No matter how you feel about this past year, there’s no arguing that it brought us plenty of exciting, entertaining, and at times, powerfully impactful new work from DC. From the end of a remarkable era of films—featuring the first big screen shared universe in DC’s history—to the dawning of a spectacular new age in comics, it was a great year to be a DC fan. So, as we say goodbye to 2023, we thought we’d share a few of our recent DC favorites. Look for a new writer’s 2023 Top Three every day this week!

2023 has been a banner year in the DC Universe. “The Dawn of DC,” as it has risen over this period, has been quite generous in the new chapters it’s provided for some of our world’s most iconic heroes and villains. New characters and classics alike have thrived in the pages and on screen, making it quite difficult to pick just a few favorites from this year. Luckily, there are enough of us here at to cover a lot of ground, and these three in particular have been standouts in my mind that will define this period to me for years to come.

Blue Beetle

The moment I finished watching Blue Beetle in theaters, I knew I had to go back and watch it again. That’s only happened to me before with two superhero movies: The Dark Knight and The Batman. I’m not sure what that says about me, but to me, Blue Beetle represented something fresh. Carrying the soul of Keith Giffen, John Rogers and Cully Hamner’s character-defining comic run from 2006, the Blue Beetle movie heavily emphasized the role of family by stripping away the conceit of a secret identity for its hero from his loved ones. From the jump, Jaime Reyes, his doting parents, his sardonic sister, his manic uncle and his revolutionary grandmother were all in on the transformation—setting what is quite typically the secretive, solo affair of a hero gaining their powers apart in a way that resonates with those of us who keep our families close.

Of course, it doesn’t hurt that the film also features, without exaggeration or exception, the best hero costume design in the history of superhero movies. I couldn’t take my eyes off the way the film translates Hamner’s designs to the screen so beautifully and faithfully. We’ve set the new blue standard.

The Joker: The Man Who Stopped Laughing

The Joker’s trick is that there’s really almost no wrong way to portray him. As an elemental force of chaos, every interpretation you see of the character, no matter how different, has the same opportunity to really make a memorable impression. He can be goofy, he can be lethal, he can be a threat to the Justice League or a junior member of the Bat-Family and everything in between. There are just a few cardinal rules. First, don’t examine his backstory too closely. The more we know who the Joker “really” is, the less power he has. Second, no matter what, at least to his own sense of humor, the Joker should be funny.

The Joker: The Man Who Stopped Laughing never abandons these principles and makes them the core of a series starring a villain who lives for the spotlight but is always the antagonist. Even James Tynion IV’s excellent Joker series released prior to this one was, in all actuality, a James Gordon story. The Man Who Stopped Laughing centers the Joker by throwing more questions around his identity than ever before and embracing a sense of absurdist comedy that feels one foot in a ’70s variety show and the other in a pitch-dark grave.

With its surreal back-up stories harkening back to the original ten-issue Joker series from the Bronze Age, featuring a rollicking subplot of Red Hood doggedly chasing the Clown Prince like Elmer Fudd pursuing Bugs Bunny, The Man Who Stopped Laughing is a cogent reminder of just why we all fell in Mad Love with the Joker in the first place. He’s a hell of a guy…or two. Or three.

The Mark Waid Renaissance

It’s hard to believe that we’re two years into Mark Waid’s triumphant return to DC when every story he’s told since returning has kept us gripped to the page from month to month. What’s even harder to believe is that for all his career-defining work in decades past—on the Flash, Superman, the Justice League, the Legion of Super-Heroes and 52—Mark Waid’s best work is being published right now.

Waid certainly hasn’t forgotten his roots in the decade he’s spent away from us. This year, he’s given us a return to the most epic Elseworlds story ever told with a Kingdom Come-oriented story in Batman/Superman: World’s Finest. He’s been spiritually sequelizing his Superman origin story, Superman: Birthright, with a return to that delicious dynamic between Superman and Lex in Superman: The Last Days of Lex Luthor. But it’s Mark’s overabundant love for the history of comics long before him which has fueled some of his best contributions to the DC Universe this year.

With Waid’s World’s Finest reveling in the glory days when Dick Grayson was still the only Robin and no one had heard of an “Anti-Monitor,” his exploration of this time has only exponentialized with World’s Finest: Teen Titans, a series I can only hope will prove be the first in many era-adjacent World’s Finest spin-offs to come in the way it captures the giddy joy of Bob Haney and Nick Cardy’s original Teen Titans run from the ’70s. But the masterpiece of Waid’s current output has to be Shazam!, a title Waid has clearly been building up ideas to write for his entire career.

The concepts and ramifications of “The Captain” and his unique background and power set are explored here in ways so inventive, it’s often shocking that no one has thought to do them with Billy Batson before. Through even the original Kingdom Come, and events from the ’90s like Underworld Unleashed, it’s clear that Billy is a character Waid has always cared about deeply. Shazam! has beautifully borne that out, presenting a sense of fun and adventure typified by his Golden Age adventures in Whiz Comics. Waid’s return to DC has heralded not just the return of a living history guide to the DC Universe, but a mind capable of channeling that history into innovative new stories that cherish exactly what we love about all those that came before it.

Be sure to read the rest of our 2023 Top Three lists!

Alex Jaffe is the author of our monthly "Ask the Question" column and writes about games, movies, TV, comics and superhero history for Follow him on Bluesky at @AlexJaffe and find him in the DC Community as HubCityQuestion.

NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely those of Alex Jaffe and do not necessarily reflect those of DC or Warner Bros. Discovery, nor should they be read as confirmation or denial of future DC plans.