Image Comics will debut two new series in July, including The Sidekick #1 from J. Michael Straczynski and 16-bit fighter tribute in Burn the Orphange: Born to Lose #1 from Daniel Freedman and Sina Grace. Plus, Saga #13 returns after a brief hiatus and a blast from the past as Hip Flask: Unnatural Selection gets reprinted in style.
J. Michael Straczynski has already hit one out of the park for Image in May with the debut of Ten Grand, teaming up with Ben Templesmith for a blaze through hell and back, giving a fresh new spin to a familiar concept (full review here). Now he looks to be deconstructing the superhero genre again in Sidekick #1, playing with DC archetypes like Batman and Robin. Indeed, his heroes are named The Cowl and Flyboy, who were famous and popular until The Cowl is assassinated, and nobody takes Flyboy seriously any more As the solicitation says, “Follow his trajectory from barely tolerated hero to figure of ridicule, and witness his slow descent into madness, darkness and crime”. Old-school heroes are easy pickings, being targeted in everything from Kick-Ass‘s Big Daddy through to the inappropriate relationship between The Pro‘s Knight and Squire. Tom Mandrake and Brian Miller’s art on the cover would almost suggest the latter at a first glance, but digging deeper this starts to look and feel a bit like Watchmen, itself riffing on the the idea of Batman/Blue Beetle with Night Owl. The subversion of the innocent, to paraphrase the title of Fredric Wertham’s 1954 “study” on comics culture, is always incredibly compelling from a reader perspective, and Straczynski is no stranger to breaking down superhero books into their components. Somehow we suspect that this won’t stop at “My ward Flyboy is a junkie!”
Burn the Orphanage: Born to Lose
Image has been teasing this series for the last few days, with bright red character images. It turns out they were for a new series from Daniel Freedman (Undying Love) and Sina Grace (Li’l Depressed Boy) called Burn the Orphange: Born to Lose. Described as part one of the “Born to Lose Trilogy”, it follows orphan Rock, who was left for dead and is now seeking revenge. His partners are called Lex and Bear, and this definitely sounds like it was inspired by a retro 16-bit aesthetic. Speaking with IGN, artist Grace spoke about the inspiration for the look of the series. “We aimed to honor the aesthetic of like Double Dragon, Streets of Rage, and Street Fighter. There’s going to be a lot of ‘90s style and fashion, so definitely get excited for acid-washed everything. I’m a big fan of those classic fight settings, and we worked hard to jam every single type in this first book”. As a three-issue mini-series, this sounds like it will be jam-packed with arcade action. Have some loose change ready.
The return of Saga
You probably haven’t noticed yet, because it’s only been a month since the controversial Saga #12 hit the shelves, but the Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples series is taking a break for a few months. Having lasted from May through July without a fix of our favourite intergalactic star-crossed outlaws, fans will be chomping at the bit come August 21 to grab their copy of Chapter Thirteen. The description of the new monthly epic is very straightforward: “Hazel and her parents head to the planet Quietus in search of cult romance novelist D. Oswald Heist”. Yet as we saw a glimpse of that encounter in the previous issue, and knowing the history of this book, that search will not be as simple as it previously seemed. If you haven’t been reading this book yet, what’s wrong with you? There’s also two trade paperbacks collecting the first two arcs, and an Internet full of hype to encourage you. What are you waiting for? This Saga stops for nobody. Unless they are taking a break.
Hip Flask: Unnatural Selection 10th Anniversary
Has it really been 10 years? With the success of Elephantmen, Image are collecting and reprinting the remastered and expanded “widescreen’” art and story from Hip Flash: Unnatural Selection, along with pages from Hip Flask: Elephantmen. Written by Richard Starkings, Joe Casey and the Eisner award winning Ladrönn (who also does the amazing artwork), this has been long out of print. So if you are looking for an excuse to dip into this universe (we know we are), this just might be the place.