Tuesday, December 31, 2013

COMEBACK CALL: Six Past Hit Image Comics, Good For Go In 2014

Image Comics. They are the publisher that is akin to a space shuttle on the launch pad, engines roaring with plumes of fiery potential racing and swirling for the skies, as the craft readies itself for yet another unforgettable take off in 2014.

With Pretty Deadly, Saga and Fatale, soon to be joined by the likes of Mark Millar's own universe of creator-owned titles, a quick look back shows there's a few hooks in the past of Image Comics, where creators could still hang their hat. Let's take a look.

 BADROCK  Sure Badrock has had plenty of not-so-good outings, but there's still mountains of potential in the tale of a 16 year-old boy, turned into the world's most immovable force, one who joins a militia over 'super-heroing' his rocky butt around. That last part is key and what separates 'Rock from the likes of Captain Marvel and The Ultraverse's Prime. I mean, why stand on media podiums for saving the world when you can blow stuff up with Liefeld sized guns? He's Images biggest icon (literally) not in print, and having met everyone from Spider-Man to Wolverine, it's time we brought him back.

 RISING STARS  Boy Dave Gibbons really knows how to do great covers doesn't he? When a comet crashes into a small town, giving 113 unborn children incredible abilities, lives are changed. While the first series, narrated by Poet, and written by someone just as talented with words, J. Michael Straczynski, perfectly captured how different personalities 'raised' under the government's eye would react to a killer hunting their own, the series closes with a similar space event hitting another planet.

Forget completing the circle! If this 'comet' caused a similar result with that race, who's to say they won't take a different tack and come looking for those responsible here on Earth? Will any of the previous Rising Stars be around to face them? Now JMS and Image are working together again, if things can be worked out with Top Cow, we just might find out.

 INFERNO  I LOVED this series. Inferno: Hellbound not only had the sinfully good pencils of Image founder Marc Silvestri to aid it's phlight, it ticked my 10 Commandments of a great comic, by having a suicide squad bunch of crims and mercs get sent to Hell one one massive suicide gambit. The true evil though - it only lasted four issues before being cancelled for unknown reasons - I mean WTF!

Joe Dante and his team could've easily been like the survivors in The Walking Dead, trapped and surrounded by demons and evils of all creation. Better yet it could have brought another great team-title to Top Cow and comics in general, one that not only harnessed the specialties of the imprint, but brought truly hot men and woman together. I mean it's Hell, it's as hot as it gets!

 WARLANDS  If the comics industry was a power pole, I don't know whose wanted/missing poster would hang higher; good fantasy comics or the manga stylised art of Pat Lee. Warlands would revive them both. An unlimited amount of action, swords and sorcery still remains to be explored in what is western comics definitive home of Eastern manga styles, and now that Dreamwave is sadly no more, Image Comics is just the one to get these stone ages rolling again.

 DARKMINDS  Taking the Pat Lee art stylings in a more Gotham Central direction, Darkminds mixes all things good, like SVU, Criminal Minds and Ghost in The Shell, with an airy, surreal manga feel. The Paradox Killer can lurk in the background once more, as new faces join the chase Tedashi Nagawa and Akane Nakiko set up, running down the evils that infest the city of Macropolis. Armed with the same stunning colour palette and action, cyberpunk would be plugged in and on for a whole new generation.

 EMPIRE  When DC published a few more issues of Mark Waid and Barry Kitson's Empire, it felt like Mum wearing Dad's clothes. Get the twisted tale of evil ruling the world and the conflicts it creates back at Image, and watch fans beat their chest in joy once more. Gorilla Comics was an Image Comics imprint with so much potential, from creatives like Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen, to the Fantastic Four-ish adventures of Section Zero by the highly unsung Karl Kesel and the just as unsung Tom Grummett, if Empire heralded a return of this line in any way, that would never be a bad thing.

 What do you think?  What Image Comics of the past would you like to see return?


  1. I really really wish we had g.ot more than two issues of Barry KItson's 'Empire' is there anywhere it can be found in complete form do you know? I just loved reading it. Im surprised no company has ever picked it up.
    Karl Kesel was so well loved for writing the next FF comic but unluckily for us Marvel didn't listen - pity, as his only two issues so far have actually explained the plot mess that Fraction has left us with.
    Grummett - I remember him from the excellent Power Company from ten years ago. He drew a nice looking FF also.
    Remember when Rising Stars was the hottest comic around? Then it suddenly went off the boil, big time. Always reminds me of the tv show Heroes.

  2. Love the new format and look there Dan.
    Surprising pick out of them all? Badrock. Didn't know you were a big fan of the kid.
    If you ever happen upon the image series Prophet that got restarted recently, Badrock's in there, but as an over 2,000 year old with a bunch of rock kids. Yeah, it's as cool as it sounds!

    Empire was good, and gone too soon. It was a humanized Dr.Doom, but really good take nonetheless.
    Darkminds and Warlands were definitely of their time, seeing as how it was a mostly artist-dominated industry at the time.
    Loved Rising Stars! I have almost the complete run, w/the exception of some odd issues I'm missing. Really solid concept and execution. The only thing I didn't like was the lack of consistant artist until after #14, when Brent Anderson came onboard.
    Also minor artistic credit error there Dan. It wasn't Dave Gibbons, but Christian Zanier, as the cover you posted said;)

    Solid picks the rest though.

    As for Image titles I wouldn't mind coming back, even if it was for a limited run:

    -Brigade: Yeah It wasn't the best story idea ever, but it wasn't bad for what it was. Plus I like the name. It's just too good to leave sitting on the shelf.

    -The Maxx: Someone just coax Sam Keith into doing a new mini w/the Maxx.

    -Battle Chasers: It'd have to be a mini, but I miss seeing Red Monika's Assets. It's the only reason I even bought the book, besides the killer art.

    That's all I can think of off the top of my head for now.
    Cool post though mate.

    Happy New Year in future land:)

  3. Hey Dale - Thanks for all those comments! Maxx is back over at IDW so the New Year has granted that wish already!

    Battle Chasers I'd love to see return to, the whole Wildstorm imprint of Cliffhanger as Image round two was really clever and probably part of what made them so attractive to DC. Well that, Jim Lee and Alan Moore's America's Best Comics. Soo many great books...

    You are right on the Rising Stars cover too, that's who I thought I typed as well, it's even right there on the cover - must've had Dave Gibbons on the mind! Goes to show I can think of things other than worlds made of chocolate!

    Don't think I can go the Brigade way with ya' though a little Troll never hurt anyone. Thanks for the heads up on Badrock too. I know the revamped Prophet was back and kicking butt, but not that the 'Rock and his rocklings were in tow.

    Hey Karl, has I hinted at in the post, DC picked Empire up for a little while in 2003, and gave Waid and Kitson seven more issues to tell their tale. The new logo was a bit meh compared to the original, but the covers alone were worth the price of admission! Track them down and buy yourself a great read to start the New Year with buddy!

    Grummet and Kesel are two of my favourite comic forces I can think of. Be it on the Super books or at Marvel, they really are perfect pro's and Section Zero seemed like they finally had a chance to bask in creator owned freedom and show their talents at once. Either getting to turn the FF love that based this series into actual Fantastic Four stories would've been a hit for my money.

    Me, I'm just looking at resubscribing to the Fantastic Four with Robinson in a few months. It's been too long.

  4. Hi I know this is an old post, but is that an actual Warlands poster?

    1. Hi Unknown :) It is the connecting covers for the mini-series Warlands - Age of Ice. http://comicvine.gamespot.com/warlands-the-age-of-ice-1-awakening/4000-131303/