The Best Comic Book Series or Original Graphic Novel of 2023

It’s never a bad idea to get lost in a good book, especially if it’s a comic book. The year 2023 proved to be a great year for comic fans, whether they prefer to rub elbows with the iconic heroes of the Marvel and DC Universes, enjoy a good independent comic, or soak up the best the manga scene has to offer.

This year, we watched as the X-Men’s bright new future came crashing down around them, paving the way for a very dark yet engrossing new status quo in the Marvel Universe. We savored the end of another Daredevil saga, one that seems destined to take its place among the all-time greats. And we reveled in the kooky, gory, wholly unique world of Chainsaw Man. But which one of these comic book series proved to be IGN’s favorite of 2023? Check out the slideshow gallery below or read on to find out:

The Best Comic Book Series or Original Graphic Novel of 2023

Runner-Up: X-Men

X-Men: Hellfire Gala 2023 #1 Cover Gallery

One thing that didn’t change in 2023 is the fact that there’s never been a better time to be an X-Men reader. The whole franchise is firing on all cylinders lately, as creators continue to explore the long-term ramifications of mutantkind declaring its own nation on the living island of Krakoa. Last year, Immortal X-Men wound up taking home the top prize. This year, it was the flagship X-Men title that stood out the most, earning 6.25% of the vote.

A lot of that has to do with X-Men: The Hellfire Gala Special 2023 and the arrival of a new status quo called Fall of X. After riding high for years following the rush that was 2019’s House of X and Powers of X, the X-Men found themselves crashing back down to Earth and suffering a major blow at the hands of Orchis. Mutants are once again scattered and hunted. That new status quo has been explored brilliantly by writer Gerry Duggan and his artistic partners, with the series taking on a darker and more urgent edge in recent months. But really, these days it’s hard to go wrong with any of the X-books.

Runner-Up: The Super Hero’s Journey

The Super Hero’s Journey: Graphic Novel Preview

Marvel’s monthly X-books rarely disappoint, but one area the company has historically struggled in is original graphic novels. They’ve simply never been as big a focus for Marvel as rivals like DC. Fortunately, Marvel has begun to close that gap recently thanks to a new partnership with Abrams Books. Abrams has been delivering the compelling, self-contained stories we’ve wanted to see from Marvel. In 2022, it was Alex Ross’ Fantastic Four: Full Circle. In 2023, we were equally won over by The Super Hero’s Journey, which is why it earned 6.25% of the IGN staff vote.

The brainchild of Mutts creator Patrick McDonnell, The Super Hero’s Journey is a loving tribute to Marvel’s beloved Silver Age era. In fact, the book repurposes a lot of classic Jack Kirby art. Combined with McDonnell’s own art, this blend of familiar and new serves to tell an uplifting story about heroes persevering in the face of unrelenting darkness. With so many superheroes mired in darkness these days, The Super Hero’s Journey is a reminder of their aspirational power.

Runner-Up: Wonder Woman Historia – The Amazons

Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons #1 Preview Gallery

Unlike Marvel, DC certainly isn’t lacking in standalone superhero books geared toward audiences who don’t necessarily want to follow monthly stories. That’s basically the entire reason the DC Black Label line exists – to allow big-name creators the chance to work with characters like Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman without worrying about continuity or the needs of DC’s core comic book universe.

Kelly Sue DeConnick’s Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons may just be the best thing to come out of the Black Label line to date. This lavishly illustrated book (featuring career-best work from Phil Jimenez, Gene Ha and Nicola Scott) chronicles the origins of the Amazons and the remote island nation of Themyscira. It’s a must-read for anyone interested in learning more about Wonder Woman’s home and the rich blend of fantasy and mythology that defines the Amazons, especially now that DC is developing the live-action Paradise Lost series. That’s why Wonder Woman Historia earned 12.5% of the IGN vote.

Just a note for those keeping score – technically, the final issue of Wonder Woman Historia came out on December 27, 2022. But since that release put it past the cutoff for the Best of 2022 awards, we considered it fair game for inclusion this year.

Runner-Up: Akane-banashi

Marvel and DC may have put out some of the best comics of 2023, but superheroes aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. And while Western publishers excel in other genres like horror and science fiction, there are some types of stories you can only find by digging into the manga market. This is the first year IGN is including manga in this category, with one of the finalists being Yuki Suenaga and Takamasa Moue’s Akane-banashi at 6.25% of the vote.

Akane-banashi chronicles the journey of Akane Osaki, a girl whose father is a student of the Japanese performance art known as rakugo. When her father is discredited, Akane takes it upon herself to become a master of rakugo and redeem her family’s name. It’s essentially a sports manga of a different flavor, and it’s one that’s exceptionally well told.

Runner-Up: Chainsaw Man

It’s a good thing manga was added to the category this year, because it’s clear that a lot of people at IGN are feeling Chainsaw Man fever. Even as the anime adaptation wins over legions of fans (check out IGN’s Chainsaw Man: Season 1 review), the Chainsaw Man manga continues to go strong.

For those who still haven’t been exposed to Tatsuki Fujimoto’s series, Chainsaw Man tells the story of Denji, a down-on-his-luck loner who winds up gaining the ability to transform into a chainsaw-limbed killer. The series thrives as much on the strength of its world-building and characters as it does the extreme violence and dark sense of humor. And even though the story has veered in a different direction with its second major story arc, the core appeal is still there. That’s why Chainsaw Man earned 31.25% of the vote.

Winner – Best Comic Book Series or Original Graphic Novel of 2023: Daredevil

Daredevil (2022) #1 Preview Gallery

In the end, however, it was a superhero who won the day. Marvel’s monthly Daredevil series claimed the top prize, narrowly edging out Chainsaw Man with 37.5% of the vote.

It was certainly a big year for Daredevil, as writer Chip Zdarsky and artist Marco Checchetto wrapped up their long collaboration on the series. Their run didn’t just fundamentally transform Matt Murdock, but also Elektra Natchios and Wilson Fisk, too. The final leg of the series chronicled Daredevil’s attempt to reform a faction of The Hand into The Fist. We got to see what happens when Daredevil commits wholly to his costumed persona and gives up being Matt Murdock. And it all culminated in a powerful, emotional finale.

By now, Zdarsky and Checchetto have claimed their place among the all-time great Daredevil creative teams (Frank Miller, Brian Bendis and Alex Maleev, etc.). But it’s worth pointing out that the series is still going strong even after they’ve left. New writer Saladin Ahmed and artist Aaron Kuder have begun picking up the pieces, and their relaunched series is off to a promising start. Year in and year out, Daredevil continues to be one of the best superhero comics on the stands, and that’s why it’s our ultimate pick for the best comic book series of 2023.

Honorable Mentions

These were the books that IGN voted on for best comic book series or original graphic novel of 2023, but there were others in consideration. If you want to check out more of the best comics of the year, here’s a list to get you started:

  • All Against All (Image)
  • Batman/Superman: World’s Finest (DC)
  • Clementine Book Two (Skybound)
  • Damn Them All (BOOM! Studios)
  • Detective Comics (DC)
  • Hairball (Dark Horse)
  • Kaya (Image)
  • Local Man (Image)
  • Moon Knight (Marvel)
  • Pet Peeves (Avery Hill)
  • Roaming (Drawn & Quarterly)
  • Superman (DC)
  • Ultimate Invasion (Marvel)
  • X-Men Red (Marvel)

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