The comics industry has been on a meteoric rise over the past decade. Never before have there been so many people obsessed with the stories that of superheroes and supervillains. Marvel, with its superhero films, has truly cemented these heroes in pop culture. With no sign of slowing down, Marvel’s superheroes seem to have signaled the beginning of a revolution when it comes to comic-book adaptations.
With the success of Marvel’s cinematic universe, other companies have similarly doubled-down on the production of some of the greatest comics of the past. Not to be left out, Image Comics has taken this time to truly focus on letting the creators tell the stories that they want to tell. On that note, let’s dive into some of the greatest comics that Image has published over the past decade.
10 The Wicked + The Divine
In a time where the world has birthed its first generation of humans whole will grow up in a world that has always had access to the internet, The Wicked + The Divine, perhaps, couldn’t have come at any other time in history.
Following a young girl named Laura as she interacts with the world-famous Patheon, a group of twelve individuals that have discovered that they are the reincarnations of deities from across many religions, The Wicked + The Divine is a timely work of art that is heavily inspired by pop music and celebrity in the digital age.
9 The Private Eye
Brian K. Vaughn and Marcos Martin’s The Private Eye is another story obsessed with the digital age, and more importantly, what comes next. Originally a webcomic published by Panel Syndicate, The Private Eye would go on to win both an Eisner and Harvey award for the best online/webcomic.
Following a young private eye or “paparazzo” as they're called in 2076 (when the story takes place), The Private Eye takes readers through a world where the most valuable possession is privacy, which makes information the most valuable currency. But in a world where everyone wears a mask and tattooed millennials are the now grandparents, information isn’t always easy to come by.
Described by author Marjorie Liu as “a huge epic fantasy”, Monstress began it’s run at Image Comics with an equally huge and epic seventy-page first issue which was needed in order to both establish the well-thought-out world and introduce the many factions and character within it. The story follows Maika Halfwolf, an Arcanic with a bit of demon problem (the problem being that the demon sometimes emerges from the stump where her arm used to be and takes control of her body and mind), as she tried to piece together everything she can about her dead mother and hopefully, avenge her.
Monstress is indeed a huge epic fantasy and has been compared to the work of both George R.R. Martin and J.R.R Tolkien, so fantasy fans looking to hop aboard before the series is inevitably adapted by some network or another had better head to their local comic book store as soon as possible.
7 East Of West
Jonathan Hickman is well-known for his epic stories that span many, many years and involve giant casts of characters. With East Of West Hickman and artist Nick Dragotta have seamlessly blended classic western tropes with sci-fi elements and thrown in some biblical references to spice things up a bit.
The story follows the horseman Death as he struggles to find and save his son before he brings about the apocalypse. The series is filled with brilliant art, fantastic storytelling, brilliant world-building, and expertly crafted characters. This is one Image Comic that fans will certainly regret missing out on.
Spanning a whopping seven years and sixty issues, Chew is the story of cibopathic, someone who gets psychic impressions from ingesting food (or other things), FDA agent Tony Chu. In a world where chicken and other edible birds have been made illegal after an outbreak of bird flu that killed nearly 23 million people, Tony uses his abilities to both track down illegal chicken vendors and hunt for killers.
The series, which was first published in 2009 (just barely making the cutoff point for this article) was awarded two Eisner awards as well as two Harvey awards. The series has almost been adapted two separate times (once as a half-hour comedy for Showtime and then again as an animated feature) but hasn’t managed to make it to the screen just yet.
5 Paper Girls
As the title may suggest, Paper Girls is, in fact, about a group of young paper girls who live in a small suburban town in Ohio in that late 80s. What the title may not suggest, however, is that one Halloween morning, while delivering papers, as usual, the girls (Erin, Mac, KC, and Tiffany) get caught up in a war between two different factions of time travelers.
While the series has only just recently hit its thirtieth issue, it has been met with critical acclaim and a television adaptation has already been announced.
4 Jupiter’s Legacy
Mark Millar, the writer behind hits like Kick-Ass, Wanted and Kingsman has had a truly impressive string of successes not only with his comics but their adaptations as well. Published in 2013, his superhero epic about a family of superheroes and the generation that comes next is likely a series that won’t disappoint when it hit Netflix sometime in 2020.
The Multi-generational superhero epic follows Sheldon Sampson, his brother Walter, and some loyal followers and the rest of their family. While Sheldon and his brother (the first generation have heroes) have worked hard to set s a noble example, their children haven’t really followed in their footsteps. But with a family this powerful, infighting, corruption and dark secrets have a way of making their way to the global stage.
Inspired by works like Star Wars, Romeo and Juliet, Lord Of The Rings and more, Saga follows Marko and Alana as they struggle to find somewhere in the universe that will be safe for their unborn (at least when the series begins) daughter.
Though their two races are fighting a seemingly endless war, Marko and Alana manage to see through that fact and find love. A love, however, that many believe to be a great sin. As they run from their pursuers, Alana and Marko must fight for their love and their newly formed family in order to survive. It’s a fight, however, that will not leave the family whole.
2 Kill Or Be Killed
While the comic book industry is one filled with vigilantes on both sides of the law, Ed Brubaker, along with artist Sean Phillips (who have teamed up for their sixth collaboration), hoped to explore the realities of what it means to become a vigilante. In love with Kira, who is dating his roommate Mason, Dylan decides to kill himself by throwing himself off of a tall building. After surviving the fall, however, Dylan is visited by a demon that demands he begin taking lives if he wishes to stay among the living.
While Dylan initially dismisses the demon as some depression and trauma-induced hallucination, after he begins to feel violently ill, Dylan decides that if he is to begin killing people, he will target only those unworthy of the lives they’ve been given. But will Dylan survive? And if he does, how will his new hobby affect his personal life?
1 Deadly Class
Through his work with Image Comics, Rick Remender has created a veritable empire of creator-owned comics. While there are many incredibly popular works like Black Science, Seven To Eternity, Low and Tokyo Ghost have all become major hits, Deadly Class (with artist Wes Craig) has perhaps taken off far more than any of his other works (yet).
Having already been adapted into a TV series on Syfy and subsequently canceled (Boo, Syfy. BOO!), the series follows Marcus, a young man who is drafted into an elite school for the world’s most deadly assassins. The cast of characters is huge and unique, the story is equal parts violent, surprising and heartbreaking. The series may have been criminally canceled, the comic is still ongoing, so anyone disappointed by Syfy’s utter lack of vision and direction should head toward their local comic book shop immediately.