Paste's Initial Thoughts on Image’s Stellar 2015 Lineup

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Last Thursday, Image Comics held its second Expo in San Francisco, with creators unveiling a slew of new series in a conference that resembled the tech galas of Apple and Microsoft. And just like those events, thousands of rabid fans are left with new calendar alerts and heavenward expectations in its wake. While no major Big Two creators swapped sides (we’ll see you at some point, Brian Michael Bendis), Image showed its devotion to expanding the comic book ecosystem into more directions. The most interesting announcement could well be Emi Lenox’s memoir, Tadaima; Image has occasionally dabbled in nonfiction and realistic fiction, but hosting a lush water-colored retrospective like this could allude to more personal projects in the future. Genres aren’t the only things that are expanding, though: Brandon Graham announced sprawling anthology formats like 8House and Island. It shows that the publisher is willing to experiment with form as well as function.


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In the below list, Paste takes a look at all of the titles presented to gauge which concepts made our hearts beat the fastest. What are you looking forward to the most?

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8House: Arclight
Writers: Marian Churchland, Brandon Graham
Artist: Marion Churchland
Interest Level: 8/10

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Brandon Graham’s new anthology series, 8House, sounds like the perfect bridge between the sci-fi acid bender of Prophet — set to wrap this Spring/Summer —and the future of an artist who revels in the weird and brilliant. Marian Churchland plots and illustrates while her husband, Graham, writes dialogue for “Arclight,” which will comprise 8House’s first four issues. The plot follows “a high-ranking lady…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.” With a synopsis that sounds like the brainchild of a lost weekend between Terry Gilliam and David Cronenberg and delicate, richly-shaded artwork, I almost wish this was an ongoing. Also: what the hell is going on in the preview page below? Our bet is either on: A. medieval land-eel veterinary rescue, or B. invertebrate community theater rehearsing Hamlet. Sean Edgar

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8House: Mirror
Writer: Emma Rios
Artist: Hwei Lim
Interest Level: 5/10

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Mirror will be just one of the inter-related stories that make up the larger 8House series, taking place on a space colony where science has created a race of human-animal hybrids. The general theme of animal/man conflict resembles dystopian classics like The Island of Dr. Moreau, injected with political themes like war, identity and independence. Robert Tutton

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AD: After Death
Writers:   Scott Snyder, Jeff Lemire
Artist: Jeff Lemire 
Interest Level: 9/10

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Imagine a world where no one dies; a world where everyone, not just the main character or superhero, indulges in eternal life. This central concept anchors AD: After Death, exploring how the minutiae of everyday life evolves when everyone has infinite time. Now, imagine that this world stems from the imaginations of Scott (Wytches) Snyder and Jeff (Trillium) Lemire. The creative team alone makes this project worth looking forward to, but with such a deep topic at its disposal, this book is poised to transcend the confines of genre entertainment into something profound. Robert Tutton

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Black Road
Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: Garry Brown
Interest Level: 7/10

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Almost exactly one year ago, Paste chatted with Brian Wood to discover that the writer not only had three unpublished story arcs of the decentralized Viking epic Northlanders, but also a treatment bible full of similar material for a show that never received the green light. A betting man might have wagered that Wood would create another comic to capitalize on this goldmine of unused content, so Black Road’s announcement was more of an eventuality than a surprise. The narrative features Magnus the Black, a warrior assigned to help transition pagan Norway to civilized Christian standards in 900 A.D. I have no doubt the series will be excellent and extrapolate on a particularly conflictual era in history (check out the “Metal” trade of Northlanders for a flipped perspective on this situation). That said, this is a direct spiritual successor to a critical darling that lived a long life; will Black Road road lead to renewed enthusiasm? Sean Edgar

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Heaven
Writer: James Robinson
Artist: Philip Tan
Interest Level: 6/10

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Mankind, having domain over the entire universe, does not weep when there are no more worlds to conquer. Instead, it sets its sights on the most final of frontiers — Heaven. This new series from writer James Robinson presents an sprawling tale of galactic soldiers, warrior angels and inter-dimensional spycraft. Sci-fi and political satire already go together like Han and Chewie, and when you add in Philip Tan’s epic-scale art, Heaven could well be a divine read. Robert Tutton

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I Hate Fairyland
Writer & Artist: Skottie Young
Interest Level: 7/10

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In I Hate Fairyland, Skottie Young imagines how getting stuck in a fantasy world of rainbows and ice cream might drive one a little homicidal. Gertrude, an axe-wielding little girl who’s spent the last 30 years in in the titular Fairyland, has had it up to her Shirley Temple curls with all things saccharine and benign. The approach looks like Invader Zim meets Alice in Wonderland, and stands to be a dark, sarcastic respite for any parent who’s had to deal with sing-song kids’ shows on unending repeat. Robert Tutton

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Island
Writers: Emma Rios, Brandon Graham, Various
Artists: Emma Rios, Brandon Graham, Various
Interest Level: 6.5/10

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Brandon Graham and Emma Rios lead this new monthly anthology; the (awesome) idea behind it is to make every issue big enough to give each story more space than it would receive in most other anthologies. The first issue will feature a sci-fi meditation on the nature of identity with Rios’ body-swapping story “ID,” as well as a new “Multiple Warheads” short from Graham. Robert Tutton

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Kaptara
Writer: Chip Zdarsky
Artist: Kagan McLeod
Interest Level: 10/10

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Chip Zdarsky describes this new ongoing with artist Kagan McLeod as “gay Saga” with a protagonist who explores “peculiar worlds inspired by the action figures of the 1980s.” So there’s that. But the fact of the matter is that anyone who can craft a comedic work of art from a residential Applebee’s Facebook feed in a week should have been writing books like this a long time ago. Add the much-missed Kagan (Infinite Kung Fu) McLeod illustrating carnivorous moose, and there’s not one part of Kaptara we’re not on board with. Also: this picture of the creators. Sean Edgar

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The Ludocrats
Writers: Kieron Gillen, Jim Rossignol
Artist: David Lafuente
Interest Level: 9/10

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We noted Grant Morrison’s comic The Nameless in Paste’s most anticipated comics of 2015; according to Morrison, the comic derives from “our culture’s unstoppable, almost erotic, obsession with its own destruction.” Yes, we’re still excited, but thank the heavens that books like The Ludocrats exist to balance out these existential buzzkills. This series by Kieron Gillen, Jim Rossignol and David Lafuente should almost be applauded more for its attitude than its literal plot. Dedicated to preserving wonder and whimsy by any means necessary, these pages sweat to stave off the ordinary through characters with names like Baron Otto Von Suburban and Professor Hades Zero-K. Like some steampunk Monty Python special, this book couldn’t sound any more British if it tried. Sean Edgar

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Monstress
Writer: Marjorie Liu
Artist: Sana Takeda
Interest Level: 8/10

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It’s 1920s Shanghai, but with a twist — monsters! Massive Leviathans walk the earth in this revised history while various powers, human and otherwise, strive to control them. When a young girl with a shadowy past emerges with a psychic link to one of the creatures, she finds herself in the crosshairs of the warring factions. Sana Takeda’s art is as awe-inspiring as it is beautiful, and seeing how she visualizes and fleshes out not just the city, but the monsters, is more than enticing. Robert Tutton

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No Mercy
Writer: Alex De Campi
Artist: Carla Speed McNeil
Interest Level: 4/10

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No Mercy’s tagline — “No Phones, No Passports, No Mercy” — refers to the brutal circumstances a group of teenagers faces after being stranded in South America. Hopefully some slightly more dramatic conditions lay around the corner, like: no tourniquet rags, antivenom or ransom money. Then again, phonelessness may be the new benchmark of desperation for Generation Z. ¯\(?)/¯ The creative team certainly sports a nice pedigree, though: it’s exciting to see a new project from Carla Speed McNeil and her illustrations that convey volumes of emotion in just a few strokes. Sean Edgar

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Paper Girls
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Cliff Chiang
Interest Level: 7/10

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Paper Girls may sound like Stand By Me crossed with a classic ‘80s video game, but with Brian K. Vaughn and Cliff Chang at the helm, it’s sure to be much, much more. The book will follow the lives of four 12-year-old girls who deliver papers together, but have also endured “something extraordinary.” Given the caliber of stories we’ve come to expect from both Vaughn and Chiang, Paper Girls certainly has the potential to deliver that same experience to readers. Robert Tutton

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Plutona
Writer:   Jeff Lemire  
Artist: Emi Lenox
Interest Level: 7.5/10

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Speaking of Stand By Me, Plutona tells the tale of five kids who discover the body of a fallen superhero while roaming the woods. Jeff Lemire and Emi Lenox, along with lauded colorist Jordie Bellaire, use that grisly discovery to launch an exploration of “the nature of friendship and the line between good and evil.” While Lenox’s art has a wide-eyed, innocent softness, Lemire’s predilections for the philosophical will no doubt drive this story about children far afield from the realm of children’s stories. Robert Tutton

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Revengeance
Writer & Artist: Darwyn Cooke
Interest Level: 7/10

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No, Darwyn Cooke won’t be illustrating the further adventures of Raiden, but will be channeling hedonism and regret through this trippy noir about a 20-something designer plunged into a Toronto murder mystery. Cooke has name-dropped David Lynch and Dan Clowes as major influences, painting this new project as much creepier and less linear than the his svelte super hero work at DC. It’s also Darwin Cooke illustrating something, so we’d still preorder Revengeance even if it were published on congealed toxic waste in disappearing ink. Sean Edgar

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Run Love Kill
Writers: Jonathan Tsuei and Eric Canete
Artist: Eric Canete
Interest Level: 7/10

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The hook behind Run Love Kill, a sci-fi action deluge that’s been incubating for nine years, lies in Eric Canete’s kinetic visual storytelling. The man can draw, adorning fluid poses with a wealth of detail like some unholy amalgamation of Paul Pope, J. Scott Campbell and Guy Davis. The plot chronicles the personal history of fugitive Rain Oshiro through her transition from student, to soldier, to most wanted. The inclusion of robots and dinosaurs certainly doesn’t hurt matters. Our only other question is when Neill Blomkamp will direct the adaptation. Sean Edgar

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Savior
Writers: Todd McFarlane, Brian Holguin
Artist: Clayton Crain
Interest Level: 2/10

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A stranger with biblical powers arrives in a decidedly verite version of earth, and the regular Joes and Janes don’t quite know whether he’s the antichrist or, um, Christ. For a creative team that normally indulges in the hyper-stylized and hyperbolic, tackling a more realistic angle of dark Judeo-Christian fantasy may add a new impact that’s eluded recent Spawn output. Conversely, I can’t help but feel like I read this same story description nine years ago when it was called Chosen by Mark Millar and Peter Gross. Sean Edgar

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Sons of the Devil
Writer: Brian Buccaletto
Artist: Toni Infante
Interest Level: 8/10

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For all of the gothic grind house homage that’s been floating around the comics industry, Sons of the Devil has a plot description that begs to be explored on its own terms. Reared by a diabolic cult leader, protagonist Travis Crowe suffered a childhood of alienation only to discover that his origins may be more disturbing — and Faustian — than previously assumed. And you thought your conception story was rough. The boilerplate sounds like it skirts the same psychological/supernatural horror barriers as Robert Kirkman’s Outcast and indie film nailbiters like Ti West’s House of the Devil: all good things. Toni Infante’s art also captures a nice nicotine-stained grit with some manga energy. Judging from these preview pages, SOTD should keep the adrenaline pumping into the wee hours of the morning. Sean Edgar

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Starve
Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: Danijel Zezelj
Interest Level: 5/10

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Brian Wood has addressed social disarray through the lenses of war, environmental catastrophe, sports and journalism in his past works; food is as ripe a field as any to mine further dystopian fiction. Starve analyzes culinary shows like Top Chef and Iron Chef, featuring an Anthony Bourdain-inspired celebrity who seeks to repair his show after it caters to the elitist few. In all honesty, this concept sounds really, really weird. But food and nourishment have escalated into one of the most controversial topics of today; there’s no reason why comics shouldn’t address this political, humanitarian minefield. If Wood can address such topics as Monsanto, GMOs, factory farming, clean water shortages and hormones with the research and intelligence he’s showed in previous works, this ongoing could satiate on a monthly basis. Sean Edgar

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Tadaima
Writer & Artist: Emi Lenox
Interest Level: 8/10

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Emi Lenox has already done memoir-ish work for Image with Emitown, but Tadaima is different. It had been more that a decade since the artist visited her family in Japan. With her grandparents now deceased, this travelogue chronicles her return. It’s a personal, emotional story of family and cultural roots rendered in beautiful water colors. Robert Tutton

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We Stand Guard
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Steve Skroce
Interest Level: 10/10

Does the United States secretly envy the Canadians enough to invade them? Our neighbors to the north have functional state-funded healthcare, bags of milk and Broken Social Scene, so it wouldn’t be the worst acquisition ever. Brian K. Vaughan partners with native Canuck Steve Skroce for a limited series about this face-smacking concept — set 100 years in the future — as Canadian freedom fighters struggle to repel the technologically-elite forces of Uncle Sam. Vaughan may be creating the definitive sci-fi fantasy comic with Saga, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss his densely-researched real world explorations in Ex Machina and Y: The Last Man. This could potentially continue that rich legacy. Call it Red, White and Blue Dawn. Sean Edgar

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