Wake Up And Smell The Coffee: It's All About Image, Part Two

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Hey everybody. I’m still very pressed for time this week, so this column will be much shorter than usual. Continuing last week’s theme, I’ll be talking about my favorite, current Image books. As usual, I’m sure I’ll be passing over many of your favorites, but I emphasize that these are only titles that interest me the most on a personal level and does not reflect my opinions on the books that go unmentioned. Today’s spotlight is on Top Cow, so here we go:

Witchblade – When I heard Paul Jenkins was going to be writing the series regularly, I have to admit I was very reluctant at first. The blatant T & A covers (at least more so than most) gave me a negative impression of the content and with that being the main Top Cow title, it pretty much kept me from checking out the rest of the studio. I don’t know what happened, but something motivated me enough to buy an issue and I’ve been buying it ever since. Jenkins has continually surprised me with his unconventional approach to the super heroine comic, going for very dark and supernatural crime-fiction instead. I’ve always enjoyed detective stories (Detective Comics, Whiteout, Sam & Twitch), but this was something else entirely. More noticeably, this series is one of the adult-oriented books I’m picking up. I would be very surprised if it continues at this maturity level with the successful TV series possibly bringing slightly younger readers.

The book has managed to keep me happy until the current “Road to Universe” story arc, which has been testing my patience. I’m not a fan of crossovers and would rather continue the regular direction, that or I completely lose interest. We’ll see where it goes with the next issue.

Agency – Halfway through this series and I’m completely hooked. I love these characters and the complete preposterousness of this world. It’s Blade Runner meets Seven with loads of black humor thrown in for good measure. Originally meant to run with the rest of the Minotaur Press children, the book eventually shipped without the imprint. It’s pretty obvious I was attracted to it because of the writer/creator, Paul Jenkins, but it is difficult to pull me into creator-owned work. I was also attracted to the project because artist of Kyle Hotz’s issues of Incredible Hulk. His flavor is akin to Garth Ennis and the two creators together, Jenkins & Hotz, seem like a match made in heaven. I really can’t recommend this book enough.

Fans of either of these two series by Paul Jenkins can check out his other work in the monthly Peter Parker: Spider-Man (with Mark Buckingham) at Marvel, the bi-monthly Universe series (with Clayton Crain) and the upcoming Darkness relaunch (with Dale Keown) at Top Cow.

Inferno: Hellbound – I know it’s too early to mention this series, but what the Hell (no pun intended, seriously). The new series was originally scheduled to launch this month, but I believe it will be delayed due to the last minute announcement of Dwayne Turner being temporarily replaced (at least for the first two story arcs) by Image co-founder and Marvel legend, Marc Silvestri. With that change in the creative line-up, my interest in the project peaked. Silvestri is one of the two key figures that brought me into comics in the late ‘80’s. After handfuls of comics couldn’t get me to the newsstands, one issue of Uncanny X-Men by Chris Claremont and Silvestri (#229) hooked me for life. Having never even seen the book before, the dark nature of the storyline and its unforgiving aggressiveness transfixed me. After trading with my friend to get that issue, I took the first chance I had and went to the local bookstore to pick up the latest issue. I stayed with the book well past the end of Silvestri’s run, but I never forgot him. As I grew older, I was able to grab older issues and trades, including Inferno, increasing my appreciation for his work by leaps and bounds. Though his Cyberforce concept never grabbed me, I missed his return in the late 80’s with Top Cow. This is the opportunity I’ve been waiting for. Hell, demons and Silvestri… welcome home, Marc.

As previously mentioned, Silvestri is only planning to draw two consecutive storylines at this moment and I do not know how many that is. He is also co-writing the series with longtime collaborator David Wohl and developing the concept as a Hollywood film property. The series itself is spinning out of Universe with a prequel issue in the latest Wizard “Top Cow” Special, so those of you looking for head start can pick up there.

That concludes this week’s edition of “Coffee”, but please come back next week when we make a return of sorts to Top Cow while I cover the ever blossoming Joe’s Comics imprint. See you there.

Born and raised in Tampa, FL, Drew Reiber is a part-time student with aspirations of someday writing those comics he so loves to rant about. He is currently in a state of euphoria from the announcement of Mark Waid on Fantastic Four coinciding with his reading of the best X-Treme X-Men issue to date. You can find his other column at (http://hometown.aol.com/nolansnewsstand/), which has a similar name, but different content.

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