CBR's Top 100 Comics of 2022: #50-26 – CBR – Comic Book Resources

CBR’s annual year-end comics countdown continues, with praise for Iron Man, Batman, Punisher and more!
We're back with our longtime annual CBR tradition. At the end of the year, we polled the many members of the CBR staff that make this site so great and asked them for their rankings of the top comics of the year. Every publisher putting out new comics material in English, regardless of genre or format, was fair game; each individual list was then factored in to determine the overall Top 100 that will be unveiled on CBR over the course of this week.
We started on Tuesday with #100-76, then Wednesday saw #75-51, with the countdown continuing each day this week. Here's the schedule (all times Eastern): Friday, 12/30, 3 p.m.: Top 25-11; Saturday, 12/31, 3 p.m.: Top 10; Sunday, 1/1, 9 a.m.: Master list.
Written by: Christopher Cantwell
Art by: Angel Unzueta, Julius Ohta, Ibraim Roberson, Lan Medina, Cafu, and Frank D'Armata
Letters by: VC's Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel
As 2022 began, Christopher Cantwell finished out the cosmic story arc that he had been doing for most of 2021, and after a failed proposal to Iron Man's new girlfriend, Hellcat, Cantwell finished out his run with an intriguing storyline involving the Mandarin's rings. It all culminated into a wonderfully off beat farewell issue, where we see how Iron Man celebrates "Iron Man Day."
Written by: James Tynion IV
Art by: Martin Simmonds, David Romero, Alison Sampson, Jorge Fornes and Jordie Bellaire
Letters by: Aditya Bidikar
Publisher: Image
The acclaimed series continued to impress in its second full year, as a series of fill-in artists show us how Lee came to become the head of the Department of Truth. The series' main artist, Simmonds, returned for a bold new arc asking some tough questions about whether telling the truth is really always the best policy (both for the country and for one's personal life).
Written by: Joshua Williamson
Art by: Daniel Sampere, Jack Herbert, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Rafa Sandoval, Daniel Henriques, Danny Miki, Cam Smith, Alejandro Sanchez, Alex Guimaraes, Romulo Fajardo Jr. and Matt Herms
Letters by: Tom Napolitano
Publisher: DC
This epic crossover event was one of those rare times when a project declared to be a "love letter" actually seemed like a legit love letter and not one those letters written in blood or with magazine letters cut out to spell words.
After an opening that celebrated DC's strong future of legacy heroes, the finale celebrated DC's past, as well as its future. Things really look good for the DC Universe going forward because of the work that Joshua Williamson and Daniel Sampere put into this project.
Written by:Tillie Walden
Art by: Tillie Walden
Letters by: Tillie Walden
Publisher: Image
Tillie Walden is one of the greatest young graphic novelists we have going today, so the news that she would be doing a Walking Dead tie-in graphic novels series using Clementine from the Telltale Games Walking Dead video game was, if not SHOCKING it was at least fairly surprising. However, once it was clear that it WAS happening, it was obvious that she was going to kill it on the series, and the first book in the series was just as excellent as you would expect from Walden. She created a unique situation and then dropped Clementine in there with a group of compelling characters and then just let things go to hell, as they are wont to do in the Walking Dead universe (and sometimes it is even due to zombies and not awful humans! Sometimes). The artwork is excellent, the character work is outstanding, the whole thing seems so effortless.
Written by: Tom "Abbadon" Parkinson-Morgan
Art by: Tom "Abbadon" Parkinson-Morgan
Letters by: Tom "Abbadon" Parkinson-Morgan
Publisher: Self-published
Abbadon has been delivering us the fantasy world of Kill 6 Billion Demons for a DECADE now. Due to some real life setbacks, 2022 had a bit less content than a typical year, but he was still able to deliver a nice chunk of Book Five, which will finally bring Allison Ruth's story to a close, but the story is so big that it likely will take TWO print volumes to contain it all (the first four books have all been collected into print by Image, but they were each one book per one print collection).
Written by: Benjamin Percy
Art by: Adam Kubert, Federico Vincentini, Juan Jose Ryp, Frank Martin, Diijo Lima and Frank D'Armata
Letters by: VC's Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel
Wolverine has some wonderfully creative runs under his belt, and current writer Benjamin Percy's run during the Krakoa Era has continually dropped intriguing twists on readers. Working with artists Adam Kubert, Federico Vicentini, and Juan Jose Ryp in 2022, Percy has given readers a wild crossover with Deadpool, some great Judgment Day tie-in issues, and a new story that explores Beast taking advantage of Logan. Percy is brilliant when it comes to Wolverine's characterization. He writes the character like no one has since Larry Hama. The art this year has been consistently amazing. – David Harth, CBR List Writer
Written by: Tatsuki Fujimoto
Art by:Tatsuki Fujimoto
Publisher: Viz
While 2022, for Chainsaw Man, is really likely to be remembered most for the debut of the quickly beloved anime adaptation of the series, Tatsuki Fujimoto is far from resting on the laurels of his new anime success, as he spent much of 2022 expanding the Chainsaw Man universe with a heavy emphasis on Asa Mitaka, a loner girl who was forced to merge with the War Devil. Thus inevitably bringing her into future conflict with the main protagonist, Denji, whose merger with a Chainsaw Devil started the whole series. Asa's story has only been available online for English readers, but her English print debut will be very soon!
Written by: Ram V
Art by: Rafael Albuquerque, Ivan Reis, Danny Miki and Dave Stewart
Letters by: Ariana Maher
Publisher: DC
There are a number of different approaches that we have seen writers take with Batman over the years. Some have come up with mystery tales, some have done heroic tales. In the last few decades, a common trope has been to examine the history of Gotham City itself, treating it like a character in its own right (I tend to think that Anton Furst is probably responsible for a lot of that development due to his distinctive design for Gotham in Tim Burton's Batman. I guess Frank Miller definitely did some "Gotham is its own thing" stuff, too). Heck, some writers lean into the supernatural, at times. Well, what is so stunning about Ram V and Rafael Alburquerque's still fairly new Detective Comics run is that they have done ALL OF THOSE STORIES AT ONCE!! And yet, it really works, and it makes you want to see much more from them.
Written by: G. Willow Wilson
Art by: Marcio Takara, Brian Level, Jay Leisten and Arif Prianto
Letters by: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Publisher: DC
A masterclass in reimagining a classic villain in a new light, Wilson’s take on Pam Isley is complex, contradictory, and compelling as all hell. But enough can’t be said about Takara and the rest of the art team’s work in bringing a psychedelic but horrifying edge to a story that feels as indebted to Swamp Thing as it does to modern genre-thrillers like Westworld or Yellowjackets. – Brandon Zachary, CBR Senior Writer
Written by: Juni Ba
Art by: Juni Ba
Letters by: Juni Ba
Publisher: Image
One of the things that I admire most in comic book writers is when they can take on an absurd premise, and then commit FULLY to that absurd premise, and the end result can be transcendent. A famous example of this would be Grant Morrison leaning heavily into the absurdity of Animal Man's origins, or Alan Moore with Swamp Thing's (the sex issue of Saga of Swamp Thing is beautiful, but it's only beautiful once you buy into the outlandish premise). That's what makes Juni Ba's brilliant Monkey Meat work. It centers on a powerful Monkey Meat corporation, and it explores the idea of a hyper-capitalistic society turning people into basically nameless cogs, but that's just a HINT of what Ba gets into with this anthology, as the stories are constantly surprising you by confounding expectations along the way. You think Ba will zig, and he'll zag instead. Meditations about storytelling, colonizing, colonizing by way of storytelling, there's so much impressive depth here.
Written by: Walter Mosley
Art by: Tom Reilly and Jordie Bellaire
Letters by: VC's Joe Sabino
Publisher: Marvel
Walter Mosley is one of the most acclaimed crime novelists of the past half century, and he is an accomplished writer in many other types of novels and media, as well, so it shouldn't be a surprise to see him take to comic books so well, but, well, I mean, I think we can all think of writers with great resumes out of comics that DIDN'T work out as comic book writers, right? The skills are not 1:1, and yet Mosley took to it like he's been writing comic books for decades. The adventure he sends Thing on is a sort of love letter to the history of the Fantastic Four, but the most important thing is how well Mosley gets the Thing's voice. It is by no means simple to write the Thing correctly, as there is that weird balance between shtick and personality, and Mosley gets right in there and lives there in this series. The art by Reilly and Bellaire is gorgeous, as well.
Written by: Jason Aaron
Art by: Jesus Saiz, Paul Azaceta and Dave Stewart
Letters by: VC's Cory Petit
Publisher: Marvel
Frank Castle had been a difficult character for Marvel to deal with for a number of years now. When you have the Punisher practically speaking to his audience, "Please, stop treating me like a hero!" then you know that you have a bit of a problem. As a way to possibly deal with those issues, Jason Aaron essentially broke the Punisher down and has completely reinvented him, eliminating the iconic skull costume that has now become iconic for a whole other unexpected reason, and also getting rid of the "lone vigilante shooting people" approach, redefining him for a more supernatural take involving both the Hand and now the Greek god of war, Ares. It's been an unexpected rollercoaster ride with no signs of slowing down any time soon.
RELATED: CBR's Top 100 Comics of 2022: #100-76
Written by: Liam Sharp
Art by: Liam Sharp (and Matilda McCormack-Sharp)
Letters by: Liam Sharp (font by Dave Gibbons)
Publisher: Image
A wonderful mixture of sci-if and fantasy that’s the most interesting look at the Arthurian myths in years with amazing art from Liam Sharp. – David Harth, CBR List Writer
Written by: Gerry Duggan
Art by: Matteo Scalera and Dave Stewart
Letters by: Deron Bennett
Publisher: DC
DC has been doing a series of one-shots spotlighting Batman's greatest rogues, centered around the concept of "One Bad Day," the famous aspect of The Killing Joke where the Joker claimed, “All it takes is one bad day to reduce the sanest man alive to lunacy. That’s how far the world is from where I am. Just one bad day.” So these one-shots have mostly been about re-examining the origins of the villains in question, and that was the case for this excellent Mister Freeze one-shot, where we learn the secret behind the facade of Victor Fries' "happy" marriage to his doomed wife, Nora. A question in this Christmas tale, though, is whether villains CAN be redeemed, and the ending has an intriguing answer to that question.
Written by: Ed Brubaker
Art by: Sean Phillips and Jacob Phillips
Letters by: Sean Phillips
Publisher: Image
Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips have built up such a fascinating world around Ethan Reckless that he wasn't even needed to STAR in this volume of the Reckless graphic novels, as instead his assistant, Sara, takes the lead on a fascinating mystery involving an alleged haunted house that she is investigating for a former scream queen, while dealing with some drama with her mother. It's amazing how well this graphic novel works, as good as any of the other Reckless graphic novels (and since they're all excellent, that's saying a lot), all while giving center stage to a supporting character. As an aside, how lucky are we to have gotten TWO Reckless graphic novels in 2022?
Written by: Jeremy Adams
Art by: Fernando Pasarin, Brent Peeples, Will Conrad, Amancay Nahuelpan, Matt Ryan, Jeromy Cox, Peter Pantazis, Matt Herms, Jeremiah Skipper
Letters by: Rob Leigh
Publisher: DC
The Flash is constantly firing on all cylinders. Fans have been begging for a book like since Wally West came back in DC: Rebirth #1. The Flash manages to be the most fun superhero book every month, reminding readers why Wally West and the Flash family are the best. – David Harth, CBR List Writer
Written by: Hannah Rose May (with Declan Shalvey)
Art by: Justin Mason and Triona Farrell
Letters by: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Publisher: Image
This very clever sees an actor who plays a superhero on a TV show suddenly having to deal with an attack by a group of rabid fans who feel that she doesn't "deserve" to own a historic issue of the comic book that her character is based on, so they break into her house to steal it dressed as supervillains, but it soon becomes clear that one of the "villains" didn't just come here to give the comic book a "proper" home. So now she has to use all of the training she has received over the years as part of her various workouts to save her life against these delusional "fans." It's a twisted comic, with a ton of gore, but it also makes some sharp observations about how messed up so-called "fans" can be.
Written by: Tom King
Art by: Clay Mann and Tomeu Morey
Letters by: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: DC
It was a big disappointment when Tom King's epic run on Batman was cut short< but luckily, DC then gave him a maxiseries with the brilliant Clay Mann and Tomeu Morey to bring his years-long romance between Batman and Catwoman to a proper close. Most of this series took place in 2021, but the final three issues were released in 2022, and the finale, in particular, really tied everything together beautifully.
Written by: Tyler Boss and Matthew Rosenberg
Art by: Tyler Boss, with fill-ins by Josh Hickson, Roberto Lopez Ortiz and Sweeney Boo
Letters by: Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
Publisher: Image
Boss and Rosenberg broke out in a big way five years ago with 4 Kids Walk Into a Bank, and now they're back together for another excellent series involving young people. In What's The Furthest Place From Here?, the setting is a mysterious post-apocalyptic landscape where only young people exist. They've each broken off into gangs based on a shared "thing" (the kids who live in the bank are the bankers). When one group of kids loses one of their members (a pregnant 16-year-old), they head off to find her, which, of course, involves traveling throughout this incredibly unusual world, allowing the mystery to deepen each issue as we meet more and more unusual new characters.
Written by: Charles Soule
Art by: Ryan Browne
Letters by: Chris Crank
Publisher: Image
The history of comic books has often been marked by the simple question of, "What if?" The legendary DC writer, Gardner Fox, would talk about how he had a "What If?" room where he would think of weird results for stories. You know, "What if…THIS happens to Batman? How would he get out of THAT?" That sort of thing. It is sort of like the equivalent of Bill Finger's famous gimmick book, where he would write down weird ways for people to die and stuff like that. Stan Lee would then use the phrase so often while plotting story ideas that Roy Thomas decided to name a whole alternate universe comic book based on the name, "What If…?" Long story short (too late), that's what I thought about when I first read Eight Billion Genies, as it is very much a high concept like those other things, namely, "What if every person on Earth had their own genie who would grant them a single wish?" The rest of the series shows the shocking ramifications of this event, with each issue being a second and third order effect. It's amazingly creative in its chaos.
Written by: Al Ewing and Javier Rodriguez
Art by: Javier Rodriguez
Letters by: VC's Joe Caramagna
Publisher: Marvel
Defenders: Beyond was a bold and sweeping commentary on the very nature of creation (both in-universe and out-of-universe) that ties in with pretty much ALL of Al Ewing's previous comic book series for Marvel. What's fascinating is the sheer duality of it, as it feels like a farewell, while it is also clearly setting up future stories, as well. However, in general, it was like many of Al Ewing's past works in that it was a really fun exploration of fascinating ideas that I can't wait to see when he gets a chance to revisit these concepts again. Javier Rodriguez had to deal with a LOT of abstract concepts and he absolutely nailed them ALL beautifully.
Written by: Tom King
Art by: Greg Smallwood
Letters by: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: DC
Tom King has long had a gift for reexamining some of the odder areas of the DC Universe (like his current series, Danger Street, which I bet we'll see on this list next year), and that was very clear in his still-unfinished The Human Target, which puts the members of the Justice League International into the pages of a noir crime story starring Christopher "Human Target" Chance, trying to figure out which member of the Justice League International that has fatally poisoned him. Greg Smallwood has always been a good artist, but he has taken things to a while new level with this amazing artwork in The Human Target.
Written by: Sara Alfageeh
Art by: Nadia Shammas
Letters by:Nadia Shammas
Publisher: Quill Tree Books
Squire is a fascinating exploration of a number of complex issues, most prominently being the nature of being a "heroic warrior." Who decides who IS a heroic warrior? Part of that comes down to who decides who is the hero of the story, and part of that comes down to who decides who GETS to be a warrior, and Squire addresses all of that. In an alternate history version of the Middle East, our protagonist, Aiza, is a member of the subjugated Ornu people who wants to become a knight for the Bayt-Sajji Empire because she feels being a knight will be the only way for her to improve her lot in life, but also because she BELIEVES in the heroism of being a knight. Well, as you might imagine, things are a lot more complex than that, and the story is fascinating in how well things come into focus for our compelling young hero. The artwork is also outstanding.
Written by: Yuki Suenaga
Art by: Takamasa Moue
Publisher: Viz
Akane-banashi is my pick for the best comic/manga of 2022. To manage such a feat as turning a story about the world of rakugo and revolve it in the style of a revenge-shonen (without the action/violence) is a beauty to behold. – Doug Carruthers, CBR List Editor
Written by: Chip Zdarsky
Art by: Jorge Jimenez and Tomeu Morey
Letters by: Clayton Cowles
Publisher: DC
Chip Zdarsky and Jorge Jimenez launched their run on Batman with a bang, with Robin almost fatally wounded, and then the Penguin seemingly killing himself and framing Batman for his murder! And the amazing thing is that that was all just a prelude to the REAL opening arc, which is that Batman had used his Batman of Zur-En-Arrh persona to create an android that would serve as a fail-safe in case Batman ever turned out to become a killer. Well, Penguin's death (which, of course, was faked) was enough to kick in for the robot, so Batman and his allies now had to take on an android created BY Batman to take DOWN Batman. It's an action-packed adventure that splits the best elements of Grant Morrison's Batman work (with, of course, a tinge of Mark Waid's Tower of Babel) with a modern spin on things, as well.

Check back with CBR on Friday for more of the Top 100!

CBR Senior Writer Brian Cronin has been writing professionally about comic books for over fifteen years now at CBR (primarily with his “Comics Should Be Good” series of columns, including Comic Book Legends Revealed). He has written two books about comics for Penguin-Random House – Was Superman a Spy? And Other Comic Book Legends Revealed and Why Does Batman Carry Shark Repellent? And Other Amazing Comic Book Trivia! and one book, 100 Things X-Men Fans Should Know & Do Before They Die, from Triumph Books. His writing has been featured at ESPN.com, the Los Angeles Times, About.com, the Huffington Post and Gizmodo. He features legends about entertainment and sports at his website, Legends Revealed and other pop culture features at Pop Culture References. Follow him on Twitter at @Brian_Cronin and feel free to e-mail him suggestions for stories about comic books that you’d like to see featured at brianc@cbr.com!


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