With terrible writing becoming all too common and political agendas taking center stage, a lot of people are pessimistic about the state of the comics industry. However, I have advocated against giving up on it. Fantastic comics still come out every week, and it is the role of the aficionado to cut through the noise and find the few truly great works.
In that spirit, here are ten of my favorite comics that came out in 2022:
1. Titans United, written by Cavan Scott and penciled by Jose Luis and Jonas Trindade
Despite being associated with Titans, a terrible show released on HBO Max, Titans United stands on its own and is a lot of fun. There’s nothing mind-blowing or ground-breaking about it, but it is a fun story with my personal favorite DC team. Coming out now is a sequel series, which has been just as enjoyable.
2. Rogue Sun, written by Ryan Parrott and penciled by Abel
Rogue Sun is easily my favorite new superhero series of the year. While technically connected to the Massive-Verse, it is very accessible to newcomers and requires no prerequisite knowledge. This series follows a young man named Dylan, who takes up the mantle of Rogue Sun when his father, the Rogue Sun before him, is murdered. The book features a good mystery, has great world-building, and evinces plenty of heart.
3. Robin, written by Joshua Williamson and penciled by Gleb Melnikov
This comic follows Damian Wayne, the current Robin and son of Batman, as he travels to Lazarus Island to compete in a fight-to-the-death tournament. Robin also features Flatline, a new character who quickly became a fan favorite, and has had a lasting impact across the DC Universe over the past two years.
While this series unfortunately ended with issue #17 in August, it was a joy to read for its short stint and has continued on into the excellent Batman vs. Robin.
4. Strange Academy, written by Skottie Young and penciled by Humberto Ramos
Ramos and Young’s comic manages to do something Marvel had done for years but seemingly cannot anymore: create a cast of diverse and great characters without diversity being the selling point of the book. It follows the inaugural class of Strange Academy, a magic school that Doctor Strange started and staffed with teachers from across the mystical side of Marvel. The core cast of young students is absolutely fantastic, and Gaslamp is one of the coolest villains introduced in comics recently.
5. Once & Future, written by Kieron Gillen and penciled by Dan Mora
This comic takes place in a world where legendary literary characters—such as King Arthur, Beowulf, and Robin Hood—come to life. However, these characters are monstrous and evil, and the main characters are tasked with hunting them down.
The story plays around with the nature of fiction, with many characters “taking on the role” of a literary character while still managing to be a kinetic action story. The real centerpiece, however, is penciler Dan Mora and his art. Mora is my favorite comic artist of all time, and the monstrous nature of the characters allows him to really stretch his artistic muscles to stunning effect.
6. Moon Knight, written by Jed MacKay and penciled by Alessandro Cappuccio
Standing in stark contrast to the terrible and unfaithful Disney+ series, Moon Knight has been one of the few standout Marvel books this year. MacKay brilliantly captures the brutal vigilantism and insanity of Moon Knight. He also introduces a very cool new character in Hunter’s Moon, who acts an interesting foil to Moon Knight.
The supporting cast for the book is great, notably bringing back an obscure Avengers teammate in Tigra. While Cappuccio’s art took a bit to get used to, it is excellent and concords well with the book. This is a great starting point for anyone new to Moon Knight or someone who is looking for something a bit darker than standard superhero fare.
7. Department of Truth, written by James Tynion IV and penciled by Martin Simmonds
This comic follows a simple premise: What if reality was shaped by collective belief? For example, in the first issue, the main character sees that the Earth is flat because collective belief shaped it to be like that. He then joins the Department of Truth, a black ops wing of the U.S. government that is aware of this fact and influences people to shape reality.
The book is simply phenomenal. It has an interesting premise that it utilizes brilliantly and creatively. It frequently deals with real-world conspiracies, encompassing both the fantastical, like Bigfoot and Indrid Cold, to the serious, like school shootings and Satanic Panic. The artistic imagery is vivid and often impressionistic and grungy, reflecting the blurry nature of the reality the characters live in.
The nature of the book can be very disturbing—especially given its imagery—so please proceed with caution. That being said, with its intriguing premise, fantastic story, and incredible art, this book is absolutely a must-read and relays a story that can only be told through comics.
With its last issue releasing this year after starting in 2020, The Last Ronin is some of the most celebrated Turtles media ever. Written by one of the two original creators, this book acts as a final story for the Turtles and their supporting cast.
This book is best if you know as little as possible going in, but it beautifully captures the core of the franchise, the bond of brothers, and gives the iconic heroes a perfect send-off.
9. Batman, written by Chip Zdarsky and penciled by Jorge Jiménez
Despite a rocky start, the “Failsafe” arc of Batman—which kick-offs Zdarsky’s run at issue #125—is genuinely one of the best superhero stories I’ve ever read. After Batman is falsely accused of murdering his longtime foe, the Penguin, the Failsafe Protocol activates. This procedure was designed to take down Batman should he ever cross the line.
The sheer creativity that Zdarsky infused into the Failsafe Protocol is incredible, and the action is absolutely top-notch. Issues #127 and #128 are genuine masterpieces. While my number-one pick edges it out in terms of consistency, Batman comes with the highest of recommendations.
Batman/Superman: World’s Finest is everything one could want from a superhero comic. Mark Waid is an industry titan behind Kingdom Come, the iconic 1990s Flash run, and JLA: Tower of Babel, and his writing is excellent. The aforementioned Dan Mora’s art is just as fantastic, as always.
Better yet, the stories are just fun, plain and simple. They are about superheroes saving the world and defeating the villains. World’s Finest is the gold standard for superhero comics, and everyone should check it out.
* The views expressed in this article solely represent the views of the author, not the views of the Chicago Thinker.