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Ever since I was about 12 years old (don’t ask how long that has been), I’ve been a huge fan of comics. There was a comic book shop within bicycle distance from my house, so my friend Lloyd and I would go there all the time. We rarely had money, but we always spent what little we had on comics. And each year, we would talk about the best comics of the year.
There was and still is something that captivates me about the pairing of words and pictures. It almost bridged the gap between prose and film, but it’s still very much its own art form. Each artist brings something different to the story. And when artist and writer are the same person , those can be some of the most touching and personal stories in any medium.
I looked far and wide through my 2022 reading to compile the list of the 12 absolute best comics of 2022. It’s always a daunting task. I read hundreds of individual issues and dozens of graphic novels each year. The big two — Marvel and DC — are represented here. There are also books in translation, comics from small and indie publishers. Superheroes, love stories, science fiction, horror, and so much more are here. Here are the best comics of 2022, presented in alphabetical order.
Always, Never by Jordi Lafebre
I found this book to be so deeply beautiful, translated from French by Montana Kane. An itinerant bookstore owner and a retired city mayor have been in love for decades and finally do something about it in their twilight years. Told in reverse order, Lafebre slowly reveals the ups and downs of their distant relationship and origin story.
AXE: Judgment Day by Kieron Gillen and Valerio Schiti
This was the biggest event on the Marvel Comics calendar this year, and it definitely lived up to the hype. With Druig as Prime Eternal, he declares mutants as Deviants, setting the full force of the Eternals against mutantkind. The Avengers try to help, resurrecting a dead Celestial, who then decides to test all of Earth. Will they be worthy of survival or all perish together?
Clementine by Tillie Walden
Surely when you think of The Walking Dead, you think of young readers, right? With Clementine, that’s exactly what you get. Set in Robert Kirkman’s zombie universe, Clementine is a teenager trying to put her past trauma behind her. Then she meets Amos, and the two try to make it to Vermont with dreams of a walker-free zone run by like-minded teens.
DC Pride 2022 by Danny Lore, Brittney Williams, Nick Robles, Meghan Hetrick, and more
I wrote extensively about this comic a while back, and it still holds up as one of the best comics of 2022. This 100-page special contains a dozen eight-page stories about LGBTQIA+ characters, written and drawn by LGBTQIA+ creators. This book is as ambitious as it is good.
Devil’s Reign by Chip Zdarsky and Marco Checchetto
While not quite as expansive as AXE: Judgment Day, Devil’s Reign is pretty epic even as it focuses on Marvel’s New York City. Years of planning have paid off for Kingpin, who has successfully won the seat of the mayor of NYC. Now he’s targeting the heroes of the Big Apple like Daredevil and Spider-Man. Oh, and he has an army of supervillains and his own Thunderbolts at his command.
The Flash by Jeremy Adams, Fernando Pasarin, and Amancay Naheulpan
The Flash has been around in DC Comics for a long time. Like any long-running character, there have been up and down years, and 2022 was one of the best for DC’s speedster. Adams and company put Wally West back in the red jumpsuit and recaptured the magic of the Flash family, speeding through worlds and time with brilliant storytelling.
Immortal X-Men by Kieron Gillen, Lucas Werneck, and Michele Bandini
The X-Men are a perennial favorite of mine. When Jonathan Hickman decided to step aside after breathing new life into the mutants, many were skeptical. I should have trusted Kieron Gillen, who navigated the change by leaning into how controversial the X-Men’s newfound immortality can be, as well as how it can be leveraged in fascinating ways.
Maw by Jude Ellison S. Doyle and A.L. Kaplan
Feminism and horror collide in this wild and gruesome ride of a horror comic. Marion Angela Weber needs to escape the booze, so she and her sister head to a feminist retreat. An assault on their first night changes everything, though, awakening a hunger in Marion and a horrifying transformation. Will anyone survive Marion’s monstrous new form?
Monkey Meat by Juni Ba
This story is so weird and so genius — similar to Chew, if I think about it. The Monkey Meat company has built a corporate empire out of selling cans of, you guessed it, monkey meat. Now they have their own private, hyper-capitalistic island where they perform bizarre, supernatural experiments. Needless to say, the citizens of this island are…interesting.
Newburn by Chip Zdarsky, Nadia Shammas, Ziyed Yusuf Ayoub, and Jacob Phillips
Chip Zdarsky again? Yes, he had a banner year, and you need to read this detective comic ASAP. Easton Newburn is a PI with unusual clientele. He works for rival crime families, loyal to none, and that means every case is more dangerous than the last.
Saga by Brian K. Vaughn and Fiona Staples
If you don’t know about Saga already, you’re living under a comic book rock. It’s one of the absolute best comics out there, blending science fiction, fantasy, and family drama in perfect balance. After a long hiatus, Saga made its return early in 2022, and the comic book world is better for it.
She-Hulk by Rainbow Rowell, Jen Bartel, and Luca Maresca
Whether you enjoyed Disney’s She-Hulk: Attorney at Law series or not, Rainbow Rowell’s take on the character has been an incredible ride. No longer “savage” (that’s a whole other story), Jen Walters is trying to be a superhero and rebuild her life as a lawyer and friend. We all know how well that tends to go for most superheroes, and Jen is no exception.
It’s the end of the list already? Hey, a dozen is hard and I definitely left out some great comics from 2022. What were your favorites?