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: Bionic Man #1, Dungeons & Dragons Neverwinter Tales The Legend of Drizzt #1, Superman Beyond #0, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles #1, and Ultimate Comics Ultimates #1.
Bionic Man #1
Wrtiers: Kevin Smith & Phil Hester
Artist: Jonathan Lau
Company: Dynamite Entertainment
This comic could have been interesting if not for two things happening. One, in a Bionic Man comic, you might want to have your main character be a bit, I don't know, Bionic? Secondly, Kevin Smith's potty humor. This one seems unavoidable when he's on a project, but there are instances peppered throughout the entire book that induce cringe after cringe instead of the laugh that they were expecting. The story itself, which focuses on the life and times of test pilot Colonel Austen is boring too. In truth, the entire issue feels like they adapted the first twenty minutes of a screenplay and perhaps cut out all of the enjoyable material. Lau's artwork on the other hand is actually quite nice. He gets the big stuff with quick paced action and quality storytelling, but he also has a firm grip on the realistic side, which means his perspective is on target and he's got the ability to draw real cars and mechanical objects without making them seem like they came out of a cracker-jack box. Really though, Bionic Man just can't make it over the hurdles that Smith's humor puts in its way. I had hoped with Hester's involvement that that wouldn't have been an issue. I guess I thought wrong.
Dungeons & Dragons Neverwinter Tales: The Legend of Drizzt #1
Writers: R.A. Salvatore & Geno Salvatore
Artist: Agustin Padilla
Company: IDW Publishing
Here's the thing, when you have a comic that has a certain character's name in the title, not to mention shown on the cover, please have him be in the actual comic. I know that that is not a complete and die-hard rule, as any rule can be broken, but it's asking a lot from readers for a first issue. Drizzt, for those not in the know about all things D&D hails from the land of the Forgotten Realms, is a Drow (dark Elf), and is like the Wolverine of the land, at least popularity wise. This opening issue however does not go into any of these aspects and is instead a very clipped tale, focusing instead on a Dwarf and his inability to help save his King from damnation. It's a little on the bland side and what does happen in it is very underwhelming. Agustin Padilla, who's worked on Wonder Woman and the Furies and Snake Eyes, does a decent job with what he's given. Still, there is a little clunkiness here and there, a few times where things that are happening aren't quite as clear as they could be, but there's nothing egregious. It's too bad. There could have been quite a bit of pulse pounding excitement here. Instead, we get a boring snooze fest. Too bad.
Writer: Tom DeFalco
Artists: Ron Frenz & Sal Buscema
Company: DC Comics
This one's a little on the corny side of the street, but that doesn't mean that it wasn't enjoyable. The Beyond Universe, made popular by Batman Beyond, has always been an interesting setting. This issue takes a look at where Clark Kent is, what has happened in his life, and where his search for a place in the world has taken him. DeFalco's story telling is a smidgen dry, but he does a good job with handling a multitude of characters and puts forth a decent enough tale. His handle on Clark is probably one of the better ones that I've seen lately too, which doesn't hurt. The art is another win. It's nothing super fantastic, out of this world, but the line is great, there are some great homages to several Superman tales, and overall, it just screams classic in a great way. That in and of itself really sets it apart from many of the other artists tackling things these days. So yes, if you're a fan of the Beyond Universe like me, this is a decent enough outing that's very much worth your time.
Writers: Kevin Eastman and Tom Waltz
Artist: Dan Duncan
Company: IDW Publishing
Turtle Power, people! As you may have guessed, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles brand is a favorite of mine, and really, just about any kid who grew up in the late 80s early 90s. When I heard IDW got the license for the property, I couldn't have been happier. I figured they would handle it well, put out a great new story, and if we were lucky we'd get collections of the original run back in print. Well, we're getting the collections for sure, but this opening issue was a little on the rocky side. Yes, this is indeed a new version of the Turtles. I have no issue with that. Eastman and Waltz have put together a action adventure story that blends elements from the original with new things. That's fine. What I had a problem with is that there's too much crammed into this first issue. Things are happening left and right, characters names are thrown about, and story elements are hinted at but not explained. Slowing things down a bit and telling a more concise opening story may have been a better move. Still, Duncan's art is actually quite nice and works extremely well in telling the adventures of four mutant ninja turtles and their Master, Splinter. I like it's energy and the way he handles action on the page is memorable and fun, which are certainly things that you need with a book like this. I'm not writing this book off yet, but I can't help but be a little worried with this opener.
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Esad Ribic
Company: Marvel Comics
This coming from a guy who gave up on the Ultimate Universe when Jeph Loeb stepped in and took the reigns, but Ultimate Comics Ultimates was a great re-introduction to the open landscape of this world. Hickman injects his usual fun, thought provoking ideas, while at the same time telling a story that focuses on Nick Fury and what he deals when he's faced with a day to end all days. That's a pretty solid opener already, but he doesn't neglect the action side of things either, handling that trademark Ultimates Widescreen style well. Part of the success of that has to do with Easd Ribic's stellar artwork. His traditional painted style, like what he used in Loki, has changed. There are still aspects of it, sure, but it's got a much broader appeal and a great sense of light and shadow that gives appeal to the down time portions of the book and the scenes that see Iron Man and Hawkeye tackle oncoming ships and other threats. Very pleased with this one. Now let's see what he can do with Ultimate Hawkeye.