I just spent the day at Image EXPO, and all I can say is, “wow!” There are so many amazing new books coming from some truly amazing creators, both established and brand new. Here is a quick rundown of all the great new titles announced today.
Glitterbomb. Written by Jim Zub, art by newcomer Djibril Morisette, colored by K. Michael Russell, and lettered by Marshal Dillon. This horror comic is about Farah, a middle-aged actress and single mother who has reached her ‘best by’ date and can’t get any work. There is a monster inside her feeding on her need for fame and her desire to tear down Hollywood.
Afar. Written by Leia del Duca with art by Kit Seaton, Afar‘s protagonists are a sister and brother from a pre-colonial African wasteland, but it’s also sci-fi and fantasy story that will involve things like cyborgs, astral projection, aliens, and visiting other planets. I asked del Duca what her biggest sci-fi influence was growing up. While she included Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars, and Earth 2, it was Star Trek she gave the most credit too, specifically mentioning the tackling of tough subjects like polyamory on TNG and gender and Dax on DS9.
VS. Written by Ivan Brandon with art by Esad Ribic. A sci-fi story where war has been privatized and is televised. The protagonist is a hero of the old guard and as he faces newer, more advanced foes, he starts losing but gains more of a following.
Black Cloud. Written by Ivan Brandon and Jason Latour is characterized as Jessica Jones meets Roger Rabbit. The lead is a young woman from a world where ideas can be wished into reality who has to come to our world and deal with the experience of being from a world where everyone was essentially a god to one where nobody is. The book will have a very noir feel to it and deal with the dichotomy between fantasy and reality and what a person’s actual reality is versus the one they out on for others.
Winnebago Graveyard. Written by Steve Niles with art by Alison Sampson. The lead protagonist and heart of the story is a just remarried Chinese-American mother of a teen boy. The book is about the family getting stuck in a town of hipster Satanists and is full of plenty of moral ambiguity. Sampson summed the book up perfectly saying that it is “70% Americana, 30% ripping off heads. It’s totally gross.”
Horizon. Written by Brandon Thomas with art by Juan Gedeon. This is a sci-fi conspiracy thriller about an alien strike squad sent to earth to stop humans from colonizing their planet. The story is told from their perspective. The team leader is female as are two of the other three squad members. They come to Earth thinking their mission is black and white but as they interact with humans, they learn there’s a lot more going on than they realized. Gedeon drew a lot of inspiration from video games (Mass Effect and Metal Gear) as well as H.R. Giger, and Japanese art. Thomas’s biggest influence on his entire career was Star Wars, but he was also inspired by Blade Runner, Battlestar Galactica, and The Americans.
The Hunt. Created by Colin Larimer. This is a horror title about a teenage girl who witnesses the Sluagh Sidhe (basically evil faeries from Irish folklore) steal her father’s soul and her mission to fight them and hopefully get it back. The story is soaked in Irish culture and lore as evidenced by the Sluagh Sidhe speaking in untranslated gaelic. Larimer is a huge horror geek and started the concept based on his fascination and experience with sleep paralysis and night terrors.
Lake of Fire. Written by Nathan Fairbairn with art by Matt Smith. The basic premise of the story is that it is France, 1220 AD and crusaders come into contact with aliens. The story however is really about faith and how faith is the prism through which people see the world, and for the crusaders, the aliens are demons and one more challenge to their faith that must be overcome. Fairbairn is a well-known colorist, but this will be the first book he’s written. He actually learned coloring to get his foot in the door and become a writer. As a student of medieval European history, I am very excited about this one.
The Divided States of Hysteria. By Howard Chaykin. Unlike many of his books, this one is contemporary and not about “filth.” This book takes place in the aftermath of the next successful terror attack in the US. It is about the collapse of culture, terrorism, patriotism, and gender and identity politics. In other words, exactly the sort of thing you’d expect from Chaykin. This book promises to be quite the ride.
Prince of Cats. By Ronald Wimberley. This book was originally published years ago and only had a very small print run and quickly vanished. This new definitive edition will be bigger and better and with the originally intended cover art. The story is a “b-side” of Romeo and Juliet, with Tybalt as the main character set in New York in the ’80s. It’s about pride, family, youth, ego, and why some people have so little regard for life (be it their own or that of other people).
Prima. Written by Jen Van Meter with art by Rick Burchett. The story is set post World War II and focuses on a ballet company that is actually a front for a covert spy ring. The book sports a large cast of strong female characters (they are ballerinas AND spies) as they try to help those left on the fringe after the war ends. The art style is very mid-20th century with Burchett trying something unlike anything he’s done before. Did I mention ballerina spies?
Rockstars. Written by Joe Harris with art by Megan Hutchison and color by Kelly Fitzpatrick. The pitch for the book is Almost Famous meets Supernatural. The main character is a rock and roll nerd who, with his cat Skydog, solves mysteries about esoteric, supernatural rock and roll myths and legends. The first arc will focus on some groupie murders from the ’70s. As an aside, I asked Harris (who also currently writes the X-Files comics) if he watched the new season of the show. He said he watched it all with a smile on his face and can’t wait for the next season, whenever it will happen.
Romulus. Written by Bryan Edward Hill with art by Nelson Blake II. An action adventure sci-fi set in the near future in a world run by a secret society. One of the society’s top female assassins, Ashlar, decides to take them down and the story begins. There is a big of historical fiction involved as the society traces back to Ancient Rome and the society’s history throughout the ages plays a big role. See above regarding my love of historical fiction.
Surgeon X. Written by Sara Kenney with art by John Watkiss. Besides being the book that brought Karen Berger to Image Comics, this is also about an underground doctor helping people after the antibiotics apocalypse. What is the antibiotics apocalypse? It’s what happens when we no longer have antibiotics to stop the diseases we once could. Set 20 years in a somewhat dystopian future, Surgeon X reflects on what could be a real possibility as we have produced no new antibiotics since the ’80s! All of the science in this book is based on actual science and discussions with real scientists. If you like disasters and hard sci-fi, you’ll definitely want to grab this one.
Kill or Be Killed. Written by Ed Brubaker with art by Sean Phillips. This story is a new take on vigilante comics. What happens when a normal person is forced to become a vigilante who is compelled to murder people? This is what a monthly superhero comic would be without any actual superheroes in it. Compared to a lot of their other recent work, this book is very much a modern story.
The Black Monday Murders. Written by Jonathan Hickman with art by Tomm Coker. This is a magic story with houses of magic and power and spells, but if the houses were financial institutions and power were wealth. The story begins as a murder mystery with the protagonist, a Haitian New York police detective discovering this world of magic and how the murders he’s investigating trace back to Black Monday. There will be a lot of Hickman elements in the book-extra reading materials, graphs, charts, etc. that will make the books much bigger than normal (50 plus pages) but they will be integrated into Coker’s art, not just tagged on to the beginning or end of the book. This is the first book Hickman feels is finally designed the way he has always wanted comics to be.
Seven to Eternity. Written by Rick Remender with art by Jerome Opena. This will be a fantasy series with a ton of “D and D worldbuilding” happening behind the scenes. Remender wanted to do fantasy but not re-use existing tropes so there will be all new types of creatures–no dragon or trolls to be found here. The story focuses on a fallen knight, Adam, who has cancer. He has to choose between saving the world or himself, and the real story is about the divide we all have between our self ideology and what we have to compromise or give up for the ones we love. This book looks amazing, and I’ll read anything Remender writes.
Moonshine. Written by Brian Azzarello with art by Eduardo Risso. Mobsters, werewolves, and moonshiners during prohibition. The book has the feel of old mobster movies mashed up with old monster movies. The story is told from the perspective of a charismatic gangster, but, as with all of Azzarello’s work, there are no clear good and bad guys. And who the werewolf is, is part of the mystery of the story.
Motor Crush. Written by Cameron Stewart, Brenden Fletcher, and Babs Tarr who also does the art and coloring. This story is set in a slightly amped up, slightly futuristic world where there are motorcycle death races and an engine enhancing drug called Crush. The protagonist, Domino Swift, looks and sounds like a total bad a$$ which is exactly what you’d expect from this team. They are really loving the freedom at Image to do whatever they want, and they can finally let Tarr put whatever little things in the background of her art without having to worry about getting into trouble.
Isola. Written by Brenden Fletcher with art by Karl Kerschl. This is a fantasy story following Rook, the female captain of the royal guard and the Queen who has been turned into a tiger as they journey across the planet to find a cure for the Queen. It looks beautiful and it’s a love story as much as a fantasy adventure. The influence of Miyazaki and Moebius are obvious in the promo shot, and I immediately though of my own favorite Miyazaki film–Princess Mononoke. When asked about their influence, it was no surprise that the most influential film for both of the creators was actually My Neighbor Totoro. Totoro sparked their life long passion for creating stories.
No offense to any of the other creators as I am actually interested in every book on this list, but Isola is definitely the one I’m the most looking forward to only because the story sounds amazing and the art gives me all the feels of my favorite movie.
The last thing announced today isn’t a comic book at all but a new Grant called Creators for Creators. The grant was founded by a lot of people you’re sure to have heard of : Charlie Adlard, Jordie Bellaire, David Brothers, Kelly Sue DeConnick, Nick Dragotta, Leila del Duca, Matt Fraction, Kieron Gillen, Jonathan Hickman, Joe Keatinge, Robert Kirkman, Jamie McKelvie, Rick Remender, Declan Shalvey, Fiona Staples, Eric Stephenson, C. Spike Trotman, and Brian K. Vaughan. The grant intends to give $30,000 (at first) to one creator to support the creation of a single work over the course of a year. This is not actually an Image grant so the creator is free to publish it wherever they want though both Image Comics and Iron Circus Comics are supporting the grant by offering a publishing deal to the recipient if they want it. Submissions open on May 1, 2016 and more details along with submission requirements can be found at creatorsforcreators.org.