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The best comics of January 2022: Saga's return, Inferno finale, DC's One-Star Squadron & more
Catching up on your reading? These were our favorites comics from January 2022.
A new year is upon us, and if one of your resolutions in 2022 was "Read more comics," you're in luck. The first month of 2022 brought with it several major releases, from the resolutions of big winter events to the launch of new high-concept genre series to the long-awaited return of one of the best comics of the past decade. But if you're still catching up on your January reading, where do you start? We're here to help.
At long last, the beloved space opera series from Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples is back, with its first new issue in three years after what was originally announced as a yearlong hiatus. That long, long wait meant there was a lot riding on this new issue, which picks up with a major time jump and establishes and a new status quo for several major characters in the series, and everyone wondered if the passage of time would dim the sense of magic that hung over the series when it began. Thankfully, it's evident from the very first page that Vaughan and Staples haven't lost a step. Gorgeous, poetic, and full of surprises both pleasant and violent, Saga #55 makes it feel like the book never left.
Jonathan Hickman's tenure as "Head of X" over at Marvel comes to a close with the final issue of his Inferno event, which followed the mutants of Krakoa as they dealt with the fallout of various secrets behind the nation's founding which rose to the surface amid Mystique's quest for Justice. Like so many of the X-events in the days since House of X and Powers of X arrived, Inferno was packed with political intrigue, rising tension, and the kind of worldbuilding that speaks to the years of planning behind the Krakoan age. In the end, Hickman didn't necessarily burn the whole place down, but he did leave a compelling new status quo in place for his fellow X-creators to pick up. Throw in beautiful art from Valerio Schiti, and you've got a can't-miss event finale.
Speaking of compelling finales, there's the last issue of Jeff Lemire's elegant, layered and deeply emotional new solo miniseries, Mazebook. The story of a man struggling with grief who begins to feel his lost daughter calling out to him through the puzzle books she used to love, it's a comic packed with gracefully realized design and character work, all building to a finale that reaches out and grabs you by the heart. Though its subject matter is undoubtedly intimate and tightly focused, Mazebook ranks as one of Lemire's most ambitious projects ever thanks to the sheer force of craft and heart that's gone into it.
We Ride Titans #1
The debut issue of We Ride Titans from writer Tres Dean and artist Sebastian Piriz is basically "What if the Jaeger pilots of Pacific Rim were all just deeply damaged people?" It's a great hook, but what's evident from the earliest moments of this issue is that Dean and Piriz aren't content to coast on the promise of a really cool setup. Piriz's art brings out the high-concept awe of the mechs vs. monsters part of the book right away, but We Ride Titans works best when it leans into the character study it's trying to unpack, a story of generational trauma and legacy with a heavy genre punch. It feels like the start of something great.
Joe Hill's Rain #1
Writer David M. Booher and artist Zoe Thorogood take on adaptation duties for Joe Hill's novella Rain, and the results are immediately spectacular. The story of a young woman whose perfect love story is about to take a big step forward, only to be interrupted by a mysterious rain of deadly crystal shards, Booher and Thorogood are able to immediately and convincingly give the story emotional roots from which they can grow the rest of the ambitious narrative. Thorogood's art is particularly captivating, the kind of work that makes even the most grotesque images into gorgeous displays of craft, and Booher's script retains a heartwrenching thru-line that keeps you hooked right up until the last page. The second issue can't come fast enough.
One-Star Squadron #2
The premise of One-Star Squadron is simple: Red Tornado and Power Girl round up a bunch of D-list superheroes and create an app that allows people to hire them out for everything from security jobs to birthday parties. That's fun to think about, but in the hands of writer Mark Russell and artist Steve Lieber it becomes another superhero comedy classic in the making. While issue #1 laid out the premise and set the primary cast, issue #2 picks up on a story with a heavy focus on the hero known as Minute Man, who's struggling with his place in the world after falling on hard times. Throw in some jockeying for position among the company leadership, and you've got a fantastic superhero satire that's both bittersweet and achingly funny. It gets better with every page, and feels like the kind of run that will hit plenty of "Best Of" lists by the time the year is over.
Silver City: The Complete Series
If you're a trade waiter heading to the shop to pick up some collections, I recommend giving this supernatural series from writer Olivia Cuartero-Briggs and artist Luca Merli a try. The story of a woman who arrives in the afterlife and finds it a gritty, mystery-laden metropolis, it's packed with fascinating worldbuilding, great characters, and pacing that'll keep you turning the pages. It's the perfect read for a weekend afternoon.