Among Image’s early failures was the hero “WildStar”, who was created by people outside of the “Big Six” (Al Gordon & Jerry Ordway)- he had a four-issue Limited Series in 1993 (the year after Image was founded), but his ongoing book that followed was cancelled after three issues. Apparently behind the scenes, both creators each wanted more control over the final product, and lacking an editor to play middleman, they kind of just argued on an on, I guess. However, it was the collapsing comics market that spelled the end for the book.
The character debuts experiencing a Groundhog Day -like “time loop” that causes him to repeat a section of time- his future self gives Mickey the “WildStar Symbiote” as a gift- an alien weapon thus granting him superhuman abilities, and memories of a post-apocalyptic future. He had to fight the alien that once wore the Symbiote, and appeared in The Savage Dragon a few times, going by “SoulStar” probably due to rights issues.
Of all the early Image Comics books, the only one you could really call “great art” would be The Maxx , I think. It’s certainly the only one of the lot to gain a lot of respect for its story and art. The book had a five year run, featured some very stylistic, bizarre, heavily-inked pages, and had a way more “outside the norm” concept than the other books (which were mostly just “Which Marvel character can we rip off the most?”). Sam Keith’s work is something I’m only familiar with via the short-lived MTV animated series (back when they made a big attempt at those, post- Beavis & Butt-Head ). I recall it being very interesting, highly confusing, and deeply weird- all the hallmarks of “great art”, y’know.
So “The Maxx” is a weird-looking, squat, powerful guy with claws on his hands that kills disgusting little evil creatures called “Isz”. He simultaneously lives in both the real world and a fantasy realm called “The Outback”, and in both protects Julie, who in The Outback is the sexy, fur-bikini’d “Jungle Queen”. On Earth, however, she’s just a vaguely-BBW social worker. The Maxx lives on Earth as “a homeless vagrant in a box”, and constantly gets bailed out of jail by Julie, who is unaware of the Jungle Queen or The Outback. Mr. Gone, a serial rapist with a telepathic link to Julie, is aware of her and other people’s “Outbacks”, and sends multiple eyeless creatures named “Isz” after her- they are actually protectors of The Outback, turned from white omnivores into black cannibals when brought into the real world. Eventually, Gone reveals the truth to Julie- he masqueraded as her “Uncle Artie”, telling her tall tales as a child in order to shape her Outback.
Julie counsels Sara, a depressed teenager who is actually the DAUGHTER of Mr. Gone. We also find out Julie’s backstory- she was raped while picking up a hitchhiker in college, and to cope, slid into her Outback, creating the powerful “Jungle Queen” persona as a shield against dark thoughts. But she spent so much time in her Outback that it destabilized both worlds. The Maxx is actually a homeless man she hit with her car- remembering the last time she helped someone, she covered the man in trash- an object that’d grazed The Outback covers his body, transforming him and linking him to Julie.
The second part of the series follows Sara, whose own “Maxx” is a hobo named Norbert. An Outback creature named Iago injures Julie, and the other characters (including Mr. Gone, whose own backstory is shown to be tragic, inspiring Sara to attempt to forgive him). The various characters begin transforming into different forms because Keith was on LSD or whatever, and everyone disappears into The Outback- Gone is left to be by the Maxx, as he raises his daughter, now a child again- Julie says “even evil deserves a place to rest”. A new reality forms, with Mr. Gone being a professor, The Maxx a janitor, and Julie with her son Mark.
All in all, the series seems quite nuts. Somehow kinda-redeeming the rapist Mr. Gone seems a bit of a bizarre twist. I just remember the cartoon, which was very artistic in how it’d change styles from scene to scene.
Oh man, I remember this one from YEARS ago- The Anti-Gravity Room , a Canadian show about nerdy pop culture, detailed it during an interview with its creator. The notion is that in a satirical futuristic world, assassins are sold out of vending machines- these robots will kill their target, and then self-destruct. However, Scud, an average “Disposable Assassin”, suddenly feels the desire to LIVE- he’s meant to assassinate a rampaging mutant with mousetraps for hands, a plug for a head, and a squid for a belt, but refuses. Instead, he maims his opponent and places her on life support, allowing him to survive indefinitely. He thus carries on, now acting as a freelance mercenary in order to pay his target’s medical bills.
On the 20th issue, Scud went on an indefinite hiatus, as Rob Schrab, the creator, grew dissatisfied with the way his story was going- working for Hollywood, he took a ten-year break from the book, having his small-press company go out of business after an argument with his co-owner over rights. He returned to it in 2008, finalizing four issues for Image Comics (so this only kinda counts for this set).
The series is pretty wacked-out and obvious silly, which makes for some fun recaps, such as his interactions with Sussudio (named for a Phil Collins song), a female bounty hunter hired to bring him in… before revealing that she is a closet “robosexual” and stating she’s fallen in love with him. His assistant Drywall can only speak to beings without souls (like Scud) and has unlimited space within his body, making him ideal to hide an arsenal. Enemies include Voodoo Ben Franklin and System, the Lord of Hell. Despite being very obscure, a shocking amount of stuff has been made of the book, including a pair of video games in 1997 for the Sega Saturn and the PC. Oliver Stone of all people optioned a Scud film, but nothing came of it, and MTV failed to adapt the series to an animated show. The creators of Rick & Morty have said that Mr. Meeseeks was directly ripped off from the idea of Scud, as well.
Among the more notorious solo characters at Image Comics, Pitt is one of those things that did NOT help their perception to the comics-buying public. While the grim ‘n’ gritty edgelord-loving audience was no doubt enthralled by this huge, veiny-armed, clawed menace, the fact that a Hulk artist just plopped a character with an identical build plus some things swiped from Wolverine into his solo work was NOT a good look, and added to the perception that Image was just full of guys ripping off their Marvel shit and cashing in on it.
Pitt is a human/alien hybrid created by aliens known as The Creed, and genetically-engineered to be a killing machine. He managed to escape execution by the Creed and was trained by one of their agents- a guy named Quagg, and worked as Emperor Zoyvod’s assassin for a number of years- someone on a spiritual world melded him with a more peaceful soul, causing a change in him- he esacped to Earth, helping out his twin brother, Timmy. A noseless monster with sharp teeth and long fingernail-claws, he was the ’90s in a nutshell- like somebody took Venom and exaggerated him. The book and character came off as very generic- Image crossed him over into Cyberforce and Gen-13 right away, and he had a Cute Innocent Kid sidekick, just like Wolverine had in Elsie-Dee in the comics of the time.
Pitt stuck with Image Comics for three years, until Dale took him to his own imprint. Near as I can tell, the character didn’t make it out of the ’90s- Pitt lasted only 21 issues, and there were a handful of spin-offs and one-offs (including Hulk/Pitt – a crossover book), but he did show up in the background during “The Invincible War” in Robert Kirkman’s Invincible – he was one of the only heroes to solo-kill an alternate version of Mark Grayson.