Image #1’s are something I look forward to more than any other book on the shelves. In fact, these books are probably the main reason I still read single issues. That’s not to say that other publishers aren’t putting out great books. DC has done some great things in the Bat family, BOOM! and Valiant have snagged my full attention, and Marvel’s She-Hulk and Ms. Marvel are two of my favorite ongoings. And that’s not to say Image #1’s have all been amazing. But, consistently, Image is putting out books that allow creators to experiment with their craft. Taking the leashes of continuity and house styles (though those are rapidly disappearing) off of creators has led to some of the best stories and experiences of this year. Image books have an energy to them that sets them apart, an energy I’ve grown addicted to.
So, in a flood of good first issues, what books stood apart from the rest? These are the three first issues that dragged me into the story and refused to let go. I should also mention this list doesn’t take into account subsequent issues and that these are my personal favorites.
1) Bitch Planet
A late entry, this December Image #1 is brutal in the best way. Kelly Sue DeConnick isn’t holding anything back in this script. The book feels grimy, evoking the exploitation films it draws inspiration from while transforming them into an angry social statement. It’s not just what the book represents that makes it so good. It’s sharply written and the storyline takes such unexpected turns readers can’t help but be dragged through the story at top speed. Valentine De Landro brings a great retro style to the book, but it’s the skill and maturity of the art that really shines. De Landro is, by necessity, filling his pages with naked women, but it never feels exploitative. This book demands attention, and I’m happy to give it all the attention I can.
When Brian K. Vaughan declares a book the best debut of the year, it’s got to be something special. Copperhead #1 blows past special, nearing ‘instant classic’ territory. This is a first issue that just gets it. The exposition is minimal, the dialogue is snappy, and the characters are incredibly intriguing. Jay Faerber crafted a great character in the first issue with Clara and by the end of the issue you knew exactly the type of person she was. Scott Godlewski is on art and just nails the classic western feel. The art is responsible for the majority of the characterization in the book, with focus on expressive faces and body language. It’s an issue that immediately brings Firefly to the mind, and there isn’t much higher praise than that.
3) Nailbiter #1
This third one was down to two different Joshua Williamson books, but I had to give it to Nailbiter over Birthright. This book is twisted. The title character is one of the most gruesome serial killers I’ve seen in any medium. The story of a town that spawns serial killers is interesting and it adds a sense of mystery to the story. Williamson’s writing is both exciting and foreboding as we learn more about the town of Buckaroo. Everything from the cover design to the last page is crafted in loving (and disgusting) detail by Mike Henderson. It’s not for the young or those averse to blood, but it’s well worth the read.
These are mine. What are yours? Feel free to tweet your lists @BlackShipComics and @left4turtle.