Image Universe Info

Some of the titles covered here have something of a loose shared universe, considering how many of them have met up with Savage Dragon, which in turn is part of the greater "universe" of Image Comics' superhero titles. But how does the Image "Universe" (and by extension, the crossovers involving characters from publishers like Aardvark-Vanaheim, Legend, Mirage, etc.) work? Erik Larsen, Image Comics co-founder and creator of Savage Dragon, once said in his column One Fan's Opinion at Comic Book Resources:

Somebody was asking me, the other day, whether "Spawn" took place in the same universe as "Savage Dragon."

Y'see, a few years back, I destroyed the Earth-- yeah, Dragon found himself on an alternate Earth where things had gone off in a decidedly different direction, but the Earth was destroyed-- so where did that leave Spawn and Cyberforce and all the rest? The answer is both surprisingly simple and way too complicated (it's at this point-- or shortly after you read the rest of this-- where you can crown me the king of the anal-retentive geeks, if you'd like).

Every book at Image exists in its own separate universe.

Simple, eh?

But you say, "But wait-- Savage Dragon has met Spawn and the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Freak Force and the Maxx and a host of other characters (Superman even-- and Hellboy). How can he exist in his own universe?"

The answer is equally simple, yet headache-educing at the same time: Every character that comes into another character's book exists in that universe, as well as in their own. When characters meet we get to see events, which take place in both characters' respective universes. In other words: When Savage Dragon meets Invincible, it's an event that Invincible experienced in his life in his universe and it's an event that Savage Dragon experienced in his life in his universe. Duplicate events took place simultaneously inboth universes!

You ever listen to a friend tell a story about an event that you were part of? You ever notice that it's often a little off from the way you remember it happening? Same deal in the "Image Universe!" When you read about Savage Dragon in the pages of "Invincible," that's Invincible's side of the story. That's the way he remembered things happening. This is how I (as a certifiable anal-retentive, control-freak of a Fanboy) can reconcile the various discrepancies that have worked their way into various comics! What's that? Grifter stole the show in Jim Lee's "Savage Dragon" yarn? That's Grifter's side of the story! What's that? The Dragon was too tall and 250 pounds underweight in an issue of Backlash? Maybe Dragon ran into some Red Kryptonite in Backlash's Universe and it made him look all skinny and weird!

By doing things that way it allows everybody to have complete freedom in the confines of their respective books and that's important at a company where creators are creating all kinds of new stuff left and right. Why should Robert Kirkman have to be saddled with my Atlantis just because I got here first? Why shouldn't Todd McFarlane be able to have his own version of God in his book? And just because somebody else did a version of Thor-- why shouldn't I be able to do my version in my book?

So then, you might ask, why should you, the reader, get sucked into the Image Universe if it's not consistent and events in one book aren't reflected in another book?

Because the events in each book matter (very much) in the confines of each individual book and because this kind of freedom has allowed creators to let their imaginations run absolutely wild! Besides, other superhero universes at other companies are riddled with inconsistencies anyway, so what's the big deal? At least we're honest about it and at least each book has its own consistent continuity on its own. Just try and read all the Spider-Man books and try to make sense of that mess-- I dare you! But read the run of "Savage Dragon" or "Spawn" or "Invincible" or "Noble Causes" or "Witchblade" or "PvP" or "Liberty Meadows" or "Ant" or "Mage" or any of the others and you'll find that any complete run on any title makes complete sense! And that's because, at Image, each of the books in handled by (or overseen by) one creator and it's their vision, which is carried through from the start to now. They might not all jibe with each other, but they jibe with themselves and at the end of the day (or even noon-ish) that's more important to me (your mileage may vary).

Years ago, pre-Crisis, the DC Universe was all screwy like that. Superman had a different Atlantis in his book than was in the pages of Aquaman. There were numerous futures, many of which didn't peacefully co-exist with each other and there were a number of acknowledged alternative Earths where various characters hung out. (We were on Earth Prime, a world where there were no "real" superheroes-- at least until that Human Fly character showed up). DC eventually ditched that whole thing and made an attempt to straighten it out, but their new universe was every bit as confusing as the old as Robin was revamped and Captain Marvel was reworked and Superman was retooled and readers had no way of knowing which pre-Crisis stories were still canon and which ones weren't. But I'm digressing… In any case-- at Image Comics-- that's the reason that I can destroy the world in "Savage Dragon" and things are undisturbed in the pages of "Spawn" and why characters can age in one book, but not in others. No Crisis in the works-I swear. We're happy with the way things have played out. Beauty, eh?

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