Great storytelling happens when great creators take risks. Image Comics has made an environment that encourages those risks and capitalizes on the creativity. If we look at Image through the lens of hardcore comic geekdom (and not just the amazing Walking Dead TV show), we find myriad reasons for Image to have become so inseparably enmeshed in our pop culture consciousness: the truly brilliant science fiction series Saga and the equally groundbreaking, although completely unique, Prophet; the dark and terrific Fatale; the current bastion of creative independence, purveyor of an astoundingly broad variety of books, and the new home for Grant F*$%ing Morrison. Image doesn’t hedge its bets on established talent either, introducing the world to such up-and-coming creators as Ales Kot and many others. The list goes on. And on. And on. If you find yourself in a comic book store unsure of what to buy, just look for the little"i" in the corner. You will not be disappointed and you’ll be on the edge of what’s coming.
Reminding us that a publisher doesn't need to drown the shelves (and the comic book buying public's wallets) in 52 titles a month, or trade on the power of their recent blockbuster film to tell great stories or re-introduce their line, Valiant Entertainment delivered some of the best titles of the year. Valiant (re)built their superhero universe though well paced and gradually released quality titles that thrived on their stories and artwork. Recapturing the original magic that was the first Valiant Universe (VU1), Valiant Universe 2 (VU2) did it without the original Gold Key characters that populated the VU1 and brought it its original attention. True, at this point Archer and Armstrong, Shadowman, XO Manowar, Shadowman, and Harbinger are widely recognized properties of their own, but by choosing to slowly and smartly re-introduce them to the sequential art reading public by focusing on quality art and storytelling, much like the VU1 did (instead of rushing a ton of titles to print), Valiant's heroes are once again living up to the deserved label of being the most important group of heroes introduced since the Marvel Universe began in the early 1960s. As far as this long term comic book reader, and industry watcher, is concerned, the Valiant Age has begun...again.
Thanks for reading through this year's selections. Don't forget to agree/disagree/discuss in our comments section below, we'd love to hear your opinions!