It's been pretty remarkable to watch the rise of Image Comics over the past year or two—though the fiercely creator-owned publisher has been around since 1992, boasting high-profile books like The Walking Dead and Spawn, it's had a major resurgence of late. While the industry's perpetual heavyweights, Marvel and DC, continue to bludgeon readers with $3.99 issues and increasingly obnoxious reboots and crossovers, Image has simply been putting out some great books by some great creators. Orc Stain comes to mind, as does It Girl and the Atomics (full disclosure: that one's written by Mercury contributor Jamie S. Rich, who's also a pal of mine—but promise, I'd be mentioning It Girl as a standout anyways), and a slew of books by Jonathan Hickman. Some of the best comics in recent memory are coming out through Image, helping to remind readers—or, well, this one, at least—why they liked comics in the first place.

Two of my three favorite monthly comics are Image books, actually: the phenomenal fantasy/sci-fi/family drama/comedy/ghost story/etc. Saga, written by Y: The Last Man's Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples, and the weird, grim sci-fi epic Prophet, written by Brandon Graham and illustrated by a slew of fantastic indie artists, including Simon Roy and Portland's Farel Dalrymple. Hey, you should read them! For free!

Over the weekend, Image put a bunch of their 2012 #1 issues on Comixology for free—they'll stay up there, and they'll stay free, permanently. I can't recommend Saga enough, and Prophet's great, but also worth checking out are the noir horror Fatale, by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips, two books by Portland writer Joe Keatinge, Glory (illustrated by Ross Campbell) and the Portland-set Hell Yeah (illustrated by Andre Szymanowicz), and a couple of Hickman books, Secret and The Manhattan Projects. Go, download 'em to your phone or iPad, read 'em online, whatever—the first issues of each of those books I just mentioned are all free, along with a bunch of others. If you're one of the people who (usually correctly) argue that comics aren't worth four bucks an issue, and are too hard to find, and are too hard to get into, well... here. Image is making it easy for you. I wish more publishers would follow their lead.