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2022 Year in Review: Best One-Shot

By | December 16th, 2022
Posted in Columns | % Comments

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.

We love a good one-shot here at Multiversity Comics. Big Two superhero comics use one-shots to spotlight the sort of character who isn’t likely to get a movie any time soon. Sometimes, creator owned books will take a break from their usual format and do something different. Whatever the intent, a one-shot is good like a short story is good. With such limited space there’s not time to mess around; great one-shots have a strong central point and they make it, clearly and concisely. Here are our favorite one-shot issues from 2022.

3. X-Men: Hellfire Gala

In its second year, the X-Men’s Hellfire Gala went a little less elegantly for the nation of Krakoa, but for the readers it was perfect. The shorter format changed the narrative into a sharper story that manages to prime everything across the X-Line in 60-ish pages. Duggan uses the comic really deftly by providing a display of what this incarnation of the Krakoa era looks like one year after the advent of Planet Arakko. The rotating art team here of CF Villa, Matteo Lolli, Kris Anka and Russell Dauterman also are at their peak, leaning into expression to bring the mass of new costume designs to life. Plus Anka and Dauterman have been notably absent from interior art over the past years, making this a treat.

The X-Men has always been a soap opera in disguise, the catty barside conversations here just play to that lineage, and provide a wonderful character showcase at the same time. The Gala basically gets to be the new Swimsuit Special, novelty costumes and all. In terms of designs, which Dauterman did the majority of, the stand-outs are Emma Frost (obviously), Mr Sinister (more obviously), Magik, Kitty Pryde, Black Widow and Doctor Doom, who must have designed his own costume.

Despite the story-building piled on the book, there’s a lot of space here purely left to be fun, we get Doom and Spider-Man fighting over whether David Bowie could be a mutant, check in with Gwenpool, and even get a weirdly long Jon Hamm cameo.

“Hellfire Gala” is an exceptional comic, and a real spectacle for the healthy state of Marvel’s X-Line. Get excited for the new X-Men election and see you at the Gala next year. – James Dowling

2. Goodbye, Eri

In all fairness, “Goodbye, Eri” is more than a one-shot. Yes, it was released in one batch within the pages of Shonen Jump, and no, it didn’t have any antecedents or sequels. But a 200-page story can do more than a prestige format book or a standard floppy can. And Tatsuki Fujimoto takes advantage of that and does a staggering amount in the pages of “Goodbye, Eri.” But, it must be said that this one-shot is at minimum twice as long as any other book that got voted on.

OK, with that out of the way, let’s properly celebrate Fujimoto’s work. “Goodbye, Eri” is a staggering gut punch of a story, dealing with memory, guilt, living for someone else, art criticism, surrealism, and advocacy. The story that is being read is opaque when discerning realism, but crystal clear emotionally. “Goodbye, Eri” feels like someone telling you their story, with all the inherent flaws and contradictions that come from unreliable narrators forged by perspective and bias.

Through all of this, Fujimoto’s art is a beacon with which we can find our way back ‘home.’ His characters are semi-transparent vessels, wearing their emotions and fears on their faces. Even when the reality of what is presented is in question, Fujimoto’s art reminds you that, for the character, in the moment, it feels very real. There’s no panel in this story that feels forced or false.

Like all good art, “Goodbye, Eri” forces an inward appraisal. Like all great art, “Goodbye, Eri” leaves room for that appraisal to merge with the work itself, forging an unbreakable bond between reader and text. And you can’t usually do that in 22 pages, so sometimes, 200 works. – Brian Salvatore

Continued below

1. Batman: One Bad Day: The Riddler

I think what took me the most by surprise when it came to this one-shot, is how unexpectedly different it is from what one might expect from what we have gotten with Riddler origin stories in the past. Take it as an Elseworlds or your new favorite take on the main canon Riddler origins, it doesn’t matter. What does matter is that it’s another example of the excellent story crafting and well thought out writing that fans have come to expect from Tom King. His ability to take characters and worlds that have always walked the line of fantasy and reality, and uniquely blur that line into something new, but familiar is something I hope readers have not started taking for granted.

This series of one-shots focusing on the most famous members of Batman’s Rogues Gallery is an exercise in taking a previous, if briefly, explored concept that anyone can be fundamentally changed, normally for the worse (i.e. evil) after having just one truly bad day. It was first brought up in Alan Moore’s lauded, if not overrated, “Batman: The Killing Joke” in which the Joker posits the idea to Batman, and even more-so Jim and Barbara Gordon.

King, teaming up once again with artist Mitch Gerads, give us a perfectly layered story involving the Riddler creating One Bad Day for someone random, changing up his M.O. completely, and pushing Jim Gordon and Batman to their limits causing them to question everything they thought they knew about Edward Nygma. Readers are thrust between the present day set of murders and riddles while also following Eddie through memories throughout his life that begins to paint a picture as to why he is the way he is. Some of it seems to just be who he was born to be, while there are plenty of outside factors that clearly molded him for the worse, most notably his rich and powerful father who treats Eddie like nothing more than a little robot made to live the life he believes is best for his son. It’s dark, bleak, and takes us on quite a journey that even befuddles Batman from time to time. Making it one of the must-read Riddler stories of the modern era. This is a dense comic in the best ways possible. There is a lot of plot without feeling padded, Gerads’s signature nine panel pages juxtaposed with his gorgeous splash pages brings about the feeling of a sprawling tale and allows the eye to focus on the terror and claustrophobic nature of the story.

When picking up this issue on release day I thought I’d be getting nothing more than a well made, but typical Riddler story, and got something quite different. It may not be what I thought I wanted, but it is the kind of story we deserve and should get more of in the future. Between King’s emotionally complex and psychologically prodding script and Gerads’s beautifully detailed and colored panels, of that there are many, this is truly one of, if not the, best one-shot of 2022. – Christopher Egan

//TAGS | 2022 Year in Review

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