I can’t help it, because Marvel crushed it this year. I read a lot of other comics, and I enjoyed a lot of other series, but geez oh geez did Marvel really do a number on me this year. The emotion! The joy! The money spent! When I look back at all the single issues I loved this past year, I can’t help but succumb to Marvel mania.
With that admission out of the way, let’s hurry on and get to the list before 2013’s just a memory! As with my top series list, this one has a rule — a very important rule, actually. I’m only allowing one issue per series in the top ten. If I didn’t do this, certain to-be-revealed series would dominate this list in a completely uninteresting way. Now, I present to you the In Your Face Jam list of the Top 10 Single Issues of 2013.
10. March: Book One (Top Shelf Productions)Written by Andrew Aydin and John Lewis; art and letters by Nate Powell; edited by Chris Staros and Leigh Walton
I’m used to comics about four-colored spandex-wearing do-gooders making me cry; I’m not used to crying at comics about real people who suffered and triumphed over real hardship. At over 120 pages, this really stretches the boundaries of “single issue,” but I couldn’t write a year-end list without mentioning the absolutely stunning work done on “March.” This book tells the life story of Rep. John Lewis and his struggle against segregation in my hometown, Nashville. Powell’s masterful art adds layers of nuance and character to the story, which is told mostly through narration. If you live in Nashville or the area surrounding it, like I did for twenty-one years, this is definitely a must-read book; it’s also a must-read if you’re a human being who can read.
9. Saga #11 (Image Comics)
Written by Brian K. Vaughan; art and colors by Fiona Staples; letters by Fonografiks; edited by Eric Stephenson
While “Saga” spent a lot of 2013 in the humble and cozy abode of a romance novel author, it started off the year in the midst of an intense dogfight that left Alana, Marko and Co. with their first major loss. This one issue shows off why Fiona Staples is one of the best artists working today. From action to heartbreak, from shock, surprise, love, lust, disgust, she does it all in this one issue. With an emotional depth remarkable for even a top-notch series like this one, every page of this issue is a saga.
8. Hawkeye #9 (Marvel Comics)
Written by Matt Fraction; art by David Aja, colored by Matt Hollingsworth; lettered by Chris Eliopoulos; edited by Stephen Wacker, Sana Amanat and Tom Brennan
Clint Barton has hooked up with some of the Marvel Universe’s most dynamic women, and they all take center stage in this issue entitled “Girls.” Yeah, other columnists might go with #11, “Pizza Is My Business,” but this issue did it for me. Fraction wrote what’s maybe one of the most painful breakup scenes in all of comics in this issue, and still managed to work in some classic Kate zingers that only strengthen the preceding drama. Of course the book looks fantastic, thanks to Aja and Hollingsworth, who give every one of Hawkeye’s “wives” distinct styles that convey so much about them. And yeah, this issue has the saddest final page of any issue I’ve read all year.
7. Captain Marvel #14 (Marvel Comics)
Written by Kelly Sue DeConnick; art by Scott Hepburn and Gerardo Sandoval; colored by Andy Troy; lettered by Joe Caramagna; edited by Sana Amanat, Tom Brennan, Lauren Sankovitch, Stephen Wacker and Tom Brevoort; cover by Joe Quinones
“The Enemy Within” crossover between “Avengers Assemble” and “Captain Marvel” was unquestionably one of the best storylines Marvel put out in 2013, and not nearly enough of you talked about it. With this one issue, “Captain Marvel” surpassed every one of my high expectations by giving us a new definitive moment for Carol Danvers, one that she was in control of. With New York City about to be crushed by the manifestation of a Kree city, Captain Marvel pushes herself farther than she’s ever been before to stop the villainous plot. It’s big stakes and big emotions, all of which climax with one of the most heart-breakingly heroic depictions of a hero I’ve ever seen. The final page by Hepburn shows Cap as she succumbs to the weightlessness of space, the crisis averted, and the page filled with equal amounts of hope and dread. It’s a great moment.
6. Astonishing X-Men #67 (Marvel Comics)
Written by Marjorie Liu; art by Amilcar Pinna; colored by Cris Peter; lettered by Joe Caramagna; edited by Nick Lowe, Jeanine Schaefer and Jennifer Smith; cover by Phil Noto
In the series’ penultimate issue, Marjorie Liu devoted an entire issue to exploring how and why the X-Men are so special to readers. High school senior Wendy relates to the X-Men because she’s a biracial girl living in a small town — a town that just feels like it’s getting smaller. She doesn’t have confidence in herself or her writing, and doesn’t even know if she should apply to far away colleges. Enter: the X-Men, and Wendy’s life changes. I’ve never read an issue of any X-Men comic that so thoroughly gets what it’s like to be an X-Men fan and to see yourself and your own insecurities reflected in the X-Men, individuals who turn what society deems their “imperfections” into superpowers. Marjorie Liu nailed it with this issue, as did Amilcar Pinna who created a fantastic look for Wendy. Liu turned in one of the best, most underrated X-Men runs of the past decade, and it will forever be essential reading to me thanks to this issue.
5. Private Eye #1 (Panel Syndicate)
Written by Brian K. Vaughan; art by Marcos Martin; colored by Muntsa Vicente
Thanks to the unusual nature of its release, I had no idea what to expect from “Private Eye” after opening the file on my laptop. I got a society obsessed with privacy, name brand everythings everywhere, a tatted out grandpa, fish masks, and maybe the most relevant high concept for our social media-obsessed times. In some ways, “Private Eye” #1 was as much of an experience as it was a comic book issue, but it still holds up as an expertly produced introduction to a new world, one that still has me dying to know more.
4. Star Wars #1 (Dark Horse Comics)
Written by Brian Wood; art by Carlos D’Anda; colored by Gabriel Eltaeb; lettered by Michael Heisler; edited by Randy Stradley and Freddye Lins; cover by Alex Ross
Granted, I wanted to love this before I even read it. Thankfully, the issue gave me pretty much everything I’ve always wanted from a “Star Wars” comic. If car chases are hard to pull off in comics, I have to imagine that dogfights in space are even harder. D’Anda can add “drew a good dogfight” to the incredibly long list of accomplishments achieved in this one issue, not the least of which is drawing accurate likenesses that feel right at home in a comic book.
3. X-Men #4 (Marvel Comics)
Written by Brian Wood; art by David Lopez; inked by Norman Lee and Cam Smith; lettered by Joe Caramagna; edited by Jeanine Schaefer, Jennifer Smith and Nick Lowe; cover by Terry Dodson and Rachel Dodson
You gotta love a good done-in-one issue, and this just so happens to be the best “X-Men” one done all year. While telling two stories — one about the X-Men saving a crashing passenger plane and another about a bonding session between Wolverine, Jubilee and her new son Shogo — Wood packs every page with either heartfelt friendship, pulse-pounding action or heated debate. Seriously, no one is writing a better Storm than Wood right now, and no one’s drawing a better one than David Lopez, who turns in the work of his career in this issue.
2. Daredevil #25 (Marvel Comics)
Written by Mark Waid; art by Chris Samnee; colored by Javier Rodriguez; lettered by Joe Caramagna; edited by Stephen Wacker and Ellie Pyle
I’m going to be honest and reveal that picking just one issue of “Daredevil” was impossibly hard, and placing it at number two actually makes me feel bad. This issue is flawless. Mark Waid, as far as I’m concerned, is the definitive “Daredevil” writer — yeah, over Miller and Bendis. He’s not just hammering home one tone in every issue, the guy’s packing in a variety of tones, from the grim to the glad, and making each one coexist alongside each other. He’s doing something with the character that I’ve never seen done, and he’s using his status as a blind superhero to pull off storytelling tricks that surprise me every month. And as phenomenal as Waid is, I just have to make sure everyone gets that we’re seeing a modern day master come to life with each passing page. Chris Samnee is becoming a legend on this book. This one issue, #25, features an issue long fight scene that never gets boring, that never resorts to cliche, and reinvents the way superheroes move through their world in every panel. I’ve never seen a fight this fluid and innovative last for as long as this one did. It’s mesmerizing and a true feat. “Daredevil” #25 really isn’t a #2 comic, it’s kinda the second #1 comic.
1. Young Avengers #4 (Marvel Comics)
Written by Kieron Gillen; art by Jamie McKelvie and Mike Norton; colored by Matt Wilson; lettered by Clayton Cowles; edited by Lauren Sankovitch and Jake Thomas
I’ve had my idea of a perfect comic in my head for a few years now. I’ve had the tone in mind, the style, look, feel, the characters, the way it sounds, the way it moves — all of that’s been in my noggin for years. “Young Avengers” #4 came out and I read that comic. The wall-to-wall action, the impossible scenarios, the laugh out loud moments, the total bad-assery, the emotional treachery, it’s all in there and it’s all perfect. This issue reaffirmed my faith that comics can do exactly what I want them to do and more; it gave me a new standard to reach for in my own work. And I haven’t even gotten to the double-page spread that has to be seen to be believed. You know what I’m talking about. It’s rare that I stop breathing when I see something in a comic, that my jaw immediately hits my iPad, but that happened. “Young Avengers” #4 took superhero comics in the 2010s to a new level.
Brett White is a comedian living in New York City. He co-hosts the podcast Matt & Brett Love Comics and is a writer for the comedy podcast Left Handed Radio. His opinions can be consumed in bite-sized morsels on Twitter (@brettwhite).