Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Wednesday Number Ones 7/27/11

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:  Amazing Spider-Man #666
Captain America & Bucky #620, Joe Hill's The Cape #1, Spontaneous #1, Terminator Robocop: Kill Human #1, and Vault #1.

Amazing Spider-Man #666
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Stefano Caselli
Company: Marvel Comics
The Good:  Dan Slott had fun with this one.  His take on Spider-Man has occasionally felt a little blah, but here he feels more like classic Peter, especially with the scientific and technology side of things front and center.  He also has fun really showing off the Marvel Universe and just how exactly Peter fits into it.  Caselli's art is another thing that I'd toss into the good column as well.  There's a training session with Shang-Chi that really allows Caselli to stretch his legs and cut loose.  He also is just a solid story teller, one who's bag of tricks really know how to make a comic seem slick. 
The Bad: The big bad of the Spider-Island story, and really the vibe for much of the issue, evokes a very familiar, very terrifying feel that is reminiscent of the 90's era Clone Saga.  It's not the same thing, as this book deals with the general population of New York City receiving spider-powers, but much of that continuity (and even a bit of JMS continuity) is referenced and is a little disconcerting.
Overall, there's a lot going on in this opener.  It's packed to the gills and you certainly do get a lot of bang for your buck, which is never bad.  I merely wonder if good can be wrought from such worrisome places.  Only time shall tell.

Captain America & Bucky #620
Writers: Ed Brubaker & Marc Andreyko
Artist: Chris Samnee
Company: Marvel Comics
A minor gripe right off the bat with this one.  When you have a talented artist such as Chris Samnee, one that puts the P in Pulpy and the A in Awesome, why is the cover of this one such a downer?  I can't answer that question, but it is puzzling, especially for a book that is a new number one and a distinct change in story.  As to what occurs on the inside, that would be the life and times of one James Buchanan Barnes.  Who he is, what makes him tick, and what he went through to become the man who would be Captain America's side-kick.  The story is fine.  Kind of standard, but Brubaker and Andreyko make it work.  Samnee however is the main attraction for this book.  His artwork is top notch is most every regard.  The emotion he's able to achieve in his character's faces, the immaculate and detailed backgrounds, and the astounding range that he's able to achieve.  It's gorgeous and certainly elevates the enjoyment level of the book.  Certainly, Captain America & Bucky is worth a look. 

The Cape #1
Writer: Joe Hill & Jason Ciaramella
Artist: Zach Howard
Company: IDW Publishing
Dark, violent, and containing one of the strangest scenes involving a pissed off bear that I've seen in quite some time.  The Cape, not having anything to do with the NBC television show (which, for some reason, is what I thought it was), instead deals with the story of two brothers and how the choices they made as children factor into how their lives are now.  Hill is one of those concept guys that creates some funky, thought provoking material.  The Cape isn't as well rounded as Locke & Key, but there's enough in this good versus evil, rivalry fueled tale that gets underneath your fingernails and makes you want to know more.  That coupled with Howard's very early Bachalo-esque style, one that is able to convey the darkness and the slightly off-kilter humor that Hill and Ciaramella's story strides.  There apparently was a one-shot that came out last December that I missed.  I may seek it out, but it really isn't necessary.  Everything you need is laid out in this issue, and so far, The Cape is impressive.

Spontaneous #1
Writer: Joe Harris
Artist: Brett Weldele
Company: Oni Press
Ever wanted to fully understand the phenomenon of spontaneous combustion?  Well, if the answer to that is yes, then Spontaneous is the book for you.  It's a very strange title, one that straddles the line between supernatural horror and investigative journalism.  Another thing that Harris has done with this first issue is the creation of a cool cast of characters, people that you want to know and read more about.  They have many different layers and personalities that make you care about the characters.  Weldele, best known for his work on the Surrogate books, serves the story quite well.  His minimalist style with its roughness adds a great deal to the proceedings.  There's a part of me that wants to compare it to Templesmith's style, but the structure and linework is a little more focused.  Overall, one of the best things that Spontaneous has going for it is it's unpredictability.  I can't figure out where it's going, and that right there means you have my attention.

Terminator Robocop: Kill Human #1
Writer: Rob Williams
Artist: P.J. Holden
Company: Dynamite Entertainment
A strange but fun concept, though not executed with much verve or vigor.  For some, this is a revisit to the crossover extravaganza that comic legend Walt Simonson did for Dark Horse some years ago.  I'm sorry to be the bearer of bad news when I say that the new one doesn't quite muster up to the original.  Rob Williams's story simply doesn't have much heart to it.  There's a scrap of a neat idea here and there, things having to do with the Robocop Universe in particular, but there isn't much that binds them together into a cohesive and interesting tale.  Holden's art is a mixed bag too, stealing elements from Japanese Anime and blending it with traditional comic storytelling.  There's also a stiffness to his work.  Things merely looked placed on the page and don't quite feel as though they are moving around like the murdering bots that they should be.  All in all, boring.

Vault #1
Writer: Sam Sarkar
Artist: Garrie Gastony
Company: Image Comics

Mixing elements from things like Abyss and more recent horror movies like Descent, The Vault tells the tale of a group of individuals searching for treasure where they really shouldn't be.  Of course they find it as their greed gets the better of them, but that's beside the point.  Sarkar's story is a little loose, but he throws some cool science and some neat ideas about underwater exploration that do lessen the blow.  Gastony's art is where the book breaks down.  He takes his page from the same playbook as Greg Land, though it looks like the style he used earlier on in his career.  There's a stiffness to the work, which makes things a bit bland, but he does have a nice eye for detail and makes the mechanical nature of the gear the team in using swanky.  In the end though, this supernatural tinged tale just doesn't have much in the way of teeth.  It feels like a hundred different comics or movies that we've already seen before, leading to a book that is neither exciting or completely awful.  Mediocre is the name of the game.


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