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Five Great Superhero Comics of 2013

2013 has been a great year for comics. Manga, superheroes, and graphic novels in general have flourished with talent and variety. Here are five superhero series from 2013 that stand out from the pack.

Hawkeye by Matt Fraction and David Aja

Following the Avengers movie, viewers made the inevitable comparison between the super-powered members Captain America, Iron Man, and Thor and the comparatively plain members Black Widow and Hawkeye. Even then, Black Widow is a secret agent - what's so special about a guy who shoots arrows? Matt Fraction has made an amazing case for Hawkeye's popularity with tales from his street-level life operating out of a New York apartment and taking on thugs without calling in metahuman backup. Illustrator David Aja and colorist Matt Hollingsworth put together some of the most thoughtful layouts and color schemes, leaving most other 2013 productions to eat their dust. An issue devoted to "Pizza Dog" uses connected trees of icons to show how Hawkeye's dog perceives the world and unpacks a crime no one else notices. Compared to watching world-dominating villains getting punched in the face all the time, I everyday heroism takes the cake.

X-Men Legacy by Simon Spurrier and Tan Eng Huat

There are too many X-Men books. There, I said it. The X-Men could branch off as its own comics company and it would still have more issues of series continuity, spinoffs, and story reboots than the rest of Marvel. The major strength of this title, then, is how it focuses on one mutant, Legion, and his attempts to regain control over his mind. His power lies in his multiple personalities, each of which manifests a different mutant power. As the son of mutant telepath Charles Xavier, Legion has immense psychic power, but taming his other personalities before they gain control of his body is a full-time occupation. The story often hops inside Legion's head to show him battling and escaping the "inmates" in his brain. If this sounds a little high-concept, then enjoy the ride, because Spurrier and Huat take this premise to some dizzying heights. Kicking off each issue are covers portraying Legion's fractured mind in endlessly creative portraits, with stories to match.

Wonder Woman by Brian Azzarello and Cliff Chiang

Never send supermen to do a wonder woman's job. Batman? Superman? Their gritty stories as of late feel too monotonous. Azzarello's take on Wonder Woman, assisted by Chiang's crisp artwork, sees her navigating the family of Greek gods as she tries to rescue a woman and her child involved with Zeus. At her core, Wonder Woman is an Amazon warrior princess of the gods, and here is a story that fulfills the potential of all the mythology involved and gives her plenty of opportunities to kick butt without pandering to the lowest common denominators of sex and violence. The series walks a tightrope between mostly serious and sometimes lighthearted moments, ultimately delivering both while never falling flat.

Superior Spider-Man by Dan Slott and Various

When Slott unveiled the premise of Superior Spider-Man - that a dying Otto Octavius (Doctor Octopus) switched bodies with Peter Parker and left Parker to die, leaving Doc to fill Parker's shoes as a new Spider-Man - fans revolted. As is often the case when fans revolt at advance knowledge, they were wrong. Slott explores all the angles of Parker's life as seen through the lens of one of his greatest villains, and the fresh perspective makes for some renewed tension not normally seen in superheroes. For example, we know Spider-Man would do anything but kill an enemy, but Octavius does not play by the same rules. Parker always acts according to his responsibilities as a superhero over his personal interests, but Octavius does not mind indulging in glory and romance, choosing to embrace personalities Parker always shunned. However, far from being simply "Evil Spider-Man," Octavius sees Parker's life as an opportunity to improve his life in several ways, from automated city surveillance to finishing Parker's Ph.D. This would seem to be a case of true advertising, as "superior" Spider-Man has yet to wear out his welcome and should stick around through 2014, too.

Shazam! by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank

You mean Captain Marvel? The one who wore a cape without a hood? Well, forget that version for now, because Johns has used his talent for rebooting characters to bring Cap... Shazam into the modern age. Fifteen-year-old Billy Batson is an enormous brat who transfers between foster homes, refusing to care about anyone else no matter how kind they are. Then he discovers the power to become Earth's mightiest mortal and uses it to mess with people, in an escapist display of super-powered giddiness that shows the true appeal of superpowers. Nearly all of DC's comics use a shared "house style" that dictates how everyone is drawn; this leads to a consistent style across series, but can also get stale over time. Batson's teenage expressions and foster home friends make for a much-needed change of pace, with the adult Shazam making the faces of a confused teenager. The first major conflict for Shazam involves a marquee villain whose treatment is also updated and lends the right gravitas to mature Batson for his adventures ahead.


Amazon Says: The breakout star of this summer's blockbuster Avengers film, Clint Barton - aka the self-made hero Hawkeye - fights for justice! With ex-Young Avenger Kate Bishop by his side more...
Amazon Says: The breakout star of this summer's blockbuster Avengers film, Clint Barton - aka the self-made hero Hawkeye - fights for justice! With ex-Young Avenger Kate Bishop by his side, he's out to prove himself as one of Earth's Mightiest Heroes! SHIELD recruits Clint to intercept a packet of incriminating evidence - before he becomes the most wanted man in the world. You won't believe what is on The Tape! What is the Vagabond Code? Matt Fraction pens a Hawkeye thriller that spans the globe...and the darkest parts of Hawkeye's mind. Barton and Bishop mean double the Hawkeye and double the trouble...and stealing from the rich never looked so good. COLLECTING: Hawkeye 1-5, Young Avengers Presents 6 less...
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Amazon Says: Artist David Aja returns to the most critically acclaimed comic of 2012, as ace archer Clint Barton faces the digital doomsday of - DVR-Mageddon! Then: Cherry's got a gun. And more...
Amazon Says: Artist David Aja returns to the most critically acclaimed comic of 2012, as ace archer Clint Barton faces the digital doomsday of - DVR-Mageddon! Then: Cherry's got a gun. And she looks good in it. And Hawkeye gets very, very distracted. Plus: Valentine's Day with the heartthrob of the Marvel Universe? This will be...confusing. Marvel architect Matt Fraction continues his exciting, adventurous reinvention of the arrowed Avenger! COLLECTING: Hawkeye 6-11 less...
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Amazon Says: Legion, the most powerful and unstable mutant in the world, and son to Professor Charles Xavier, has killed gods and reshaped the face of the universe. NOW! in the aftermath o more...
Amazon Says: Legion, the most powerful and unstable mutant in the world, and son to Professor Charles Xavier, has killed gods and reshaped the face of the universe. NOW! in the aftermath of Avengers vs. X-Men, Legion will finally attempt to conquer his demons...and embrace his father's legacy! COLLECTING: X-Men Legacy (2012) 1-6 less...
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Amazon Says: Refusing Wolverine's offer to join the X-Men, David Haller must now decide how he will carry out his father's legacy. But upon venturing into the world on his own, will he be more...
Amazon Says: Refusing Wolverine's offer to join the X-Men, David Haller must now decide how he will carry out his father's legacy. But upon venturing into the world on his own, will he be beckoned back to Westchester by his budding fascination with young X-Man Blindfold? And more importantly: how will their future together change the fate of mutantkind? Legion and Blindfold go on a date...to the moon! But when Legion reveals his ulterior motive for visiting the moon, will Blindfold leave him without a goodnight kiss? Plus: desperate to learn if the predictions of his destroying mutantkind are true, Legion makes a deal with the devil in his own mind to find answers. COLLECTING: X-Men Legacy 7-12 less...
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Wonder Woman Vol. 1: Blood by Brian Azzarello
Amazon Says: A  New York Times Bestseller As a part of the acclaimed DC Comics—The New 52 event of September 2011, the first six issues of the critically acclaimed new W more...
Amazon Says: A  New York Times Bestseller As a part of the acclaimed DC Comics—The New 52 event of September 2011, the first six issues of the critically acclaimed new Wonder Woman series are collected in hardcover!  Hippolyta, queen of the Amazons, has kept a secret from her daughter all her life–and when Wonder Woman learns who her father is, her life will shatter like brittle clay. The only one more shocked than Diana by this revelation? Bloodthirsty Hera–so why is her sinister daughter, Strife, so eager for the truth to be told? Superstar writer Brian Azzarello creates a new direction for one of DC's best-known heroes, with spectacular art by Cliff Chiang and Tony Akins! less...
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Wonder Woman, Vol. 2: Guts by Brian Azzarello
Amazon Says: A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER Wonder Woman goes to hell! After playing Poseidon, Hades, and Hera against each other, Hades strikes back by kidnapping Zola and trapping her in t more...
Amazon Says: A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER Wonder Woman goes to hell! After playing Poseidon, Hades, and Hera against each other, Hades strikes back by kidnapping Zola and trapping her in the Underworld. It's up to Wonder Woman--with a little help from the God of Love and the God of Smiths--to break Zola out. But what is Hades' real game, and once you get into the land of the dead, how exactly do you get out? Collecting WONDER WOMAN #7-12. less...
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Wonder Woman Vol. 3: Iron by Brian Azzarello
Amazon Says: A New York Times Bestseller! Wonder Woman has finally discovered her heritage, as well as all the family that comes along with it. However, as she digs deeper into her famili more...
Amazon Says: A New York Times Bestseller! Wonder Woman has finally discovered her heritage, as well as all the family that comes along with it. However, as she digs deeper into her familial tree, there's as many Gods that are willing to lend her a hand as there are those that would do her harm. WW continues on her search for her friend Zola's baby, not knowing who she can trust. So when she discovers New God Orion at her doorstep, is he here to help her--or destroy her? Brian Azzarello (100 BULLETS) and illustrators Cliff Chiang and Tony Akins blend superheroics with ancient mythology in this critically acclaimed graphic novel WONDER WOMAN VOL. 3. Collects issues #0, #13-17. less...
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Amazon Says: Part of the Marvel NOW! initiative! THEN!...Peter Parker spent a lifetime living up to the responsibilities his powers foisted upon him, but his story finally ended more...
Amazon Says: Part of the Marvel NOW! initiative! THEN!...Peter Parker spent a lifetime living up to the responsibilities his powers foisted upon him, but his story finally ended dramatically in the historic Amazing Spider-Man #700. NOW!...The new Amazing Spider-Man has arrived, and he is better in every single way. Smarter, stronger...Superior. And he'll prove it, both to himself and the world, when he faces down the all-new Sinister Six! But is this all-new Spider-Man in cahoots with J. Jonah Jameson? And has Carlie Cooper figured out the Superior Spider-Man's secret identify? Plus: Spider-Man and Mary Jane...reunited?! All this and the return of the villainous Vulture! It's an all-new era of web-slinging excitement, and it all starts NOW! COLLECTING: Superior Spider-Man 1-5 less...
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Amazon Says: An Avenger no more? In light of his recent violent actions, will the Avengers kick Spidey off the team? With a villain acting like a hero and a hero acting like a villain, one more...
Amazon Says: An Avenger no more? In light of his recent violent actions, will the Avengers kick Spidey off the team? With a villain acting like a hero and a hero acting like a villain, one man has decided that enough is enough! The ghostly revenant of Peter Parker fights to regain control of his body, his mind, and his destiny! Is this the beginning of the end for Otto Octavius? The time has come to see who will live, who will die, and who will emerge as the one, true Superior Spider-Man! But when the Green Goblin returns, why is Spidey nowhere to be found? Plus: Jester! Screwball! Cardiac! And a new development for a Spider-Man who hasn't been seen for some time. And by "time," we mean centuries! COLLECTING: Superior Spider -Man 6-10 less...
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Amazon Says: The Spider-Slayer is scheduled for execution and Mayor J. Jonah Jameson is leaving nothing to chance. To ensure that everything goes according to plan, Jameson's called in the more...
Amazon Says: The Spider-Slayer is scheduled for execution and Mayor J. Jonah Jameson is leaving nothing to chance. To ensure that everything goes according to plan, Jameson's called in the one man he can trust to oversee everything - the Superior Spider-Man. COLLECTING: Superior Spider-Man 11-15. Also include s exclusive AR video content! less...
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Shazam! Vol. 1 by Geoff Johns
Amazon Says: A New York Times Bestseller! Young orphan Billy Batson has bounced from foster home to foster home, but he's far from the ideal child. Brash and rude, Billy is a troubled tee more...
Amazon Says: A New York Times Bestseller! Young orphan Billy Batson has bounced from foster home to foster home, but he's far from the ideal child. Brash and rude, Billy is a troubled teen that just can't seem to find a calling. But after a fateful night on a subway car, that all will change.   Brought to the feet of the magical wizard Shazam at the Rock of Eternity, Billy is imbued with powers beyond any mortal man. By shouting the wizard's name--Shazam!--the young teen is mystically transformed into the powerhouse known as Captain Marvel! Now given abilities that make him Earth's Mightiest Mortal at the utterance of a simple phrase, will Billy make the right choices and do what it takes to become a hero? Or will he succumb to the poor choices of youth--and the villainous Black Adam! Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, the team behind the New York Times #1 best-selling graphic novel BATMAN: EARTH ONE, unite to re-invent Captain Marvel as a part of DC Comics--The New 52.  Collected here for the first time ever is the series of back-ups that ran in the pages of Johns' critically acclaimed JUSTICE LEAGUE. Collects JUSTICE LEAGUE #0, 21 and stories from JUSTICE LEAGUE #7-11, 14-16, 18-20. less...
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