This week’s Wednesday Comics is a list of the 2022 comics you may have missed (granted, this is based on comics that felt under-discussed in my world — your mileage may vary). In addition, the Wednesday Comics Team has the usual rundown of the new #1s and finales from non-Big 2 publishers, all of which you can find below … enjoy!

The 2022 Comics You May Have Missed

2022 Comics You May Have MissedAbsolution (AWA Studios – Upshot): Written by Peter Milligan and illustrated by Mike Deodato, Jr., this book is a violent satire about social media and the fickle nature of what one must do to please the masses who use it. On top of that, it’s also rich with Deodato’s signature gritty illustration style (colored here by Lee Loughridge), and a perfectly-scripted action revenge narrative that really packs in the twists. All five issues were published this year, and if you missed it, you can snag the trade collection of this one in February. This book was lettered by Steve Wands.

The Blue Flame (Vault Comics):  I am an absolute mark for stories that project superhero and sci-fi/fantasy tropes onto more-grounded stories about relatable everyday struggles, blurring the lines between the two in order to show why the concept of being part of a fantastical adventure has remained so appealing to so many over the years. The Blue Flame is one of the best and most somber examples of this type of comic, and I absolutely loved it. Four of its 10 issues came out this year, and a complete series collection of this one is due out in April. This book was written by Christopher Cantwell, with art by Adam Gorham, colors by Kurt Michael Russell, and letters by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou. 

Dark Spaces: Wildfire (IDW Originals): Writer Scott Snyder put out so many great comics this year, many of which first appeared as part of his comiXology Originals deal before eventually finding print through Dark Horse. This book, however, was wholly new, launching IDW Publishing’s new creator-focused line, IDW Originals, and man was it excellent. It saw artist Hayden Sherman doing the best work of their career to date (which is really saying something) as Snyder told a slow-burn (goddamn it, I’m sorry, but I had to) of a heist story, one in which the richness of the characters really made every beat matter. The trade for this one is due out in May, and it was colored by Ronda Pattison with letters by AndWorld Design.

Justice Warriors (AHOY Comics): I don’t even know where to start with describing this one. Originally envisioned as an animated television show (pretty viscerally in the style of Adult Swim) by artist Ben Clarkson, elements of this comic include Bubble City (exactly what it sounds like), satires of power structures, and a police officer whose head is the poop emoji. It has the feel of some kind of 90s-era Vertigo Comics experiment, just played out over the canvas of timely issues and societal challenges. It’s also the first monthly comic book series to be scripted for an artist by Matt Bors (who also letters the book), editor of The Nib. Idiosyncratic, unpredictable, and brave, Justice Warriors is a must-read for those who missed it. The trade paperback of the series is due in February. The book is colored by Felipe Sobreiro. 

The Lonesome Hunters (Dark Horse Comics): Tyler Crook has long been one of the best artists working in monthly horror comics, having contributed some classic issue to B.P.R.D.: Hell on Earth, as well as Harrow County, upon which he teamed with writer Cullen Bunn. This year, we got a Crook solo vision of what a great monthly horror comic can/should look like, it was one hell of a ride. The Lonesome Hunters features interesting characters (teaming together for an unlikely partnership), unsurprisingly gorgeous art, and a complete narrative played out perfectly across four great issues. The trade is due out in February.

Pearl III (Dark Horse Comics – Jinxworld): It feels a little odd to have a book by writer Brian Michael Bendis and artist Michael Gaydos (two celebrated industry heavyweights) on the comics you may have missed list, but this third (and seemingly final) volume of Pearl seemed to me to fly a bit under the radar, perhaps because the prior two volumes were published via DC Comics and this one by Dark Horse. Whatever the reason, it felt to me like Pearl III deserves a bit more attention, delivering up a satisfying third act for a very interesting original comics story, headlined by daring career-best artwork from Gaydos. Pearl III is due out in trade in March. The book also features lettering by Joshua Reed.

2022 Comics You May Have MissedPink Lemonade (Oni Press): I’ve been a fan of artist Nick Cagnetti for some time, after seeing his striking and singular artwork (evocative as it is of Jack Kirby) on social media. This year, Cagnetti launched a new monthly comic series through the direct market, with Pink Lemonade. Four issues in, it’s been an absolute joy to follow, one that I think far more comics fans should be reading and talking about. Cagnetti seems like a big comics star on the rise, too, one with a clear interest in classic Marvel Comics, so you may want to get on-board with his work now, if you’re interesting in the early fan bragging rights sort of thing. This series also features lettering by Francois Vigneault. 

Radio Spaceman: Mission to Numa 4 (Dark Horse Comics): Cards on the table, this comic was the impetus for this list. Radio Spaceman is written by Mike Mignola, and it’s also based on a popular doodle that he posted on social media. Joining him on this full two-issue project is artist Greg Hinkle, colorist Dave Stewart, and letterer Clem Robins. What results is a tight, perfectly-structured two-issue blast of conceptual pulp. It’s a perfect type of comic book story, and I absolutely loved it. And like Pearl above, it feels a bit odd to put a comic on an under-the-radar list by someone like Mignola, but this is an entirely new property independent of Hellboy or anything else; it absolutely deserves your attention. There doesn’t seem to be any trade collection on the horizon, but, again, it’s only two issues, so not too hard to track down.

A Town Called Terror (Image Comics): Writer Steve Niles was making horror comics before it got cool again, and this year he launched a new book with very-scary artist Szymon Kudranski, long a favorite artist of mine when it comes to sinister comics imagery. The two make for a great pairing with a new horror concept, one that is driven at its core by the history of a very dysfunctional family. I really enjoyed this one, although it felt like it got a bit lost among flashier and more novel horror comics. The trade is due out in April. The book was lettered by Scott O. Brown and Marshall Dillon.

Traveling to Mars (Ablaze Publishing): While writer Mark Russell is likely a familiar (and Eisner-winning) name to monthly comics readers, the rest of the creator team may need an introduction: artist Roberto ‘Dakar’ Meli, colorist Chiara Di Francia, and letterer Mattia Gentili. Moreover, it’s published by Ablaze, which is maybe the smallest publisher on this list. All of that aside, Traveling to Mars ended up being one of my favorite comics of the year, featuring a very personal tragicomic script by Russell and some truly excellent, versatile cartooning, oscillating as called for between very serious and full-blown funny. There’s only two issues of this one out so far, and I’d highly recommend tracking them down.

Zack Quaintance

Wednesday Comics Quick Hits

  • Blink #5 (Oni Press): Much like found footage horror and sleep paralysis, the finale to Christopher Sebela (writer) and Hayden Sherman’s (illustrator) technothriller overstays its welcome. Overwrought with lurid narration wallowing in despair and drenched in innovative, though non-emotive page layouts, Blink #5 not only wraps the plot, but loses it. Might it be the big underarching mystery’s answered questions that create more questions than answers? Might it be Sherman choosing detached shots when intimate closeups will do (and vice versa)? Regardless, I felt the finish is just as bleak and aimless as our chosen-one protag feels, adrift in an ending most closely defined as “primordial high concept miniseries with its faults — ” that’s not without its wellspring of earnest comics creativity. It must be so rewarding to see (colorist) Nick Filardi’s vaporwave paint work in print. For all its design-over-narrative layouts, Frank Cvetkovic’s letters never read out of order nor feel out of place. Honestly, I really love the chromatic aberration word balloons the big Blink baddie speaks with however work intensive they must’ve been to layout. If you’ve been following along (or not), come for the elevator pitch, stay for the experimentation, and look forward to/support the team’s next work, because Blink ends in more of a blip. (Beau Q.)
  • Book of Slaughter #1 (BOOM! Studios): The Eisner Award-winning series Somethings Killing the Children, from creators James Tynion IV and Werther Dell’Edera, with artist Letizia Cadonici (who returned for BoS #1 as a special guest), with colorists Miquel Muerto and Francesco Segala (who returned for BoS #1 as a special guest), and letterer AndWorld Design, has been on my “to read” list for a while now, so I went into reading this book mostly naive of the story. Although it’s a tie-in to the SKtC universe, the issue also worked for me as a new reader, only increasing my interest in the Tynion IV and Dell’Edera-created world. As an SKtC noob, I don’t know what is and isn’t a spoiler (and I don’t want to risk it), but I was keenly aware while reading the story that it is building on the universe in a way that fans of the series will find enjoyable. With regard to the art, I would like to shout out Meurto’s use of color, which has a watercolor-like quality that is especially eye-catching. (Rebecca Oliver Kaplan)
  • Frankenstein: New World #4 (Dark Horse Comics): It can’t be easy to tell a story in a shared universe that is set on the timeline once that shared universe has basically ended. But that’s the situation Frankenstein: New World operates within, happening after the main Hellboy Universe essentially ended, taking most (but not all!) known characters off the board. And now this series has to come to its own end at the end of the world — and it does it about as well as it possibly could, delivering a tense and character-driven (and great-looking finale) that elevates this series past just a narrative curiosity to a must-read for anyone vested in the Hellboy Universe. This comic was written by Mike Mignola, Christopher Golden, and Thomas Sniegoski, with art by Peter Bergting, colors by Michelle Madsen, and letters by Clem Robins. (Zack Quaintance)
  • Mighty Morphing Power Rangers/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II #1 (BOOM! Studios): The BOOM!-produced Power Rangers line remains my personal high-water mark for contemporary licensed comics—it moves with an eye to character and consistently features clear, kinetic action. Both are musts for storytelling generally, and critical for an adaptation of a show that made its name on lovable characters and strong action. This second crossover with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is Power Rangers at its best, especially when digging into how the assembled teens with attitude (human and terrapin alike) bounce off each other at rest and in combat. Dan Mora’s illustrations are the star of the issue (which is written by Ryan Parrott, colored by Raul Angulo, and lettered by Ed Dukeshire), especially when dealing with high-stress body language—the issue-ending cliffhanger leaves both teams badly shaken, but the Turtles and the Rangers handle the massive revelation in question differently—the Rangers are alarmed and on guard, the Turtles stunned and visibly distraught. It’s really, really fine cartooning. (Justin Harrison)
  • Comics to Buy for December 28Sacrament #5 (AWA – Upshot): A steady presence in my Top Comics to Buy columnSacrament delivers a fantastic finale this week with its fifth and final issue. In brief, this is a series that combines Christian exorcism with deep space horror storytelling, and a character-driven did they/should have they core relationship. It all adds up into one of the most singular comics of 2022. This series was written by Peter Milligan, illustrated by Marcelo Frusin, and lettered by Sal Cipriano. (Zack Quaintance)

Wednesday Comics is edited by Zack Quaintance.

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