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Review Group Image United #1

Written by John Martin on Tuesday, December 01 2009 and posted in Reviews
amlah6 had the pick for new comics shipping November 25th and he selected Image United #1 by Robert Kirkman, Erik Larsen, Rob Liefeld, Todd McFarlane, Whilce Portacio, Marc Silvestri and Jim Valentino


The Review Group is a collection of posters who get together and review a new comic each week that we each take turns selecting. Our threads can be found in The Outhouse’s News Stand forum and is open for anyone and everyone to participate in.

The combined talents of the original Image co-founders plus Robert Kirkman minus Jim Lee was simply more awesomeness than the Review Group could bear. The ensuing calamity will live in infamy for generations, it's been 146 weeks since the Review Group last saw a week like this one.

Review by Kerny

I just don't know what to say. I'm back in the 90's. I don't know shit about Liefeld’s characters, but they suck and I don't like them and I dislike Liefeld's art. I do like Larsen and the Savage Dragon, but his art seemed off here to me. He does get points for the giant shark guy tho, he was cool, I REALLY don't know Silvestri's characters like at all, except for Witchblade, his art is ok at best. Shadowhawk will always be a guilty pleasure of mine, some of the first comics young Kerny ever read. But WHY THE FUCK IS SHADOWHAWK NOT A BLACK GUY. This offends me. Obviously some change I was not made aware of. I understand Portacio's character is new for this, he had a retarded look, but Portacio's style is ok to me. McFarlane would probably be my favorite out of the bunch and so his art looked the best here to me. The jam pieces work pretty well, it’s not like they all bring A LARGE VARIETY of styles to the table. The writing seems dumbed down, but c’mon, look what he has to write. (it's Liefeld's characters who sound borderline retarded) It also has like a Haunt interlude in the back that takes place between two issues which I thought was neat because I like Haunt. So overall, I didn't really like it. It’s more of like a car crash that I can't stop looking at (cliché, but so is this book) but do I continue on? IDK peeps, I just don't know

Story: Who gives a fuck?
Art: how does one rate this?

Liefeld gets a 2
Larsen a 5
Silvestri a 4
Valentino a 5
Portacio a 6
McFarlane an 8

So uh 30 divided by 6 = 5. There we go

Overall a 5

Review by Old Man

Another adventure into "Why the Hell do I even bother?" land.

To be fair, it's better than FrankenCastle. As I didn't care for FrankenCastle, that ain't sayin' much.

10 different covers will guarantee that this is a big seller, because of idiots like my friend who have to buy every cover they can get their hands on.

What can I say about the art? Nothing good. Having each creator draw their own creation -- or apparently, in one case, Photo-shop their old art into this book -- hurts the artistic cohesiveness of the story. That some of these artists haven't improved on their drawing of anatomy in the last 15 years just shows you how lazy being a millionaire can make you.

What can I say about the story? Not much. Everybody knows that Image superhero comics don't have any story unless Alan Moore is writing them. (Well, okay, I'll give Erik Larsen some props for getting out 150+ issues Savage Dragon, but his writing isn't groundbreaking by any means.) And then on the last page there is a Spawn Black Lantern. WTF?

The only plus I saw for this comic was that the covers were printed without gloss, which really made them stand out on the shelf.

When Image started, I bought each of the first issues. I still have them. And I don't think I have read any of them other than Spawn. I've just never been interested in comics from whiny creators who complained about their working situations with other publishers, situations that made them millionaires. Oh Boo Hoo! What terrible working conditions. I haven't even made a million in my entire life. M*****F*****s.

I give it a 6, and wonder how I can get back the 3 minutes, 18 seconds of my life that I spent on this.

Review by House of J

Didn't even look at comics in the '90s, but I've owned most of that Image stuff at one time or another and couldn't make it through most of it.

I always wonder--how did these people make so much filthy lucre for this stuff?! It was and is awful wanky crap--I STILL don't know who any of these characters are or what their powers are...they're always talking about their mysterious suits, or firing 6 guns at once but rarely hitting anything, or they have fake robot eyes strapped over their regular eyes...their costumes always look impractical, or downright painful in the case of Witchboobs or whatever her name is.

** Ok, someone help me out with this one panel--when the guy in the suit is fighting the shark-guy in tight pants, there is a thing in the lower-left corner of the panel that LOOKS like a small bale of straw with a beak on a muscleman body--WHAT THE HELL IS THAT THING?!

Sorry, I had to get that out while I was looking at it here. The "jam" style--it even sounds like it's from the '90s--must be a lot more fun to do than read. What a waste of time and money sending this crap back-and-forth across the country when it looks like they could have done it in a half-hour if they were all in one place.

The clueless narration is like a parody of a clueless narration: How did I get here? Who am I again? Where did I get this hot dog? Is this the beginning...of my lunch break? The plotless plot plods along until Dark Spawn appears. It seems like a good ending point (please let it end) but then jarringly switches over to a very unpleasant-looking Savage Dragon page. I still can't look at it without cringing. Then back to the guy in the suit who says "We are all going to die!"

At that point, the comic is at an end, but there is no "to be continued" or "Next issue: They All Die!!" and since I already thought it ended when Dark Spawn said something vaguely menacing and final, I was a bit confused by the Haunt pages for a second. Is Haunt a member of the Image United soccer team too? I dunno. Nah, it's just some stuff I don't intend to read. The art in IU did make Haunt look good, tho.

The "Origins" page is about what you'd expect, and fails to answer the question of why the hell anyone liked any of this stuff in the first place, something I apparently will just never understand. Sure, it sounds great to have a company of creator-owned properties, but if they are all utter shit that looks like crap I doodled on my notebook in the 8th grade then so what?


Review by Greg

As an Image fanboy (more of a fan of the recent output with other creator-owned books like Proof, Mice Templar, Strange Embrace, etc) I felt this was a mess. I WAS a big Spawn fan for the past few years until McFarlane came back into the book and Larsen's Savage Dragon is still a lot of fun to read. Kirkman is a great writer and I can't understand what he was trying to do here. Some of the plot is there and we're introduced to a weird series of events, but I don't feel this issue portrayed enough potential that it had when the idea was first presented. I didn't hate it nor did I like it. It was just there.

Some stuff bugged me like at one point a character was one place and the next continuing panel somewhere else. I'll stay on for the next few issues because I do think that some stuff could improve, mostly the story.

And Powerhouse is actually a great SD villain for all the naysayers.

Review by Chubbles

Wow this was a really bad comic. The art was all filled with 90's muscle poses and big fights. The story was all over the place. I still don't know why all the heroes were brought together in the first place. As much as I love Kirkman he has also succeeded in letting me down big time. Invincible 60 was not good and this was 10 times worse. I just didn't care about anything going on and seeing this much Liefeld made me want to vomit. I had a feeling this would suck hard but I still got it for the review group and just to try it out but damn this was so bad I wanna sell my copy as fast as possible.

Art 3 (1 for Liefeld and 5's for everyone else)
Story 1 (Made no sense and I just don't care)
Overall 2

Dammit Kirkman stick with Walking Dead and Invincible and leave this crap alone!!!!

Review by guitarsmashley

What the fuck was this shit? Did I read a comic? This is by far the worst thing we've read since Franklin Richards except that book had a plot. I think it was about robot turkeys and this was just about...well I think it might have been a Thanksgiving induced hallucination. How did any of the creators involved with this look at the finished product and say, "Man, this is one great comic." or even during the creation of it did they hand around the pages and not say, "What the fuck did he just draw? Someone get me a new pencil and hand full of shrooms." Seriously this comic is a mess beyond belief. This series could be Kirkman’s "I'm an overexposed shitty writer moment, please don't hold it against me." Hell it happened with Bendis and Avengers Dissembled maybe it's just Kirkman’s turn. Anyway this book was a mess, I can't even mess with Punchy on a best line because I doesn't feel like there was any dialogue, if I could give this book a 0 I would but seeing as Amlah like me before him likes to keep things 1-10 I give Image United a .5

Review by Dragavon

I don't even know where to begin. This is such a disjointed mess. I guess I'll begin with the art.

This "jam" book was a great concept. The execution however was sadly lacking. Each artist's attempt to draw his own characters in his own style does not lead to a cohesive story. The only time it looks decent was an artist did the entire page.

I have been a Silvestri fan for years. I think he's an amazing artist, but seeing his characters on the same page as Liefeld's just makes the entire page look odd. And the heavier inking done on Larsen's characters adds a very strange contrast to the characters around him.

It would have been much better had the artists done one issue apiece or even broken it up so that they got several pages apiece.

The story is where the book really falls apart. Having been spoiled by Kirkman's writing on Invincible, I expected a lot more than this throwback to the 90's. The mysterious stranger with amnesia who needs to save the world has become such a cliché that I had to double check the cover to make sure it was Kirkman writing it and not one of the generic "writers" that were there to give the minimal amount of coherence to make a comic and not an art book. Unless the story dramatically improves, I am hard pressed to see how anybody can justify spending $4 on another issue.

Art (this has to be broken down by artists)
Larsen 3
Liefeld 1
McFarlane 5
Portacio 3
Silvestri 8
Valentino 7
The average is a 4.5

Story 3

Image United gets a 3.75

Review by doombug

So umm who is the "writer" on this and why are they trying to pass themselves off as Robert Kirkman? Is that some sort of weird inside joke that we are missing? Seriously the internal dialogue alone of the new guy is just painful to get through.

Then of course there's Sarah aka Witchblade getting knocked on the ground and put in a proactive pose as usual. Even though under Ron Marz in her own title the character has been actually treated correctly and has changed a lot.

Oh and Badrock....goddamn he is a painful character to read and look at. Is he supposed to be Rob's inner personality or something? Dragon was probably the only actual strong character in this thing both artwise and actual speaking lines.

The "jam session" idea is a good one. One that over all gets accomplished well on a book like Haunt. Here though it's just kind of an eyesore to look at. I'd say the only positives are Silvestri and Larsen.

Want to know the good thing about this book? The preview for Haunt in the back.

Story: 1
Art: 1

Over all score: 1

Review by Punchy

Story - Um.... yeah, so... there's not actually that much story to talk of in this book really. Much like the original Image Comics, this book is a triumph of art over story, as much as Robert Kirkman's work on Invincible and Walking Dead has attempt to spearhead Image in the direction of putting the writer first, his role here is pretty much secondary to the fun experimentation of seeing the various Image Founders jam together. Kirkman is in full-on old-school Marvel/DC summer crossover mode here. There is a mysterious threat attacking the whole world, and all our heroes must band together and yaddayaddayadda. You've even got this Fortress dude basically being Harbinger.

I think the problem here is that unlike Marvel or DC crossover events, where the reader has years of context for shared continuity and love for the characters, that's not here for Image. Image has pretty much never had a shared universe, bar the occasional cameo, Savage Dragon is off on its own, Spawn is off on its own, and as such, I don't feel much connection to the characters. It's actually off-putting to see these characters together again, I'm not used to it. But then again I'm not much used to the original Image books on the whole. I've never read Spawn, never read Savage Dragon, never read Cyberforce or Witchblade. The only books I have any knowledge of are Liefeld's, mainly due to Alan Moore and also Joe Casey's run, and Valentino's Shadowhawk, who's relaunch I read back in 2004, and enjoyed. Oh yeah, and I suppose since Fortress is new (Portacio's original creations Wetworks are owned by Wildstorm now) I know who he is.

This book can be mainly seen as a nostalgia trip, and since I was 3 or 4 when Image launched, and by the time I'd got into comics the original founders had pretty much all stopped working on their original creations, gone back to Marvel or whatever, and Image was now the premier creator-owned company, pushing the boundaries of comics, not just ripping off X-Men again. This is not necessarily the book's fault, if I had been a few years older, I would have grown up with these characters, and would probably love this book. It's just my parent's bad timing!

Overall, this is an OK debut issue, some kind of plot is set up with 'The Omega Spawn' and Kirkman manages to come up with some interesting ways for the various heroes to interact, but it still feels light. We are told that the whole world is under threat, but we only see 2 examples, it's telling, not showing and Kirkman should do better than that. But we're not really reading this book for Kirkman are we? His role here is just to facilitate the fanboyish fun of seeing all these classic (are they classic? probably) characters teaming up. And on the whole I think he succeeds, especially in allowing the art to flow and let each artist strut their stuff. Maybe his own voice will come into the book later on, I'm certainly enjoying myself enough to continue.

Art - The art is the main hook here, and it's no surprise that Robert Kirkman's writing is not too important. Image United is a unique book in terms of artwork, with each of the Image founders drawing their own creations, whether hero or villain on the same page. So you can have a Liefeld Badrock punching the shit out of a McFarlane Overt-Kill while a Larsen Savage Dragon looks on. And I think on the whole it works very well. It's disconcerting at first, but since Liefeld, Portacio and Silvestri all have similar styles, they all mesh well. Erik Larsen's blockier more traditional work is the biggest departure, but still, that's part of the fun. I will say that I thought this issue was maybe a little Larsen, Liefeld and Portacio centric, with Silvestri, McFarlane and Valentino not really having that much to do, but I suppose that's Kirkman, it's not a book that is trying to massage egos by giving everyone equal treatment, if Shadowhawk only needs to be in the story for 2 pages, so be it. I have my own preferences for which artists are the best separately, but these personal preferences only make the read more interesting, you have a page featuring an artist I dislike, one I am ambivalent towards, and one I really like... it's novel, and I like it.

Image United is a different experience, and at first it's distracting, but after a while you sort of forget that each character is drawn differently, I feel it works a lot better than it probably should, and just hope that the notoriously slow Founders can keep up the pace.

Best Line - 'Good "Team-Up". Let's not do this again any time soon' Savage Dragon shows why it's weird seeing these characters together.


Review by starlord

Unlike some in our circle of readers, I was much much older when Image comics came to be. I wasn't into comics to the point where I actually knew names of most writers or artists - I just knew what I liked and didn't. And back then I remember looking at many of these artists and not liking (for the most part) what I saw. To this day I go from my gut. I've both praised and slammed writers and artists that others seem to have an eternal hate on for. Other than two exceptions, I honestly try to give everything a look without the writer/artists baggage that tends to come with it.

I do agree with my friend Punch that this is a book for the artists. I'd at least hope so because I do enjoy Kirkman's work and this would rip my heart out if I had to believe that this disaster was his fault at all. The art on this book reminds me of everything that I couldn't stand about the look of 90's comics. It's one of the reasons I took such a long break.

Basically this book SUCKED! And I don't mean that in the wonderful way where you lay there thanking God afterward. No, I mean it like when you are four and have to tell your parents that the babysitter violated you in ways that you will never recover from and could quite possibly turn you into the worlds next Jeffrey Dahmer.

This is a new low for reading in this group, and I honestly didn't think we could ever get lower than that train wreck of the issue of Batman that Grant Morrison wrote in frickin' long hand. You want to know why the 90's sucked for long time comic fans? Pick this book up and look at the art. There's your answer!

Story: 0 (there wasn't any)
Art: 1 (for Silvestri alone)
My Score: .5 (only because I really don't think we're allowed to give it a zero, are we?)

Review by Chris

This book isn't even worth writing anything about..

Story: Non-existant.

Art: Not sure what part of this 90's flashback appeals to anyone, particularly.. I thought it was all pretty bad. All that was missing was cap-boobs to complete the nostalgia.

Story: 0

Art: 1, but just because it's at least better than the story.

Total: .5/10

Review by 48THRiLLS

Hmm... I will give this book one thing, it sure was ambitious. Aside from that is was bad. Before I read it I expected the art to be a train wreck so I was not surprised to see my feelings were correct on that but the story... jeez. Robert Kirkman may be my favorite current writer... I even love The Astounding Wolf-Man... but this here was garbage. I mean, I know the source material isn't that much to work with... these characters are bad, the dialogue was bad, and the story was just bad... and not bad but fun like Rulk, just bad with no redeemable qualities. The only character that was drawn ok and was mildly interesting was Savage Dragon... the rest seemed like bad X-Men knockoffs. The art was just a bunch of posing and many of the panels made no sense... this was probably the worst book this group has reviewed

ART - 2

Review by Jubilee

There is very little story. Some art was good. Some art was bad. I mean real bad, and I didn't like the multiple artist thing.

2.5 because I feel in a harsh mood. I just can't get into these books.

Review by Jude Terror

I thought this was a great book. It was very refreshing to read something where the art actually looked like comic book art, as opposed to screen caps from a DVD.

Story: Yeah, there wasn't too much, and yeah, it jumped around a little. It would have been nice to have some text introducing each of the characters, similar to the way they do it in Uncanny X-Men, where when a character appears on panel for the first time that issue, they give a name and a few words describing the character.

Kirkman wrote Haunt in a similar fashion, where many things happened off panel and the readers were forced to exercise their comic muscles in putting the action together in their own minds. An example in Haunt is when the brothers suddenly find themselves in a limo after the funeral, and you just have to assume that the one brother was killed. Here, we see Vogue injured after the battle, and have to assume it happened off panel. This technique was used more effectively in Haunt, IMO, but maybe that is because there was so much action in this book.

As for the action itself, it was great. The book was basically one big fight, which is as it should be. This is a very old school event style book - it doesn't NEED a complicated plot. Just superheroes teaming up to beat the crap out of super villains. It works. It was refreshing in a comic world that is so much serious business.

Story gets a 7.

Art: What can I say, the art was just amazing. I'm glad that a lot of this story focused on Youngblood, which led to lots of awesome Liefeld art. The man is a living legend. I thought that the different styles on the pages worked well together. Reading this book felt like reading a book in the nineties, which is the whole point, isn't it?

The coloring was great, much better than the dull, dark coloring on many books today. I understand that it sets a mood but it makes me miss the bright colors of yesterday, which are present here in this book.

If you gave this book a low score on art, it is because you are sad and jaded. These guys are all superstars who changed comics as we know them, and it's very exciting to see them all work on the same book. Lighten up and enjoy comics for what they are.

Art: 10

Final Verdict: This wasn't Shakespeare, nor was it supposed to be. For everyone that has ever defended Secret Wars, you should be ashamed of yourself if you scored this book lower than a 7. Sometimes, comics are just about superheroes punching each other out.

Final: 8.5

Review by prozacman

Image United! Fifteen Years Late in the Making!

Image United feels like it should have come out about fifteen years ago. Lots of art styles that I was into in the early 90’s. A vaguely mysterious purple and green character that needs to get a whole bunch of otherwise unrelated characters together. He needs this team for reasons even he doesn’t know. The big reveal at the end? I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be that Al Simons Spawn in the bad guy or that some other dude is the current Spawn. (I stopped reading Spawn about five years ago so I’m out of the loop.)

Despite the fact that the other image founders were inking and finishing sections of Image United, having Rob Liefeld do the layouts makes the whole book look like a Rob Liefeld book. Just the way the panels are laid out, it almost all feel that way. The Cyber Force and Savage Dragon Characters look like they were stretched and squashed to fit on Young Blood characters. Personally, I would have had Portacio do the layouts. He tends to go crazy with the camera angles when drawing panels. That would probably have given each artist’s contribution more distinction.

If this book came out in the early 90’s I would have loved it. It feels, reads, and looks like an early image book. If that’s what they are trying to capture, it worked. It’s not bad. I’ve just out grown that style.

Final Numbers
Me today
Art 7
Story 6

Me 1994
Art 9
Story 9

And I would have bought 10 copies of each cover in anticipation of them being worth $100 each in three months. Wink

Review by amlah6

This was some crazy discombobulated comic booking. Super hokey. Completely over-the-top. Wonky inner dialogue. Seriously fun.


Kirkman has been taking a beating this week in some of the other reviews, but I think in reality his work in this comic is genius. Image United isn't intended to be some modern deconstructive masterpiece, it's a bombastic explosion of awesomeness. Kirkman clearly knows and loves the source material he is working with and has crafted a comic that would have fit perfectly in 1992.

Having 7 artists working on a comic at once is a pretty bold choice. Having Rob Liefeld do the layouts for that comic is nothing short of insane. Image United delivers insanity page after page after page. Whether you're a fan of the artists who have collaborated on this or not, just the sheer logistics of putting this comic together is a pretty astounding accomplishment. Amazingly enough, it felt to me like the more artists that worked on a page the better the comic worked. The first half of the book with the mixed artists established a look and a flow that was lost later on when you would have a page with just Dragon or just Shadowhawk or just Spawn. Just like 90's Image, fights good, everything else, eh wat, when's the next fight?

Image United is like some crazy time machine into the past warts and all. Wonked out pacing, oftentimes incomprehensible fights, so many variants that you'll run out of fingers trying to count them all. I would have been disappointed with anything less.

Story: 7
Art: 6
Fun: 11
Non-Incentive Covers: 7
Overall: 7.75

Review by thefourthman

Is this really what comics were like in the 90's? Thank god I missed it. This literally read like it was drawn before it was written or even plotted. I think they faxed the pages back and fourth trying to top each other then poor Kirkman got the unpleasant task of figuring out what the hell was happening.

The art is all over the place and doesn't even tell a story.

Story 0
Art 3
Overall 1.5

That gives Image United #1 a group score of 3.53.  LOWEST SCORING BOOK EVER!!!
For knife fights aplenty feel free to join us in this week's thread ( found in the News Stand forum where you are also invited to post your own review.


young neil has the pick for December 3rd and he has selected Jonah Hex #50 from DC Comics. Look for the new thread after it becomes available Thursday morning to post your own review.

Jonah Hex #50

Written by Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray
Art by Darwyn Cooke

Darwyn Cooke illustrates a double-sized anniversary issue as we hit #50! Jonah Hex discovers a secret being kept by Tallulah Black that could change everything Hex is about. But happiness has no place in the life of Jonah Hex, so what kind of tragedy awaits our disfigured gunslinger?

DC Universe | 48pg. | Color | $3.99 US


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