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AIPT’s Best Comics of 2022: Part 1

Comic Books

AIPT’s Best Comics of 2022: Part 1

The AIPT staff joins forces to pick their Best Comics of 2022.

Don’t miss AIPT’s Best Comics of 2022: Part 2.

Welcome to the annual tradition at AIPT where we try highlight our best comics of 2022! AIPT is made up of a collaboration of writers who write about what they love, and so it makes perfect sense to democratically pick our favorites, as you’ll see below. It’s been another banner year for comics, and likely, if you don’t see a creator or comic on the list below, it’s not because it’s not deserving, but more likely it just didn’t make the cut for space reasons!

Listen to the latest episode of our weekly comics podcast!

Below you’ll find categories like best comics for a lapsed fan, best writer, best miniseries, best letterer, best event, and more! Stay tuned to AIPT this Thursday as we’ll release part two of our best of 2022, featuring the best artist, ongoing series, cartoonist, publisher, and more!

Until next year,
Dave Brooke

My wondrous colleague, David, hit the nail on the head: it’s been a damn good year for comics. But then, it has been since I took over editing for AIPT a few years ago; creators across the board are doing some genuinely great, hugely important work. And that’s perhaps been a vital focus as — and I don’t know if you know this — the world’s been on fire these last few years. So, every year seems more important than ever to celebrate this great creators and projects. Is it fun and a great way to spend a few winter days? Sure. But it’s also a reminder than, when the world may prove to be a dumpster fire of epic proportions, comics are almost always there as a friend, a teacher, and a way out of it all. So, we hope you enjoy our staff’s selections; if you don’t, we really hope you’ll argue with us (respectfully, of course) in the comments. Either way, we’re just glad we can all share such vital art together.

See ya Thursday,
Chris Coplan, Comics Editor

Best Comic To Show Lapsed Fans

Chainsaw Man

Manga has grown in popularity in western comic shops to the point that there are probably more manga readers in the States than there are Batman readers. (That’s just conjecture, of course.) With a huge anime, not to mention returning from a hiatus, it’s the perfect time for anyone to jump on. It also just happens to be the best superhero comic running.

Keigen Rea

Do A Powerbomb!

I’ve hyped this series from Daniel Warren Johnson across a few different platforms. And I won’t apologize for my deep-seated love: it’s got pro wrestling, poignant family drama, sci-fi madness, and vibes like a super nerdy Heavy Metal. So, yeah, the mere shock and awe of all these elements dropkicking you in the face should be enough to reinvigorate even the most latent of comics fans. But it’s so much more than that still; Johnson has built an utterly heartbreaking, hugely uplifting story about grief and pain and finding solace however you can. It’s an explosion of pop culture delights that distracts from beaming a profound narrative directly into the deepest cockle of your heart. It’s the sort of series that reminds you not just of comics’ pure magic, but the robust humanity and sense of community that exists just beyond the surface. But also, there’s super dope finishers galore.

Chris Coplan

Radiant Black

Every so often, I’ll find a comic that reminds me of all the reasons I love comics. In high school, it was Invincible. In college, it was Saga. Now, it’s Radiant Black. Not only does it provide a fresh update on timeless superhero tropes, but it also feels fresh in a way that most comics don’t. The credit goes to Kyle Higgins, who’s shaped other Toku tales with his runs on Mighty Morphin Power Rangers and Ultraman, as well as Marcelo Costa’s artwork, which looks like storyboards for an animated series. And if you love this series, I highly encourage you to check out the rest of the series in the newly formed Massiveverse. 

Collier Jennings

Captain Marvel

After Civil War II, it was a tough few years to be a Carol Danvers fan. Luckily, Kelly Thompson has been great on Captain Marvel from issue #1, reminding everyone how fun this character and her lore can be. It’s Carol back to basics – and it’s great.

Lia Williamson

Best Event

A.X.E Judgment Day

Druig, Prime Eternal and consummate bastard, declares mutants “excess deviation,” kickstarting a war between two immortal races, with humans and the Avengers caught in the middle. In an effort to change the tide of the battle, the titular A.X.E.: Judgment Day (Avengers, X-Men & Eternals) come together and play Dr. Frankenstein with a Celestial corpse. Things don’t go as planned, and Earth and its inhabitants must justify themselves or face annihilation.

Judgment Day is a rare event that bursts onto the scene and fulfills the promise that all modern events make. It delivers an engrossing story that keeps its characters in focus while seeing ideas to be picked up later. The Celestial’s judgments span across the entire Marvel universe, and our heroes are forced to either accept their fate or strive in spite of it. As the stakes rise, lives are lost, and there’s a real sense of urgency. Everyone’s favorite heroes/villains each get their moment to shine, making it feel like there’s something for everyone here. The majority of tie-ins also felt like they mattered. Head writer Kieron Gillen headlined a large portion of these, making the offshoots feel as important as the main series. Personally, this is my favorite event Marvel has put out in the past several years.

Ben Morin

AIPT’s Best Comics of 2022: Part 1 A.X.E.: JUdgment day

Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths 

I get that some people may have some, um, complex feelings about Dark Crisis (mid-stream name changes be damned!) On the one hand, it maybe hasn’t been the massive revelation of universe-altering storytelling that some people might have hoped for — even if I don’t think every DC event since the original Crisis has had quite that impact. But the event itself has been interesting enough, and certainly a novel way to explore the idea of legacies and to try and uplift a new generation. Of course, it’s not always been about the future, as the event did see DC usher in the Multiverse after it all but vanished back in 1985. And, sure, that whole decision might be a little gimmicky (and a way to garner some quick and easy buzz), but it doesn’t change the fact that the Multiverse is a big deal for DC — it’s a place where a lot of great stories have been told and characters have been loving developed.

And there’s heaps more reasons why Dark Crisis has been a real winner, from the way it’s highlighted new/unsung talent to giving a showcase to more “heavy hitters” (event mastermind Joshua Williams has stepped up in a big way during this run) to even how Nightwing now has a much bigger, meatier role (that he’s always deserved). And even if none of that sells you on Dark Crisis, keep this in mind: it’s ushering in the Dawn of DC, that shimmering, most optimistic sweet spot for DC and a way to further build toward a golden future. It’s always darkest before the dawn, and this event has delivered in defining this phase of DC for the next few years to come.

— Chris Coplan

AIPT’s Best Comics of 2022: Part 1 Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths

Best Letterer

Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou

I could praise a number of things about Mindset, Vault Comics’ techno-thriller about a mind-control app; it’s been my favorite indie mini-series of the year. But, for this best of 2022 column, I’ll focus on the outstanding lettering of Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou. First off, you won’t find any traditional word balloons or narrative boxes in Mindset. Instead, Otsmane-Elhaou uses a more experimental style, with roughly drawn balloons connected to the speaker with lines. The narrative boxes often have a blue tint reminiscent of a smartphone screen — very appropriate. The lettering in Mindset works so well with the equally experimental style of artist John J. Pearson; you can basically consider it a part of the art. Furthermore, Otsmane-Elhaou often places the narrative boxes on the page in just such a way that you naturally follow the correct path, even when that means reading in a non-linear curve across the page – left to right and down, then back up again and maybe a little back to the left. In a series about mind control, Otsmane-Elhaou literally controls your eye movement on almost every page. And if you want another example of his lettering excellence, check out his variant cover for Above Snakes #3. Yes, a variant cover of nothing but lettering.

—  David Canham

Joe Caramagna

Joe Caramagna has been lettering for some time now, he excites and engages with every new comic he works on. That’s ever more apparent than with the current Amazing Spider-Man run, as he adds tons of zip and blockbuster bang to the sound effects and lettering. Caramagna must be having the time of his life because the lettering goes completely off the wall for sound effects in this series. They’re digitally rendered but as bombastic as anything that came out during Stan Lee’s tenure. (Wild and crazy stuff, as Johnny Carson would say.) You’ll find his work across multiple Marvel comics each week, and he never ceases to prove why he’s one of the best to do it.

—  David Brooke

Biggest Surprise

Slumber

I’d never heard of Slumber when I decided to pick up the first issue this year, but after reading that debut issue, I never shut up about it. It’s an amalgamation of genres and story ideas — like Inception meets Hitman meets Nightmare on Elm Street with tastes of horror, science fiction, buddy comedy, and classic noir. Mixing so many bits can lead to a story feeling overstuffed and disparate, but writer Tyler Burton Smith and artist Vanessa Cardinali bring these elements together wonderfully, creating a truly fresh story that is just so much fun. The series may not nail all of its emotional beats, but it’s so richly fleshed out and rife with insanity that it doesn’t matter. Like so many of the books included on this list, Slumber is a title that is perfect for comics; it’s ridiculous and gorgeous and a ton of fun.

Connor Christiansen

Joe Quesada Leaves Marvel For DC Comics

If someone offered me up a bet on whether Joe Quesada would ever leave Marvel, I wouldn’t take that bet. The fact that he left Marvel and began supplying DC Comics with variant covers in a few months time was an even bigger impossibility, but both happened this year. It came as a shock, too, since Quesada was a VP and also seemed to be diving into video content with Storyboards, but his days at Marvel are now over. Considering how many decades he was at Marvel, it’s exciting to see him drawing Batman in his big, epic, and impressive style. Cheers to Joe for moving on to brave new challenges!

— David Brooke

Best Horror Comic

The Closet

James Tynion IV has been one of the most prolific comic writers for the past few years, so it should be no surprise that The Closet is as good as it is. What is a surprise, however, is how this three-issue series, written by Tynion and drawn by Gavin Fullerton, flew relatively under the radar. On the surface, it centers around the all-too-relatable prepubescent terror of monsters lurking in dark closets while we sleep. Dig a little deeper, though, and you’ll find this series focuses on a much more real, devastating terror – the slow burn of a marriage falling apart and the psychological impact it has on those involved, especially children. Tynion and Fullerton have crafted a deeply unsettling story that deftly mixes the child-like terror of unknown yet hypothetical monsters with the crushing emotional weight of a family falling apart. The result is a horror comic unlike any other, one where the scariest things aren’t the monsters in your closet but the very real problems Thom and his son Jamie face at home. The amount of characterization, thematic depth, and genuine scares stuffed into just three issues is astounding and further proves why Tynion is a master of the medium. 

— Connor Christiansen 

AIPT’s Best Comics of 2022: Part 1

Clementine

Clementine sits in the horror category because of its zombie trappings, but it’s a book that expands far outside those bounds; it far outstrips the allegorical presumptions of its source material and innovates its undead genre. It is a book about the silence that comes after the tragedy and the people we become after growing up within said tragedy’s numbing field. Clem’s slow-to-trust nature might mirror anyone here in our non-zombie world who has been forced to endure formational violence, and her unsteady fall into emotional tenderness and intimacy is done with a begrudging acceptance that this, too, will end badly—the stance of anyone who has been forced over and over again to say goodbye.

(I should also remark on a personal sense of being horrified after my review of the book was released by being forced to interact with the poor, sad, and seemingly anti-queer “fans” who screamed their hateful but impotent rage into the hashtag “#notmyclementine,” as if their fleeting time with this fictional and digital little girl somehow gave them ownership over her narrative autonomy or implied sexuality. There is a tedium to such fans that strikes a chilly terror of its own into the joys of literature and fiction.)

Colin Moon

AIPT’s Best Comics of 2022: Part 1 Clementine

Best Miniseries

Do a Powerbomb!

Do A Powerbomb! is a perfect mixture of the bombastic absurdity of both comics and wrestling, all with a deeply engrossing narrative that packs more than a few emotional gut punches. Written and drawn by Daniel Warren Johnson, Do A Powerbomb! has no business being as emotionally devastating as it is. It’s about a multiversal wrestling tournament in some sort of netherrealm, promoted by a disgraced necromancer who promises to bring one person back from the dead on behalf of the tournament champion. Pretty ridiculous, right? But underneath all the spandex, suplexes, and powerbombs, though, is a story about forgiveness, grief, and the power of love told with expert precision.

Sure, this book is a no-brainer for people who love comic books and wrestling, like Chris Coplan (or the crew at Now or Never Comics, who turned me onto this book). But even if you’re not a wrestling fan (like me), you’ll still be blown away by the incredibly frenetic and detailed fights brought to life by Johnson, and so long as you have a heart in your chest, you’ll shed a few tears in-between matches as the narrative unfolds. Simply put, Do A Powerbomb! is everything a comic should be — over the top, ridiculous, heartfelt, deeply human, and a whole helluva lot of fun.  

— Connor Christiansen 

Do a Powerbomb! Best Comics of 2022

Ghost Cage

I don’t think there’s anything visually that matched Ghost Cage this year. From Nick Dragotta’s ability to convey scale to the character designs, to the choice of doing the whole thing in greyscale, this comic is one of the modern masters working at the top of their game. It was a rare work where my anticipation for it matched my reaction to it!

— Keigen Rea

Sabretooth

 I never thought I’d care about a Victor Creed book in my life — and then Victor LaValle and Leonard Kirk dropped Sabretooth. It’s an amazing mini that knew exactly what it wanted to say and how to say it. Sabretooth is a fantastic story that examines the flaws of carceral justice.

— Lia Williamson

Best #1 Of The Year

Vanish #1

Donny Cates and Ryan Stegman hit the ground running with the debut issue of their new series, Vanish. I didn’t think it was possible, but the duo took everything that was great about their Venom run and cranked it up to 11. Cates spun an engrossing tale that blended together superheroes and fantasy while also exploring just what the pressure of being a “chosen one” would do to a 14-year-old. And Stegman’s art is metal in every sense of the word: blood goes flying, along with chains and magic spells. Sonia Oback’s ominous use of shadows and John J. Hill’s bombastic lettering is the cherry on top of a brutal sundae. Harry Potter, who?

— Collier Jennings

AIPT’s Best Comics of 2022: Part 1

The Riddler: Year One #1 

I’m floored when there’s content that has high expectations yet still manages to exceed them in every way. It’s a rare thing that happened with The Riddler: Year One #1. As someone who went in unsure (and maybe even skeptical), issue #1 blew me away. It’s not only a well-crafted and drawn comic but a piece of art as it explores Riddler’s unique and unsettling psychology as a human being. This comic stands alone as compelling while also building upon what we know from The Batman film. Complex, compelling, and deeply absorbing, Riddler: Year One #1 is a must-read for cinephiles and comic book fans alike. 

— David Brooke

The Riddler: Year One #1

DC

Best Original Graphic Novel

The Forgotten Blade

One of only a few 10/10 reviews for me this year, The Forgotten Blade is a perfect example of how TKO’s publishing style reaps huge benefits for comics fans. The visuals are astounding, naturalistic, and gorgeous. The story and its message are strong, and they keep you on the edge of your seat while serving a much larger purpose. The world-building is fresh and plays off tropes we’ve seen before in exciting ways. The Forgotten Blade captures your imagination with stunning fantasy art and ideas.

— David Brooke

TKO Studios announces graphic novels set for March 15th release Forbidden Blade

Wiper

There’s a sense that for a story to be really impactful, it has to break the mold. And I think that Wiper is proof that while that accomplishment is great and all, what matters more is the execution. First and foremost, the creative team — writer John Harris Dunning, artist Ricardo Cabral, colorist Brad Simpson, and letter Jim Campbell — took a generally solid idea (a P.I. who offers clients total discretion by undergoing regular mind wipes) and made it equal parts funny, alluring, and thoughtful.

But that was only the beginning, and the visuals are perhaps where the book really stands out. By infusing some so-called “tropical” influences, the world goes from just another solid entry in the grand tradition of Blade Runner to something brimming with new life and a subtext of emotion and intensity. With these serving as “pillars,” what you get is a really entertaining bit of sci-fi/noir, one that confronts and plays with tropes of the genres to subvert expectations and show what this genre is truly capable of when you keep a bit of fun throughout.

It doesn’t take away from the story’s core or its thematic implications but rather expands the world that we’re then invited to explore. It’s proof you can make a huge story not by breaking down walls but by pushing boundaries and expectations within.

— Chris Coplan

Tropical noir sci-fi 'Wiper' OGN coming September 27

Best Writer

Keiron Gillen

Immortal X-Men has been nothing but stellar issues since it dropped issue #1. Not only that, but Judgment Day was probably the best event Marvel has had since Empyre. Writer/mastermind Kieron Gillen’s been killing it with his Marvel work lately, and every issue he’s been writing is a genuine can’t-miss.

— Lia Williamson

Nadia Shammas

Nadia hasn’t put a ton of work out this year, especially at the Big Two, and yet the work she has put out has been incredible. Squire is one of the best comics of the year and a great OGN in a year full of such entries. It’s the kind of work that should (and hopefully will) lead to big mainstream work, which she happened to prove she can do with one of the more memorably good Batman: Urban Legends shorts. Shammas was a creator that brought me great joy in 2022 and is someone I’m excited to see more from, hopefully ASAP.

— Keigen Rea

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