Back in July, Image Comics announced that Kurt Busiek's creator-owned properties, referred to in a new press release at The Kurt Busiek Universe, would move from DC Comics to Image. Those properties include Astro City, Arrowsmith, Autumnlands, and more new projects. This week, Image unveiled the plans for new work in the Kurt Busiek Universe in a press release so large it would have been frankly irresponsible for us to use it to write just one single article.
First up, Busiek and superstar artist Carlos Pacheco (Fantastic Four, Avengers Forever, Final Crisis, X-Men, Superman) bring fans the much-anticipated return of Arrowsmith in Arrowsmith: Behind Enemy Lines. This six issue miniseries launches from Image Comics in January 2022—followed in February by an oversized, fully re-mastered hardcover collected edition of the original series.
In March, Arrowsmith will be joined by the return of Astro City, Busiek's collaboration with Brent Anderson, Alex Ross, and Alex Sinclair, first with an Astro City one-shot special introducing new characters and setting the stage for upcoming dangers for the city and the world, plus new collected editions that will make the entire Astro City backlist available again.
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.
Also in the works is Free Agents, a new series launch from Busiek with co-writer Fabian Nicieza and artist Stephen Mooney and the return of Autumnlands from Busiek with Benjamin Dewey and Jordie Bellaire, all planned for late 2022.
In addition to all the exciting new content from the mind of Busiek, there will also be re-releases of his popular backlist gems like Shockrockets and Superstar: As Seen on TV, both with Stuart Immonen, Wade von Grawbadger and Jeromy Cox, and The Wizard's Tale with David Wenzel.
With the return of Arrowsmith leading the charge for the Kurt Busiek Universe, and with the press release pushing 1700 words, we broke out the details on Arrowsmith: Behind Enemy Lines in its own article. Fewer details were available on the other upcoming books, though there were plenty of quotes from everyone who has ever worked with, met, or even known of Kurt Busiek.
Here's what Busiek had to say about his return to Image:
I'm thrilled to be back at Image and glad to be working with Eric Stephenson and the whole crew here. 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 twenty 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.
And Image Publisher Eric Stephenson heaped praise upon Busiek in return:
When I was editing comics for Extreme Studios back in the '90s, one of my big regrets was that I couldn't close the deal on getting Kurt Busiek to write Supreme, so working with Kurt to make Image the home for all of his creator-owned work—from Astro City to Arrowsmith to Autumnlands and more—has been nothing short of a thrill. In addition to being one of comics' finest writers, Kurt is also a magnet for equally talented artists, and we couldn't be happier to see the Image 'i' on work by the likes of Carlos Pacheco, Brent Anderson, Alex Ross, Ben Dewey, Stephen Mooney, Jordie Bellaire, and Alex Sinclair.
Additionally, Busiek commented on the return of Astro City:
It's also wonderful to be back in the world of Astro City. 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! Plus, I think The Gods on Sunday Morning will be a treat, both for Astro City readers and others. 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.
And on the other upcoming works:
I can't wait to start telling you about what's coming for Dusty and Learoyd in Autumnlands, what the Free Agents are all about, and beyond. We've been cooking up a lot, and it's great to finally get to see it becoming a reality.
Then, everyone in comics involved in one of these upcoming Kurt Busiek Universe projects offered lengthy words of praise for Busiek in the press release. Such as Brent Anderson:
Twenty-seven years ago Kurt Busiek offered me the chance-of-a-lifetime to co-create an entire universe filled with super-powered heroes, crazy villains, wizards, sorcerers, mad geniuses, monsters of all stripes, and extraterrestrial aliens, a universe the center of which is Astro City. Originally published by Image in 1995, these are comic book stories I am proud to see on my bookshelves, and I look forward to creating many more. Like I said, chance-of-a-lifetime! Over the years, Kurt has asked me to draw several non-Astro City stories—The Spirit, Green Lantern, the Avengers, but the most recent is The Gods on Sunday Morning, an excitingly original graphic novel published exclusively through Image Comics by Kurt Busiek. Drawing it made me feel young again.
And Ben Dewey:
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. 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!
Kurt and I have always had fun working together. 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.
And Stephen Mooney:
I'm thrilled to be joining such a top-notch team. 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.
Jesus Christ, the ego this guy is going to have after reading this press release! Or maybe we should say, "Kurt Busiek, the ego this guy is going to have after reading this press release!" to keep with the spirit of things. It all kicks off with Arrowsmith: Behind Enemy Lines in January, and the Kurt Busiek Universe is looking to have a productive 2022.