Last February, Image publisher Eric Stephenson held an intervention for the comic book industry at the ComicsPro 2016 Meeting, a gathering of trade professionals designed to get more funny books into more hands. His message was simple: tear it down. Destroy the rigid, traditional expectations that have relegated comics as a beta art form. Seek new audiences, new creators and emphasize that comics aren’t a genre, but a thriving medium designed to articulate complex ideas beyond men in costumes punching one another.
Fortunately, Stephenson has long practiced what he’s preached, filling his creator-owned stable with converts from the Big Two, new voices and, hands down, the best artists. That reality was no more apparent than at this year’s Image Expo, which introduced new projects from Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr, Brenden Fletcher, Ed Brubaker, Jonathan Hickman, Rick Remender and the return of Vertigo comics matriarch Karen Berger (!!!) This month, the Paste Comics team is taking a democratic, spread-sheet assisted look at our favorite comics from each publisher, starting with Image. And while we do adore brand new series like The Fix, we’re mainly taking a look at comics that have been around for an arc or two.