Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Wednesday Number Ones 8/30/11

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:   Angel & Faith #1, Epoch #1
, The Rinse #1, Ultimate Comics Hawkeye, and Vescell #1.

Angel & Faith #1
Writer: Christos Gage
Artist: Rebekah Isaacs
Company: Dark Horse Comics

As it is, Christos Gage can write Buffy related titles anytime he wants.  The concept for this book is phenomenal.  Angel, feeling remorse for what occurred during Season 8 of Buffy, decides to take up the fight of Rupert Giles and continue his good work.  Faith, being Faith, tags along and joins in on the fun.  The result is a book that exudes a tremendous amount of energy and makes you care about the characters and the traumatic issues that they are dealing with.  I will say that I had hoped to steer clear of Season 8 continuity, mainly because it was an abysmal run that ran the property into the ground, but Gage handles it so well that you can't help but run with it.  Rebekah Isaacs' art is just as good.  Her likenesses are solid, the action is fluid and exciting, and her demons and monsters are otherworldly.  Overall, it's an impressive issue.  One that reminds you of the best of both Angel and Buffy, then transports you back into that world on a twisted, entertaining, and wild ride.  A great issue.  One that has me excited to see what happens next.

Epoch #1
Writer: Kevin McCarthy
Artist: Paolo Pantalena
Company: Image Comics / Top Cow
It's tough to know where to really start with this comic.  Why?  Because the whole thing, from top to bottom, is a bit of a mess.  The story, which retreads the whole Angel versus Demon power struggle for the lives of men and control of the earth, is fairly boring.  Sure McCarthy tries to weave in a more down to earth touch with the whole Detective angle, but that alone doesn't imbue enough into the affair to make it feel fresher or more original.  It instead adds yet another air of blandness as our main character, the son of Gabriel (yes, the Angel) bumbles his way into this supernatural world through a case that he and his partner are working on.  The art, sad to say, is what you would call typical Top Cow.  There's nothing inventive to it and many of the panels have a very washed out and messy structure to them do to a heavy line and the fact that they are too laden down with bold colors that seem out of place.  All in all, Epoch doesn't bring it.  It feels as if it's going through the motions, but there's no fun to be had in the words or the actions that are being brought to life on the page.

The Rinse #1
Writer: Gary Phillips
Artist: Marc Laming
Company: Boom! Studios

Now, this one was a pleasant surprise.  Gary Phillips, the man behind the Vertigo book Angeltown, brings us the personal and highly satisfying story of Jeff Sinclair, laundryman extraordinaire.  Think equal bits Elmore Leonard and Ed Brubaker and you'll get a fairly good idea of what The Rinse feels like.  Phillips does a great job of laying the groundwork of the city of San Francisco, the way it operates, and the character of Sinclair himself.  He's a likable guy, but one who you can feel is slightly dangerous and insanely smart.  Sometimes that's hard to convey in a down to earth, very real story, but it's done very well as we see him get drawn into a scam that has so many possibilities and outcomes that it's hard for him to calculate them all.  The realism needed for such a story is brought to life in Marc Laming's artwork.  He lets San Francisco breathe in the backgrounds, capturing the details so well and with such spirit.  His character's are not stiff in the slightest and his style reminds me a lot of Tommy Lee Edwards.  In the end, The Rinse is certainly worth your time.  It's got style, substance, and if this first issue is proof, there's a heck of a ride waiting as the story unfolds.

Ultimate Comics Hawkeye #1
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Rafa Sandoval
Company: Marvel Comics

While I found Ultimate Comics Ultimates to be a thoroughly enjoyable outing, Ultimate Comics Hawkeye doesn't reach the same heights.  One of the biggest disappointments was that you would expect tremendous amounts of action from a book about a man who can turn any possible object into a weapon.  Instead, what Hickman gives us is an odd story about a country building a weapon that wipes out the mutant gene.  There's quite a bit of social commentary and a few moments of the dreaded Wall O' Text that Hickman was known for during his Indie days.  That alone makes it a little difficult to tread through, but there are some interesting ideas being executed, and the action, what there is of it, is fun.  That is mainly due to Rafa (Avengers Academy) Sandoval's extremely satisfying pencils. They are smooth and wickedly fun.  He depicts Hawkeye exactly how he should be, athletic and utterly cool.  His design work on the other characters of the book and the general setting is just as good.  Despite a few hiccups, Ultimate Hawkeye is a decent enough start, though I hope more action will grace the panels of the next comic.

Vescell #1
Writer: Enrique Carrion
Artist: John Upchurch
Company: Image Comics

Let's call this one of those instances where the idea may be better than the actual execution.  Vescell, which blends the Sci-Fi and Noir genres into one, could have been good.  The idea of a company that, for a price, will help you transport your mind and soul into that of another body is an interesting concept.  Throw in the notion of corporate espionage and the main character, a once detective, now turned corporate operative and you really do have the bare bones for a fun and memorable tale.  However, like I said before, the execution isn't up to snuff.  The story telling is too verbose one moment, the next it's scatter-shot and feels like it's trying to do way too much too quickly.  Panels sometimes resemble walls of text, which is never a good thing in my book and leads some readers into the horrible realm of "skim mode".  Upchurch's art on the other hand is quite successful.  Sure, it's obvious he likes to draw the sexy women, but that goes hand in hand with the fetishistic tale of forced body swapping and buxom, scantily clad women.  His art has a very clean line to it and his ability to capture the action in a dynamic way, while also throwing down some cool looking tech is fairly swanky.  That said, Vescell has too many problems on the story side of things that really inhibit the fun.


  1. Great to get your confirmation that Angel & Faith is v.good. I shouldn't have been worried with that creative team though.
    Heard in an interview on Wordballoon that Hickman is very proud of Ultimate Hawkeye - sounds like it'll read better as a whole story.

    Also, I wanted to mention that it was your upbeat reviews for Ex Machina, around #34 or abouts, that got me to pick up the title after ditching somewhere in the high #20s. I followed the book all the way through to #50, and that was just the most brilliant final issue I think I've read. Thanks for the reviews!

  2. Kaleb, you're probably right about Hawkeye reading better in trade. Hickman is a great idea man and like I said, there are some very interesting ideas at work in the book.

    And I'm glad that you ended up digging Ex Machina and my reviews. The ending certainly was indeed very good, and it remains one of my more favorite series to date.