There were a lot of amazing comics this year compared to the previous one and the industry is surprisingly, still strong. The addition of webtoons, YA content, and manga has caused exponential growth within the industry, and shockingly, demand for comics continues to see growth as we see more voices enter the comics medium than ever before.
To adapt, The Workprint has added a lot of comic coverage this past year. Personally, I’ve read and covered more comics than ever before in my lifetime with 2022 being an exceptional year for stories inked on the page.
That said, making a ‘best of’ list was difficult. So rather than just choose the top comics for their accolades, I thought I’d pull 6 of some of the top comics from different publishers with details on why you should check them out below. I also, put my money where my mouth is, as these are not only my recommendations but ones I ended up personally buying in some form or another.
6. Devil’s Reign
This comic would have scored much higher had it not been such a fantastic year for Marvel, as Devil’s Reign is easily in the shadows of both Axe: Judgement Day and Immortal X-Men, despite it being the more grounded tale based on the streets of New York City.
Crafted by one of the most infamous best-selling names in comics, Chip Zdarsky, with gritty art by Marco Checchetto, Devil’s Reign takes Daredevil back to some gritty roots where the Kingpin now reigns as Mayor of New York City. Essentially playing big-time foil to both Daredevil and Spider-Man.
This comic incorporates Luke Cage winning over the populace in a very grassroots popularity campaign, with Purpleman, Jessica Jones, and of course, Daredevil an Electra all butting heads over the heart of New York City. With an army of supervillains, Doctor Octopus, and the Thunderbolts under his pockets, what makes this fun… is that the story reads like something right out of the Netflix Marvel superhero series. So fans of the TV shows will likely, like myself, love this run…
Though to be honest… that’s just Chip Zdarsky. He’s a fantastic storyteller.
5. Good Asian Vol. 1
So here’s one that’s entirely different. In Good Asian, we see a classic detective story from an entirely asian perspective. One that actually tackles the immigrant abuse issues of the era and America’s perception of non-whites at a time where the population both treated and saw people of color as lesser-class… well, not even citizens.
Written by Pornsak Pichetshote, with art by Alexandre Tefenkgi and published by Image Comics, the story is set in Los Angeles’ Chinatown 1936. Where detective Edison Hark is on the trail of a murderer. Set during America’s immigration ban, this comic is a dark look at the criminal underbelly with an Asian-American’s perspective: rife with murder, abusive police, and crime in a world that doesn’t care… as again…
Volume 1 is a collection of the entire series, having debuted this past September. A good buy if you’re into Asian American culture and comics.
4. Dark Spaces: Wildfire
During the historic Arroyo wildfire, a crew of women convicts serve on the frontlines to stop an unrelenting swarming inferno. But when their newest recruit, a white collar criminal, realizes that they’re miles from an abandoned mansion owned by a shady and wealthy ex-boss, the women consider the score of a lifetime. All under the cover of smoke and ash…
That’s the premise to IDW’s Dark Spaces: Wildfire. What’s great, is just how grounded the story feels as a tale about convicts paid pennies on the dollar, all based around real-life details. I also like the illustrations by Hayden Sherman, as the details that describe the wildfire itself, often play in conflict with the characters and permeate every page, serving as a nice pressure cooker forcing decisions to be made.
The first big release of IDW’s creator-focused originals, Scott Snyder’s writing is a masterclass in genre stories. He’s the kind of writer who can toss any characters, in this case, the 513 crew, into any sort of situation where they find the conflict and hit the theme. With Wildfire being a tale about strong women and finding honor in the choices made.
As someone who served as and who still has friends in volunteer EMS/Rescue/Fire this comic is well-researched. Much of the firefighting jargon is spot on and the emphasis on the all-consuming and destructive stages of a wildfire, served as a nifty time-constricted antagonist for what’s revealed to be: a solid heist story.
3. Catwoman: Lonely City
A reimagined DC comics take on the Batman lore, writer Cliff Chiang (Paper Girls) does something different by capturing a haunting tale of Catwoman’s story set in a world without the Batman… or even the need for people like herself.
It takes place about a decade after the massacre of Fools’ Night. An event which had taken the lives of Batman, The Joker, Nightwing, and commissioner Gordon – in a tragic moment that tested everyone’s resolve to their limits. Years later, Catwoman has just finished serving her time, and is now returning to a Gotham that’s no longer a home of costumed vigilantism.
In lieu of this, Gotham city is now a surveillance state dystopia run by Mayor Harvey Dent and enforced, by the very aptly titled: Batcops. Unsettled in a world where she feels like those moments of her life were discarded, this deeply introspective dive reimagines the Bat-mythos from the eyes of Bruce’s one time greatest love interest, taking a look at Gotham from just beyond the outside of his mission.
…Where Catwoman is eager for one last job to settle the score. The greatest heist of all: unlocking secrets of the Batcave with some old familiar faces. A solid read for those interested.
2. Immortal X-Men Vol. 1
I’d be remiss, as I think most would be, to not include what most are considering the best Marvel comics run in a long time. The Immortal X-Men line right now is pulling off the kinds of stories that hasn’t been tackled since the 1990s… not only touching on social and culturally relevant issues of the time, but also, getting very political and philosophical by questioning the nature of immortality, power, and race relations… All in a way that only the X-Men can.
Many critics, and myself agree, that this is the best X-Men comics series since the old apocalypse run. Kieron Gillen is absolutely killing it with this series by taking the X-Men, a severely underpowered and dying race of mutants, and turning them into literal Gods. In control of a powerful Krakoan nation. All in ways that many feared Mutants could be.
It’s a story that is making us question the nature of what it means to be human and who’s really in control in regards to leadership and authority. More importantly, it’s doing all of this while making Sinister a funny and relatable menace and seems to only get better as the issues continue. As everyone has a political scheme up their sleeve.
1. It’s Lonely At The Center of The Earth
This is the one everyone seems to be talking about. A semi-autographic novel by Zoe Thorogood that’s won everyone, including myself, over. It’s an introspective story about the author… not about heroes journeying, but rather, life falling apart and using art to survive.
A book where Zoe Thorogood details her life as a breakthrough new artist with depression, whom above all else, wants to feel less lonely despite how their feelings of alienation are what’s making her the most ‘relatable’ artist in existence.
It’s a story about Thorogood’s blooming career at this moment in time. From finding opportunities early on, to the weight of writing a successful follow-up as a voice of a new generation. This comic is a zany yet sentimental story equal parts equal parts depressing and self-destructive, as it’s about the importance of being a role model… Albeit one with severe imposter syndrome.
Above all else, this is a story about how people affect one another for better or worse. The uncomfortable sadness about being a human being, and all that life in-between, and how, that’s totally, okay to not be okay.
A must-own for 2022.