First Impressions: Savage Wolverine #1

Savage Wolverine #1, 2013, Frank ChoTITLE: Savage Wolverine #1
AUTHOR/PENCILLER: Frank Cho
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: January 16, 2013

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I’m not sure if I’m any more of a Wolverine fan after reading the debut issue of Savage Wolverine. But I’m a Shanna the She-Devil fan for sure!

After Shanna and handful of S.H.I.E.L.D. agents crash into the Savage Land during a cartography mission, Wolverine is dispatched to save them. But the Savage Land lives up to its name, as Wolvie faces off against hostile natives, and even a few cranky dinosaurs.

Frank Cho’s amazingly gorgeous art is almost enough of a reason on its own to pick Savage up. His rendition of Shanna the She-Devil is pure cheesecake. Particularly enjoyable was the full page, full body profile shot of our muscular and powerful, yet most definitely feminine heroine laid out against a page consisting largely of white space, with panels depicting the S.H.I.E.L.D group’s predicament almost extending from her body. It’s a gorgeous page. Though I’m not expecting my girlfriend (or anybody‘s girlfriend for that matter) to be much of a Shanna fan after this issue.

Savage Wolverine #1, 2013The way Cho plays with white space in his layouts is also very interesting. Whether he uses it to draw focus to certain things, such as the lovely Shanna in the aforementioned page, or simply as a way to guide readers through the layout, it makes for a very interesting visual journey.

The curious thing about the story being told, at least at this point, is that despite having his name on the book, Wolverine doesn’t really need to be there. Based on what we’ve seen so far, Cho could simply have made this a Shanna the She-Devil story about survival in the Savage Land. The only reason Wolverine seems to be there is to make the story more marketable to casual fans. Mind you, we’re only one chapter in. But that’s the vibe I’m getting so far.

The Logan we get from Cho juxtaposes the character’s trademark penchant for blood and violence with a relaxed, analytical side one might expect from a hero with this much experience. When we first see him, he’s analyzing his surroundings, drawing conclusions based on the climate and the presence of things like volcanic ash. Then he tangles with a dinosaur. Moments later, we see him label a group of natives as neanderthals based on the spread of their toes. And then he’s chopping their limbs off. It’s not necessarily what you’d expect from a book called Savage Wolverine, but it’s interesting to watch nevertheless.Whether readers will enjoy this issue likely depends on their level of enjoyment for Cho’s art. For Cho’s fans, this is a can’t miss book. For Wolverine fans, the verdict is still out.

Image 1 from speakgeekytome.com.

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First Impressions: Mara #1

Mara #1, 2012, Image ComicsTITLE: Mara #1
AUTHOR: Brian Wood
PENCILLER: Ming Doyle
PUBLISHERImage Comics
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASED: December 26, 2012

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Before he takes on the Star Wars universe at Dark Horse next month, Brian Wood tries to sell us something even more far fetched than worlds of wookies, ewoks and droids: That America will one day embrace volleyball as a major national sport. And yet in doing so, he manages to give us a story that is high on intrigue.

In an nation apart by war and racial divides, 17-year-old Mara Prince is the biggest sports star in the world. She’s “a global celebrity and commercial brand, worth more than she could ever spend.” Then, something happens during a game. As a result, Mara’s life and career are tarnished forever (or at least that’s what we can assume at this point). In this high-tech age of global turmoil and economic chaos, what happens to a sports superstar when she falls from grace? In any event, Mara’s life will never be the same.

Mara #1, 2012, Ming DoyleTo an extent Mara is very much a mirror into our own culture, not just in terms of sports heroes, but celebrities and public figures in general. Once your image is tarnished, it is often tarnished forever. In sports alone, we’ve got names like Tiger Woods, Pete Rose, Mike Tyson, and perhaps the most despicable of them all, Jerry Sandusky. Those are rather extreme examples compared to what we see in this issue, but it’s the same sort of theme. Wood and Doyle also explore the idea of sports as escapism, which is as prevalent today as ever. When we open the issue, Wood gives us some newscast dialogue, then tosses in some sportscast dialogue and gradually shifts the balance completely in that direction. It creates the feel of flipping channels back and forth until settling on the escapism, instead of the grim reality.

Ming Doyle is also in great form here. There’s an absolutely wonderful full page shot of a swimsuit clad Mara in a Sports Illustrated or Esquire-style photo shoot pose. Her cover is also very well done, with the blemish on Mara’s face obviously serving as a metaphor for her now blemished reputation.

Mara is one to watch. Obviously, there are a variety of ways any book could go wrong at this point. But I have a good feeling about this one.

Image 1 from fanboy.com. 

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First Impressions: Scarlet Spider #1Whispers

Scarlet Spider #1, 2012TITLE: Scarlet Spider #1
AUTHOR: Christopher Yost
PENCILLER: Ryan Stegman
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: January 11, 2012

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

I suspect The Scarlet Spider #1 is a more fulfilling read if you have an understanding of the Kaine character, and what he’s gone through since his debut over 15 years ago. If you do have that knowledge, congratulations! You have more patience for unraveling tangled plot threads than I do! Either way, this book is alright.

A spinoff from Marvel’s recent Spider-Island storyline (which was then briefly continued in Marvel Point One), this new series tells the story of Kaine, a clone of Peter Parker who was deemed a failure by his creator, The Jackal. Kaine subsequently became a villain, but was ultimately redeemed. We’ve seen a few characters take on this Scarlet Spider identity, most notably Ben Reilly (also a Parker clone), but this is Kaine’s first crack at it. It’s also his first crack at being a hero. He’s got some lessons to learn, and he’ll need to curb his murderous instincts, but ultimately it looks like Kaine’s heart is in the right place.

This issue is more or less what I expected it to be: Anti-hero Spider-Man. He goes through the usual “I’m not a hero, this isn’t who I am, I’m not like [insert hero’s name]” sort of thing, but predictably starts to come around at the end. The story is fine, and the character is fine. It was just rather predictable.

Scarlet Spider #1, 2012, Ryan Stegman, interiorI do have to take my hat off to Ryan Stegman, and whomever else was involved with the layouts on this issue. A few of the early pages in this issue have spiders pencilled on top of the art work, so it looks like we’re literally looking into a comic book that’s got spiders crawling all over it. I’ve never seen this done before, and it’s a really nice touch! Other than that, Stegman’s art can be a bit on the cartoony side sometimes, but all in all he does a good job.

Amidst the predictable stuff, we did get a lovely moment where Kaine saves an old woman from being run down by a semi, and then screams at her about what the &@#$ she was doing in the middle of the street. Yost and Stegman also do a nice job of summing up Kaine’s often convoluted history in only two pages.

All in all, I wasn’t blown away. But I’ve certainly seen worse.

***

Whispers #1, 2012, coverTITLE: Whispers #1
AUTHOR/PENCILLER: Joshua Luna
PUBLISHER: Marvel
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASED: January 11, 2012

This issue has one of the better first pages that I’ve read in the last several months. The first panel of our first page introduces us to Sam Webber, an obsessive compulsive, socially awkward young man who’s terrified at the prospect of touching the handle on the door into a coffee shop. He’s frantically arguing with himself about it. “All I have to do is go through the door. No–it’s not that simple. I have to make sure the door handle is safe before I can touch it. Please don’t let there be a spot, a stain, a blemish…” It may seem like an extreme scenario to some, but if you’ve ever dealt with any kind of mental illness, or know someone who has, you know it’s very much based in reality. It’s a fantastic hook, though how it will factor into the rest of Whispers, if at all, remains to be seen.

Shortly after breaking up with his girlfriend Lily, Sam discovers that his consciousness can somehow travel through space in a “ghostly” state, visiting people he knows, or has known over the course of his life. Though he can’t be seen while in his ghost state, he can apparently influence the thoughts of the people connected to him. For instance, when he sees an ex-girlfriend in trouble, he influences her actions, and thus the outcome. But now that Sam has discovered his gift, the question becomes: How will he use it?

Whispers #1, 2012, interior, Joshua LunaI’ve always wanted to see a story like this. I’m not sure exactly how old Sam and his friends are, but the idea of a young person being able to see into the thoughts of others is such an intriguing concept, because the younger you are, the less developed your perspective on life is, and the more emotional and irrational you can be at times. Sam certainly seems to possess those qualities to an extent. His psychological disorder can send him to pieces in public, and as we see a couple of times in this issue, he’s prone to the occasional outburst. I’m definitely interested to see how some of these ghostly interactions effect him.

Depending on where Joshua Luna takes this story, it could really become a gem. I’m anxiously awaiting what’s next.

Interior image 1 from chasingamazingblog.com. Interior image 2 from ifanboy.com.

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First Impressions: Superman, Aquaman, Ghostbusters, Teen Titans

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

Superman #1 (2011)TITLE: Superman #1
AUTHOR: George Perez
PENCILLER: Jesus Merino
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASED: September 28, 2011

By Rob Siebert
Editor, Fanboy Wonder

This was a FANTASTIC first issue, which carried over one of my favorite elements from Action Comics #1: Superman searching for truth and justice on the social level in a world that seems dominated by corporate interest.

In this issue we learn that The Daily Planet has been sold to a corporation called Galaxy Communications, which apparently uses illegal tactics and yellow journalism in its reporting. Furious, Clark Kent refuses to attend the big gala in honor of the sale. Galaxy proceeds to change it’s name to the Planet Global Network, and names Lois Lane as their nightly news producer and executive vice president of new media. Suddenly, the city is attacked by a giant fire monster (who apparently has ties to Krypton). Superman battles the creature, and at the end we get a glimpse into Clark and Lois’ personal lives in the new DCU (Remember, they’ve never been married in this continuity.).

Superman #1, 2011, Clark and Lois, Jesus MerinoAs a former reporter, I found the insight into the current state of the news industry to be an effective way to illustrate Superman’s views on white collar corruption. We also see the battle between Superman and the monster from PGN’s vantage point, which is very effective. During the fight, much of the narrative consists of text from a news story later written by Clark Kent, which is cheesy. Still, it’s forgivable.

Superman spends a portion of this issue brooding, which is something we’re not necessarily used to. When the old Superman got angry, often times he was like a parent who’d lost his temper. This character isn’t like that. He seems inclined to be much more emotional, which isn’t a bad thing. I just hope we get a balance between the grim and the optimistic. Superman has been a rather angry young man this month, and he has reason to be. But let’s not turn him into Batman, okay?

All in all, a complete 180 in quality from what we’ve been seeing in Superman recently. I’m very excited about this book.

***

Ghostbusters #1 (2011)TITLE: Ghostbusters #1
AUTHOR: Erik Burnham
PENCILLER: Dan Shoening, Tristan Jones
PUBLISHER: IDW Publishing
PRICE: $3.99
RELEASED: September 28, 2011

I once said that any writer of a Ghostbusters comic book would likely never recapture the magic Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd and Harold Ramis created in the movies. I maintain that to this day. However, the first issue of IDW’s new Ghostbusters series comes the closest out of any GB book I’ve read (and I’ve read quite a few).

We start the book with Ray having a nightmare, which features a delightful appearance by Ray’s brother, who looks exactly like John Belushi’s character from Blues Brothers. It’s a very endearing tribute. We then go into Winston and Peter tracking down a ghost at an apartment complex, who turns out to be someone that fans know VERY well. Then, in a back up story, we see that Walter Peck (William Atherton’s character from the first movie) will be butting into our heroes’ lives very soon.

Ghostbusters #1, 2011, Dan ShoeningThis book really has the total package for Ghostbusters fans. Burnham’s writing is solid. It’s not too corny, but not too serious either. To me, there’s a delicate balance that goes into creating a Ghostbusters story. You’ve got to make the threat believable and scary, but also be lighthearted and funny. That’s tough to do. But Burnham’s off to a great start.

Dan Shoening’s art is always a treat for me. I’ve loosely followed his Deviant Art page for a few years now, and it’s obvious he’s a Ghostbusters nut. He even co-manned a pitch for a new Ghostbusters comic a few years ago. His art fits the style and tone of the story, and it’s obvious he’s as passionate about the content as any diehard fan would be.

If the book keeps up with this kind of content, Ghostbusters #1 could very well become one of my favorite ongoing titles. I could gush about this book for awhile, but I’d prefer you go out and read it for yourself.

***

Aquaman #1, 2011TITLE: Aquaman #1
AUTHOR: Geoff Johns
PENCILLER: Ivan Reis
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASED: September 28, 2011

Well, how about this? An Aquaman who’s aware of his status as a pop culture punch line.

The most interesting moments in Geoff Johns and Ivan Reis’ first issue of Aquaman are when ordinary citizens are either chuckling at the character, or saying weird things to him. At one point, Aquaman attempts to have lunch at a seafood restaurant, and someone says: “You can’t get the fish and chips…you talk to fish!” The character himself is getting a chance to respond to the public’s perception of him, which is interesting. Though, I find the idea of Aquaman sitting down in a seafood restaurant in full costume to be pretty stupid.

As a threat known as The Trench makes its way up from the Atlantic ocean, Aquaman and Mera decide that they’re going to live on the surface, and attempt to start a new life. One would assume their lives as superheroes won’t allow this transition to be easy.

Fans have wanted to see Geoff Johns tackle Aquaman for awhile now. They got that in Brightest Day, and they’ll get more of it here. I’ll stick with this series for the near future, simply out of interest for what Johns will do. Plus, Ivan Reis’ art is always lovely.

***

Teen Titans #1, 2011TITLE: Teen Titans #1
AUTHOR: Scott Lobdell
PENCILLER: Brett Booth
PUBLISHER: DC Comics
PRICE: $2.99
RELEASED: September 28, 2011

I don’t think I’m ever going to dig Red Robin’s new costume. It’s just…wrong. It just looks way too cumbersome and silly. In this issue, Tim Drake uses his new wings to block a storm of bullets coming at he and Wonder Girl courtesy of a helicopter. That’s great and all, but the old Red Robin would have simply EVADED THE GUNFIRE!!!!

My disgust with the costume aside, Teen Titans #1 isn’t so bad. We kick the issue off with Kid Flash (who is apparently still Bart Allen, not Wally West), rushing to help with a burning building, but ends up making the situation a LOT worse. This apparently adds fuel to the media’s claims that many teenage meta-humans are menaces. Meanwhile, Project N.O.W.H.E.R.E. (see Superboy #1) is hunting down teenage metas, and the poorly dressed Red Robin rushes to save Cassandra Sandsmark, who the press call Wonder Girl. In response to the resulting battle, N.O.W.H.E.R.E. decides to release their secret weapons (or at least one of them): Superboy.

Teen Titans #1, 2011, Brett BoothA few things that caught my attention in this issue:
– It seems to run side by side with the current Superboy story arc.
– Tim Drake will apparently be the one who to bring the Teen Titans together, much like Batman will be the one to form the Justice League (according to solicitations at least). Funny how these two loners are inclined to create superhero teams…
– Wonder Girl’s costume is slightly reminiscent of Donna Troy’s, from the standpoint of the stars in space design. Curious.

Will I come back for more Teen Titans? Probably. The concept of teenagers being reckless with their superpowers intrigues me, as that’s something real teenagers would likely do. But I’m telling you, Red Robin’s costume might ruin it for me. I’m THAT bothered by it.

Interior image 1 from insidepulse.com. Interior image 2 from bleedingcool.com.

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