Day — Clayface #1 (Jackson Lanzing & Collin Kelly/Xermánico)

Even many months removed from reading this story, I remain fascinated by the version of Hollywood that Xermánico builds around Jackson Lanzing and Collin Kelly’s writing — and particularly, the compelling characterization of Basil Karlo (Clayface). Here, he just seems like a perfect stand-in for TV & film industry insecurities, and the extent the team explores that leaves you thrilled but also wanting more of this world.

(Credit: VIZ Media, Tatsuki Fujimoto)

2. VIZ Media: Goodbye, Eri (Tatsuki Fujimoto)

While the original Goodbye, Eri manga debuted in 2022, the English-language version was published this year, so it counts for my purposes here. Within every inch of this book, Fujimoto captures something genuine about both grief and the search for purpose. And even in the short time we get with Yuta and Eri, we just get to learn so much about everything that makes them tick. The book has some excellent surprises as well throughout its hauntingly beautiful story.

(Credit: Image Comics, Josh Hixson)

3. Image: The Deviant #1 (James Tynion IV/Josh Hixson)

Tynion is a master of horror comics at this point, and in The Deviant, he teams with Hixson to create a foreboding and desolate holiday picture that veers you straight into duress. This is one extremely creepy and unsettling book, in all honestly. But Tynion is extremely adept at working with artists to set that scene — in this case, what feels like a hellscape version of winter in Milwaukee — while grounding the characters in a reality that’s uncomfortably relatable, and ups the tension as a result.

(Credit: Image Comics, Caspar Wijngaard)

4. Image: Swan Songs #2 (W. Maxwell Prince/Caspar Wijngaard)

I’ve enjoyed the whole Swan Songs miniseries thus far, but this was the issue that truly won me over. Prince uses medieval combat as a stand-in for divorce, while also shining a spotlight on how love can gradually fade away. It’s not necessarily a big thing all at once, but the little things that add up over weeks, months and then years. What you get is an efficient portrait of this fictional relationship and its demise, but also the feeling of sadness for all of the places where it could’ve diverged from that destructive end.

(Credit: Marvel Comics, Alex Ross)

5. Marvel: The Immortal Thor #4 (Al Ewing/Martin Coccolo)

“Worthiness” has always been at the core of Thor stories, but it’s been crucial to the best iterations of the character over the last decade or so. Here, Ewing gets a turn to examine what it means to wield Mjolnir, and what that power is capable of, to entirely new ends. The results create some intriguing possibilities… and that’s BEFORE the surprising conclusion that nods to Ewing’s previous work on The Immortal Hulk, and turns the whole concept of this book on its head.

(Credit: BOOM! Studios, Dell’Edera)

6. BOOM! Studios: Something Is Killing The Children #28 (James Tynion IV/Werther Dell’Edera)

The second major arc of SIKTC starts off (and continues to be) a slow burn, but the growing tension is cut — and further built — by a magnificent issue like this one. In #28, Erica meets Cutter, who’s an effective foil for our main character’s self-perceived morality. How Cutter “plays with her food” allows her to increase the psychological dread and render Erica on equal footing with the locals. The result is acute dread for everyone involved, including the reader.

(Credit: Marvel Comics, Alex Ross)

7. Marvel: Fantastic Four #7 (Ryan North/Iban Coello)

Doctor Doom’s arrival is perfect for the character. It’s bombastic, self-indulgent, clever and ultimately, speaks to his failures as a savior figure compared to the Fantastic Four (and Reed in particular). Throughout this run so far, North has focused on the importance of the family dynamic to great effect. Finally bringing Doom in, however, puts a cherry on what was built prior to #7. What we’ve seen since continues what is one of the best runs on the title in some time, in my opinion.

(Credit: Image Comics, Eleonora Carlini)

8. Image Comics: Radiant Black #24 (Kyle Higgins/Marcelo Costa)

Radiant Black aggressively propels the larger story forward every six issues, and it’s no different with #24, which closes out the fourth arc (and the Vol. 4 trade paperback) and saddles readers and the main characters with some major questions. Apart from Costa’s fantastic, more psychedelic art throughout, we also get an honest look at the fact that neither Nathan nor Marshall are perfect as Radiant Black, but are potentially even worse when combining to be one hero. Both characters’ flaws have always been at the heart of what makes this series great, and it’s appreciated to see it all confronted on the page in a way that makes sense for the story, too.

(Credit: Image Comics, Chris Brunner)

9. Image Comics: Deep Cuts #1 (Kyle Higgins & Joe Clark/Danilo Beyruth)

Despite being a very grounded story in early 1900s New Orleans, Deep Cuts #1 still manages to transport you, thanks in large part to Beyruth’s pencils and Igor Monti’s colors. Combined with an extremely relatable protagonist (Charlie) and his big dreams, you’re riding the emotional highs and lows of his existence, which always appears to be teetering on the brink of collapse. His wins are yours, and his losses are, too. Even with music at the forefront of Deep Cuts, though, it’s a vehicle for an enjoyable and contained character journey.

(Credit: Marvel Comics, Mateus Manhanini)

10. Marvel: G.O.D.S. #1 (Jonathan Hickman/Valerio Schiti)

I’m a sucker for Marvel’s secret societies and magic wing of the house. So throwing a little bit of both together here with some immediate stakes and a mix of new and old characters (hi, Doctor Strange!) makes for a successful and fun Hickman world-building exercise, in my book. While there’s a lot going on — it’s Hickman, after all — G.O.D.S. #1 does set the stage well for why this is all important to the wider Marvel continuity and why you should start caring about this particular dark vs. light conflict.

(Credit: DC Comics, Michael Allred)

11. DC: Superman: Space Age #3 (Mark Russell/Michael Allred )

Allred’s art style is a perfect fit for this nostalgia-laced trip through an alternative timeline of both DC Comics and the United States that effectively keeps the proceedings housed in the Space Age/Cold War era for several decades. The result allows us to view this reality through a combined prism of 1960s optimism and 1980s greed and end-of-world fears. With Superman’s signature hopeful world-view placed on top of it all, it’s tough to put down the admittedly lengthy three-parter.

(Credit: Marvel Comics, Mark Brooks)

12. Marvel: Immortal X-Men #10 (Kieron Gillen/Lucas Werneck)

Critiques of the ensuing Sins of Sinister aside, this issue was an exciting left turn for the entire X-Men line, as it finally put the Quiet Council’s depravity and level of rot on full display. And the way Gillen spends the issue slowly hinting at the big reveal before finally dropping it at the end with the compromise of Charles Xavier, it makes for an enthralling read. Better still, it’s an exclamation point on the downward spirals and deep character focuses that have made Immortal X-Men such a must-read.

(Credit: Marvel Comics, Marco Checchetto)

13. Marvel: Daredevil #14 (Chip Zdarsky/Marco Checchetto)

Zdarsky’s years-long endeavor for Matt Murdock to truly discover his purpose and reckon with his sins and grief actually leads to him creating a few more sins, before finally reaching some closure and redemption — and then, a fittingly heroic death. That would be enough for this series in itself. Yet, we also see how his journey and sacrifice are rewarded with a new life, free of the pain that plagued Murdock whether he was in costume or not. Whether that lasts (it doesn’t) is not as important as what it signifies for Matt and every human being — that pain doesn’t have to define you, and that starting over is attainable.

(Credit: DC Comics, Bryan Hitch)

14. DC: Superman: The Last Days of Lex Luthor #1 (Mark Waid/Bryan Hitch)

For me, the best Superman stories dive into his humanity and the flaws that typically lead to his (temporary) undoing. We haven’t gotten to the downfall just yet, but you can see how these themes will pop up once more in The Last Days of Lex Luthor. Mark Waid is at his best here, with a full understanding of what make both Supes and Lex tick. But then it’s elevated even further by Hitch’s art, which elevates the proceedings into what could also wind up being essential comics reading in 2024 as well as learn Luthor and Superman’s respective fates.

(Credit: BOOM! Studios, Filipe Andrade)

15. BOOM! Studios: Rare Flavours #1 (Ram V/Filipe Andrade)

You didn’t have to do much to sell me on the Ram V/Filipe Andrade combo after the success of The Many Deaths of Laila Starr. And even with the baked-in advantage, Rare Flavours still delivers a unique and intriguing concept that stands on its own: A rakshasa (demon) that’s obsessed with food, and how he uses human beings to those ends. Admittedly, I don’t yet know where it goes after #1 since I’m reading the rest in the trade. But the initial art and characterizations absolutely worked for me.

(Credit: DC Comics, Dan Mora)

16. DC: Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #20 (Mark Waid/Dan Mora)

For my money, this is one of the best DC or Marvel ongoing series going right now. And in World’s Finest #20, we return to one of Waid’s other winning pieces DC work: Kingdom Come. While this isn’t an exact retread of that reality on Earth-22, watching our Prime Earth heroes in this reality before Kingdom Come’s events is fresh and inviting. And their (and our) relative comfort in the setting makes it all the more jarring when Boy Thunder — now Thunder Man — shows up to immediately shift the tone and propel us into sharply rising action.

(Credit: DC Comics, Christian Ward)

17. DC: Batman: City of Madness #1 (Christian Ward)

It’s not like this is the first time the Batman character has been subsumed by its darker themes, but here, it leans more fully into ambitious and unique horror to the point where it’s able to stand apart from those iterations. The Gotham Below looks like a twisted version of Gotham City, but I’d argue Ward’s art is where it’s differentiated. Gotham is an ugly, cruel place, after all. And the book captures that fact extremely well, as it starts exploring the familiar — and less familiar — themes that make this reality’s Batman and its rogues go.

(Credit: Marvel Comics, Stephen Segovia & Rachelle Rosenberg)

18. Marvel: Moon Knight #22 (Jed MacKay/Alessandro Cappuccio)

MacKay invested nearly two years into Tigra as a major supporting character in this book, and the payoff was this very personal issue that sheds a lot of light on both Greer and Marc Spector (here as Mr. Knight). This is basically a Tigra issue, where she’s able to turn the tables on the supporting dynamic she’s played, stand up for herself and her family, take back agency from Marc, and ultimately, offer forgiveness because she chooses to do so. The story doesn’t pretend that the Midnight Man revelation vanishes with an apology, either, which is what makes it a smarter examination of both main characters.

(Credit: DC Comics, Leonardo Romero, Jordie Bellaire)

19. DC: Birds of Prey #1 (Kelly Thompson/Leonardo Romero)

Long-time Thompson readers will see a trademark wit and fun right off the bat in Birds of Prey, which makes the team’s friendships (and lack thereof) believable right off the bat. Romero’s art, however, is such an entertaining and engrossing throwback that it arrests you with every page turn. Issue #1 excels as a “getting the band together” book, creating clear motivations, digestible dynamics and some heart in a very short amount of time. I’m excited to see where Birds of Prey goes in 2024.

(Credit: DC Comics, Greg Smallwood)

20. DC: The Human Target #11 (Tom King/Greg Smallwood)

Ice being Christopher Chance’s killer is not necessarily a shock by the time we get to issue #11, but there’s more to it than that, of course. While Ice’s exterior has seemingly melted away while falling for Chance in the lead-up to his assured demise, Christopher’s arguably never been colder. Smallwood’s art and colors do some impressive work to paint a lived-in picture of love, regret and grief. The entire issue just teems with sincerity in whatever form that can take, and to me, becomes the standout of the 12-part series.

(Credit: Marvel Comics, Alex Ross)

21. Marvel: Doctor Strange #3 (Jed MacKay/Pasqual Ferry)

While MacKay’s (very good) Doctor Strange run has been relatively heavy on magic, this issue features little, yet succeeds due to its clear understanding of the dynamic between Stephen and Dormammu. During Parley Day, the two enemies get to talk through aspects of their relationship, all the while, Dormammu has other aims. But it’s Strange who once again shows himself the superior, simply by utilizing his (and others’ humanity) to succeed. In between, this is a fun and self-referential issue that offers some entertaining slice-of-life moments and the best-developed voice for Dormammu in some time.

(Credit: ComiXology, Rafael Albuquerque)

22. ComiXology: Duck And Cover #1 (Scott Snyder/Rafael Albuquerque)

What starts as a 1950s coming-of-age tale jarringly morphs into an apocalyptic fight for survival, and Snyder creates an interesting opening salvo that blends genres and leaves a lot of runway to grow. Whether we ever see how this all ends or not is a debate for another day. But in this specific issue, they do the work to make you care about the characters, and quickly knock you off balance with some effective life-imitates-art trickery.

(Credit: Image Comics, Richard Blake)

23. Image: Hexagon Bridge #1 (Richard Blake)

Parallel dimensions, clairvoyant kids and advanced robots in a distant but recognizable future? Sign me up. And while the high-concept sci-fi idea hooks me pretty quickly, Blake’s detailed art and writing got me to jump into the full miniseries, just as the story jumps past most of the exposition and into the sprawling scenery and imaginative world we get to explore.

(Credit: Image Comics, Bob Quinn)

24. Image: Kill Your Darlings #1 (Ethan S. Parker & Griffin Sheridan/Bob Quinn)

What starts as a fantasy concept centered around the eight-year old Rose takes a dark turn by the end of the first issue, and from there, you’re roped in. The fantasy/horror mix is a unique one, and here, it’s even more impressive coming from first-time creators like Parker and Sheridan. Even in issue #1, there’s a complete understanding of the world they’re building and you can tell they know where it’s going next. The main question is how many bodies will be littered along the path to get there.

(Credit: Marvel Comics, Leinil Francis Yu, Romulo Fajardo Jr.)

25. Marvel: Star Wars: Dark Droids #1 (Charles Soule/Luke Ross)

I’m not really a Star Wars comic guy, but the idea behind Dark Droids was a good one on paper. In practice… it was probably even better. We immediately dive into the hostile expansion of The Scourge, an ancient evil that is poised to infect all droids. But instead of playing it safe — as you’d assume on IP like Star Wars — Soule’s writing leans toward more sinister ends, and makes you feel the gravity of what’s happening (and later, what could, as the Scourge tries to expand beyond “the metal.”).

***

Thanks for checking out my list. And as mentioned, would love to hear about other recommendations. Below is a quick list of honorable mentions, as well, to note a few more titles and issues I was hooked by this year.

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John Cassillo

Former Syracuse blogger and football scheduling obsessive. Now: TV/streaming analyst (and comic book fan).