Raf’s Favorite Comics of the Year (So Far) 1.5.2022

Happy New Year, and Happy New Comic Book Day CNJ Shoppers! I hope everyone had a fun and safe New Year’s celebration. It was laid back for me; my parents came into town and we played Cards Against Humanity with my girlfriend, which was fun, but I did not realize how sick and twisted my mom could be. And I always thought my sense of humor came from my dad! As the holidays wind down, and we all get back to our regularly scheduled lives, we’ve got some great comics this week at the shop to help escape some of those back-to-reality blues. We’ve got a few finales, some new happenings in Gotham City, and also a fan favorite Image book back with a new one-shot. Let’s jump into things.

Marvel Comics

The finale to Jonathan Hickman’s X-Men run, it’s Inferno #4 this week. Hickman has introduced a whole lot of new ideas and concepts to the mutant universe, and now he brings the story he began way back in House and Powers of X to a close. Mystique’s wife Destiny is back and on the Quiet Council of Krakoa, but Charles, Erik, and Moira couldn’t be less thrilled about it. The three of them have been playing with fire for far too long, keeping secrets and playing by their own rules, and they might not be the only ones who get burned in the end. I’m excited to see things wrap up before the X-line moves onto its next phase in the coming months.

The Darkhold miniseries has been exciting, with an Alpha issue kicking things off followed by several dark one-shots that showed some of our favorite Marvel heroes corrupted as we’ve seen before, but now there is only Omega. The Darkhold Omega brings together Spider-Man, Black Bolt, Blade, Wasp, and Iron Man to try to finally defeat the dread elder god Chthon, and this book also promises to introduce a new hero to the fold. After the final pages of Timeless last week, I’ve really got my eyes peeled on what’s coming up in the Marvel Universe. 

It’s been one of the more popular current trends in comics, the color-toned miniseries, and this week it’s Elektra stepping into the Black, White, and Blood spotlight. “Fact • noun • fakt – Definition of Fact 1 a: something that has actual existence b: an actual occurrence c: ELEKTRA NATCHIOS IS THE BEST ASSASSIN IN THE MARVEL UNIVERSE!” Issue one features stories written by Declan Shalvey, Leonardo Romero, and Charles Soule and art from Mark Bagley, Romero, and Simone D’Armini. And a variant cover from Mirka Andolfo!

DC Comics

Tom Taylor’s epic fantasy reimagining of the DC Universe continues this week in Dark Knights of Steel #3. Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, and more are all cast in a time of sword and shield, and all-out war is brewing between the House of El and the Kingdom of Storms. Both sides have suffered casualties, but now Bruce is closing in on a secret that will change everything. Taylor is a shop favorite and we’ll rep just about anything he does, especially his work at DC at the moment. We’re only a few issues into this 12-issue maxiseries, but honestly, not enough people are reading this right now. It’s terrific and full of surprises and twists, and after the cliffhanger from the last issue, I’m excited to see what’s going to happen next. Get on it!

After the events of A-Day and Fear State, Gotham has been through a whole hell of a lot. But now “The Tower” begins. A new 12-part weekly storyline told through the pages of Detective Comics begins this week with issue #1047. “Arkham Asylum has fallen, and in its place, Arkham Tower has risen in the heart of the city, a pitch made by the mysterious Dr. Wear. Unlike the Asylum, Dr. Wear promises his methods and drug treatments will heal Gotham’s criminally inclined for good—a claim that skeptics like Deb Donovan and the Bat-Family don’t believe. There’s something wrong with the tower, with Dr. Wear’s methods—and with Batman away from Gotham City, the rest of the Bat-Family is going to find out what… but not before everything explodes.” Mariko Tamaki continues her groundbreaking run on Detective, and stepping in for art this issue is Ivan Reis. We also have a new 12-part backup storyline debuting in this issue called “House of Gotham” that explores the connection between Batman and Arkham Asylum and their shared impact on the city. A new beginning for Gotham and the Bat-Family.

Small Press

Nocterra is Scott Snyder and Tony Daniel’s action horror thrill ride that just recently wrapped up it’s first story arc, and now returns this week with a special one-shot that details the origin of the mysterious and sinister Black Top Bill. This special is drawn by the legendary Denys Cowan and is perfect for fans of Nocterra, or those looking to check out the universe before the series comes back with its second story arc next month. The first trade paperback is also available now too in the store.

“Three dead bodies lay in a rural morgue – all murdered in the span of three weeks. It’s up to two detectives from opposite sides of the tracks to determine who put them there, if the murders are linked and what, if anything, they have to do with a pair of dueling car dealerships. A dark comedy mystery thriller by Jeff McComsey (Grendel, Kentucky) and Mike Deodato Jr. (The Amazing Spider-Man, The Resistance) that is inspired by an outlandish true crime story, The Fourth Man story will keep you guessing till the last page.” AWA has been putting out some fantastic stories recently, and The Fourth Man looks to keep that streak going. It’s a new four-issue mini that is giving me some cool Fargo vibes. Definitely worth a check for the first issue.

Frontiersman has been my top underrated indie book of the past few months. A superhero story that’s not hung up on the capes and heroics of its characters, but the relationships and history between our lead hero, the Frontiersman, and his friends and foes. Each issue so far has had a villain of the week feel, but with fun twists and great world-building. The Frontiersman is older now and making a statement about the world, but characters from his past keep showing up and reminding him just what it means to be a hero. Issue #4 is this week, and I’m eagerly waiting for the trade paperback to come out so more of you can read it. Keep an eye out for this one, it’s really good.

And those are just some of the new comics to kick-off 2022. One thing I hope everyone does this year is try something new, both inside the comic shop and out. To kick off my year, I wanted to try getting into a new hobby. All the guys at the shop are big Lego nuts, but they’re a little too expensive for me and take up a lot of space too. And since I’m the resident manga and anime guy apparently at the shop, I decided to lean into it and get my first couple Gunpla kits. AND I AM HOOKED. I’m already planning my next kit to build. We hope to see you all around this week, have a good one.