In 2019, creator-owned titles are a hugely important part of the comic book industry and the premier place for publishing them is Image Comics. Originally founded in 1992 by seven former Marvel artists, Image has enjoyed a hugely successful 25 years in the business.
Image publishes a wide array of diverse stories, in a wide array of genres, from a wide array of diverse creators and therefore has become the place for the biggest names to bring their original ideas to fruition. Here are the 10 best Image Comics you should be reading.
10 SEVEN TO ETERNITY
Writer Rick Remender has built a creator-owned empire at Image Comics with hit series' like Black Science (with Matteo Scalera), Tokyo Ghost (with Sean Murphy), Low (with Greg Tocchini) and, of course, Deadly Class (with Wes Craig). That series was made into an utterly brilliant television show that is currently airing on SyFy and we reckon Seven To Eternity mightn't be far behind it in being brought to the screen. A bizarre fantasy epic with art by Jerome Opena, who previously collaborated with Remender on Uncanny X-Force, this series is stunning.
Here is the official synopsis: 'The God of Whispers has spread an omnipresent paranoia to every corner of the kingdom of Zhal; his spies hide in every hall spreading mistrust and fear. Adam Osidis, a dying knight from a disgraced house, must choose between joining a hopeless band of magic users in their desperate bid to free their world of the evil God, or accepting his promise to give Adam everything his heart desires.' This edition collects #1-4.
9 JUPITER'S LEGACY
Jupiter's Legacy is currently in development as a TV series at Netflix, as part of the overall deal writer Mark Millar signed with the streaming giants in August 2017. It will be the latest screen adaptation in a string of hits for Millar, who is the writer behind Kick-Ass, Wanted and Kingsman. The comic ran for two volumes and also spawned a spinoff, Jupiter's Circle, which also had two volumes.
Here is the official blurb: 'The children of the world's greatest superheroes may never be able to fill their parents' shoes. When the family becomes embattled by infighting, one branch stages an uprising and another goes into hiding. How long can the world survive when one family's super-powered problems explode onto the global stage?' Volume 1 collects #1-5.
8 THE WICKED + THE DIVINE
The Wicked + The Divine has been a bona fide hit for the creative team of writer Kieron Gillen and artist Jamie McKelvie and is one of Image's longest running titles; as of February 2019 there have been 42 issues and six specials, which have been collected in eight trade paperback volumes. The comic is a (very) contemporary fantasy story, influenced by pop music and mythological deities. It has also been at the forefront of comics' presenting diverse portrayals of gender, race and sexuality.
'Every ninety years, twelve gods incarnate as humans. They are loved. They are hated. In two years, they are dead. The team behind critical tongue-attractors like Young Avengers and Phonogram reunite to create a world where gods are the ultimate pop stars and pop stars are the ultimate gods. But remember: just because you're immortal, doesn't mean you're going to live forever.' Book One collects #1-11.
Injection is the second collaboration from writer Warren Ellis, artist Declan Shalvey and colorist Jordie Bellaire (after their brilliant Moon Knight run at Marvel). It is a high-concept science fiction story that fuses magic and mythology in typically obtuse but rewarding Ellis style. Each fiendishly intelligent five-issue story is a skewed take on classic weird British fiction like Quatermass, Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Who.
'Five ambitious, brilliant, crazy people poisoned the 21st century. They soon drifted apart, following their own eccentric specialties. And then, one by one, they realised how deep the poison went, and how badly they'd broken the planet. Injection is the story of a team of geniuses who ended the world, and then tried to save it.' This Deluxe Edition collects #1-15.
In 2018, Monstress won five Eisner Awards, including Best Continuing Series, Best Writer (Marjorie Liu) and Best Painter/Multimedia Artist (Sana Takeda). The accolades were richly deserved, as the series is a true tour de force of epic fantasy comic book storytelling. Takeda's eye-popping Manga-inspired artwork is thrilling to behold and Liu imbues her mostly female cast with brilliantly nuanced characterizations.
Here is the official word: 'Set in an alternate matriarchal 1900's Asia, in a richly imagined world of art deco-inflected steampunk, Monstress tells the story of a teenage girl who is struggling to survive the trauma of war, and who shares a mysterious psychic link with a monster of tremendous power, a connection that will transform them both.' Collects #1-6.
5 PAPER GIRLS
Paper Girls is a superb comic book that should appeal to fans of Stranger Things and Steven Spielberg's '80s output. Written by the legendary Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man) and drawn by Cliff Chiang (Wonder Woman), this mystery sci-fi adventure is pure fun distilled into comic book form. Reading about a group of kids who get caught up in a conflict between two warring factions of time travelers is every bit as entertaining as it sounds!
'In the early hours after Halloween of 1988, four 12-year-old newspaper delivery girls uncover the most important story of all time. Suburban drama and otherworldly mysteries collide in this critically acclaimed story about nostalgia, first jobs, and the last days of childhood.' Book One collects #1-10.
4 GIDEON FALLS
Horror series Gideon Falls was recently picked up for TV after a multi-studio bidding war and, with the quality of the comic, it's easy to see why. Written by Jeff Lemire (Black Hammer) and drawn by his Green Arrow and Old Man Logan collaborator Andrea Sorrentino, the series is genuinely unnerving right from the start. It's a character-driven meditation on obsession, mental illness, and faith and is almost guaranteed to get under the reader's skin.
'The legend of the Black Barn—an otherworldly building supposedly to have appeared and reappeared throughout history, bringing death and madness in its wake—ensnares and entwines the lives of two very different men.' Collects #1-6
Saga is a genuine comics phenomenon and has been ever since it began publication in 2012. The collected editions even rival (and sometimes better) The Walking Dead in terms of sales, which is unheard of in the modern creator owned comics era. There have been 54 issues so far and the creative team of Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples is one of the most celebrated in the medium. In some ways, it's like Star Wars for adults, due to its nature as a space opera that deals with issues of war, gender identity, race and sexuality.
'Saga is the story of Hazel, a child born to star-crossed parents from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war. Now, Hazel's fugitive family must risk everything to find a peaceful future in a harsh universe that values destruction over creation.' Book One collects #1-18.
Before Gideon Falls came along, writer/artist Jeff Lemire had already published a number of series' through Image. Descender is arguably his best one. It's a rip-roaring and heartfelt cosmic odyssey pitting humanity against machine and world against world. With stunning artwork by Dustin Nguyen, the series ran for 32 issues and then spawned a sequel series, Ascender, which launches in April 2019.
'Young Robot boy Tim-21 and his companions struggle to stay alive in a universe where all androids have been outlawed and bounty hunters lurk on every planet.' Collects #1-16.
Infidel was one of the surprise packages of 2018. Written by former Vertigo editor Pornsak Pichetshote and drawn by Aaron Campbell (The Shadow), it was a contemporary horror story that managed to genuinely scare readers, while simultaneously making them think about the racial injustices of the modern world. This one hit on a lot of uncomfortable truths and was all the more compelling for it. Campbell also pushed his art style in new directions and the results were horrifying and beautiful at the same time.
'A haunted house story for the 21st century, Infidel follows an American Muslim woman and her multi-racial neighbors who move into a building haunted by entities that feed off xenophobia.' Collects #1-5.
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