Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Wednesday Number Ones 6/15/11

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 #1Captain America Corps #1, Godzilla Gangsters & Goliaths #1, Graveyard of Empires #1 and Kirby Genesis #1.

Alpha Flight #1 of 8
Writers: Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente
Artist: Dale Eaglesham
Company: Marvel Comics
I was quite jazzed by the 0.1 issue of this version of Alpha Flight last month.  I thought it was smart, action packed, and enjoyable on several different levels.  This outing however was a little lackluster, especially considering that they've demoted the series (which I believe was supposed to be an ongoing) to a mini.  Beyond that though, Van Lente and Pak work within the confines of the Fear Itself event, having the team go up against the recently "Hammered Up" version of Attuma.  The fact that the writers don't neglect the unity factor with the team and actually have them working in concert with each other reminds me of X-Men days of yore.  I can see where people might say that it was old school, but I miss seeing heroes be heroes, something that these writers know a thing or two about.  The art, provided by Dale (JSA) Eaglesham is solid, but lacked the punch that we've seen in some earlier projects.  There are a few bumps, some scenes that feel out of tune, but overall the first issue of Alpha Flight is well above average.

Captain America Corps #1 of 5
Writer: Roger Stern
Artist: Philippe Briones
Company: Marvel Comics
Someone is stealing the multiple incarnations of Steve Rogers from the different timestreams.  What should you do if this happens?  Well, if you happen to be an Elder of the Universe, your course of action would probably be to gather up the remaining Caps and kick some bad guy ass.  That in a nutshell is the concept behind Captain America Corps.  Stern's story is actually pretty cool, in a What If type of way.  There's a sense of fun to the ideas on the page and seeing this group (people like US Agent, Bucky & American Dream) work together as they delve into the future to try and unravel the mystery is entertaining to say the least.  Stern has the different character voices down pat too, something that I appreciate.  Briones style, which feels like a cross between Stuart Immonen and Dale Eaglesham, is fairly traditional but for the story being told it works especially well.  It's detailed but not super busy and his anatomy and action are all top notch.  This one was a surprise, but it's a welcomed one.

Godzilla: Gangsters & Goliaths #1
Writer: John Layman
Artist: Alberto Ponticelli
Company: IDW Publishing

While I found the main Godzilla book a bit of a letdown, John Layman reminds us of the kind of fun that can be had with this sort of book.  How do you make a book that focuses on an island that houses the worlds biggest monsters even coolor?  Why not add some Yakuza elements, a tough as nails cop and a revenge plot?  Layman, best known for his work on the recent hit Chew, has a dark sense of humor, something that he puts to good use here.  He also delves into the Godzilla mythos wholeheartedly to great effect, reminding me how much interesting stuff there really is with this property.  Ponticelli's art is strong too.  Some of the scenes that focus on the human side of things are a little too loose (reminding me a less refined Leniel Yu), but he really excels where the monsters of this book are concerned.  They are larger than life, detailed, and all evoke Godzilla.  If you're in the mood for some classic monster action, Godzilla Gangsters & Goliaths is a no-brainer.

Graveyard of Empires #1
Writer: Mark Sable
Artist: Paul Azaceta
Company: Image Comics
It seems that when comic book creators Mark Sable and Paul Azaceta get together, a cool kind of magic happens.  A few years back they put out a sleeper of a book named Unthinkable that really made you think.  Graveyard Empires does the same thing as it transplants you into the volatile landscape of Afghanistan and into the lives of the marines manning Combat Outpost Alamo.  Sable likes to bring a heavy sense of realism to his work and then tilts it on its head by adding something else to the mix.  This time out, as we get to know the marine and their struggle for survival as Taliban insurgents try to blow them up, he adds zombies.  There's a World War Z meets Black Hawk Down type feel to the affair and really, Sable captures your attention with his focus on the details and the immersive character development.  Azaceta, an artist who's always been impressive, does more of the same here.  His unique style brings a different type of look to this military affair, but his weaponry and vehicles and sense of drama are all based in real life and are instantly recognizable.  Matt Wilson's colors are yet another check-mark in the win column as they only enhance Azaceta's tapestry of cool.  Check this one out.

Kirby Genesis #1
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artists: Jack Herbert & Alex Ross
Company: Dyamite Entertainment
Wasn't quite sure where this was going after a mediocre zero issue, but this first issue was jam-packed with fun moments.  It certainly feels very much in the vein of Marvels, but considering that Kurt Busiek is the man behind both tales, it sort of makes sense.  The main concept behind Kirby Genesis revolves around the arrival of new beings on Earth after a radio signal that we sent out was received.  That's a solid idea, one that we've seen done well in other stories and other mediums, but Busiek tells a worthy story with it and gets to use many of Jack Kirby's characters in the process.  I will say that some of his human protagonists are a little one dimensional, but it's a minor gripe that is beaten back by the good action and crazy ideas, crazy things that feel extremely Kirby-esque.  Herbert and Ross work well together and the expressive hybrid that is the end result is a detailed and energetic style, one that doesn't feel stagnant or dull.  At the end of the day, there are a few plot elements that don't quite fit just yet, but there's enough here to warrant taking a look at a second issue.


  1. The Alpha Flight series was always to be a mini, or at least it was for as long as I remember. Looking forward to seeing my fellow Canadians in action when I can get to the local comic store.

  2. Br'nn - Yeah, I believe that you're correct. When the 0.1 issue came out, I guess I had read somewhere or heard that it was the start of a new ongoing though and just assumed...hence the annoyance of learning that it was a mini.

    I would like it to be a new series though.