Next in our month-long, weekly series of run-downs of the best comics of the first half of 2014 is Image Comics. While last week’s DC list was pretty event heavy, and, Marvel’s list was full of All-New Marvel NOW!, Image Comics is the home of the truly new and different. Without the constraints of a shared universe coupled with the freedom of creator-owned books, Image is no longer an Independent publisher in the traditional sense. It’s now a Big 3 of comics, and Image had some of THE most popular titles in all of comics this year. And this is a really difficult list to assemble! Image has so many great ongoing comics, but they also released many new books with a ton of promise. So, without further ado, we mention the old, but keep a focus on the new, but always keep it fresh in that old Image style, in Outright Geekery’s Top o’ the Lot: Image Comics for 2014 (so far).
Honorable Mention: So Many Ongoings!
I want to keep most of this list dedicated to new books; those that debuted in the first half of 2014; but I’d be remiss to not mention all of the must-read books that have been coming out for awhile. The edible adventures of Tony and the gang from Chew, BKV and Fiona Staples amazing sci-fi wonder Saga, the end of The Walking Dead‘s All Out War, the awesomely weird Black Science, the sideways history of Manifest Destiny, Invincible, Morning Glories, SEX, Sidekick, Skullkickers (one of my favorite books!), and, holy crap, everything else that makes Image Comics the go-to brand for new and different books from the unleashed imaginations of some of the industry’s most talented creators. And they haven’t slowed down a bit with the new titles in 2014.
5. Southern Bastards
From my favorite team of Jasons comes a Redneck Noir full of hillbillies, lost dreams, and low expectations. Fun, rich characters fill this Southern Fired crime comic, and it’s The Godfather meets Mama’s Family with a touch of pulp in this new take on an old story. Southern Bastards is only a few issues in, which is why it only gets the bottom spot in this Lot, but Aaron and Latour know exactly what they are doing, and this is going to be a solid hit by this time next year.
4. Real Heroes
A personal favorite of one of O.G.’s contributors, Real Heroes is Galaxy Quest meets The Avengers as the 6 most famous actors in the world, who together play the superhero team The Olympians, may be Earth’s only hope. Bryan Hitch’s fun, yet exciting take on a sort of different superhero tale is refreshing and interesting on several levels. The premise is crazy cool; the characters work in their duality as actors; and the potential growth of the characters makes the book a must-read every month.
3. The Mercenary Sea
This one came right of left field when it dropped earlier this year. The Mercenary Sea is set in the South Seas in 1938, as war in Europe and Asia looms on the horizon. The Venture, a refitted Nazi U-boat, Captained by ex-bootlegger Jack Harper, and crewed by a ragtag bunch of ex-patriots, mercenaries and treasure hunters is like a retro version of Firefly on the high seas. Big adventure, and even bigger action fill each and every pages of writer Kel Symons’ The Mercenary Sea, and artist Mathew Reynolds’ unique style is the perfect backdrop for the fun. If you missed this, do yourself a favor and change that!
2. The Fuse
Crime books are nothing new to comics, and neither are sci-fi books. I could easily count 6 or 7 of each every month without really trying that hard. But there are very, very few sci-fi/crime books, and even fewer good ones. Which is why I was so very pleased with Antony Johnston and Justin Greenwood with their really cool take on two genres, The Fuse. It’s a space station orbiting Earth at 22,000 miles up, and homicide detectives on the beat getting the job done despite the hurdles thrown in front of them by crooked politicians and uncaring citizens. Great setting; great characters; fun premise; amazing job at crossing genres. And really, isn’t that what Image Comics is all about? I think so!
1. Deadly Class
I think it’s official: Writer Rick Remender can now be considered a comic book superstar! Although he’s had amazing runs on Marvel books, and his Black Science is a runaway hit, the mass appeal of his story of a school for assassins set in the 1980’s cements the writer as must-read creator. But it’s a perfect storm of awesome that makes Deadly Class the hit that it is, as artist Wesley Craig and colorist Lee Loughridge compliment the great story being told. The student body of King’s Dominion High School for the Deadly Arts is so fascinating and fun, you should not miss out on this.
See a mistake? Disagree with the choices? Tell us what you think about this installment of Top o’ Lot, join in the discussion and share your opinion.