Much like 2021 and 2022, It feels weird writing a “best of” list for the past year since it’s been so difficult and so strange for so many. Comics, and entertainment as a whole, continued to be an escape from the rough reality of the previous year that was. Things struggled to get back to normal, whether you think it was too soon or not. There was some return to normality as comic conventions returned and movie blockbusters begin to populate screens. For me, I mostly stayed at home again venturing out very little, attending no conventions, and my one trip resulted in the exact result I expected… COVID. Maybe I explore things a bit more in 2023 but the reality is, things won’t ever be back to normal and enjoyment like conventions and movie theaters come with a risk. But, there’s still the escape of comics.
Comics have been exactly that for me as I myself remained mostly holed up at home, forgoing movie theaters and generally the public as a whole. 2022 saw me writing over 613 reviews and I read far more comics (probably closer to 700).
To pick one that stood out above all the rest doesn’t quite feel right as there was so much that was fun and entertaining.
The comic industry continued to shift in massive ways as creators continued to figured out new ways to become independent or were lured by the promise of big paydays by flashy new technology like NFTs. The end of the year looked so much different as numerous publishers revealed their financial struggles and the grift that is NFTs collapsed. Publishers got bought out and some struggled to stay open. Stores opened. Stores closed. Distribution continues to shift. The government even stepped in at one point in what would have had seismic repercussions for the comic and boo industry. The industry continues to be disrupted in many ways. Some ways for the better. Some for the worse. 2023 will likely continue to see this as more creators look to go directly to consumers.
Things shifted for everyone.
Publishers canceled projects, shifted schedules, and continued to look to go directly to the consumer themselves. Publishers faced distribution issues as ports backed up and then cleared up. The cost of doing business increased across the board. Creators looked for new ways to earn money and also go directly to the consumer.
Consumers and readers had more choices than ever before that made it easier to escape the world that at times felt like it was burning around them and find enjoyment in make-believe worlds where justice prevails in the end. It felt like there were more choices in comics to read and more choices in the types of comics to read.
In the end, 2022 looked like a mix of bleak and hope. There’s many challenges for the industry but also many more options for it to succeed. It feels so close to cracking a new model.
It feels weird doing this “best of” but at the same time I feel like I want to “honor” and spotlight the comics that got me through the year and had me excited to read the next issues. This is what I’ve read so if you don’t see something mentioned it’s not that I didn’t enjoy it, I just might not have read it. Sorry, I can’t read everything (there was a massive glut in webcomics but more manga for me).
All of these are listed in no particular order (hell it’ll probably just be in alphabetical). Enough with the rambling… lets get on with some comics!
The comics that had me excited in 2022 and have me excited for 2023. There’s so many more I could probably add to the list that I enjoyed but this is what really stood out as the ones that stuck with me through the year and beyond.
- 007 (Dynamite Entertainment) – James Bond returned with a brand new series that felt like a solid return of the character. A straight forward story that leaves readers not knowing who to trust, it’s a Bond story fans will appreciate it and enjoy.
- Accidental Czar: The Life and Lies of Vladimir Putin (First Second) – The graphic novel is a fantastic exploration of Putin’s rise to power. But, it’s the admission of failures of those who engaged him that makes it feel like an honest recounting of history.
- Blue, Barry & Pancakes (First Second) – We got multiple volumes of this graphic novel series for kids and each was a lot of fun. It’s hard to not read these and walk away with a smile if you’re kid or an adult.
- The Boxer (Yen Press) – The first volume was an interesting one that left us questioning who the real center of the story was as it bounced around three kids and their boxing ability.
- Bunnicula: The Graphic Novel (Atheneum Books for Young Readers) – A graphic novel adaptation of the classic book. It took us right back to our childhood. We hope we get more in the series. Nostalgia for adults and fun for kids.
- A Calculated Man (AfterShock) – A man brilliant at math as turned witness against the mob and uses his ability in math to take out the mobsters who are after him. There’s a Rube Goldberg aspect to the series that keeps it entertaining.
- DC vs. Vampires (DC Comics) – Each issue and its spin-offs kept us on our toes guessing who was next to get turned, who was going to die, and how the heroes might win. By the end, we want more in this world.
- Devil’s Reign (Marvel) – One of Marvel’s best events in some time. The story kept things focused and tight as the heroes had to deal with Wilson Fisk’s reelection attempt and his tightening grip on New York City. This was an example of less is more.
- Do a Powerbomb (Image Comics) – Wrestling in comics is back in vogue but this series stands out for it’s amazing art as well as the fantastic family drama.
- Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands (Drawn & Quarterly) – Kate Beaton shines a light on her difficult time working in the Alberta tar sands. At times a tough read, it’s educational in so many ways.
- Eight Billion Genies (Image Comics) – The series has succeeded by keeping things focused. With a concept where everyone on the planet gets a wish, the series has generally kept it tight on a small group of survivors and how they deal with the insanity that spins out of it all.
- Fist of the North Star (VIZ Media) – The classic series continued its reprints in a beautiful hardcover. If you’ve never read this “kung-fu Mad Max”, this is a perfect edition to pick up.
- GCPD: The Blue Wall (DC Comics) – John Ridley delivers an interesting take on the Gotham police department with a focus on three rookies as Commissioner Montoya. There’s been highs and lows as Ridley continues to show how muddied reality is.
- Ginseng Roots (Uncivilized Books) – The release schedule was erratic but Craig Thompson’s autobiography about his growing up around ginseng and the world of its farming has been eye opening and education. Add in beautiful art and Thompson continued to show off his talents.
- Hakim’s Odyssey (Dead Reckoning) – What does it mean to be a refugee? This series wrapped up its final two volumes in 2022 chronicling Hakim’s journey from Syria to safety. It’s hard to read this series and not come away with wanting to see how we treat refugees and immigration changed.
- I’m a Terminal Cancer Patient But I’m Fine (Seven Seas Entertainment) – Hilnama’s autobiography about her struggle with colon cancer. The graphic novel is not as sad and ominous as the title would seem, instead it’s full of humor and tips. Sadly, Hilnama passed away not long after the manga’s release.
- Justice Warriors (AHOY Comics) – Fantastic satire that skewers policing, politicians, celebrity, consumerism, and society as a whole.
- Let’s Go Karaoke (Yen Press) – A mobster needs a kid’s help to get good at karaoke. It’s such a bizarre concept but a lot of fun.
- Maniac of New York: The Bronx is Burning (AfterShock) – I’m not the biggest horror fan but love this series. In between all of the kills, there’s some smart commentary within, just like horror should.
- Metal Society (Image Comics) – In this future, robots rule. Humans are grown to do menial tasks for them but eventually the want of choice and freedom rises leading to a mixed martial arts battle between two warriors. The action packed comic had solid themes underneath and interesting discussions within.
- Neverlanders (Razorbill) – A new take on the story of Peter Pan, the graphic novel took us the Neverland and by the end I wanted to see what other adventures awaited. Great art, solid action, colors that popped, and fantastic characters and twists. I want more adventures in the magical world.
- Pinball: A Graphic History of the Silver Ball (First Second) – I’m a big fan of pinball and this graphic novel not only goes through the history of the game but also some of the nuances about the game itself showing it’s far more than just pushing buttons to hit a ball.
- Plush (Image Comics) – Two issues were released in 2022 and they were bonkers. Cannibal furries. Nuff said.
- Radical: My Year With a Socialist Senator (IDW Publishing/Top Shelf) – The graphic novel followed an election and first year of a “radical” elected official in New York State. It’s an eye-opening look at the reality of politics.
- Rooster Fighter (VIZ Media) – The concept might seem silly, a rooster fighting kaiju/demons, but it works so well. The series is a solid ronin/western type story with hero of little words attempting to defeat villains and save the locals. By playing it straight and serious, the series nails it.
- Smahtguy: The Life and Times of Barney Frank (Metropolitan Books) – The biography of Barney Frank is touching and at times heartbreaking as it focuses on the firebrand politician who had no problem taking on the establishment while he struggled with his sexuality.
- So What’s Wrong With Getting Reborn as a Goblin? Vol. 1 (Yen Press) – The debut volume was a nice take on the “reincarnation in a different world genre”. What stood out was it’s spin that focused on using intelligence to build society instead of the usual leveling up through battle we see.
- Solo Leveling (Yen Press) – The series keeps getting better with some fantastic action, nice ominous teasing, and amazing art with colors that pop. It’s such a fun spin on the dungeon crawler genre and the series feels like it has spun out it’s own imitators.
- A Vicious Circle (BOOM! Studios) – While we only got the debut issue, the time travel story kept things entertaining but it was the art that made our jaw drop. We immediately wanted more and can’t wait to see what 2023 has in store.
- Wonder Woman Historia: The Amazons (DC Comics) – The first issue debuted at the end of 2021 and made the list and we got the final two issues in 2022. While it was a four month, then eight month gap, it was well worth it as each featured an engaging story and career defining artwork.