Saturday, January 18, 2014

IMAGE EXP-----Sorry, We Meant Image Comics-Mania

As I'm typing this in my kitchen, the cold weather outside is beginning to surround my house, but there is salvation. The salvation is IMAGE EXPO in San Francisco. According to my inbox, the first HUGE announcement coming out of the convention is the reunion of the team behind Fatale, Ed Brubaker, and Sean Phillips. They have signed a five year deal with Image that gives them "complete freedom, creative control, and ownership" of their books. This allows them to green light any book they want instead of answering to Image's Publisher, Eric Stephenson. Their first book coming out of this deal is The Fade Out, which hit stands following the conclusion of Fatale #24. Unlike most of Image's series, The Fade Out will not start as a mini-series and then hopefully turn into an on-going. Brubaker and Phillips' deal allows The Fade Out to be an on-going noir series in 2014.

Here's the synopsis: "The Fade Out is my ultimate noir story. It's a brutal crime story set in late '40s Hollywood, and all spinning around the mysterious death of an up-and-coming starlet," said Brubaker. "For people who've been waiting for us to return to Criminal, this will be exactly what they're looking for, but on a much more epic scale—going from studio backlots to the debauchery of the rich and famous, and even stretching back to the horrors of World War Two."


One of the biggest surprises coming out of IMAGE EXPO is everyone's favorite writer out of DC Comics, Kyle Higgins. His new book is titled, C.O.W.L. This May, Kyle Higgins will be teaming up with Alec Siegel (Captain America, Avengers) and Rod Reis (Justice League.) The three of them will take readers back to 1960s Chicago, in a time when the once-celebrated superhero labor union C.O.W.L. struggles to maintain their public image and regain the confidence of the people.
Here's the synopsis: "A rise in “super powered” individuals dates back to the closing days of World War II after the deployment of the atomic bomb. In response, Geoffrey Warner (then known as The Grey Raven) spearheaded the campaign to bring heroes together in Chicago...and struck a contract with the city for the heroes’ services. But while C.O.W.L. once stood as a beacon of hope against an epidemic of organized crime and a loose “brotherhood” of villains, the organization is now in a position where it must prove its worth to an ever more disillusioned public...while overcoming great threats from both inside and outside its offices.

Although Geoffrey, aka The Grey Raven is the character responsible for first organizing the heroes under one banner, C.O.W.L., he’s not the only character readers will get to know. “While Geoffrey is definitely a major player, both within C.O.W.L and within the story, the book is very much an ensemble piece, allowing us to explore C.O.W.L. from a number of different viewpoints,” said Siegel. “These characters range from some of the "top tier" heroes, to members of the Investigations and Patrol Divisions. We’ve also got spouses, reporters, Chicago Police Detectives, jailers, and City Hall."

Another book coming out of this year's convention is different, and I mean very different. Kelly Sue DeConnick, writer of PRETTY DEADLY and Captain Marvel, is bringing BITCH PLANET to earth. Even before I read the synopsis, I was sold on the teaser poster. BITCH PLANET is "a science-fiction take on the Women in Prison exploitation feature, BITCH PLANET follows five prisoners on an all-female penal planet, ready to make their escape by way of a gladiatorial exhibition against a team of visiting male prisoners. DeConnick summed BITCH PLANET up with, “there are five women, all ridiculous and real, and all very different. One shouldn’t be there. The other four are unrepentant and guilty as Hell."

Wow, Image Comics is publishing one book that is literally different than anything it's done before. Yes, I know exactly what you're thinking, but trust me, it's out of this wo---actually, it's of this world. James Robinson, formerly the writer of Earth 2, is writing a semi-autobiographical series titled Airboy. For those who don't know, Airboy was a series in the 1940s and now belongs to the public domain. Airboy is "a humorous blend of fiction and reality (and a healthy dose of embellishment) AIRBOY begins the renewed journey of a character much beloved at one point, but forgotten today." For the first time ever, IMAGE is publishing a comic book within a comic book. Airboy is about Robinson and a first time Image artist, Greg Hinkle, and their journey of breathing new life into a dead character. Rumors are that IMAGE's Publisher, Eric Stephenson, even makes an appearance. Seriously though. This idea is brilliant and I can't believe no one has done this before. High-five James Robinson. 

It's been seven years since Casasnova was first published by Image Comics. Flash forward to 2014 and Vol 4: ACEDIA picks up exactly as Vol 3: AVARITA left off. Here's the basic story idea for Vol 4. "Casanova escaped the complicated and stressful life of a dimension-hopping, identity-shifting, sexually voracious killing machine and we last saw him wandering out of the wreckage of a UFO that landed in the Hollywood Hills. It’s our Los Angeles. It’s our Earth. And he remembers absolutely nothing of his past." Unlike in past volumes, this would be the best time for new readers to jump in. Casanova Quinn and the readers will be learning about the prior books together.

Some people hate change, while others enjoy it. At IMAGE Comics, Brandon Graham, the writer of Prophet and ELEPHANTMEN, is embracing it. He is teaming up with four creators to bring his story, 8House, to life. Each issue will have a different writer and artist. 8House is a "series of science-fiction/fantasy miniseries set in a world ruled by eight houses to life."

Here's the basic outline for 8House: "The first of the series will be 8HOUSE: KIEM, written by Graham and drawn by Xurxo Penalta and follows a soldier who must project her mind into the body of her dead twin in order to fight monsters on a distant comet.  The second of the series is titled 8HOUSE: ARCLIGHT, written by Graham and featuring art by Marian Churchland (BEAST). ARCLIGHT will bring readers the chilling story of a high-ranking lady of one of the houses who has her mind trapped in a monster’s body. She will soon learn that the monster trapped in her body has taken over her old life in her absence.  The last of the series will be 8HOUSE: MIRROR, and will be written by Emma RĂ­os (PRETTY DEADLY) and drawn by Hwei Lim. 8HOUSE: MIRROR will examine what it means to be “human” and promises to take readers on an ironic space opera battle between self-absorbed humans intent on their own survival and noble monsters striving to save their worlds." 

Former creators of Uncanny X-Force, Rick Remender and Greg Tocchini, are bringing comic readers to the lowest depths of Earth in their newest creator owned book, Low. Low is "set in the distant future, after humanity has relocated to radiation-shielded cities below the sea and the surface of the planet has become a scorched uninhabitable wasteland. A probe has returned with information on a possible alternative planet for humans, but it has landed on the Earth’s surface. A few brave representatives from the warring human clans venture out to retrieve it and the hopeful news it bears." Want to read a fun fact about the book? It doesn't matter, because I'm going to tell you anyway.

The concept for Low came from a drawing Tocchini had done when Remender asked him what he wanted to do. “When Rick Remender asked me what I wanted to do for our new project, I made a drawing of an astronaut removing her space suit in a curved setting. And that was it,” said Tocchini. “Everything I wanted and the way I imagined it was in that drawing. And that was our first ‘Big Bang’. The look of the whole Low universe came from that drawing.” The end.

One of the hottest books in 2013 was Batman Incorporated, and I dare to say that it was even better than Scott Snyder's Batman. The creators behind the hottest Batman book in years, Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham, are producing a book for Image. It's called Nameless, and we have zero info on it. All Image sent us was the poster, but I don't think we should be surprised. Grant Morrison is Grant 'fucking' Morrison, and he does what he wants. Besides that, the poster is bad ass because it has assonants and alien symbols. Thanks to the internet, I was able to round up some information. According to the book's artist, Chris Burnham, "Nameless is the ultimate horror comic,"and it looks like Grant Morrison has taken his storytelling to a whole another level.  “[Morrison] has never done a straight-up, balls-to-the-wall horror book. That’s what I told him I wanted, and that’s what we’re doing. I think it’s going to be awesome and terrible, and hopefully some 11-year-old kids will steal it, and it’ll ruin their lives forever.”

Hell Yeah. One of the Illumi-Nerdi's favorite creators, Ghosted's Joshua Williamson, is bringing a second title to Image Comics in 2014, Nailbiter. When I opened the email from Image Comics, the first line I read was "Did you know that more serial killers have been born in Buckaroo, Oregon than any other city in the world?" First off, that's creepy, and second off, I'm sold. Along with his second book, Williamson is bringing his co-creator from Mask and Mobsters, Mike Henderson, to do the art.
Here's the premise: "Since 1969, Buckaroo, Oregon has been the birthplace for sixteen serial killers and FBI criminal profiler Charles Kohl aims to uncover why. But just as Kohl begins to close in on understanding the truth behind why this small town seems to breed some of the vilest human beings America has ever seen, he goes missing. Enter trusted friend and NSA agent Nicholas Finch who must race against the clock to find his friend and piece together the rest of the mystery...before anyone else gets hurt."

I have $10 bucks saying that Nailbiter and Nameless battle it out for #1 Horror comic book of 2014. Any takers?

In a very a short period of time, Robert Kirkman dramatically changed two genres: zombies and superheroes. You might not like him as a creator, but the guy has bought in a whole generation of new comic readers. You can't and shouldn't deny it. Out of all of his characters, there has been one odd, goofy character that always stood out to me, and that is Tech Jacket. He was a mix of Spider-Man and Nightwing, but instead of jumping off buildings, he's trying not to die in the middle of a vicious asteroid belt. However, Kirkman will not be writing Tech Jacket's new three issue series. The character will handed over to a very underrated creator, Joe Keatinge. Joe's plans for Tech Jacket take place after the Invincible War. "Zach Thompson (Tech Jacket) needs some time away from being Earth's galactic guardian. But when his vacation doesn't go as planned, Tech Jacket must return to face a brand new threat." 

On a side note, "TECH JACKET, issues 1-3, will all be available exclusively for one week on, before going live across all digital platforms. All three issues will be available simultaneously in 2014." The email does not suggest whether or not you can buy single issues at your LCS in 2014. Stay tuned until further notice. 

In 2014, IMAGE Comics is introducing a brand new heroine to the comic scene, Kate Kristopher. Kate will be the protagonist in IMAGE's new ongoing series that combines urban fantasy and globe-spanning adventures in SHUTTER. Teaming up for this brand new series is an IMAGE veteran creator, Joe Keatinge, and along side him is a first time IMAGE artist, Lelia del Duca. The overall premise for SHUTTER is, " Kate Kristopher, once the most famous explorer on Earth—an Earth that’s far more fantastical than the one we know, filled with demons, gorgons, phantom ninjas, and various other monsters of lore—is forced to return to the adventurous life she left behind when a family secret threatens to destroy everything she spent her life protecting." Keatinge certainly won over several new readers when he mentioned the inspiration for SHUTTER is Indiana Jones and Lara Craft, “We’re looking at the 21st Century, where it’s at and where it’s going, and considering what the Adventurer for its time might be like—what would Indiana Jones be like if created in 2014? What’s after Lara Croft?”

Wouldn't you pick a book if it's tagline was "What if every 90 years the gods were reincarnated?" That is exactly what you're going to do in 2014. One of the major headliners for IMAGE's new books in 2014 is Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie's The Wicked and The Divine. The premise for this unique book is, " The new ongoing series will feature guest creators and surprise arcs with alternate endings that will bring the gods of mythology to life. Twelve gods will be briefly reincarnated in order to perform miracles like superheroes and bask in celebrity fame. But for the first time, there may be a thirteenth god reincarnated, and lucky number thirteen is tipping the delicate balance."

Ok....ya know what. Gillen and McKelvie can just take my money now.

A current Batman writer, Scott Snyder, and a former Batman artist, Jock, are getting the band back together, and have plans to make us afraid of witches again. Let's be honest, everyone stopped being afraid of witches thanks to Disney's Hocus Pocus. Well readers, that's about to change because "everything you thought you knew about witches is wrong. They are much darker, and they are much more horrifying." Just like Snyder did with American Vampires, he's going to make drastic changes to the mythology of witches, and a fresh reinterpretation of this monster is exactly what readers need. Snyder and Jock's WYTCHES is already a must buy for 2014. 

Today, we received some awesome news about Morning Glories' Nick Spencer. In 2014, he will be teaming up with three different artists and will be publishing three brand new series. On a side note, I'm worried. I hope this doesn't mean Morning Glories will be died to bi-monthly again. Let's hope not, but it's time to get back to business.

1. "A contemporary fantasy epic with a spy thriller aesthetic, PARADIGMS will showcase art by Butch Guice (Captain America, Superman) and explore a world that exists beyond, or more specifically behind, ours. In the shadows where magic is real, warring clans of sorcerers battle for power and the favor of their gods."

2. "A sci-fi thriller of dead worlds, lost secrets, and hidden dangers, CERULEAN, with art by Frazer Irving (MORNING GLORIES, BEDLAM, Batman), follows the last survivors of the destruction of Earth as they struggle to rebuild civilization on a distant planet full of its own mysteries."

3. "In the GREAT BEYOND, featuring art by Morgan Jeske (ZERO, SEX) a "post-life community" values the size of your bank account over morals and values—and your place in the hereafter is determined by it. But then polite society is rocked by the apparent suicide of one of its own."

The biggest surprise of IMAGE Expo was Fable's Bill Willingham and he's bringing Fable's Barry Kitson with him. The creative duo is bringing us Restoration. Here's the premise: "Millennia ago, a group of some of the more forward-seeing movers and shakers in the world got together and decided to remove magic from the world—our world. They called themselves The Brotherhood of the Cauldron, because, in the first stages of their massive project, they would feed captured magical items and beings into a large magic cauldron, which would render them down into their most basic magic essence, which could then be bottled and stored away, much like we store the unwanted residue of our nuclear programs. The world settled down into manageable natural laws that were always the same for everyone. Magic was gone. Until one day something terrible went wrong and the gods and monsters broke loose. Suddenly, all at once, magic came rushing back into the world."

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