Here's a question I was asked more than a few times at ComicsPRO this past weekend:
"Is there something from Image you think should be doing better, that we might not be paying enough attention to?"
At least once, I answered that question by saying I felt Invincible was a criminally overlooked book. But the more various retailers complimented us on the success of Fatale and Thief of Thieves, I realized the actual answer was Jay Faerber's quietly remarkable crime series, Near Death.
Jay's been at Image for around 11 years at this point. You may know his name from Noble Causes, or maybe Dynamo 5. They're both superhero books with a lot of fine qualities, but you know what? Jay's first love has always been crime fiction.
And Near Death is a crime comic.
People always do their best work when they're doing something they truly love, but Jay wasn't always planning to do this as a comic. Another publisher had talked to him about doing something with it a while back, but since he's been making inroads into writing for television, he decided it might work better as a television pitch.
But then Brian K. Vaughan – and I like to think, myself – talked him out of it.
Because it's a great idea, and y'know, why waste a great idea on TV, when you you can turn it into a comic book?
Scratch that: a great comic book.
In brief, Near Death is the story of Markham, a hired gun who glimpse eternal hell during a near death experience. Determined to avoid that fate, Markham dedicates his life to balancing the scales: He will save a life for every life he's taken. And as Jay notes, "He's taken a lot of lives..."
It's excellent, inspired work, and easily the best thing Jay has done in comics to date. And if you like Fatale? If you like Thief of Thieves? It's right up your alley.
The trade paperback collecting the first five issues is out next week, and even better yet, it's only $9.99. And if you haven't had a chance to check out Near Death yet, here's a preview of issue six. It's out a month later, on March 21, so you've got plenty of time to grab a copy of the trade and get caught up.
You'll be glad you did.