Image announces new ‘Astro City,’ ‘Arrowsmith’ + more from Kurt Busiek

The publisher will reprint several older Busiek comics, as well as new series like ‘Free Agents.’ Plus, more ‘Autumnlands’!

Image Comics today has announced enough new Kurt Busiek projects to fill that empty space you’ve been saving on your bookshelf. In fact, you may need a bigger bookshelf …

Next year the publisher will launch new volumes of Astro City and Arrowsmith, as well as a new comic called Free Agents. Autumnlands, Busiek’s Image Comics series with artist Benjamin Dewey and Jordie Bellaire, will also return, and the publisher plans to release new editions of Shockrockets, The Wizard’s Tale and Superstar: As Seen on TV.

“I’m thrilled to be back at Image and glad to be working with Eric Stephenson and the whole crew here,” said Busiek. “Image is the best comics publisher for creator-owned work, so it’s very nice to be bringing my books together here, where they can be available as a group, supported by the team here—and sitting alongside such great series as Saga, The Walking Dead, Criminal, Savage Dragon and so many more. And not just because Image is only about 20 minutes from where I live, so I can actually drop by the place, once the pandemic is in the rearview. My creative partners and I are looking forward to a having a home for the work we’re doing now and lots of new ideas to come.”

Here’s a look at what to expect:

Arrowsmith: Behind Enemy Lines is the follow up to the 2003 miniseries by Busiek and artist Carlos Pacheco, which was originally published by Wildstorm’s Cliffhanger imprint. The new six-issue miniseries launches from Image Comics in January 2022. Here’s the description:

In the upcoming Arrowsmith: Behind Enemy Lines, it’s World War I—but a war of wizards and dragons as much as bullets and barbed wire. Young airman Fletcher Arrowsmith plunges back into the heat of war—and finds himself behind enemy lines, facing a threat that could doom the Allied Powers. Old friends and new favorites will appear, and the world of Arrowsmith will be deepened, as previously-secret history and machinations are revealed.

“Stepping back into this universe at long last, and writing these characters again feels like coming home, and visiting with old friends—admittedly, old friends we do dangerous, stressful things to in the name of adventure,” Busiek said. “And the art, by Carlos, Rafael, and Jose, is just astounding. Arrowsmith fans have been very patient, but have never been shy about letting us know they want more—and I can’t wait for them to see both the new series and the re-mastered original in the kind of hardcover edition we think it deserves.”

That will be followed in February by a collection of the original Arrowsmith miniseries.

“It seems like only yesterday Kurt and I were dreaming of creating a book about WWI and magic,” Pacheco said. “It’s been a long trip since then. We kept hoping to bring the world of Arrowsmith back to life, but the stars didn’t line up properly until now. And maybe the stars didn’t help, but the readers have. I feel like we’ve had an unwritten agreement with all the people who’ve supported Fletcher and Hilda since the day they both took flight, and pushed us to bring them back. We’re very happy to say here they are, after all these years.”

Then in March, Astro City returns. The long-running series has had many homes over the years, including Image Comics, where it all started. Brent Anderson, Alex Ross and Alex Sinclair join Busiek on a new one-shot “introducing new characters and setting the stage for upcoming dangers for the city and the world.”

“It’s also wonderful to be back in the world of Astro City,” said Busiek. “Alex, Brent, and I have been planning this for a long time—we’re introducing a teen-hero team, The Jayhawks (and more), in the special, and setting off a mystery as important to Astro City as what happened to the Silver Agent or the story of the Broken Man. Alex has designed a cornucopia of new characters, and Brent is going to town on the artwork. It’ll be a very fun ride—and yes, longtime readers, we will get to the story of the N-Forcer, I promise!” 

Image also plans to start releasing trade paperbacks of previous Astro City material. And the publisher says that “longtime fans will also be treated to a new urban-fantasy graphic novel, The Gods on Sunday Morning, from the whole Astro City team, after which they begin a new ongoing run on the acclaimed series.”

“I think The Gods on Sunday Morning will be a treat, both for Astro City readers and others,” Busiek said. “It’s a standalone urban fantasy graphic novel about a group of long-forgotten gods in the world today, taking a similar approach to fantasy as what Brent, Alex and I have done with superheroes, and it’s looking just gorgeous.”

There’s no release date yet — or even a description — for Free Agents, a new series launch from Busiek with co-writer Fabian Nicieza and artist Stephen Mooney. But I do dig that artwork.

“Kurt and I have always had fun working together,” Nicieza said. “I’ve been waiting 30 damn years to have an Image book! Free Agents hits all our strengths and sweet spots, and Stephen and Tamra only add to my excitement.”

“I’m thrilled to be joining such a top-notch team,” added Mooney. “Kurt and Fabian put together some incredible concepts, and I’m eager to show what Tamra and I can bring to the party. Teaming up with Image again just makes it all the sweeter.”

And then there’s Autumnlands, which originally kicked off in 2015. This one also doesn’t have a release date yet.

“Kurt is one of my favorite creators. He can invent captivating stories that have a grand, high-concept cosmological scale or get a reader deeply invested in the details of a simple fireside conversation between two regular people,” Dewey said. “He understands characters and why we love or despise them. His work is proof that comics can be magical. Working with him on Autumnlands pushed me to be my best and it’s a world that has many exciting frontiers ready to be explored. When it returns I think it’ll be just as big a challenge for me as it was when we started off because the scale of the world demands it. I treasure every project I’ve gotten to work on with Kurt; as his collaborator there’s always opportunities to learn more about the craft of storytelling in comics. He never fails to inspire me with his boundless  imagination, enthusiasm and wit. I’m a fan and I’m looking forward to seeing what new worlds he’s going to show us. I’m lucky because I get to see them first!”

The new Arrowsmith miniseries will kick off Jan. 19, while the collection of the original series arrives Feb. 23. No other release dates have been announced yet. This news follows the release of several Busiek projects on digital by Image Comics.

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