Image Comics Panel Breakdown! What Does the Publisher Have in Store?

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Today is a fitting day to tell you all the latest news from Image Comics, as today sees the release of a new Image series, Cowboy Ninja Viking, a story of patients with Multiple Personality Disorder who are recruited, based on skills their personalities possess, to be assassins as part of a failed intelligence project. The AJ Lieberman series was discussed at Baltimore's Comic-Con at the Image Panel, with Lieberman saying, "The mission was shelved but the 'Triplets' (people with three personalities) are on the run from their various asylums, now someone is out to round them all up, the CNV of the title!" That was just one of the many announcements that came out of the panel, and now here's more! The panel also included Image notables such as Richard Starkings, Robert Kirkman, Frank Cho, Mike Oeming and Jeff Parker. Image's Joe Keating moderated the panel discussion, which started with Starkings discussing Elephantmen artist Marian Churchland by saying, "she's a talented artist who has a light touch to her work but a hard edge that works," in the series. Speaking of Elephantmen, Starkings said that the upcoming story arc "Questionable Threads" will bring a lot of dangling story arcs together and that issue twenty-one of the series would be an excellent jumping on point for new readers of the series. Starkings had favorable words for the January relaunch of series Jack Staff, stating that it was one of his favorite books. Robert Kirkman also chimed in, saying that the book was excellent and that fans should give it a shot. Kirkman also promised major changes for his hit series The Walking Dead. Starting with issue sixty-nine, the series will undergo a huge shift in direction, as the band of survivors find sanctuary in Washington DC where, "A band of survivors has formed a civilization. There's going to be an interesting change to the book. I'm excited after so many issues of the group travelling and such to have some definite change in the book," said Kirkman. Kirkman also talked about the upcoming end of his Astonishing Wolf-Man series, which will end at issue twenty-five, "We feel good about the ending point. Jason (Howard, the artist) and I feel good about the ending point and it's a good way to go. We'll be doing another book together soon." In discussing his work on Invincible, Kirkman also offered up a similar chance as Starkings did for new fans to join that series. "Invincible Returns #1 will be published in the place of Invincible #71 as a jumping on point for fans. We'll publish seventy-one after Invincible Returns. He'll also be returning to his original costume as well!" There was also plenty of news about new series to go along with Cowboy Ninja Viking. Orc Stain is a new series beginning in January that focuses on an orc who has the ability to find any flaw, weakness, soft spot that exists in anything and can use that to destroy the object. The new series Underground, which sees issue two released next week, mind you!, is the first title that Jeff Parker has worked on for Image. The approach for the project came from none other than artist Steve Lieber. Parker said, "Steve was still into doing adventure books after Whiteout and said 'what do you think about this story' and I started thinking of a town in western Kentucky about a closed down cave and a ranger (main character Wesley) who didn't want people using it as a park/tourist attraction of some sort." There appear to be some parallels to Whiteout, with Parker saying that there'll be lots of chasing and shooting in the cave, but that the environment would always be the main threat in the series. For Frank Cho's new book, 50 Girls 50, the creative process is taking on a unique twist. The series, focusing on the deep space adventures of a group of women seeking out new life in the galaxy to save a dying Earth, will recruit artistic talent from outside the typical comic book talent pool. Cho said, "I have too much on my plate, a case of more stories than time, so I decided to open it up and look for an artist for the series. I've had over 140 submissions and I'll announce the winner in the next two weeks." Cho then previewed the art from the ten finalists, each having to draw the same scene from the series. The book will be available in the spring and will be comprised of four issues. Mike Oeming spoke briefly about his series The Mice Templar, saying specfically that there's a direction for the series, "We wanted to tell the story in three major chunks, and the first series is definitely continuing in this current one. We tell a big story when needed, such as what we're doing in the second series right now." Oeming also spoke highly of new series' artist Victor Santos, saying that they both share the same influences artistically and that fans will see that reflected strongly in the book. Oeming gave more details about his newest upcoming series God Complex. The book will continue to explore an area of study that Oeming has always found interesting. "This is an extension of the love I have for mythology. I've always loved the mix of modern day settings with mythology, and I wanted to do that in this book. This book deals a lot with a god stepping down to live the mortal day-to-day life." said Oeming. The writer promised that this would be a contrast to his Ares mini-series done for Marvel in the past, with a lighter tone and more focus on daily family life for the god than in his other work. With all these announcements, readers will have a lot to look forward to in the immediate and not so distant future, especially with the events of Image United coming! The series will feature the major Image heroes united for the first time against a major threat, something that Kirkman described as long overdue, "Usually crossovers in Image have been one character showing up in another character's book, but this will be huge!" Each character will be drawn by his creator/artist, and tons of action is promised for the fans! With that, the panel ended, but not the anticipation!