The Best Characters of 2023

Written by Antonio Pomares

December 27, 2023

This year has been a roller coaster, but it felt like a golden age for geek/nerd culture. No matter what your fav’ fandom from comics to gaming to pro-wrestling to movies & series, we’re living in a bountiful time. Here is a list of the best characters, in no particular order, from across genres that had an incredible 2023.

Amara Creed-Creed: The Next Round

Amara Creed. Image credit BOOM! Studios.

Creed: The Next Round is a continuation of the Creed of the Rocky Universe of films. This limited series from BOOM! Studios takes place ten years after Creed III. The lead of the series is Amara Creed. She decides to follow in her father’s footsteps and becomes an amateur boxer with the training of her father and aunt. What sets her character apart from most is that we get a young, deaf, Black female lead in such a huge franchise. We don’t get many stories of Black deaf girls boxing. Matter of fact, I can’t think of any stories. I hope we get more from the “Creed” series with Amara as the new lead because it was refreshing, and she packs a helluva punch.

Swerve Strickland-All Elite Wrestling (AEW)

Swerve Strickland. Image credit AEW.

Yes, I’m going to put wrestling characters in here because they are incredible performers and storytellers. As his entrance music asks the question “Who’s house?!”, the crowd can be heard shouting “Swerve’s House!!!”. Strickland exudes confidence and star power as he comes out being beckoned by the dancing Prince Nana. His fluid movement in the ring and selection of finishers from the Swerve Stomp, the House Call Kick, or the JML Driver show that he can do it all.  After debuting, becoming a tag team champion, and then a go-nowhere feud with his former partner, Keith Lee, it felt like Swerve got lost in the ever-growing roster of AEW. 

We then get Strickland calling out Hangman Adam Page for what would be a phenomenal promo battle. The promo would see Strickland proclaim that he’d be the first BLACK AEW  World Champion. At this point, you knew it was time. Swerve and Page went on to Full Gear and to have one of the best, most brutal Texas Death matches in AEW’s history. The match was applauded by fans and critics alike. We now see Swerve in the Continental Classic Tournament and poised to win. In 2024, Swerve Strickland is destined to win gold, and I’m talking about the AEW World Championship. 

Blade-Marvel Comics

Blade. Image credit Marvel Comics.

Blade has had a rollercoaster of a time in pop culture. The vampire hunter rose to the top after Wesley Snipes portrayed him in Blade in 1998. We’ve had hot and cold offerings for the dhampir, from a guest starring role in the Spider-Man animated series, a couple of video games, and even becoming an Avengers. Recently, Blade has been the Sheriff of a vampire Nation under Dracula himself. When word of a live-action MCU movie comes out, it seems like Blade was back on top, but the development seems plagued with issues.

It was then announced that Bloodline, Blade’s daughter, was getting a limited series. Shortly after that a new Blade ongoing series was said to be coming out in the summer. The series has not disappointed at all. It delivers a mix of action, horror, dry humor, and sexiness that was missing from other outings. We’re getting a huge box office-type movie in comic book form, and it deserves praise. We’re even getting a video game with a short teaser trailer being dropped at The Video Game Awards. Blade is getting a much-earned resurgence.

Fontaine, Yo-Yo, & Slick Charles-They Cloned Tyrone

They Cloned Tyrone (L-R), Teyonah Parris as Yo-Yo, Jamie Foxx as Slick Charles, and John Boyega as Fontainne. CR. Parrish Lewis/NETFLIX

Yes, I named three characters, but each serves a purpose in this fantastic film. They Cloned Tyrone was a movie that hit us on numerous levels with the subjects of systemic racism and government experiments. The character of Fontaine lives each day exactly the same until he realizes strange black vehicles. With the help of Slick and Yo-Yo, they discover secret science labs and mysterious shipments. 

The ensuing developments uncover a huge government conspiracy that pans each major city with a poor Black neighborhood and a shocking twist. Each character serves a different POV of the surrounding area and how it affects the people of the community. They all shine in their own ways and in their own scenes but still play as an ensemble with plenty of room to breathe. 

*Note that I did change a little of the description of the movie so as not to give away too much.

Monica Rambeau/PhotonThe Marvels

Monica Rambeau/Photon. Image credit Marvel Comics.

Monica Rambeua is one of the most beloved Marvel characters around. She’s been on numerous teams and has been the backbone of them. Having such a character appear in the MCU, especially in one of the most lauded series, WandaVision was a huge step up for her. In 2023, we got “Aunty” Monica in a limited series comic, Photon, by Eve L. Ewing.

This fall, we were treated to The Marvels, featuring Captain Marvel, Rambeau, and Ms. Marvel. We got an MCU directed by a Black woman and being led by women: one being Black and another one being Brown. Plus, Monica got to be a part of the BIGGEST(?) mid-credits scene ever of any MCU film. That’s a come-up.

Layla-Sirens of the City

Layla. Image credit BOOM! Studios.

Sirens of the CIty is a story set in 80s NYC with a cast of denizens called “The Uncanny.” Among them are vampires, lycans, succubi, and sirens. What brings this store of dark urban fantasy down to Earth is Laya. Layla is a young pregnant girl looking to get an abortion but is stopped at every step by protesters and even her newfound family of sirens. 

The limited series comic from Glass Eye Studios and published by BOOM! Studios show Layla trying to achieve agency over her body in the 80s but made it so relevant to current issues. Laya is a sounding board for all those worries about “breaking” a law. Layla is unphased by the unworldly beings and events around her because of her real-world issue of an unwanted pregnancy that she realizes is too much for her. She embodies the rational in an irrational, fantastical world holding her back.

Athena, The Fallen Goddess-All Elite Wrestling (AEW)

Athena, The Fallen Goddess. Image credit AEW/RoH.

Athena is the best-kept secret that shouldn’t be kept secret. Athena arrived on AEW and was put into title contention. While being in the title hunt, she was put on AEW Dark on YouTube. Making the best of the situation, Athena had a stiff match with Jody Threat that had the wrestling world abuzz. Athena embraced the boos from Threat’s hometown crowd and pivoted. She began to debut a more heelish persona. Fans and critics cheered for the change. 

Now a mainstay on Ring of Honor, she has become the longest reigning Women’s Champion, dubbing herself the “Forever Champion.” Many say Athena is the biggest reason to watch RoH, which is only available through a paid service. Athena is the perfect injection to the AEW women’s division and is a shoo-in to be the promotion’s champion. Athena is a performer who should be on broadcast TV each and every week because she steals the show with in-ring work and character development.

Antonio Pomares is an Afro-Latinx show host/geek culture personality. Currently, he hosts “The Hungry Bleek Show”. An aspiring “geek polymath”, Pomares has an open mind to all of geek culture. Pomares is an avid T-shirt and coffee mug collector.

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