Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Imagine this…. Image Comics and what it means to me.

Imagine this…. Image Comics and what it means to me.
by rick olivares

Remember that famous introduction line about the Justice League of America… ‘Imagine this…”

Well, we’re stealing that line and appropriating that for Image Comics.

Image this, top creators bolt Marvel Comics to form an indie company and more than 20 years later they produce some of the smartest, most innovative, and game changing comics today.

Imagine that.

While sifting through my comic book boxes over the past two weeks, I saw stuff that I had forgotten that I had and whispered a prayer for some titles or issues that have survived the ravages of time and poor storage.

Among them are some of the Image Comics titles by some of the founding fathers. Still in good condition are Rob Liefeld’s Youngblood, Todd McFarlane’s Spawn, Jim Lee’s Wildcats, and Whilce Portacio’s Wetworks. Leafing through the pages was a trip down memory lane.

Having recently watched The Image Revolution documentary made going through my comic boxes even more poignant. In case you haven’t seen that documentary, I urge you to watch it. If you didn’t follow the history of Image Comics then this is an eye opener. If you did, the footage and the anecdotes are something to be heard and even relived.

A little over a year after Marvel’s Mutant Genesis promotion that saw the X-Men titles (Uncanny X-Men, X-Men, Wolverine, X-Factor, X-Force, and Excalibur) cement its hold on the industry, Image Comics exploded into pop culture. Save for Jim Valentino’s stuff, I bought the comics of the six other creators so following them to Malibu/Image was a no-brainer.

It was in every sense of the word – a revolution. Almost overnight, they were knocking Marvel titles down the charts. Heck, DC fell to number three in comic book publishing.

I bought every single Image Comic book that came out. Including the second wave. Even the bad titles from Extreme Studios. Luckily, I was already working but that sure put a sever crimp on my savings.

There were some good stuff early on – Spawn had potential. The Savage Dragon looked fun. And Wildcats was dynamic. However, the problems were chronic – poor storytelling and lateness. Some titles received more than two re-boots. Sure ways to kill books. But man, they held fast. Spawn and The Savage Dragon are still ongoing and never to have been re-booted. Imagine that!

However, it was the second and third wave of Image titles that I truly enjoyed – Supreme (when Alan Moore took over scripting chores), Stormwatch, Astro City, Aria, Battle of the Planets, Big Bang Comics, Battle Chasers, Shaman’s Tears, Warlands, The Authority, Jack Staff, and The Walking Dead.

Stormwatch/The Authority if you ask me paved the way for The Ultimates (that in turn also changed other team books) and the current Justice League of America lineup.

And there’s The Walking Dead! Enuff said.

Today, I pick up Rat Queens, Black Science, Manifest Destiny, Sidekick, Peter Panzerfaust, Velvet, Jupiter’s Legacy, Saga, and the Manhattan Projects. From my previous list, I only get The Walking Dead (Astro City has moved to Vertigo).

That’s quite a variety.

Rat Queens is my Warlands for today.

Sidekick is like reading a sequel from the great tome by James Robinson and Paul Smith – The Golden Age.

Velvet would do Peter O’Donnell’s Modesty Blaise proud.

Peter Panzerfaust and Manifest Destiny are great re-imagined tellings of classic characters. If you like Abraham Lincoln Vampire Slayer then you’ll enjoy these books.

Saga. Wow. How do you even describe this sci-fi fantasy series?

I still read superhero comics. I still enjoy them. Hawkeye and Daredevil thrive when they have great writers and artists on them. Aquaman has followed that path. Here’s a hero who has been mostly been a third tier hero but Geoff Johns turned him into an A-Grade hero.

I don’t read as many but I still do. If there’s something new out that that warrants my hard-earned bucks then I pay for it.

Image has played a huge role in the comics industry by going to bat for creators’ comics. They’ve produced some game changing comic books. And they aren’t simply of the super hero genre. They’ve expanded deep into territory that was once exclusively Dark Horse’s.

Image whet my appetite for indie comic books. And now that I am older, much of their books appeal to my more mature self. They are intelligently produced. And furthermore, they are pushing the envelope where comics are headed and their continuous impact on pop culture.

The “I” logo is like a ISO certification for good stuff.

Three-fourths of my comic book purchases are from indie companies. That says a lot from someone who was weaned on Marvel from the age of three.

Image Comics is one of the best things to ever happen to the four-colored medium. And for that, I am forever grateful. Because for one, now people don’t think that I read meaningless stuff. Second, it’s good to have some top-notch variety out there.

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