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Tag: Image Comics (1-6 of 6)

'Zero' review: Being a spy will really mess you up

Zero is a comic book with a conceit that starts out simply: Should spies akin to James Bond exist in the real world, they would be irreparably damaged people. So what if one of these broken, efficient killing machines discovered that he was being used by the wrong side? What would that look like?

Written by Ales Kot and illustrated by a different artists every issue, Zero tells the story of Edward Zero, the best operative in a mysterious Agency, in the middle of a crisis of conscience. Trained from the age of 10 to be a killer, put on drugs to suppress his emotions, and placed on the front lines of a secret war that will radically change the entire world, Zero’s story unfolds bit by bit over a 20-year span beginning in 2018 and ending in 2038. With a nonlinear structure, the reader knows from the beginning that Zero defects—the framing narrative places an old, weary Zero in front of a gun held by a child sent by The Agency, with the same drugs and training Zero had burning through his system. Each issue tells a story involving Zero or one of his associates set in that time period and beyond. Each chapter offers a peek into the messy, broken, and violent headspace of its characters and asks you to sort it out. It’s a fascinating, disconcerting work.

The experience of reading Zero isn’t always a smooth ride. There’s an intricate density to the storytelling—Kot often manages to pull off the difficult trick of constructing each issue with a satisfying, self-contained story that’s complemented with cryptic clues about the near-future world it’s set in and devastating revelations that affect the ongoing plot. And while there’s a lot of thought put into every script, the pacing is highly irregular, and the nonlinear story can make for jarring transitions. But Zero does everything else so well—from art to design to dialogue and beyond—that a sometimes hard-to-follow plot is more of a feature than a bug. The experience of reading a comic book is rarely a prolonged one, and as such having reasons to reread, to pore over slowly and contemplate the ways a particular artist suits a particular story, are all good things.

With Zero on hiatus until October 29, now is the perfect time to pick up the first two volumes, An Emergency and At the Heart of It All, which collect the first 10 issues of the series. Designed by Tom Muller (who is also responsible for the striking look on the single issues), the trade dress for both volumes feature one of the most striking designs for a standard trade paperback in recent memory. The upper portion of the cover is devoted to abstract imagery that reflects the themes of the book—An Emergency is a messy collage designed to look like it was ripped off pages from the comics within, just like its protagonist is broken down and stitched together again into something bleak and impenetrable. Similarly, the second volume takes key art from the next batch of issues and distorts them, much like a signal that isn’t quite clear. It’s a strong setup for what’s to come, even if that isn’t entirely obvious. On both volumes, the lower third of the cover starkly lays out all the relevant information: series, title, price, and credits. It’s an eye-catching look that begs to be talked about and read.

One caveat: Zero is, in a word, violent. There is a graphic brutality on display that some readers will find uncomfortable. While that’s the point, it doesn’t make it any easier to read. In interviews, Kot describes Zero alternately as “what if James Bond was real” and an exploration of “bleak male rage,” expressing the importance of following up depictions of violence with equally considered looks at its lasting, devastating effects. With the help of the many other talented artists whom he has collaborated with, Kot has done exactly that: tearing down the psyches of characters we often encounter in action movies, and inviting us to wander through the rubble.

It’s a disturbing place.

'Five Weapons' is a comic that's set in a Hogwarts for assassins

Five-Weapons

Five Weapons, Jimmie Robinson’s recently-concluded comic book series, has an irresistible hook: At a school where children are trained to be assassins, a pacifist vows to make it through the semester without touching a single weapon.

There are several ways a story about 12-year-olds learning to be professional killers could go wrong, even in a world where the most popular young adult franchise in the world is about teens forced to murder each other. But Five Weapons dodges all of them. Though it’s set in a world defined by violence, Five Weapons isn’t lurid or graphic in the least—in fact, it’s an all-ages romp that’s mostly about making friends.

Tyler Shainline is the new kid at the School of Five Weapons, where the children of assassins go to learn their parents’ craft. The school’s name refers to the five clubs that students can join, each focusing on a different instrument: knives, guns, staffs, bows and arrows, and “exotic” (poisons and such). As the son of one of the world’s most revered assassins, Shainline is instantly an object of resentment from his classmates. This only deepens after he refuses to choose a weapon and join a club. Each issue of the comic addresses the same issue: how can Tyler solve a series of impossible challenges without breaking his vow of pacifism? READ FULL STORY

The comics of Comic-Con, Day 1: Image Expo, Marvel's AXIS, and Vertigo

Sure, all the screenings, TV panels, and movie announcements are great, but isn’t Comic-Con about comics? What’s going on with them?

Lots. Throughout the convention, every major publisher in the comics biz will have at least one panel announcing exciting new books and bold new directions, and teasing what may be coming in the near future. Who knows—the basis of your next favorite TV series could be here. Want a quick recap? Here’s what happened on Day 1:

Image

Image Comics got off to an early start, holding their own Image Expo event Wednesday night, the day before the official start of San Diego Comic-Con. After a keynote speech by Publisher Eric Stephenson, the news came hard and fast. Twelve new series were announced as their respective creators were brought on stage to introduce them. The new titles announced:

• Valhalla Mad, by Joe Casey and Paul Maybury, about Norse Gods partying in Manhattan. Begins spring 2015.

• Tooth and Claw by Kurt Busiek, Ben Dewey, and Jordie Bellaire. Described as “Conan meets Game of Thrones meets Kamandi,” the high-fantasy epic begins November 2014.

• Tokyo Ghost by Rick Remender, Sean Murphy, and Matt Hollingsworth. In 2189, the world is a wasteland, and entertainment is the drug that everyone needs—and the mob has. Coming summer 2015.

• The Humans by Keenan Marshall Kellar, Tom Neely, and Kristina Collantes. An ape biker gang, ’70s exploitation-style. No typos there. Starts November 2014.

• Southern Cross by Becky Cloonan and Andy Belanger. On a space tanker to Titan, a woman is haunted by ominous threats. Coming winter 2014.

• Rumble by John Arcudi and James Harren. Described as “like a scarecrow-Conan fighting in a Louis C.K. show directed by David Fincher,” the creators promise a genre bender with heaps of strange. Begins this December.

• Invisible Republic by Gabriel Hardman and Corrina Bechko. A sci-fi action-adventure about the rise of an empire, coming in 2015. Also announced: Hardman’s digital-only series KINSKI will be coming to print in November.

• Intersect by Ray Fawkes. A horror story about a city gone mad. Launching in November.

• Injection by Warren Ellis, Declan Shalvey, and Jordie Bellaire. A science fiction series about “the dark future we’ve built for ourselves.” Begins in 2015.

• From Under Mountains  by Marion Churchland, Claire Gibson, and Sloane Leong. A magical fantasy in which rival houses struggle for power in the isolated country of Akhara. Begins in 2015.

• Drifter by Ivan Brandon and Nic Klien. A space transport crashes on a lawless frontier world. Begins this November.

• Descender by Jeff Lemire and Dustin Nguyen. A robot boy struggles to stay alive as the universe hunts him down. Read EW’s first look here. Launches March 2015.

Marvel: AXIS and more

Marvel’s first comic-centric panel was all about October’s big AXIS story, which spins out of the story unfolding in Rick Remender’s Uncanny Avengers. In Uncanny, the Red Skull has obtained the nigh-unlimited telepathic powers of the late Charles Xavier—and in AXIS, he’s finally mastered them to become The Red Onslaught.

Like any big event comic, the story will have a number of tie-in books, notably featuring Spider-Man villians Hobgoblin and Carnage. Hinted at but not discussed: what the events in AXIS have to do with Iron Man’s new look.

Also announced was All-New Captain America: Fear Him, a six-part digital comic beginning in October which features Sam Wilson, the new Captain America. Written by Dennis Hopeless and illustrated by Szymon Kudranski, the miniseries will have Wilson deciding what sort of Captain America he wants to be while battling The Scarecrow (The Marvel Scarecrow. They have one, too).

Finally, coinciding with the premiere of the next Avengers film will be the new Original Graphic Novel Avengers: Rage of Ultron. Although the title is only one letter removed from the blockbuster film’s title, Rage of Ultron is a standalone story completely unrelated to the plot of the film. The story will focus on redefining the relationship between Ultron and creator Hank Pym for readers new and old (in the film, Ultron is created by Iron Man Tony Stark). The book goes on sale in April 2015.

For a detailed recap of the panel, check out Comics Beat.

Vertigo

No new announcements were made at Vertigo’s panel Thursday night, but creators were on hand to discuss the future of a few of the publisher’s popular titles. Readers can expect Scott Snyder’s American Vampire to feature space chimp vampires (really), along with Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham’s soon-to-be concluded Fables ending with “body bags.”

Also discussed were previously announced upcoming titles Suiciders, The Names, Bodies, and The Kitchen.

For more details, head on over to The Los Angeles Times.

Read an excerpt from 'WYTCHES,' a new series by 'Batman' writer Scott Snyder

This October, Scott Snyder—the New York Times bestselling author of American Vampire—returns to Image Comics to reinvent another classic horror figure: witches.

After an acclaimed run on several DC Comics titles, including Batman, Detective Comics, Superman Unchained, Swamp Thing, and Vertigo titles American Vampire and The Wake, Snyder wanted to shake things up a bit. So he brought his new supernatural comic, WYTCHES, to Image Comics, where he had published the creator-owned Severed a few years prior. After working with artist Jock (The Losers, Green Arrow: Year One) on the Batman story “The Black Mirror,” Snyder knew he had the perfect collaborator for this new horror series. The artist’s distinct style—a mix of solid storytelling and terrifyingly scratchy visuals—will no doubt scare readers silly. READ FULL STORY

'Tech Jacket' joins Robert Kirkman's Skybound imprint at Image Comics

Fans of Robert Kirkman’s long-running and wildly successful zombie comic-book series The Walking Dead may not know how Kirkman got his start at Image Comics. Before the black-and-white survival horror, Kirkman had a hit on his hands when he brought four-color superheroics to Image with his title Invincible—but even before that, he created an alien, armored action hero in the form of Tech Jacket.

Kirkman wrote the six-issue series with artist E.J. Su in 2002, which would lead into a renaissance for new superhero characters at the publisher and introduce the character Invincible. More than 10 years and 100 issues later, Invincible has become one of the staples of Kirkman’s Skybound imprint at Image, and Tech Jacket has made guest appearances throughout the series.

Now, Tech Jacket returns, thanks to the writer-artist team of Joe Keatinge and Khary Randolph. After a three-issue miniseries released earlier this year, which has been collected and is also available as a trade paperback, the adventures of Zach Thompson now have their own ongoing series. Joe Keatinge’s re-imagining of another Image character, Glory, as well as his own series Hell Yeah, suggest he can tap into the history of a character and take it exponentially further. Meanwhile, artist Khary Randolph, who even had fan art in the first Tech Jacket series, will be bringing in his signature kinetic, light-hearted comic stylings to create a series that combines elements of Saturday-morning cartoons and epic anime masterpieces.

Get an exclusive look at the first few pages of the new series below.

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Image Credit: Image Comics

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Image Credit: Image Comics

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Image Credit: Image Comics

'C.O.W.L.': Meet your next comic obsession -- EXCLUSIVE IMAGES

As we gear up for a Fall TV season filled with superheroes and shows based on comic books, a lot of people (myself included) have been waiting for the next big TV series to explode from the comic book publisher Image Comics — publisher of The Walking Dead, which first made the transition to the small screen in 2010. In C.O.W.L., I believe we have the next best contender.

The buzz behind C.O.W.L. has been building since the series was announced at the Image Expo earlier this year. Co-written by Kyle Higgins and Alec Siegel, it reads as a down and dirty Mad Men meets Heroes in ’60s Chicago. Labor unions and corrupt politicians lay the groundwork that super-powered agents fly over. On the artwork is Rod Reis, an artist whose coloring you may have seen in several DC Comics — but C.O.W.L. makes his first major published sequential work. Somewhere between Bill Sienkevich and Phil Noto, Rod’s work is dynamic and graphic, with a timeless atmosphere.

Based on a short film Higgins made called The League, C.O.W.L. takes that story one step further while also keeping it grounded in a film noir-inspired aesthetic. The characters feel real — not like pastiches of existing superheroes, but rather actual people who happen to have superpowers. The series features an ensemble cast, and through solid pacing, we get a feel for each of them. The action carries weight from the start, and I suspect it’ll get even more intense as the series moves forward. You can pick up the first issue in comic shops today — and most likely will be watching it on TV before too long. See five exclusive images from C.O.W.L. after the jump. READ FULL STORY

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