2021 was a banner year for the comic industry, even amidst the ongoing pandemic, paper supply issues, and supply chain shortages, proving that people are buying and reading comics. Marvel Comics finally wrapped up some of its bestselling comics’ initial runs, such as The Immortal Hulk, Black Cat, Daredevil, and Hellions. DC Comics thrived with creators like Ram V, James Tynion V, and Cliff Chiang, and Bruno Redondo at the helm. Indie comic creators flexed their skills with game-changing series without constraints.
2022 promises to strike lightning yet again as ongoing series continue and new first issues glimmer on the horizon with potential. An impetus to read helps level the vertiginous emotional flux we may be experiencing as the world haphazardly rages on. Below you can find a variety of 15 highly anticipated comic trades collecting comic issues you’ll dive into without any impulse to resurface back into reality. Note that release dates are tentative. These estimated dates are pulled from various sources and may change at any time due to paper shortages or printing delays.
1. Aquaman: The Becoming – Brandon Thomas, Diego Olortegui, Wade Von Grawbadger, Adriano Lucas & AndWorld Design
DC Comics’ Aquaman may not have found much popularity since his inception in 1959, but his successor made waves in the recent character revamp series from 2021. Aqualad Jackson Hyde, son of villain Black Manta, takes up the Aquaman mantle in Aquaman: The Becoming.
Aquaman: The Becoming sets up a potential future for the young Black, gay superhero. Jackson Hyde lives in Amnesty Bay, training in Atlantis with the support of his mentor, Aquaman. After a shadowy figure stalks Jackson as he meets his mother for lunch and flirts with a waiter, Jackson returns to find his private training facility decimated. Collecting the full six-issue miniseries, Aquaman: The Becoming follows Aqualad’s journey to prove his innocence after being accused of blowing up the facility. Brought to brilliant life with illustrations that render the sea realistically in a shimmering aquamarine colour palette, readers can purchase the trade collection midway through the year.
2. By the Horns Vol. 1 – Markisan Naso, Jason Muhr & Andrei Tabacaru
By the Horns from Scout Comics released its first issue in 2021 and quickly established itself as a breathtakingly illustrated epic SFF story. Sci-fi, fantasy, and technology cross over effortlessly in the series without sacrificing the human emotional core at its crux. This is an ongoing comic series about revenge, grief, trauma, and commitments to fulfilling expectations. By the Horns releases its first trade collection in February.
Surprisingly for fans, this first volume is an oversized hardcover collecting issues #1-8. Elodie’s sojourn across the continent to enact revenge against the unicorns who murdered her husband, and defeat four wind sorcerers extracting the land’s magic will pave the way for an ethereal, page-turning read with this collected hardcover edition. Transport yourself into By the Horns’ glimmering universe this February in one of the best current comics on the shelves.
3. Death of Doctor Strange – Jed MacKay, Lee Garbett, Antonio Fabela, & VC’s Cory Petit
The MCU Doctor Strange has continually functioned as a prime character throughout the last few years in Marvel films. Also receiving recognition in modern comics, Earth’s Sorcerer Supreme’s life is explored in the five-issue miniseries, Death of Doctor Strange from Marvel Comics.
Current Moon Knight (2021-) comic writer Jed MacKay writes a compelling mystery story about Doctor Stephen Strange’s murder by a mysterious figure. Left without Strange to defend Earth’s barrier against otherworldly and magical threats, mystical other-dimensional beings invade the planet. Illustrated and lettered by a splendid artistic team, any Marvel fan should pick up this comedic murder-mystery trade in a few months.
4. The Flintstones Deluxe Edition – Mark Russell, Steve Pugh, Chris Chuckry, & Dave Sharpe
The Flintstones comic adapted the famous Hanna-Barbera cartoon into a hilarious 12-issue maxiseries running from 2016 to 2017. Now in 2022, for the first time, the entire comic series will be collected in a Deluxe Edition hardcover trade with an estimated release date of early February.
Part of DC’s attempt to revitalise and satirise old Hanna-Barbera television properties, The Flintstones comics garnered massive acclaim for the Hanna-Barbera Beyond comic line. Master satirist Mark Russell and stellar artist Steve Pugh take readers back to meet the Flintstones with a new origin story. Fred Flintstone’s PTSD as a war veteran shapes his response to life. Innovations and religion rock the town of Bedrock, and Wilma attempts to carve out independence through artistic pursuits. Dark comedy, obvious 21st-century parallels, and a tragic B-story regarding an adorable animal vacuum cleaner chisel out a potent reboot for the classic sitcom.
5. House of Slaughter Vol. 1 – James Tynion IV, Tate Brombal, Werther Dell’Edera, Chris Shehan, Miquel Muerto, & AndWorld Design
Before the inimitable Erica Slaughter defied rules to save the children of Archer’s Peak in the Something Is Killing the Children comics, her handler Aaron Slaughter faced monsters of his own. Adding esteemed writer Tate Brombal and rising artist Chris Shehan to the creative team, the prequel BOOM! Studios comic series explores monster slayer Aaron Slaughter’s story.
House of Slaughter takes readers inside the eponymous order homing existing and potential monster-hunting members. Readers learn more about the lurid history shaping the Order of St. George and the life of eventual Black Mask member, Aaron Slaughter. Monsters pervade the shadows, trauma infects its members with its poisonous grasp, and romance blooms between Aaron and his rival House of Slaughter recruit in this new Something is Killing the Children series. House of Slaughter Vol. 1 collects issues #1-5 of the haunting story with an expected release date sometime in June.
6. Life Is Strange: Settling Dust – Emma Vieceli, Claudia Leonardi, Andrea Izzo, Richard Starkings, and Comicraft’s Jimmy Betancourt
Based on the phenomenon video game series, the Life Is Strange comic run finally reaches its satisfying conclusion with its sixth volume. The sci-fi time-traveling saga from Titan Comics split lovers Max Caufield and Chloe Price apart for over a dozen emotionally tumultuous comic issues.
Long-time fans receive a tear-jerking ending to mend their tattered hearts with Life Is Strange: Settling Dust. This series captures the video games’ tone, characters, and thematic resonance, while narratively and visually advancing the gorgeous love story between Max and Chloe. The trade includes issues #1-4 from the Settling Dust run, as well as the continuing backup stories following the new Life Is Strange: True Colors video game protagonist, Alex Chen. Readers can complete their Life Is Strange comic book collection with Settling Dust in March 2022.
7. Nubia & The Amazons — Vita Ayala, Stephanie Williams, Alitha Martinez, Mark Morales, & Emilio Lopez
A Wonder Woman renaissance sent necessary shockwaves across the comic industry in 2021. DC Comics greenlit and released a millennia-spanning origin story regarding Amazon history through their Black Label imprint with Wonder Woman: Historia. And adding to the Wonder Woman comic pantheon, miniseries Nubia & the Amazons stars the new queen of Themyscira, Nubia. Vita Alaya has been killing the writing game with their comic scripts pushing Black superheroes to the forefront like in Static: Season One, and now Nubia & The Amazons.
Former longest-reigning guardian of Doom’s Doorway, Nubia ascends to the throne in Themyscira. The Queen of the Amazons takes Hippolyta’s place after Hippolyta decided to join the Justice League during the events in Infinite Frontier #0. A group of women enters Themyscira through the Well of Souls for the first time since Nubia. As queen, Nubia welcomes the diverse warriors into their matriarchal society. But an old evil begins preying on the Amazon women, and Nubia feels unsure in her recently appointed authoritative role. The sublime six-issue miniseries debuts later in 2022 and sets up the upcoming ‘Trial of the Amazons’ comic event.
8. Porcelain — Maria Llovet
Writer and artist Maria Llovet regularly challenges comic conventions with her psychedelic, mystifying sequential art stories. Each comic she writes imbues specific aesthetics to evoke a disorienting sense of surrealism and quiet mystery. Released internationally for the first time, Llovet’s Porcelain prods its curious protagonist inside a life-size dollhouse where horrors crystallise as painted doll faces and adorned skeletons.
The psychological thriller centers on Beryl’s tedious life in a ramshackle desert home where she lives with a mother-type figure and her cat companion. An alluring lullaby dancing through the desert air leads Beryl inside a morphing dollhouse one day. Trapped inside, Beryl must escape the house’s inhabitants before she is turned into a lifeless doll in the Ablaze comic series. Step inside the labyrinthian dollhouse when Porcelain is released in English-language hardcover edition in March.
9. Stranger Things: The Tomb of Ybwen — Greg Pak, Diego Galindo, Francesco Segala, & Nate Piekos
Netflix’s Stranger Things hit horror television series has spawned a remarkable amount of written adaptations since its inception. Comic publisher Dark Horse Comics obtained the rights to create official Stranger Things comic series adaptations and razed through comic releases like a ravenous Demogorgan thus far. Their latest series features photorealistic art depicting the characters exactly as audiences remember their faces. The Tomb of Ybwen throws the story back into 1985, taking place between the events of Stranger Things Season Two and Season Three.
Unless you’ve been living in the Upside Down, you’ve heard of Stranger Things. Although I assume readers interested in any Stranger Things comics have watched the series, be warned that Stranger Things: The Tomb of Ybwen involves spoilers from the show’s second season. Touchingly, The Tomb of Ybwen stars a grief-stricken Will traumatised from both his experiences with the supernatural and vitally, from Bob Newby’s death. When Will and Mr. Clarke find a map Bob left behind from his days in the Hawkins Middle School A.V. Club Will sets out to find the treasure Bob buried somewhere in Hawkins. Any Stranger Things fan who also cried during Bob’s death scene can read this sentimental four-issue miniseries spotlighting internal grief and reconciliation this April when The Tomb of Ybwen releases as a collected trade.
10. The Me You Love in the Dark – Skottie Young, George Corona, Jean-Francois Beaulieu & Nate Piekos
Horror in comics continues surging in both frequency and popularity lately. One reason behind this occurrence may be attributed to this factor: people averse to horror on screen but still enticed by the genre discover they can palette terror and jump scares easier on the page. Any way you draw and quarter it, comics with ghoulish imagery and nightmarish tales are disappearing from the shelves. If you want to read a quiet, contemplative horror comic series where art and demonic muses intersect, check out The Me You Love in the Dark trade from Image Comics in March 2022.
At only five issues, the self-contained miniseries manages to draw goosebumps along your arms with limited dialogue and emphasis on shadow-ridden visuals. Seeking inspiration, artist Ro retreats from the bustling city into a sparsely populated town. Alone inside a looming house, Ro’s frustration with her creative output still seeks refuge in her thoughts. However, an unexpected inhabitant who prefers the dark enters Ro’s life and offers her a solution to her stifled creativity. An influential muse may come at a dangerous price.
11. Radio Apocalypse — Ram V, Anand RK, Anisha, & Aditya Bidikar
Previously untapped ground, comics have begun mingling music with their sequential art narratives. Titles like Blue In Green, Chasin’ The Bird, and MPLS Sound merge music, reflecting its themes and illustrating its presence on the comic page. Vault Comics’ Radio Apocalypse uses music as a motif and encourages readers to play songs name-dropped in the narrative while reading the comic itself. Power creative team Ram V, Anand RK, and Aditya Bidikar team up again and add artist Anisha to produce a comic about hope soaring through radio waves in an apocalypse.
In a near future dystopia, the world moves along turbulently. A small radio station in Bakerstown remains; the last radio station on the planet. Radio Apocalypse broadcasts as a signal for people wandering the wasteland Earth has become. Those seeking help find refuge in Bakerstown until an unknown group threatens to undermine their small society as they travel across the caustic terrain to reach their destination. A heart-breaking science-fiction comic rendered with shaky lines and a dazzling technicolour colour palette, Radio Apocalypse transmits its beacon of wonder when the full series trade expectedly hits shops in July.
12. Silver City – Olivia Cuartero-Briggs, Luca Merli & Dave Sharpe
Steampunk and the supernatural intertwine in 5-issue comic miniseries, Silver City from AfterShock Comics. Fear the reaper, because death comes for all in Silver City’s purgatorial eternity narrative.
Inside a bustling airport, we meet reticent young woman, Ru, and her laid-back partner when an airplane crashes into the terminal. Life stands still until Ru and the other victims wake up in a sort of purgatorial city with a functioning ecosystem all-too reminiscent of life back on Earth. But Ru can’t remember anything from before the accident. A young child with kidnappers out to abduct her, a punk male duo who believe in a supernatural saviour, and an unearthed kinetic superpower set the tempo in the first issue. With a visual punk rock aesthetic that reverberates like a power chord, you’ll be sucked into the gritty world of Silver City when this highly anticipated trade releases later in the year.
13. The Six Sidekicks of Trigger Keaton Vol. 1 – Kyle Starks & Chris Schweizer
The Six Sidekicks of Trigger Keaton kicked and punched its way into prominence on the indie comics scene when its first explosive issue dropped in 2021. Six issues later, the first part of the comedic murder mystery redolent of 80s film and sitcom nostalgia can be read as a collected trade in January.
Published through Image Comics’ Skybound imprint, the comic series handles nostalgia and humour with heavy doses of authenticity well in its unique premise. Someone murders famous TV action star and overall terrible human being, Trigger Keaton. Always the star in life, Keaton’s murder takes center stage in the media. His former sidekicks, though they despised him, band together to solve the egotistical man’s murder after the police deem the death a suicide. Reading The Six Sidekicks of Trigger Keaton is akin to watching a nostalgic television show doused in scratchy Western film aesthetics. Sit back, relax, and laugh with this masterful action comic.
14. Snelson: Comedy Is Dying – Paul Constant, Fred Harper, Lee Loughridge, & Rob Steen
AHOY Comics touts some of the most hilarious, idiosyncratic comics in the market. One of the latest titles in their recent comic waves jettisons all decorum in favour of shockingly hysterical satire mirroring the current social milieu. Snelson: Comedy is Dying examines what happens when a washed-up comedian turns to the alt-right fanbase in fear of “cancel culture.” Writer Paul Constant hits the nail on the head with a scathing mockery highlighting the hypocrisy in “cancel culture” suppression. Artist Fred Harper accentuates the absurd with a fresh style amplified by Lee Loughridge’s glaring colours.
First appearing as backups in AHOY Comics’ Hashtag: Danger comic series, stand-up comic Melville Snelson reappears as a headliner in his own comic series. Twenty-five years after his comedic prime in the 1990s, Snelson’s outdated humour doesn’t resonate with audiences anymore. To make matters worse for him, Snelson’s former relationship with an underage teenager returns into the limelight. Snelson thinks his time in comedy is coming to an end – and he’ll do anything to stop his voice from being “silenced.” In March 2022, you can read the full five-issue trade about the sad, entitled egoist.
15. Star Trek Year Five: Vol. 4 – Jackson Lanzing, Collin Kelly, Stephen Thompson, & Various Creators
IDW Publishing owns rights to comic adaptations of major film/television franchises such as My Little Pony, Transformers and, significantly here,, Star Trek. After nearly three years, the popular Star Trek: Year Five comic series reaches its final frontier. Early this year, the fourth volume collects the last six issues of The Original Series Enterprise’s final mission.
Star Trek: Year Five – Experienced in Loss wraps up the multitudinous storylines stretching back from Volume One. New one-issue conflicts also give depth into the beloved characters during their concluding voyage in space. Captain Kirk and a fellow Starfleet captain kindle a relationship, Spock disappears in time and may rewrite Vulcan’s history, and Gary Seven’s machinations for the Enterprise crew reach its zenith. It’s a beautifully illustrated conclusion to the tonally-adjacent television series that took to the stars back in 1966.
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