Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Wednesday Number Ones 5/18/11

Wednesday Number Ones is a weekly feature here at Top 5 Comics. We take the books that are premiering a first issue from that week and give a quick opinion on them. From time to time we may also include more than issue number ones in this feature. If a noteworthy one-shot or the first issue of a new story arc is released, we may talk about it in this feature as well.

This week, we will cover:  Alpha Flight #0Batman Gates of Gotham #1, Drums #1Rocketeer Adventures #1, Snake Eyes Ongoing #1 and Star Wars Jedi Dark Side #1.

Alpha Flight #0
Writers: Fred Van Lente & Greg Pak
Artist: Ben Oliver
Company: Marvel Comics

To be honest, I went into this one with a bit of trepidation.  Alpha Flight, beyond the traditional John Bryne material, has never been the best title in the world.  They're good characters though, so I want them to star in a good series.  I think that may happen this go around.  Van Lente and Pak, the team that did a stellar job with Hercules, team up and give an extremely satisfying zero issue that skirts the traditional mentality of such issues and gives a full story that can be approached by all.  They also introduce each character in their own way and make it a point to give the reader a sense of their sensibilities.  The threat in this first issue isn't the biggest, but there's a lot of entertainment and enjoyment to be found.  Oliver's artwork is quite good as well.  Clean and defined, it works.  I will say that there were a few tweaks to character's looks that I wasn't super thrilled about, but I was impressed.  If you're looking for a book to surprise, look no further.

Batman: Gates of Gotham #1
Writer: Scott Snyder & Kyle Higgins
Artist: Trevor McCarthy
Company: DC Comics

Scott Snyder can do no wrong it seems.  American Vampire, Detective Comics and now this mini have this innate charisma to them.  This story specifically, a book that takes a look at Gotham City and how the Wayne, Elliot & Kane families have intertwined in its history, starts off with a bang.  I like that Snyder and Higgins utilize the entire Bat Universe and the new Batman Inc. status quo to their advantage.  It, and the flashbacks to various time periods, makes for a much more layered and interesting story than one usually finds in minis such as these.  McCarthy's art on the flipside of things makes its own mark.  There's a bit of Cliff Chiang and Phil Noto in there, but he has his own voice and certainly knows how to draw action and scenery.  It might be early to say that this book is equipped like Batman's utility belt, but it certainly seems that way.  Highly enjoyable. 

Drums #1
Writer: El Torres
Artist: Abe Hernando & Kwaichang Kraneo
Company: Image Comics

Well, where to begin with this one?  Concept wise, Drums is a fusion of traditional police procedural and supernatural voodoo.  It focuses on FBI Agent Martin Irons and his descent into what I can only call another plane of existence as the supernatural world literally enters his life during a mass suicide case.  The book is eerie and quite spectacular.  As is the art.  Hernando and Kraneo do a fantastic job of creating a very tense and horrific visual for the book.  The line work, think Guy Davis or Becky Cloonan, is scratchy and gives off a kinetic energy that works in the book's favor.  In the end, the horror and the way that writer El Torres presents said feature is what makes the book stand out from the rest.  It's memorable and should be something that any horror fan could potentially pick up and enjoy.    

Rocketeer Adventures #1
Writers: Various 
Artists: Various
Company: IDW Publishing

Ah, The Rocketeer.  I have a enormous fondness for the original books and Dave Stevens was, without a doubt, an amazingly talented artist that captured the hearts and minds of people.  Hence this book, which for lack of a better way to describe it, is a tribute to both Stevens and the character of Cliff Secord.  And to be honest, it was exactly the kind of thing that I was looking for.  This issue alone sees a pinup by Mignola, new stories by Kurt Busiek and Mike Allred, with stunning artwork by the likes of Michael Kaluta, John Cassaday and again, Mike Allred.  Each creator captures the feeling of The Rocketeer, which is exactly what should happen, but also puts their own spin on things too.  There's excitement, action and of course, the always sexy Betty (Cliff Secord's love interest and modeled after Bettie Page).  If you've never read The Rocketeer before or have only watched the movie from the 90's, this book is something worth checking out. 

Snake Eyes Ongoing #1
Writer: Chuck Dixon
Artist: Robert Atkins
Company: IDW Publishing

Quite simply, the quintessential way to start out a Snake Eyes book:  You make him a bad ass!  Dixon does this extremely well while at the same time spinning a decent mountain base infiltration tale that has ties to the character's backstory.  He also doesn't leave the idea that Snake Eyes is a member of the G.I. Joe team behind, and finds a way to include several of them in the course of the issue and make them cool without detracting from the star of the book.  Still, the action is at the forefront of things and Robert Atkins, the artist who kick-started the relaunch of G.I. Joe is back in the driver's seat, making all of the violence and kung fu-ery look all pretty.  I also am always impressed by his ability to make the details of the characters, their gear and weaponry and vehicles, look so realistic.  I was very worried about this book after the brief glimpse we got in that G.I. Joe Cobra Civil War #0, but I'm not worried any more; color me excited!

Star Wars: Jedi Dark Side #1
Writer: Scott Allie
Artist: Mahmud Asrar 
Company: Dark Horse

It's been awhile since I've looked at any of the Star Wars books.  This one by Scott (Solomon Kane) Allie, takes place a few decades before Episode 1 and focuses on Master Jedi Qui-Gon Jinn and his then apprentice as they stave off an impending conflict.  Overall, the story is serviceable, but doesn't really tread outside of traditional Star Wars fare.  Allie certainly makes Qui-Gon much cooler and a much more layered character than the actual movies were ever able to though, which I appreciated.  The art, handled by Mahmud (Dynamo 5) Asrar was a pleasant surprise.  Asrar has continued to evolve as an artist and here he gets to flex those newly found muscles with Jedi's jumping, lightsabers slashing and general sci-fi staples.  It's a job that he excels at too.  If you're in the Star Wars mood and want to avoid the flat characters of the new movies, I would definitely recommend this one.

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