It’s been a few months since our last check-in on the very best of Image Comics debuts. Since then, so many great new series have made waves. From a story about a queen who turns into a teal colored tiger to a post-Cold War spy thriller, there’s something for everyone. While it was difficult to narrow it down to five series, we have managed to pick our five favorite new Image series based on the story’s hook, pace, art style, and the cliffhanger (or lack thereof). Honorable mentions include PROXIMA CENTAURI #1 by Farel Dalrymple and SKYWARD #1 by Joe Henderson, Lee Garbett, and Antonio Fabela. Without further ado, here are our picks from April-June in no particular order.

ISOLA #1

From the moment co-writers/creators Brenden Fletcher and Karl Kerschl started teasing preview pages on Twitter, ISOLA #1 instantly captured fans’ interest. In an interview with ComicsVerse, Fletcher and Kerschl said that ISOLA was a story they have been working on for 33 years.

A Wild Adventure Begins in the Advanced Review of ISOLA #1

ISOLA #1 tells the story of Captain Rook and Olwyn, the Queen of Maar. An unfortunate incident transforms Olwyn into a tiger. As a result, this sends the pair on a dangerous journey to seek out the titular Isola, the fabled land of the dead. Initially, ISOLA #1 starts strong by instantly introducing us to Rook and Olwyn with mostly silent panels. The weather sets the tone for the series as Rook goes to great lengths to protect Olwyn at all costs.

Having previously collaborated on GOTHAM ACADEMY with colorist Msassyk, Fletcher and Kerschl’s world is alluring, mystical, and lush. Kerschl draws animals with loving detail. Likewise, Msassyk’s gorgeous color work is such a delight. Often, animals prove to be quite challenging for artists to draw, but Kerschl makes it look effortless.

the very best of image comics debuts
Courtesy of Image Comics

All in all, ISOLA #1 features a compelling story, excellently written characters, and superb art. Readers will want to know what comes next thanks to a good cliffhanger. In addition, there’s the underlying mystery of who cursed Olwyn which the story reveals in later issues.

FLAVOR #1

Thanks to the rise of comics that revolve around food, such as CHEW and SECONDS, FLAVOR #1 is able to thrive. In 2018, FLAVOR creators Joseph Keatinge and Wook Jin-Clark bring a whimsical and charming world. Notably, FLAVOR #1 is both entertaining and informative because it’s a celebration of food. Also, culinary consultant Ali Bouzari provides fascinating insights on the science of food.

We talk to the Creative Team behind the new Image series, FLAVOR

FLAVOR #1’s premise is IRON CHEF meets THE HUNGER GAMES, but with Hayao Miyazaki influences. The story follows Xoo, a young unlicensed chef, and her anthropomorphic dog, Buster, as they race to get an extremely rare truffle. On top of all this, Xoo’s estranged uncle Geof moves in to take care of her family.

In Xoo’s world, chefs are celebrities, and failure comes with a hefty price. Part of what makes FLAVOR #1 intriguing is that it takes place in a bustling walled-off city which looks like a bowl. There’s a ton of mystery in the world which makes it all the more interesting.

the very best of image comics debuts
Courtesy of Image Comics

Wook Jin-Clark’s charming artwork and Tamra Bonvillain‘s colors are icing on the cake. Clark instills a sense of whimsical charm in characters that are expressive and food that is exquisite. Bonvillain makes the art feel like a Miyazaki film as she uses bright colors to make the story feel inviting. At the same time, Bonvillain also uses dark colors such as violet and blue for more sinister moments. In short, FLAVOR #1 absolutely delightful and makes the story worth seeing through.

THE WEATHERMAN #1

THE WEATHERMAN #1 by Jody LeHeup and Nathan Fox is a prime example of a series that’s like the movie DRIVE: it starts out ominous, shifts to a light tone, then the plot twists kick into high gear.

The series takes place in the future. Humans have moved to Mars after a terrorist attack has devastated Earth. It’s here that we meet the charismatic Nathan Bright who’s a famous weatherman with an awesome life. That is until his life is turned upside down. Nathan is accused of committing the terrorist attack that destroyed Earth. As a result, Nathan inadvertently paints a target on his own back because half the population of Mars wants him dead.

the very best of image comics debuts
Courtesy of Image Comics

LeHeup perfectly paces the story as readers get to know Nathan before things go south. Readers can’t help but sympathize with him because he has no memory of ever committing the crime. By the end of the issue, Nathan survives a brutal attack and loses everything he holds dear. The cliffhanger shocks in a good way because it is quite memorable. Let’s just say that if you’re a pet owner, you might want to hug your pet tight after reading this comic.

COYOTES #5 Advanced Review: Little Red Riding Hood with a Vengeance

If you like high-octane colors that complements kinetic, graffiti-like art, then THE WEATHERMAN #1 is a damn good roller coaster ride!

THE DEAD HAND #1

Out of all the comics on this list, THE DEAD HAND #1 by Kyle Higgins and Stephen Mooney is the most grounded series (akimbo pistols aside). This is because the story takes place in the small, sleepy town of Mountain View which contains numerous secrets.

the very best of image comics debuts
Courtesy of Image Comics

Like other comics in this article, nothing is what it seems. Carter Carlson is the sheriff of Mountain View. In his younger days, Carter was an ex-black ops CIA operative. During a mission, Carter makes a discovery that has major implications in the future which the story explores. Furthermore, this first issue establishes what leads Carter into moving to Mountain View.

Discover Cold War Secrets in THE DEAD HAND #1

While the story is a bit hard to follow because it features a series of flashbacks mixed in with the present, the Cold War premise feels fresh. Indeed, THE DEAD HAND #1 invokes James Bond, Russian propaganda posters, and the METAL GEAR SOLID series. This is thanks to Mooney and Jordie Bellaire‘s colors. Mooney gives the story a realistic feel and draws some great action panels. Likewise, Bellaire adds a stylish feel to the art with plenty of reds, blues, and yellows for past scenes. In contrast with present scenes, Bellaire renders pages with unsaturated, washed out colors.

Suffice to say, THE DEAD HAND #1 delivers a fascinating and gripping spy thriller. It’s easily worth reading.

BARRIER #1

While the series originally came out in February 2017 via Panel Syndicate, BARRIER #1 by Brian K. Vaughan and Marcos Martin is a sci-fi meets immigration story. In fact, Image Comics published all five issues in their full landscape page glory.

BARRIER #1 follows Liddy and Oscar, two characters who cross paths thanks to a literal barrier. In the story, Vaughan explores language and violence as both characters come from two different worlds. This places readers into Liddy and Oscar’s shoes as violence is both subtle and overt. Also, Liddy speaks very little Spanish and Oscar barely knows English. While Liddy lives in Pharr, Texas — a border town — Oscar lives in San Pedro Sula, Honduras — a town plagued by gang violence. Naturally, Liddy’s story is in English whereas Oscar’s story is in Honduran Spanish. With Martin, Vaughan does a fantastic job of keeping a brisk pace and jumping between Liddy and Oscar as their distance gap narrows. In the end, the sci-fi twist hooks readers into the rest of the issues.

Fusing Sci-Fi, Language, and Immigration to Great Effect in BARRIER #1

Martin takes full advantage of the landscape panels, which gives the story a cinematic flair. The panels are huge but they pull readers into the world. It’s not often we see landscape style comics but when we do, it’s quite a treat. Muntsa Vicente makes Martin’s art stand out and instills a sense of danger and eeriness with his colors.

the very best of image comics debuts
Courtesy of Image Comics

Ultimately, BARRIER #1 is surprisingly relevant to our time more than ever before. As a result, this easily makes it one of the best and most important comics released this year.

Come Back In a Few Months for Part Three

Most of these series are in progress or close to ending, so now is the perfect time to jump into the story. In a few months, we’ll highlight another fresh set of series in part three. If you agree or disagree, feel free to let us know in the comments!

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