Welcome back to part two of AIPT’s best comics of 2022. If you missed part one, go ahead read it now. However, if you’re already up to date, scroll below to find out more of the AIPT staff’s favorite comics offerings of the year. That includes best max-series, best publisher, and much, more more.
Once more, it was an incredible year for comics, and if you see something not on either of the lists, please let us know in the comments!
Jordie Bellaire has been coloring for quite some time now, and continues to impress and surprise with each new project. Their work on The Nice House on the Lake alone is worth an honor in this category alone, as it adds an entirely new dimension to the pencil work. Bellaire works on everything from superhero books like Batman vs. Robin to noir series like Gotham City: Year One and reproductions like Miracleman: Silver Age. Simply put, if you see Bellaire’s name on a comic, you know you’re in for a treat.
Colorists sometimes get the raw end of the deal. Their work is often overlooked entirely, or it’s lumped in with whoever handled inks. Yet for Mike Spicer, this may oddly enough be a bizarre badge of honor. Because while a sense of cohesion and total alignment between each of the artistic “components” is sort of the goal of comics, few do it so fluidly and efficiently. Whether he’s adding some regality and depth to ’80s-style intergalactic wrestling (Do A Powerbomb!); providing life and nuance to the machinations of Batman; or somehow making a Maria Wolf cover even more utterly bonkers, Spicer has that uncanny ability to perfect align with other artists to make something magic. He manages to both duplicate their overall style and larger aesthetic, and yet he maintains something essential about his own approach and creative aspirations. The end result across most pieces is endless amounts of energy and layers, the sort of warm and frenetic art that invites you to spend a few minutes on the page. And whatever’s on that page, you’ll know it’s something both thoughtful and hugely powerful.
The Nice House on the Lake
There’s something impossibly gripping in James Tynion IV and Alvaro Martinez Bueno’s The Nice House on the Lake that hits the reader from the very first panel. (That’s even before the aliens, before the end of the world, and before the desperation.) There’s a familiarity to the character dynamics, the seemingly archetypical Friend Group being forced to endure past the expiration date of humanity. You know these people — or, at least, you know people like these people, or you know how these people’s relationships might work. With each issue’s new central narrator both examining their relationship to the book’s central World-Ending Alien counter-balanced with the slow revelation of zoo-like imprisonment, the book’s narrative engine is inherently and earnestly human.
That the horror is, at least in some small way, centered around domestic imprisonment and an undercurrent of being fed up with your fellow inmates, it’s no surprise that this comic came in the midst of a pandemic lockdown. Published over the course of some 18 months, the book has quietly and sneakily fed the reader a horror charged by their own experiences — their own recent imprisonment and their own interpersonal dramas of the year-and-a-half preceding. Everyone in the world felt trapped, everyone in the world might have been irritated with their roommates, family, or lovers — and everyone in the world had a sense of distrust of their peers somehow ending the world — if not by alien conspiracy, then by medical inaction.
Initially launched as a six-issue mini, a better book couldn’t have earned the upgrade treatment. It’s a timely book built on conversations happening around capitalism, the general climate apocalypse we’re slowly circling, and feminism without forcing our lead into the role of cute young positive force of change. Pamela is a horrible monster of a woman, but that’s OK, because she just so happens to be right.
Is there a better artist working today who hits every single time? Gerads certainly has to be in the top two in that category, especially in 2022. That includes his incredible Flashpoint Beyond covers, the impossibly good Batman: One Bad Day Riddler, and the Batman/Catwoman Special. The latter is a tribute to John Paul Leon and important in its own right, and Gerads kills it on his portion in this special. The book is as beautiful as it is touching.
Gerads style is edgy, gritty, and highly realistic all at the same time. It’s without a doubt, a work of art no matter what it is he’s working on. The fact that Gerads is an excellent storyteller sequentially and in cover format speaks volumes to how talented he is, and we got to see both in some of his best work to date in 2022.
— David Brooke
I’m not sure there’s a creator this year who put out work as consistently incredible as Tom Reilly did this year. His work on Ant-Man was wonderful, especially with him changing his style to fit each issue. And his work on The Thing was particularly noteworthy. It may have been the best comic of the year in all honesty, and so much of that was on Reilly’s back. His 2022 is a front seat to witnessing a generational talent build a body of work.
— Keigen Rea
Federico Vicentini came onto the scene this year like a lightning bolt, breaking our brains with the kinetic and visually appealing style we saw in X Deaths of Wolverine. A Marvel Stormbreaker, Vicentini blew us away again just a few weeks ago with Miles Morales: Spider-Man. The art style suits fast-moving characters or fast-moving action — and maybe both — and it’s the kind of artistic approach that I can’t look away from. The art is always clean, exciting, and well worth reading, regardless of the story or plot.
— David Brooke
There were a lot of great anthologies this year, but Amazing Fantasy arguable took the cake as each and every story was entertaining, enlightening, or simultaneously both. At just $8, Amazing Fantasy #1,000 is a steal. Its unconventional nature of featuring nothing but Spider-Man stories is refreshing, with tales focusing on personal anecdotes, Spider-Man at 60 years old, and various facets of what makes Spider-Man truly great. Plus, the creative lineup on this extra-sized issue is downright historic. What else could you ask for?
— Dave Brooke
It’s impressive enough when an anthology gathers a veritable battalion of talent and manages to knock it out of the park. But Monkey Meat is the brain child of writer/artist Juni Ba, and even on his own, the man behind the equally excellent Djeliya has struck wondrous comics oil yet again. Ba demonstrated a few of his core strengths across this anthology. For one, there was a diverse enough mix of approaches and aesthetics, all of which gelled together to create and foster one grander storytelling experience. From there, he never once skimped on the weirdness; a story about a beloved island of monkeys transformed into a “magical hyper-capitalist hellscape” was infinitely more wacky and wild then any descriptor could ever explain. And even when he was expertly tackling ideas of content culture and capitalism run amuck, Ba kept these tales deeply human and hugely evocative (not to mention generally hilarious to boot). It’s the sort of thing that exemplifies a perfect anthology: lots of world-building and yet a perfect level of accessibility — not to mention an interest in sharing stories that emphasized organic interest over forced commitment. Score one for the mad monkeys of the world.
— Chris Coplan
Chris Samnee (Fire Power)
Chris Samnee’s work on Fire Power regularly blows my mind. I leave each and every issue convinced that there’s no way it could be kicked up a notch — and yet issue after issue I’m happily proven wrong. I’m not an artist, and so I’m not going to pretend I can dissect every technique and how it works to the betterment of the book. However, what I can tell you is the pure cartooning in Fire Power stands above and beyond almost any comic on the shelf today. Samnee’s visual style controls the pace perfectly. Many issues let the dialogue fall away in the heat of exhilarating battles, and Samnee’s artwork carries the reader through wonderfully. Just about every issue delivers a fight scene with choreography that leaps off the pages. Whether it’s the speed lines that lend fight frenetic momentum, or the quiet moments between Owen’s family, it all comes across with the same quality. You can tell Samnee is having a blast with each issue and his artwork lets us join in.
Tatsuki Fujimoto (Chainsaw Man, Goodbye, Eri, Just Listen to the Song, and Look Back)
Tatsuki Fujimoto deserves all the praise in the world for Chainsaw Man alone. However, this year brought us another volume-length one-shot, a short that he only wrote, as well as the English publication of Look Back. If we’re talking art or writing, he’s at the top of both lists, especially this year.
— Keigen Rea
Gone Too Soon (Best Discontinued Series)
Robin was, by far, the most consistent book of the “Infinite Frontier” era. This was a series that you could rely on picking up each month to deliver a great character-driven story paired with fantastic artwork. This series finally moved Damian Wayne beyond the shadow of his father. It organically removes him from the surrounding Bat family and allows Damian to grow on his own. It leans into the supernatural with the Lazarus tournament, where we’re introduced to the colorful cast of combatants joined in duels to death. This setup gave the series a fun backbone to branch off across its 17-issue run. Robin also had consistently great artwork — starting off with Gleb Melnikov setting the visual style for the book and then adding in Roger Cruz at a later day.
The handing off for the different stories between artists never detracted from the stories themselves, and Robin retained an emotional core that rang through every single issue. It’s cathartic to see Damian work through the tragedy of seeing Alfred’s death and make new friends with his supporting cast of Flatline, Respawn, Hawke, and many more each as the series moves on. This book was the best use of Damian in years. Thankfully, Williamson was able to put a cap on his story so it doesn’t end abruptly, but it’s a shame such a great ongoing only lasted 17 issues. Hopefully, this isn’t the last we’ve seen of this new direction for Damian and the supporting cast.
— Ben Morin
The latest Suicide Squad series is an interesting little nut indeed. When it kicked off in March 2021, there was so much hope — especially given that it had a forthcoming (and eventually well-lauded) movie from James Gunn to bolster hype. And yet even with that flick, there was a sense the series couldn’t find its footing, even as it was doing some really cool things with exploring the different earths and playing around with the roster of the DCU’s most notorious “freelancers.” When writer Dennis Hopeless joined the team (of writer Robbie Thompson and artist Dexter Soy) starting in issue #11, it was a mixed bag. Sure, Hopeless’ presence really pushed forward the core storyline — the “War for Earth 3” mini-event really got crazy with the whole world/reality-hopping gimmick — and yet it still just felt like people missed the point. It also felt like the movie had, for many people, clearly defined what the Squad should be, and anything the contrary didn’t seem to matter. Even as the Thompson-Hopeless-Soy team were, in many ways, accomplishing the same thing as the movie: redefining what the Squad could be for a brand-new audience. Sadly, the series wrapped with issue #15 in May 2022, and while you couldn’t say the mission was a total success, the book still feels important. Where else could you have told a weird and wild story involving both Superboy and Ambush Bug?
— Chris Coplan
Best Ongoing Series
Batman / Superman: World’s Finest
Batman / Superman: World’s Finest is one of the best series currently ongoing. Somehow it finds a way to blend nostalgia with quality new ideas. Typically, World’s Finest tends to focus primarily on Batman and Superman. However, writer Mark Waid has incorporated various teams into the story, including the Justice League, the Doom Patrol, and the Teen Titans, while maintaining a strong focus on the book’s titular character. The series has also had an annual issue focusing on Dick Grayson, reminding fans that Grayson was just as prominent during the Silver Ageas Batman and Superman. Waid has partnered with artist Dan Mora to create one of the most compelling books that offer new stories to a help usher in a brighter time in the DCU. Throughout every issue he has worked on, Mora has similarly brought his A-Game, making each page and cover more captivating than the last. Overall. it’s a perfect jumping point for new readers while maintaining the interest of longtime readers.
Pound for pound, X-Men Red has been a treat across every single issue. The series not only plays a part in ongoing X-Men history, but calls back to classic elements, elevating them accordingly. Part of that comes from the great pacing and characterization of writer Al Ewing and the great visuals courtesy of artist Stefano Caselli. X-Men: Red fundamentally understands the X-Men and builds on it to a dazzling level.
— Dave Brooke
Marvel is my best publisher of the year for a few reasons. There’s successful events like A.X.E.: Judgment day and X Lives/Deaths of Wolverine. Or how they finally gave Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham a chance to finish their Miracleman run. Spider-Man also landed a new #1 alongside a new creative team — and comics legend John Romita Jr. returned to Marvel at last to lend art. Sure, there’s shaky ground of navigating an X-Men line post-Jonathan Hickman, and yet the line of comics continues to be as strong as ever with a promise for big things in the future.
It’s also exciting that Marvel is readily embarking on an epic multiverse Avengers story while delivering interesting stories for Doctor Strange, Moon Knight, and Ghost Rider. All of those latter characters have had no coverage (or less than desirable coverage) for some years. Add in important works like Marvel Pride and the ever-growing Marvel’s Voices one-shots, and you have yourself a line that feels stronger than ever.
— Dave Brooke
Sure, to some extent, Image Comics should just land the honors for celebrating their 30th anniversary across 2022. But they’ve also never been ones to rest on any laurels, and this year the world’s biggest indie comics publisher has put in some absolute work. That begins, of course, with their actual 30th birthday output; whether that’s been slapping Spawn on variant covers, or their excellent anthology series Image!, the publisher has reminded us what’s made them so essential for three-plus decades. But beyond that “indulgence,” Image has continued to dole out some exciting, cross-genre standouts. Whether that’s experimental sci-fi (Ghost Cage); bloody horror (The Silver Coin); great historical dramas (Two Moons); giant-sized action comics (Nocterra); and old faves (including the return of Saga), Image has proven once again the depths of its catalog and its ongoing commitment to continually weird and impactful storytelling. This mastery of past, present, and future, as it were, is why Image remains a vital component of the comics ecosystem, and why they’re only just getting started.
— Chris Coplan
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