It’s been a huge year in comics and the quality of this ever-growing medium is only getting better over time. In 2023, we saw dozens of books spanning even more genres, ranging from cape classics to introspective memoirs and layered character portraits. We’ve posted reviews every week, and we returned to those reviews as we began considering which comics and graphic novels were the best of the best from the last 12 months.

As ever, narrowing down the best comics of the year is a gargantuan task, but one we at The Beat take very seriously. Without further ado, here are our picks for the 34 best comics of 2023.

20th Century Men cover art

20th Century Men

Writer: Deniz Camp
Artist: Stipan Morian
Letterer: Aditya Bidikar
Publisher: Image Comics

20th Century Men splices Watchmen’s superhero commentary with the outrageous bombast of 2000 AD. It is big, angry, funny, sad. Each character illustration and line of dialogue is delivered at maximum volume, yet the book still captures the precise and delicate texture of a resilient desert plant crushed under the heel of imperialist powers. The end will make you cry, and the art is even better than that.  Adam Wescott

All Tomorrow's Parties cover art

All Tomorrow’s Parties: The Velvet Underground Story

Writer/Artist: Koren Shadmi
Publisher: Life Drawn by Humanoids

The Velvet Underground story is a historical phenomenon in itself, a tale that thrives in complexity and rigorous musicality. Koren Shadmi’s version of it lands with a force that takes this into account while becoming an authority on the story in the process. The book focuses on band members Lou Reed and John Cale, both confrontational and controversial. Their creative prowess is captured on the comics page with a sense of authenticity that lets readers know they can trust Shadmi with the story. A clever approach to colors, a profound and nearly obsessive attention to detail in terms of character development, and an obvious interest in capturing the times in which The Velvet Underground existed make All Tomorrow’s Parties one of the best music biographies in comics. It more than earns its spot in this list.  Ricardo Serrano



Writer/Artist: Álvaro Ortiz
Translator: Eva Ibarzabal
Letterer: Krystal Beisick
Publisher: Top Shelf Productions

Polly, Moho, and Piter only ask for seven days to help their best friend, MacGuffin, to his final resting place. A road trip, a treasure hunt, a nonstop mystery unfold behind many layers of framing devices that present information (reliable or not) to the reader. With a ligne claire all his own, Álvaro Ortiz keeps visual information pared down to palette and character within a 20-panel grid. Nonlinear mysteries can progress predictably, but Ashes rides a dichotomy of comedy and error of who we were and what we left behind. Translator Eva Ibarzabal brings a calculated edge to keeping word count and word length down across the sometimes playful, sometimes prideful banter. Back-and-forth dialogue propels Ashes‘s plot progression, so without Krystal Beisick’s gutter-recessed word balloons, panels could feel overly cramped instead of empty and searching. If you’ve got the tank for a friendship stretched along its road map and spotted with mini mysteries, then get in — Ashes is an insightful cruise! — Beau Q.

Black Panther: Reign At Dusk Volume 1 cover art

Black Panther: Reign At Dusk

Writer: Eve L. Ewing
Artist: Chris Allen
Inker: Craig Yeung
Colorist: Jesus Aburtov
Letterer: Joe Sabino
Publisher: Marvel Comics 

Earlier this year I wrote that this book needs to be discussed more in nerdy circles and I stand by that because writer Eve L. Ewing and main artist Chris Allen are putting in that work. T’Challa the Black Panther, now an exiled man without a country, must work in the shadows of Wakanda. The past few creative teams have given readers a Panther series about nation-building and legacy, but here Ewing and Allen have created a new status quo, setting him up in a new city, Birnin T’Chaka, that doesn’t live up to the shining beacon that is Wakanda. This high-octane, cyber-pulp mash-up is a book that is great to look at, with character and setting designs heavily influenced by African motifs and Kirby dynamics. Allen’s strong storytelling and intricate linework are perfect for this Wakandan noir book that stays grounded in the Marvel Universe. — George Carmona

Carmilla: The First Vampire cover art

Carmilla: The First Vampire

Writer: Amy Chu
Artist: Soo Lee
Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Publisher: Berger Books

Written by Amy Chu, with art by Soo Lee, the graphic novel Carmilla: The First Vampire is a semi-modern retelling of Sheridan Le Fanu’s 1872 novel Carmilla, one of the earliest works of vampire fiction, predating Bram Stoker’s Dracula by about 25 years. Set in Chinatown, New York City in the ‘90s, the story follows Athena, a young lesbian social worker whose clients are mysteriously dying. As Athena’s obsession with solving the mystery grows, so too does her obsession with an alluring woman, possibly tied to the murders. Like most great works of vampire fiction, Carmilla: The First Vampire has little to do with its titular monster, instead focusing on the societal fears that she represents. Chu and Lee’s retelling of the prototypical lesbian vampire tale puts all other retellings to shame. — Rebecca Oliver Kaplan

Children of the Vault cover art

Children of the Vault

Writer: Deniz Camp
Artist: Luca Maresca
Colorist: Carlos Lopez
Letterer: VC’s Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel Comics

I definitely approached this book curious to see how writer Deniz Camp would fare in the Marvel playpen. A slightly under-the-radar X-book felt like a good fit for the co-creator of 20th Century Men [see Adam Wescott’s words above!]. And from the opening pages of this limited series, Camp’s incisive socio-political analysis is readily present — albeit more as context and subtext this time around. And with Luca Maresca’s confidence in balancing the micro and the macro, the results are very good. Pairing eternal X-frenemies Cable and Bishop to tackle a pervasive and persuasive techno-virus, Children of the Vault is one of the stronger and more exploratory X-titles to emerge in the Fall of X era. — Adam Karenina Sherif

The Chromatic Fantasy cover art

The Chromatic Fantasy

Writer/Artist: H.A.
Publisher: Silver Sprocket

The Chromatic Fantasy by H.A. is a lushly illustrated ode to the unapologetic debauchery of two trans men as they engage in a romance for the ages. Filled to the brim with hot sex, cheap beer, and more than a few anachronisms, this graphic novel from Silver Sprocket starts with a Faustian deal and only gets better from there. A colorful spark in the darkness by a new creator to keep an eye on.  Avery Kaplan

Copra #45


Writer/Artist: Michel Fiffe
Publisher: Image Comics

Every year, Michel Fiffe pushes the boundaries of superhero comics with Copra. What started as a love letter to Suicide Squad has morphed into a transcendental action-adventure experience. Every new issue is an event for the Copra faithful. Fiffe is publishing the most exciting superhero comic book on the racks. — Billy Henehan

Distressed Beeping cover art

Distressed Beeping

Writer/Artist/Publisher: Andi Watson

This collection of Andi Watson’s single-page comics, serialized on Patreon, is charming and insightful and funny and thought-provoking. These comics are slice-of-life, about keeping a house and garden together (originally published in 2021 and 2022, the pandemic is noted in passing); or what he’s been watching; or everyday family discussions; or visiting the bookshop; or the life of a cartoonist. His simplified style, where the people are one step up from Fisher-Price toys, combined with the soft pastel coloring makes it all very comfortable, but its normality demonstrates his skill. The less on the page, the more work it took to get there, I think, and I learned from his observations. A lovely time capsule of diary-style comics. — Johanna Draper Carlson

Eden II cover art

Eden II

Writer/Artist: K. Wroten
Publisher: Fantagraphics

An intimidating work that dives deep into the philosophy and quantum mechanics of existence. A virtual reality game eclipses the world’s collapse, or perhaps the dreamers are pushed so far down into an imagined existence that they break reality when they pop out on the other side. K. Wroten’s cynical and tender warning about selling art out repays the work you put into it. I thought it was a challenging evolution of the themes in Cannonball, which felt as prescient when it came out as Eden II does now.  Arpad Okay

The Enfield Gang Massacre cover art

The Enfield Gang Massacre

Writer: Chris Condon
Artist: Jacob Phillips
Color Assists: Pip Martin
Publisher: Image Comics

Sprouting from Condon and Phillips’ own That Texas Blood, The Enfield Gang Massacre goes 150 years into the past to trace a history of violence centered on the fictional Ambrose County. It’s a raw Western tale of wrongfully accused criminals that must contend not just with eager lawmen and rage-filled townsfolk, but also with the many truths competing for the spotlight in the official story going forward. Condon and Phillips excel in creating tortured characters engaged in uphill battles that blur the lines of justice, fairness, and morality. This book is no exception. Add a bit of Cohen Brothers into the mix, along with a healthy helping of Red Dead Redemption 2 on the side, and you get one of the best Westerns to hit the shelves in quite some time. Certainly, a book that proves That Texas Blood has a lot more story to offer from its blood-soaked world.  Ricardo Serrano

Gotham City: Year One cover art

Gotham City: Year One

Writer: Tom King
Penciller: Phil Hester
Inker: Eric Gapstur
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: DC Comics

Delving deep into the idea that Gotham City is a character in Batman’s story, Gotham City: Year One serves up a Bat mythos-themed riff on the Lindbergh baby. This is a smart story steeped in noir. It’s a book that’s equally rewarding for the respect it pays to Batman’s history (Slam Bradley is your main character) as it is for the way it tackles systemic challenges that have plagued/continue to plague most major American cities today. And the craft is top-tier. In fact, I’d go so far to say this could be the best Tom King comic, brought to life perfectly with the finely-honed (and vastly underappreciated) sequential storytelling of Phil Hester, inked here by Eric Gapstur and colored by Jordie Bellaire.  Zack Quaintance

Grand Slam Romance Book 1 cover art

Grand Slam Romance

Writer: Olivia Hicks
Artist: Emma Oosterhous
Publisher:  Abrams Books

In my review of this book, I mentioned how hard it makes you bite your lower lip while reading it because of all the horniness. It still holds its lip-biting power. Olivia Hicks and Emma Oosterhous’s gloriously horny, funny, and desperately romantic softball story swings hard and hits even harder. It pulls off its ambitious mix of genres and ideas with the grace of a swan stealing third base at the bottom of the 9th. It’s truly impressive how many ideas are thrown in and how they all land without feeling forced. It’s a feast for the eyes and a treat for fans of wit. On top of all that, it’s one of the funniest (if not the funniest) books of the year. Go read it. Also, I wrote this while biting my lower lip the entire time. — Ricardo Serrano

A Guest in the House by Emily Carroll

A Guest in the House

Writer/Artist: Emily Carroll
Publisher: First Second

Emily Carroll’s new graphic novel hits all the beats of the traditional gothic romance: a newly married woman moves to an old house near water and uncovers a horrible secret. But is it really so simple? Carroll melds the vivid reds and blacks of When I Arrived at the Castle with Speak’s monochrome colors and typography. She was already one of the best at page-turn jump scares.  A Guest in the House proves she’s just as adept at slow-burn, claustrophobic character study. The final twist is exhilarating, crushing, and — in retrospect — inevitable.  Adam Wescott

The Hard Switch cover art

The Hard Switch

Writer/Artist: Owen D. Pomery
Publisher: Avery Hill Publishing

Strikingly inventive science fiction set in a twilight era. A proto-twist on post-apocalypse fiction, where the the crew of ship scrappers need to decide how to face the imminent end of deep space travel. Resources are scarce. The future is old. The survivors are unpredictable. When I say inventive, I mean that the most important parts of the ship are in a water tank because the engineers are a fish and a cephalopod. The balance between cartoonish simplicity and convincingly detailed is refreshing, as is the spaghetti western presentation of the setting.  Arpad Okay

I Am Stan cover art

I Am Stan

Writer/Artist: Tom Scioli
Publisher: Ten Speed Press

In 2020, Tom Scioli released a critically acclaimed graphic biography of Jack Kirby, the legendary “King of Comics.” This year, Scioli followed up with a powerful biocomic documenting the life of Stan Lee. A masterful work, Scioli chronicles the many triumphs and tribulations of the comic book industry’s most recognizable ambassador with verve and a pop artist’s eye for flair. Throughout the book, Scioli’s art is expressive and kinetic, perfectly capturing the energy that Stan had for this chosen medium. Never shying away from his faults, Scioli peels back the layers to show how myth is created on the back of human frailties. In this way, I Am Stan is more than just a biography; it’s a love letter to the world of comics. It’s a book that will resonate with fans of Stan Lee, but hopefully also with anyone who appreciates passionate storytelling.  AJ Frost

Immortal Sergeant cover art

Immortal Sergeant

Writer: Joe Kelly
Artist/Letterer: Ken Nimura
Publisher: Image Comics

The I Kill Giants creative team of Joe Kelly and Ken Nimura reunite for this nine-issue limited series about a grizzled, retired cop reluctantly accompanied by his adult, neurotic son to close one last case. While the creative team’s previous collaboration is perfect all-ages reading material, Immortal Sergeant is strictly for mature readers. Much of it comes through the character of Jim “Sarge” Sargent, whose misanthrope personality can give Hank Hill’s father Cotton a run for his money. Despite his repugnant and politically incorrect views, there is an endearing quality to him akin to Archie Bunker that is both amusing and gives a different perspective to certain touchy topics. Although not the feel-good wonder of I Kill Giants, Kelly and Nimura once again bring a tale full of humor and heart. — Taimur Dar

The Infinity Particle cover art

The Infinity Particle 

Writer/Artist: Wendy Xu
Publisher: Quill Tree Books

Finally, a graphic novel you’ll actually want post-singularity Artificial Intelligence to read! The Infinity Particle is set on Mars and filled with incredible worldbuilding, this romance tackles the kind of heady themes reserved for great science fiction. Plus, it includes some really adorable robot companions! Whether or not you’re already familiar with Wendy Xu’s work, The Infinity Particle deserves a space on your bookshelf.  Avery Kaplan

Inside the Mind of Sherlock Holmes cover art

Inside the Mind of Sherlock Holmes

Writers: Cyril Lieron, Benoit Dahan
Artist: Benoit Dahan
Translator: Christopher Pope
Letterer: Lauren Bowes
Publisher: Titan Comics

One of the world’s best-known characters is portrayed in an original, creative way. I didn’t think it was possible to shine this much of a new light on such an old — excuse me — classic character. By using the comic page and creative panel flow, the artist demonstrates Holmes’s thinking. His “brain attic” is portrayed literally and guides the reader through the great detective’s observations and deductions. It’s a gorgeous use of the format. The artist also captures the period setting and emotional reactions, taking the reader into the adventure of the criminal chase. A fascinating book that’s one of the best Holmes comics ever, and a wonderfully fresh introduction, if needed. — Johanna Draper Carlson

Macbeth adapted by K Briggs


Writer: William Shakespeare, K. Briggs
Artist: K. Briggs
Publisher: Avery Hill Publishing

Surely the most visually dense graphic novel made in this century, the freedom of Shakespeare’s stripped-down script allows the whole course of art history to take the stage. Logically, the visuals are seamless, so what is happening to the players and what’s happening inside them is without distinction. In execution — which happens quite a bit in the Bard’s story of prophecy, greed, and deceit — a psychedelic collage of iconography and historical reference constantly envelops the actors, sets, and stage.  Arpad Okay

Miles Davis and the Search for the Sound

Miles Davis and the Search for the Sound

Writer/Artist: Dave Chisholm 
Publisher: Z2 Comics

Like a kaleidoscope, jazz trumpeter Miles Davis was able to shift the colors and tones of his music. As one of the leading popular musical figures of the 20th century, countless books and think pieces have been written about Miles, but perhaps none so beautifully rendered as Dave Chisholm’s Miles Davis and the Search for the Sound. Chisholm, a trumpeter and cartoonist, personifies and traverses the restless muse of Miles. Through vivid renderings of Davis’ different eras as a band leader and tastemaker, Chisholm creates something unique and special: a transcendent jazz odyssey that captures the spirit of a true legend.  AJ Frost

Monica cover art


Writer/Artist: Daniel Clowes
Publisher: Fantagraphics

Really good, even by Clowes standards is probably the highest praise I can give this book, which is easily one of my favorite comics of the year. It’s also praise I’ve heard often, as laudatory sentiment has proliferated around Clowes’ latest. As complex and immersive as comics get, Monica largely follows the key moments in the life of its eponymous main character, split throughout nine often tragicomic stories. The book doesn’t hit you over the head with all the ways its stories are connected, nor does it belabor its many interests, themes, and surprising bursts of short humor. Yet, it gives you the clear sense that there’s so much in here, waiting for you to come back, reread, and find new revelations within the layers. — Zack Quaintance

Monstrous cover art


Writer/Artist: Sarah Myer
Publisher: First Second

Sarah Myer’s autobiographical work examines growing up as a queer, Asian adoptee in rural Maryland. Monstrous is a story about coming to terms with who one is but also who one wants to be. The author writes frankly and honestly about the overt racism they dealt with daily and their struggle with their non-binary identity. Myer has no problem expressing how this all fed into rage and self-loathing, nor do they acquit themself of being exempt from frustrating those around them or pushing loved ones away.

But an alternate title for Monstrous could be Fandom Saved My Life. Alongside the darkness, Myer goes into how their love for comics, animation, anime, and musical theater gave them a sense of belonging. Their genuine enthusiasm for things like Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Neon Genesis Evangelion allows them to grow as a young adult. There’s genuine joy when they get to attend their first anime con towards the end of the book. It’s a testament to how the true enjoyment of anything can lead us to be our best selves. — D. Morris

Parachute Kids cover art

Parachute Kids

Writer/Artist/Letterer: Betty C. Tang
Publisher: Scholastic Graphix

In this illuminating graphic novel, readers follow Feng-Li as she unexpectedly immigrates to the United States. Set in the ’90s, Feng-Li and her two siblings believe they are visiting California for vacation. But after two weeks of fun, their parents return to Tawaii, leaving the trio of Lin children to navigate life in Cali on their own. The story is an engaging page-turner. A fictionalized account, it’s based on Betty C. Tang’s experiences, and interviews conducted with others who had similar experiences as parachute kids. Parachute Kids is a worthwhile read for all ages.  Avery Kaplan

Parasocial cover art


Writer: Alex de Campi
Artist: Erica Henderson
Publisher: Image Comics

Parasocial is an original graphic novel by two of the finest creators working in the medium today. This is a book that addresses questions of perspective and power with genuine nuance and curiosity, and with a thorough approach to our various post-modern/late-stage capitalist malaises (including the pandemic). All this rich thematic goodness and the story itself is actually a frantic, claustrophobic, and completely compelling thriller. Erica Henderson’s storytelling throughout is expansive — at turns tender, at others punishingly brutal. Her capacity to show things like truth and illusion is astonishing. Alex de Campi’s critical voice has never been sharper than it is here, and the sense of co-creation and trust between the two storytellers is so strong that there’s no seam when it comes to the feeling and overall vibe of this book. Given that it comes with its own playlist, I think I’m allowed to say this is a band that is absolutely down in the groove. Parasocial is a masterpiece. Adam Karenina Sherif

PeePee PooPoo #80085

PeePee PooPoo #420 and #80085

Writer/Artist: Caroline Cash
Publisher: Silver Sprocket

This is what I want from comics. In an album-sized format, Caroline Cash gives us hilarious and insightful queer short stories drawing on her own life experiences. A frequent comparison is to Clowes, but I’d argue Cash is operating in a totally different world. Her cartooning oscillates between several distinct styles, jumping from one to the other like it’s nothing. There are influences from the underground, manga, and zine culture that feel wholly unique from anything else out there. It doesn’t hurt to live in Chicago and see where so many of these stories take place, but this has to be the one series I wait on more than any other.  Cy Beltran

Prokaryote Season cover art

Prokaryote Season

Writer/Artist: Leo Fox
Publisher: Silver Sprocket

I will always love and relate to a book where every last character is a titanic screwup. The romantic triangle of trans dandy ne’er-do-wells takes a crash course on responsibility when a wish goes sideways. Kind of a fairytale quest, kind of a casual confrontation with desire. Leo Fox’s illustrations recall illuminated manuscripts like The Book of Kells, but done in a black-and-white, punk zine style. The art is like melting Beardsley drawings, the break from plain panels creating little pockets of narration that get away from comics and more resemble the pace of prose, which really worked for me.  Arpad Okay

Roaming by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki


Writers: Mariko Tamaki, Jillian Tamaki
Artist: Jillian Tamaki
Publisher: Drawn & Quarterly

The kind of slice-of-life storytelling that is just at home in the Criterion Closet as it is the comic shop. Though the friendship story that sends the girls to New York City is solid as a rock, Roaming’s art — its pacing, its inexplicable negative space — subtly transcends visual expectations, shining, making the read something truly special. Really is a love letter to NYC, and maybe the restlessness that makes one travel? But definitely to NYC.  Arpad Okay


Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Niko Henrichon
Letterer: Fonografiks
Publisher:  Exploding Giraffe

I enjoy Spectators as much for the comic as for the weekly reading experience that accompanies it within Brian K. Vaughan’s newsletter. It’s no easy thing to put out a weekly newsletter (ask any creator, now that newsletters are vital to reaching readers), let alone one as robust as Vaughan’s. Yet each week Vaughan and collaborators Niko Henrichon and Fonografiks deliver at least one new page (often more) of Spectators, a stunner filled with twists and seemingly determined to strike a perfect 1:1 ratio between meditating on dying and sex. The comic is free, but pay a bit and you also get a second part, in which Vaughan interviews creators, poses interesting questions to fans, incorporates art insights from Henrichon, and more. It’s a comic AND a reading experience working in tandem to recreate the fading communal feel of buying periodical comics in real-time. I love it. — Zack Quaintance

Sunshine cover art


Writer/Artist: Jarrett J. Krosoczka
Publisher: Scholastic Graphix

As with his previous graphic novel, Hey Kiddo!, Jarrett J. Krosoczka follows his teen avatar, this time recounting his summer as a counselor at a camp for terminally ill children. And like his memoir, Krosoczka is unsparing in raw depictions of childhood trauma. The young figures he renders so masterfully on the page share their hopes and dreams, but also the reality of their lives and the fact that many of them will not make it. With delicate sensitivity, Krosoczka never hides his melancholy about the fates of these children nor does he condescend to readers about the effect that life-threatening diseases have on families. Rather than wallow in darkness, however, Krosoczka shares the warmth and life-changing love of being surrounded by this resilient community. Devastating, heart-wrenching, but ultimately hopeful, Krosoczka’s “Sunshine” is YA graphic memoir at its finest.  AJ Frost

Superman 2023 Volume 1


Writer: Joshua Williamson
Pencillers: Jamal CampbellVarious
Inkers: Various
Colorists: Various
Letterer: Ariana Maher
Publisher: DC Comics

I’ll be the first to admit superhero fatigue is a real phenomenon and even my interest in capes and tights has been waning. However, that’s not to say there haven’t been a few gems — like the relaunched, ongoing Superman title from Joshua Williamson as part of the Dawn of DC initiative. Williamson, along with artist Jamal Campbell, hit the ground running with the first story arc that simultaneously honors the entire history of the character but moves the Man of Steel forward to make him relevant in this current era. Between the comics and the upcoming Superman: Legacy film, there’s no better time to be a fan of the Last Son of Krypton. — Taimur Dar

Swan Songs cover art

Swan Songs

Writer: W. Maxwell Prince
Artists: Martin Simmonds, Caspar Wijngaard, Filipe Andrade, Caitlin Yarsky, Alex Eckman-Lawn, Martín Morazzo
Letters and Design: Good Old Neon
Publisher: Image Comics

While W. Maxwell Prince might be most known for his horror work in Ice Cream Man, this year’s foray into the nature of endings shows that Prince’s range is far beyond just horror. From a cathartic tale of coming to terms with death to the rediscovery of lost childhood joy, this limited series has spanned the gamut of what an ending means, and how the end isn’t always bad. Prince’s artistic collaborators bring their a-game, with each story uniquely built to fit their individual strengths. This was a gorgeous experience from issue to issue and one that I wouldn’t mind a return to down the road.  Cy Beltran

Transformers Volume 1


Writer/Artist: Daniel Warren Johnson
Colorist: Mike Spicer
Publisher: Skybound Entertainment

If you told me years ago that the comic I’d be most excited for this year — as I sit here in my mid-40s — would be Transformers, I would have laughed in your face. But here we are in 2023. I’m in my mid-40s. And EVERY time a new issue of Transformers by Daniel Warren Johson is released, I’m beelining it to my local comic book shop for a copy. Johson is delivering both a hot, new take and a very familiar, G1-inspired story. And if you love wrestling, you’ll love the series all the more. Optimus Prime delivers a BURNING HAMMER in the latest issue! Billy Henehan

Traveling to Mars Volume 1

Traveling to Mars

Writer: Mark Russell
Artist: Roberto “Dakar” Meli
Colorist: Chiara Di Francia
Letterer:  Mattia Gentili
Publisher:  Ablaze

In many ways, Traveling To Mars is an extension of the comics Mark Russell has penned for years. The earth is dying, it needs more fuel, and many multinational companies of dubious value are vying to get an actual human being to Mars to claim its resources as their own. That’s the setting. The story, however, follows a very ordinary man with a terminal illness who is being used as a pawn. Telling the story this way has enabled Russell — working so smoothly here with artist Roberto Meli, colorist Chiara Di Francia, and letterer Matti Gentili — to tell his most personal story yet. The protagonist is a divorced former pet shop manager who is given such poignant interiority here that he feels real. This book is maybe a bit under the radar, but it’s one of the must-read comics of 2023, no question. — Zack Quaintance

Don’t miss all of our “best of 2023” lists:
Comics and Graphic Novels | Manga | Webtoons | Anime | Movies | Television

In case you missed it, here are The Beat’s best of 2022.


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