30(ish) Great Image Comics On Their 30th Anniversary

Image Comics turns 30 this year! In honor of that, I wanted to write about (approximately) 30 of my favorite series from Image Comics. I did this five years ago for their 25th anniversary (here and here), but it's been interesting to see not only the great works that have been published since then, but the comics that haven't necessarily remained favorites (tastes change over time, and books rise and fall in and out of favor). There are a ton more great comics that didn't make the list, but these are some that I wanted to note. Where I have more thoroughly reviewed the book, I provide a link to that as well.

To be clear, this is NOT a list of the 30 "best" Image Comics books. These are just books that I love and I think you will too.

Adventureman by Matt Fraction, Terry Dodson, Rachel Dodson, and Clayton Cowles, published by Image Comics

Adventureman is is a blast of pure, pulpy, imaginative comic goodness. What's great about Adventureman is that it provides the reader with several different kinds of stories all in one. The story begins in an idealized, pulpy 1930's New York, as the city is under attack from evil invaders. But the police commissioner calls upon Adventureman and his band of science/mystical heroes to save the day. Adventureman is a classic barrel-chested, square-jawed Doc Savage type hero, and he and his allies do their best, and all appears lost...and then we realize that we've just been hearing about a story that a mom is reading with her son. It's present-day New York City, a much more mundane place. Adventureman is just a long-lost pulp-fiction character. OR IS HE??? You'll just have to keep reading to find out. I promise you'll have a great time, and you will just want to pore over the incredible art from Terry and Rachel Dodson. Seriously - the characters, the city - it's all so gorgeous. This book is a real delight.

The Black Monday Murders by Jonathan Hickman, Tomm Coker, Michael Garland, and Rus Wooton
The Black Monday Murders is a story about how dark magic is actually what fuels money and finance in the world, and the alliances, betrayals and bizarre rituals behind the power of Wall Street. The Black Monday Murders is telling a big, intricate story with a lot of moving pieces; it's got a whole lot of morally gray protagonists, which you'd expect in a story about the secret history and powers of the world. All the while, it's wonderfully illustrated by Tomm Coker with terrific, thoughtful colors from Michael Garland. Their artwork is great at conveying moments of stillness along with moments of action and violence, and really sets the dark, ominous mood of the book. The Black Monday Murders is great, complex, comic book storytelling for grownups. 

Black Science by Rick Remender, Matteo Scalera, Dean White, Mike Spicer, Moreno Dinisio, and Rus Wooton

If the idea of Sliders meets Lost in Space meets Fantastic Four meets Apocalypse Now appeals to you, you're in luck. If Black Science was only an exploration of amazing, fantastical worlds with stunning, pulpy art from Matteo Scalera it would still be a great book. However, there's more to it, as it's a moving exploration of people coming to grips with themselves and their own limitations, mistakes, and regrets, all done with an engaging, rebellious vibe. Plus there are technologically advanced Native Americans conquering Europe, idealized worlds, terrifying worlds, and so much more. Even more than that, though? It's a profound story of one man's struggles with his own regrets and limitation, along with monsters and weird alternate worlds. Scalera (along with a few talented colorists) does incredible work in bringing these many different worlds to life.

Blue in Green by Ram V, Anand RK, John Pearson, Aditya Bidikar, and Tom Muller

Blue in Green is a stunning, freaky, fantastic story of pain, loss, legacy and generational trauma. The creative team weaves a story here that exists in a dreamlike space where you don't know if some of the things in the story are actually happening, and that's ok. We are all just along for the ride. Every aspect of the story is top notch. Ram V has an ear for dialogue and narration. He knows how to keep things moving, and the dialogue feels true to life. And Anand RK is an incredible illustrator. This is weird, scratchy, mesmerizing work. He and colorist John Pearson combine for an explosive, weird, incredibly powerful story with work that reminds me of classic Bill Sienkiewicz, but still very much its own thing. And talented letterer Aditya Bidikar brings his A-game to this story as well, as the lettering here is hand-lettered, and detailed and sometimes scary or unsettling or sad, but incredibly additive and very much part of the story.

Criminal by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, published by Image Comics

Criminal is a sprawling series of stories set over the course of many years, involving an wide but related set of characters. There are high-level criminals, low level criminals, old people, young people, femme fatales, washed-out comic book creators, and doomed men. LOTS of doomed men. It's crime-noir at its very best. Sean Phillips is an incredible, grounded artist and a fantastic storyteller. And he and writer Ed Brubaker together make real storytelling magic. This is a wonderful series and terrific exploration of the grimy side of life. The great thing with Criminal is that you can pick and start reading basically anywhere. The main character of one story might just be a bit player in a different story. It's a rich, grimy, seedy universe that you should explore. 

Deadly Class by Rick Remender, Wes Craig, Lee Loughridge, Jordan Boyd, and Rus Wooton

Deadly Class is a period piece set (primarily) in late 1980s San Francisco, about teenage punks, rebels, criminals and misfits (all the most awesome people). It's a story about a teenager without hope getting a second chance (at a tremendous cost), as he's taken into a secret high school for training assassins (like Breakfast Club meets Fight Club). It's also one of the most honest, brutal explorations of depression, loneliness, and the anxieties and fears of being a teenager that I've read in a long time. Plus the art from Wes Craig (with colors by Lee Loughridge, and then Jordan Boyd) is staggeringly good. The layout, design, sequential storytelling, all of what Craig and Loughridge/Boyd do in this book will blow your mind (and not just the issues where the main character is high on acid). There are wild bizarro sequences, and colors that explode off of the page. This is a punk rock book, done at a virtuoso level. 

Decorum by Jonathan Hickman and Mike Huddleston, published by Image Comics

The scope of Decorum feels both incredibly vast, and remarkably human and mundane. Most of writer Jonathan Hickman's work feels like a look at the people behind the curtain moving the levers of society. This also has that element (which is huge and cosmic and robotic?), but it also is a much more ground-level portrayal of someone operating within that structure. But honestly? As intriguing as the story is, the chief selling point for this comic is the stunning art of Mike Huddleston. I'd never seen Huddleston's work before reading Decorum, and it's an absolute revelation. He is in complete visual command of this comic, displaying amazing skill in a number of completely different artistic styles that he blends together (seriously, this book feels like it was done by at least 3 completely different artists, but it was one guy). I do like a story that mixes the macro and micro, and Decorum works well in that regard. We've got big, cosmic ideas, but we've also got the story of a paid assassin with impeccable manners, and a courier who really probably wishes she'd said no to a particular job. Decorum was a delight to read and a serious feast for the eyes, and I can't wait to see where it goes  when it eventually picks up for a second arc.

Department of Truth by James Tynion IV, Martin Simmonds, Aditya Bidikar, Dylan Todd, Steve Foxe, and more

Department of Truth is a fantastic comic that I very much enjoyed and highly recommend to anyone looking for a dark, smart commentary on our current times. The central premise of Department of Truth is based around the idea that belief itself shapes reality. Not just in an abstract, philosophical sense of "your perception shapes your reality" but in an actual "what people collectively believe can change and warp reality itself" sense. This is a comic of shadowy figures and dark rooms, fitting when this is a story about the ways in which rumors and conspiracies can actually change reality. Martin Simmonds' work in this comic is perfectly suited to those ideas, and is an absolute revelation. Simmonds' absolutely staggering work is one of the fundamental elements in creating the absurd, conspiratorial feel of the story. Simmonds' art here is scratchy, angular, sometimes messy, and often downright weird. And all of that weirdness and perceived imprecision works perfectly in telling the story and setting the tone of these issues. The art here is so much about setting the tone. And what is the tone? It's like X-Files, but weirder, and more supernatural, and filtered through the fog of memory and the haze of confusion. Come enjoy the paranoid, unsettling, reality-is-unstable vibes of a very timely and engaging story.

East of West by Jonathan Hickman, Nick Dragotta, Frank Martin, and Rus Wooton

East of West is (like many Jonathan Hickman stories) a story about systems (in this case, an alternate history of a divided America, and the complex status quo that holds it in place), and the breakdown of those systems. It's a story about the inevitability of death and destruction. It's a story about conflicts, with multiple moving pieces, shifting alliances, and plans within plans. It's also an alternate history telling of America with a Civil War that ended very differently, and it's at once a futuristic science fiction, Western, religious apocalyptic, magical fantasy story. It's also a love story and a story about family and loss. Each one of these elements is blended together into something hard to describe, but which is not to be missed. Artist Nick Dragotta and colorist Frank Martin (with design by Hickman) give the book a sense of dynamic action, high tension and emotion, and skillful world-building (along with some creepy, nightmarish imagery). There's fantastic attention to detail in all aspects of the storytelling here, as each character, each nation and every aspect of the book (from world building to character design) has been given the utmost care and thoughtfulness. East of West is a big, sprawling, complex, and utterly engaging read.

The Fade Out by Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips, and Elizabeth Breitweiser

Few writer/artist teams inspire as much confidence as Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips (Fatale, Sleeper, Incognito), and in The Fade Out, that confidence is completely justified. The Fade Out is a compelling murder mystery, and a broader look at late 1940’s Hollywood, and the way in which something tragic (like being a soldier and seeing battle) doesn't really leave you. The lead character (a screenwriter) clearly has some secrets of his own, and there’s a great supporting cast of characters in this story. Brubaker and Phillips bring a lot of credibility to the world they've created; the atmosphere feels very authentic to the time period. This is a great, emotional story, beyond just being a murder mystery. If you liked L.A. Confidential, you'd enjoy this comic. If you didn't like L.A. Confidential, wow, I really don't know what to say.

Gideon Falls by Jeff Lemire, Andrea Sorrentino, and Dave Stewart, published by Image Comics

Gideon Falls is a comic that delivers truly scary and creepy moments, a complex and intriguing world, and some absolutely jaw-dropping, terrifying and gorgeous art. Written by Jeff Lemire, it starts as a "religious horror" series but it quickly expands into something much bigger, more weird and much more ambitious. It’s a story with mysteries and dark shadows lurking in the corners, which also has a religious bent to it, and it’s building some complex and interesting and completely bonkers worlds. The art from Andrea Sorrentino and Dave Stewart is some of my favorite art of the decade. It's seriously jaw-dropping. I love Sorrentino’s flair and style as a visual storyteller, and with Stewart on colors, Sorrentino’s work has never looked better or creepier. This is a profound, insightful and empathetic look at lonely, scared people trying to understand an insane world. It’s also one of the best looking and freakiest comics that you can buy. So, not surprisingly, I highly recommend it.

God Country by Donny Cates, Geoff Shaw, Jason Wordie and John J. Hill
God Country is a story that's at once big and cosmic and also intensely personal. God Country is a story about fighting and ultimately coming to terms with aging and loss, and seeing those you love change and ultimately fade away from you, but all the while treasuring those moments you do have with them. Oh, and it's also an epic sci-fi/fantasy story featuring a talking sword and giant cosmic gods. The creative team behind God Country have done excellent work in setting the scale and scope of this story. It's an intimate story about one family's difficult times, but it's also imbued with the weight of Biblical presence. It's a haunting but also fun book, and one that will stay with you.

Godland by Joe Casey and Tom Scioli

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.

Halcyon by Tara Butters, Marc Guggenheim, Ryan Bodenheim, Mark Englert, and Dave Sharpe
Halcyon is terrific, dark story about superheroes, written by the accomplished show running team of Marc Guggenheim and Tara Butters, with art from the late, great Ryan Bodenheim and colors from Mark Englert. The central premise of the story here is "what happens when the eternal fight for truth and peace and justice is over?" Let's just say this transition doesn't exactly go well for the superheroes of this world. It's an extremely compelling story. There are analogs for a number of prominent superheroes (Superman, Batman, The Flash, Beast, Captain America), but there are enough differences so it doesn't feel too on-the-nose. Ryan Bodenheim does spectacular work in this book. He's got a gritty, kinetic, detailed style that works well for both action and quieter scenes. I really just love this story - it's got clever, fun, and cruel twists, and is well told. 

The Manhattan Projects by Jonathan Hickman, Nick Pitarra, Jordie Bellaire, and Rus Wooton

If you want to know the real truth behind American history from the middle of WWII to the beginning of the Vietnam War, you're not going to get it in a PBS documentary, nor are you going to get the true nitty-gritty from reading a history textbook. No, you need to read The Manhattan Projects, one of the most inventive, perfectly crazy series you'll ever read. From creative interpretations of well-known historical figures (Cannibal Oppenheimer! Einstein wielding a chainsaw, killing aliens! Harry Truman at the center of a gigantic, murderous orgy ritual! Robot FDR!), to twisted takes on significant historical events such as the dropping of the atomic bomb and the assassination of a certain beloved president, no topic is off-limits or safe from the view of the creators of The Manhattan Projects, Jonathan Hickman and Nick Pitarra. The colors from Jordie Bellaire in this book are bright, big and also a very important part of the storytelling in this book. An amazing, frequently hilarious, sometimes shocking and disgusting book that also happens to read better in collected editions. 

Manifest Destiny by Chris Dingess, Matthew Roberts, Owen Gieni, and Pat Brosseau
Manifest Destiny, like The Manhattan Projects, looks at the secret history of America. In this case, we learn that the real motivation for the excursion by Lewis and Clark to the west was to hunt and destroy monsters. This is a beautifully illustrated, very entertaining book with a high degree of verisimilitude (which is a funny thing to say about a book featuring giant killer frogs and monsters, but it's true). The book succeeds on the level of the political allegory, in addition to being a well told, beautifully illustrated (courtesy of art by Matthew Roberts and colors by Owen Gieni) book. If you're a fan of history, zombies, monsters and fun generally, this is a comic you should absolutely be reading.

Murder Falcon by Daniel warren Johnson and Mike Spicer
Daniel Warren Johnson is an incredibly talented artist. Every time he posts a commission on Twitter, people (justifiably) freak out. He's got an incredible level of detail, and the art feels visceral and kinetic. And metal. Totally metal. With that in mind, Johnson's comic Murder Falcon pushed so many terrific buttons for people. This is a comic that is a wild story but also feels incredibly emotional and personal. It's a story about the power of heavy metal saving the world. More specifically, it's the story of Jake, who's shredding metal guitar is the only thing that can power the Murder Falcon, our sole defense against the evil monsters of darkness. This book has incredible action, a great musical heart, humor, and is also incredibly emotionally affecting. Johnson has a great knack for action and emotion, and Murder Falcon is terrific read (and listen to something loud while you read it).

Nameless by Grant Morrison, Chris Burnham, Nathan Fairbairn, and Simon Bowland
Few writers are more skilled than Grant Morrison at creating a detailed, richly imagined world in a short amount of time. With detailed, vibrantly weird and unsettling art from Chris Burnham and Nathan Fairbairn, Nameless creates a scary world where the apocalypse is coming soon (or it's already here?), and the line between nightmares and reality is breaking down. It's psychological horror, and it's epic science fiction, all done with Morrison's dark wit and vivid imagination. This is terrifying horror set both in space and on Earth. There are monsters, giant ancient vessels, and some genuinely unsettling images. Burnham and Fairbairn provide some spectacular art in this series. Burnham's style is dynamic, visceral and detailed; he does some really virtuoso work.  Nameless is a book where the horror is existential and I'm not generally a huge horror fan, but I love this book. It will scare the hell out of you.

Noah by Darren Aronofsky, Ari Handel, Niko Henrichon, and Nicolas Senegas
Noah (the graphic novel), is neither a faithful adaptation of the Biblical story nor is it a children's tale. Strictly speaking, it is an adaptation of the first draft of the screenplay of Noah (the movie), written and directed by Darren Aronofsky, based (loosely) on the Biblical story of Noah. This is a creative and ambitious book, which attempts to fill in a number of the gaps in and expand upon the Biblical story (which is pretty bare-bones) and wrestle with what the decisions undertook in that story would have meant (and felt like) to the people living around Noah and his family. The look and feel of this story are visually striking, starting with the sky, all the way down to the ground. Niko Henrichon and Nicolas Senegas make everything feel like it takes place in a time that is much closer to the time of creation when all the heavenly bodies were still bunched together, before everything settled into what is our world. Regardless of whether you enjoyed the movie, or have an interest in the Bible generally (though some religious people may find much of the story objectionable), Noah is a wonderful read. 

November by Matt Fraction, Elsa Charretier, Matt Hollingsworth, and Kurt Ankeny

November is a fantastic crime story, told in 4 volumes. It tells a number of interconnected stories, taking place in the same city at approximately the same time. That sense of interconnection gets at the heart of one of the major themes running through November, the idea of the forces that bind us and link us together, for better or for worse. Also, November is an absolutely gorgeous book. Elsa Charretier brings the story to life with terrifically paced, emotive, grimy yet stylish art. Charretier’s style feels classic (in a silver-age kind of way) but her skills as a sequential storyteller feel very modern. Every aspect of the story (colors, letters, design) feels deliberate and designed to make the reading experience as great as possible. November is a must-read for fans of crime stories and great drama generally.

Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan, Cliff Chiang, Matt Wilson, and Jared K. Fletcher
Paper Girls is one of my favorite books of all time. While I was initially pulled in by the nostalgia factor (it's set in the suburbs in 1988 and is about a bunch of 13-year olds, so they're the exact same age as me) it isn't a story that's about nostalgia. What is it about? It's about 4 fast friends thrown into a crazy science fiction adventure across time. What I can tell you is that each issue is an incredibly satisfying read, and typically ends on a cliffhanger of some sort. It's written by Brian K. Vaughan so you can trust that there will be fun dialogue and real, relatable characters. Moreover, it's one of the very best looking books you'll read, with an A+ art team, in artist Cliff Chiang, colorist Matt Wilson, and letterer/designer Jared Fletcher. This book has so much heart; I promise you will come to love the characters. And the story is engaging and propulsive and always full of heart (and there's a terrific show based on the first arc of stories on Amazon Prime).

Pax Romana by Jonathan Hickman
Jonathan Hickman is such a good writer that you might be tempted to forget that he's an incredibly talented illustrator and graphic designer in his own right. He's a multi-talented threat, and all of his skills are on display in Pax Romana, one of my all-time favorite comics. It's the mid-21st century and the Catholic Church has declined in influence. They decide that the only rational thing to do is to go back in time and strengthen the historical origins of the Church, thereby changing history. Most of the story takes place in the past as you see future-men and women change history and make some pretty interesting decisions on how they're going to do that. This is a dense, somewhat wordy read (a few pages are just text of a meeting). Don't let that dissuade you, though. Hickman's illustration and panel design are so innovative and engaging that it doesn't feel dense, though. You'll be fascinated by the story, and appreciate all of the helpful graphs, charts, and timelines. Pax Romana is a smart, fun read for those who love complex time-travel stories.

The Private Eye by Brian K. Vaughan, Marcos Martin, and 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 was 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. And in this world there's a murder, and it's up to a reluctant journalist (who have basically replaced police) to solve it. 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 (and it feels even more timely than when it was first published 7-8 years ago).

Pulp by Ed Brubaker, Sean Phillips and Jacob Phillips
Pulp is a wonderful story (from the team of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, who I've already mentioned several times) set in two time periods, the tail end of the Old West in the 1890's, and New York City of the mid-to-late 1930's. I don't want to give too much of the story away, but it's both a western and a crime drama, and there are Nazi supporters involved (which sadly makes it more topical than I would like). But it's a great story of an older man trying to make it in a changing world, and a story of the blurry lines between fiction and reality, and of the times when you need to take a moral stand. Pulp is also, of course, a gorgeous book as Phillips (colored here by his son Jacob) is at the top of his game. Every page of this book is an absolutely joy to look at. Pulp is a fantastic, satisfying, self-contained story.

The Reckless Series: Reckless, Friend of the Devil, Destroy All Monsters, and The Ghost In You, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips
Speaking of Brubaker and Phillips, 2020 saw the release of Reckless, a self-contained story about a man named Ethan Reckless who's kind of like a private investigator, but not exactly. When people need help with something, they call a number and leave a message. Sometimes, he decides to try to help them solve their problem. The great news is there were have been three(!) additional stories about Ethan Reckless released in 2021 and 2022. These are fun action/crime stories that really convey a sense of place and time - that being 1980's Los Angeles. These are sometimes dark stories, but they have a feeling of lightness to them that's a little different than some of Brubaker/Phillips' other work (like Criminal, where you always know everyone is doomed). Sean Phillips (with colors from his son Jacob) continues to get better and better as an artist. He conveys so much emotion, and like I said, does an amazing job setting a story in a real place and time.

Red Mass for Mars/Secret/The Dying & The Dead by Jonathan Hickman, Ryan Bodenheim, Marty Shelley and Michael Garland

When writer Jonathan Hickman, line artist Ryan Bodenheim, and color artist Michael Garland collaborated, the results were always big, gritty, action-packed, dramatic, and intense. Bodenheim sadly passed away at the end of 2021, but in addition to all of the lives I am sure he enriched, he also left behind a terrific artistic legacy (and on a personal level, I got to spend a little time with him and he was funny, kind, and generous). There's something about Bodenheim's style that just really works for me. I could look at his work all day. Paired with Garland's atmospheric colors, and bringing great stories by Hickman to life, these three made wonderful comics. Hickman also provided terrific design work on the books. They worked together on the sci-fi superhero story Red Mass For Mars, the espionage tale Secret, and the epic The Dying & The Dead (which was unfinished).  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. Secret is a modern-day espionage story. It's got great twists and turns, compelling characters, excellent tough-guy dialogue, and fantastic art In The Dying & The Dead, the creative team set their sights on a story encompassing war heroes, the battle against death, world domination, clones (maybe?), ancient humanoid civilizations (or maybe angels or demons), and one last mission for the squad. Bodenheim knows how to set a scene, and he and Hickman engage in some masterful decompressed storytelling. And Michael Garland's coloring (in each of these) is one of the real stars of the show. He washes over each panel (or series of panels) with certain colors. A change in color panel conveys a threat (such as a wedding about to get very messy) or conveys a change in location. The color schemes vary amongst each of these stories, but they're all very atmospheric and make for some memorable stories. I really miss Ryan Bodenheim and his amazing talent. But you can still enjoy some terrific stories showcasing his skill as part of a terrific creative team.

Royal City by Jeff Lemire, letters by Steve Wands
Royal City is a thoughtful, poignant, and very sweet story about the members of a fractured family who live in, or return to, Royal City because the dad has just had a stroke. Along the way, we spend a lot of time with each of the family members, including with one who died years before (?). It's complicated, but the story itself is not. You'll be able to follow what's going on thanks to the skilled storytelling of Jeff Lemire, on both writing and art duties here. Lemire's scratchy art lends itself to melancholy stories of loneliness and regret, and that's what you'll get here. But it's not dour, it's sweet and compassionate and intimate storytelling. 

Saga by Brian K. Vaughan, Fiona Staples, and Fonografiks
It's hard to say too much about Saga that hasn't already been written. Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples are peerless in their ability to craft stories full of exciting and weird science fiction concepts, moving, complex and real characters, engaging, dramatic, intense and heartbreaking plot, all presented visually by one of the best in the business. Saga is raunchy, intelligent, and fearless. The introductory pitch on this book is that it's like an R-rated Star Wars meets Romeo and Juliet. That doesn't do it justice, but you should also know that while the scope of this book is big, the focus is always squarely on the characters. Vaughan is as good as anyone at creating characters you'll come to care about. Vaughan has an incredible partner on this book in artist Fiona Staples. I've been engaged more by certain story arcs and less by others, but my enthusiasm for Staples' art has never waned. She continues to produce, on a regular basis, some of the finest art in any comic. Her absolute mastery of emotion and expression is something to behold, and she makes every character seem interesting and important and alive. 

Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky

Sex Criminals is one of the most outrageously funny (and just plain outrageous), raunchy, emotionally honest, intelligent, thoughtful comics that I've ever read. 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.

Supreme: Blue Rose by Warren Ellis, Tula Lotay, Richard Starkings, and John Roshell

Supreme: Blue Rose is a complex, dense story (based on a 90's Rob Liefeld superhero creation), with all sorts of layers and clues and mysteries. Writer Warren Ellis is using an old superhero character as a jumping-off point to build a remarkable world involving mathematics, alternate realities, time travel, and the hidden nature of reality. This story has a highly intriguing, dream-like, stream-of-consciousness quality, and the reason for this appeal is the artist, Tula Lotay. Lotay's work has a soft, watercolor appearance to it which also adds to the dreamlike feeling. What you first notice about Lotay's art in this book is the women. She draws some of the most beautiful, striking women I've ever seen in a comic book; faces you can't look away from. For a light-hearted, easy-to-follow superhero romp, don't pick up Supreme: Blue Rose! However, do pick it up if you're intrigued by a stunningly gorgeous, complex mystery involving superheroes, mathematics, alternate realities, the future and maybe the entire universe.

Zero by Ales Kot, Various Artists, Jordie Bellaire, Clayton Cowles, and Tom Muller
Zero is an espionage story that is also a commentary on war, terror, the surveillance state and the military industrial complex. Zero is also a commentary on men and masculinity, and the toxic impulses that exist within us. Each issue is illustrated by a different, very talented artist and each choice of illustrator feels like the precisely correct artist for that issue. Also, full disclosure, Zero is also a book that takes a big left turn in its final arc and gets pretty weird. Notwithstanding (and maybe in part because of) the weirdness, the book is intelligent, brutal, thought-provoking, complex and utterly entertaining. Each issue of Zero feels like it is intended to make the reader uncomfortable in the best possible way, by challenging assumptions. It also feels like a thoughtful response to spy stories generally and to people's fascination with and romanticism regarding that genre. Zero is an engaging and challenging read.