Long lines will be present at your local comic book shop on Free Comic Book Day. Whether you’re first in line or stopping by hours after the store opens, there will be plenty of comic book options for everyone to browse through. For me, I’m always interested when the label says, “Image Comics.”
Image Comics' catalog of titles represents a variety in storytelling that I gravitate towards. Many of the worlds created within their pages are filled with dystopian, sci-fi, or fantasy lore, while also offering fresh and imaginative narratives that keep me coming back, wanting more from so many of their titles. Part of my earlier years in comics included Image Comics, as I read Spawn, WildC.A.T.S., Shadowhawk, and other stories that included superhero-like characters. Now, I enjoy tales that aren’t necessarily revolving around typical superheroes, yet the characters are equally fantastic.
Here are a few stories from Image Comics that may draw you in this Free Comic Book Day, divided into categories to help give you initial themes present in each.
GODS AND MONSTERS
Monstress is a magical world filled with witches, humans, arcane, and other creatures trying to avoid being a casualty of war. Earning multiple Eisner Awards in 2018, this story highlights the horrors that can be associated with those in power when their intentions are less than noble, including selling others into slavery. Monstress also explores the inner strength of characters, whether it’s dealing with betrayed friendships or wrestling with a monster that wants to take hold and literally devour everything around.
Writer: Marjorie Liu
Artist: Sana Takeda
Imagine you’re transformed into a god one day, with only two years left to live. How would you react? Would you live out your days frivolously, or would you dedicate your time to a greater good? Well, The Wicked + The Divine answers those questions for you, and the result is a kind of beautiful chaos. The characters in this story must maneuver around manipulation and learn to trust those that seem untrustworthy. It’s a balancing act that builds upon the prospect of doing the right thing, especially when trying to determine who is murdering gods.
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artists: Jamie McKelvie and Matt Wilson
Descender captures your sci-fi imagination with robotics. There are many worlds, with many alien races, and all of them are trying to survive. A devastating attack from machines left civilization in shambles, and now all androids are hunted. Descender creates a feeling of wanting to protect a young robot who was once a companion to a human boy. This robotic boy brings fear for those who seek to destroy him, while he takes a journey to try and reunite with his long-lost brother.
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Dustin Nguyen
The world is broken. Those who control territory classify their population as citizens or something less than human. These “Families” look to sustain their way of life, while avoiding war with neighboring factions and controlling their population. In some cases, propaganda and drugs are means to controlling citizens, while some look to continually enhance the Family Lazarus – she who is the ultimate warrior for the entire territory. Whether it’s wartime or not, the Lazarus must always watch one’s back, because even the closest “friend” might be waiting to strike with a knife.
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Michael Lark
Multiple Eisner Award-winning Saga dives into a galactic civil war, where one person from each side fell in love and had a child. Imagine an R-rated version of Star Wars, and you’ll better understand what to expect when diving into Saga – where sex, violent deaths, and an endless struggle among countless alien worlds and creatures are wrapped within this journey of two parents trying to keep their child safe.
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Fiona Staples
Paper Girls (Eisner Award 2016) successfully combines time travel with teenagers who happen upon an “end of days” moment along their paper route. This is a story that defines what it means to be a confused teenager, who only wants to find their way home, but each step they take makes the reader wonder if they’re truly just getting farther away. Much like Saga, Paper Girls throws caution to the wind when it comes to doing the right thing, because even if you do the right thing, it doesn’t mean you’ll live to tell the tale about it later.
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Cliff Chiang and Matt Wilson
Among dystopian or sci-fi stories, sometimes, it’s amazing to read a story that’s utterly crazy, in such a good way. Two stories that rings true to this are Deadly Class and The Ghost Fleet: The Whole Goddamned Thing. See, even the latter has a crazy title! Deadly Class has proven its popularity by receiving a series on SYFY; however, the premise is undeniably wicked in comic book form. Who attends a school to become trained to kill? Surviving your freshman year has never rang truer than it does with Deadly Class. Now, The Ghost Fleet is another story where the plot’s direction is a mystery, but the ride is as wild as you-know-what. Much like a deadly school filled with assassins, who do you trust and believe in the fleet? It’s a story that will turn on its head by the end, and you’ll never see what’s coming.
FREE COMIC BOOK DAY
On FCBD 2019, there are also two Image Comics available as a freebie. A one-shot of Deadly Class is one of them, while the other is a reprint of an original lineup series – Spawn #1! "Relive the historical launch of one of the most successful comic book series of all-time this FCBD with a reprint of Spawn #1 featuring a new, exclusive cover by Francesco Mattina.”
Image Comics is a comic book publisher I constantly come back to. The stories are original, while the characters are diverse and full of female protagonists, which is something we can always use more of. Also, as a geeky parent, I must say it’s nice to know there are books that I can read that aren’t suitable for my kids. I think it’s important for my kids to see me reading stories, and even though they’re too young to look at them (ages 4 and 6), it makes them curious to learn to read and share that experience with me.
So, whether it’s FCBD or any other day of the year, I highly encourage any reader to check out any number of comics from the Image Comics’ collection.
GEEKY PARENT GUIDE TIP FOR PARENTS
This Free Comic Book Day, be sure to glance through each comic to make sure you’re comfortable with the content. Every comic book is different, and you’ll be the best judge on whether your younger child is ready for a particular comic book and whether any mature themes that might be present. There’s a good chance your local comic shop might have a kids’ section already, which will make it easier for you to let your kids flip through pages on their own. If you’re interested in digital comics, ComiXology does have an age rating available, too.
Until next time, happy parenting and happy geeking.