Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Wednesday Number Ones 6/8/11

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:  15 Love #1, American Vampire Survival of the Fittest #1, Fear Itself Deadpool #1, Fear Itself Fearsome Four #1, Fly #1, Ghost Rider #0.1, Iron Age Alpha #1, Ka-Zar #1 and Mystery Men #1.

15 Love #1 of 3
Writer: Andi Watson
Artist: Tommy Ohtsuka
Company: Marvel Comics
A simple coming of age story about a young girl and her career in the world of tennis.  Not typically the fuel for a barn-burner of a comic, but Andi Watson knows a thing or two about these kind of books and really makes the ride enjoyable.  The main character Mill Collins, feels like a real teenage girl, something that is rather hard to accomplish for people.  There's also some sly humor slipped into the story, especially with her off-kilter relationship with her new coach.  Tommy Ohstsuka's artwork is youthful and energetic and somehow he makes a tennis match exciting.  His manga-like style also is a perfect vehicle for the more emotion driven story, as it conveys the emotions on the page clearly.  All in all, a perfectly solid affair.  I think if you enjoyed movies like Wimbeldon or have a love of a David versus Goliath in Sports stories, 15 Love is an Ace.

American Vampire Survival of the Fittest #1 of 5
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Sean Murphy
Company: Vertigo
It seems that American Vampire is adapting the whole series of mini series style that so many other books have adopted, and truthfully, I'm rather excited.  This one continues the woven tapestry of characters that Snyder and Co. have created, mainly Agent Book and Agent Mccogan of the Vassals and their exploits in the lands of Germany during World War II.  To say that its an exciting, suspense filled extravaganza would be putting it rather lightly.  Snyder knows how to spin a great tale and he really grabs you by the throat with this one, though it doesn't hurt to have an artist as talented as Sean (Joe the Barbarian) Murphy backing you up.  Murphy's sketchy style works so well here.  He conveys a sense of drama and horror and the detail is extravagant.  There's even a splash of the Vassals home base (cleverly hidden by the way) that captured my attention for several minutes with its various hidden gems and nods to stories past.  All in all, if you've been enjoying American Vampire since it started, then this is an easy sell.  If you haven't...I think you've got some catching up to do.

Fear Itself Deadpool #1
Writer: Christopher Hastings
Artist: Bong Dazo
Company: Marvel Comics
This may be a first for me, folks, as this is a Deadpool comic that just didn't do anything for me.  Bong Dazo's artwork is as good as it's always been.  He fits the Deadpool Universe and easily conveys the humor and craziness of a book that stars such a character.  Hastings story however, considerably lacks the funny and what jokes that there are feel stale.  The story itself revolves around Deadpool finding out about the special power giving hammers falling from the skies on television.  He then believes that it's a good idea to make one of these hammers and proceed to mentor a Z-list villain, The Walrus, into going out in the world and causing chaos.  Yeah, a bit underwhelming if you ask me.  I will reiterate that Dazo's artwork is as good as it's always been.  Truthfully though, this is one of those tie-ins that can probably be passed up.

Fear Itself Fearsome Four #1
Writer: Brian Montclare
Artists: Various
Company: Marvel Comics
The general idea of every single one of these Fear Itself tie-ins seems to be that fear is running amok and The Serpent (Asgardian God of Fear and the new potential All-Father) has returned.  Fearsome Four focuses on the kinda cool notion of said fear overpowering the entity known as Man-Thing and what some of the people that he has affected over the years are doing to save him from pretty much causing even more doom and gloom.  Montclare's story is a bit hit and miss.  I like the inclusion of Howard the Duck and his ties to Man-Thing and the Nexus of All Realities.  It makes sense and the usage of his Duck-Fu is fun.  The Nighthawk story however is a downer and the inclusion of Frankenstein and She-Hulk is a bit on the clunky side.  The art however is gorgeous.  When you put people like Kaluta, Bisley and Bodenheim on a project you can expect great things, which is exactly what happened here.  Check it out for the art alone, but if you've got an affection for Howard the Duck, you might want to check it out too.

Fly #1
Writer: Raven Gregory
Artist: Eric J
Company: Zenescope Entertainment
Well, where to begin with this one?  The concept for Fly follows the exploits of one Eddie Patron, a secret that haunts his past and the addictive drug named Fly.  What is fly?  Well, it's a drug that makes you fly and may or may not give you super strength.  Best known for his work on Grimm Fairy Tales, Raven Gregory's story doesn't really grab you or make a great point as to what is supposed to keep you interested in the story.  It's a mish-mash, half action half flashback, and none of it gels all that well.  The same could be said for Eric J's artwork, which seems like an odd mixture of elements from Haunt and Archie.  The first half of the book is dark and moody and violent and then it switches gears completely to a very cartoonish style that feels frozen and plain.  Not the greatest start to a new series.

Ghost Rider #0.1
Writer: Rob Williams
Artist: Matthew Clark
Company: Marvel Comics
A solid outing that sets the status quo for the upcoming relaunch of a new Ghost Rider series.  What exactly is that status quo, you ask?  Well, it seems that Johnny Blaze is tired of being tethered to the creature that is Ghost Rider and there may or may not be a way to finally break the bond between them.  Will it lead to good or evil though, that is the true question.  Rob Williams seems to have a decent handle on Blaze.  He's made him a little more hillbilly than I think he's been in the past, but it feels okay with only a few groan worthy moments of monologue by said main character.  Matthew (Outsiders) Clark handles the art and he does a fine job of it too.  I find his lithe and bony version of Ghost Rider visually striking and he has a very smooth sense of storytelling that's easy to read.  He draws cool looking vampires and demons too, which helps with a book like this.  Overall, it may not be the most fantastic opening issue, but it does its job and does it fairly well.

Iron Age Alpha #1
Writer: Rob Williams
Artist: Rebekah Isaacs
Company: Marvel Comics
The second #1 by Rob Williams this week and where Ghost Rider was a little shaky, Iron Age Alpha proves to be a lot more fun.  The story sees Tony Stark meeting a person from his past who literally beats him and ends the world.  End of story, right?  Nope, that would only be the beginning.  Viewed as a out of continuity (which I'm not sure it's supposed to be) event, Iron Age has a lot of neat ideas and potential.  Williams writes a good Tony Stark and uses the full extent of the Marvel Universe in similar ways to what Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning do.  It's not as solid as Heroes for Hire though as there are a few missteps here and there, but the bare bones of the title are solid.  Isaac's artwork is traditional in its appearance.  It works with the book well and there's a clarity in the panels that keeps things on an even keel.  Looking forward to the next issue.

Ka-Zar #1
Writer: Paul Jenkins
Artist: Pascal Alixe
Company: Marvel Comics
Pascal Alixe's artwork is pretty darn snazzy here.  He's worked on things like Electric Ant and Marvel Illustrated Moby Dick and his style is detailed and reminds me of people like Yanick Paquette.  There's a fluid feel to his action and the way he sets up the Savage Land and the world's inhabitants is pretty cool.  He draws a mean looking dinosaur while at the same time throwing out some sexy women.  Jenkins story however really is a sedate and for lack of a better word, boring.  The basic concept sees Ka-Zar run around and pretty much fail to save animals and people from a new entity that has been living in the Savage Land unseen for quite some time.  It's layered in melodrama and really reads wrong, especially considering that Ka-Zar is a bad-ass Tarzan hero.  I do like some of the relationship aspects that Jenkins came up with between Shanna and him and their son, but the story overall is missing something.

Mystery Men #1 of 5
Writer: David Liss
Artist: Patrick Zircher
Company: Marvel Comics
Pulp heroes doing very Pulp hero type things drawn by an artist who gets the genre.  David Liss, who's been working on Daredevil the Man Without Fear, tells the tale of The Operative, a Robin Hood type who is stealing from the rich elite to help the poor.  He quickly finds himself in over his head though when his main squeeze ends up dead.  Liss puts forth a pretty exciting first issue.  Intrigue, action and just a really good story sets this apart from a lot of the other books that came out this week.  Zircher, on the flipside, does just as well.  Not only does he get the pulp genre and has designed some smart character looks, but his attention to detail and the way that he immerses the readers in the early 1930's is uncanny.  His anatomy, panel layout and ability to really show the character's emotions doesn't hurt either.  A welcomed surprise, one that I hope continues on for another four issues.

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