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Comic Deep Dive: Top Cow

Comic Deep Dive

Hey, folks!  Welcome back to Comic Deep Dive!  I’m here with more coverage of my adventures taking the opportunity to do some strange and exciting comic book reading as we start to see the light at the end of the COVID tunnel.  Today, I’m talking all about Image’s Top Cow imprint!  Here’s the run-down:

The Story

  • Marc Silvestri was tired of being treated poorly by Marvel, so he left and started Image
  • He had his own studio(s) in Ballistic and then Top Cow within Image
  • He left and went back a few times
  • He brought in up-and-coming superstar Michael Turner (who later left and took his properties with him to form his own company, Aspen)
  • What started out as a hi-tech sci-fi X-Men rip-off universe slowly became a good-girl-infested magic universe (still utilizing and eventually integrating all of Silvestri’s works into a cohesive world)
  • Incorporated and licensed several video game, cartoon, and manga properties
  • Has been running off-and-on since 1992

The Titles

  • 21
  • The Agency
  • Aphrodite IX
  • Arcanum
  • Artifacts
  • Ascension
  • Battle of the Planets
  • Codename: Stryke Force
  • Cyberforce
  • The Darkness, Tales of the Darkness
  • Fathom
  • Freshmen
  • Hunter-Killer
  • Inferno
  • The Magdalena
  • The Necromancer
  • Pilot Season
  • Ripclaw
  • The Spirit of Tao
  • Tomb Raider, Tomb Raider: Journeys
  • Universe
  • Velocity
  • Weapon Zero
  • Witchblade, Tales of the Witchblade

The Events

  • Devil’s Reign (with Marvel)
  • First Born

The Crossovers

  • Marvel’s Ghost Rider, Wolverine, Elektra, Mephisto, Silver Surfer, X-Men, Punisher
  • Independent Characters like Shi, Bone, Weaselguy, Ash, Gabriel
  • Licensed Properties like Mars Attacks, Aliens, Predator
  • Image’s Spawn, Medieval Spawn, Overkill, Savage Dragon, Pitt, Badrock
  • DC’s Superman, Batman, Justice League
  • Wildstorm’s Warblade, Weatherman, Grifter, Maul, Lord Emp, Zealot, Spartan, Wildcats, Wetworks, Dane, Jester, Mother-One, Waering, Claymore, Stormwatch, Fuji, Battalion, Kinkaid, Hellstrike, Diva, Backlash, Huntsman
  • an issue of Donny Cate’s comic Crossover

The Good Stuff

  • The crossovers were all really great
  • For the most part, a lot of the good girl cover art still holds up

The Bad Parts

  • Very much a product of the 90s
  • Essentially just a rip-off of the X-Men
  • Too many licensed properties no one asked for
  • Silvestri and Turner will never be Jim Lee
  • Poor release schedule and lack of editing/cohesive universe

The Creators of Note

  • Garth Ennis, Alex Ross, Dan Jurgens, Chris Claremont, Todd McFarlane, J. Scott Campbell, Greg Capullo, Jim Lee, Greg Horn, Greg Horn, Chris Bachalo, Greg Land, Kurt Busiek, Phil Hester

Characters Off the Page

  • Witchblade live-action show
  • Witchblade anime
  • The Darkness video games
  • Action figures
  • Statues
  • Posters, trading cards, and prints

The Returns

  • Still technically out there, but mostly just creator-owned and licensed titles

Overall Thoughts

  • This deep dive is something I have always wanted to do, because who doesn’t love good girl art
  • Quite a few of these were tough to find, but fairly inexpensive as a whole
  • Interesting shift away from sci-fi into fantasy and horror about halfway through its inception
  • There was some great work, but a lot of really derivative work that overshadowed it
  • Tried too hard to be like Jim Lee’s Wildstorm studio and never really reached that level
  • I’ll keep all of the Darkness and his related titles and the crossovers
  • My final grade: C-

See you next month for another comic deep dive! In the meantime, share your thoughts on Image’s Top Cow imprint with us on social media. We’d love to hear from you.

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