Story: Robert Kirkman
Art: Erik Larsen, Rob Liefeld, Todd McFarlane, Whilce Portacio, Marc Silvestri, Jim Valentino, Niko Koutsis, Mike Toris
You know that scene in a horror movie where either a predestined protagonist or unwitting soon-to-be victim finds themselves being sub-consciously drawn towards a tome of utter evil in a dusty old bookshop? That’s the sensation I got when I picked up Image United; and I was definitely the victim. My brain pleaded “don’t buy it!” but some unseen force somehow persuaded me otherwise.
I appreciate that nobody is going to buy Image United expecting the next Watchmen. It’s easy to wrap oneself up in a warm nostalgia blanket and reminisce about the years when Youngblood, Savage Dragon, Shadowhawk, and Cyberforce made their debut, but going back to those old issues is never anything but painful. Here each unduly famous artist illustrates and inks their own creation, and the result is an expected mess; Erik Larson’s art in particular is so idiosyncratic that it sticks out worse than a, um… big green guy with a fin on his head.
That said, a simplistic, good-natured nostalgia trip featuring a handful of gaudy, uninspired 90s creations could have been good fun. Instead, Robert Kirkman (who really should be ashamed of himself) appears to have set out with the intent of reminding us just how fucking awful the early Image titles were. Not only is the plot – purple/green robo-man tells Youngblood and company that they will all die, hilarity ensues – so tired and uninteresting, but Kirkman plays it so totally utterly serious that you have to wonder how anyone could genuinely still love hollow characters such as Badrock and Diehard.