Image’s 25th Anniversary celebration rolls on with these solicitations. So what can we look forward to along those lines in May? Well, the issue of “Saga” which kicks off its next arc will only set you back 25 cents. For those of you who are nostalgic for the time when Todd McFarlane actually drew “Spawn,” there’s a “Director’s Cut” edition of that title’s first issue and a “Vault” edition of the first seven issues which will present them in their original artboard form. That last one will set you back $175, but there’s also a chance you could wind up with a one-of-a-kind sketch from McFarlane as they’re being randomly inserted into these editions. If that kind of chance interests you but you’re not that big of a McFarlane fan, then maybe the Image Blind Box is for you. 1,992 of these boxes will be produced and they contain 25 copies of the 17 (so far) new Image launches for this year. Don’t worry about the overlap, as there will be an assortment of variant, B&W, sketch, and blank covers for each of these titles. Including lots of variants is certainly an appropriate way to celebrate Image’s anniversary, though not really a good one in my opinion. Better to remind readers about all the good comics being published by the company today than the variant-fueled speculator madness the company spawned *rimshot* back in the 90’s and which almost sank the industry.
Fans of “The Walking Dead” should also be aware that 500 of these boxes will contain “Here’s Negan” #1 which collects the first half of the comics detailing the origin of the character from “Image+”. This is billed as the ONLY collection of said strips, but I’m going to hold out for some kind of complete edition down the line. Also, the Blind Box will set you back $125. With all that said, are there any takers?
Regression #1: New from writer Cullen Bunn who is apparently following in the footsteps of Brian Wood and Jeff Lemire by maintaining creator-owned presences at Image and Dark Horse. This new series follows a man who is plagued by waking nightmares and decides to undergo past life regression hypnotherapy to find out what the cause is. He gets more than he bargained for as the horrors he sees are nothing compared to the fact that something has apparently followed his consciousness back through time to the present day and the waking world. While Bunn has written a lot of superhero comics over the years, this and “Harrow County” (still need to check it out at some point) show that his real interest is in horror. Here’s where I’d say he should consider combining these two genres, but what was the last good superhero horror comic? “Marvel Zombies?”
Paklis #1: A new anthology series from writer/artist Dustin Weaver. The three series started here are described as showcasing what happens when you’re faced with the choice to accept the life you’ve been handed or to step boldly into the unknown. I’m guessing that the protagonists of these science fiction and fantasy stories all head off into the unknown because we wouldn’t have stories about them otherwise. Still, I’m betting the real draw here will be seeing Weaver cut loose in showing us a world of human insects, a journey to the center of the galaxy, and an intergalactic war. His work over the years on “Star Wars,” “S.H.I.E.L.D.,” and “Infinity” showed that he has a real gift for demonstrating immense scope and detail in his work and that should make this series a visual feast if nothing else.
Samaritan #1: New from Matt Hawkins of “Think Tank” and “The Tithe” fame. This one is about a woman with a score to settle against the largest military contractor in the world. How does she plan to do that? By stealing all of their research and giving it away to everyone. That works for me, and it’s also the way Noh-Varr was able to defeat Hexus the Living Corporation in Grant Morrison’s “Marvel Boy” miniseries. Expect a more grounded take and plenty of notes and opinions from Hawkins as that’s his stock in trade with his creator-owned work.
The Dying and the Dead #4 & Special Edition: In retrospect, it probably wasn’t the best idea for Jonathan Hickman and Ryan Bodenheim to launch a new series while the former was busy with finishing his epic “Avengers” run and prepping “Secret Wars.” Three issues of the series made it out over nine months in 2015 before it was put on hiatus. The good news is that it’s back with a collected edition of the first three oversized issues. I’d be all for picking up this “Special Edition” save for the fact that there’s no “vol. 1” attached to it. This makes me think it’s purpose is to catch new readers up on what has come before so they can pick up issue #4 after reading it. Which is good from a marketing and promotional perspective, but I’ll keep holding out for vol. 1 or the “complete edition” if this follows the same path as Hickman and Bodenheim’s previous resuscitated-from-hiatus Image series “Secret.”
Elephantmen #77: After ten years this series begins its final arc. I was kind of expecting it to run forever at this point, but it looks like writer Richard Starkings has found a good stopping point for his sci-fi/noir series about anthropomorphic animals who were originally bred for war trying to fit in with a suspicious society. I’ve read the first four volumes and found it to be entertaining enough, but not compelling to make me stay current with it. Now that it’s coming to an end, I think I’ll start catching up.
Renato Jones: Season Two #1 (of 5): The first volume wasn’t nearly as fun as a series about blowing away awful one-percenters should be. While I think that’s a problem which should be fixed, I doubt that creator Kaare Andrews feels the same way. Probably going to give this one a pass when it’s collected.
No Mercy vol. 3: In which the stories about American teens whose hospital-building trip in a third-world country goes so very, very wrong start to take two different paths. First, there are the teens who are stuck behind in Mataguey because they’ve been captured by the local junta or are trying (and failing) to find a way out on their own. Then you have the teens that made it back to the States and are now having to deal with the legal fallout from their awful adventure. Neither of these threads sounds like they’d be a candidate for the feel-good read of the year, but that’s fine with me. After the first two volumes, “No Mercy” has shown that it can subject its cast to one awful thing after another then throw them a narrative shovel so they can make things worse for themselves, and make for some very entertaining reading in the end.
However, if you find yourself not in the mood for this kind of misery from writer Alex De Campi this month, she has you covered. Also arriving in may is Mayday, a 70’s-set espionage thriller as a KGB defector threatens to upend the balance of power during the Cold War. On our end is Jack Hudson who is tasked with making sure this defector and his information make it to California in one piece. On the other is Codename: Felix who has to make sure that doesn’t happen by any means. In the mix as well is a beautiful woman, a fast car, and a whole lot of drugs which leads me to think that this series shouldn’t be taken completely seriously. Maybe consider it a spiritual follow-up to the “Grindhouse” series De Campi did for Dark Horse.