Comics have always had their place in the world, even if it’s taken much of the population a long time to understand that. It has also been a struggle for some more traditional fans of comics to accept that the world has widened and diversified. The stories, formats and art styles are more varied than ever before in the history of graphic storytelling.
From new Marvel and DC releases to manga and graphic novels from around the world and everything in between, 2023 has already been a great year for comic releases. Below you’ll find some of the outstanding series and standalone volumes that have been released in 2023.
Some comics are the result of a throwaway idea that the creator rapidly turns into a one-off issue, others are a labor of love that take years to bring from idea to completed project. Final 9 is the second type. Writer Anish Patel began thinking through the comic in 2008, but it has only recently been released.
Final 9 is a poker comic, inspired by the World Series of Poker and their November Nine. What sets it apart from most other poker-themed media is that it doesn’t just follow one main character who you know will either win or be the runner-up. Instead, it tells the story of every player at the table. Each reader can decide who they’re rooting for and whose story is the most compelling.
This has been a passion project for Patel, which is clear by how long he spent trying to find an artist that could turn his script into a reality. Line Art Studios stepped in to bring the story to life. The art might not be anything particularly innovative or dramatic, but it’s the story that really matters. It has been independently published.
Steeple is the latest comic series from British artist John Allison. Allison has a long background in webcomics, having launched Bobbins in 1998. He has been creating works in the same universe continuously since then. Steeple is his latest project and his second to be published in a more traditional comic format. Despite the similarities, there has always been some tension between the worlds of traditional comics and webcomics. Crossover artists like Allison have been helping to heal that rift.
Like all of Allison’s work, Steeple blends humor and the supernatural with quirky characters and interesting plots. The series follows two young women who have found themselves in a quiet little seaside town that ends up being beset by demons, curses and more. While some of the comics particularly British elements might initially be confusing to American readers, Allison’s work is a lovely glimpse into a particular kind of British sensibility.
Steeple was originally published by Dark Horse comics and the first three volumes are still available online through their site. For the latest issues, Allison has returned to his roots and the comic is currently being released on a regular schedule as a webcomic.
Do a Powerbomb!
The early 2020s were a time for new hobbies — some of us started baking bread, others knitting, gardening or learning a new language. For Daniel Warren Johnson, it was the time to discover professional wrestling. Do a Powerbomb! is the result of his newfound love for professional wrestling.
The comic takes the wild world of professional wrestling and makes it even more flamboyant by setting the story in a supernatural wrestling tournament organized by a necromancer. Throw in a tag team match against God himself and you have a story epic enough for all the trappings of the wrestling world.
Originally released as a seven-issue series, the comic is now available as a paperback collection. Image Comics is the publisher behind the project. They previously handled Johnson’s beloved Murder Falcon series.
Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons
The Wonder Woman films have helped to bring DC’s heroine back to the forefront. The mainstream may have forgotten about her since the end of Lynda Carter’s run as the Justice League’s resident goddess (or Amazonian, depending on who you ask). For comic fans, however, she’s never left center stage.
Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons is a thing of beauty and captures Wonder Woman’s story in a way that it is deserves. The collection is the first release from DC’s new Black Label. Starting the label with this collection was a brilliant decision, as the mythological setting and elements offer so much scope for gorgeous art and intensely emotional stories.
Each issue in the series was illustrated by one of DC’s top artists and written by Kelly Sue DeConnick. Phil Jimenez, Gene Ha and Nicola Scott have all provided some of the best work of their careers. Even if you aren’t typically a fan of superhero comics, this one is worth a look. It’s also good for those frustrated with trying to remember all the lore behind a character as Black Label series are all non-canonical.
All Against All
Comics can be pure enjoyable escapism, but they can also have the power to tell bigger, more troubling stories. All Against All is one of the best sci-fi comics to be released in recent years. It is a dark and dystopian tale that is impossible to look away from. In a crowded field, it never feels derivative or repetitive, which is an impressive feat.
The creative minds behind All Against All are two relative newcomers — writer Alex Paknadel and artist Caspar Wijngaard. The story is set on a post-apocalyptic, post-human Earth. An alien race is hunting for the perfect predators to harvest to turn into battle exoskeletons. It’s a disturbing and violent comic that is heightened by the moments of gentleness and compassion that appear throughout.
The five issues of this series have been collected into a paperback volume. Image Comics is the publishers behind this comic. They have always been an important voice in the comics world and lately they have been displaying a real talent for finding and promoting the best young, independent talent.