Image Comics was formed in the 90s when some of Marvel's biggest artists left the company to form their own, kicking off an era of creator-owned comics that have propelled the comic studio into the Top 3 alongside Marvel and DC Comics. While the company has moved beyond the superhero craze of the 90s to explore new worlds and ideas from innovative creators, fans still fondly remember the heroic creations of the 90s.
We've seen a few attempts at modern comebacks and reboots for a few Image heroes, most recently with the DC reboot of The Authority characters known as The Wild Storm. There are still a few teams from Image Comics' 90s beginnings that deserve a comeback, which we'll explore further today.
10 TEAM 7
As with any comeback or reboot, Image Comics superhero line had a definitive beginning that should definitely be revisited with a Team 7 comeback. Set years before the "present day" adventures of the 90s, Team 7 featured characters who would become superheroes or have familial ties to superheroes in the developing Image universe.
Jim Lee sold the Wildstorm Universe to DC Comics and they were folded into the rebooted New 52 universe. A new Team 7 was then formed, which incorporated both former members like John Lynch and Cole Cash/Grifter along with DC characters like Amanda Waller, Slade Wilson, and Dinah Lance. A true Image comeback would return the team to basics and explore the history of the modernized Image superhero universe.
9 FREAK FORCE
Erik Larsen's Savage Dragon is one of the only two initial Image Comics launch titles still being published, with Larsen remaining as the primary creator on his creator-owned series since 1992. Savage Dragon is the main series set within the Image universe to feature the company's interconnected characters, which also features Kirkman's hit Invincible series.
Larsen also created Freak Force, which saw the Chicago Police Department follow the example set by Officer Dragon and enlisted a team of superheroes to operate as official officers of the law to combat superpowered villains. The team's affiliation with the police was short-lived, but the premise of super-powered bounty hunters still holds interest to fans today.
One of the initial hits of the Image Comics line of creator-owned series was Gen¹³, from Jim Lee's WildStorm studio. The series was written by Lee and Brandon Choi, with illustrations by J. Scott Campbell, and followed the adventures of a new young team of powered heroes who are trying to discover their origins while being hunted by the government that may have created them.
The characters of Gen¹³ like Caitlin Fairchild and Grunge made the move to DC with the WildStorm Universe and reappeared in the New 52 reboot, though were incorporated in other stories away from their former teammates. The party team of the 90s deserves another chance to shine as themselves in the DC Universe, instead of being worked into other heroes existing stories.
DV8 was the flip side of the coin to the kids from Gen¹³, though they all shared similar origin stories and frequently butted heads/worked together over the years. DV8 was unique among the other books in that the team depicted were not really good guys, often using their powers in immoral ways for their own selfish reasons.
The team was more adult than even their Gen¹³ counterparts, and they lived up to their title of Deviants, which proved to be a draw to fans. The premise of a selfish powered team running Black Ops missions for a corrupted government organization sells just as well now as it did then, and fans are ready to see a return from the DV8 crew.
Symbiotes are so hot right now, just as they were in the 90s. Whilce Portacio and Brandon Choi's WetWorks saw a new Team 7 led by former member Jackson Dane, who after being betrayed by their government (International Operations/I.O.) during a mission to recover a biological agent, was forced to bond with golden symbiotes in order to survive the suicide mission.
The team of mercenaries used their symbiotes to continue the fight against I.O. while they were also caught up in a war among the supernatural. Symbiote-enhanced soldiers fighting armies of werewolves and vampires is a concept demanding to be rebooted for the modern era.
Launched under Marc Silvestri's Top Cow imprint, Cyberforce was one of the first big Image Comics titles, and was a part of the plans to develop a shared Image universe that would rival their competitors in Marvel at the time, though the various studios and creators involved at Image made the shared universe plans difficult initially.
The series was written and illustrated by Marc Silvestri and followed a team of mutants who were experimented on, enhancing their abilities with cybernetic components, before they escaped and formed Cyberforce to take down their former captors and experimenters. A new version of the team had been relaunched in 2012 with a new focus on its cyberpunk imagery, but we are still hoping to see more from the classic Cyberforce fans know and love.
Stormwatch was one of the first WildStorm titles released by Image Comics and followed the adventures of a superhuman team running under the orders of the United Nations. The team worked out of a space station under the command of Henry Bendix/Weatherman and saw a number of interesting characters make their way through the team's roster before Warren Ellis used the team to launch the admittedly superior Authority team.
A new rebooted version of Stormwatch was included in the initial New 52 release of titles, though it was an incredibly uneven story that couldn't decide if it was attempting to reboot popular WildStorm characters like The Authority, blend them in with DC history, or just throw everything at the wall and see what sticks. Going back to basics would serve Stormwatch incredibly well.
We couldn't be discussing 90s comic books without an entry from Rob Liefeld, who was one of the artists who formed together to initially create Image Comics. Liefeld's Youngblood was actually the first Image Comics release and dominated sales, despite poor reviews based on Liefeld's art and storytelling.
Youngblood was a mediocre action book, but what separated the team from its obvious superhero influences was Liefeld's belief that superheroes in the real world would be treated as celebrities, and the book focused on the team's dealing both with their government-supplied missions as well as corporate sponsorships, media interviews, and other entertainment-based issues that would play well in today's culture.
Just making the tail-end of the 90s with a 1999 publication date is Warren Ellis and John Cassaday's Planetary, which follows a team of powered adventures who describe themselves as "Archaeologists of the Impossible." The small team investigates various supernatural anomaly to uncover the secrets of their world and the other worlds of the multiverse.
With the Wildstorm universe now a part of the DC Universe, and the DC Multiverse alive and well, the time might be perfect to see the Planetary crew return to further explore the mysteries of the DC Multiverse, and potentially uncover new secret histories that could further bring the various comic realities together in a way the New 52 and The Wild Storm have failed to do so far.
Along with Spawn and Savage Dragon, Jim Lee's WildC.A.T.S could be considered the most well-known superhero property to be published by Image Comics in the 90s, having received an animated series just like the aforementioned Spawn and Savage Dragon.
The WildC.A.T.S explored the various alien heritages of the characters and their history with Earth, which featured heavily into the various WildStorm events. The majority of the characters made the move to the DC Universe during the New 52, though they again factored separately into other DC events and teams. News of an upcoming WildC.A.T.S relaunch from Warren Ellis has fans excited to see the hit 90s Image team get the comeback they deserve.