PoP! Top 6-Pack: Creator Owned Comics in 2013

The PoP! Stars narrow it down to the cream of the crop in categories ranging from (but not limited to) Comics, Movies, Toys and Geek Culture in general. This is the PoP! Top 6-Pack

As 2012 unfolded one of the biggest trends in comics was the shift in focus to creator-owned work by major talent. Books like Fatale from Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, Revival from Tim Seeley and Mike Norton and Saga from Brian K. Vaughan were big critical and commercial successes for the year. Thanks in part to the popularity of the TV show The Walking Dead continued to be a huge success with Walking Dead #100 being the highest selling single issue in the year and the first Walking Dead trade paperback being the year’s top selling graphic novel in the direct market (in fact the series took seven of the top 10 spots). Not too shabby for a comic that debuted eight years ago.

As big as 2012 was many feel that ‘13 may be the lucky number for creator owned comics so let’s take a look at six series that are debuting this year that you should keep an eye out for.

#1: The Wake – Scott Snyder was DC and Vertigo’s MVP in 2012 so anything that’s he’s writing should be on your pull list. As interesting as Snyder and Jim Lee working on a Superman title together is the real gem is The Wake, a new 12-issue miniseries coming this Spring from Vertigo drawn by Sean Murphy (American Vampire: Survival of the Fittest, Punk Rock Jesus). Announced at NYCC ‘12, The Wake DC’s The Source blog says “Beneath the surface, set amidst the claustrophobic yet beautiful and sweeping ocean-scapes, a discovery is made that will reveal a secret mythology. Full of suspense and horror, THE WAKE is an underwater sci-fi epic like none other.” Snyder is a master not just of horror but of finding an idea and putting just the right twist on it to make it completely unexpected. Murphy’s artwork is kinetic and expressive in all of the right ways so seeing these two work on a book with such a unique premise in an exciting locale should be an absolute delight.

#2: Helheim – Also announced at NYCC ‘12 was Helheim, a six-issue miniseries from Oni Press by writer Cullen Bunn and artist Joelle Jones about a viking warrior killed in battle and resurrected as an unstoppable engine of destruction. Those that are unaware of Bunn’s current Oni series The Sixth Gun should stop reading this and read the first issue so they can get as hooked on the series as I am. Bunn says that Helheim gives him “the opportunity to play with some darker themes than in some of my previous work” so expect a decent amount of beheadings lovingly rendered in Jones’ delightfully detailed artwork. While the series is slated for six issues a positive response may extend it further. “There’s a much larger world to explore,” Bunn told CBR’s Robot 6 blog “and I’d definitely like to do so. Rikard may or may not survive the initial storyline. Heck … He doesn’t survive the first issue. It’s tough to keep him down.” Helheim cleaves it’s way into shops this March and is currently available for preorder in the January Previews catalog.

#3: March also sees the release of East of West, a new ongoing series by writer Jonathan Hickman and his artist from Marvel’s FF series Nick Dragotta, published by Image Comics. Hickman is no stranger to creator owned comics, launching two spectacular new series at Image in 2012 (The Manhattan Projects, Secret) after making a name for himself there with The Nightly News. Hickman is known for his big ideas with a mind-blowing SF twist and East of West looks to be no exception, described as a “Sci-Fi Western set in a dystopian America where all hope for the future rests with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse…who just happen to be trying to kill the President of the United States.” That sentence alone contains more original ideas than most people will have in 2013, so I can’t wait to see what these two have in store for us.

#4: Pretty Deadly – Kelly Sue DeConnick closed out the last half of 2012 by writing Ghost at Dark Horse and Captain Marvel and Avengers Assemble at Marvel. In 2013 she and artist Emma Rios (Osborn, Doctor Strange: Season One) will publish Pretty Deadly through Image. Although it was announced at SDCC ‘12 there’s been no firm release date for the book or even if it’s a mini-series or ongoing. Despite the lack of those pesky details the idea of a Sergio Leone-inspired adventure story about a scarred female assassin operating in the old west by two talented creators piques my interest.

#5: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys – My Chemical Romance frontman Gerard Way got the comic world’s attention when The Umbrella Academy was published by Dark Horse and was better than anyone could’ve imagined. While we may or may not see the third volume in the Umbrella Academy series, Hotel Oblivion, this year this Free Comic Book Day we’ll get our first look at The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys, a new miniseries written by Way and Shaun Simon with art by Becky Cloonan (Demo, Conan). Killjoys was originally slated for a 2010 release but as Way and MCR worked on the album of the same name the story they were going to tell morphed into a three intersecting stories set in the desert, Battery City and other spots mentioned on the album. Way’s work is heavily influenced by the indie/Vertigo vibe of the 90’s so it will be interesting to see how that intersects with Becky Cloonan’s artwork, which Way credits for pushing the story in its new direction.

#6: After announcing a hiatus from company owned properties writer Greg Rucka (who recently published Alpha, the first in a new series of adventure novels) reunited with Gotham Central artist Michael Lark for Lazarus, an ongoing series from Image coming Spring of 2013 that was announced at SDCC this past year. Set in a near-future world where the “one percent” who control the world’s resources are “familial entities” and Lazarus protagonist Endeavor Carlyle is a one-woman security force working for one of them. Rucka and Lark have apparently gone to great lengths to create an all new setting rooted in modern political fears and possibilities. Rucka’s novels and comics have explored the worlds of the military, police and private investigation with amazing detail so the promise of him extrapolating a troubled future for the world that combines all of those things is not to be missed.

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Thacher E. Cleveland is a contributing writer & columnist for PanelsOnPages.com, co-host of the Super-Fly Comics & Games PodCast, novelist & comic creator. Originally from New Jersey and previously from Yellow Springs, Ohio, he currently lives in Chicago. You can find him on Twitter (@demonweasel), tumblr, his personal website and even on Google+

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