Saturday, December 5, 2009

Image United

Image United #1 just got released. A brief overview: it features a story by Robert Kirkman and layout art by Rob Liefeld. The comic book features all founding creators of Image contributing art chores on their created character/s.

As a comic book fan having my (comic book) consciousness awakened during the "hot days" of Image, I'm kind of surprised with Image United #1 and its lack of (or my lack of seeing any) fanfare.

Back then (say, 13 or 14 years ago), a "crossover" in this regard would have been considered a "super" event. The founding creators of Image back once more and in 1 (gigantic) comic book! With an exclamation mark, of course.

How hot was Image Comics back then? The creators (most notably Liefeld, Jim Lee, and Marc Silvestri) continuously churned up new characters and new monthly comic books out of the blue. Each new monthly would be described as hot, hot, hot! Image Comics practically owned the Top 10 comic book sales during those times. It seemed that nothing could go wrong with whatever they released. Fans would continue to gobble up new releases even if they were tardy (I had to admit that I was one of those fans). They were that godly.

Something noticeably obscure that happened back then were the cover wars. It seemed that every milestone event sported a cover that wanted to top the latest cover technology. There were foils, holograms, die-cut, holofoil, chromium, and probably all sorts of combinations that can be thought of. This was way back they introduced the variant craze.

Did anybody ever notice the stories that they turned out with all the new characters? A good chunk of the comic books didn't last long. Liefeld was notorious with coming up with one copycat character or team after another. A typical superhero team had any or all of the following: gun-toting, cigar-chomping leader that had a bad-ass attitude, a wild and feisty clawed character, the sexy female that every male wanted to go to bed with, and the usually dumb heavy muscled bouncer.

An event that I could compare the current Image United to would be the creator crossover that they did. The founding creators swapped assignments (probably drew lots to decide on who got who). Best of all, no fan knew what artist did what before the actual comic book got released. The surprise was part of the enticement to buy all 8 issues of the event. I even thought of buying an issue of Shadowhawk just for the heck of it. Fans were so excited then. The event didn't go too well and a little bit of quarreling happened regarding how a character was treated and the usual tardiness of Image releases also kicked in.

It's been a wild decade ever since. They've quarreled some more and have gone their separate ways. They've become like Kiss - touring around conventions and reuniting for signing sessions. They've continued to produce comics still. I still appreciate Jim Lee's creations with Wildstorm. Todd McFarlane has always stayed true to form. Erik Larsen does not boast great sales figures but he's still there. Jim Valentino did an AIDS story with his character and that was that.

Image has gone a long way from its former status as the next company that could topple or compete with the big 2 of comic books, Marvel and DC. I always thought a decade would change the way they came out with stories.

And so, with Image United, I expected a grand improvement. But still, it's the same old senseless "I'll punch you and you punch back" style dialog. I thought Robert Kirkman would do justice with a DC-like Crisis event bringing in all the characters but nah... It's pretty obvious that getting all the characters together in one mash-up story is difficult to do. I guess, all I wanted to say was that if it was difficult in the first place, it shouldn't have been done. It brings back all the senseless Image stories that I read a decade ago.

But hey, it's just one issue so far. I hope to be impressed in the next.


Felicity Walker said...

I didn’t have too many expectations about the story going in, but I was sort of disappointed in the art. Larsen, Liefeld, and Valentino have never been to my taste, and this issue didn’t give me reason to change my mind; I’ve liked Lee, McFarlane, Portacio, and Silvestri in the past, but they seemed to be less good here than in their older work. (Actually, was Lee in there, or is he starting next month?)

otan said...

Ey, thanks for the comment.

I just realized after reading your comment that indeed Jim Lee is not among the artists on the project. But I think he did provide a variant cover. I guess Whilce Portacio is "representing" him?

I'm not a Liefeld fan at all. But props to him for getting it all together.