Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with reading just DC or Marvel, but sometimes I want more. Sometimes I want something with a little more kick, and that's when I turn to some of the independent companies.
More so than ever, I find myself drawn to one company over all the other ones: Image Comics. Many people know Image from one hell-bound character from the early 90s: Spawn. While the company really made a name for itself with that character, there are more and more books popping up that are not only growing in popularity, but they are fantastic reads. Let's take a look at some of the hotter books at Image, and a few of the ones I prefer. Maybe you'll give these books a first chance.
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The Walking DeadHow can you mention Image Comics right now without mentioning Walking Dead? The book was adapted for television last October and hit record viewing numbers on AMC. The six episode season may be over, but it's been picked up for a bunch more next year.
What's it about?Zombies have taken over the world, and the book follows a group of survivors, led by Rick Grimes, who sometimes have to do a bit of dirty work just to stay alive.
Who is it by?The book is written by Robert Kirkman. Tony Moore did the art and covers on the first 24 issues, and then Charlie Adlard took over.
What makes this book stand out?Unlike 99% of the zombie infested comics on your store shelves, this book isn't about zombies, and it has a heart. It's about human survival, adaptation, and community, while shooting the undead. If you loved the television series, you'll love the book more. Lastly, the book is an emotional roller coaster. Don't get too attached to anyone in this book because they will die, go crazy, or loose a limb, and in this book, when you're dead, you're dead for real. It's my second favorite comic book series of all time. Read this puppy in trade. One issue won't satisfy your thirst, or pick up The Walking Dead Weekly. Image is re-releasing single issues on a weekly basis. Issue four will be out on today.
InvincibleIt's hard for me not to mention Invincible right after I praise The Walking Dead, both written by Robert Kirkman. (It's also hard not to mention Battle Pope, also written by Kirkman for Funk-O-Tron comics, but reprinted by Image in 2005 in color) Kirkman's writing, in this book, is a complete 180 from Walking Dead. It's lighthearted, fun, and well, violent.
What's it about?It's about a teenager ( Mark Grayson) who finds out his dad is an alien ( Viltrumite) with Superman-like powers, and a killer mustache (all Viltrumites have killer mustaches). Grayson finds he has super-powers and decides to become a hero.
Who is it by?Robert Kirkman writes and Ryan Ottley has been the main artist on the book with Cory Walker returning from time to time.
What makes this book stand out?It's a traditional super-hero book that isn't so traditional. Sure, the good guy fights the bad guy and gets the girl on occasion, but sometimes the good guy has to kill, or sometimes he loses, or sometimes his father isn't who he seems. Just like Walking Dead, when people die in this book, they die, for the most part. I love super-hero books. I've read thousands, and I can say without a doubt, this is the best super-hero book to date. Pick this book up in trade or in the Ultimate Collections because you won't want to put it down.
G.I. JoeYo Joe! This toy turned cartoon franchise, as children of the 80s know it, has been through quite a few companies (starting with Marvel), but for me, one really stood out, and that was the Image run starting in 2001. Sadly, in 2010, this whole series was ripped out of continuity and considered another dimension. Boo on that!
What's it about?About 25 issues long under Image! (rim shot) The G.I. Joe team has to get back together to fight COBRAAA! Destro has taken over Cobra, and Cobra Commander has lost his mind. It's a new spin on the classic franchise.
Who is it by?The book was written by Josh Blaylock, and it had a slew of artists, but Steve Kurth started this series off.
What makes this book stand out?It's the G.I. Joe team a lot of us grew up with with better writing and art. I loved the idea that Cobra Commander is crazy and Destro is leading the team. Plus, you get to meet Destro's son. This franchise has been through a slew of different companies, but this was by far my favorite run. It was fun and made you feel like a kid again. If you're not sure about stepping out of your comfort zone, this will be easy for you to pick up since you already know the characters and story. This run of G.I. Joe is the comfort food of comics. G.I. Joe is now currently published through IDW but these issues deserved to be read.
ChewSometimes ideas are so far out there when someone tells you about them that you HAVE to pick up the story and read it. That's how a lot of people feel about Chew.
What's it about?Prepare yourself. Tony Chu is Cibiopathic, meaning whenever he eats something he gets a psychic impression of where that food came from, who touched it, and anything else involving that food. It's more of a curse than a blessing, but said curse doesn't affect Tony if he eats beets. Tony works for the F.D.A. as a Detective in a world where chicken is illegal because of a bird flu that has killed millions.
Who is it by?The book is written by John Layman and drawn by Rob Guillory.
What makes this book stand out?For such a bizarre concept, this book has a great sense of humor about it. It's fresh, fun, and well written and drawn. I suggest picking it up in trade, since the book is a high seller, and it can be tough to pick up single issues. Currently, there are three trades out. Although the idea may be a little off-putting, Chew is a book that will leave you hungry for more. (Pun intended)
It's hard to only pick a few of these books since Image has done a lot of great books the past few years. The one I keep hearing about time and time again started in late 2010. It's called Morning Glories and it's written by Nick Spencer, who wrote the most recent issue of Supergirl. I know Nick is a solid writer from that issue and the Jimmy Olsen back-ups currently in Action Comics, but the problem I have with Morning Glories is that I simply can't get my hands on a single copy! It's always sold out! I'll be waiting for the trade I guess. The book is about six prep-school students who find out their school is not what it seems to be.
The other book by Image I highly recommend is Skullkickers. I've fallen in love with this zany medieval mystical romp as two mercenaries get in all sorts of trouble. The book is currently on issue number four and you should still be able to pick them up.
There you have it! Some great books from a great company. Image Comics has published some great books over the years, and they are one of the top overall companies in the business. These are great books to start with if you've ever wanted to step more into the "indy-arena." Give them a first chance.
~Mat "InferiorEgo" Elfring is a comedian, teacher, writer, comic book store employee.
Check out Mat on twitter.