2022 is officially halfway over, and the past six months have brought some surprising and groundbreaking new additions into the popular culture. That has especially been true within the realm of comics, with titles from across a wide array of publishers and genres continuing to impress. In and amidst the ever-growing number of events, relaunches, and highly-anticipated first appearances, there have been some truly groundbreaking and creative titles, each of which illustrates exactly how much the medium of comics continues to be capable of.
ComicBook.com has made a habit of highlighting some of the best installments, both through our "Weekly Pull" recommendations as well as our comprehensive reviews for each week of new releases. But as we have now reached the midway point for the year, we wanted to spotlight the titles published so far this year that have already caught our attention — and that deserve yours in the second half of the year. From ongoing series and miniseries to OGNs and manga, our staff has narrowed down the best titles of the year (so far), so keep scrolling to check them all out, and share your thoughts with us in the comments below!
Batman: The Knight (DC)
With a single page sequence, Detective Comics #33 changed the course of modern comics, chronicling the origin of how a young Bruce Wayne channeled his grief into becoming Batman. As effective as that original montage is, there's a swath of storytelling potential hidden within its margins – something that Batman: The Knight builds upon brilliantly. The twelve-issue maxiseries is only halfway through its run, but it has already begun to chronicle Bruce's globe-trotting journey to become the best crime-fighter he can be – and all of the messiness and mistakes that can occur within that. Chip Zdarsky's script is outstanding in each and every context, walking a brilliant tightrope between established DC continuity and the creative possibilities that are still there, and Carmine di Giandomenico's art provides the scrappy but precise energy that Bruce's young years require. Batman: The Knight is easily one of the most compelling Batman books I've ever read – and it's not too late to join the bandwagon. -- Jenna Andersonprevnext
Blood-Stained Teeth (Image)
Here we are, thinking every vampire story possible has been told. In comes Blood-Stained Teeth, upsetting everything we knew about the genre with one of the freshest takes on blood-suckers we've seen in recent memory. Christian Ward puts down the pencils and inks to pen this moody tale that finds itself somewhere between Sin City and the world of Bram Stoker. The scripts and world-building have been absolutely dynamite so far but what really makes the book standout is the work of Patric Reynolds, a master of the craft. The artwork is moody and grim while being thrust into a neon-soaked spotlight. It's fresh, it's interesting, and Atticus Sloane is one hell of a killer protagonist. -- Adam Barnhardtprevnext
Clementine: Book One (Image)
I discovered Tillie Walden's comics outside of the direct market with short comics from Avery Hill Publishing back in 2015. It was immediately apparent then that Walden was an immense talent in total control of the page and capable of conveying complex emotions with their fine line work. Each new release has been a joy to discover as Walden has risen in prominence from receiving multiple Ignatz Awards on the indie circuit to two Eisners for Spinning and Are You Listening?. While her past work has dipped into genre elements, Clementine: Book One is the most mainstream effort to date as it ties into the immensely popular franchise of Robert Kirkman's The Walking Dead. There are plenty of zombies in this story of a young woman making her way north on a prosthetic limb, but the comic itself remains undiluted-Tillie Walden comics magic. The drama is always clear with an abundance of characterization and subtext to be found in quiet moments outside the action. Emotions are clearly articulated with few lines and carry the delicate feelings of adolescents with heartbreaking honesty. Even amidst a regular assault of the walking dead, Clementine remains a much more universal experience touching upon themes of survival and identity that can be traced through seemingly any teenage journey. The first volume is another masterful addition to Walden's comics and the promises of a second will leave readers everywhere waiting with anticipation. -- Chase Magnettprevnext
Devil's Reign (Marvel)
Chip Zdarsky and Matteo Scalera's run on Daredevil has built up to Devil's Reign, as Kingpin uses his authority as the Mayor of New York City to outlaw superhero vigilantes. They find a clever way to disassociate Matt Murdock and Daredevil from one another, and unite Elektra and Daredevil as a formidable duo that will continue working together in the relaunched title debuting this month, while taking Kingpin off the board – for now. The fallout is what I'm most intrigued by. The Thunderbolts are back to being a heroic team again, and Daredevil and Elektra are going to lead The Fist against The Hand, which will eventually lead to a reunion with their good friend, The Punisher, who also happens to be leading The Hand. Expect this to lead to another mini event down the line. -- Timothy Adamsprevnext
Frieren: Beyond Journey's End (Viz Media)
A poignant fantasy tale set in a world where civilization is just recovering from a costly war against demons, Frieren: Beyond Journey's End explores the familiar adventurer's journey from another perspective. What happens after the heroes save the world? How are they remembered and what do they leave behind? The fantasy series follows the near-immortal elf Frieren as she better tries to understand her former companions after one passes away after an all too brief (at least from perspective) life. The manga brilliantly combines slice-of-life mundanity with an intriguing world filled with magic, monsters, and unfeeling demons. Each volume is a joy to read, enchanting you with Frieren's delightful melancholic whimsy as cares for her found family in her own special way. -- Christian Hofferprevnext
Goodbye Eri (Shōnen Jump+)
An amazing one-shot by Chainsaw Man creator Tatsuki Fujimoto, Goodbye, Eri pushes the boundaries of perspective, narration, and layout over the course of its 200 pages. The comic follows budding moviemaker Yuta Ito as he films the final moments of his mother. When his movie is met with disdain because of its hilarious twist ending, Yuta is despondent until he meets Eri. Unfortunately, Yuta discover that Eri is also fighting a terminal illness and thus begins recording her final days as well. Where Goodbye, Eri shines is through its constant revelations that what is being depicted "on screen" isn't the truth – it's all part of Yuta's moviemaking process. While this is explained several times over the course of the comic, each "reveal" is just as unexpected at the last. Goodbye, Eri is a brilliant, heartbreaking, and hilarious comic, and one of the best one-shots published this year. -- Christian Hofferprevnext
Lore Olympus (Webtoon / Penguin Random House)
The steamy, award-winning webcomic continues to boldly reinterpret the Greek gods in a modern light, with vivid colors and a focus on all-too-complicated family dynamics. In 2022, Lore Olympus pulled off a stunning mid-season finale that ripped apart the Mortal World from the Underworld and shook Mount Olympus to its core. When the series returned in April, we've slowly followed the exiled Persephone as she tried to prove her worth and earn her spot back in the pantheon. But while she's been exiled, Zeus has lost control of both Olympus and the Underworld, with gods on both sides succumbing to a mysterious permanent sleep. While Zeus was portrayed as a lusty self-absorbed narcissist, the comic has shown that even he has hidden depths and a somewhat sympathetic side. Lore Olympus remains appointment reading every Saturday night. -- Christian Hofferprevnext
Monkey Meat (Image)
In the 21st century, comic books are glossier and more mainstream than ever, trading much of the counter-cultural edge that tinged even much of the "big two" output of previous eras for a presentation designed to appeal to intellectual property scouts from Hollywood Studios. Juni Ba's Monkey Meat restores some of what was lost. For many, Ba first came to readers' attention through his TKO Studios graphic novel Djeliya, a meditation on the role of storytellers in society told through a reworking of West African fantasy. Monkey Meat, in one sense, is an extension of that. It examines how stories work in a world where the majority of our collective cultural output comes packaged by the same corporate, capitalist forces that such tales might seek to challenge. With Ba's artwork -- bearing influences from comics and cultures rarely seen in the direct market -- bringing his distinctive vision to each new story and each issue's presentation and design fully committing to the Monkey Meat Corporation aesthetic, Monkey Meat stands apart from practically everything else on the shelf in every conceivable way. -- Jamie Lovettprevnext
In a sea of Big Two superhero titles, Tom Taylor and Bruno Redondo's Nightwing run has consistently been not only one of the best cape books available, but pound-for-pound, the title is one of the best comic books you can purchase this year. The book thrusts the idea of capes and tights under a lense, deconstructing and examining the world of superheroes. That's all been assembled in a stellar read with relatable issues and dilemmas. Then Redondo's kinetic lineart is just the cherry on top, which produces one stellar action piece after the next. Not only that, but Redondo portrays emotion and humanity more than any other. -- Adam Barnhardtprevnext
I've never been much of a Punisher fan, but Jason Aaron, Paul Azaceta, and Jesus Saiz have added a unique twist to the street-level vigilante by tying him to The Hand, resurrecting his dead wife, and setting up former Avenger Ares as Frank Castle's new antagonist. Other highlights have been Punisher's initiation into The Hand, which was a bloody spectacle to witness, and The Hand's role in Frank's origin story. While Punisher is off in his own corner of the Marvel Universe, he'll eventually cross paths with some of his more famous adversaries and allies, resulting in an explosive confrontation. -- Timothy Adamsprevnext
I will evangelize about Rogues at any and all opportunity. The four-issue miniseries picks up with The Flash's motley crew of villains in their twilight years, as the promise of one final heist has some deadly and larger-than-life consequences. Rogues not only continues the largely-stellar track record of DC's Black Label, it arguably subverts it wholeheartedly, crafting a heist story filled with an incredible appreciation for DC canon and some jaw-dropping moments. Joshua Williamson's scripts somehow manage to be even more reverential and entertaining than his long run with the Scarlet Speedster himself, and Leomacs' art provides a nuanced and era-bending blend of weird and beautiful aesthetics. And come on, any series that has a string of gorilla-themed variant covers — because, as DC's Silver Age brass used to argue, "gorillas sell comics" — is one that is worthy of high praise. -- Jenna Andersonprevnext
Rogue Sun (Image)
The art of the indie superhero universe is making a comeback. Thanks to Image's MassiveVerse, a new world is blooming featuring the likes of Radiant Black, Radiant Red, and Rogue Sun — the last, of which, may be one of the best comics of 2022 so far. From Ryan Parrott and Abel, the series spins the superhero genre on its head combining Power Rangers with horror and the macabre. Best of all, it packs a tremendous amount of heart in every page with sympathetic characters and three-dimensional villains. -- Adam Barnhardtprevnext
The Sandman Universe: Nightmare Country (DC)
In his book Reading Comics: How Graphic Novels Work and What They Mean, comics critic Douglas Wolk names The Sandman as one of the few comics to benefit from having multiple artists work on it, suggesting it works because the lead character is Dream and thus many of the stories have a shifting, dreamlike quality to them. He's not wrong, and Nightmare Country, the latest entry in DC Comics' Sandman Universe line of spinoffs building on that original Sandman series' mythology, reminds readers of this by tapping some of the modern comics' greatest artists -- thus far, Yanick Paquette, Andrea Sorrentino, and Francesco Francavilla -- to contribute a few pages depicting events in the Dreaming, Dream's native realm and place of power. These few pages in each issue alone would be enough to make Nightmare Country worthy of readers' attention. However, we don't want to sell short the work of the regular creative team: writer James Tynion IV, artist Lisandro Estherren, and colorist Patricio Delpeche. Together, Estherren and Delpeche have brought that Sandman dreaminess into the waking world, creating in each issue a twilight existence for Tynion to let the nightmare avatars of the anxieties of modern American life run loose. Previous Sandman Universe installments The Dreaming and The Dreaming: Waking Hours proved to be more than worthy sequels to the Neil Gaiman-written original Sandman run. While Nightmare Country doesn't bear The Dreaming in its title, it's proving to be an equally worthwhile successor to all those series that came before it and simply a beautiful book to behold. -- Jamie Lovettprevnext
This year is set to be a monumental one for She-Hulk fans, with the character finally making her live-action debut in the She-Hulk: Attorney at Law Disney+ series. While countless Marvel titles have been relaunched as some sort of synergy with their Marvel Cinematic Universe counterparts, the newest run of She-Hulk has already become something extraordinary already. Rainbow Rowell's script brings Jennifer Walters, as well as characters like Titania and Jack of Hearts, on an earnest, action-packed thrill ride, one that nearly-perfectly blends the best qualities of Jen's previous solo runs. Between the issues themselves and Jen Bartel's outstanding sartorial work on the main covers, She-Hulk is the one Marvel series that is an absolute must-read for me — and it should be for you, too. -- Jenna Andersonprevnext
Step By Bloody Step (Image)
Silent comics when done well can be absolutely masterful reminders of the medium is capable of – far beyond the plot-heavy narrations of superhero and sci-fi odysseys. Step By Bloody Step doesn't utilize its silence as a gimmick, but as a core thematic conceit. There are characters with word balloons attached in some issues, using characters and language not intended to be deciphered, while the focus remains on the two characters at the heart of Step By Bloody Step: the girl and her giant. It's the emotional bond between these two, an innocent and her protector, that invites readers into a truly wondrous journey. Landscapes are filled with fantastical flora and fauna brought into resplendent life before new discoveries are made; the threats they contain offer pulse-pounding pages of action. And in the midst of this wonder and fear, the focus remains on the essential relationship of child and guardian. The emotionality between these two is the most clearly depicted element of the entire saga and it transcends the genre trappings of fantasy to provide a parable for modern times. As young people rise to face a world that is not easily explained and filled with terror, the struggle for them to be understood and the struggles of those who love and seek to protect them is obvious in these pages. Step By Bloody Step seemed to be a masterclass in comics storytelling from the very first page, but its resolution reveals this story has as much soul as it does skill – making it one of the very best comics of 2022. -- Chase Magnettprevnext
Suicide Squad: Blaze (DC)
The creative team who delivered John Constantine: Hellblazer to readers earned a reputation for staring down the darkness of modern life in all of its complex horror with electric imagery and without an ounce of sentimentality. It's no surprise that their next subject in a world filled with powerful, patriotic do-gooders was another source of cynicism and hard-luck bastards: the Suicide Squad; it's also no surprise they produced another masterpiece of modern superhero comics. From its very start Blaze swirls around themes of power as a mysterious entity with untold abilities is tracked for control by the United States government and its criminal commandos. Throughout the story there's little space for sentiments of care, love, or forgiveness, and when they do it appears, it's often to surprising effect. This serves to examine what purpose superheroes (and other actors with worldshaping powers) play in a narrative where those sweeping ambitions are still set side-by-side with more ordinary folks. The juxtaposition is revealing and each turned page ratchets up the tension and emotionality in a descent straight into the heart of hell. What's most fascinating amongst the spectacular displays of power and creeping conspiracies surrounding them is questioning who is really responsible for these horrors – that's one question bound to linger with readers long after they close the pages of Suicide Squad: Blaze. -- Chase Magnettprevnext
Superman: Son of Kal-El (DC)
A lot has been made about Superman: Son of Kal-El because of the title's LGBTQ+ representation thanks to Jon Kent being bisexual and more than just being bisexual on paper actually having a healthy, developing relationship on its pages, but this book is far more than that. Tom Taylor has crafted a story that is equal parts coming of age story and genuine Superman adventure that just so happens to also be imbued with a rich sense of humanity. Taylor gives Jon an authenticity that makes him vastly more than just a superhero or even a queer character and the stories told on the page aren't strictly the things of fantastic comic books. There are touchstones of the real world as Lex Luthor and Gamorran President Bendix attempt to threaten heroes of every kind and so much more. While the artist on the title has changed a few times, Cian Tormey's more recent work has been stunning — though so has the work of John Timms and Daniele Di Nicuolo on previous issues as well. On every front, this book stands as a great example of what a good comics story can be, something that takes the world we live in and frames it in a new way all while giving readers a healthy dose of hope. -- Nicole Drumprevnext
Immortal X-Men / X-Men / X-Men Red (Marvel)
X-Men fans may remember the handwringing around Jonathan Hickman's unexpected exit from the X-office following Inferno. Here was the writer who spearheaded a reinvention of Marvel's mutants bolder and more exciting than anything else the so-called House of Ideas had done with the characters in the last two decades. Then he walked away with his grand plan supposedly only partially realized. No amount of assurance from Marvel editors, other writers, or Hickman himself could not convince some fans that this meant anything but a disastrous end for the story of Krakoa.
What fools they were. Foolish, foolish fools.
Marvel Comics replace the one Hickman-written X-Men ongoing series with a trio of flagship titles. Spinning out of the inaugural Hellfire Gala event, X-Men sees writer Gerry Duggan and the superstar art team behind House of X, Pepe Larraz and Marte Gracia, chronicling the action-heavy adventures of the first democratically elected X-Men team. The book's stunning visuals befit a series about the public face of Krakoa in the human world, with the X-Men everything from Evangelion-like cosmic monsters to sentient fungus. Duggan brings his signature humor and great arcs for both mainstays like Cyclops and underdeveloped but increasingly popular deeper cuts like Synch.
While X-Men gets all bulk of the line's action, Immortal X-Men brings the politics and intrigue. The establishment of the Quiet Council of Krakoa has been central to the overarching narrative of this era of X-Men. In Immortal X-Men, writer Kieron Gillen and artist Lucas Werneck shine the spotlight on each mutant in the Council's changing roster, offering an individual accounting of their plans for the Council and goals for Krakoa. The result is a series where each issue feels fresh and new. The creative team isn't holding back on the big ideas, from a universe-resetting sentient biological weapon to a sapphic love story involving a prophet and her doomed love.0comments
But don't forget about Arakko, the battle-hardened mutants forgotten during their generations-long war with demons that developed entirely separate from Earth's mutants. Oh, also, that time mutants terraformed mars. That's where Al Ewing and Stefano Casselli's X-Men Red comes in, and it began subverting expectations from the start. Most expected this to be the story of Storm's cosmic X-Men. Instead, we have Storm recognizing Agent Brand of SWORD for the snake she is and forming a new Brotherhood with Magneto and Sunspot. This Brotherhood works to protect the Krakoan people even as they continue to debate what it means to fight for a culture to which they do natively not belong. X-Men Red has been tightly plotted and full of one jaw-dropping, pitch-perfect twist or character beat after another, making it a superb, thoughtful mix of action and thrills.
Hickman brought a new era to the X-Men and continues to build on his ideas, but the X-Men line has only flourished, becoming even more expansive and exciting in the wake of his absence. The X-Men are still the best story happening at Marvel, perhaps in all mainstream superhero comics. With Judgment Day around the corner, that doesn't seem likely to change anytime soon. -- Jamie Lovettprev