Image Comics is an indie powerhouse. Since 1992, the comic book company’s eight founders and prominent creators (Todd McFarlane, Jim Lee, Erik Larsen, Jim Valentino, Marc Silvestri, Rob Liefeld, Whilce Portacio, and Chris Claremont) sought to do something different from the big two comic book companies, Marvel and DC. Instead of keeping their creators’ copyright, they would let them keep it, and give them complete creative control over their projects, a model that has led to great success for the company. From the now-hit-AMC-series The Walking Dead to a Romeo and Juliet-esque series set in space named Saga to the dystopian feminist series Bitch Planet, Image offers readers a lineup of diverse characters, stories, and emotions, and they’re all pretty damn good.
Pretty soon, these stories won’t just be limited to paper. Although Marvel and DC have dominated the comic book film and TV shows spaces with the MCU and the DCEU, Image Comics has a bunch of hitters on the way to give them a run for their money. Director Gina Prince-Blythwood (Love & Basketball) will be taking on The Old Guard, Jamie Foxx will star in a reboot of Spawn, and gods will live and die on television in The Wicked + The Divine. While this may seem like a new direction for the company, Image Comics is no novice to adaptations. Spawn was originally adapted for the 1997 eponymous film with Michael Jai White; Angelina Jolie, James McAvoy, Morgan Freeman, and Common portrayed assassins in the 2008 action-thriller Wanted; and The Walking Dead is still going strong as it approaches its ninth season.
Whether you’re a novice to Image’s work specifically or the comic book world in general, we’re ranking some of the best series’ they have to offer. Not a superhero fan? No sweat—there’s a little something for everybody. Here are the 20 Image Comics you should be reading.
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Fiona Staples
The Walking Dead is Image’s most well-known series, but Saga is definitely the most beloved by comic book fans. The sci-fi fantasy series follows Alana and Marko, two star-crossed lovers from warring lands who fall in love and decide to flee with their newborn daughter, Hazel. The rest of the series follows their travels through space and attempts to evade bounty hunters as they try to find a peaceful place to settle down.
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Tony Moore
The Walking Dead is one of Image Comics’ most popular series, thanks in large part, of course, to the AMC adaptation and spin-off, Fear The Walking Dead. But even before the TV series premiered in 2010, the series was lauded for being a refreshing and realistic take on day-to-day life in a zombie apocalypse world.
Writer/Artist: Todd McFarlane
Spawn is coming back! Twenty-one years after Michael Jai White’s take on the antihero, Jamie Foxx is slated to take on the role. But even if you’ve already seen the 1997 film, there’s plenty more to discover in comic books. While we will likely never see Foxx go toe-to-toe with Ben Affleck’s Batman, the characters had a run-in in a 1994 crossover event. It’s definitely worth checking out the OG stories before Foxx’s revival.
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Nick Dragotta
If you’re a Westworld freak, or just a lover of Westerns and dystopian worlds, East of West has you covered. The sci-fi series brings together its own four horsemen of the apocalypse, but instead of being the bad guys, they’re here to save the day. The series is also coming to Amazon soon.
Writer/Artist/Cover: Skottie Young
I Hate Fairyland is hysterical. It follows a green-haired young girl, Gert, who finds herself in a world of sugar, spice, and everything nice. As the never-aging, antsy Gert struggles to find her way out, things get gory—and anything but cute.
Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Artist: Valentine De Landro, Robert Wilson IV
Cover: Valentine De Landro
On Bitch Planet, a woman can be sent to prison on another planet for cheating on her husband, refusing to change her body to fit a man’s standards, or for being “non-compliant.” But it’s only a matter of time before the “nasty” women plot their escape with an elaborate plan set off by a huge, violent commotion. Bitch Planet is a riot—pun intended.
Writer: Bryan Lee O’Malley, Leslie Hung
Artist/Cover: Leslie Hung, Mickey Quinn
If you’re into blog culture, fashion, and the life of Instagram models, Snotgirl is all for you. If you’re into murder, mystery, and snot, Snotgirl is for you, too.
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist/Cover: Jamie McKelvie, Matt Wilson
The Wicked + The Divine follows a group of young people who figure out that they’re gods who are destined to be adored by the world, then die in two years—talk about a buzzkill. The series is also coming to TV, thanks to Universal.
Writer/Artist/Cover: Ronald Wimberly
Ronald Wimberly’s Prince of Cats was originally published by DC/Vertigo, but it was re-released by Image Comics in 2016. Therefore, we’re counting it here, and not just because Lakeith Stanfield is slated to take on the starring role. Prince of Cats, which is described as the “B side to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet,” centers on Juliet’s cousin, Tybalt and takes place in ‘80s Brooklyn, with plenty of influence from hip-hop and cyberpunk culture. It’s as dope as it sounds.
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist/Cover: Cliff Chiang, Matt Wilson
It all started with a simple newspaper route. But when four pre-teen girls, Erin, MacKenzie, KJ, and Tiffany, are met with a mystical force, things get trippy. Instead of spending their summer delivering newspapers, the group starts to inadvertently travel through time. Although they get to do cool (and scary) things like meet their future selves, they also have to avoid the crossfire between travelers and their descendants.
Writer: Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr
Artist: Cameron Stewart, Babs Tarr
Motor Crush follows motorcycle racer Domino Swift, who finds herself in trouble with a crime boss while trying to save her ex-girlfriend from his grasp. The artists’ use of pink hues also gives readers plenty of eye-candy to take in.
Writer: John Layman
Artist: Rob Guillory
Chew gives a whole new meaning to the word “foodie.” Every time he eats, Detective Tony Chu has a vision, depending on to the specific food he’s consuming, a skill that comes in handy as he solves crimes. The series was expected to be adapted into an animated movie featuring Steven Yeun, David Tennant, and Felicia Day, but unfortunately it never came to fruition. However, there’s currently talk of a TV adaptation.
Writer: Tee Franklin
Artist: Jenn St-Onge, Joy San
Despite the progress we’ve made as a society, LGBTQ representation in media still leaves a lot to be desired, especially the more nuanced stories of queer folks of color and older LGBTQ individuals. That’s what makes Bingo Love so special; it follows a touching love story between two black women who fall in love at a young age despite their families’ intolerance. Luckily, they get another shot at love when they’re older, but their rekindling comes with its own obstacles. Get your tissues ready.
Writer: Joshua Williamson
Artist: Andrei Bressan
A young boy disappears for one year and returns a Conan–esque warrior from another dimension. He attempts to reunite with his family, but his intentions are unclear, especially when he’s got suspicious characters from said dimension on his tail. This fantasy series is also coming to the big screen from The Walking Dead creator Robert Kirkman.
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Matteo Scalera, Dean White
In Black Science, an experiment goes wrong and sends scientists (and a few bystanders) jumping from alien planet to alien planet as they try to find their way back home. This is another one “in-development” for a TV adaptation.
Writer: Kurtis J Wiebe
Artist/Cover: Owen Gieni
Inspired by Dungeons & Dragons, Rat Queens follows a group of badasses including Hannah (an elven mage), Violet (a dwarf), Betty (a halfling), Dee (a human), and Braga (an Orc). Together, they go on adventures around the world and often take down assassins and rivals. Check out the comic book series here.
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist/Cover: Chip Zdarsky
Like JAY-Z said, what’s better than one person who stops time by having sex? Two. Okay, he didn’t actually say this, but that’s what Sex Criminals is all about. Main characters Suzie and Jon figure out that when they orgasm, they stop time. But instead of turning into superheroes who stop crime, they decide to use their unique abilities to rob banks. It’s for a noble cause though—they want to save the library where Suzie works. Cute, right? Universal is currently working on a TV adaptation.
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist/Cover: Leandro Fernandez
With only five issues out, The Old Guard is fairly new to the comic book scene, but it’s already making an impression on comic book fans. This series explores the pitfalls of immortality when Andy, who has been alive since the days of Ancient Greece, and her fellow immortals are discovered by an opportunistic businessman. Director Gina Prince-Bythewood (Love & Basketball, Disappearing Acts, Beyond The Lights) is set to take on an adaptation for the big screen next year.
Writer: Marjorie Liu
Artist/Cover: Sana Takeda
Monstress mixes steampunk and fantasy in the best way. The series, which takes place in "an alternate matriarchal 1900's Asia,” follows Maika Halfwolf, who has an actual demon hidden inside her. Doesn’t sound ideal, but it does come in handy in her mission to avenge her late mother. Fun fact: the writer, Marjorie Liu, was also the first woman ever to win an Eisner Award for Best Writer.
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist/Cover: Wes Craig, Lee Loughridge
At some point or another, we’ve all hated going to school, but Deadly Class takes it to another level. The series’ main character, Marcus Lopez, isn’t your average student—he attends a school for assassins, where students brag about their body count. But Lopez is still miles behind his classmates—for now. An adapted series is heading to SYFY next year.