I wanted to see if I could only pick number one issues this month, while still recommending everything in this column. I got pretty close! April is the season of renewal after all, and Image is clearing the way for a plethora of exciting new series. And I still have a couple of my reliable favorites to look forward to. This is the most exciting Image month of 2023 yet!
As always, you can find the full solicits on the Image comics website.
10. Scarlet alert
This is it you guys. This is my Image heavyweight champ. Until another book comes around with an issue that I like better than an issue of this, “Dark Ride” will remain the champ. That means, according to me, this is the undisputed best Image ongoing. Until such a time that this book’s status changes, expect me to recommend every single issue solicited.
DARK RIDE #5
Written by Joshua Williamson
Illustrated and colored by Andrei Bressan and Adriano Lucas
Owen Seasons has been found, but the mystery around his death continues to haunt Sam Dante. As darker forces emerge in Devil Land, can Sam really control his family’s terrifying legacy?
9. The family that slays together
Despite this series being extremely fantastical, “I Hate This Place” feels like the most grounded Kyle Starks comic yet. It’s all about the characters who feel like specific people. The two lead women? They’ve got verisimilitude. But I guess Trudy has always been a little curious. She’s gay, black, and loves guns? Well consider this issue her secret origin, when we meet her messed up family, who presumably do freaky stuff. This series is trying to be every type of horror movie and we haven’t had a home invasion cult yet.
I HATE THIS PLACE #7
Written by Kyle Starks
Illustrated and colored by Artyom Topilin and Lee Loughridge
No place on the ranch is safe now that Trudy’s murderous survivor cult family has invaded the house. Will the couple stay and fight, or will they take their chances out on the farm?
8. Dream of electric comics
I have to admit that I missed the first bunch of issues of “Paklis,” but that’s a mistake I won’t make again. And why is that? “Paklis” is a sci-fi anthology; short stories in the style of the Twilight Zone. That’s always going to be a draw for me. But more important is that artwork of one of my all time faves, Dustin Weaver, who is also writing the stories. Over at Marvel, Weaver’s art has been the best part of “X-Force.” A creator-owned series from him is exactly what I’ve wanted.
Written by Dustin Weaver and Jeremy Barlow
Illustrated by Dustin Weaver
The critically acclaimed anthology series returns with more mind-breaking tales. First, in the surreal Euro-Western “They’ll Bury You Where You Stand!”, a twisted town called Pious Knife prays for salvation, but isn’t prepared for the deliverance it has coming. Then, the tech-noir mystery “1949” continues with time-skipping Detective Blank stranded in the future. Is she being stalked by a killer from the past, or is she losing her mind?
Features 56 thrilling pages of original stories in one jam-packed issue!
7. Hot and presumably Hungarian
You freaks still like this stuff, yeah? These horny furries are not for me, but these issues keep selling and they keep making more. Presumably someone out there cares about this pig lady. This one shot is also an anthology, featuring a who’s who of comic book erotica creators. That’s enough to get me curious, so I’ll probably crack these pages open. Stjepan Sejic is an all time legend of this sort of thing, and he is credited as both a writer and artist. I guess this is the make or break moment for me to find out if I can ever comfortably read furry comics. Stay tuned!
SWEET PAPRIKA BLACK WHITE & PINK (ONE SHOT)
Written by Mirka Andolfo, Stjepan Sejic, Katana Collins, and others
Illustrated by Mirka Andolfo, Stjepan Sejic, Retsu Tateo, and others
Colored by Mirka Andolfo
Infernum Press’ sexy CCO, created by Harvey Award-winning superstar MIRKA ANDOLFO, returns with some all-new stories for a special in black, white, and…pink! A selection of fun and spicy adventures set within the SWEET PAPRIKA universe, presented by an outstanding array of talent from across the comics and entertainment industry, including KATANA COLLINS (Batman: White Knight Presents: Harley Quinn, Soul Stripper), STJEPAN EJIC (Harleen, SUNSTONE), RETSU TATEO (Full Metal Panic), KIM KRIZAN (Before Sunrise), STEVE ORLANDO (Marauders, Scarlet Witch, COMMANDERS IN CRISIS), and more!
6. Pay to win
Is this a comic based on a cell phone game? It is! Have I played this cell phone game? I have not. Do I know the first thing about anything you do in said cell phone game? I do not. But I am excited for this comic? You bet! That’s because Justin Jordan forever won my pull list devotion with his excellent dark fantasy series “Reaver.” But this is also not the first “Summoner’s War” comic Weaver has done. I read the last one, and it was great popcorn fantasy! I am stoked to return to this series that I don’t really understand, but I don’t mind that I don’t understand.
SUMMONERS WAR AWAKENING #1 (OF 6)
Written by Justin Jordan
Illustrated and colored by Luca Claretti and Igor Monti
Civil war rages across the land of Alea. These armies summon magical creatures to battle each other in a seemingly never-ending struggle-and newly trained summoner Rai has been thrust onto the front lines.
Now, Rai and her companions are stranded deep within hostile territory, occupied by soldiers on the ground and sky pirates in the clouds above. But a cunning new bounty hunter stalks her every move, and Rai’s skills will have to be stronger than ever to make it home alive.
Discover new friends, new foes, and powerful creatures in the next chapter of the action-packed SUMMONERS WAR saga!
5. Huge trouble
That’s uh… OK fine. I’m curious. This solicit is clearly designed to get us asking if the colossal monsters sling colossal dong. And like yeah, I don’t not want to know the answer. Am I going to like this? Uh… difficult to say. But I am going to read it so, well played Image.
GINORMOUS KOKJU #1
Written by Gerry Duggan
Illustrated and Colored by Scott Koblish
The Despicable Deadpool team reunites to give the world the giant monster attack story that movies and TV are too squeamish to show you.
This is a tale of woe about a monster with physical needs. It needs a restroom. It needs food, too. And, most unfortunately, it needs…sexual satisfaction. The only thing standing in its way are the men and women of science. We’re proudly flying our M rating for violence, mild gore, sexual situations, nudity, dudity, turds, comedy, drama, and, um, some very tasteful swearing.
This solicit invokes Swamp Thing and American Jesus himself, Robocop. It reminds me of “We3.” We’ve got a cute critter tortuously transformed into a killer cyborg. It’s trying to pull on our heart strings amid all the absurdity. If this update to that classic tale is told half as well, it will be a comic worth your time.
JUNK RABBIT #1
Written, illustrated, and colored by Jimmie Robinson
A new hero rises from mountains of consumer waste, mass homelessness, and devastating climate change. Some call the hero a myth, an urban legend, but others know that it’s the JUNK RABBIT come to life!
JIMMIE ROBINSON brings a new take to the dystopian tale of how climate disaster alters not only our world, but also the heroes that literally rise from it. Swamp Thing meets RoboCop.
3. Jazz freakout
This series intrigues because of how ordinary it is. This sounds like an interesting, grounded human story. It’s about a clarinet player! I don’t thing they have clarinets in dark fantasy worlds or post apocalyptic zombie wastelands. I’m always happy to see a realistic story come out of Image, but I’m even happier it’s by one Mr. Kyle Higgins. The Massiveverse is probably the biggest project Image is currently publishing (your “Radiant Black,” “Radiant Pink,” “Dead Lucky,” etc). Higgins is basically the showrunner for that huge meta-series. It’s nice that when he sits back down to write, he does something completely different!
DEEP CUTS #1 (OF 6)
Written by Kyle Higgins and Joe Clark
Illustrated by Danilo Beyruth
Colored by Chris Brunner
New Orleans, 1917. In the city’s bustling red-light district, a young clarinet player lands a job with his hero-but he’ll soon discover there’s more to the music business than playing the right notes.
Join writers KYLE HIGGINS & JOE CLARK (RADIANT BLACK) and an ALL-STAR CAST OF ARTISTS for SIX DOUBLE-LENGTH ISSUES that weave stories of struggle, joy, and hope through the history of jazz!
REGISTER PITCH: A whip-smart new miniseries that’s perfect for music fans searching for a story with depth and redemption.
2. From the deep
I think indie comics are where Saladin Ahmed does his best work. His best Marvel comics (“Black Bolt,” “Exiles”) had a sort of irreverent indie feel. Dave Acosta is perfectly matched in tone. And I don’t think Ahmed is publishing the new “Throne of the Crescent Moon” novel any time soon, so this new world from him will have to do. I think insane fear monsters is a good starting point.
Written by Saladin Ahmed
Illustrated and Colored by Dave Acosta
Eisner-winning writer SALADIN AHMED (Miles Morales) and superstar horror artist DAVE ACOSTA (Elvira) make their Image debut with this sci-fi horror series about working people fighting mind-bending monsters.
Blue City was the last livable place on Earth. Now it’s crawling with Terrors-creatures that transform into their victims’ worst fears. Humanity’s last hope? Muhammad Cho and his overworked, underpaid crew of freelance Terrorfighters.
“We’re not heroes-we’re contractors.”
1. …I’m in…
All I really needed to see was Tynion IV. His other big Image series, “Department of Truth” is one of my favorite contemporary titles, and the one I recommend to comics-curious friends who want something heady to chew on. A new horror comic from the man who calls himself Tiny Onion is an automatic buy. But it’s got art by Jordie Bellaire. And Fernando Blanco. And it’s being lettered by superstar Aditya Bidikar. That’s a dream team. That’s a murderer’s row. And they are writing about 90s hackers. I am ready to hack the planet!
Written by James Tynion IV
Illustrated by Jordie Bellaire
Illustrated and colored by Fernando Blanco
In 1999, Gabriel and his friends discovered the Undernet, a secret architecture to the Internet. They charted their exploration on a message board called W0RLDTR33.
Then they lost control. Someone broke into W0RLDTR33-someone who welcomed the violent hold the Undernet had on them. At great personal cost, Gabriel and the others thought they sealed the Undernet away for good.
They were wrong. And now they will know the meaning of PH34R.
The next major horror outing from multiple Eisner Award-winning writer JAMES TYNION IV (THE DEPARTMENT OF TRUTH, The Nice House on the Lake) and FERNANDO BLANCO (Detective Comics), along with Eisner-winning colorist JORDIE BELLAIRE and Eisner-nominated letterer ADITYA BIDIKAR, begins here!