The second ImageCon, held earlier this month had some fantastic announcements coming out of it. Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips signing a five-year exclusivity deal along with a new title “The Fade-Out,” Rick Remender and Scott Snyder launching a new title each while Nick Spencer launches three, Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham re-teaming for a horror title, and Robert Kirkman trolling the “new issue #1” trend with “Invincible” #111. It’s like three issue #1’s in one, you see. Yet all this was overshadowed by a photo of all the major Image creators together with the majority of the comments being how it was a white (mostly) male sausagefest. Since then, the discourse has shifted to why there aren’t more minority comics creators out there and if Image is presenting itself as the future of comics, what are they going to do to fix this?
Out of all this, there was one response which I found particularly illuminating. Rob Guillory, the artist of “Chew,” discussed on Twitter how he had done comics classes in poor African-American neighborhoods in Louisiana. The number one response he got from his students in these classes, “We can do this? Aren’t comics for white people?” So yeah, there’s a lot of work to be done in order to increase the racial diversity in comics. It would also appear that a lot of it is going to have to be done during potential creators’ formative years in order to make a real difference.
Southern Bastards #1: Jason Aaron returns to the crime genre with a series that sounds like the white trashiest thing ever. It takes place in Alabama, in a town that has the state champion football team, is described as “Dukes of Hazzard meets the Coen Brothers...on meth,” and features a protagonist named Earl Tubb. I really want to be excited about this title, seeing as how it’s Aaron’s first major creator-owned work after “Scalped,” but there’s not a lot to go on here. His Marvel comics are plenty crazy as it is and this sounds like an attempt to transfer that vibe to a real-world(ish) setting. Still, the man’s reputation with me is pretty solid at this point and I’ll be picking up the first collection eventually just to see how it all turns out.
Invincible #111: The cover really says it all. Well, that and the fact that this issue is also advertised with, “THE WALKING DEAD CREATOR ROBERT KIRKMAN WRITES INVINCIBLE!!!” You know, there’s a chance that some people might see this pick up the issue based on that alone. Good for them. The rest of us will try to keep a straight face when they do.
The Field #1 (of 4): Illustrated by “Prophet’s” Simon Roy and written by Ed Brisson, who is unknown to me, this title is advertised with the kind of pitch that I wish “Southern Bastards” had. We’re told that a man wakes up in a field, in his underwear, with amnesia, and a cell phone. He gets texts from the phone warning him of danger, which includes a crime spree from an ex-bible salesman fueled by Christian Rock amongst other things. Now how can you not want to know where THIS goes?
Dream Police #1: Another month, another new Image title from J. Michael Straczynski. The title is pretty much self-explanatory, though the indication of a larger story is also given in the solicitation as well. I don’t have much to say about this now because my copy of the first volume of Straczynski’s “Ten Grand” arrived the other day and I’ve yet to dig into it. Though his writing on superhero titles has been frankly abysmal in recent years, I still want to see if he’s been held back by the genre and companies he’s worked for and can still put out a work comparable to “Midnight Nation.” For that matter, I think it’s time to check up on that title and see how it has held up over the years. Expect more on those titles very soon.
Lazarus vol. 2: Because nothing screams “adorable” to me so much as a preteen girl wielding a full-size katana, as we see here on the cover. I’m certainly looking forward to this after how the first volume turned out, as well as the fact that we’re getting five issues here instead of two.
The Manhattan Projects vol. 4: The Four Disciplines: Now I thought that the previous volume suffered a little due to a lack of focus. I’d say the odds of that issue being addressed here are pretty good as we’re likely to see the rest of the team break out of captivity to take on Oppenheimer, who is also dealing with his own mental civil war. Of course, that would be the obvious, dull-sounding route. This series hates things like that, so I’m also expecting my expectations will be upended here as well.
Pretty Deadly vol. 1: I still think that advertising your series as a mix between “Preacher” and “Sandman” is a mistake. The overly poetic solicitation text also does this title no favors as well. Still, there has been lots of buzz about this title -- both good and bad. That makes me inclined to pick this up just to see where I fall on the matter.
Three: Kieron Gillen came up with this series to express his outrage at Frank Miller’s mythmaking of the Spartans in “300.” Here we have the story of three slaves on the run from their Spartan masters as we get to see what life was really like in ancient Greece if you weren’t an able-bodied warrior. Ryan Kelly provides the art and all of this together sounds like a can’t-miss bit of historical fiction.
Velvet vol. 1: Before the Living End: Now that I think about it, you have to go back to the last volume of “Criminal” to find something by Brubaker that I’ve really enjoyed. “Fatale” has been enjoyable, but easily the least of his collaborations with Sean Phillips. His last contributions to the Marvel Universe only made me glad that he was going to focus on more creator-owned work. With “Velvet,” he’s teaming up with his first “Captain America” artist Steve Epting to give us a spy series unfettered by the constraints of the superhero genre or a major comics company (whoa -- deja vu already in this column). I’ll be picking this up, no question, and I certainly hope it finds the writer regaining his groove.
Thief of Thieves #20: So Andy Diggle is now the sole writer on this title? What happened to the “writer’s room” approach of rotating creators with Kirkman at its center that the title was founded on? All I’m asking for is a little transparency here. Of course, if the next volume which features Diggle’s debut on the title is as good as his work on “The Losers,” then expect my complaints to become immediately silent and invisible.