First Wave #1(of 6) - 'First Wave Book One' - Azzarello and Morales
Story - There's a bit of a Pulp resurgence going on in comics these days, Incognito, Marvel Noir, Green Hornet, all sorts. And even though in a previous Review Group I've been accused of not being knowleadgable enough about the Pulp roots of superhero comics, I still find it within myself to enjoy these comics, and DC's new First Wave fits very well into this new Pulp trend. It's a sort of crazy Elseworlds, which is Pulp in some ways, but modern in others, and it plays with all sorts of classic characters, most notable is Doc Savage, perhaps the most famous Pulp hero, alongside Will Eisner's The Spirit, and DC properties like the Blackhawks and Black Canary. And most controversially of all, a Batman who uses guns!
He's not in this issue though, so just ignore him. It's The Spirit and Doc Savage who get the Lion's share of attention in Azzarello's new series, as they begin to uncover a massive conspiracy, involving the death of Doc Savage's dad, smuggling and a giant fucking robot. What is the Golden Tree? I want to know! But what I don't know is that much about Doc Savage, only what you can glean from wikipedia, Incognito articles and Warren Ellis' Planetary homage, Doc Brass, but he seems an interesting character here, a proto-Superman, but with a bit more human frailty. I would like to have a bit more information on his Entourage though, who is the Turtle? Who is the Johnny Drama?
My favourite scene is probably the introduction to this version of The Spirit, seeing him sleeping in the grave, that's just iconic stuff, it really fits the character. I also liked his inner monologue. I just hope that this version of the character doesn't veer off into too superheroic avenues. I'm not too sure about Dolan being crooked, but it makes sense in this darker world.
I do have some problems with this book, the reasonings behind why this world is both modern and old-fashioned are not explained, and while I don't want everything handed out on a plate for me, perhaps a little more elucidation is needed, why not just make it a period piece, set in the 1940s? Why do we need cellphones? If you want to go Pulp, just go Pulp! But that's a little thing, and maybe we'll have some more light shed on it in the next 5 issues and the accompanying Doc Savage and Spirit series. I'm certainly looking forward to seeing what the Blackhawks, Black Canary and most notably Batman are like in more detail. But why couldn't they get the rights to the Shadow?
I like it when DC do these funky Elseworld stories, it's a welcome reprieve from the mess their main continuity has become these days, and of course there's a fanboyish thrill to be had in seeing all these characters thrown together. It's not perfect, but the mysteries have their hooks in me, and it's worth trying something new.
Art - Rags Morales is an artist I've never really got behind, I first saw his work on Identity Crisis, and found it competent, but everyone had really pointy noses. This is probably his best work ever though, it looks a lot more polished than usual, you can tell he's been able to take his time on it and really make it work, perhaps the key is that he's inking himself. I just hope he can keep that going, and not get rushed by #5 or #6. Nei Ruffino's colours have come in for a bit of stick, because we were given a black and white preview in the back of some books, but I don't mind it, I think the textures are really good.
In terms of cover art, I got the Neal Adams cover, it's typically strong.
Best Line - 'As a Fruitcake'