Sunday, December 19, 2021

Image Comics delivers new installments in Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips' "Reckless", Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino's "Bone Orchard Mythos", and the conclusion of Jonathan Hickman and Mike Huddleston's "Decorum" in 2022

A decade has elapsed since the DC New 52 marketing campaign and initial Marvel Now! reboot, and Marvel and DC comics continue to find themselves caught in the throes of the worst of flash-in-the-pan commercial gimmicks and redundant reboots. These have been rolled out as an endless cavalcade of corrective measures to adjust from the previous misguided realignment of their properties, only to find themselves back at square one, and with an ever diminishing readership. All of this done at the imperative of their various marketing branches, (beholden to Disney, Warner Bros), over the benefits of trusting in their creative artist and writer teams to build substantial storytelling within their fictional universes. In the long term, this will be their loss. Readership will go where talent, creativity and the rich rewards of artists who are invested in the depth and value of their work is not only appreciated, but the desired objective. The 'big two' have sacrificed this creative imperative in a series of illusory market grabs, under the auspice of lining their pockets. But the numbers have stated otherwise, with readership of Marvel and DC books remaining continuously down since the mid-2000s. Even the rare and occasional adventurous foray they have published, like that of Jonathan Hickman's truncated X-men reimagining, have fallen short of their initial conception. Hickman himself expressing a kind of pragmatic resignation to the reduction in scope and creative expanse that was to be his planned five years of stories for the franchise. Instead it was the case that, "Inferno was to be Jonathan Hickman's Final X-Men Comic". After the bold rebuilding of the X-men properties suffering from years of neglect and poor conceptions, Jonathan Hickman, Pepe Larraz and R.B. Silva delivered the stunning House of X / Powers of X, the opening salvo of, "Jonathan Hickman's Multi-year Plan to Reinvent the X-Men". These two intertwined books were meant as only the opening chapter of a significantly more expansive story, but with Hickman’s departure as editorial Head of X, "Marvel's X-Men Creators Discuss the Conclusion of the Reign of X Era".

So be doubly thankful for independent publishers like Image Comics and their creator-owned contract ellicing new work as they celebrate the imprint's 30th anniversary with a series of anthology books and a one-shot compendium. The aforementioned Jonathan Hickman will be concluding the richly conceived galactic epic of "Decorum", which he and Mike Huddleston labored to complete over the first year of the pandemic. Right on the heels of his initial success with the dual X-men books, the two creators quietly began this labor of love, dedicating a longer-than-industry-standard developmental timeline to each issue, which reached its conclusion this month with the (possibly final) eighth issue. In the wake of the book's completion, its an ideal time to revisit their interview from the series' launch, “Decorum's Hickman, Huddleston, Talk the Book's Unique Style of Sci-Fi”. Another project begun during the lockdown of the pandemic was the most recent title by the multiple Eisner Award-winning team of Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, and their expansive Criminal series of noir thrillers. This newest series of hardcover graphic novels will feature self-contained stories in the life of one Ethan "Reckless", and read as some of the finest examples to date of, How the Pandemic Pushed a Comics Legend to Reinvent Pulp Fiction". Lastly, another major undertaking is in development from the writer-artist team that gave birth to the dimension hopping gothic horror of "Gideon Falls". Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino will be collaborating on a series of graphic novels, one-shots and miniseries, which will cumulatively describe their own "Bone Orchard Mythos". This new horror universe will be prefaced by a one-shot prelude, with "The Passageway" and the miniseries "Ten Thousand Black Feathers" and numerous works, in various formats, proposed to span years of forthcoming titles to follow. The two creators discuss process and their exclusive contract with Image for this project, with their creator-owned horror universe launch on the horizon, "Jeff Lemire and Andrea Sorrentino unveil The Passageway to ‘The Bone Orchard Mythos’".