Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Wednesday Number Ones 7/6/11

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:  Elric the Balance Lost #1Fear Itself: Wolverine #1, Marvel Universe versus Wolverine #1, and Witch Doctor #1.

Elric the Balance Lost #1
Writer: Chris Roberson
Artist: Francesco Biagini
Company: Boom! Studios
As impossible as it sounds, before this issue, I knew nothing about Elric beyond the fact that it was a fantasy story about a character that looked like a pissed off albino.  The cool thing is that you don't need to know anything, as Chris (I Zombie/Superman) Roberson makes this book very accessible to new readers from the get-go.  In fact, he covers the origins of Elric and what his goal in life is within the first two pages in a clever and very slick way.  He also does a great job of introducing new readers to Michael Moorcock's other two stars of this reality crossing fantasy extravaganza, Corum and Dorian Hawkmoon.  There's a lot going on in this one, with the demons and the time travel and the reality jumping as we quickly learn that the balance between the worlds is falling apart, but never once does it feel boring or that too much is being crammed down your throat.  It's fun and it's beautiful.  Biagini, who I only know from the Boom! title Dead Run, has a fantastic style that is so well utilized.  There's an etherealness to it but at the same time it has a rawness that is captivating.  His monster designs rank up there with Guy Davis and really, the storytelling is damn impressive.  Elric and Moorcock fans will find a lot to love, but there's something for everyone here.  Pick of the week, for sure.

Fear Itself Wolverine #1
Writer: Seth Peck
Artist: Roland Boschi
Company: Marvel Comics
A by the numbers Wolverine title that sees a special forces team take control of one of Osborn's H.A.M.M.E.R. helicarriers and attempts to wreak havoc on the masses.  The best at what he does fits into this one because he's the closest Avenger and Rogers needs someone to take care of the problem.  Peck's story feels lackluster, though he does package quite a bit of story into the pages.  He tells the tale from both sides of the equation and humanizes Wolverine by exploring a relationship with a reporter.  There just seems to be something missing at its core, a heart as it were, and the story never connects.  It also suffers from the over saturation of Wolverine himself.  He's been seen more and more as a leader character, but it's like we want to have our cake and eat it too with this solo adventure, which just isn't working.  Boschi's art is the silver lining.  It has a solid edge to it that adds some spark to the characters, and he has an attention to detail that brought the world to life.  Really though, this is another Fear Itself title that misses the mark.

Fear Itself Uncanny X-Force #1
Writer: Rob Williams
Artist: Simone Bianchi
Company: Marvel Comics
Ho-hum.  I love Uncanny X-Force, but when word reached my ear about there being a Fear Itself tie-in, I couldn't help but be dubious.  Then there was the realization that Remender would not be the one writing said tie-in, which caused a cringe.  Why?  Because he's the only writer that seems to get these characters and the dynamic that is between them.  It's a tough balance, one that writer Rob Williams doesn't quite succeed in finding with this story that sees the team go head to head with the remnants of the Purifiers.  There are also a few backward slides with the members, emotionally speaking. Williams' Deadpool feels to chaotic, especially since Remender had been making him seem more human.  Simone Bianchi's artwork is solid enough, though it does come off as being hyper detailed to the point where things look clunky and messy.  He's talented, for sure, the style just feels wrong for the story.  Overall, not an exciting start to this 3 issue mini.

Red Skull Incarnate #1
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Mirko Colak
Company: Marvel Comics
Have you ever wanted to know the reason why, and the how for that matter, Johann Schmidt became the Red Skull?  Well, Greg (Alpha Flight/Incredible Hercules) Pak tells the tale with Incarnate.  It's a rather strange outing, one that sees Schmidt as a child living in Germany.  We experience the harshness of his upbringing as he lives in an orphanage, as do we see him get his first glimpse of Hitler.  Like I said, it's a very strange experience overall, as this is THE RED SKULL, one of the ultimate villains.  There's a part of me that feels that delving into the history and having the reader empathize with him is odd and a continuation of the making the villains more human.  On the other hand, Mirko Colak's art sings.  His style is charismatic and the anatomy of it is so strong that the emotions ooze off the page.  He certainly does a great job of capturing the feel of Germany during that time period as well.  Like I said before, a strange title indeed.

Vengeance #1
Writer: Joe Casey
Artist: Nick Dragotta
Company: Marvel Comics
Joe Casey is one of those writers that when he's on, he's on and when he's not, he's really not.  That said, his contribution to Vengeance was not the thing that was the big draw for me.  The thing that was was Nick Dragotta's involvement.  His work on X-Men First Class sold me on his art.  It's Mike Allred-ness, not to mention Dragotta's ability to design great looks for new characters, make him a powerhouse.  Casey's story here, which focuses on a several different supergroups that call people like Magneto and Red Skull their leaders, is one of his more hit and miss tales.  The new characters are interesting, but pitting them and having them take down people like Magneto works against them in a way.  Still, there are some interesting nuggets of story here, not to mention a few surprises that make the outing worth it.  I'm not completely sold on the title, but there is possibility in the pages of Vengeance.  

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