Just like last year, the AiPT team is chomping at the bit to give their thoughts on the slew of newly announced Image comic books from the 2015 Image Expo.
Let’s have at it:
“What if the most dangerous man on Earth was also the one trying to do the most good?”
Creative Team: Todd McFarlane, Brian Holguin (Spawn, Mr. Majestic) and artist Clayton Crain (X-Force)
David: I’m intrigued because Clayton Craine is very capable of drawing horrific stuff. The guy made the Carnage miniseries he worked on look as scary as Carnage should be simply by the blood dripping off so many panels. That said, the brief quote given reminds me of Great Pacific so it’ll be interesting to see how it separates itself from that.
John: I am confused, wouldn’t having extreme power and abilities qualify you for most dangerous? Then he makes the choice of trying to do good. Sounds like Superman to me.
Jordan: Clayton Crain is a decent artist based on the stuff I’ve seen from him in Rai, but I’m not remotely familiar with the writer at all so I’m not immediately sold on this book.
Greg: The premise, at least from the tagline provided, can basically be applied to any Superman story ever told, and while that’s not inherently a bad thing, it doesn’t seem very innovative either.
I don’t want to hate on Brian Holguin because I have absolutely no familiarity with him, but I’ve expressed before my distaste for Crain’s art. I see the appeal, but to me it looks like a video game. Also, isn’t Todd McFarlane co-writing this? Maybe he’s gotten better in the past 20 years or so, but all I’ve read by him was the first issue of his Spider-Man series, and that was literally one of the worst written comics I’ve ever read outside of Holy Terror.
An ongoing science-fiction series about the dark future we’ve built for ourselves. Once upon a time, there were five crazy people, and they poisoned the 21st Century.
Creative Team: Warren Ellis (TREES, SUPREME: BLUE ROSE, Moon Knight), artist Declan Shalvey (Moon Knight), and colorist Jordie Bellaire (MANHATTAN PROJECTS, NOWHERE MEN, PRETTY DEADLY)
David: I’m pretty sure this will be the book everyone is talking about next year when it comes to the Image Comics slate. The Shalvey/Ellis combo is exciting enough, but to add Bellaire into the mix makes it all the more interesting. Bellaire is well known for a lot of color and pop in his books while the Ellis/Shalvey pairing on Moon Knight was very dark and brooding. We’ll all be expecting some incredible layouts thanks to Shalvey and some gripping writing from Ellis. Must read in my book.
Jordan: I wasn’t exactly blown away by Moon Knight (kind of boring and forgettable in the end honestly), though it is nice to see a writer and artist that people liked team up again. Either way, I’ll probably forget about this until its about to be released.
Greg: Bellaire is a woman, David. Anyway, I liked the 3 out of 6 Ellis/Shalvey issues that I read, so while I may not be waiting in line for this one, I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of reaction it gets.
Dave: My mistake! Damn Star Trek: Generations and that Mr. Laforge!
John: I tried to get into Ellis’ Trees and Supreme: Blue Rose, but both titles had similar breakpoints for me in that they were just too slow and the characters were uninspiring,
PLUTONA follows the story of five suburban kids who make a shocking discovery while exploring the woods one day after school… the body of the world’s greatest super hero, Polara, laying dead among the mud and grass.
Creative Team: Jeff Lemire, artist Emi Lenox, and colorist Jordie Bellaire
David: Lemire is quite hot right now, the man has certifiably carved himself out an audience and the right to write whatever he wants to write. Count me in here, especially since it’s a mystery.
Jordan: It’s by Jeff Lemire and honestly, I don’t need to hear anymore in regards to the rest of the premise and creative team. I’m sold.
Greg: I’m one of the few that hasn’t quite hopped aboard the Lemire train yet, save for a few issues of his superhero stuff here and there, but I have every reason to believe that this will be just as acclaimed as anything else he’s done. Plus the cover art looks quite nice.
It’s the late 1980’s and four newspaper-delivery kids experience something extraordinary…
Creative Team: Brian K. Vaughan (Saga, Runaways) reunites with artist Cliff Chiang
Jordan: Well I certainly do love Cliff Chiang’s artwork, but I can’t say anything else about the project is exciting me much. Vaughan is just okay and the premise just kind of reminds me of a dark 80’s kids film: “A young group of kids one night discover something shocking! Hijinks ensue!”
Greg: Dude, I am so in. This is one of the best contemporary creative teams imaginable.
Dave: Chiang has been making magic happen on Wonder Woman and we have no reason to doubt he’d not do the same here.
John: This definitely piques my interest. I mean a mystery and a superhero not to mention the potential for a good old bonding experience for those five suburban kids!
AD: After Death
AD: AFTER DEATH will be set in a near future where death has been cured and one man must come to grips with what comes next.
Jordan: Scott Synder and Jeff Lemire in one dose? Well hell yeah I’m interested! I wonder what they can do and create with this basic concept.
Greg: Another all-star creative team! I’m generally not that interested in stories of immortality, but then again I was sick of vampires before Snyder changed my mind with American Vampire. It’s interesting that Lemire isn’t writing this, though. He must have a lot of respect for Snyder.
Dave: An interesting premise to this series and I don’t think I can even recall ever seeing a story like this one. Considering we’re all moving towards death this should be intriguing to everyone.
John: Death being cured is definitely an intriguing concept. It will be interesting to see how they handle different types of death: murder, suicide, cancer, old age, etc…
We Stand on Guard
WE STAND ON GUARD is an action-packed, military thriller set in the 22nd century. The series follows a heroic band of Canadian civilians-turned-freedom fighters who take up arms against a violent invasion of their country by a technologically superior nation: the United States of America.
Creative Team: Brian K. Vaughan (Saga, Ex Machina) teams up with co-creator and artist Steve Skroce (Doc Frankenstein, storyboard artist for The Matrix and Jupiter Ascending)
Jordan:Eh, nothing really noteworthy or really anything that jumps out about it. I’ll probably read it, but I’m not expecting all that much.
Greg: REALLY, Jordan? Nothing about “U.S.A VS Canada” with “giant f-----g robots” (BKV’s words, not mine) written by Brian K. Vaughan sticks out to you? Someone get this guy a defibrillator. I want this comic so hard.
Dave: I think Greg makes a good point. Vaughan doesn’t write a lot these days outside of Saga (and produce Under the Dome so to see him with a new series is pretty flippin awesome. Has the guy written a bad comic in the last decade? Then we have a storyboard artist doing the art for this and I can’t help but think, “how will this not be the closest thing to a movie in comic form we’ll get all year?” Bring it on!
John: A story about defending your freedom and land with the United States as the aggressor is definitely intriguing to me especially since there is soo much nationalistic fervor here in the US. Getting that different perspective has me refreshing my Comixology to click ‘Subscribe.’
I Hate Fairyland
Bestselling artist Skottie Young (Fortunately, the Milk, Rocket Raccoon, Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz) and Jean-Francois Beaulieu (Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz) would like to introduce you to Gertrude, a snarky, slightly deranged 40-year-old with a battle axe who happens to be trapped in a Shirley Temple-esque body and confined to the technicolor funworld that is Fairyland. I HATE FAIRYLAND is an all-new series full of morbid, dark humor and snark—perfect for fans of Invader Zim and Fight Club.
Jordan: The premise reminds me of the issue where Pauly first appeared in The Unwritten, a guy stuck in a child-fantasy like world for several years wanting to desperately escape. However, judging from the premise of this and the preview of the book, it’s probably going to be a big gorefest overall. I don’t really expect much from the comic if that’s all there is.
Greg: I like Skottie Young, so I’m interested in seeing where he goes with something that seems a bit darker than what we usually get from him.
Dave: Skottie Young is always worth a look even if the story might not tickle your fancy.
John: When I read the description and got to the point where it says “for fans of Fight Club,” my knee-jerk reaction was What?! Where do you get Fight Club out of a 40 year old trapped in a 10 year-olds body in technicolor world known as Fairyland. Color me unimpressed.
REVENGEANCE is a psychological thriller with darkly humorous overtones. When Joe Malarky is faced with a criminal tragedy, he sets out to make things right on his own. What follows is Joe’s odyssey through the underside of the city and the madness that seems to drive his crazy world.
Creative Team: Darwyn Cooke
Jordan: Not really sure what to say about the plot and premise here, but the artwork from Cooke alone is worth at least a look in my book.
Greg: I’ve never taken a chance on Cooke’s work, so maybe I’ll change that with this book. It takes place in Cooke’s hometown of Toronto, so it seems like it could be rooted in something personal, which appeals to me.
Dave: Cooke is a master at storytelling which is why his books are so revered. The man knows how to pace a story so well you lose yourself in them and never want them to end. Sign me up.
John: Definitely something I would like to take a look at. The hook sounds like a world where The Joker has taken over and he sets the rules.
In MONSTRESS, readers are transported into the early 1900s, where immense Leviathans roam the Earth, wielding unimaginable powers that many have long desired to exploit. When a teenage girl with a mysterious past forms a tenuous psychic bond with the most dangerous of all the Leviathans, she becomes the target of both human and otherworldly authorities who will stop at nothing to possess her— to control her, and control the Lord of the all the Leviathans. What they don’t count on is the courage of the girl herself—and the fact that she is slowly becoming more than human…
Creative Team: Marjorie Liu (X-Men, Tiger Eye) and Sana Takeda (Ms. Marvel)
Jordan: Of all the books to be announced at the Expo, this is the one that probably got my most attention based on premise alone. I’m not familiar at all with the creative team, but I liked the sound of the story and possible potential it may have. I’ll definitely keep my eyes out for this one in the future.
Greg: Well, I can’t find much info about the plot at this point, but I do like the cover art, so there’s that. All I’ve read from Liu were those issues of Astonishing X-Men where Northstar got married, which was decent enough, but maybe she’ll shine more with a creator-owned work. She is better known as an author of paranormal romance prose novels, after all.
Dave: For some reason I’m getting a Trees vibe, possibly because of the giant monster thing. This could be really good or so-so and it’s something to keep an eye on.
John: Interesting Dave, that Trees jumps out at you, I thought more Avatar combined with some Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch which definitely has me keeping my eyeballs on this one.
KAPTARA follows Keith Kanga, a young bio-engineer flung across the universe onto a strange planet filled with weird danger. And if he doesn’t get home then Earth—the place where YOU live—is DOOMED!
Creative Team: Chip Zdarsky (SEX CRIMINALS, Howard the Duck, much unpublished poetry) and award-winning illustrator Kagan McLeod (Infinite Kung-fu)
Jordan: If this book has the same sense of humor and writing as Sex Criminals, I’m probably not going to get much out of the book. However, the thing that really has me worried was Chip talking about having a lot of power to be able to do anything in the book. Just because you have the power to do almost anything, doesn’t mean you should sometimes.
Greg: Oh Jordan, you’re no fun. Or, you know, we just have different tastes. I love the few issues of Sex Criminals that I read, and I trust that Zdarsky will use his powers for good… or at least good humor. Check out this interview and preview from comicsalliance. I’m straight, but the idea of a Gay Saga inspired by ’80s toys sounds potentially amazing. We need more gay action heroes, and I love the idea of a universe in which there are no stigmas attached to homosexuality. That alone is intriguing enough.
Dave: Is it just me or does this year’s offering from Image contain a hell of a lot of science fiction? The premise doesn’t offer a hell of a lot to go on and I’m not a huge fan of McLeod’s inky work, but I am a sucker for sci-fi so it’ll be something I’ll be keeping an eye on.
John: I think a trend has started where creators are trying to engage their readers, by trying to put the readers themselves in the comics. I do not want to be a character in the comic I am reading. Not for me.
HEAVEN introduces readers to a distant future where the forces of man and alien combined have used religion to conquer this universe and are now ready to invade the next one — Heaven itself. The “Good War” between man and angel will span galaxies and dimensions, building to a final conflict that threatens to negate all of reality itself. Along the way many players on both sides of the war will be featured; soldiers, spies and politicians all with different goals and agendas even as their two distinct and differing realities explode around them.
Creative Team: James Robinson (The Saviors) and Phillip Tan (SPAWN, Uncanny X-Men)
Jordan: The fact that Philip Tan is doing the artwork already is a strike against the book for me. His style is… rather ugly and rough at points. Whatever the book goes for, I’m not sure how well Tan will be able to pull it off, unless he has made improvements since I’ve seen his work last.
Greg: I’ve actually never read anything by James Robinson, so I have no idea whether or not he can handle something as difficult as religious satire, which, when done poorly, can be shocking simply for shock’s sake. But yeah, Tan is not a selling point for me, but that may be largely because, to me, he’ll always be the guy that took the reigns from Frank Quitely on Batman and Robin and simply couldn’t handle it. But then again, how many artists could?
Dave: Humans and aliens attack Heaven?! Jesus sign me up I wanna see the look on God’s face!
John: The premise of potentially doing one shots with an overarching narrative is rather unique. If they take it a step further and don’t actually connect the characters with each other would intrigue me even more. Not sure I am intrigued enough to click that subscribe button yet.
STARVE is set in a world where chefs are practically royalty, and access to them is the ultimate status symbol. Chef Gavin Cruikshank, back from self-imposed exile, finds his little foodie television program “Starve” transformed into a gonzo arena sport where chefs slice and dice rare and endangered species for their super-rich patrons. Since his personal life is as much a shambles as his professional career, Chef Cruikshank works to repair his relationship with his grown daughter while dismantling the monstrosity that Starve has become.
Creative Team: Brian Wood (Star Wars, DMZ, The Massive), Danijel Zezelj (Northlanders, Loveless) and Dave Stewart
Jordan: The artwork from the preview I’ve seen… is okay I suppose but it certainly looks ugly in areas and it looks like someone went a bit crazy with the yellow coloring. Honestly, I’m not feeling this book that much.
Greg: Dave Stewart is a great colorist, but I agree with Jordan that the colors look a bit too muddy here. The premise actually does interest me, but after a few failed attempts at trying to get into a Brian Wood comic (even before that whole business with the sexual harassment), I don’t know how willing I am to give it another try.
Dave: Why does this make me think of Chew? I liked the premise up until the TV aspect because, don’t we already have that culture now?
John: I’m with Dave on this one. I’ll just tune into Food Network or Travel Channel if I am in the mood to entertain myself with watching cooking — which is rare, extremely rare.
“The Ludocrats is a decade-in-the-making opulent fantastical comedy,” said writer of THE WICKED + THE DIVINE and PHONOGRAM, Kieron Gillen, “This is a book which has hyperbole as its baseline, and considers the impossible as an aim only fitting for underachievers. It’ll change your life. Primarily by letting you own a comic called The Ludocrats, where BARON OTTO VON SUBERTAN and PROFESSOR HADES ZERO-K are the last defenders of a ludicrous aristocracy against the insipid forces of normalisation.”
Jordan: After my experience with both Young Avengers and The Wicked + The Divine, I’m very underwhelmed by Kieron’s writing. His characters tend to be a bit on the annoying side and the dialogue can be grating or incredibly cheesy at points.
Greg: I liked that one issue of Phonogram I read, and that one issue of The Wicked + The Divine, so I will probably like this.
Dave: Sounds about as bonkers as could be which is a good thing. Sign me up.
John: The premise is bonkers as Dave mentions and would interest me, but after my experience with The Wicked + The Divine I am firmly in the Jordan camp. Not excited.
Set in Viking Age Norway, BLACK ROAD follows Magnus The Black, a fixer for the Christian Church who loses a Roman official to bandits on the infamous Black Road. Heading north to fix the problem and complete his contract, he uncovers a secret, something so big it threatens to change the balance of power in all of Europe. But with one foot in the world of the pagans and the other in that of the Church, who can trust where his loyalties lie?
Creative Team: Brian Wood and Gary Brown
Greg: Besides what I’ve previously said about Brian Wood, I’m just not that into Viking stuff. I’ll probably ignore this one.
Dave: Even though Northlanders was highly rated I never got into it and on top of that Brown’s art hasn’t done it for me either. Might skip this one.
John: Religious and political intrigue and it involves Vikings, plus the protagonist is a fixer ala Michael Clayton. I’m in.
Sons of the Devil
SONS OF THE DEVIL is a dark look at a blue collar 25-year-old orphan who learns he is the son of a cult leader. Like True Detective and The Following, SONS OF THE DEVIL is an exploration into the dark side of human psychology. It’s a grounded take on cults that balances the real world with the supernatural. It’s gritty, character-driven, and tonally lays somewhere between SOUTHERN BASTARDS and NAILBITER.
Jordan: Well I certainly do like the setup and sound of it, so I may give this a look. The artwork seems a very familiar to me though, like I’ve seen this style several times before.
Greg: I’ve never read anything by Brian Buccalleto without Francis Manapul. The art reminds me of Raphael Alburquerque and Sean Murphy. I just wish we had more plot details.
Dave: To tie yourself to True Detective is saying a lot, but if it is literally true I’m not sure that’s a good fit for comics. That’ll be one wordy boring comic! Still, the comparison to Southern Bastards and Nailbiter is interesting. Bring it.
John: Not really sure what to think about this one, haven’t watched True Detective and though I have all of the Southern Bastards comics, I haven’t had the time to check them out yet. That being said the description conjures up images of Supernatural or Charmed for me which I have enjoyed in the past.
Run Love Kill
The story follows a wanted woman in hiding named Rain Oshiro. The narrative style will prominently feature two very different but significantly connected moments throughout her life: “The Past”—which will explore her history as an impressionable student, an abiding soldier, and a wanted fugitive; and “The Present”—which will show her as she is now and how she copes with (and runs away from) the decisions made in her past. At its core, the story is an exploration of choices—both good and bad. And now, how her choices have formed her into the person she has and will become. Set against a background of a futuristic world as only artist Canete can imagine, Rain has just 24 hours to escape a barricaded city while trying to evade a military force determined to either capture or kill her.
Creative Team: Eric Canete (The End League, Iron Man: Enter the Mandarin) and Jon Tsuei (Comic Book Tattoo)
Jordan: I see the preview of this comic and I think to myself, “How can there be so many lens flares in a comic book?” Other than that, I’m not seeing much with this book so far.
Greg: I have no feelings, really. It could be the best comic ever (the artist isn’t half bad) but I know so little at this point about the story or the creative team that it’s hard to pass judgement.
Dave: I find the story mechanic of this series compelling. It’s always a breath of fresh air to see a story told in a new way, now it’s just a matter of buying and reading the book and seeing if it worked.
John: Going with Dave here. The story mechanic is something creative and new. Will most likely give it a couple books to see how it turns out.
It was just a trip, before college. Build schools in a Central American village; get to know some of the other freshmen. What could go wrong? After tragedy strikes, these once-privileged American teens must find their way home in a cruel landscape that at best doesn’t like them, and at worst actively wants to kill them. No phones. No passports. No mercy.
Creative Team: Alex de Campi (Smoke/Ashes, Grindhouse), Carla Speed McNeil (Finder), and Jenn Manley Lee (Dicebox)
Jordan: The description makes me think that we are getting some sort of slasher film you would find on Netflix in comic book form. Honestly, there’s not much here that’s jumping out at me, even after checking out the preview for it.
Greg: I actually like the premise. I think it could lead to some interesting social commentary. And the art looks great too. Expressive, yet clean-lined.
Dave: Bring on the anti-American hate!
John: Jordan hits my reaction on the head. Sounds like Hostel, but set in South America. No thanks.
Throughout childhood, Emi visited her Grandmother in Japan frequently. But through the years of high school and after, she hadn’t been back in nearly twelve years. Sadly, within those twelve years, both her Japanese grandparents passed away. TADAIMA is a travelogue documenting a trip back to Japan with her mother for a memorial service to renew the sobota, a wooden grave marker, at her grandparents’ tomb in Fukushima. Touching on Japanese spirituality and cultural differences, TADAIMA is more than a book about landmarks and foreign cuisine. It’s about family.
Creative Team: Emi Lenox (EMITOWN)
Jordan: It doesn’t sound like my cup of tea, but I wish the writer/artist the best of luck, since watercoloring in comics can look very good.
Greg: I like autobiographical comics, and the artist seems talented, so I might give this a try.
Dave: I’m a huge fan of Craig Thompson’s Carnet De Voyage and this sounds like it might be a bit similar. Definitely checking this out.
John: The setup for this story sounds extremely sad, and I try not to put myself in a position where there is a possibility for tears. Also, like Jordan this is not my cup of coffee (Let’s be honest, what American drinks tea?).
Like what we do here at AIPT? Consider supporting us and independent comics journalism by becoming a patron today! In addition to our sincere thanks, you can browse AIPT ad-free, gain access to our vibrant Discord community of patrons and staff members, get trade paperbacks sent to your house every month, and a lot more. Click the button below to get started!