We look to our future and find it bright with comics.
The Most Anticipated Comics of 2023 was a dream to put together. These lists always are. There's simply nothing quite like flipping through the many Previews catalogs or scouring the Internet, hunting for those future comics we can't wait to devour.
Once again, we took the month of January to tabulate and consider the year ahead. Last year will go down as one of our favorite years in comics, as you can most definitely hear in our Best Comics of 2022 episodes, Part One and Part Two. What's not too surprising, but still somewhat fun to examine, is how those episodes align or don't align with our Most Anticipated Comics of 2022 list.
The reality is that we barely understand what this year will bring in terms of creators, characters, and storylines. For example, we do not know what Daniel Warren Johnson is working on in the wake of Do a Powerbomb! Since his last batch of books has ranked very high on our year-end lists, it's a good bet that anything he puts out in 2023 will rank high on our following Best Of episodes.
So, knowing that our favorite comics have probably not yet been announced, let's take a gander at what we do know. Already, 2023 is looking swanky. What you'll find below are some obvious picks, especially if you know Comic Book Couples Counseling's tastes. However, you'll also find a few shocks and a heap of all-ages and young-adult entertainment. Books geared at younger audiences really hooked us in 2022, and we've
Books you won't find below: The Lonesome Hunters volume 2, I Hate This Place, Love Everlasting, Danger Street, Human Target, The Book of Evil, The Bone Orchard Mythos, etc. We're chomping at the bit to read those new issues, but we're kinda treating our rampant anticipation for them as a given. We're in the middle of those stories, we've praised them profusely on the podcast, and hopefully, y'all already have them in your pull box.
You also won't find any other titles from Marvel and DC. Superman #1 might be the comic Brad is the most excited about this year, and we've got an epic episode on the horizon featuring a great chat with its creative team, Joshua Williamson and Jamal Campbell (You can read a preview HERE), but we're trying to narrow our focus on discovery. The ten comics below need to be on your radar, not Fall of X or whatever.
With those caveats out of the way, let's dig in.
10. Housecat Trouble: Lost and Found
Buster, Chauncy, and Nova are back in this utterly joyful Housecat Trouble sequel from cartoonist Mason Dickerson. Spoilers, we've already read Lost and Found; the book just launched, and it's the first great original graphic novel of the year. The comic contains the same warm curiosity and empathy of the original and adds several new wrinkles to Dickerson's too-cute world.
Both Housecat Trouble comics can be dropped into the hands of any reader. All that's required is an open heart and a willingness to embrace wonder. Since we bought the first volume, we've returned to it numerous times, especially when we were feeling low. Without a doubt, in those moments, Housecat Trouble picked up our spirits. Bonus points, Random House Graphic produces astonishingly adorable and touchable tiny hardbacks.
9. Clementine: Book Two
Clementine: Book One appeared on this list last year, and our excitement for Tillie Walden's trek into The Walking Dead remains high. Book Two sees the title character living an ideal apocalyptic life on an island community, but considering the neighborhood is overseen by a doctor named Miss Morro, we're pretty skeptical about how long such serenity can last. Doomsday is gonna doomsday.
Clementine: Book Two won't hit shops until October, but we're patient even when we're frothing with anticipation. Once we've gulped this book down, Walden will have one final Clementine entry to cook up. We believe the trilogy will go down as one of the great Walking Dead narratives.
Okay, so here's another series we've already read. We were all over Clear when it was initially published digitally, and it looked mighty fine on a screen, but we could tell Francis Manapul's art would look even finer on the page. Dark Horse Comics is set to release the first three issues as singles before collecting them in trade. Double dipping, we've never really had a problem with it. Or, we have a big problem with it. Also, we need the Cliff Chiang variant cover (seen in the image above) stat. We don't usually mess with variants, but when it's Chiang, we cave. Always.
Scott Snyder's latest creator-owned comics have dipped into nearly every conceivable genre. We cannot get enough of them. Clear kinda does the Blade Runner thing, mixing science fiction with noir, but it doesn't look or feel like that particular cinematic beast. Clear is its own righteous thing. The first issue hits shops on March 8th.
Read this set-up: "The world burned. But the rich and powerful...they had a plan. When society fell apart, a select group of billionaires had an escape hatch: a rocket aimed at the nearest habitable planet, a ship equipped with many of the luxuries of life on Earth—why survive if you can’t survive in style? Their every need is tended to by teenagers who are willing to act as slaves in return for the promise of a new life. This is a good story. But, like so many stories, it is not true."
That last sentence. Yeah, we need to know more. Jesse Lonergan has knocked out some of the most compellingly strange and intense comics of recent years. Jump on Faster and Planet Paradise. Get hip to Drome. Now, he's partnering with Van Jensen (Two Dead, Pinocchio, Vampire Slayer) for the Don't Look Up sequel we never knew we needed?! Sold. Acra arrives from IDW Publishing in July.
6. Mother Nature
When we chatted with Karl Stevens in 2021, he alluded to a mysterious project involving a well-known collaborator. He was very secretive about it, creating an air of mystery, but he was giddy to share the news with the world. We now know the project was Mother Nature, co-written by Jamie Lee Curtis. Hell yeah.
If you've read Karl Stevens' "cat comic" Penny, you know he has a cosmically ambitious perception. His work stretches beyond the known, even when exploring the utterly mundane. Mother Nature sounds like a supernaturally charged takedown of corporate greed and malevolence. Superhero comics done by creators who have little need for the usual spandex-wrapped tropes. Look for it in comic shops and bookstores in June, published by Titan Comics.
5. Hogbook and Lazer Eyes
Maria Bamford is our favorite stand-up comic. Her comedy is ridiculous, vulnerable, and preternaturally clever. No other stage performer has put themselves out there in such a way that it operates as a mirror for our emotional experiences. She is us. We are her and we never miss an album. Also, we never miss a show with her attached to it. And now we'll always read a comic from her.
Hogbook and Lazer Eyes tells the story of Maria Bamford and Scott Marvel Cassidy's courtship, which began with meeting via O.K. Cupid under the aliases "Hogbook" and "Lazer Eyes." A version of their romance was told through the Netflix series Lady Dynamite!, but this new comic from Fantagraphics explores it through the point of view of their doggos: Blueberry, Bert, Betty, and Arnold. Hogbook and Lazer Eyes is a collaboration between the couple, with Cassidy providing the illustrations. The book hits shops on April 2nd.
4. Bone: Tall Tales 2
Depending on the day, we'll tell you that Jeff Smith's Bone is our all-time favorite comic book. We bet you'd find few folks who would argue the notion. While the series concluded in such an exceptional way, we're always happy when Smith finds a way to revisit the Bone cousins or the ideas explored in the original epic. The first Tall Tales was a delightful collection of side quests. If Tall Tales 2 is more of the same, then we're absurdly excited.
We don't have an exact release date yet for Tall Tales 2. We only know that it will come out sometime in the fall. We also know it will contain Bone stories from creators like Smith, Stan Sakai, Tom Sniegoski, Scott Brown, and more. The anthology will make for a nice meal while we wait on the next entry in Smith's Tuki series.
3. I Am Stan
Once upon a time, we asked Tom Scioli if he would follow up his Jack Kirby: The Epic Life of the King of Comics with a Stan Lee biography, and he was a little shy on the matter. After all, he'd just completed the greatest work of his career, and the notion of repeating the endeavor probably seemed more than a little daunting. Welp, we now know Scioli found the energy to tell the other side of the Kirby/Lee debate. I Am Stan is scheduled for release in the fall, plus a Free Comic Book Day preview will be made available by Ten Speed Press.
Stan Lee is a controversial figure. We've discussed his legacy with everyone from Tom Brevoort, Alex Ross, Abraham Riesman, and Scioli himself. The impact he had on the industry is undeniable, and it's hard to imagine Comic Book Couples Counseling existing without his influence. Few people have spent as much time considering Stan Lee and his legacy as Tom Scioli, and we're eager to witness his interpretation of the man's life.
2. Night Fever
We probably would have been totally fine with Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips cranking out Reckless graphic novels for the rest of their lives. Their latest pulp adventure series has us hooked, and we didn't want them to pause on those stories to tell something new. We're addicts, and we won't make excuses for it. That being said, if they have to take a break from Ethan and Anna, you're damn right we'll find some excitement for that distraction.
Night Fever promises to be different from what these two creators have given us. Such a tease recalls the time Brubaker and Phillips went a little weird and gave us Fatale, which may actually be our all-time favorite contribution from them. So, feeling that, we're wide open and willing to accept whatever Night Fever delivers. It appears to be another crime slice with a touch of crazy thrown in.
1. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles/Usagi Yojimbo: WhereWhen
We enjoy few things on this planet more than Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Usagi Yojimbo. The two have had a relationship since the beginning of both, and we've always delighted when they've crossed over into each other's worlds, whether in the cartoons or the comics. So, yeah, we were a mark for this series no matter what, but then Stan Sakai went and tied this event into his Senso narrative, which is easily one of our favorite Usagi Yojimbo stories. Think of it as Miyamoto Usagi's version of The Last Ronin involving H.G. Wells' warlording Martians.
WhereWhen is a Senso prequel. The aliens have yet to land. However, an evil scientist from the Turtles' future has, and he's set up a clockwork fiefdom. The brothers and Miyamoto unite to take down the dictator and probably scrap along the way. We're especially curious to see how Usagi's son Jotaro and Usagi's cousin Yukichi interact. Based on the image above, they've got some beef. Expect a future podcast episode dedicated to WhereWhen.