Image Comics is easily the best publisher in the business (sorry, DC and Marvel), maintaining a consistently excellent output of independent, creator-owned titles. Many of these titles are game-changers, such as “Saga,” “Spawn,” or “The Walking Dead.” So, to hop onto the Image hype train, here’s a quick rundown of the publisher’s five best new series from October. The following debuts, which span a variety of genres, are great options for anyone trying to break into the typically labyrinthine world of comics, as no prior knowledge is needed to enjoy them.
“Blackbird” — written by Sam Humphries, art by Jen Bartel
Image is already host to several outstanding fantasy titles such as “The Wicked + The Divine” and “Monstress.” Now, “Blackbird” seems poised to join their ranks. The series’ debut is set apart by its gobsmacking, neon-tinged aesthetic, which comes courtesy of colorists Nayoung Wilson and Jen Bartel, who pulls double duty as the series’ artist. Bartel’s faces are beautifully expressive, which is a style that’s perfectly suited for the series’ premise — after a traumatic personal tragedy, Nina has fallen victim to prescription drug addiction and lives with the support of her sister. A world of magic finds them both, which allows Bartel and Wilson to render beautiful images of massive beasts and fantastical realms. The debut issue of “Blackbird” offers an intriguing peek into what looks to be a promising series.
“Dead Rabbit” — written by Gerry Duggan, art by John McCrea
Gerry Duggan might be best known for writing the jocular “Deadpool.” But with “Dead Rabbit,” Duggan opts for a darker tone, combining the bloody vigilantism of the Punisher with the working-class heroism of Robin Hood and adding just a dash of “Breaking Bad.” The series follows the titular vigilante-thief, who has retired the Dead Rabbit mantle and lives a quiet life with his wife, Megan. But when Megan encounters health problems and a dead-end job won’t pay their bills, Dead Rabbit must once again steal from mob bosses and criminals. Readers looking for an angsty crime story will no doubt be pleased.
“Jook Joint” — written by Tee Franklin, art by Alitha Martinez
At the titular dance hall, there’s a strict “keep your hands to yourself” policy that’s enforced by the supernaturally powered women running it. Break the Jook Joint’s rule, and you might become their dinner. Tee Franklin’s story — which is well-served by purposeful dialogue that accomplishes an economical sense of world-building — anchors its discussion of sexual violence and domestic abuse in a community of powerful Black women, making “Jook Joint” as inclusive as it is relevant. Additionally, Alitha Martinez’s art is at once lush and brutal, featuring bursts of chilling gore. Altogether, “Jook Joint” is well worth seeking out, especially with Halloween just around the corner.
“Exorsisters” — written by Ian Boothby, art by Gisèle Lagacé
Where “Jook Joint” edges toward horror in its treatment of the supernatural, “Exorsisters” runs right in the opposite direction, opting for bright colors and lively gags in its depiction of hell and the ghouls therein. When a demon crashes a wedding and kidnaps the groom, private investigators Kate and Cate Harrow are called in for their occult expertise. What follows is a romp through the underworld, buoyed by banter and an art style that’s irresistibly playful.
“Murder Falcon” — written and illustrated by Daniel Warren Johnson
In this headbanging ‘80s throwback, metal meets fantasy. The down-on-his-luck guitarist Jake partners with an anthropomorphic falcon who just happens to have an eight-pack and a bionic arm to combat interdimensional monsters. Jake’s shredding skills magically power the eponymous murder falcon, which lets Daniel Warren Johnson gleefully pair scenes of electrifying rock ‘n’ roll with epic punch-outs. Interestingly enough, the comic’s best moments are its quiet ones, where emotional beats are given the space to breathe. Given a second printing because of significant demand, the first issue of “Murder Falcon” is perfect for any metalhead.
Harrison Tunggal covers comic books. Contact him at [email protected].