Comic books have a surprisingly long history. Some of the biggest names in the industry, like DC and Marvel, have been printing comics since the 1930s! It can be a little daunting to pick up a comic book with such a long history, though. Where do you even begin?
It’s a lot easier to dip your toes in when there isn’t so much history already written, which is why one of my favorite publishers is Image Comics. They print tons of comics that have much shorter runs. So if you’re looking for something that is only a few issues, they’ve got you covered! That makes their comics perfect for newbies or anyone with short attention spans.
That’s why I’ve put together a list of some of my favorite comics from Image. If you’re interested in any of them, a great thing about Image is that they let you read the first issue of their comics for free on their website.
Warning: these comics are not recommended for kids. Most of them depict violence and death or explore adult themes. Now that that is out of the way let’s get into the comics!
Skyward by Joe Henderson & Lee Garbett
Skyward is probably the friendliest for younger readers. It’s fun, not sexual, and the fights are pretty toned down (comparatively). The story of Skyward follows Willa Fowler in a world that has been flipped on its head. Kind of literally. See, in Willa’s world, gravity has been reversed, so if you aren’t careful, you could fall up into the sky and never come back down.
Through an unfortunate series of events, Willa is forced to run from a powerful enemy who will stop at nothing to make sure gravity is never reversed. Not that Willa is all that keen on trying to reverse gravity in the first place. She likes things the way they are. Being able to soar through the air with ease is pretty great in her book.
The concept and art are both cool, and with only three volumes, it’s really easy to read and re-read as much as you want.
The Beauty by Jeremy Huan
What if physical perfection was just one STD away?… What if it came with a deadly price? Would you risk it? The Beauty is one of the more adult-themed comics on the list. In it, a deadly STD has become all the rage because it changes your physical appearance in the best possible ways.
Society is split over whether or not that is a good thing, though. People are advocating on both sides, and amid it, all is a terrorist organization trying to stir up trouble. The story follows two detectives, Foster and Vaughn, who struggle to find the truth about The Beauty.
I can’t say too much more without giving away some plot, but I’ll say that The Beauty explores the dark underbelly of politics and societal expectations. It’s one of the longer series on the list but is still a lot shorter than, say, Spider-Man or Batman.
Lazarus by Michael Lark & Greg Rucka
If you mixed Mad Max with The Badlands TV show, I’m pretty sure you’d get Lazarus. In this dystopian future, a handful of families have risen to power and hoard any and all resources they can get their hands on.
Each family has their own territory and have cut up the entire world. Aside from the usual grunts and gunmen, each family also has a Lazarus, a special protector who deals out punishments and makes sure their family isn’t killed. The story mainly follows Forever Carlyle, the Lazarus of the Carlyle family.
She’s a bad@ss woman who just can’t die, pretty much literally. She is, after all, the result of genetic experiments, and having a Lazarus who can’t die is a pretty big gun for a family to wield in this world as the series continues though we’re with her as she struggles to balance familial duty and her mortality.
If you like action and guns, I can’t recommend Lazarus enough. It’s currently at six volumes with some spinoff stories as well, so if you wanted to dive in, it might take you a day or two, but it is well worth it.
Mercy by Mirka Andolfo
Mercy is a Victorian gothic horror comic set in Washington state (very near and dear to me since it is my home state). The art is absolutely gorgeous, and I snapped up the mystery as soon as I laid my eyes on it.
With intrigue, monsters, and murder, who wouldn’t be excited to dive in? The story follows the strange and aloof Lady Hellaine as she arrives in Woodsburgh shortly after a string of strange and unnatural murders. The shocking deaths have already rocked the normally quiet mining town. So what other trouble could be kicked up by this elegant newcomer?
I can’t wait for the spinoff coming up at the end of this year. Merciless is set to introduce new artists to continue the story with Andolfo after the events of the 6th issue. (That’s right, there are only six issues- not volumes which are compilations of single issues- that makes Mercy one of the shortest works on the list).
Another cool thing about Mercy is that it was listed in the International Women’s Day Spotlight article Image Comics created to highlight comics created by women, which I think is pretty neat. Unfortunately, we don’t get to see as many women in comics as men.
Monstress by Sana Takeda & Marjorie Liu
The world of Monstress is vast and expansive, with just enough teasers to keep you engaged and craving more. Before I get too much into it, though, I want to give another warning. Monstress starts with depictions of abuse and dehumanization, especially towards children. While I do love the series, I admit parts of it are pretty messed up.
Moving on from that depressing warning, from the existence of magic and monsters to other species of part animal/ part human people, there’s a lot going on. We mostly follow a young woman named Maika on her journey. The exact goal of her journey changes as she meets new friends and enemies alike.
The art is amazing, and the story has you on the edge of your seat as you flip from page to page and pray that the real monsters get what is coming to them. So far, five volumes cover up to issue 30. There are 35 issues printed, though, and a few spinoff stories as well. Plenty to immerse yourself in and enjoy if you’re looking for something a little longer.
If you like comics and just can’t get enough (but maybe don’t have the money to actually buy them right now), don’t worry! Check out our blog on webcomics you can read right from your phone for free!
What’s your favorite comic?