Comicon’s 5 Most Progressive Comics Of 2021

by Erik Amaya

Welcome to’s Best of the Year Awards, gathering the best comics and comics talent of the strange year that was 2021. This year we will be awarding in the following categories: Best Original Graphic Novels, Best Comic Series, Best Single Comic Issues, Best Writers, Best Artists, Best Cover Artists, Best Colorists, Best Letterers, Best Digital/Webcomics, and Most Progressive Comics.

Contributors to Comicon’s Best of the Year Awards this year include: Oliver MacNamee, Brendan M. Allen, Rachel BellwoarScott Redmond, Benjamin Hall, Tito James, Tony Thornley, and Richard Bruton.

The following are Comicon’s 5 Most Progressive Comics of 2021.

5. The Good Asian, published by Image Comics; written by Pornsak Pichetshote, drawn by Alexandre Tefenkgi and Dave Johnson, colored by Lee Loughridge, and lettered by Jeff Powell. Logo design and production by Erika Schnatz. Historical consultant: Grant Din

The Good Asian is on this list mainly due to the amount of historical facts present in each issue. Though the back matter is the main source of factual information, the narrative also weaves in a significant amount. Another reason for its inclusion: the presentation of the characters does not fall into stereotypes. Instead, the creatives use historical facts and their respective skills to create characters that feel as if they are from a documentary about the 1930s. Lastly, thanks to the backgrounds of the characters and the creative participants, the series truly represents some of the experiences that Asians may go through in countries outside of Asia.

— Benjamin Hall

4. The Other History of the DC Universe, published by DC Comics; written by John Ridley, layouts by Giuseppe Camuncoli, finishes by Andrea Cucchi, colored by José Villarubia, and lettered by Steven Wand

John Ridley’s take on the history of the DCU from the perceptive of its minority characters was one of this year’s most brave and bold books. Taking on some of the bigger contemporary discussion points surrounding race and representation and projecting them on the DCU certainly made for a very thought-provoking reassessment of America’s mots beloved superheroes. Giving a more sociopolitical voice to the likes of Black Lightning and Katana encouraged readers to see the whole history of the DCU — both on and off the page — in a very different, and often uncomfortable, way. A meta-textual take on a fictional universe that rubbed a good deal of realism into the narrative and re-framed the likes of Batman as nothing more than a white-saviour and Deathstroke as a peodphile. Rough and real reading.

— Olly MacNamee

3. Lights, Planets, People!, published by Avery Hill; written by Molly Naylor, drawn, colored, and lettered by Lizzy Stewart

Adapted by Molly Naylor from her play, and illustrated — beautifully so — by Lizzy Stewart, Lights, Planets, People is a delightful graphic novel that’s about so much: space science and astronomy, the joy of exploration, the delights of being immersed in something you love, but also the pitfalls of getting too focused on something to the detriment of other aspects of life. It looks at relationships and explores issues of mental health, including one of the most wonderfully-realised artistic descriptions of a bipolar episode of depression and mania. But above all, it’s all about communication, in all its forms.

Lights, Planets, People makes things better for all reading it. This is profound and informed, absolutely vital, beautiful and powerful.

— Richard Bruton

2. Superman: Son of Kal-El #5, published by DC Comics; written by Tim Taylor, drawn by John Timms, colored by HI-FI, and lettered by Dave Sharpe

There have been many progressive comic books out this year, but not one that grabbed the headlines as much as DC Comics’ Superman: Son of Kal-El #5 by writer Tim Taylor and artist John Timms. And for all the right reasons. As Taylor said at the time, “Today, more people can see themselves in the most powerful superhero in comics.” A bold step forward for inclusion by a major publisher and well-met from most quarters.

— Olly MacNamee

1. Icon and Rocket: Season One, published by Milestone Media (DC Comics); written by Reginald Hudlin and Leon Chills, drawn by Doug Braithwaite, inks by Scott Hanna and Andrew Currie, colored by Brad Andersonm, and lettered by Andworld Design

This first season of this title asks why progress does not happen. It also provides some ideas on how to possibly solve certain matters, such as hate speech. There is also the fact that this title provides representation for both males and females who don’t see a lot of themselves in other characters.

— Benjamin Hall

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