April 17, 2017

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25 MORE great Image Comics books on their 25th anniversary


I recently took a look at my 25 favorite Image Comics books, on the occasion of their 25th anniversary. But I love so many Image Comics books, I decided to make a second list. So, here are brief thoughts on 25 MORE great Image Comics books. I hope you see something that interests you.
Comeback
Comeback
Written and Lettered by Ed Brisson
Illustrated by Michael Walsh
Colored by Jordie Bellaire
Comeback is twisty time travel noir. What else do you need to know? If you liked Looper (which, you really should, it's a great movie even though I don't for a second buy Joseph Gordon-Levitt as a young Bruce Willis) you'll totally enjoy Comeback. There's murder and mystery and intrigue in the story of a sketchy business involved in time travel. Comeback has great, moody art courtesy of Michael Walsh and Jordie Bellaire. It's not your typical time travel story, which is what I like about it so much.



Descender Vol. 1: Tin Stars
Descender
Written by Jeff Lemire
Illustrated by Dustin Nguyen
Lettered by Steve Wands
Descender is the story of a future humanity (along with many other species) spread throughout the stars, and the aftermath of a tragic attack against the worlds of the United Galactic Council by giant killer robots. Lemire is a consistently great teller of personal stories, and Nguyen has an emotionally astute, lovely watercolor style that he brings to the book. This is a story that's emotional, contemplative, sometimes action-packed, and always interesting. You will really come to care for many different characters in the story, and I can't overstate just how beautiful Nguyen's art is in this story. Descender is compelling and heartbreaking.


Fatale Vol. 1: Death Chases Me
Fatale
Written by Ed Brubaker
Illustrated by Sean Phillips
Colored by Elizabeth Breitweiser
Fatale is your classic femme fatale story, only there are dark gods and all kinds of supernatural weirdness involved. This is one of the many amazing stories from the team of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, which means you know you're going to get a great compelling story, a doomed protagonist, and stunningly beautiful art. These creators are masters at work; any time they make a book, it's worth a read.


Ghosted Vol. 1

Ghosted
Written by Joshua Williamson
Illustrated by Gordan Sudzuka, Davide Gianfelice, Juan Jose Ryp
Colored by Miroslav Mrva
Ghosted is the B-movie horror action-comedy you didn't know you needed in your life. It involves some criminal lowlifes that also have experience with ghosts and the supernatural. There are twists, turns, betrayals, weird developments all around. The story is full of terrible people, but often the very best stories are. Each arc tells its own story but there are ongoing threads. Ghosted is horror but is also a highly entertaining, fun read, which is something I think Williamson really excels at.


The Goddamned Vol. 1
The Goddamned
Writtten by Jason Aaron
Illustrated by r.m. Guera
Colored by Giulia Brusco
The world of The Goddamned is a world of corruption, violence, sorrow and death, a place so terrible that God said "screw it, I'm starting over". It is a world perfectly suited for the storytelling capabilities of Jason Aaron and artist r.m. Guéra, storytelling partners on Scalped (another great story filled with morally compromised characters). The "hero" of this story is the world's first murderer, who comes across as a pretty compelling and sympathetic character. Which is classic Jason Aaron - taking your expectations and preconceived notions and turning them on their head. The Goddamned is a dark, brutal, and incredibly compelling comic.

Godland Vol. 6: Goodbye Divine
Godland
Written by Joe Casey
Illustrated by Tom Scioli
I love Godland. I don't exactly get it, but I love it regardless. Godland is a love letter to Jack Kirby and The Eternals and everything cosmic you've ever enjoyed in a comic. The story is fun and engaging and terrifically weird sci-fi, but really, stay for the jaw-dropping art from Tom Scioli. Scioli is one of my favorites, as he clearly loves Kirby, not just in style but in ethos. When I read a comic illustrated by Tom Scioli, I feel like literally anything could happen. So, looking for some scifi craziness to add to your reading queue? Pick up Godland.


Head Lopper Vol. 1
Head Lopper
Written and Illustrated by Andrew MacLean
Colored by Andrew MacLean and Mike Spicer
Head Lopper is a fun, violent, entertaining fantasy adventure read. If you like stories with magic and intrigue, and with heroic warriors beheading monsters as they trade barbs with the decapitated head of a witch, then this is the perfect book for you. MacLean's skill as a visual artist are obvious, but Head Lopper is also a great showcase for his skills as a storyteller of wit and humor. Head Lopper tells the story of the titular Lopper of heads, but he'd prefer you just call him Norgal. It's a fun, engaging series for fans of fantasy and adventure comics.
Infinite Vacation HC

The Infinite Vacation
Written by Nick Spencer
Illustrated by Christian Ward
Have you ever wondered what it would be like if you've made different choices in your life? If you'd exercised more, or moved when you had that chance, or pursued a career in politics? In the world of The Infinite Vacation, it's no hypothetical, it's reality. For a price, you can take vacations in other realities and see all those other versions of yourself, and live the life you might had lived if you'd made different choices. It's a hugely fun, entertaining, thought-provoking book. What really sells the book is the mind-blowing, psychedelic art from Christian Ward. It's really stunning work which suits the trippy sci-fi story.  A fantastic read.

Injection Vol. 1
Injection
Written by Warren Ellis
Illustrated by Declan Shalvey
Colored by Jordie Bellaire
There are certain things that writer Warren Ellis captures better than just about anyone. That looming sense of existential dread wrapped in a sci-fi story that's somewhat impenetrable but completely conveys the sense that "the world is completely f$@&ed"? Ellis (along with some very talented artists) is your guy. This is the world of Injection, where some relatively well-meaning researchers who do things they really shouldn't have done, and weird things start to happen. Ellis has great artistic collaborators in Declan Shalvey and Jordie Bellaire. Injection is a smart, witty, everything-is-doomed kind of book.


Invisible Republic Vol. 1 
Invisible Republic
Written by Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko
Illustrated by Gabriel Hardman
Colored by Jordan Boyd
Invisible Republic is a tale about present-day inequality in the guise of a dystopian future, a strong, thought-provoking comic created by Gabriel Hardman and Corinna Bechko, which tells a political story about the rise of a dictator, and a story about memory.  Hardman and colorist Jordan Boyd's art really works well in this story. Hardman here has a dark, somewhat grimy, noir-influenced style that is compelling and realistic and sets a bleak tone. This is a smart, political story that feels very relevant.


Jupiter's Legacy Vol. 1 
Jupiter's Legacy
Written by Mark Millar
Illustrated by Frank Quitely
Colored by Peter Doherty
Jupiter's Legacy is an ambitious superhero comic involving two of the biggest names in superhero comics, Mark Millar and Frank Quitely.  The story of Jupiter's Legacy is one of generations, of (you guessed it) legacies, and destiny and inheritance. There were great heroes, but now we see that their descendants have fallen far from the tree. The overall tone of the series is strongly felt in Quitely's art. Quitely is a great sequential/visual storyteller. From the lush, weird scenes on a mysterious island, to the grim depictions of the present to the dynamic superhero scenes. He helps set the epic tone of the series.

Low Vol. 1: The Delirium of Hope 
Low
Written by Rick Remender
Illustrated by Greg Tocchini
Low is a terrific, epic science fiction story, but it's really about living with the consequences of those who came before us, whether it be our human ancestors who failed to adapt and plan for the eventual in habitability of earth, or whether it be the actions of parents, whose heads were filled with hubris or false and potentially damaging notions of hope. Low is big and epic and biblical in scope, with parallels in both the Exodus and the Noah stories.  Artist Greg Tocchini does amazing work in bringing this story to life. This is beautiful (and sometimes beautifully ugly) art that's both intricately detailed and impressionistic (or sketchy), and like the world itself, Tocchini's art is sexy, weird, dangerous, bloody, decadent, sometimes gaudy, dirty, grimy, decaying and fading into oblivion. Without reading any dialogue you can get all of that from the art. It's widescreen, cinematic art that really conveys a world at the end of its rope.

Material Vol. 1 
Material
Written by Ales Kot
Illustrated by Will Tempest
Lettered by Clayton Cowles
Designed by Tom Muller
With Material, Ales Kot and artist Will Tempest are telling stories that feel incredibly "right now." Material is a work of fiction, and yet it's not. It's a challenging, intellectual, provocative, sometimes frustrating, political book that takes a distinct point of view, and does this while effectively telling a series of moving, emotional stories. It's something you can't easily characterize and won't easily forget. Artist Will Tempest delivers some art that's nontraditional and spare, but ultimately quite effective. I know feelings were mixed about this book, but I found its reality/fiction storytelling to be effective and really engaging.
Nailbiter Vol. 1: There Will Be Blood 
Nailbiter
Written by Josh Williamson
Illustrated by Mike Henderson
Colors by Adam Guzowski
Nailbiter is a story about serial killers, and it's a story about one weird-ass small town. It's scary and funny and weird and highly entertaining, a combination at which writer Josh Williamson excels. He's created a really compelling book, together with artist Mike Henderson. This is not a book for the squeamish, but it's more than just scary. It's very witty and funny, and also has a whole other element of big conspiracy going on as well. If you're looking for a horror thriller with humor and heart, Nailbiter is a great read.

The Nightly News Vol. 1
The Nightly News
Written and Illustrated by Jonathan Hickman
I'm a huge fan of Jonathan Hickman's comics work, and The Nightly News was his first work  at Image and it's noteworthy not only as a cool story but also for how it presages the themes that are most important to him through his later work. It's a story about secret conspiracies and alliances among powerful organizations, with Hickman hallmarks such as great design, a lot of information (charts charts charts!), and great art from Hickman himself.

Peter Panzerfaust Vol. 1: The Great Escape 
Peter Panzerfaust
Written by Kurtis Wiebe
Illustrated by Tyler Jenkins
Colored by Various
Peter Panzerfaust is a World War II-set epic update to the Peter Pan story, that's lovely and moving and funny and also sad. This mood is really ably set by the terrific, thoughtful art from Tyler Jenkins. There's a mood of melancholy over the whole series, which makes sense as Peter Pan was a story about growing up and remembering the magical days of your youth. Here the story is dramatic and life is difficult, but it also feels like people in older days remembering the time when they were young and were involved in something incredible.

The Private Eye: The Cloudburst Edition HC 
The Private Eye
Written by Brian K. Vaughan
Illustrated by Marcos Martin
Colored by Muntsa Vicente
The Private Eye is an ambitious sci-fi/detective series, from the great creative team of Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin (which was originally offered digitally and has been collected in a gorgeous hardcover by Image). This is a late 21st-century world which looks somewhat like what you'd imagine the future to be (tall buildings, futuristic cars), but there's no online connectivity. At some point (but well prior to the events of the story), there was an event where "the cloud" burst and everyone's deepest, darkest secrets became public. The art from Marcos Martin and colors from Muntsa Vicente are vibrant, detailed, and remarkably rendered. Like the best science fiction, this story may take place in the future but it's about right now.
 
Rasputin Vol. 1
Rasputin
Written by Alex Grecian
Illustrated by Riley Rossmo
Colored by Ivan Plascencia
The creators of Rasputin have taken a creative approach to the story of Grigori Rasputin's life in order to get at some deeper truths and craft an interesting story. The series sets a lonely, haunting mood, and establishes the magical world of Grigori Rasputin, thanks to the spare but effective narration from Grecian and stunning art from Rossmo, who does a lot of the heavy lifting story-wise. Rasputin is a great, quiet, haunting book.

A Red Mass For Mars Vol. 1
Red Mass for Mars
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Illustrated by Ryan Bodenheim
Colored by Ryan Bodenheim, Marty Shelley & Michael Garland
Jonathan Hickman and Ryan Bodenheim is one of my favorite combinations in comics. Their magic continues here as Red Mass For Mars tells an ultimately tragic story of a Superman-like character and the other heroes that surround him.  The story deals well with themes of destiny, inevitably and alienation. Bodenheim provides spectacular, detailed art. There's something about Bodenheim's style that just really works for me. Coupled with Hickman's terrific design work on the book, Red Mass For Mars just feels like a fantastic epic superhero read. I wish "Big 2" superhero comics were this good.

Red Wing Vol. 1 
The Red Wing
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Illustrated by Nick Pitarra
Colored by Rachelle Rosenberg
More Jonathan Hickman goodness. In The Red Wing, Hickman teams with artist Nick Pitarra to tell a terrific, twisty, time travel story that's really a story about family and the father-son relationship. But also about spaceships and time travel and parallel realities. The time travel might make your head hurt if you think about it too much. Pitarra and colorist Rachelle Rosenberg do some really wonderful, action packed, emotional work. Pitarra has a great line that's in the same school as Frank Quitely and Chris Burnham (great company to be in). It's a great read, and if you enjoyed Hickman and Pitarra's work on the epic The Manhattan Projects, you should definitely check out their earlier collaboration, the terrific The Red Wing.

Secret Vol. 1: Never Get Caught 
Secret
Written by Jonathan Hickman
Illustrated by Ryan Bodenheim
Colored by Michael Garland
Secret is another great Hickman/Bodenheim collaboration, and a different sort of story than I'm used to Hickman telling. This is a modern-day espionage story. It's got great twists and turns, compelling characters, excellent tough-guy dialogue, and fantastic art from Bodenheim and colorist Michael Garland. Garland uses the same limited, atmospheric color palate that he later used in The Dying & The Dead (another one of my favorites) and it works perfectly here to set the mood of the story. Secret is an entertaining, modern espionage thriller.

Sex Criminals Vol. 1 
Sex Criminals
Written by Matt Fraction
Illustrated by Chip Zdarsky
I probably don't need to tell you why Sex Criminals is a great book, but here you go: Sex Criminals is one of the most outrageously funny (and just plain outrageous), raunchy, emotionally honest, intelligent, thoughtful comics that has been published in a very long time. It's a story about people who can freeze time whenever they orgasm, and those two people meet and decide to rob banks. But it's so much more than that.  Matt Fraction is a really gifted writer and he lays out a sometimes painfully honest, astute comic (really an amazing look at depression and other psychological disorders). His partner, Chip Zdarsky, does incredible work on the art in this book. It's outrageous and hilarious and full of information and jokes and details, but also searingly emotional and clever. It's a terrific read.


Shutter Vol. 1: Wanderlust 
Shutter
Written by Joe Keatinge
Illustrated by Leila Del Duca
Colored by Owen Gieni
Lettered by Ed Brisson and John Workman
Shutter is a fantastic comic from writer Joe Keatinge, illustrated by Leila Del Luca, with colors from Owen Gieni and letters from Ed Brisson/John Workman. This is a weird, exciting world that's a lot like our own except for the existence of magic and monsters and sentient clocks and all other sorts of interesting things. Kate Christopher is the lead character, and the story concerns her life, her very weird family, and huge conspiracies and mysteries spanning the globe. It's a gorgeous book, Del Duca and Gieni do some wonderful work here, and make a lot of innovative layout choices in really using every square inch of the comic page. It takes some dark and bloody turns, but Shutter a book full of heart and humor and adventure.

We Stand On Guard 
We Stand on Guard
Written by Brian K. Vaughan
Illustrated by Steve Skroce
Colored by Matt Hollingsworth
Lettered by Fonografiks
We Stand On Guard (from writer Brian K. Vaughan, artist Steve Skroce and colorist Matt Hollingsworth) tells the story of a ragtag Canadian militia defending Canada from hostile American invaders in the early 22nd century.  This is great, engaging, accessible entertainment (no surprise from Vaughan) that takes a very ground-up approach to world building. Skroce does highly skilled, detailed, thoughtful sequential art and design throughout the series, and Hollingworth's colors have a terrific, slightly faded, weathered quality to them that works very well in the storytelling. We Stand on Guard is a great read.

The Wicked + The Divine Vol. 1: The Faust Act
The Wicked + The Divine
Written by Kieron Gillen
Illustrated by Jamie McKelvie
Colored by Matt Wilson
Lettered by Clayton Cowles
We live in a celebrity obsessed, constantly connected culture, and if someone showed up claiming to be a god, there'd be those that doubted them, but there would also be those who embrace them (and maybe wanted to cosplay them). And what if those gods embraced their role as modern day celebrities, with the ubiquity of social media, constant news, and everything that entails? The result might look something like The Wicked + The Divine, the terrific series from Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie (and Matt Wilson on colors). The creative team have produced something interesting, promising and beautiful. McKelvie's style here involves consistent, clean lines, emotive (but not overdone) facial acting, and skillful design and layout, and Wilson's colors and distinct and meaningful and specific. This is visual art that's intended to be both expressive and accessible. The Wicked + The Divine is a story that skillfully (and beautifully) speaks to people now.