As 2022 comes to a close we continue our celebration of what a great year of comic books and manga are. We’ve revealed what our Best Manga, Best Shonen Jump Covers, Best Comic Book Single Issues, Best Comic Book Series, Best Comic Book Moments are. Now its time to talk about what the Best Comic Book Stories of 2022. There were a lot of great stories that were told throughout 2022. From big events, such as Dark Crisis On Infinite Earths and A.X.E.: Judgment Day, to franchise focused events such as Wonder Woman: Trial Of The Amazons. With that in mind I’ve put together the 5 Best Comic Book Storylines that concluded in 2022.
5) THOR: GOD OF HAMMERS
Comic Books Story Told: Thor (2020) #19 to Thor (2020) #24
Writers: Donny Cates, Walter Simonson, Dan Jurgens, J. Michael Straczynski, Al Ewing, and Jason Aaron
Artists: Nic Klein, Walter Simonson, Dan Jurgens, Oliver Coipel, Lee Garbett, and Pas Pastoras
Inker: Klaus Janson
Colorists: Matt Wilson, Laura Martin, Matt Milla, Alejandro Sanchez, and Antonio Fabela
Letterers: Joe Sabino and John Workman
Editor: Wil Moss
Assistant Editors: Kat Gregorowicz and Kaitlyn Lindtvedt
Associate Editor: Alanna Smith
What’s The Story?
Finding he can’t properly wield Mjolnir Thor left his hammer at Avengers Mountain while he focused on his responsibilities as All-Father of Asgard. Not long after someone steals Mjolnir without anyone noticing. With the prophecy of a “God Of Hammers” killing the King of Asgard in mind Thor recruits Odin to help him find whoever stole Mjolnir. This leads Thor and Odin on an adventure across the realms and when they find Mjolnir they clash with its new wielder going by the name of God of Hammers. With the God of Hammers growing in power Thor, Avengers, Fantastic Four, and X-Men must face this new God killer being wield Mjolnir.
Why Its Must-Read?
The more time we’ve seen Thor spend as All-Father of Asgard after The War Of The Realms event the more disconnected he felt from those around him. That was due to all the responsibilities he had plus the prophecy Black Winter left him at the end of their conflict that foresaw a dark future that included Thanos wielding an Infinity Stone powered Mjolnir, wearing a Symbiote gauntlet, and leading a horde of Marvel Zombies.
That is where God Of Hammers comes in as the biggest challenge for Thor’s reign since Black Winter. A previous elder God known as God Tempest, God Of Hammers wasn’t simply another villain challenging Thor’s position as All-Father. God Of Hammers tapped into Asgard’s past as in its previous form as God Tempest brought up even more of Odin’s past to the forefront.
That led to Thor and Odin exploring their father-son relationship now that both have experience as All-Father of Asgard. Over the course of the story we get a lot of great father-son moments as well as a deeper dive into Odin’s decisions when he passed the title of All-Father to Thor. Including a major moment caused by the results of the clash with God of Hammers that all left Thor to possibly dive deeper into his solitary way of doing things.
The results led to a great aftermath issue that coincided with Thor’s 750th legacy comic book issue that brought back Walter Simonson, Dan Jurgens, J. Michael Straczynski, Al Ewing, and Jason Aaron to tell new Thor stories. The way their Thor stories related to what Donny Cates and Nic Klein did during God of Hammers set Thor’s future to have even more questions to the weight of the dark future prophecy the current All-Father of Asgard has been dealing with.
4) X-MEN: INFERNO
Comic Books Story Told: Inferno (2021) #1 to Inferno (2021) #4
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artists: Valerio Schiti, R.B. Silva, and Stefano Caselli
Inker: Adriano Di Benedetto
Colorist: David Curiel
Letterer: Joe Sabino
Editor: Jordan D White
Assistant Editor: Lauren Amaro
Associate Editor: Annalise Bissa
What’s The Story?
After using Moira MacTaggert’s knowledge to create their mutant utopia she, Charles Xavier, and Magneto decided not to resurrect Destiny because of the threat she is to Moira. This ends up being their worst mistake as Mystique eventually is tired of Xavier and Magneto stringing her along that she takes resurrecting Destiny into her own hands. Now with Mystique working against them Moira, Xavier, and Magneto try to clean things up but as they do that ORCHIS is also ready to launch the next phase of their plan. All of this brings everything that Jonathan Hickman has built throughout his run on the X-Men franchise to a head.
Why Its Must-Read?
From the beginning of Hickman’s X-Men era we saw Xavier, Magneto, and Moira fully believe in what they built with Krakoa had a strong foundation based on everything learned from all the previous lives of Moira X. Over that time since House of X and Powers of X we got signs that while Xavier, Magneto, and Moira put a lot of thought and care into creating Krakoa it wasn’t without its cracks created by the secrets the trio kept.
The biggest is the reason why they didn’t resurrect Destiny no matter how many times Mystique requested. And one of the things to know when it comes to the X-Men franchise is that Mystique is not to be messed with. This is obviously something Xavier, Magneto, and Moira forgot and it is what created the snowball effect that changed the course of Krakoa’s direction during Inferno.
As the conclusion to his run Hickman along with artists R.B. Silva, Stefano Caselli brought things full circles as Xavier, Magneto, and Moira found out the consequences to all their secret keeping. In the process we saw major changes to how Krakoa operates, specifically with the Quiet Council. The reaction shots for the major moments of this event elevated the various actions characters took throughout the event. It all led to this latest X-Men event truly live up to the name of the series, Inferno.
What Hickman left was a new status quo that future X-Men creative teams can build on. In addition to the changes to Krakoa’s Quiet Council the threat of ORCHIS grew stronger. Leaving behind a franchise not only stronger but something future creative teams can build on is a true sign of how successful Hickman’s run on the X-Men franchise was.
3) POWER RANGERS: CHARGE TO 100
Comic Books Story Told: Mighty Morphin #18 to Mighty Morphin #22; Power Rangers #18 to Power Rangers #22; Power Rangers Unlimited: The Death Ranger; Power Rangers Unlimited: Countdown To Ruin; Mighty Morphin Power Rangers #100
Writers: Mat Groom, Ryan Parrott, Paul Allor, and Marguerite Bennett
Artists: Moises Hidalgo, Marco Renna, Kath Lobo, Anna Kekovsky Chandra, Giuseppe Cafaro, Francesco Mortarino, and Dan Mora
Colorists: Raul Angulo, Walter Baiamonte, Sharon Marino, Sara Antonellini, and Fabi Marques
Letterer: Ed Dukeshire
Editor: Dafna Pleban
Assistant Editor: Gwen Waller
What’s The Story:
Still dealing with the fallout from the Elterian War, the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers work to rebuild the Command Center. As they do that the Automaton Dominion King Aradon, father of Princess Archerina who was the wife of the Machine Empire’s Prince Gasket, invasion of Earth. Afterwards Kimberly, who learned about the Shattered Grid events from Trini, deals with and comes to terms with her legacy as a Power Ranger with Tommy and Billy’s help.
Meanwhile the Omega Rangers come into contact with Andros and help him save prisoners taken from Dark Spectre’s invasion of KO-35. After Jason deals with the death of his mother the Omega Rangers go on to help Andros recover the Astro Megaship. This all leads to both the Omega Rangers and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers clashing with the Death Ranger, a threat previously imprisoned for centuries with ties to the original Omega Rangers.
Why Its Must-Read:
The “Charge To 100” was yet another example of how the comic books are able to tackle future Power Rangers plot elements and expand on the universe as a whole. With Mighty Morphin we started with an expansion of the Machine Empire story from Power Rangers Zeo as Mat Groom and Moises Hidalgo introduced the Automaton Dominion. The Automation Dominion were only mentioned by Zordon in one episode of Power Rangers Zeo when talking about the Machine Empire exploits. The way it was handled not only expanded on what we know from the Power Rangers Zeo season but also gave greater look at how Dark Specter’s United Alliance of Evil worked, or in some cases didn’t work, together.
But what really took “Charge To 100” to the next level is how this story arc examined the legacy being left by the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. The biggest example of that was how Kimberly took in learning about the events of Shattered Grid, specifically that there would be future Power Rangers after them. At first we see Kimberly take this hard as she took this knowledge as that they are easily replaceable. But as the story went along and Kimberly went through an event that showed her the true legacy she and the others started with the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers we got a fantastic character arc and one of the most hype moments in Power Rangers history.
Its in these character arcs that were within “Charge To 100” that the event hit on the level of the previous big Power Rangers comic book stories. Along with Kimberly we had Jason dealing with personal tragedy that tested him not just as a Power Ranger but as a person. We also got Andros pre-Power Rangers In Space that dove into what he was like before that season, specifically in the one-shot Power Rangers Unlimited: Countdown To Ruin. Then there is the big bad of “Charge To 100” with the newly introduced Death Ranger’s own tragic backstory building them up to be a villain you understood their motivation while wanting to see the Power Rangers defeat.
Though he is still working on the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers/Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II series, “Charge To 100” was a strong conclusion to Ryan Parrott run on the main Power Rangers comic book series. Along with Groom, Paul Allor, Marguerite Bennett, Moises Hidalgo, Marco Renna, Kath Lobo, Anna Kekovsky Chandra, and Giuseppe Cafaro, “Charge To 100” delivered moment after moment for Power Rangers’ fans to remember.
2) DETECTIVE COMICS: SHADOWS OF THE BAT
Comic Books Story Told: Detective Comics 2021 Annual; Detective Comics #1047 to Detective Comics #1058
Writer: Mariko Tamaki and Matthew Rosenberg
Artist: Ivan Reis, Fernando Blanco, Max Raynor, and Amancay Nahuelpan
Inker: Dany Miki
Colorist: Brad Anderson, Jordie Bellaire, and Luis Guerrero
Letterer: Ariana Maher and Rob Leigh
Editor: Paul Kaminski
Associate Editor: Dave Wielgosz
What’s The Story?
In the aftermath of the Fear State event Bruce Wayne is forced to leave Gotham City to deal with Lex Luthor purchasing Batman Incorporated while he was busy as Batman. As the Batman Family work to defend Gotham City a new facility called Arkham Tower is constructed with an announced mission as a mental institution for those who need therapy, including the criminally insane. Their investigation leads the Batman Family to discover connections between the rising gang activity, Arkham Tower, Gotham City’s government, and a Batman Rogues Gallery member that could destroy Gotham City that was still recovering from the instability Fear State caused to the city.
Why Its Must-Read?
Bruce Wayne’s timing to leave Gotham City wasn’t the best given how unstable Gotham City became after City of Bane, Joker War, and Fear State happened back-to-back. But in his absence we saw what a Gotham City without “Batman” would be like. To the Batman’s Family credit they handle such a tough time in Gotham City’s history as well if not better than if Bruce as Batman was still around to help.
While the whole situation with Arkham Tower made things difficult the Batman Family uniting to protect Gotham City shows the strength of the legacy Bruce has created. They all stepped up to do exactly what Bruce mentored them to do with Batwoman, Nightwing, and Oracle taking the lead as you expect the three of them to do. More than anything we saw with Shadows of the Bat that Batman’s legacy isn’t just about the cape and the cowl. It is with the people Bruce has trained, mentored, and worked with to ensure Gotham City always has a protector even if Batman isn’t around. Even when Bruce does finally show up as Batman he wasn’t the difference maker. He just happened to provide some additional back-up as the story came to a close.
We also saw with the main and back-up stories that both Mariko Tamaki and Matthew Rosenberg dove into more of the history of Gotham City. The back-up telling a story that took place over the course of Bruce’s career as Batman enhanced what we saw with the main story. We see how Gotham City is place that changes people as much as it changes in its structure. We saw that with the main story itself showing how those in power can be easily used by Batman’s rogues gallery.
1) BLACK WIDOW: DIE BY THE BLADE
Comic Books Story Told: Black Widow (2020) #11 to Black Widow (2020) #15
Writer: Kelly Thompson
Artist: Rafael De Latorre, Elena Casagrande, and Rafael T. Pimentel
Inker: Elisabetta D’Amico and Rafael T. Pimentel
Colorist: Jordie Bellaire
Letterer: Cory Petit
Editor: Susan Brunstad
Assistant Editor: Kat Gregorowicz
What’s The Story?
Natasha Romanoff leads Yelena Bolova, Bucky Barnes, Clint Barton, Anya Corazon, and Lucy Nguyen on a mission to infiltrate the Golden Gate Gala, a “charity event” with its true organizers secretly selling imprisoned superhumans. As the team confirms the questionable lead being true Natasha runs into the Living Blade, someone she barely survived her first encounter with during her early days as Black Widow. With all this happening Black Widow’s team is in a race against the clock to stop the host of the Golden Gate Gala and Living Blade.
Why Its Must-Read?
With everything Natasha Romanoff went through during her latest ongoing series “Die By The Blade” provided a proper conclusion Kelly Thompson, Rafael De Latorre, Elena Casagrande, and Rafael T. Pimentel run. Throughout the story Natasha deals with the weight of the knowledge of the family she loves and had to let go. Having been a solo act for most of her life that wasn’t easy thing to do and we see that pop up throughout the story.
It’s in that examination that we get to see how important Yelena Bolova, Bucky Barnes, Clint Barton, Anya Corazon, and Lucy Nguyen have all become to Natasha. Even if she holds herself back in showing it the events of “Die By The Blade” open Natasha’s eyes to how without realizing it she has created a new family. This family isn’t just another superhero one like the Avengers. They are all people she has a close connection that differs but all unite around being a strong support system for her. In turn we see Natasha building up the Black Widow name along with her sister Yelena as something that will leave a positive legacy beyond either of them.
Adding to what makes “Die By The Blade” such a standout story is the fantastic villain the newly introduced Living Blade was. Thompson and Rafael T. Pimentel flashback story in Black Widow #13 did a fantastic job creating a backstory for Living Blade that you fully bought into him being Black Widow’s deadliest villain. That is further proven with how deadly he is presented in the present with the multiple fights he has with Natasha and Yelena throughout the second half of the storyline.
And for all the great writing by Thompson its Rafael De Latorre, Elena Casagrande, and Rafael T. Pimentel that takes the story to the next level. Each of them provide some of the best artwork you will find in any comic book. Jordie Bellaire coloring and Elisabetta D’Amico inking further adds to how wonderful the artwork is. The storytelling through all the action choreography and characters facial reactions is stunning.
This all leads to “Die By The Blade” being a fantastic way to end the latest Black Widow ongoing. By the end you are left hoping this isn’t the last time Thompson, Latorre, Casagrande, and Pimente work together on a Black Widow story or another Marvel series. It is a must read story in a must-read creative run.