by Zachary Whittaker & Will Holden

Donny Cates has quickly become one of the biggest names in American comics, with a combination of creator owned books and huge Marvel titles which have been widely celebrated. His most recent creator owned work is Image Comics’ Crossover – a series about every comic book character you can imagine bleeding over into the ‘real’ world. It’s a really interesting premise and I’ll always be a sucker for alternate worlds crashing into each other.

If you’ve been keeping up to date with Crossover you’ve likely noticed some hints at Donny Cates’ previous creator owned superhero books, most immediately The Paybacks. Co-written by Donny Cates and Eliot Rahal with art by Geoff Shaw, The Paybacks tells the story of a team that are part Suicide Squad and part loan shark, all the while making reference to all the cliches you might expect from a larger superhero universe. It’s a really fun read and much like The Ghost Fleet which Cates also wrote for Dark Horse, it’s a series that ended too soon, but lucky for us these characters seem to be getting a second lease of life through Crossover.

What if you want more than just The Paybacks and Crossover? Well there’s a character shared by the two that also made an appearance in an even earlier book by Donny Cates! “Who?” I hear you ask: Doctor Blaqk (with a Q), while he’s yet to take centre stage he first appeared in Buzzkill, a book all about a hero who’s powered by whatever drugs he consumes. It’s a strange premise, but it’s also something legitimately different in superhero ideas, and something ‘the big two’ would never dare attempt.

With Crossover bringing these creator owned characters together with, let’s face it, any character Image Comics can get the rights for Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw to use it’s an unpredictable series to sink your teeth into, and it’s likely going to peak a lot of readers interest in the wider world of alternative superheroes, but do keep in mind there’s plenty of non-superhero references flying around too. With that being said there are plenty of characters from Image Comics history…and comics history in general that might just make an appearance in the future, and a few that already have. So first up I’d definitely recommend checking out some of Donny Cates’ other creator owned series’. I’ve already pointed you in the direction of two books, but I’d definitely round that off with God Country. It’s an incredible story following an old man suffering from dementia by the name of Emmett and the way his world changes when he comes into possession of a magical sword named Valofax. It’s also arguably Donny Cates and Geoff Shaw’s most celebrated work.

Crossover is very much a world of Donny Cates and Geoff Shaws creation, but there’s no shortage of characters appearing in the series that predate their work. So if you’re interested in checking out some other heroes from Image Comics gone by, well I can’t say I’d recommend going back to the original 90s runs on some characters, but I’d definitely give a shout out to some more recent reboots which are well worth your attention.

First up is Glory, it’s an incredible reimagining of one of Rob Liefeld’s 90s heroes, from the perfect creative team of Joe Keatinge and Sophie Campbell. While the original character of Glory was very reminiscent of a certain Princess of Themiscyra, this updated version trades ancient Greek mythology for warring alien factions, ultra-violence and some of the most gloriously badass fight scenes you’ll ever see in comics. Oh, it’s also an emotional beatdown.

Prophet was a relaunch of a comic series, originally created by Rob Liefeld. This original run lasted around 20 issues in the early 90’s and was initially going to be a character for X-Force prior to the Image crew breaking away from Marvel. Written by Brandon Graham and with art by Simon Roy, Farel Dalrymple, Glennis Milonogiannis and Brandon Graham himself. The Prophet relaunch continues the numbering of the previous series with the first issue being #21 (although they have been renumbered in trades), despite this, you don’t really need any knowledge of the previous runs. This story is set around 10,000 years after the events of Liefeld’s version, this is a time in which an Earth Empire has risen, conquered and fallen. The galaxy has been reclaimed by the alien species that the Earth Empire had subjugated for generations before. (This is actually stolen from a longer recommendation by Will, check it out here!)

Supreme: Blue Rose, so you know how sometimes you read a comic and it’s entirely confusing, but kind of great for it? Well this is a great example of that. It’s a comic book reboot, that’s about comic book reboots. It’s not necessarily an easy book to follow, and it will more than likely leave you scratching your head, but there’s definitely enough in here to pique your interest in Supreme and his supporting cast of characters. Like most classic Image reboots Supreme very much benefits from having a great creative team, if nothing else this might be the best of Tula Lotay’s artwork.

Check out the first issue for free right here!

Pick up Crossover from one of these places:

Or maybe you want to learn a little more about The Paybacks?

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