Welcome to the Multiversity Year in Review for 2022! We’ve got over 25 categories to get through, so make sure you’re checking out all of the articles by using our 2022 Year in Review tag.
Good is good. Our favorite series often span multiple years, and make our year end lists multiple times. But there’s something to be said for novelty- there’s a reason that everyone in the comics world loves a #1 issue. So, in addition to all of the other comics we award, we also like to spotlight new series. All of these had strong debuts, and are stories we are going to continue to follow in the new year. Here are our top three new series for 2022.
3. Public Domain
The meta-narrative, when done right, is one of the most effective means of humor in film and literature. It’s that clever way of telling the story that is personal and familiar, an intimacy that you’re ready to lay bare and show all its faults. And who better to take on the meta-narrative of the business of comics than your favorite nine panel grid creator and mine, Chip Zdarsky, in his new series “Public Domain,” itself a look at the ugly underbelly of the comics industry.
Anyone who’s read a Zdarsky work knows that there’s meticulous care and craft within it, and “Public Domain” is no exception. The script pulls no punches, exposing the inner workings of comics and how creator-unfriendly they can be within the frame of the fictional Miles Dallas, son of the co-creator of superstar superhero The Domain. The Domain is a character that rakes in big bucks and changes the pop culture landscape for everyone except . . . Miles’s father. It’s a messy wave of emotions for Miles, who has his own personal issues to deal with, and still has to do his reporter job . . . which includes interviewing the actor playing this character.
“Public Domain” is a comics industry story wrapped up in a father-son story, or perhaps vice versa. However you want to categorize it, Zdarksy combines these two stories effectively to show how they relate to each other, all with the kind of Arrested Development metacommentary that he honed to perfection with his artwork on series as diverse as “Sex Criminals” to “Not Brand Echh” to “Daredevil” and many, many, more. Miles Dallas is a man on the outside of the comics world looking in, but still someone who knows what he sees on the inside thanks to his upbringing. And that’s the beautiful characterization within this story: a multifaceted man bouncing off of inner conflict after inner conflict, but also feeling empowered enough to be pissed off by the situation at hand, and amused by the ridiculousness of it all.
It does not go without saying that Zdarsky is taking on everything for this series: writing, drawing, coloring, lettering. Doing all this heavy lifting is quite the balancing act. But with a man of Zdarsky’s experience at the helm, nothing gets the short end of the stick. The script develops characters and narrative at just the right pace. The artwork is both clean and richly detailed. And color complements that artwork and retains the aesthetic. Taking full creative reins of this comic adds another level of intimacy to the story, and perhaps remains lesson for those new in the industry about how much control to have over your work to ensure you retain all rights and compensation entitled to you. Even the name of this series itself, “Public Domain” the term that describes a creative work with no specific intellectual property rights, pokes the right amount of fun at the world of copyright.
There was no better time for “Public Domain” to come to comics than 2022, a year where the greater public has more understanding of the world of work-for-hire that is the comics industry. Now we wait to see if the right people heard, understood, and accepted this lesson presented to them. – Kate Kosturski
2. The New Champion of Shazam
It is hard to imagine that a ‘new’ take on Mary Marvel can really be considered ‘new,’ as the character has been so many different things over the past 70+ years. But Josie Campbell and Evan “Doc” Shaner have made Mary into something totally different in “The New Champion of Shazam:” they’ve made her human.Continued below
The Mary of “New Champion” is trying to balance school, family, and superheroics, and failing at all three. Campbell’s characterization of Mary feels very real and lived in, without being impenetrable or overly complex. She’s an average 18-year old who happens to have amazing superpowers. That’s all you really need to know going in, and Campbell and Shaner do the rest.
“The rest” includes some of the most nuanced depictions of familial and survivor’s guilt ever seen in a mainstream superhero comic, some truly exceptional visual character work, fun action, and a talking bunny. This both manages to fit perfectly into DC’s current status quo and act as an evergreen title, allowing new readers and Wednesday warriors to be both invested in Mary’s story.
While just a miniseries, it seems hopeful that Campbell and Shaner’s characterization will not go away when the series wraps up. Who knows what is out there for Mary in 2023, but it will certainly be better because of, and standing on the shoulders of, this work. – Brian Salvatore
1. X-Men Red
Hot off the heels of finishing a critically acclaimed run on “Immortal Hulk” and picking up after “S.W.O.R.D.,” Al Ewing is joined by collaborators Stefano Caselli and Federico Blee for the latest X-Book: “X-Men: Red.” Along with with additional art from Juann Cabal, Andrés Genolet, Michael Sta. Maria, and Madibek Musabekov—not to mention covers by Russell Dauterman and Matt Wilson. It’s no surprise we here at Multiversity love this book, we called it out back in June as a book you should not miss.
“X-Men: Red” embraces all the weird nooks and crannies of Marvel history and continues to expand the cosmic side of the X-Men mythos. Fitting in seamlessly into the post-Hickman status quo, the titular Red is in reference to our neighboring planet Mars, or as it is known to the mutants who have terraformed it: Arakko. These aren’t your normal Krakoan mutants.
The book has an excellent cast utilized incredibly well. The book does one of the best jobs in recent memory of showing why Magneto and Storm are revered as two of the most powerful mutants. But it’s not just the big names that are given attention. The Arakkii people are given depth and culture throughout the book.
Being a major X-Book means it needs to navigate crossovers and X-Men: Red does this superbly. It links up with the Avengers, X-Men, Eternals: Judgement Day crossover only 5 issues into the run. The book does what is always promised with a tie-in book: adding to the crossover in compelling ways without bogging it down. There are times when the book outshines the rest of the crossover especially with Magneto’s role.
The book continues the Hickman tradition of data pages and Ewing does this remarkably well, with our review of issue six even calling it ‘worth the price of admission.’
X-Men have been one of comic’s biggest franchises consistently for decades and books like “X-Men: Red” show that this isn’t stopping anytime soon. – Matthew Vincenty