Image Comics broke new ground in 2013, producing high quality comics that challenge the medium and readers. The level of consistency between the books is especially remarkable, making must-reads out of even the most bizarre concepts. Last week, Image released four particularly stand-out titles that we felt compelled to share:
Saga #17 by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples: With the flashback portion of this arc now finished, the action switches from climbing to cresting. Surprises continue to outdo one another as the multiple storylines collide. Prince Robot IV waxes philosophical with Heist about the “opposite of war,” while The Will lies immobile and offers a financial advice in what may be his final words. Plus, a new Freelancer and sidekick are introduced! In typical glorious Saga fashion, the final four pages race to a cliffhanger, and this one is a heart-stopper, as Marko’s ex-fiancée, Gwendolyn, finally enters the main plot (sharp-eyed readers will note the one error in this scene, as the “lance” switches from her right to left hand mid-shot). This issue is stuffed with characters but Staples conveys every single one with humor and heart, making each individual instantly recognizable and relatable, even if one has a television for a head. Vaughan succeeds as well, favoring dialogue brevity even in the most important of scenes—although Marko’s proposed “solution” for Hazel feels a little undercooked and too rash for the circumstances.
East of West #8 by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta: Quickly becoming a title to watch in 2013, East of West presents a world on the verge of apocalypse (or post-apocalypse), hastened by a powerful faction of monsters who are embattled by another pack of uniquely designed creatures. Are there any good guys in this book? Not so far, which can make for a detached reading experience. And yet, Hickman’s lyrical prophecies and Dragotta’s rich world-building propel the reader through battle scenes and political discourse with equal frenzy. This issue was more political than the previous seven, as a new President arises, albeit ever under the sway of the Four (or is that three?) Horsemen.
Pretty Deadly #3 by Kelly Sue DeConnick and Emma Rios: Lyrical apocalypses are also present in this weird, weird new book. Much like East of West, this title begins without much of a narrative anchor for the reader, throwing characters and creatures at the audience and expecting them to keep pace with the chase. And what a beautiful race it is, thanks to Rios’ elemental artwork. Characters sneer with a liquidity while action scenes play like a windswept ballet. These first three issues have been an addictive read, but here’s hoping there is plot clarity before it all gets too murky for its own good.
Lazarus #5 by Greg Rucka and Michael Lark: Despite this issue’s very goofy cover, Lazarus is among the best new books of 2013, doling information and intrigue with nail-biting measure. Forever Carlyle is the champion of her family, but it is becoming clear that “family” is a not a traditional word in Rucka’s lexicon. We learn a tiny bit more of her origin, and then we are whisked back to the present, where she both apologizes for an execution and then demands another within the pan of a few pages. Like most characters in the book, she is a product of a contradictory duality—right and wrong, war and peace, fight and flight. Likewise, she faces characters who only tell her enough details to keep Forever on course, never revealing the full truth or showing true emotion. The only thing close to full disclosure she receives is from an anonymous text message, but how much can she trust a source that will not reveal its identity? It’s a maddening conundrum, and the reader must wonder how long Forever will suffer the truth and the falsehoods before she demands the former through force.
This review was written by Amazon editor Alex Carr. Interested in comics and graphic novels? Sign up for Comics Delivers, a weekly email featuring the best in comics each week - from weekly booklists to deals and exclusive content from creators.