Image Comics began in the ’90s, giving creators a home away from the Big Two. Image was a key to the collector bubble of that decadence and became known for a style over substance approach. However, as the years went by, Image became more of a writer-focused company, an approach that recast the publisher as the home of some of the best comics on the market.
The 2010s were when the publisher really hit the next gear with this approach. Amazing comics were created during this time, ones that have had a huge influence on both the publisher and comics in general.
10 Bitch Planet Is A Sci-Fi Feminist Masterpiece
bitchplanet, by writer Kelly Sue DeConnick and artist Valentine De Landro, took the old exploitation films of the Seventies and created a feminist epic from them. Taking place in a future where non-compliant women are sent to a prison planet, it took the girl gang tropes of those movies and turned them on their ear, creating an epic story.
DeConnick and De Landro put the feminism of the story on display everywhere. Spanning ten issues and a five-issue miniseries, it showed that progressive politics had a place in comics before the Big Two jumped into that ring and blazed a new trial.
9 Monstress Is Peak Fantasy
monster, by writer Marjorie Liu and artist Sana Takeda, is the most decorated fantasy comic being published. A steampunk fantasy meets kaiju meets Asian culture following Maika Halfwolf, an Arcanic on the trail of her mother’s killer, along with a demon that lives in the stump of her severed arm de ella; it’s a slice of amazing fantasy storytelling that any reader would love.
Liu and Takeda create an amazing world with a rich history and culture that rivals even the greatest fantasy works of literature. monster has won multiple awards and showed that fantasy was still a viable comic genre.
8 Sex Criminals Made Chip Zdarsky A Star
2015 saw many of Marvel’s biggest writers migrate to Image, including writer Matt Fraction. Fraction and artist Chip Zdarsky teamed up for sex criminals, a book that followed Suzie and Jon. Time stops every time they have sex, so they decide to become bank robbers. The book is extremely sex-positive, a relationship drama as much as a crime comic.
One of the most banned comic books in libraries across the nation, Sex Criminals was one of the most significant Image books of the end of the ’10s. It was also the book that broke Chip Zdarsky huge, which would lead to him becoming one of the most in-demand writers at Marvel and DC.
7 Jupiter’s Legacy Is Mark Millar’s Biggest Work At Image
Writer Mark Millar is a superstar in the comic industry. For years, he worked at Marvel, with the publisher even putting out creator-owned work by him. That eventually ended, and I moved to Image. In 2013, Millar was joined by artist Frank Quitely for Jupiters Legacy, a book that followed the Samson family in a world where superheroes were the biggest superstars on Earth.
Joined by artists John Paul Leon and Tommy Lee Edwards for subsequent volumes, Jupiter’s Legacy trod on familiar territory for thousands of fans. It represents his biggest work with the publisher, cementing his place there and beginning a relationship with Netflix that adapted the comic.
6 Todd McFarlane Returned To Spawn Several Times Over The 2010s
Todd McFarlane’s spawn was the most important Image comics of the ’90s and regained that title in the 2010s. spawn is one of only two Image books that have been continuously published since the beginning of the company, hitting its twentieth anniversary in 2012. Many people predicted the death of spawn, but it kept chugging along.
Writer/artist Todd McFarlane returned to the book more than once during the 2010s, and it proved to be a much bigger book than most people would have imagined in its fourth decade. spawn is the standard-bearer for Image, and its success in the 2010s would lead it to record-breaking sales in the 2020s.
5 Deadly Class Used Crime Comics To Talk About Generation X
Crime comics have always been a huge part of the comic industry, but the dominance of the Big Two just about killed the genre. The rise of indie comics in the late ’80s and ’90s brought it back, and Image picked up the baton. Writer Rick Remender and artist Wes Craig’s Deadly Class followed in the footsteps of older crime comics, using its narrative as an allegory for the trials of Generation X.
Deadly Class follows Marcus during his life at the assassin high school King’s Dominion. Marcus is a teen whose parents were killed by a mentally ill man who had been released from an asylum only because of the mental healthcare cuts of the Reagan Administration. Part teen drama, part crime comic, part Gen X coming of age story, it’s a massive part of Image’s success in the 2010s.
4 East Of West Is An Alternate History Sci-Fi Epic
East Of West, by writer Jonathan Hickman and artist Nick Dragotta, is one of the best sci-fi comics of all time. Hickman proved his sci-fi chops on Fantastic Four, Avengers, and avengers at Marvel, and his prior work at Image had always leaned in that direction anyway. east of west took it to its utmost extent, taking place in an alternate history US split into six nations by the Civil War.
Blending sci-fi, Biblical prophecies, and political maneuvering, it follows Death, one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, as he tries to get revenge against his fellows for the destruction of the human family he built as the final battle between the six nations begin. It was Hickman’s biggest Image book and stuck the landing admirably.
3 The Wicked + The Divine Was A Smart Meditation On Art And Pop Culture
Writer Kieron Gillen and artist Jamie McKelvie’s The Wicked + The Divine is a modern masterpiece, a piece of pop art that wouldn’t have felt out of place in ’90s Vertigo. The book revolves around the Recurrence: every 90 years, twelve people are given the power of gods by the mysterious Ananke. They are loved, they are hated, and they die within two years.
Following fangirl Laura and documentarian Cassandra as they get involved with the Pantheon, as the gods are called, it’s a metaphor for the price of fame and the power of art over culture. A thoroughly modern book, it has no problem commenting on the society that created it and features multiple healthy LGBTQIA+ relationships. It’s an amazing piece of work.
two The Walking Dead Premiered In The Previous Decade But Truly Hit Its Peak In The ’10s
walking dead, by writer Robert Kirkman and artist Charlie Adlard, debuted in the ’00s and played a big role in the Image resurgence, but it wouldn’t truly become a phenomenon until the ’10s. That’s when the Tv show debuted, bringing multiple eyes to the comic and creating a pop-culture juggernaut. The Walking Dead became Image’s most prominent book for the rest of its run.
The book used a zombie apocalypse to talk about humanity’s monstrousness and struck a chord with readers. Its biggest stories came out of its 2010s run, and its sales eclipsed those of even Big Two books, its success redefining the company.
one Saga Is The Best Gateway Comic Of The 21st Century
Saga, by writer Brian K. Vaughan and artist Fiona Staples, is the most beloved Image book to come out of the 2010s. It’s not the most successful, but it’s close, and its quality has never been in question. Following the mixed family of Marko, Alana, and Hazel as they flee a galactic war where both sides are hunting them down, Saga grabbed readers and never let go.
Saga is the kind of comic that can make anyone a comic fan. It’s as much about family and life as it is a sci-fi war among the stars with a sprinkling of magic. Its multiple facets make it perfect for anyone, and it is thought of as one of Image’s best books ever.
10 Ways Image Comics Changed The Industry