10 To Watch in 2013: Comic Book Series/Graphic Novels

<i>by <a href=http://www.chrisarrant.com/>Chris Arrant, Newsarama Contributor</a></i> <p>Is your pull list getting a little stale? Your old standby titles not measuring up to the glory days? Well, fear not, fellow comics fan, because 2013 looks to be bringing a bumper crop of comic book titles set to revitalize your reading life. From new series featuring old favorites, new creator-owned ventures from some of the industry's biggest creators, and even some old series making a comeback, 2013 is already loaded with multiple new threats to your comic book budget. <p>On Thursday, we ran down the <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/comics/10-to-watch-in-2013-characters.html>10 characters we think will be kings and queens of the mountain come the new year</a>, and now we're turning our attention to the place where great characters like those meet great stories to make comic book magic: The publications. Be they series, miniseries, one-shots, graphic novels or webcomics strips, this is the spot where we take aim and call the shots on the 10 publications that we think will be on top of your Wednesday haul when you get your comics and on top of the minds of fans, pros and everyone in between in 2013. <p><i>Got a comment? There's lots of conversation on Newsarama's <a href=http://www.facebook.com/Newsarama><b>FACEBOOK</b></a> and <a href=http://twitter.com/newsarama><b>TWITTER</b></a>!</i> <p>


Do you have a favorite creator whose work seems to be elevated even more when working with someone else? It happened when Steve Ditko worked with Stan Lee, and when Chris Claremont worked with John Byrne, and when Alan Moore collaborated with Dave Gibbons for <i>Watchmen</i>. And for comics' newest generation of talent, writer Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios have shown that same type of bond. <p>After working on the excellent <I>Osborn</I> series for Marvel and then on the ongoing <I>Captain Marvel</I> series, 2013 looks to have them take their show on the creator-owned road as they go west with <i>Pretty Deadly</i>. <p>Announced at 2012's San Diego Comic-Con, <B>Pretty Deadly</B> sees this dynamic duo delving into the scarred life of a female assassin in the 1800s. Inspired by the spaghetti westerns of filmmaker Sergio Leone, <B>Pretty Deadly</B>'s striking teaser image of a shotgun-wielding, scarred and tattooed woman makes the sale and leaves a big promise for when the series debuts at Image sometime next year.


What if an imaginative sci-fi writer found out his fictional creations were coming to life? And if that writer was Grant Morrison? <p>That, in essence, is what 2013's <B>Annihilator</B> is about. <p>Announced earlier this year on the convention circuit, <i>Annihilator</i> tells the story of a glitzy Hollywood blockbuster scribe named Ray Spass whose latest script is suffering from an epic case of writer's block until the characters and plot of the story begin coming true on the writer's doorstep. <p>In a truly unlikely team-up, the writer must team with his main character to act out the story of the movie all the while writing the story in the meantime. In a story that twists the mind and the idea of fiction versus reality, it's all being borne down by the very real threat of a brain tumor works inside Spass' mind. And a black hole named Annihilator. <p>Yes, definitely Grant Morrison. <p>Although no firm release date or even an artist has been announced yet, <B>Annihilator</B> is coming from film company/comic publisher Legendary, under the guidance of veteran editor Bob Schreck, who previously worked with Morrison on <I>All-Star Superman</I>.


How could DC create the biggest series possible? It's easy, isn't it? Pair your biggest writer with your biggest artist and give them the most recognizable character you have in your stable. And that's just what DC is doing in 2013. <p>Although it hasn't yet been given a name, in 2013 DC will launch a new Superman book seeing its flagship artist and co-publisher Jim Lee. with their hottest writer, Scott Snyder. <p>Snyder became a true industry A-lister this past year when he and Greg Capullo brought the Court of Owls to the <I>Batman</I> book, creating a sinister tangent on the Bat-mythos that fits so well, you'd think Bob Kane created it back in the day and never told anyone. Now, Snyder turns his sights towards Clark Kent. <p>Described as a story he's been wanting to tell for years, this Superman story is one Snyder promises to be both epic and fundamental to the core of Superman as a character. By aiming to create a story that both celebrates and challenges the core attributes of the character, Snyder hopes to show a new side of the Kryptonian hero than fans will find out they've known all along.


In terms of creators, two of the big success stories in DC as of late have been the rise in popularity of writer Scott Snyder (<I>Batman</I>, <I>American Vampire</I>, <I>Swamp Thing</I>) and writer/artist Sean Murphy (<I>Punk Rock Jesus</I>, <I>Joe The Barbarian</I>). So though the idea of them teaming up and developing a new story may sound too good to be true, it is in fact happening in the coming year. <p><a href=http://www.newsarama.com/comics/scott-snyder-jeff-lemire-new-vertigo-titles.html>Announced at October's New York Comic Con</a>, Snyder and Murphy's <i>The Wake</i> sees the two creators find dark horror underneath the waves and on the ocean floor. It's a bit of a reunion for the two creators after first working together on an <I>American Vampire</I> spinoff miniseries, <i>Survival of the Fittest</i>. But <i>The Wake</i> promises to be something new entirely, mixing Snyder's penchant for horror with Murphy's passion for science fiction.


Thirty-six years may seem like a lot, but in space, time has little meaning. Appropriately, 2013 looks to be the biggest year for <i>Star Wars</i> comic books in some time, with long-time publisher Dark Horse pulling out the stops in what looks to be their biggest (and rumored last) series with the franchise, simply titled <i>Star Wars</i>. <p>As the simple title hints, this isn't a side-story or an esoteric voyage down a rabbit hole this is all the classic characters from the original trilogy, engaging in never-told adventures. Set moments after the conclusion of <i>A New Hope</i>, this series covers the hallowed ground between that and <i>Empire Strikes Back</i>, showing how Luke went from an anonymous pilot who shot down the Death Star to the Empire's enemy No. 1. It also shows the more realistic side to Leia, transitioning from princess to warrior and piloting an X-Wing no less. And Han, well... Han's Han. <p>If the story itself weren't enough, the creative team enlisted writer Brian Wood and artist Carlos D'Anda betrays trumpets just how major this could be. This series, which launches January 9, could be as pivotal to the larger <i>Star Wars</i> universe as Dark Horse's first SW series, <B>Dark Empire</B> or even the original Timothy Zahn <I>Thrawn</I> trilogy of prose novels. <p>Brian Wood might be an unlikely hero for <i>Star Wars</i> fans, but a long, long time ago, so was a backwoods farmhand named Luke.


Neil Gaiman, joined by a variety of artists, changed comics starting in 1988 with a book called <i>The Sandman</i>. It helped foster the growth of the graphic novel marketplace and revived the idea of comics as more than just capes, tights and kids fare and told a great story as well. And now Gaiman is coming back to the series to show that some dreams can't die. <p>And he's doing it with arguably one of the greatest comic artists working in comics today, J.H. Williams III. <p>Next year, on the 25th anniversary of <B>The Sandman</B> series' debut, the title returns for a limited engagement with Gaiman and Williams III telling the untold story that put the series into motion in the first place: the battle that Morpheus engaged in that left him exhausted enough to be captured in the first place. We've seen Morpheus love, we've seen Morpheus lie, but we've never seen him in battle the way it was teased back in issue #1. <p>But now we will.


The second half of Robert Kirkman's meteoric rise in comics came due to his long-running creator-owned superhero series with Cory Walker and Ryan Ottley, <i>Invincible</i>. Launched nearly simultaneous to <I>The Walking Dead</I>, <i>Invincible</i> is poised to have a big year in 2013 beginning with a much-hyped death. <p>On January 23, the milestone 100th issue of <i>Invincible</i> is released, concluding the multi-part "The Death of Everyone" story arc, which promises... well, just what the title says. Taking a cue from 2012's landmark <I>The Walking Dead #100</I>, this issue is extra-sized and features a number of variant covers including the likes of Walker, Ottley, Marc Silvestri, Bryan Hitch, Arthur Adams and <i>The Walking Dead</i>'s Charlie Adlard. <p>With <i>Invincible</i> #100 coming in January, 2013 not only plays stage to that event but also to whatever aftermath is left in the rubble. And as <i>Invincible</i> has shown, it's about big moments but also bigger ramifications.


Some comics, as we have all learned, are bigger than first realized. Bigger than planned, bigger than anticipated, and as it turns out, bigger than schedules. <p>Paul Pope's <i>Battling Boy</i>, a story which pits the titular kid hero against a world of monsters, is the author's attempt to make an iconic superhero story for children. Originally announced in 2006 for a 2007 release via First Second, this long-gestating graphic novel series might finally see a release in 2013 if you read the tea leaves of First Second and Paul Pope's interviews in recent months. <p>Why is this important? It seems like a distillation of Paul Pope's work that has earned him the favor of comics critics, but putting him in a place where he can (finally) win over audiences at large. Pope has called <i>Battling Boy</I> "Peter Pan with teeth;" an attempt to do a story for children but with Pope's full creative potential (and no pulled punches). Whenever it comes out, it'll have an impact.


Another series that has been publicly gestating for years, <i>Age of Ultron</i> sees the eponymous long-time Avengers villain taking the Marvel Universe by storm. <p>The series was first teased back in Brian Michael Bendis' run on <i>Avengers</i> with John Romita Jr. during the "Heroic Age," <i>Age of Ultron</i> has since been further previewed in various comics and built into a one of a kind meeting between Bendis' long-running Avengers run (though it's been described as a "Marvel Universe as a whole" type of story) and the big-screen spectacle of artist Bryan Hitch as he popularized on <i>The Ultimates</I>. <P>Scheduled to launch rapid-fire with three issues in March 2013, <i>Age of Ultron</i> will rope in outside series like <i>Fantastic Four</i> and <i>Superior Spider-Man</i>, Bryan Hitch will draw the first section of the series with Brandon Peterson and Carlos Pacheco illustrating the latter parts.


Your eyes don't deceive you. This time, honest, we believe Grant Morrison's <i>Multiversity</i> will come out in the next 12 months. <p>Teased and promised for years, DC and Morrison finally <a href=http://www.newsarama.com/comics/grant-morrison-multiversity-ted-kord-2013.html>went on record back in September</a>, saying that the series will be released in "late 2013." <p>The long-percolating series will be comprised of eight issues, some featuring different titles but working under the <i>Multiversity</i> banner, which will show Grant Morrison and a group of a-list art all-stars touring the various alternate dimensions of DC's multiverse. <p>Described by Morrison as his <i>Lord of the Rings</i>, this epic has been confirmed to feature Charlton heroes such as Blue Beetle and Captain Atom, along with DC's Captain Marvel and other heroes that were merged into the DCU over the years. Among the artists known to be involved are Frank Quitely and Cameron Stewart, with other frequent Morrison collaborators expected. <p>It looks to be along the same lines, format-wise, as Morrison's <i>Seven Soldiers</I> inter-connected stories but pulling directly from the core of the DCU.

10 To Watch in 2013: Comic Book Series/Graphic Novels

Date: 28 December 2012 Time: 08:40 PM ET