Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Wednesday Number Ones 7/13/11

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:  Captain America #1Dollhouse Epitaphs #1, Ghost Rider #1, Ultimate Comics Fallout #1 of 6, and X-Men Schism #1.

Captain America #1
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Steve McNiven
Company: Marvel Comics
Hate to say it, but this was a very by the numbers Brubaker story.  With a new number one,  I was expecting something that had a little more bang or flash to it, something that would set it apart from the current Captain America book.  Instead, we find the same story beats being hit as more history of Captain America comes back to haunt him and the people around him.  That sort of thing feels played out at this point, honestly.  The real draw is Steve McNiven's artwork.  The cover is not super eye catching and has a static feeling, but inside is another thing entirely.  His action moves and his panel layouts are original and eye catching.  There are a even a few moments where things had a very Steranko type vibe to it, which was exciting.  It seems that McNiven's style is still evolving.  Overall, Brubaker still crafts a good story, one that has action and good character moments, but it feels like a retread where something more exciting could have been crafted.

Dollhouse Epitaphs #1
Writers: Andrew Chambliss, Maurissa Tanchareon, & Jed Whedon
Artist: Cliff Richards
Company: Dark Horse Comics
A lot of this books enjoyment comes down to whether or not you cared for the television show.  If you did, this continuation of the future-verse of the Dollhouse world and focus on the Alpha character is an entertaining and satisfying read.  With a trio of writers you'd think that this would be a discombobulated mess, but the story feels very focused.  Seeing Alpha train a new recruit to fight the Rossum craziness leads to some great scenes that have a human edge to them.  Cliff (Huntress Year One/Buffy the Vampire Slayer) Richards illustrates the affair and does a fine job with it.  The likenesses are a little off at times, but there's enough there for people to be recognizable and he choreographs action well.  He also handles the more personal moments too.  A great continuation of a show that had so many possibilities.  Seeing those explored in a format where big budget effects costs nothing is just what the doctor ordered.

Ghost Rider #1
Writer: Rob Williams
Artist: Matthew Clark
Company: Marvel Comics
As a kid, Ghost Rider was an awesome character.  Flaming skull, chains, and a stare that pierced the very souls of his enemies.  I always viewed him as a superhero.  Sure, he's a dark one that may or may not get along with others, but he was a hero none the less.  It seems that Rob Williams doesn't think that.  Williams' Johnny Blaze is a radically different, very Southernized caricature.  His new character, Female Ghost Rider, is only slightly better.  Launching the book with a Fear Itself title however is a very smart move.  Seeing her battle the "Hammered" Sin though, isn't that exciting.  Clark's art is something that I like.  He has a knack for character detail, and despite making Female Ghost Rider's left hand glove look like something you'd get out of a demonic cracker-jack box, the design for her is okay.  Beyond the art though, the story simply feels like a generic take on the Ghost Rider mythos that Jason Aaron sired.

Ultimate Comics Fallout #1 of 6
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Mark Bagley
Company: Marvel Comics

The Death of Spider-Man arc was a return to form for the Ultimate Spider-Man book.  It was a reminder that the book still had good stories to tell and a bucket full of heart to paint on the page.  This six issue, weekly, series doesn't have the same kind of feel.  The concept, showing how the many characters that have interacted with Peter Parker over the course of the book's run are dealing with the death, makes sense.  It makes sense for an oversized one-shot.  A six issue mini?  Probably not.  There are a few moments of overwrought emotional ham handedness, but it's mostly merely okay.  Bagley doesn't get a long of action to sink his teeth in, but the human element is done well and I still think he's one of the few artists who's able to capture the youthful energy of book who's characters are actually teens.  All in all, a mixed bag that doesn't quite rise above forgettable.

X-Men Schism #1
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Carlos Pacheco
Company: Marvel Comics
What is Schism?  Even after the issue, I don't quite know the answer to that one.  Rumor is that it has something to do with Cyclops and Wolverine having a falling out, but that isn't addressed besides a few small bits here and there.  Overall, the story focuses on Cyclops giving a speech about Mutants and Sentinels to an International Arms Control Conference, Wolverine getting chummy with Hope and her band of merry new mutants, and the introduction to a new character, a 12 year old villain named Kade Kilgore.  Aaron seems to be in love with his bad guy a little bit too much, the same kind of dynamic that Matt Fraction had with his Ezekiel Stane, which leads to some weird moments that I could have done without.  That said, the best moment deals with a Morrison character rearing his ugly head.  It's nice to see that that history hasn't been completely forgotten.  Beyond that, there are some solid ideas and moments of action, things that you need in an X-Men comic. Pacheco does a very nice job with the book.  There are times when a face or two looks wonky, but I love the way that he draws Wolverine.  His clean-lined style is very fresh and you never have a problem with following what is happening on the page, which may sound like a small thing, but it's extremely important.  In the end, it's an odd start to a book that is supposed to change the face of the X-Men for all time.  We'll see though.

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