Under the Radar Image Books

With all this talk about Phonogram and Chew, it’s easy to skip over some Image series I’ve really been enjoying lately.  The good news is, they’re not too far into their runs to go back and catch up.  I wasn’t checking them out when they first came out, but I am now.

Soul Kiss – Stephen T. Seagle is the Man of Action who doesn’t get much lip service around these parts.  The last series I remember was American Virgin from Vertigo, which I stopped reading a few issues in.  But it turns out I’m really enjoying Soul Kiss.  Here’s a deal: a young girl, who is a production assistant (lowest job of the low in the entertainment industry, and yes, I was one) is stranded on the side of the road.  Lili’s prayers are answered when the Devil himself shows up to offer her a deal.  Of course it goes wrong, and our story is off.  Now, whenever she presses her lips to another, she kisses them straight to Hell.  I’ll be honest, the premise doesn’t really sound like my thing, but the book has a neat tone to it that makes it both fun and intriguing.  When is this OK, when is it not?  What if you’re just in a bad mood?  With lively art by Marco Cinello, it’s sexy and cynical all at the same time.  I’m sure there will be a trade in the future, but I bet there are some back issues hanging around your local shop as well, because people missed out on this one.

Impaler – From Image imprint Top Cow, this is the story of a vampire invasion of the United States, and as it stands, we’re losing badly.  There was a volume 1 trade, but they’re currently putting out volume 2 in issues from Top Cow, and there are 3 available.  I picked up on the second series and I’m off and running.  The great hook here is that the US decided to cut its losses, and nuke Manhattan.  Except it didn’t work.  Now they’re losing the eastern seaboard, and it’s not looking so good going forward.  You might know that horror’s not really my thing, but the plotting on this book is pretty interesting and by the third issue, I’m really excited to find out what’s going to happen.  Plus, I find Vlad the Impaler to be incredibly fascinating.  I think that comes from when he showed up in the GI Joe cartoon when looking for Serpentor pieces.  Anyway, with flowing, creepy art from Matt Timson, there’s not another book that looks like it out there.  Plus there’s a pretty handy recap page at the start of each issue.  You can read the full first issue from vol. 1 here if you’re interested.

Overlook – This one’s from Shadowline, and I’ll admit, I passed it over on first glance.  I got excited when I saw that a non-fantasy book was coming out, but I got to the store, and I flipped through it, and decided it was nothing special.  I probably had too many books already or something.  But I went back, having heard zero buzz on this book, and took a second look, and read the first 2 issues, and it’s freakin’ great.  A loser ex-cop, run out of town for corruption, and having lost his wife and kids, goes into the boxing ring for money, but he doesn’t mind losing so much, because you get paid either way.  A criminal figure sends him to the town of Overlook, a sort of Mos Eisley of real life criminal noir towns, and he gets mixed up in some horrible shit.  That’s about the size of it.  It’s about crosses and double crosses, and it’s a lot of fun.  And I almost missed it.  If you liked Sin City, or Criminal, this is definitely worth taking a look.It’s written by Joshua Williamson with great black and white art by Alejandro Aragon.  All 3 of the 3 issues are out, and there might be an eventual collection.  But like I said, I’m not hearing much about it, so that doesn’t bode so well for a trade release.  Go get it now if you can.  This one gets my highest recommendation.

Astounding Wolf-Man – I bet you didn’t know I was still reading this, did you.  I did drop out, I admit, but jumped back on at some point.  It’s not my favorite Robert Kirkman book, but slowly, over time, it’s won me over.  Like Invincible, it’s superhero melodrama and soap opera, in the best way.  It’s just a bit goofy, but isn’t played that way.  Rather, we all just know it, and don’t talk about it.  In the same way, Jason Howard has slowly been getting better and better.  I didn’t love the style of art to begin with, but at this point, I can’t remember why.  His pages are very well laid out, with lots of dynamic and exciting shots.  Like Kirkman’s other books, it doesn’t ever stop and give you a chance to rest, as it piles trial after tribulation on his poor characters.  I have no idea who the good guy or the bad guy is in this, and I couldn’t tell the Wolf-Man who to trust.  I doubt we’ll ever know, but at the end of the day, this book fulfills the promise of fun and that’s all you really need in this one.

Comments

  1. Jeff Reid (@JeffRReid) says:

    This may be a lame question, but is SOUL KISS a bit like the beginning of 100 BULLETS?  I’m thinking specifically about the questions of "should I use this great power for selfish ends?" and "what justifications can I create to make it seem okay?" kinda way.

  2. It’s a very different tone than 100 Bullets.  This book has a sense of humor, and 100 Bullets didn’t.

  3. Soul Kiss was a fun read, and anything creator owned by Kirkman is worth the price of admission.

  4. Josh, Astounding Wolf-Man is "Under the Radar" ? I hope not. That’s a great book.

    I’ll give you a fourth, everyone go out and buy the Popgun books.

    Chris

    /ccl

     

  5. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Impaler and Soul Kiss both look like books I’d dig. I’ll check em out.  

  6. I’ve been meaning to try Wolfman.  I think I’ll pick up the first trade next time I’m ordering.  

  7. Soul Kiss is awesome.  I was really surprised at how much I liked the first issue because I really didn’t know what I was going to get.  Impaler is one I’m still trying to get into.  I haven’t checked out Overlook just because I’ve not seen it on the shelves where I shop.  And Astounding?  I thought a lot of people were reading this. 

    And I agree with Chris – go buy the Popgun books! 

  8. Now that I’m finally caught up on Walking Dead, I’d like to pick up another Kirkman book. I might check out Astounding Wolf-Man. 

  9. I already read ASTOUNDING WOL-MAN, but unfortunately I’ve passed up OVERLOOK & SOUL KISS, and never heard of IMPALER.

    After I wade through this weeks stack I’ll check them all out, though. They all seem pretty interesting.

    Thanks!

  10. Overlook and Soul Kiss sounds great. Before I go diving in the bin, how many issues of Soul Kiss are there?

  11. The 5th and final issue of Soul Kiss came out in June.

    You can search most titles on iFanboy, and you’ll get results for whatever the latest issue is, and when it came out in our comics section.

  12. Wait, you can search for titles on iFanboy?  Can I also enjoy it on my personal laptop computer?  😉

    I am really intrigued by Impaler.  Who is the author?

  13. I read the first issue of Wolf-Man through Free Comic Book Day, and it didn’t really do much for me. I might have to grab the trade to give it another shot.

  14. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Regarding the Popgun recommendations, I think a TERRIFIC place to start is that third volume, as it is the first to feature my name and bio in the back. 

  15. Astounding Wolf-Man is the only Kirkman series I’m reading in issues, mainly ’cause of that Free Comic Book Day first issue that I got signed by the man himself. I briefly considered switching to trades, but  just typing that talked me out of it.

  16. @josh Thanks! Can’t believe I didn’t think to search the site.

  17. I tried the first Impaler trade that came out right before volume 2 started.  It was trash.  I wanted my money back.

    I heard Existence 2.0 is cool.  Why didn’t you put that?

    I have a hard time getting into Image for some reason.  Probably for the best cuz I already have a ton of shit on my pull list every week regardless.

  18. Soul Kiss was an enjoyable little mini-series.  Really liked the art on it.

  19. Astounding Wolf-Man started out very slow, just another superhero book. Then, around 6 or 7 (can’t remember exactly what issue it was) it took one of those Invincible-level jumps that made it a Kirkman superhero book – just blew me away at that point. I think the first trade doesn’t include that moment, so read at least the beginning of the second trade to see if it works for you. It has gotten a little slow the last few issues, but it’s still solid. Kirkman keeps promising something big soon, so we’ll see how that plays out.

    I can’t remember  where I first heard of Overlook, but I’ve read it and to compare it to Brubaker or Miller is not far off. A really great crime story that doesn’t stray away from that. Pure noir would probably a more accurate description than crime story. And that ending – awesome. Highly recommended, and hopefully there will be a trade for others to discover.

  20. Astounding Wolf-Man is awesome!  (Especially if you love that "Twilight" stuff with Werewolves & Vampires)

    Hey what about "War Heroes?"  Haha, has it been a year since issue #2 already?

  21. Does this mean that Proof is safely "on the radar"? I wouldn’t be able to cope with it getting canceled, and since issue 1, I’ve wondered if the series was on borrowed time.

  22. Sigh.  I really hate how thorough you guys are sometimes.  Fine Josh.  They all sound good you bastard:)

  23. The first 3 series sounds really fun and interesting.

    Astonishing Wolfman? Already read the first trade…..No thanks…

  24. Overlook definitely sounds great but I’m only buying trades these days so I will have to cross my fingers.

  25. Nice to see some love for Seagle on the site. He’s written some great stuff, but is often overlooked. His best work is usually indie/original stuff like this. He’s always trying new things with craft and concept. American Virgin, The Crusades, Solstice, Amazon, House of Secrets… these are all very different, but they are all thought-provoking and original. Soul Kiss isn’t my favorite thing he’s done, but it’s an enjoyable little mini-series with some fun art.

  26. Yeah, I really enjoyed Amazon a lot.  That’s the first work I read from him.  I’ve recently read the first 3 trades of American Virgin and laughed out loud reading the comic.  This is a rare occurrence for me.  The part at the funeral when he was fantasizing his girlfriend talking from the coffin and then humps the casket.  Now that’s some funny shit.

    I also like the Christian element that he delved into.  I think that so few comics really dive into the religious elements that affect many peoples daily lives.

  27. <—

  28. Impaler looks interesting… will check out the first issue…

  29. i love wolf man. and impaler looks goodd

  30. Impaler sounds similiar to a book I have been working on 🙁

  31. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    @cenquist – Don’t you hate it when that happens? 

  32. Just for the record, all of these books are books we haven’t mentioned anywhere else.  We’ve mentioned Proof, Guerillas, Existence, etc. on the show or the site before.

  33. I read Overlook as it came out, and while I agree that the first two issues set up an intriguing noir story, I was very let down by the conclusion of the series.  The payoff really didn’t live up to the setup, or even flow logically from it.  Wolfman, on the other hand, I can fully support.

  34. I absolutely love the Astounding Wolf-Man.  I’ve been reading it from issue 1.

  35. Overlook sounds really interesting.  I’m going to have to see if I can find those issues somewhere.

  36. Oh, and just because I love to go mildly off-topic, this is why I can’t wait for Longbox, because then I could read this at 9:00pm and go directly and buy some of the 1st issues of these series to try them out.

  37. I want to check out wolfman also

  38. What Dan said, up there, about Wolf-Man is pretty accurate.

  39. "Overlook" is a pretty unfortunate title under the circumstances. I wish I’d known sooner; I looked around for it today, but no dice.

  40. Astounding wolf man is like Kirkman’s other books.  Give it a few issues; it takes time to build up a status quo so he can then shatter it.

  41. FYI, Wolf-man only got awesome last month. Yes it is great.

  42. Out of the three books, I have only read Overlook & I would strongly recommend people NOT read it. I’m a huge fan of crime stories, big fan of Sin City, Criminal, 100 Bullets etc, so I checked this out. The art & story are OK, but nothing to write home about, but the reason I’d tell people to pass on it (like my opinion means anything lol) is that the ending was so ridiculous it ruins the whole story.

  43. Impaler looks pretty interesting.

  44. I got into PROOF b/c of the discussions on this site, and it has become one of my favorites. ELEPHANTMEN is another incredible book they put out.

  45. I can 2nd recommending Overlook, although the end was a bit anti-climatic; you’ll see it coming. I will definitely check out the rest

  46. PROOF deserves to be mentioned everywhere regardless of if it’s mentioned for 30 seconds every 6 months or so.  People should check it out as it’s usually one of my favorites each and every month (on time since before 09.  Take that Kirkman!!).

    After that review, I’ll give Soul Kiss a shot.  I really enjoyed American Virgin up until the ending had to be rushed.  That was a very unique, but entertaining book.

  47. bcfortenberry – If you plan on only checking out one Kirkman book other than The Walking Dead, unless you strongly prefer horror to super heroes, I’d suggest Invincible over Wolf-Man.  Pick up the first Invincible hardcover.  Invincible is what Spider-Man and all super heroes should be.  Wolf-Man is ok, but it’s no Invincible.