Comicon’s 5 Most Progressive Comics Of 2022
by Erik Amaya
Welcome to Comicon.com’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, Rachel Bellwoar, Richard Bruton, Scott Redmond, Tito James, Tom Smithyman, and Tony Thornley.
The following are Comicon’s 5 Most Progressive Comics of 2022.
Most Progressive Comic of the Year (Non-Fiction)
5 & 4. Wired Up Wrong / Stand In Your Power by Rachael Smith; published by Icon Books
Smith has been an absolute favourite for so long now, but it’s in these two books, freshly released and now widely available from Icon Books in 2022, that her voice came through so fully — the brilliance she’d shown in her fictional works came through so powerfully and honestly. Through these two books, Smith writes about deeply personal issues, opening up about her long-standing problems with mental health, anxiety, depression, lack of confidence, and feelings of worthlessness; all exacerbated in Stand In Your Power with the break-up of a long-term relationship. That she covers all of this with honesty and bravery, never shying away from the worst of her feelings, and still manages to entertain and even make the reader laugh … well, that’s why these are just so perfectly done.
It’s wonderfully powerful work that ultimately serves as a beacon of hope, with Smith creating something powerful that stand as a testament both to her abilities as a cartoonist and as a source of inspiration, encouragement, and solace to those of us who’ve ever seen our own black dog, ever had our own problems.
— Richard Bruton
3. Poison Ivy, published by DC Comics; written by G. Willow Wilson, drawn by Marcio Takara, colored by Arif Prianto, and lettered by Hassan Otsmane-Elhaou
While the synopsis and covers will make it clear that this book is about the plant-based villain with a decidedly horror tone, it is so much more. Wilson takes readers on a journey that both confronts and unpacks the trauma of the title character and the societal trauma of us all. It’s a series that doesn’t shy away from the darker side of our society, tackling everything from humanity’s war upon the planet to workplace harassment to the destructive power of capitalism. One of the most prevalent threads pulled in the book is an exploration of deep depression, what it can do, and how sometimes we have to find our own light in the darkness. This is a character study wrapped in a very progressive look at our world told through the eyes of a comic book character.
— Scott Redmond
2. It’s Lonely at the Centre of the Earth by Zoe Thorogood; published by Image Comics
A few years ago, Tillie Walden‘s first book immediately established her as a major talent, fully formed and making great works from the off. And now we have Thorogood, whose 2020 debut, The Impending Blindness of Billie Scott (not coincidentally published, as was Walden’s debut, by Avery Hill Publishing), was a revelation of storytelling from a young comics artist. But if Billie Scott was brilliant, her second graphic novel, It’s Lonely at the Centre of the Earth, was exceptional, marking out Thorogood as a huge talent for the future — where the future happens to be right now.
It’s an autobiographical tale of ‘a selfish artist,’ filtered through the unreliable narrator’s lens that records six months of Thorogood’s life in the midst of a mental health crisis, only made worse by COVID isolation, where she attempts to rescue herself the only way she knows, by creating this work that charts that very same collapse of her mental health. It is raw, it is unforgiving, and it is a strikingly imaginative artistic journey that we navigate with Thorogood through the lifelong depression she suffers and into the realms of creativity where her artistic styles reflect her shifting moods in such an astonishing fashion.
— Richard Bruton
1. Sabretooth, published by Marvel Comics; written by Victor Lavalle, drawn by Leonardo Kirk, colored by Rain Beredo, and lettered by VC’s Coy Petit.
Put aside that the title star of this series is a vicious white man and look much deeper. Sabretooth is a Black book. It’s one of the Blackest books that has ever shown up in the X-Line — a line that was born on metaphors referencing the struggles of marginalized groups. Sabretooth is the title character, but the series spends just as much time with a largely marginalized cast full of numerous Black characters. It’s a title that grabs onto the reader and dives right into the failures of Krakoa through the lens of real-world failures regarding incarceration, disenfranchisement, and the fact that society so often allows the most vulnerable to just fall through the cracks. It dives into real-world history and situations to actually hit the right notes to make the metaphors behind the X-Men feel real. This series proves what comic books could and should be more often.
— Scott Redmond