Near the end of each year, I look back at the previous year’s worth of comics, to see what didn’t make it off my To Read list. I also look ahead to the next year’s comics, to see what needs to be added to my list.
It turns out, 2021 was a great year for comics – so great that I didn’t get around to reading many very excellent books! And, unfortunately for those of us who do not yet have “time enough at last,” 2022 looks like it’s going to be just as stellar.
Given that I’ll have to prioritize, I created this Top 5 list of books I still need to read from 2021 and am looking forward to reading in 2022. Will I actually manage to read all these books in 2022? The signs … actually somehow point to yes? So get hyped, and check out the list below!
If I had any confidence I could find and purchase consecutive issues of a print monthly comic in comic shops, I would’ve bought Superman and the Authority in single issue form. It was probably my most-anticipated superhero comic of 2021, and from the panels I saw posted around the internet, it did not disappoint. (That “no one remembers COVID-1 through -18” line, spouted from the mouth of villainous trolling robots, is such a banger.)
Still, if the book is as good as it looks to be, I won’t be sad to have it sitting on my shelf in hardcover, sans ads. Grant Morrison’s DC work is a big deal to me (their JLA is the first series I started buying trades of, and there’s a reason we led with All-Star Superman on Waiting on the Trade). The fact that this is likely Morrison’s last ride at DC, and that this work is apparently commenting on everything they’ve written so far and the current state of superhero comics, makes it an easy must-read for me in early 2021. If anything, I have to read it soon so I can finally read the related essays and interviews I’ve boomarked.
(P.S. – This story also connects to Phillip Kennedy Johnson’s Action Comics run, which is another great-looking book I’ve been meaning to catch up on!)
Around the middle of last year, I listened to multiple podcasts in which the creators of Everyone Is Tulip talked about the impetus behind and process of creating the book, as well as what it is about. And ever since, I’ve been intrigued.
For those who haven’t listened to said podcasts, Everyone Is Tulip is a look into the world of internet performance art and how entering that world can change an artist’s conception of their art and their self. Specifically, the book follows struggling actress Becca, who ends up going viral on YouTube while portraying a character named Tulip. The line between Becca’s real self and online personality begin to blur, and Becca must consider what sacrifices and compromises she’s willing to make to remain famous.
While I plan to buy the book in print, it is also slowly becoming available online for free for those who want to nose at it. At the very least, the online version is a good sampler of what you’ll get when you buy the story in its (superior) print version.
The final volume of this 20 issue series released in November, but I’ve been waiting to read it for reasons (podcasting reasons). The wait has been excruciating. As a person who loves a) comic books, b) the history of RPGs, and c) game design and mechanics, this comic is nearly exactly in my wheelhouse (if only I were British, DIE would feel like a hole made just for me). This is a book in which a character gaining the ability to dual-wield is not just a dramatic plot point, but a dramatic plot point that punches you in the gut. What better comic could there be, I ask you?
Of course, it doesn’t hurt that DIE is populated with characters who sing and art that would make the best 1980s fantasy artists jealous (thank you Stephanie Hans). I’ve known since the start that DIE would go for only 20 issues; it’s been telegraphed on the series’s back covers since issue 1. And honestly, I’ve been happy about it. Because so rarely does a series get to burn bright and hot and end on its own terms (often, they either go on too long or fizzle out and disappear). This ending is long-anticipated, and you’ll certainly be hearing more about it later this year.
While I’m fairly over company-wide DC and Marvel crossover events, I’m still really into tight, narrative-driven crossovers between just a few titles. When done right, these stories enrich all the titles involved, by pushing each title’s main character(s) forward in unforeseen ways.
So you can imagine that I, a “Batman and Robin will never die!” fanboy, am pretty excited for the upcoming Shadow War crossover between Batman, Robin, and Deathstroke Inc. This event will finally reunite Damian and Bruce Wayne, as they face off against some of my favorite villains: Ra’s al Ghul, Talia al Ghul, and Deathstroke.
The entire eight-part crossover will be written by Josh Williamson, whose work on Robin has impressed me so far. Hopefully, this will lend Shadow War some narrative coherence that cross-title events written by multiple writers sometimes lack. But really, all Shadow War needs to do to earn my seal of approval is let the Waynes punch Deathstroke in the face together. It’s been far too long since I saw a “Batman and Robin punch the villain in tandem” panel in a new comic.
Geis: The Will That Shapes the World
Yes, the picture above is of Geis Vol.2, not Vol. 3. That’s because Vol. 3’s release is still so far away (August 2022) that the book does not yet have an official cover. (It also does not have a Bookshop.org page I can link to, and I’m not linking you to Amazon, so I guess you’ll have to find this one yourself.)
Still, eight months isn’t so long to wait for the conclusion to a series that has delighted, surprised, and shocked me. Somewhat like DIE, Geis centers around contests and games, which makes me inclined to love it. But really, Geis is a story about how people behave when given the chance to compete for power. Will they cooperate with each other? Will they operate within or outside the rules? Do they care more about winning or remaining honorable?
For some of Geis‘s many characters, those questions have already been answered. For others, the answers are up for grabs. I’m certain Geis‘s final contest will test its characters (including poor Artur) even further and reveal the remaining answers. But until I hold volume 3 in my hands, I’ll be content to continue re-reading volumes 1 and 2.