Five First Issues: Image Comics
In order to change things up and open up folks to new books, I have decided to every so often choose five #1 issues from a different company, and introduce them to people who may have never heard of them. This time, we start with a company that has been putting out some really good creator-owned books for a few decades now: Image Comics.
First up we have Heart Attack, written by Shawn Kittleson and art by Eric Zawadzki. From the Image website, “Gene therapy has saved Americans from disease—only to give birth to Variants: people with powers so unique, the government denies their human rights. But a rebellion has begun…Charlie North is on the run from the police when he crosses paths with Jill Kearney. Instant attraction becomes mass destruction when they unlock powers neither knew they had. Now, the question isn’t how to use them—but how far they’re willing to go.”
This book is rated “T” for teen but there is a lot of “F bombs” thrown about, so I would definitely say this is for the older teen crowd. I was first struck by the punk rock-looking art and gorgeous colors by Michael Garland. The whole aesthetic is indie yet refined. The premise is yet another sci-fi, dystopian story and reminded me a lot of the early X-Men storylines like “Days of Future Present”. Even though I am a little tired of the post-apocalyptic schtick, this first issue led me to want to pick up the next issue. The last page of the book was a very nice way to get you hooked.
Next we have Lucy Claire: Redemption, written and art by very talented John Upchurch. From the Image website, “Lucy Claire was once a celebrated hero. But through a series of sinister events, she was slandered and defamed, and her children were taken from her. But when an old danger re-emerges, Lucy will have to take on the mantle of hero once again in order to right the wrongs of her past and—above all else—find a way back to her children.”
From the jump, Upchurch’s art had me hooked. It’s a nice painted-looking style and Lucy’s out-of-control curly red hair is freaking amazing. The set-up is pretty straightforward; Lucy is a famous werewolf hunter but she has fallen out of the limelight for a reason we have yet to realize. The were-peeps have been out of sight for a while, but now they are back and Lucy is needed once again to kick some lycanthropic ass! If this first issue is any indication, readers are in for a fun monster-laden ride. I am confused as to why this book is rated “M” for mature. Aside from a little blood, there is nothing to keep the teens from picking this up.
In the third slot we have Marked, written by David Hine and Brian Haberlin and art by Mr. Haberlin. From the Image website, “The Marked may look like cool young influencers, but beneath the designer clothes, their bodies are tattooed with the magical glyphs of an ancient order that secretly protects the world against evil forces. With no new occult threats, The Marked use their tattooed powers solely for the pursuit of pleasure until a young woman called Liza creates a dangerous new form of Hybrid Sorcery. The party is over for The Marked. You’ll believe in magic—terrifying, soul-destroying magic.”
I am an art guy, so Brian Haberlin’s art is the thing that made me pick the book up and unfortunately it’s the only thing that would make me want to continue with issue two. The premise is a little, I don’t know, patronizing maybe? Tattoos=magic seems a little too convenient, and I have lots of tats myself! This first issue is packed with action though. Lots happens and maybe that’s what turned me off; it felt a little rushed. But I would pick up issue two just for the art. This is another book that I don’t get the “M” rating, teens would eat this up. Maybe down the line it gets more intense?
Nomen Omen checks in in the fourth spot, written by Marco. B. Bucci and art by Jacopo Camagni. From the Image website, “No matter how fast you run, sooner or later your past will catch up with you. Enter Becky Kumar, a geeky twenty-year-old from New York City who is about to cross the veil between our reality and a realm of otherworldly truths. Tales of witchcraft and secrets for mature readers that rewires the rules of urban fantasy. #wakeup”
I love the polished but artsy indie look and feel to this book. The entire book is created by a bunch of brilliant Italians who could teach some American creators a thing or two. The set up is one of two young lesbians are magically impregnated by a bloody, wild-eyed woman they try to rescue from a traffic accident. Jump forward to the child’s twenty-first birthday. She’s a little punky chick who is color blind and loves her friends. But her life is about to get weirder… if she lives past the first issue. This is also a rated “M” book that I think older teens would love.
I left the best book for last; Undiscovered Country, written by superstars Scott Snyder and Charles Soule and art by Guiseppe Camuncoli and Daniele Orlandini. From the Image website, “In this special oversized first issue, readers will journey into the near future, and an unknown nation that was once the United States of America—a land that’s become shrouded in mystery after walling itself off from the rest of the world without explanation over thirty years ago. When a team seeking a cure for a global pandemic breaches U.S. borders, they quickly find themselves in a struggle to survive this strange and deadly lost continent!”
I feel like this book is going to be an important mirror held up to our country’s current sociopolitical climate. Snyder and Soule waste no time with the analogies and straightforward comparisons to what the United States could look like in the very near future. This first issue is stark and tense, setting up what looks to be an exciting ride through the perils of what we are becoming. This “M” rated book may just be because of the heavier content, but savvier teens would get it. I am not only going to keep reading this title, but I can’t wait to pick up the first story arc in collected form. This is one of those very involved stories I just can’t wait a month between issues.
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