Image Comics. They are the publisher that is akin to a space shuttle on the launch pad, engines roaring with plumes of fiery potential racing and swirling for the skies, as the craft readies itself for yet another unforgettable take off in 2014.
With Pretty Deadly, Saga and Fatale, soon to be joined by the likes of Mark Millar's own universe of creator-owned titles, a quick look back shows there's a few hooks in the past of Image Comics, where creators could still hang their hat. Let's take a look.
BADROCK Sure Badrock has had plenty of not-so-good outings, but there's still mountains of potential in the tale of a 16 year-old boy, turned into the world's most immovable force, one who joins a militia over 'super-heroing' his rocky butt around. That last part is key and what separates 'Rock from the likes of Captain Marvel and The Ultraverse's Prime. I mean, why stand on media podiums for saving the world when you can blow stuff up with Liefeld sized guns? He's Images biggest icon (literally) not in print, and having met everyone from Spider-Man to Wolverine, it's time we brought him back.
RISING STARS Boy Dave Gibbons really knows how to do great covers doesn't he? When a comet crashes into a small town, giving 113 unborn children incredible abilities, lives are changed. While the first series, narrated by Poet, and written by someone just as talented with words, J. Michael Straczynski, perfectly captured how different personalities 'raised' under the government's eye would react to a killer hunting their own, the series closes with a similar space event hitting another planet.
Forget completing the circle! If this 'comet' caused a similar result with that race, who's to say they won't take a different tack and come looking for those responsible here on Earth? Will any of the previous Rising Stars be around to face them? Now JMS and Image are working together again, if things can be worked out with Top Cow, we just might find out.
INFERNO I LOVED this series. Inferno: Hellbound not only had the sinfully good pencils of Image founder Marc Silvestri to aid it's phlight, it ticked my 10 Commandments of a great comic, by having a suicide squad bunch of crims and mercs get sent to Hell one one massive suicide gambit. The true evil though - it only lasted four issues before being cancelled for unknown reasons - I mean WTF!
Joe Dante and his team could've easily been like the survivors in The Walking Dead, trapped and surrounded by demons and evils of all creation. Better yet it could have brought another great team-title to Top Cow and comics in general, one that not only harnessed the specialties of the imprint, but brought truly hot men and woman together. I mean it's Hell, it's as hot as it gets!
WARLANDS If the comics industry was a power pole, I don't know whose wanted/missing poster would hang higher; good fantasy comics or the manga stylised art of Pat Lee. Warlands would revive them both. An unlimited amount of action, swords and sorcery still remains to be explored in what is western comics definitive home of Eastern manga styles, and now that Dreamwave is sadly no more, Image Comics is just the one to get these stone ages rolling again.
DARKMINDS Taking the Pat Lee art stylings in a more Gotham Central direction, Darkminds mixes all things good, like SVU, Criminal Minds and Ghost in The Shell, with an airy, surreal manga feel. The Paradox Killer can lurk in the background once more, as new faces join the chase Tedashi Nagawa and Akane Nakiko set up, running down the evils that infest the city of Macropolis. Armed with the same stunning colour palette and action, cyberpunk would be plugged in and on for a whole new generation.
EMPIRE When DC published a few more issues of Mark Waid and Barry Kitson's Empire, it felt like Mum wearing Dad's clothes. Get the twisted tale of evil ruling the world and the conflicts it creates back at Image, and watch fans beat their chest in joy once more. Gorilla Comics was an Image Comics imprint with so much potential, from creatives like Kurt Busiek and Stuart Immonen, to the Fantastic Four-ish adventures of Section Zero by the highly unsung Karl Kesel and the just as unsung Tom Grummett, if Empire heralded a return of this line in any way, that would never be a bad thing.
WHAT DO YOU THINK? What Image Comics of the past would you like to see return?