Image has suddenly become the go-to publisher for startlingly original Sci-Fi, fantasy, and pulpy awesomeness. What used to be a market cornered by DC’s Vertigo imprint has migrated to the offices of a publisher that was once formed to buck superhero trends with the medicore likes of SPAWN, THE DARKNESS, and WITCHBLADE. But these days, taking a trip down the Image aisle in any given week leads to a killer assault of creepy mini-series, ongoing detective stories, science fiction epics, and generally intriguing tales that may have been troubled to find a home even five years ago.
Let’s take a peek at this week’s gallery of greatness, shall we?
Exhibit A. BEDLAM #2, Nick Spencer and Riley Rossmo. What began as a disturbing journey into the mind of a genocidal killer has expanded into a philosophical exploration of the effects of violence on both its participants and victims. There is some pretty horrifying imagery here, and I wouldn’t recommend the series for anyone especially averse to self-mutilation and/or lobotomies, but fans of psychological anomalies and subversive thrillers are required to check it out. It’s not so much shocking as it is completely unsettling.
Exhibit B. WITCH DOCTOR: MAL PRACTICE #1, Brandon Seifert and Lukas Ketner. A new issue of a previously beloved mini-series has surfaced at last, and it does not disappoint. What makes WITCH DOCTOR different from so many other supernatural detective stories is its clever situational humor (The Pixies’ “Wave of Mutilation” followed by Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” on the radio—dismemberment theme!) and the strangely sympathetic and awkward hero, who assumes that a “morning after” owes more to magical philandering than matters of temporary lust.
Exhibit C. PLANETOID #4, Ken Garing. A stunning example of hard Sci-Fi done right. PLANETOID jumped out of nowhere with a fairly ‘ordinary’ premise (marooned on a strange planet with your AI and a few weapons), then proceeded to introduce characters that counted, indigenous life forms good for more than meat, and organic conflict not easily solved. Plus, there are robots and aliens with bulbous gourd-heads. Only complaint comes from the dishearteningly cliché final few panels of this issue, but hey, I can pretend they didn’t happen.
Exhibit D. MULTIPLE WARHEADS #2, Brandon Graham. More fun! More pun! More nonsensical madhousing! It’s almost impossible to describe what’s going on here, except that there are mountain monks called the Grateful Dead and menus full of end meats and a blue-haired assassin and dragon-crocodiles that hold on for dear life and something called a ‘borrowed thigh legurt’ (‘from fermented leg milk—enjoy the thigh-lents’). The main character’s name is Sexica. She’s dating a werewolf. Sort of. (It’s complicated.) Oh my.
This isn’t even taking into account the ongoing powerhouses known as FATALE, SAGA, PROPHET, and MANHATTAN PROJECTS, two of which (FATALE #10 and PROPHET #31) are also on your shelves this week. Damn, Image—slow down. I can’t keep up with such an inundation of crazy goodness.