Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Four-color Fiend: Just a few things

First Wave #1 of 6 (DC Comics)
DC has gotten the rights to several pulp characters and rather than simply do solo tales they have created separate Earth where they co-exist with alternate versions of DCU characters. It remains to be seen, I guess if it is one of the former Elseworlds or part of the 52 series of Universes. This new world of non-powered heroes was first shown in the DOC SAVAGE/BATMAN one-shot. That issue introduced the Bruce Wayne and Clark "Doc" Savage, Jr. of this earth brought together in Gotham. As usual, for this type of thing, they fought and then teamed up although not totally trusting the other despite having a goal in common. I'm not clear if the one-shot adventure takes place before or after the events in this first issue, but it will probably become clear later.

This mini-series introduces some of those 'new' versions of characters we have seen before, either in the DCU or elsewhere. The first issue gives us Doc's old adversary John Sunlight, a new Rima of the Jungle (even though she is not identified by name here), The Spirit and a new generation of Black Hawks. Writer Brian Azzarello does a good job bringing this diverse group together, although it's not clear yet if they will work together or at odds. It has been announced that we will also be meeting a new Black Canary, The Avenger and possibly The Shadow. It's a large cast but artist Rags Morales gives the main characters distinctive looks so they are easily recognizable. I just heard that writer Will Murray will be producing new prose adventures of Doc Savage, but those will have nothing to do with this comic version. Along with the pulp reprints from Nostalgia Ventures, this is a pretty good time to be a fan of the Man of Bronze.

Walking Dead #70 (Image Comics)
Rick Grimes and his band of followers finally reach what may be a safe-haven in the outskirts of Washington, D.C. Writer & co-creator, Robert Kirkman introduces a new group of characters to his already large cast of survivors. Naturally, given all that Rick has gone through he continues to have his doubts about the situation. However, as he has since the beginning Rick's chief concern is his son Carl. Since the boy seems to be accepting his new surroundings Rick decides to give it a chance. Unfortunately, as the case often is in this world in which the undead roam, it appears that there are more secrets yet to be uncovered. From the first few issues, Kirkman has made Walking Dead into more than another zombie comic book. The undead still show up every so often, if only for a panel or two, but Kirkman has shown that the survivors of the plague can be much more dangerous than those who died and returned.

American Vampire #1 (Vertigo/DC)
Here's another must-have for you Stephen King fans out there. King (at least for the first five issues), along with comics scribe Scott Snyder present tales involving a 'new species' of vampire, unique to this country. The idea is that vampires, as other lifeforms do, will occasionally mutate into something different from their parents. Why should those who rise from the dead here, be exactly like those that came from Europe or other places? Might they not have different powers, different weaknesses? Snyder opens the issue with a story that takes place in the Hollywood of the Silents. Pearl a young lady, trying to make her start in films is attacked by a group of 'older' vampires. Earlier she had met a mysterious, cowboy who had begun to show up at the hotel where Pearl was living. In King's tale we find that the cowboy is actually Old West bank-robber & murderer Skinner Sweet. Sweet is not a likable character, having killed children in escaping from a robbery gone wrong. Captured by the Pinkertons, Sweet escapes when the train he is on is derailed by his gang. Before he can get away, he is attacked and turned by another vampire whose money Sweet had stolen. Both tales end, in this first issue, at the point where Sweet & Pearl become tainted, Snyder & King plan to give us the history of this new breed, from their origin up through the major events of the last century. I'm in for at least the initial run with King.
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