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: Creator Owned Heroes #1, Extermination #1, and Harbinger #1.
Creator-Owned Heroes #1
Writers: Steve Niles, Jimmy Palmiotti, & Justin Gray
Artists: Kevin Mellon & Phil Noto
Company: Image Comics
A concept title that blends a comic book with a magazine, think 2000 AD for an American audience, that's what Creator-Owned Heroes feels like. Not necessarily a good thing or a bad thing, this first issue packs two chapters of stories together with interviews from the likes of Neil Gaiman and Jimmy Palmiotti. The stories themselves are interesting. The first, American Muscle, is a spin on the post apocalyptic genre as it deals with a group of individuals who get fed up with the stifling atmosphere of the protected sector and venture out into the bad lands. Niles' dialogue sometimes feels a bit stagnant, but there's some decent world building and Kevin Mellon's artwork is an extreme enticement. TriggerGirl 6, written by Palmiotti and Gray and drawn by Noto, blends sci-fi with espionage action. Noto's artwork, the scratchy lines and eye popping color, is certainly the attention grabber. It has a polished and slick look, but the action doesn't always move fluidly, which dampens the mood a bit. The story itself, with quick dialogue and plane versus person action, is kind of run of the mill and doesn't sizzle in the way that the same creator's work on All Star Western does. Creator-Owned Heroes is an interesting idea, but getting a story 11 pages at a time might prove difficult for some.
Writer: Joshua Dysart
Artist: Khari Evans
Going in cold, as I knew nothing of the original Harbinger series, this was a satisfying first issue. Writer Joshua Dysart, the man behind runs on both Swamp Thing and The Unknown Solider, delves into the world of paranoia and power with his main character, Peter Stanchek. From the get go, things aren't looking good for him. He's powerful, unsure of himself, and on the run...You know, the worst possible combination for a teenager. All of Dysart's characters are believable and the conspiracy angle that he hits upon with ties to what being a Harbinger means, amp up the enjoyability factor quite a bit as Sanchek's world begins to fall apart all around him. Evans' work on the art is surprising dense. He brings a lot to the table and his art style reminds me a lot of Khoi Pham, as his lines have that feel of perpetual movement.There are moments where the storytelling isn't perfect, but the choppiness adds to the frame of mind of the main character. There's a lot going on in this first issue, but the way Dysart pinpoints the character is the main attraction for me. Everything else is icing on the cake. Harbinger is certainly worth your time.
Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artist: Jeffrey Edwards
Company: Boom! Studios
Not quite sure how I ultimately felt about this one. The plot centers around an alien invasion that has seemingly wiped out the entire world, all except for a superhero, Nox, and his nemesis, Red Reaper. After the event they are forced to work together. Imagine if you will, Batman and Joker in the same sort of situation and you have a pretty good handle on things. The weird blend of Silver Age meets Modern Era styling takes some getting used to, as one minute to characters are spouting heroic one liners and the next are ripping into alien creatures with a tenacious attitude. The inventiveness of the aliens and the tech feel very much in line with what you'd get from a Si Spurrier comic, but the back and forth nature of the story ultimately leaves a very uneven taste in your mouth. Edwards' art, unfortunately, is the same way. There are things I like about it, especially the designs for the various aliens, but it's rough and the storytelling doesn't always gel. Still, despite the various problems, there's something inherently fun about the book, like the kind of story idea that that as a kid you would come up with and play out with your toys. For a buck you get quite a bit of violence and action, so there's that too. We'll see where things go from here though.