In the build up to the big two’s summer events which promise enormous LIFE CHANGING CONSEQUENCES FOR EVERYONE UNTIL THE NEXT EVENT you’d be forgiven for forgetting that Image are still out there. Not that they’re being quiet of course, with titles like Bitch Planet, Sex Criminals, and East of West knocking it out of the park every time they’re released. Image have become, over the past five or six years, the most important comic publisher out there; delivering original works from some of the top creators.
This month finally sees the return of Saga with the 25th issue of Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples’ award laden space opera. It’s been several months since Issue 24 hit the stands, and as a result, Vaughan spends most of the time recapping the plot and setting up this new storyline. That’s not a bad thing, since it allows him to go into more detail about the interplanetary war which rages in the background, giving us a little more context for a world which is now rich in mythology.
Vaughan’s biggest tool in his arsenal is Hazel, whose birth kicked off the entire story and whose future narration is filled with foreboding. It’s this narration which really propels the plot forwards and perhaps also allows for some measure of forgiveness over the more rushed elements of this issue. It certainly isn’t a bad issue of the title though, Fiona Staples remains one of the finest artists at the moment, and her beautiful handwritten captions are a genuine work of art. Likewise, Vaughan is a terrific writer at times, even if he seems to be bowing down to fan service by elevating several one-note characters to the main cast. Hopefully, this issue is an exception, and the next few issues will be back on form.
Grant Morrison and Chris Burnham last collaborated on the excellent Batman Incorporated, and now, with their first creator owned title, The Nameless, they delve into the heady world of…well…I really don’t have much idea. Morrison has never been a straightforward writer, and you only have to look at his mainstream comics work like Multiversity to see how weird and complex he can be. So it’s no surprise that with Image Comics, he’s able to stretch his talents and imagination and deliver something which is utterly bizarre, perhaps at the moment too much so.
There are similarities to be drawn between The Nameless, and Morrison’s Vertigo series The Filth, where the boundaries between dreams and reality are blurred, and our lead character, the titular Nameless man, finds it difficult to determine what is real and what is false. What’s going on? It’s unclear. There are lizard people, dreams, a meteor with Mayan symbols on it, and the dream key of Nan Samwhol (that would be an eel god worshipped on the Island of Pohnpei to you and me). This first issue is confusing to the point of annoyance then, but there’s a degree of confidence in Morrison that he knows what he’s doing, and that he can pull it off.
Morrison works best in collaboration, and he really does bring out the best in his artists. Look at his partnerships with Frank Quitely (WE3, New X-Men, All Star Superman) and Frazer Irving (Klarion, Annihilator) – he knows exactly who he’s working with every time, and this comic is no exception. Nameless is tailor-made for Chris Burnham’s energetic style. His panels and pages are structured brilliantly, and working with Morrison has seemingly improved him no end.