2022 was a heck of a year, and with it came plenty of Batman comics. Here at Batman News, it’s our job to read through all of them. With that responsibility comes a lot of memorable moments, both good and bad. There were amazing instances of triumph that can make a comic worth buying, and there were some so downright bafflingly awful that they unfortunately get seared in our brains. Here’s what we took away from the comics of the past year:
Best: the death of the king, Catwoman: Lonely City #3
To be clear, when I say “best”, I don’t mean that it made me the happiest. This absolutely broke my heart. Croc was the breakout favorite from Catwoman: Lonely City, and for good reason. In a world filled with so much defeat and tragedy, he was a shining light of optimism. He was filled with exuberance for his glory days as one of the crime lords of Gotham. For him the story’s big heist was a chance to reclaim that glory, and listening to his casual attitude while in the midst of so much drama was always a delight. The fact that he gave his life in service of that dream was one of the most tragic things I’ve read and a moment I’ll remember for a long time. RIP to the king.
Worst: Damian being possessed by the ghost of Joe Chill, Future State: Gotham #17
This about broke me. The final arc of Future State: Gotham was very bad in a lot of ways, but this was the pièce de résistance. After multiple issues of nonsensical motivation, forced conflict, and a plot which relied on random twists, I thought it couldn’t get much worse. That’s when the story hit me with the dumbest twist of all: the reason Damian wants to kill Batman after returning from Hell is because the ghost of Joe Chill possessed him to seek his revenge for creating Batman. Putting aside just how insane a premise that is, it doesn’t even make sense on its own merits. Batman never did anything to make Joe Chill want revenge, it’s the other way around. It’s the epitome of a twist that is just meant to elicit the most shock possible but with no thought or planning put into it. In hindsight all I can think of is this exchange from the movie Glass Onion:
It’s so dumb
…It’s so dumb it’s brilliant!
No! It’s just dumb!
Best: Batman soldiers on in Batman vs. Robin #3
Alfred’s resurrection always seemed to good to be true in Mark Waid’s and Mahmud Asrar’s Batman vs. Robin. Despite the inevitability of Alfred’s farewell, giving him and Bruce a chance to say goodbye to each other is a heart-wrenching moment. However, what comes next hit me even harder. In a wonderful final page, Bruce picks himself back up, tends to his wounds and soldiers on without saying a word. While it’s a simple sequence, to me it embodies the core spirit of Batman, as he must not surrender to tragedy and instead continue his unending mission. Batman vs. Robin is a fun, over the top spectacle on the action front, but Waid’s steady hand makes the most of its quieter moments too.
Worst: Selina hooks up with Valmont in Catwoman #48
Tini Howard’s run on Catwoman has its strengths, but the frustrating love triangle between Selina, Bruce, and Valmont was never going to be it. Selina’s attitude toward Valmont changed from scene to scene without much rhyme or reason. One moment she’s falling victim to his charms and the next she admonishes him for being a murderer. What made the consummation of their relationship all the more frustrating is that it comes immediately after Valmont kills someone, which was the initial reason Selina wanted nothing to do with him. What could have been a fun, yet ultimately only flirtatious pairing ends up making Selina act in direct opposition to everything Howard had previously set up…and not in an interesting way.
Best: Dr. Jacosta Joy joins forces with Professor Pyg in Arkham City Order of the World #6
Arkham City Order of the World was my favorite comic to have come out of 2022 and yes I’m aware that it started in 2021 but I wasn’t working here back then and I purposefuly chose a moment that was published in 2022! This comic was an incredible reversal of the usual vigilante justice that I’m used to seeing in Batman. Not only does Azrael serve as a cruel counterpart to the caped crusader but Dr. Jacosta Joy presents the opposite idea as she relentlessly tries to help the villains no matter what. Her kindness and understanding of the patients, her ability to meet craziness where it’s at and the tragic ending that awaits her were all incredible character traits and moments but what really stood out to me was her teaming up with Professor Pyg. When Dr. Joy is kidnapped by Professor Pyg she has to rethink everything that she has done so far, test all of her convictions and yet she sticks to her guns, doubles down and runs a makeshift Arkham the way she always wanted… sort of. It’s the kind of nuanced and high stakes writing that really drives home so many of the themes hidden within this comic. Truly incredible!
Worst: rainbow washing the police, Tim Drake: Robin #2
Not only was this comic the host of my least favorite comment section of the year but Tim Drake: Robin truly started off terribly with bad writing and art to back a project that had so many people incredibly excited. This was going to be the just desserts for a character who hadn’t had his own solo run in years! While there are a lot of things to criticize in these first Tim Drake issues: the inconsistent art, the convoluted mystery, the feeble romance between Tim and Bernard, etc… the worst for me has to be the character Detective Williams helping out Tim Drake. There is nothing inherently wrong about making Tim Drake bisexual and this can be used to promote visibility, diversity and in the best case scenario it could make him an inspiring queer figure to latch onto in a landscape of cis straight superheroes. Detective Williams is a cop though, he’s the “good” gay cop. In a comic that tries so hard to promote positive queer representation I am honestly appalled that Fitzmartin wouldn’t think about the implications of making the only good officer a gay character. With this character we can see that the comic treats bad cops like they’re just bad apples and the actual solution is to get more diversity in the police force which for those who are not sure why that kind of framing is problematic should look up the term rainbow washing and what queer people have been saying about this topic. In my opinion this is what showed me that the story was not actually going to be anything bold or brave and that it was just going to flounder around with the same problems every other comic has. At least the comments for the Tim Drake: Robin reviews have radically changed and become my favorite to read and keep up with!
Best: Ram V steps up, Detective Comics #1062
V has been writing great comics for a while now but 2022 was the year he really gained a higher profile. He continued writing Swamp Thing (one of the best books of 2021) but also took on a Black Label series (Aquaman: Andromeda) and most importantly became the new ongoing writer on Detective Comics which has become my favorite DC book of the year. V brings back everything I love about Batman in this series. Mystery and atmosphere permeate this world that he effortlessly lends a lived-in feel. There is a respect for all the classic characters while the new ones serve the story and don’t feel like McFarlane toys that were only created for a royalty check (Sorry, I’m still a little bitter about Tynion’s run). This run has its own identity but it also calls back to the tone the Doug Moench/Kelley Jones run which is my all-time favorite era of Batman. The highlight for me so far has got to be the moment in the page above. Everything seemed to come together here to answer all my questions about the direction the book was going to take. I can’t wait to see how his run develops through 2023!
Honorable mentions: Sword of Azrael and Wildcats. Two 90s greats finally back in action!
Worst: Meghan Fitzmartin insults her readers, Dark Crisis: Young Justice #5
Dark Crisis: Young Justice was easily the worst comic of 2022 and quite possibly the worst comic I’ve ever read. The art started out decent enough and steadily declined to the point of being straight up bad. The event the story tied into was also bland and unnecessary. Those two things alone make this a story not really worth reading. The writing though… the writing physically hurt. Fitzmartin uses the series as an excuse to make Young Justice look as dislikable as possible. The villain of the story is a stand in for the readers. Her characters come out in plain words and say we, the readers, are bad people because we enjoy 90s Young Justice comics. The plot itself is nonsense. It’s simply concocted to serve Fitzmartin’s commentary regardless of whether it makes sense. More specifically the worst moment of 2022 was probably contained in issue five when Micky Mxyzptlk goes on his rant about how much he hates the modern DC universe. It felt like the culmination of everything bad about this comic. It’s impressive just how terrible it was.
Dishonorable mention: Tim Drake: Robin. It’s also written by Fitzmartin. Need I say more?
Best: old friends reunited, Catwoman: Lonely City #1
This one was a surprise, because I like Catwoman as a character, but don’t really seek out her solo stories all that often. Factor in that it’s a story set in the future, after Batman has died, with most of his supporting cast either miserable or also deceased? It was a tough sell, but Cliff Chiang’s art looked stunning, so I decided to check it out.
And man, am I glad I did, because this series was one of the most honest, touching reflections on aging, mortality, and relevance that I’ve read in a long, long time. Even with his weirder choices (especially with his weirder choices), Chiang never takes a single misstep, making Selina Kyle relatable in her struggles, and admirable in both her victories and defeats. The writing is fantastic, the art is absolutely gorgeous, and it all comes together to create one of the best Catwoman stories ever written.
Were I to pick a single moment from the entire series, I’d go back to issue 1. Yeah, it released in 2021, but since the collection came out in 2022 we can count it, right? After Selina is released from prison, she makes way to an old penthouse, since it’s the only thing resembling a home she still has access to (after picking a lock, of course). She showers and tries to relax, when she hears a noise from another room. Startled, Selina gets a gun to defend herself, opens the bathroom door, and finds…
The former (?) Catwoman is delighted to see one of her feline companions after so many years, when it dawns on her that even though he stuck around, he’s the only one. It’s a quiet, melancholy moment made all the more powerful by Chiang’s pencils and limited color palette, and a scene that sums up Selina’s re-entry into “civilized life”: after so many years away, very few of her friends and enemies are around any longer. Those that are have changed drastically, so Selina has to re-learn how to “fit in,” which isn’t something that she ever cared about before and doesn’t much care for now. Even with a fun heist later on and some ingenious uses of familiar friends and foes, it’s the smaller moments that make comics really worth reading, the ones that show that at their core, these larger than life characters are just like you and me: human.
Honorable mentions: The Batman/Scooby-Doo Mysteries and World’s Finest, two very different books that still share a common mission statement: comics should be fun. And fun they are.
Worst: Ghost-Maker being given his own series
I’ve written enough about how I hate this character, so I’ll try to spare you too many disparaging remarks. Ghost-Maker is the absolute worst example of what is wrong with Batman comics right now, though: he’s a terrible character to begin with, but one who makes absolutely no sense in Batman comics, especially as an ally. Why he lasted beyond a single issue is beyond me, as he is a clear attempt at making and original character for merchandising and licensing purposes and nothing more. The fact that he’s been pushed to a place of prominence as the leader of Batman, Inc. (alongside the almost as terrible Clownhunter) while a truly great character like Tim Drake is in a constant state of regression and hasn’t had a good comic in over a decade is an insult to readers, the characters themselves, and comics as a whole.
Dishonorable mention: almost literally everything else. Whether it’s the conflicting and aimless main Batman books, Crisis fatigue, or the fact that there are just so many Batman titles out there that aren’t the least bit interesting or memorable, we’ve hit Batman overload of the worst sort. And his family isn’t faring much better, with a lot of Bat-titles out there without a whole lot of substance. Inconsistent characterizations abound, with some being pushed into positions they don’t deserve, and others regressing to the point that they’re practically unrecognizable. There doesn’t seem to be any clear editorial hand guiding anything across the line, which damages the brand as a whole, and others in this post have written about the negative impact certain writers are having on certain characters and properties. Batman comics need an overhaul, at the very least, if not an outright reset.
Best: Batman is faced with an impossible choice: Batman/Joker: the Deadly Duo #2
Marc Silvestri’s Batman/Joker: the Deadly Duo sees the Joker make an attempt to team up with his nemesis in order to defeat a new enemy in Gotham. Batman initially refuses, however, optioning to defeat the mysterious villain by himself. As a result, Batman is made to solve a riddle meant for the Joker: who out of two Gotham citizens deserves to die? Batman is given all the paperwork he needs to make his decision.
It’s a tight, no win situation, and one that makes for an excellent cliffhanger for the second issue of the series. We know Batman will always try to make the right call in any situation, so it’s heart wrenching to see him try to make it through a challenge where it appears he may not win at all – but we always hope that he might still come through.
Worst: Catwoman explains BDSM: Harley Quinn: 30th Anniversary Special
Writer Stjepan Šejić is best known for his erotic comic books, especially the sexually explicit series Sunstone. I suppose he couldn’t resist doing something similar with the Gotham City Sirens. While not an explicit book, this short story sees Selina Kyle become a self-insert of sorts for Šejić. In an attempt to try to “help” Poison Ivy win Harley back as her girlfriend, Selina insists that Harley’s attraction to Joker is based on her having a sexual fetish for being dominated. While Ivy is hesitant, she eventually goes along with Ivy’s plan, tying Harley up and forcing her to come with her, which Harley is turned on by.
It was a totally inappropriate comic to appear in a 13+ book, but it also was entirely out of character for the Sirens. Harley may have put up with Joker’s abuse in the past, but that doesn’t mean she enjoyed it. And why would Catwoman ever insinuate that Harley and Joker’s relationship, filled with manipulation and physical violence, was merely an S&M thing?
Well that’s it from here at Batman News. What were your best and worst moments from last year?