2022 was a rough year for me in the comic book world. There were some books I lost my way with and others I just dropped because I couldn’t deal anymore. The biggest thing is that I fell out of hard with the current runs of Batman. It started back when they did the great Wedding Fake Out, which for my money is the worst bait and switch in comics ever. After that I was totally bummed out on Batman and then they (spoiler alert) killed off Alfred in the next arc. It hasn’t been the same since and the subsequent arcs haven’t helped much. Kinda broke but not really Bruce Wayne doesn’t do it for me, and Alfred’s absence has been glaring ever since. But that’s not all. There are just way too many characters to keep up with now in that world. When I jumped back in there was Bruce, Dick Grayson, Tim Drake, Barbara Gordon, Jason Todd, Damian Wayne, Kate Kane and Alfred. Batwing, Harper Row and Duke Thomas would soon emerge, and then Stephanie Brown and Cassandra would resurface. That was a smooth 13 already, and it would only get worse.
From 2020 through 2021 we got Ghostmaker, Clownhunter, Jace Fox, Miracle Molly, Gardener, and Punchline. Ghostmaker is another Vigilante who will cross the lines Batman won’t. Clownhunter and Punchline are for all intents and purposes fill ins for Damien Wayne and Harley Quinn, who are now off doing other things. (Quinn, by the way, is now Bat Family adjacent which is just disgusting). Miracle Molly is already a memory as she was there to help during Fear State and not much else; much of the same can be said about Gardener. And Jace Fox has gone in to become Batman, albeit operating in New York city and not Gotham. To be honest the Black Label Batman comics sound more interesting than the main ones have been, but I just don’t have the time to give them proper attention. For now I dropped Detective Comics from my list and may do the same with the eponymous title. Too many characters, and the tone has just gotten too dark for me.
The year was not without some bright spots, though. Despite the way I feel about the Bat books now the opposite is true for Nightwing, which was my favorite DC comic in 2022. Nightwing has been everything that they refuse to give us with Batman and has been a real breath of fresh of air under writer Tom Taylor. It’s fun, something the Bat books have not been much of for a while, it includes the Bat family and even Dick Grayson’s old Titans mates without it looking like a stunt show, it has its own villains and doesn’t just use the ones from Batman, and it even has the title character in a settled relationship with a longtime love interest. This has been everything you could hope for from a Batman comic, to the point where you want Tom to write it forever.
Also high on my DC list was Phillip Kennedy Johnson’s Action Comics. Superman’s sojourn to Warworld was as great a Superman story as you will ever see. If you wanted a serious Superman story that still captured the essence of the character, this was it. For over a year Superman was on Warworld fighting to see the people who’d been enslaved there while in a weakened state himself. The Clark Kent ideal of never giving up hope was on full display the whole way through, as was his unwavering adherence to do things the right way no matter what difficulties that may bring. And it’s made the return to Earth all that much sweeter after its conclusion. Superman is another character that has benefitted from having his relationship status codified in print, as his marriage with Lois has been handled great for several years now. Action Comics was, and is, a must read.
Third is The Flash and yes, that has also benefitted by settling things with its protagonist’s love interest. Both Flashes Barry Allen and Wally West have been reunited in print with Iris West and Linda Park, respectively, and the results have been great. Shifting the the focus back to Wally, who for a lot of people was their Flash for many years before Allen came back after Final Crisis, has been a nice switch up in my opinion. While my Flash was Barry I’ve very much enjoyed the journey with Wally and his family. DC has finally found the right way to balance the two by focusing on Wally at home on Earth and using Barry for more of the out of neighborhood stuff.
That’s really it for DC for me. There are other books of theirs that I read but those three are the best and for a lot of the same reasons. For way too long DC and Marvel decided that shoving their heroes back into uncertain relationship status was the way to go, and for heroes who many of us saw get married years ago before all the reboots and all, it was a bummer to see them thrust back into a miserable single status because editors (I’m looking at you, Dan Didio) described marriage as the end of the road and not a new beginning or a fresh spin on the characters. In 2023 there is nothing gained from continuing to keep Bruce and Selina (or Peter Parker and Mary Jane) in their current forms. Just marry them and be done with it. These ongoing attempts at presenting tension as a plot device just aren’t working anymore.
But what about the other side of the street? My two favorite Marvel books just so happen to come from the Captain America series. Just like DC had to with their Flash situation Marvel had to do with Captain America. Steve Rogers is everyone’s Cap but over the last ten years Sam Wilson has become that for a lot of people as well, and trying to return him to being Falcon just did not work. (The less said about the last Falcon book the better. Yikes.) With Sentinel if Liberty and Symbol of Truth Marvel has found a way to give everyone what they wanted. No one who is a fan of Sam Wilson wants to see him as Falcon anymore, but making him Captain America at Rogers expense wasn’t really working either. Giving them their own separate stories and having them be Cap in their own unique ways has been a lot of fun to read, much better than sidelining one and forcing the other to be all things to all people. The only other Marvel book I was big on was Miles Morales Spider-Man. I felt like they did a great job of telling Miles story away from Peter Parker and making it his own thing.
What I’m hoping for from both companies is a return of a few characters to their own books. For DC to have gone this long with no ongoings for Green Arrow, Green Lantern and Aquaman is a joke. I know that for profits sake all Batman, all the time is what pays but come on guys. Shoot, there hasn’t been a Batgirl ongoing in a bit, either. Good grief already. And on the Marvel side, can we have a Black Widow comic that actually goes for more than a few issues? Every time they announce a new Black Widow book the same things happens – it’s very well done and it ends too soon. And like with DC I know that 50 X-Men books and 12 Spidey books are what pays the bills but again, come on guys. Nobody is asking for a full ongoing book for F-list side characters, we’re talking about people who have had big selling books before and/or have become popular characters in other mediums. Find a way to make it work.
So that’s 2022. For 2023 my permanent list is looking like this:
- Action Comics
- Batman (for now)
- I am Batman
- Captain America: Sentinel of Liberty
- Captain America: Symbol of Truth
I’m also digging into Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye run while catching up on Charles Soule’s current Star Wars series and Kelly Thompson’s Captain Marvel run.
So that’s my 2022 in comics. Here’s to a fresh and exciting 2023.