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: Infinite #1, Mystic #1, Punisher #1, Rachel Rising #1, and Severed #1.
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Rob Liefeld
Company: Image Comics
Well, this a comic. Not a very good comic, but a comic none-the-less. In truth, with Kirkman's name on the cover, I expected something with more polish and substance than this very Liefeldian concept of time traveling brothers in arms. It feels dated, like someone dug up an old vhs copy of Timecop and melded it with the worst parts of Double Impact to perform some sort of horrendous experiment. Yes, I am aware that I'm comparing it to two different Van Damme movies, but that's about right, actually. There isn't a nuanced tale or great narrative to be found, merely scene after scene that plays vehicle to Liefeld's less than stellar art. And really, it is less than stellar. Burrito guns, odd ankles, shoulder pads, pouches, and busty chicks...The Infinite has it all in spades. These are all the known things about Liefeld's art, though the lack of distinct backgrounds is one of the more major detractors for me. It leaves the audience cold and with nothing else to focus on but the other flaws. And there are flaws abound, believe me.
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: David Lopez
Company: Marvel Comics
The third release in Marvel's new Crossgen revitalization project, and while I never read Mystic on it's first go around, this issue is a decent outing. There are some clever moments in this book about two down on their luck, for lack of a better term, indentured servants in a world populated with High Magic, robotic guard dogs, and evil den mothers. In a sense, it feels very close to a Hayao Miyazaki film, what with a smattering of fun mixed with dark, humor and hardship. It's not executed with the same flair or spark that Miyazaki has, but it isn't a dull affair either. The main reason for that is David Lopez's stupendous artwork. Ever since Fallen Angel, Lopez has been on my radar. His work is here in Mystic is so good and so indicative to what makes him such a stellar artist. There's energy and life crackling off his characters, giving them an almost animation-like feel. He also does a wonderful job of immersing the reader into the world. Overall, the story is a bit on the predictable side of the tracks, but the art elevates it and makes it something more.
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Marco Checchetto
Company: Marvel Comics
Maybe not the tremendously awesome, start off with a bang beginning that I was hoping for, but Greg (Gotham Central/Queen & Country) Rucka provides a solid opening issue. What I think is the most interesting about the title is his approach to the titular character. Rucka's almost trying to make him, in a lot of ways, like Batman. He's the guy who attacks from the shadows and you don't really get a good sense of him, only that he's like a force of nature and something to fear. Doing that though is limiting in a way and really demands some good supporting characters, which is one of the book's problems. Another problem, and perhaps the largest hurdle it has, is Checchetto's artwork. To sell such an understated Punisher, you really need an artist who's work is very clear and easy to read. Checchetto's style, which resembles a more lined version of Jae Lee's, is not that at all. The opening pages, which are completely devoid of any words whatsoever, are not as clear as they could or need to be. He also draws a very young looking Punisher. Whether that's intentional or just the way it happened to come out, I don't know. Needless to say, this one's got problems, but Rucka's story is interesting enough that I want to see where it leads.
Writer: Terry Moore
Artist: Terry Moore
Company: Abstract Studios
Horror. Traditionally speaking, it's a genre that is very difficult to do well in American comics. Japanese Manga is a vehicle that is more apt to do it justice. Still, Terry Moore finds a way. Rachel Rising, a departure in a lot of ways from Moore's typical beat, bridges the gap between horror and human as we follow our main character Rachel after apparently rising from the grave. The slow build that he's able to accomplish as Rachel tries to figure out just what has happened to her, and what is continuing to happen to her, is fairly amazing. His art is also some of the strongest that I've seen. I wasn't paying huge amounts of attention to his work on Echo, and maybe I should have been, but here it's beautiful. He lets his panels breathe, which is key. Also, the absence of color just fits the genre so well and his ability to control the light and shadow makes the story so much creepier. At the end of the day, Rachel Rising is an accessible, creepy, and wonderful opener. Can't wait for more.
Writer: Scott Snyder & Scott Tuft
Artist: Attila Futaki
Company: Image Comics
Another horror comic, this one from American Vampire scribe Scott Snyder and newcomer Scott Tuft. More to the point, it's another great opening issue for a horror comic. This one tells the story of a runaway child and as the inverse, a monster that haunts the lonely roads of the world. How those two characters will meet is not know, but the road ahead looks to be rather eventful and full of terror. It's all fairly effective for the most part. The story has a distinct human element and the characters, especially the main one, are very believable. The very distinct and detailed visualization of those characters and the world is one of the main reasons its so good. Futaki, who's only other claim to comic fame is the adaptation of the Percy Jackson book, turns in some astronomically out of this world work with Severed. If you've enjoyed things like Locke & Key, or feel like I do that Scott Snyder can do no wrong, then Severed is something that you will most assuredly want to seek out.