Listmas 2022 – Best Comics

Even during the height of the pandemic, comics were one media that managed to carry on with little disruption. Thanks to the way they’re produced, they were able to keep up a pre-pandemic release schedule whilst other mediums faced some difficulty. Coupled with the ever increasing popularity for the characters and properties thanks to film, TV, and video game adaptations, comics have attracted a lot of new readers over the last few years. Here are ten series that we’ve been reading in 2022 that have been our favourites.

Superman: Son of Kal-El – Tom Taylor

It may come as a surprise to those not reading comics on a regular basis, but there are actually two people with the name Superman at the moment. One is the mild-mannered reporter Clark Kent, the other is is teenage son, Jonathan. In 2021 Clark set out into space to help the people on a distant planet, leaving Jon to take care of Earth and carry the name Superman. Superman: Son of Kal-El charts his various adventures in the absence of his father.

The series followed Jon as he went from Superboy to Superman, having to step up and become a symbol of hope and peace. Across the series readers get to see Jon tackle important issues, fight giant monsters, and learn about the delicate line Superman has to walk. The series also told the story of him finding love with a powered revolutionary, Jay Nakamura. This was the first time readers have ever had a queer Superman, and it became a core part of the series, with the book treating it no differently than it would a heterosexual relationship. One of the best issues of the comic dealt with this story too, when Clark returned from space and his son tells him that he’s bisexual. Perhaps one of the most well written and deeply heartfelt scenes in comics in 2022, I’m not afraid to say that issue made me cry a lot.

If you’re looking to read a Superman book but are afraid of the masses of Clark Kent stories, this series offers a great introduction to the mythos. Whilst the series has come to an end this month, Jon is set to continue his time as Superman in Adventures of Superman: Jon Kent next year.

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DC vs Vampires – Matthew Rosenberg & James Tynion IV

Set in an alternate universe outside of the main DC continuity, DC vs Vampires began as a horror-mystery story that soon turned into a post-apocalypse horror. Readers learn very quickly in the first issue that the vampires which live in the fringes of the DC Universe have decided they no longer want to skulk in the shadows, wishing to rule the world. They’ve infiltrated the Justice League, having turned at least one of the team, and are spreading. Batman discovers this and, unsure of whom to trust, begins to gather his troops and prepare for war.

Unfortunately, not even Batman can stop everything, and soon the vampires take over most of the world’s heroes and villains, populating their ranks with the super powered. The vampires now rule the world, with humans having become a hunted species. A small group of survivors battle to save humanity, but hope is in short supply.

The beauty of DC vs Vampires is that it’s set in another universe, so when characters are in danger in this story there’s no guarantee that they’re going to make it out alive. And the series makes a point of this, by brutally murdering some pretty big name figures. Heroes become monsters, villains step up to save the world, and beloved characters die in brutal, bloody ways. If you like horror this series will appeal to you; there’s always a sense of tension when reading it, and with one issue left (at time of writing) I honestly can’t tell you if the heroes are even going to survive, let alone win. A brutal, but brilliant series.

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Batman/Superman: World’s Finest – Mark Waid

Batman and Superman go together well, and comics are littered with team-ups between the two of them. Batman/Superman: World’s Finest is all about those team-ups, and takes readers back to the past to read adventures with the titular heroes in their youth. Together with Dick Grayson’s Robin and occasionally Supergirl, the two find themselves dealing with a variety of foes, such as ancient demons out to take over the planet, low-level Justice League villains with mysterious boosts in power, and even the Joker. The latest story even introduces us to Superman’s own side-kick, Boy Thunder, and tells us the untold story of what happened to him, and why you’ve never heard of him before.

Whilst the series is set in the past, and you know nothing truly bad or world changing can happen, the series manages to still have an impact on the wider DC Universe. The demon that Bruce and Clark fight in their first arc reappears in the current event series Batman vs Robin, for example. And whilst the series can’t make you worry that its characters are in any real danger it instead fills its pages with some of the best written interaction between its leads. Superman and Batman feel like firm friends here, and they have tons of charisma; something that is sometimes lacking in other team-ups.

If you’re a big fan of the two characters and want something that feels a bit lighter, a bit more focused on having fun and telling decent character focused stories, Batman/Superman: World’s Finest might just be for you.

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Nightwing – Tom Taylor

Another series written by Tom Taylor (he’s just that good!) worth a read is Nightwing, which charts the adventures of Dick Grayson (the original Robin) in the city of Bludhaven. Following the tragic death of Alfred Pennyworth, Dick finds himself receiving a fortune in inheritance, and decides to use it to help the people of Bludhaven, founding the Alfred Pennyworth Foundation. However, his attempts to help the people of the city lead Nightwing into conflict with some of the worst criminals around.

This series charts his efforts to make his city a better place, whilst also reigniting his relationship with Barbara Gordon (Batgirl). What makes this different from being just another Batman type book? Well, Dick has a lot of friends, and isn’t afraid to call on them for help. The series features appearances from Wally West’s Flash, the Teen Titans, Jon Kent’s Superman (who Dick is helping to mentor), the Bat-Family, and more. Every person who makes an appearance feels natural, and their connection to Dick justifies it. The book also walks a fine line of throwing in these other heroes yet making Dick fully competent and not needing the help because he’s poor at the job.

This series feels like a celebration of Dick Grayson, a character who’s kind of the heart and soul of the DC Universe. It also gives him a three legged puppy to care for and look after; and anyone who resists little Bite-Wing has to have a heart made of stone.

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Dark Knights of Steel – Tom Taylor

Taylor keeps on making hit series, and Dark Knights of Steel might be one of the most ambitious on this list. Set on its own strand of the DC multiverse, this series sees the infant Kal-El brought to Earth by his parents, arriving on a world that has evolved at a slower pace, and finds itself in medieval times. Fast forwarding a few decades, we’re introduced to a world where the Els rule a kingdom where magic (one of the few things that can harm them) is outlawed. They maintain a delicate peace with neighbouring kingdoms, but soon find themselves on the brink of war when Jor-El becomes the target of an assassin.

If you’ve ever wondered what DC characters would look like in medieval times this is the book for you. There’s Batman in full knightly armour, Harley Quinn as a literal court jester, Constantine as a court wizard, the Robins as a gang of rogues, and Wonder Woman as… well, she’s pretty much the same to be fair. Taylor does a fantastic job of reimagining the characters fans know and love, and not only makes them work in this new setting, but gives them some awesome new designs too. Plus, there are some twists to certain characters that are absolutely genius.

With political and court intrigue which could rival that of Game of Thrones, this is the perfect book for superhero fans who’re starting to get bored of seeing the same kind of thing over and over, and need something new.

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Robin – Joshua Williamson

There have been a number of Robins at this point, with five characters to have worn the title. The latest of them is Damian Wayne, the biological son of Bruce Wayne. Raised by assassins before finding his father, he’s always had a bit of an edge to him, but he has mellowed somewhat over the years. In this solo series, Damian is summoned to a remote island to take part in the Lazarus Tournament, where young warriors fight to the death. Thanks to the magic on the island they get to come back to life until they die a set number of times. Still grieving over the loss of Alfred Pennyworth, Damian enters the tournament determined to find out who’s behind it.

Damian seems to be one of those characters who can either be fantastic, or the rudest and most annoying person around depending on who’s writing him. Luckily, Joshua Williamson seems to know how to write the perfect Damian. The Damian in this series has depth; he’s mourning the loss of his grandfather, he’s fighting against his old killer ways, he’s trying to be a better person, and he even finds romance. This could have been a very grim and serious series, but it manages to have a lot of heart, humour, and fun, giving us one of the most human Damians we’ve ever had. It also introduces one of the best new characters of the year, Flatline.

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The Flash – Jeremy Adams

Out of all the comics picked for this year’s list, The Flash might be the most disjointed out of all of them. The other series are either all self contained, or have pretty tightly structured arcs. The Flash, on the other hand, has done a lot this year; but then he is the fastest man alive, so he can fit it all in. This year saw Wally West head off to Gem World to fight powerful magic users, get involved in the ‘War For Earth-3’ attempt to save Barry Allen in a Dark Crisis tie-in, and try out a spot of multi-dimensional wrestling. And that’s not even everything! The one thing that is consistent throughout all of these adventures, however, has been his family. Wally’s family has become a big part of the book, and him being a husband and father is as much a part of the series as him being a hero.

The Flash doesn’t just have him living a normal family life, though. His twin kids have powers and are wanting to get involved in the adventuring life, and his wife Linda develops her own speedster powers when she becomes pregnant again. Readers get an entire family of superheroes, and the stories being told with them are often incredibly delightful. The series also gave us some of the best, and most important, tie-ins for Dark Crisis. Wally West might not be the first man to wear the title of Flash, but he’s one of the best, and this series seems to love showing why by giving him wonderful stories.

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Deathstroke Inc. – Joshua Williamson & Ed Brisson

Series focused on villains can be a bit of a gamble. It can take away their mystique, it can humanise them a bit too much, and you run the risk of making them into a hero. Deathstroke Inc., which focuses on the masked mercenary Slade Wilson, felt a bit like that worst-case scenario to start with. When the series began he was going on missions with Black Canary, and seemed to perhaps be leading to a place where he could do some good. But, during the crossover event ‘Shadow War’, he very much reminded readers that he was a villain, and did some pretty bad stuff. Come the end of that he gets taken over by some kind of dark entity and leads an army of evil for the start of Dark Crisis.

But that’s only the first half of his series. What about the second half? Does it chart his actions during the big universe-wide event? No, Deathstroke Inc. went through a slight reinvention when Dark Crisis began, and took readers back to Slade’s past, showing us how he became the mercenary killer. And this was perhaps the best move that the series could make. Whilst it had been a pretty solid series up to that point, his origin story is where this became a must read. The series gave new life and depth to the character, and did it all without sacrificing any of his villainous qualities.

Even if you only pick up this series for the ‘Year One’ arc, you should. You might not be interested in seeing his current day missions, but learning how he became who he is, in some of the best written scenes the character has been in, with amazing action, has to be a must.

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Batman – Joshua Williamson & Chip Zdarsky

2022’s Batman title a pretty decent series whilst Williamson was at the helm. It had a storyline that saw the Caped Crusader go up against a new foe which pushed him, setting up for the new Batman Incorporated series, and it featured the ‘Shadow War’ crossover event. But the series went through a big shift with issue #125, where a new creative team came onto the book, led by writer Chip Zdarsky. And this is what gets Batman onto this list.

The first issue of the new creative team saw Batman being framed for the Penguin’s death when the villain faked his own death and made it appear like Batman killed him (no one really knows he’s still alive at this point). This resulted in the public thinking Batman had broken his one rule, becoming a killer, and activated a device within the Batcave, a dangerous robot called Failsafe, designed with one purpose in mind: to stop Batman if he ever became a killer. Built by Bruce, then having that knowledge removed from his mind, Failsafe knows all of his moves, how to fight all of his allies (including the Justice League), and won’t stop until Batman is dead.

The Failsafe story basically gives readers a Batman vs Terminator-style conflict, and it’s absolutely fantastic. From Failsafe’s first introduction where he brushes aside the Bat-Family, to him bringing down Superman with little effort, his every appearance keeps building the tension to deliver one of the most engaging and exciting Batman stories in a while.

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Dark Crisis – Joshua Williamson

DC is known for its big events, especially the ones with ‘Crisis’ in the title. If a book is a Crisis, it’s going to be big and it’s going to change the DC Universe. Dark Crisis is no exception. Picking up after the events of Justice League #75, where the heroes seem to die, Dark Crisis puts the reader in a world where the icons are dead and the remaining heroes are having to stand up against a world in chaos. It’s in this chaos that Deathstroke, infected by some cosmic darkness, leads an assault against the world’s heroes, turning villains and heroes to his cause.

Despite the best efforts of heroes like Nightwing and Jon Kent’s Superman, the world is on the brink; and all of that is just the prelude. A figure from the past of DC, from the very first Crisis event is returning, and is determined to remake the universe as he sees fit. Even if it means the destruction of Earth-0. As the series progresses, and is renamed Dark Crisis on Infinite Earths, it becomes clear that this is a huge game-changing book and will have a lasting impact on everything that comes next. Universes will be remade, universes will die. Heroes will return, heroes will be lost. DC will never be the same after this.

Dark Crisis is a book for those who love the DC Universe, it’s history, and its characters, and will have you shocked, awed, and cheering throughout.

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