Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Wednesday Number Ones 7/20/11

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:  Avengelyne #1
Daredevil #1, Duke Nukem Glorious Bastard #1, Fear Itself: FF #1, Marksman #1, and War of the Green Lanterns Aftermath #1 of 2.

Avengelyne #1
Writers: Rob Liefeld & Mark Poulton
Artist: Owen Gieni
Company: Image Comics
Having never read a single Avengelyne comic, there was a lot in this one that seems to deal with ties to past stories, especially in the villain category.  Not really the greatest thing to do with a first issues that supposedly is set to draw new readers in.  That said, there is a level of accessibility as writers Liefeld and Poulton introduce their fallen angel hero, this time stuck in the body of a drug addled stripper's body.  How that happened is one of the driving forces of the story being told as Heaven Starr (or Avengelyne) tries to cope with her new body and the life around her.  Beyond that though, the story and the material that the issue covers, everything from serial killers to strip clubs to straggler side-characters, never quite rises above mediocre.  In fact, the dialogue is cringe inducing for the most part. Gieni's art, on the other hand, is the book's best feature.  His style isn't perfect, but there's a nice line to it and there's an almost animated flair to it.  All in all, not the most auspicious start.  Fans of the character might want to check it out, but for others, there really isn't much here that's new or that engaging.

Daredevil #1
Writer: Mark Waid
Artists: Paolo Rivera & Marcos Martin
Company: Marvel Comics
To be perfectly honest, Daredevil was my first superhero as a kid, so I might be a bit biased, but this was a wonderful opening issue.  Mark (Kingdom Come/Fantastic Four) Waid has always had a knack for telling stories that are not only entertaining and jam-packed with goodness, but he does it in a way that makes you understand that he actually cares about the characters that he's writing.  You can clearly tell that with the way he portrays Matt Murdock here, a character who has been through Hell over the past few years.  Split into two separate stories, the book is extremely upbeat and refreshing and sees Murdock reintegrate back into his old life, go up against characters like the Spot, while at the same time dealing with the problems that his life as a lawyer gets him into.  It's a full service kind of deal, one that leaves a smile on your face, especially when you take into account the two artist that Waid has been paired with.  Paolo Rivera's style is amazing.  The way that he realizes and processes the way that Matt sees the world on the page is so different and eye popping-ly original that it makes me giddy just thinking of it.  His action is also smooth and beautiful, and the colors by Javier Rodriguez pop and make the affair memorable.  Marcos Martin's contribution is just as good too.  Truthfully, this is the best that the Daredevil fan in me could hope for.  Brilliant stuff.

Duke Nukem: Glorious Bastard #1
Writer: Tom Waltz
Artist: Xermanico
Company: IDW Publishing
Well, that was...forgettable.  I remember playing Duke Nukem as a wee little lad, blowing villains up whist chewing non existent bubble gum.  Those were good times.  Now, with the new game hitting and the reviews being less than kind, I hate to say the same of the comic.  Tom Waltz does get the voice of Duke, the ladies man meets Arnold characterization, which is key.  Still, that shouldn't be the only criteria to meet.  The story that he pens here, one that combines time travel, Nazis, and aliens should be all kinds of fun.  Instead, it feels worn down and meh, a by the numbers affair that does nothing to surprise and doles out cheesiness at about a million mph.  Xermanico's art is decent enough.  The aliens do look cool and I think he's got a solid handle on anatomy.  The problem with the art has more to do with the inking and colors.  The inks are too thick and the digital colors give it all a very muted effect.  The net effect of all of this is a book that has too many missteps and too few good things going for it.  Sad to say.

Fear Itself: FF One Shot
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Tom Grummett
Company: Marvel Comics
As one shots go, not horrible.  Cullen Bunn certainly is one of the writers that is handling many of the tie-ins to this crossover event the best.  The problem with this one is that there just isn't a lot of story to really grab hold of.  The entire issue is a focus on Ben Grimm, now possessed by one of the Hammers, rampaging through the city while Reed and Sue try to figure out a way to stop him.  Bunn does give a surprisingly close up look at how Ben is really possessed, which was cool.  There are a few other surprises thrown in that add a bit more, but for the most part the story is a very cold customer and could have probably been handled in the main story instead of a full on comic of its own.  Grummett's artwork is nice though.  He doesn't skimp on the backgrounds and he makes The Thing look extremely menacing.  Like I said, not bad, but the whole thing feels a little unnecessary.

Marksman #1
Writer: David Baxter
Artist: Javier Aranda & Gary Leach
Company: Image Comics
With the sheer amount of post apocalyptic titles that get released, you really have to come up with something unique to set yourself apart from the rest of the pack.  Sadly, Marksman doesn't do that.  One of the biggest problems that I have with the book is that the why of this world isn't explained fully in the actual telling of the comic, rather it's explained in a text piece on the inside cover.  Aside from that, the story tells the tale of a lone soldier named Drake McCoy as he tries to recover a piece of tech from a location way outside the San Diego city walls that he calls home.  Of course, things don't go as planned and new factions, both good and evil, are introduced that complicate our main character's goal.  There's a very generic feel to the proceedings, both in story and in art that make it feel stagnant.  We've seen this story played out before in comics and other mediums and truthfully, it's been done better.  Aranda and Leach's artistic styling are not cohesive either, and in some regards, there are some real storytelling problems.  In the end, Marksman doesn't hit the target.

War of the Green Lanterns Aftermath #1
Writer: Tony Bedard
Artists: Miguel Sepulveda & Tyler Kirkham
Company: DC Comics
Well, this book comes hot on the heels of the last issue of Green Lantern, an issue that not only was great but had one of the more surprising moments that has happened in comics in quite some time.  This Aftermath issue is definitely the fallout of the shock ending, but it's also a story that allows time to focus on the different Lanterns state of mind.  Many problems come to light, most important among them, the Lanterns animosity towards the Guardians of the Galaxy.  Overall, Tony Bedard does an okay job with things.  Johns may have found a better way to do it.  He surely would have had found some way to throw some action into the pages, which is an omission that is a little confusing.  Sepulveda and Kirkham are merely okay.  There were quite a few times where characters didn't quite have the same likeness that we're used to or simply were distorted.  All things said and done, it wasn't bad but there really just seems to be something missing.

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