On my first read through of Deadly Class I’ll admit I was a bit disappointed. I’m not even sure how to describe my disappointment maybe I was expecting more of a Hogwarts esque academy where assassination was the class being taught (yes I realize that is what the school is sort of like). Maybe I just expected more of the focus to be on school, class and teaching to begin with as Marcus gets accustomed to the basics of the school. Instead the story just sort of goes with the school being more of a side note to begin with. This is where I’ll let you know that I have since reread the first trade of Deadly Class and I must say I enjoyed it a lot more the second time out. In particular I really love any show/movie/comic where people have distinct groups and family histories which set them apart. In Deadly Class you have the Dixie Mob, the Italian Mafia kids etc. It reminded me of my favourite show of all time Oz where the people in the building compare and contrast with each other based on their “tribe”. The story of Marcus being the “nothing” kid who is trying to find his way is compelling enough to make me want to learn more but I will say the character they are setting up to be his antagonist is off-putting to the extreme and not in a good way. Overall I can absolutely say I am going to pick up the next trade where hopefully they will dig into the school a bit more and delve into Marcus’ past.
When this comic was pitched to me as a concept I was sold right off the bat. As a literary nerd the idea of an Indiana Jones type character being possessed by 5 literary archetypes sounded fantastic. The comic itself delivers on that concept but I wasn’t completely on board at first. This was mostly because of the art which I initially found off putting. The best way to describe the art style is League of Extraordinary Gentleman like where it looks aged and almost rough. Being so used to the typically crisp art styles of my other Image titles at first my eyes where a little opposed to this style. But when mixed with the atmosphere and style of the writing as well as the historical background the art does make sense. Also after having read the second trade I like that the world surrounded the literary possession is expanding with the main character encountering others who have the same problem.
The moment I saw the review for one of the early issues of this series on CV I knew I wanted to pick it up in trade the moment it came out in trade. I was not disappointed. The series is basically a travel diary of Louis and Clark discovering the new world but with a secret mission to find and destroy monsters that have been sighted in the newly acquired western territory. Alternate history check creepy monsters check ragtag crew of volunteers and prisoners check this comic is made with people like me in mind. The first two trades called Flora and Fauna and Amphibia and Insecta are also spot on because they help categorize the scientific discoveries that Louis and Clark make as they travel west. The art is colourful and eye catching while still being a little gritty so you feel it is aged which works since it takes place hundreds of years ago. The characters who have been developed are interesting and you root for them despite their flaws. Many of the crew though are fodder so far and you don’t feel much attachment or the need to know them as they will soon be eaten or maimed in unspeakable ways. This series has quickly hopped up my must read Image list and is one of the trades I am most eagerly anticipating.
What an idea! I know I keep harping on the concepts of many of these Image titles and saying I was sold on premise alone but it is true that the creativity the creators get and the interesting ideas that come from giving them a freer rein really shows. Nailbiter is about one town and mystery behind why it several dozens of the worst serial killers in America have been born there. Focusing on a detective tracking down the disappearance of his partner who was investigating the town I love how the main character originally has no interest in the mystery at all. He is not that guy snooping around asking to get murdered, he does not care about elaborate mysteries he just wants to know where his friend is. As he investigates he learns a little about the killers especially the Nailbiter who drifts in and out of the story but dominates every scene he is in. Nailbiter does a good job of distancing itself while still paying respect to similar stories (silence of the lambs in particular) and they are several amusing moments of comparison. When I put down the first trade I immediately wished for the second, which is a great endorsement for this story.
Alright that is it for part 2 as my schedule for the release of these has gone a little haywire since I forgot Deadly Class in part 1 and have started reading Bedlam another Image series in the meantime. So for right now if people still want to read my ramblings and ravings about Image here is the projected release schedule. Part 1 (finished): Chew, C.O.W.L, East of West, Elephantmen. Part 2 (finished): Deadly Class, Five Ghosts, Manifest Destiny, Nailbiter. Part 3: Lazarus, Saga, Sex Criminals, Walking Dead. Part 4: Bedlam and The Wicked and the Divine. I’m still thinking over doing a possible “on my radar” image post as well we’ll see. Let me know what you thought or any questions in the comments. Thanks again.
So I pretty much want to say that this may be a bit meandering and too long for some people to read up front. As someone who has looked to this community before for advice on what to read and comics I might like given my taste I thought I would return the favour (even though I haven't been asked lol). I also really wanted to give a personal shout out to the publisher who really helped take me from occasionally reading comics on a month to month basis (as I am a trade reader) to pretty much being able to wander into my local comic book store and finding something fantastic to read. Over the past year, year and half I have picked up quite a few series from Image and thought I would share my thoughts on them. The majority are easily recommendable but I will note I am not up to date on all of them. So here goes.....
Oh Chew. How I love thee. This was one of my first forays into Image (maybe only beaten by the Walking Dead) and it is still normally my first recommendation when people ask what's good by Image? It is also for some reason the hardest to get people into. (I have given one of my CB friends maybe 5 recommendations from Image and he has listened to me and loved them all with the exception of Chew). Anyway the basic idea behind it is it is about a world where people have eating super powers (stay with me) and the main character is a detective who can tell the past of any object by eating it. This leaves Tony (the protagonist) in many hilarious situations often skirting the line between good and bad taste (I had to toss a pun in there somewhere sorry). The art at first turned me off but it is super colourful and great at expressing the comedic situations that come up inherently in this bizarre and fantastic world. If you have not read or heard or seen this comic before please search it out. It deserves a read. My biggest regret being I started with the Omnivore Editions which while they are an amazing package means I have to wait about a year for each one to be released grrr. Oh and for fans POOOOOOOOYYYYOOOO!!
This is one of my new pick ups from Image. It only has one trade out so far so this will be thoughts on that first piece of the story. Comic Vine helped me decide to give this a shot through reviews and user recommendations and I'll say for the most part I was happy with the first piece of the story. Like most people with a basic awareness of comics C.O.W.L. did feel a little familiar treading some of the same ground as Alan Moore's Watchmen. With a cast of flawed superheroes (or costumed adventurers) a corrupt society and the idea of a more government influenced/controlled team of heroes I was a little skeptical of this comic bringing anything new to the table. While it is hard to pass full judgement when the trade only 5 or 6 issues I will say that C.O.W.L. is going enough in it's own direction so far to be interesting in it's own right. I like that the early adopters of heroics had their start in WWII and my particular favourite idea that was presented in the book was the struggle with family these characters have. Particularly I believe it is Grant who is known to be a particularly good shot and doesn't wear a costume or have an alter ego and his son says to him "you're just a guy, it's embarrassing" or something along those lines. What I'm saying is I like some of the ideas presented so far but there is not enough to give a whole hearted recommendation just yet. I would say if you looking for one book from Image to pick up look at the rest of this list first.
East of West
East of West is amazing. I thought I would just put that up front. As a huge advocate for anything to do with immersive world building and alternate histories East of West was always going to be a hit with me. When I first picked it up though I thought it was going to be a bit simplistic. I mean the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are cool but what would this comic do to set itself apart from say The Darksiders video game series or the horsemen in Supernatural? Well Hickman did it. He created a comic with so much to learn and see that at first you are caught off guard and it can be a little intimidating. Now that there are 3 trades out I can say I get the basics and they so good I am eagerly anticipating learning more. Not only about the main through line about Death and his search for his son (which is interesting in it's own right) but about this alternate America with it's different territories, politics and people. Don't let the start scare you off if you stick with East of West it will reward you with it's beautiful art, fantastic characters and amazing world. This is probably in my top 3 (maybe top 5) Image list as of right now. So go pick it up and give it a shot.
I will be up front and say that with Elephantment I have only read the first 2 trades of this series which has been going on for a LONG time (I think they are up to issue like 150). Which I find sort of strange because in all of the Image discussions I have had with people online there are few mentions of this book which makes me ask who is reading this to make them go for so many issues? Not that I am saying it doesn't deserve it. I will say there are a few things unrelated to story and art which have prevented me from wanting to delve deeper into Elephantmen. In particular the quality of the trades themselves. Elephantmen has a really interesting and almost painting like art style which is eye catching. The trades are big thick tomes with heavy paper which would be great, however, the glue comes apart incredibly easily (I take care of my books as a side note not putting them through unnecessary wear and tear) and pages have literally fallen into my lap while I am trying to read. This is my main reason for not reading more which is unfortunate because I really like the ideas presented in Elephantment with it's strange mix of noir and sci fi elements. I like how the Elephantmen are haunted by their pasts as super soldiers and have to live with the day to day knowledge that they have killed hundreds of people. This helps to humanize these hybrid creatures. I will say that the noir element of trying to "titillate" the reader with scantily clad ladies is more distracting then anything else. Overall Elephantmen is sort of on the lower scale of my Image list.
Alright guys that is it for today. If people like this I will probably make part 2 and 3 as I am reading 12 series by Image right now (lol I can't stop). Please feel free to post questions in the comments if you have anything you wanted to ask me about these series. Oh and just so you guys have an idea here is the format I am thinking part 2 and 3 would take. Part 2: Five Ghosts, Lazarus, Manifest Destiny and Nailbiter. Part 3: Saga, Sex Criminals, Walking Dead and The Wicked and the Divine. I might also make one with my thoughts on the series I might read next. If you managed to get through all this rambling thanks for reading!!