If you’ve followed my writing this year, you can definitely tell that 2022 was the year I had serious issues keeping up with new comics even though I opened up my first pull list in six years (Shout out to Rick’s Comic City!) However, I still believe it’s the greatest storytelling medium, and the stray moments I had re-reading old favorites or finding new works were some of the best I had in 2022. I don’t really have the attention span to keep up with crossovers or sprawling shared universes any more, but I love my five issue minis or soft, queer OGNs.
So, without further ado, here are my ten favorite comics of 2022.
10. One-Star Squadron (DC)
Mark Russell and Steve Lieber’s One-Star Squadron follows a group of C and D-list superheroes who are part of an organization called Heroz4U that tries to help find heroes “meaningful” work whether that’s sales for the company, personal appearances, or even actual search and rescue work. The comic satirizes all aspects of modern employment culture, including corporate restructuring, gig work/side hustles, and the cavalier/cutthroat nature of hiring/laying off folks. NFTs and “girlboss culture” even come into play with the Russell’s take on Power Girl. There’s plenty of jokes and comedic beats and visuals from Lieber, but One-Star Squadron also has a strong emotional throughline in the relationship between Red Tornado and his employees as he tries to go to bat for characters like Minuteman and Gangbuster while trying to provide for his family and make the higher-ups at Heroz4U happy. One-Star Squadron is a must-read for fans of David Graeber’s Bullshit Jobs, r/antiwork, and obscure DC heroes.
9. Rockstar and Softboy (Image)
Rockstar and Softboy is a breezy, fun one-shot ode to queer friendship from cartoonist Sina Grace and also acts as his triumphant return to doing interior art. Even though they have completely opposite personalities, Rockstar and Softboy have a lovely friendship that survives the ups and downs of the increasingly surreal house party that is the main setpiece of the comic. Beneath the super sentai battles and dick jokes, Grace also explores the nature of creativity, collaboration, and friendship through his two lead characters as the real motivation for the house party is creating great music and video games as well as getting laid. Rockstar and Softboy is definitely one of the more fun and chaotic comics I read in 2022.
8. Sabretooth (Marvel)
As mentioned earlier, I’m a bit behind on the current X-books, but enjoyed a lot of what I read from them in 2022, including the first arcs of X-Men Red and Immortal X-Men. However, my favorite comic from that editorial group was the Sabretooth miniseries from Victor LaValle and Leonard Kirk. It’s basically Paradise Lost with Sabretooth playing the role of Milton’s Satan and trying to make a heaven of hell with his fellow Krakoans that were thrown in the Pit for various reasons. LaValle and Kirk fully explore the dark side of a utopian society and also provide social commentary on the prison system in the United States using various B and C-list mutants. Plus it ends on a killer sequel hook that enhances Victor Creed’s role in the X-books.
7. Doughnuts and Doom (Top Shelf)
Doughnuts and Doom is a (literally at times) sweet and magical queer romance graphic novel by cartoonist Balazs Lorinczi. It’s full of all the fun, relatable tropes like missed signals, enemies to lovers, and most importantly, slow burn with Lorinczi using most of the story to shape the relationship between witch/online potion seller Margot and musician/donut shop employee Elena. I also like how Lorinczi focuses on Margot and Elena’s lives outside their relationship, like Margot struggling to get her magic license, or Elena’s conflict with a local Visually, Doughnuts and Doom has a bubblegum punk aesthetics with plenty of pastels and spot blacks and different panel layouts any time magic, music, or romance happens that makes the comic even more immersive and heartwarming.
6. Spider-Punk (Marvel)
Spider-Verse denizen Hobie Brown aka Spider-Punk gets his first solo miniseries in five issues of anticapitalism, antifascism, antiracism, and head cracking from writer Cody Ziglar and artist Justin Mason. Ziglar and Mason’s passion for classic punk music shines in characters like a Devilock-sporting alternate version of Taskmaster, and they also create memorable riffs on other Marvel characters like Daredevil being a female punk drummer from Philadelphia or Captain America (Renamed Anarchy, of course) being a queer and indigenous man. Mason’s energetic art and Jim Charalamapidis’ colors create spectacular fight scenes as Hobie and his makeshift band cross the United States in a quest to take out the relatably fascist president of the United States. Spider-Punk shows that superhero comics can be subversive and call out the status quo while still being fun as hell, and it’s always interesting to see anti-corporate art being put out by one of the world’s biggest and most smothering corporations.
5. Joe Hill’s Rain (IDW)
Rain is a post-apocalyptic comic miniseries adapted from one of Joe Hill’s short stories in his 2017 Strange Weather collected and is scripted by David Booher with art by Zoe Thorogood. Though originally written years before the COVID-19 pandemic, it captures some of the feelings of fear, terror, and in some cases, coming together as found family of this time period as protagonist Honeysuckle tries to survive and eventually figure out why crystal nails are raining down from the sky. Rain is part road story, part tragic queer romance and a showcase for Thorogood’s skill at conveying character acting and emotions in life and death situations. Rain is definitely a dark read, but has several great moments where humanity shines even at the end of the world.
4. DC Pride 2022 (DC)
DC Pride 2022 was one of my favorite reads of this year, and the most memorable story in the volume was by the late Kevin Conroy and J. Bone that explores Conroy’s life as a gay man in the 1970s and 1980s, how he dealt with discrimination while trying to break into the acting business, and how getting the role of Batman in Batman: The Animated Series changes his life and the lives of millions of folks who enjoyed the show. In addition to this lovely short story, DC Pride 2022 serves as a showcase for interesting LGBTQ+ comic book characters, and more importantly, LGBTQ+ comics creators. There’s Jon Kent’s first Pride done in a beautiful (and sassy when Damian Wayne is involved) way by Devin Grayson and Nick Robles, a Jo Mullein story from Tini Howard and Evan Cagle that explores the nuances of bisexuality in a space detective story, an action-packed Connor Hawke story from Ro Stein and Ted Brandt that digs into his experience as an asexual man, and much more. These big Pride one-shots are starting to be a nice tradition from DC and hope they continue indefinitely.
3. Catwoman: Lonely City (DC)
Cliff Chiang writes, draws, colors, and letters the definitive Selina Kyle story in Catwoman: Lonely City, a Black Label miniseries that wrapped up in 2022. Catwoman: Lonely City is a touching, suspenseful story about legacy, resisting authoritarianism, and finding family in unexpected places that explores an aging Kyle pulling off one last heist in a Batman-less Gotham. It has a colorful cast of supporting characters from all over the DC Universe and is one of the most gorgeous books of 2022 with Chiang nailing everything from romantic banter between Catwoman and Riddler to a color palette that straddles neon and noir as well as some very acrobatic fight choreography. It’s truly the Catwoman book you can recommend to anyone who’s remotely interested in the character and is Cliff Chiang’s magnum opus up to this point.
2. Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands (Drawn and Quarterly)
Ducks is a graphic memoir about cartoonist Kate Beaton’s (Of Hark! A Vagrant fame) experience working various jobs in the oil fields of Alberta to pay back her student loans from art school. Beaton doesn’t shy away from showing the difficult work conditions there and the terrible treatment of women, especially in the work camps and later explores how the oil fields affect the wild life and the indigenous people who originally owned the land. Ducks unpacks the trauma that comes from trying to make money under capitalism and being woman in a field where reports of untoward behavior and even sexual assault get a blind eye. All of this is done in Kate Beaton’s trademark cartooning that punctuates the difficult moments with bits of dark humor and insights into her upbringing in Cape Breton, Canada although she uses a more detailed style for establishing shots and the inner workings of the tool area she works at . Personally, I feel like I learned a lot more about other parts of Canada beyond Ontario and the Vancouver area, and that the country isn’t some kind of Great Northern utopia even though it feels like that some time living in a right to work state where healthcare is dependent on your employer.
1. It’s Lonely at the Centre of the Earth (Image)
Zoe Thorogood is easily one of the most exciting writer/artists working in comics, and her experimental, brutally honest graphic memoir It’s Lonely at the Centre of the Earth was my favorite comic of 2022. Thorogood effectively uses anthropomorphization to visually represent different parts of her personality as well as her friends and folks she comes in contact with throughout the memoir and gives an unfiltered look about how she feels about being a comic book artist, the response to her previous comic The Impending Blindness of Billie Scott, and her relationship with her friends, family, and an ex-lover. It’s Lonely at the Centre of the Earth can definitely be a difficult read at times, especially when Thorogood brings up her inability to connect with other people and negative self-talk. But it’s a masterpiece because it uses the tools and tricks of the comics medium and page to bring her inner world to life and ends with a powerful call to the reader that their existence matters as she dances in the streets of London to a nine panel grid.