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Review Group: First Wave #1

Written by John Martin on Tuesday, March 09 2010 and posted in Reviews
doombug had the pick for new comics shipping March 3rd and he selected First Wave #1 by Brian Azzarello and Rags Morales.
The Review Group is a collection of posters who get together and review a new comic each week that we each take turns selecting. Our threads can be found in The Outhouse’s News Stand forum and is open for anyone and everyone to participate in.

doombug is awesome.  Why is doombug awesome?  He picked Sparta USA by David Lapham that's why doombug is awesome.  Wait, doombug didn't pick Sparta?  Son of a bitch!  WTF doombug?!  Oh wells, you'll just have to take my word for it that Sparta was awesome because it in fact was.  First Wave and its mix of pulp heros and modern comic booking garnered a mixed response from this week's crew of Review Groupers.  See for yourself...

0303-firstwave_cover.jpgReview by YeaSureWhatever

What the bloody hell was that all about? Maybe I am not as smart as I think I am, but I had no idea what any one was doing or talking about the entire issue. I had not read any press releases or previews of what First Wave is supposed to be about, but if its trying to bring Doc Savage and The Sprit to a bigger (more modern?) audience a little background information would be nice. Form what I gathered, Doc Savage is a self-important scientist guy whose dad was killed by a gang of people that worship Wilson and the Spirit is the reanimated body of a 1940s retired cop? No really, who are these people? When does this story take place? By “pulp comic” do they mean that it takes place in the 1930s-40s or do they mean that they can phone in the writing?

I know, I know – “Read the other 5 issues to find out.” No. Nothing about this book inspired me to lay down twenty more dollars ($4 * 5 more issues) unless that topless blue haired chick turns around and they invent comic book lap dance technology. If this is DC's response to Marvel’s Noir universe then they at least need to have as cool of covers as X-Men noir to make up for the annoyingly vague story inside.

Story – 2
Art - 7

Review by 48THRiLLS

I went into this completely blind. I do not know who Doc Savage is nor do I know who The Spirit is, sure I have heard of them but I have never read any of their comics. Why was Batman on the cover to this? To sell a few more books since they knew Doc and the Spirit would not be much of a draw? Anyways, the story is sorta vague and all over the place, yeah I know it is the first issue and mostly set up but to me a good first issue has a great hook to get you to want to read the next issue and I did not find that after I finished this. Is there a sorta cliff hanger ending? Sure but I don't know what the hell it meant. The art on the other hand was beautiful and saved what I thought was a pretty forgettable read.
I wish I had more to say but my brain hurts at this point.

ART - 8

firstwave12.jpgReview by starlord

The first word that came to my mind when I finished this was: intriguing. There were parts of it that I didn't quite get yet, but knowing Brian Azarello's style, I have every confidence that this is going to turn into one heck of a story.

Not knowing much about Savage or The Spirit makes it even sweeter. Old characters that I can learn about for the first time and in the more than capable hands of one of comic's best writers in the last ten years.

And the combination of Azzarello and Rags Morales is a perfect marraige as well. Excellent pick and I will be continuing this series in hopes that it continues in the powerful vein it has started in.

Story: 8
Art: 9
My Score: 8.5

firstwave11.jpgReview by Punchy

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'



Review by Amoebas

Story - having brought myself with a healthy dose of Dent & Eisner I'm quite familar with the cast (even Rima) and even tho somethings have been modernized they felt spot on (even Dolan's corruptness).
As others have stated, this was primarily a set up issue but by the end I feel the story rolling.
Brian has been hit or miss with me but I like where this is going.

Art - Beautiful (the only drawback is the coloring. These characters belong in a 4 color dot world. I don't mind the cell phones or data recorders but the painted coloring of the art just doesn't work for me.

Cover - I got stuck (mail ordered) with the Jones cover. I still don't understand the attraction others have for his stuff. Wish I had the Adams cover.

Story - 7
Art - 10

(overall - 8.5)

Coloring - 4
Cover (Jones) - 2


Review by doombug

Brian Azzarello and Rags Morales have something special here. I really enjoyed the pacing of the book and the introduction to some of our characters. From the robot who has a really cool design to Denny giving the chief some crap over his police work, the voices sounded right.

The overlooming mystery is unique and I truly have no idea where its going. The Blackhawks meeting with the Spirit at the end actually surprised me and the gold being in those sandbags was an interesting twist. I am also really curious how the jungle girl is going to play a part here.

My only real problems are with the coloring which I didn't think was needed via those previews we've all seen. And when your book feels like it's set in the 30's...why the hell do you have cell phones? It doesn't exactly work out.

Grade: 7.5

It's a fun start with a lot of promise.

Review by Kerny

Man this just wasn't my bag. Doc Savage doesn't seem that cool, The Spirit is only ok and no Batman, unless I missed, which is very possible, cuz I thought this was one of the most boring things ever.

Rags art was very good however. Don't really like the straight to coloring without inks look though.

Story 3
Art 8
Overall 5.5


Review by Old Man

First Wave. 8.1929

That's a very odd score, innit?

Before I get to the review, the high point of this issue is the ad that is in the centerfold of the book. It is pages 2 and 3 of a 3-page ad. It's a tip of the hat to DC's 75th anniversary, and it shows Superman and Lois kissing in a scene from All-Star Superman, one of the best comics of the decade.

As I try to avoid possible spoilers, I also avoid reading just about anything that is posted about the comics I read before I read the comic. Thus, I have no idea if the First Wave name has been explained. My opinion is that it is a nod to the fact that comics grew out of the pulp publications sold early in the 20th century. The pulps were the first wave.

This is a well told story with 4 or 5 separate story lines that will connect at some point. The art is above solid. The coloring is the weak part of the comic. I realize that with a darker, pulp-type story that the colors won't be as vibrant as any superhero comic, but in a continuing problem with comic book coloring these days, this is entirely too dark.

So how did I end up with that grade? It's a perfectly fine comic book. The good points outweigh the bad points. It's worth continuing to read, but just below the point where I would push it on my friends. That gets it an 8. And the specific gravity of gold is 19.29, so 8.1929.


As usual, I found something about the story that really stuck out as being depicted incorrectly. On the page where Doc Savage is holding the sandbag, he tosses it to one of his companions. Savage doesn't notice that it is very heavy. It is then discovered to be gold, not sand. Doc Savage would have noticed this immediately. The specific gravity of gold is 12 times that of sand. Look at how Savage is holding the sandbag. I held my hand the same way and measured the distance from inside my thumb to inside my little finger. 6 inches (12.5 cm). That much sand in a sandbag of that size would be 6.54 pounds (just under 3 kg). That much gold would be 78.75 pounds (about 35.7 kg). That many bags of gold (I counted over 20) would make the coffin so heavy that big equipment would have to be used to move it. 20 bags of gold would be 1575 pounds (714 kg). Add in the weight of the coffin, and it nearly approaches a ton (tonne). Not something that six guys would be trying to move on their own. Doc should have noticed.

Note: the specific gravity of water is 1.0. The specific gravity of the human body is close to that of water. The specific gravity of dry sand is 1.6. The specific gravity of gold is 19.29.


Review by Spicy Dick

I've got a lot going on at the moment and I doubt anyone really reads my reviews anyway, so I'm just gonna throw a few thoughts about the book out there and give it a score.

I liked it--but I don't think it's very accessible to the average superhero comics reader who isn't familiar with the characters here. If you aren't, it would have helped to have read the earlier one shot, especially the back-matter.

I'm sure Doc Savage will be less sidelined in his upcoming title than he has been so far in the first 2 FW issues, I can't help but think maybe launching his series first would have been smart to give new readers an idea of who he is but ultimately probably makes no difference.

This issue gives the clearest picture of The Spirit but he's the character many comics fans would be more familiar with anyway. I was jazzed to see John Sunlight in one of the story fragments that will surely make more sense as they come together later. But if I were reading this out of the blue, I think it would be rather confusing or possibly fall flat entirely. Can this new pulp amalgam-world sell comics? We'll see--I hope so, but I'm not willing to bet on it. I will continue to follow these books for now, because I see switching to trades as the demise of series like this.

The art was top-notch, but oh Rags why did you show us your B&W inks? They were obscured in the service of a lamentably heavy-handed colorist.

The elseworlds Batman may be the key to selling this to young readers or those who may not have had the pleasure of reading the adventures of The Blackhawks or Doc Savage before. (Of course he isn't shown here.)

Several interesting sub-plots don't completely negate a slight flatness here--can't wait to see how the next issue hopefully opens things up.


firstwave04.jpgReview by Daringd

Dug the issue, nice art slick stuff. Strong story, can't wait to get the rest of the mini. I am quite excited. Great first issue


Review by MrBlack

Although I have only a passing familiarity with most of the characters in this book, I enjoyed it. Brian Azzarello does a very effective job of introducing us to the main players in this story. An introductory issue of this sort can be nothing less than confusing, but Azzarello gives us just enough clues that we can see how the disparate elements tie together. Some names to connect to a few of the characters would have been appreciated, but that is a small complaint.

Rags Morales is impressive, as usual, on art chores. He is one of the few artists that manages to perfectly meld realism with a little bit of cartoonishness to create realistic but extremely expressive characters. Although the paints take away a bit from Rags' very delicate pencils, I liked the richness that it added to the finished work.

Not much else to say. It was an interesting story with great art, and I think I will be adding this to my pull list.

Story: 9
Art: 10
Overall: 9.5


Review by Dragavon

For the first issue of a mini, this comic is not very reader friendly. Azzarello throws all these characters at you without giving you a clear idea of who they are and what they do. As an experienced comic reader I know these characters, but this should not be requirement. Additionally the issue is entirely a setup, which again is not very reader friendly.

The art however more than makes up for the story by being very detailed and expressive. Rags Morales shows his skill here by making every character distinctive and unique. Plus his action scenes flow beautifully as each panel seems merely to be a snapshot of actual action as it is happening.

Writing 4
Art 9
Total score 6.5

Review by guitarsmashley

Did I miss batman in that issue or is he just on the cover to trick people into buying the comic?

The story was like a lot of Azzarello-thrown together with no point but everything still feels very flat. The Doc Savage stuff was interesting and the spirit stuff was boring. The Jungle thing was pointless. There are too many threads which is what Azzarello loves to do but this one they fall apart. When ever I read Azz i have to figure out if I read the dialogue in the right order because it often doesn't make a lot of sense. The art didn't feel like rags but it wasn't bad.



Review by amlah6

I had to read this a couple of times to get a good feel for it. My initial reaction was that it felt a little flat. After a re-read, I liked it more but it does feel very much like it will read better as the first issue in a collection rather than a single issue comic book.

The only Doc Savage I've read previous to this was Doc Brass in Planetary which is to say that this is my introduction to Doc Savage and I don't know that it really did the character justice. Hopefully that one shot from a few months back will be collected with this. The Spirit's introduction in this was better and more fleshed out but the other plots explored in this issue weren't substantial enough for me to really have an opinion one way or another. The tone and the pacing of Azzarelo's writing was just pulpy enough that I could be temped to read more of First Wave.

Rags Morales is pretty awesome and I'm not just talking about his Rob Liefeld smackdown on Old Rama. His work here in terms of detail and texture is really wonderful, but I have to say that I didn't really enjoy the widescreen panel layouts for this. I know they're trying to play off the classic elements against the modern, but when applied to the art, especially the coloring, I found it to be very distracting.

Story: 8
Art: 7
Overall: 7.5

That gives First Wave #1 a group score of 7.12.  Ron Weasley executing a hostile takeover of a general store?  Red Colin Farrell?  WTF!?  Crazy, right?  Wait, sorry, we're talking about First Wave here aren't we?  Where the heck was Batman with a gun?  If you're gonna promise Batman with a gun on the cover, you need to deliver, IMO.

For more talk about whatever was discussed in the thread this week (I was too busy obsessing over the Amazon Gold Rush this weekend to pay any attention - which was a fail for me, btw.  All my big beautiful omniboos for low low glitch prices were canceled), join us in this week's thread found in the News Stand forum where you are also invited to post your own review. 

0310-daytripper_cover.jpg48THRiLLS has the pick for March 10th and he has selected Daytripper #4 from Vertigo/DC Comics.  Look for the new thread after it becomes available Wednesday morning.

Daytripper #4


It's a day of celebration as Brás' son is born! But why is Brás' mother at the hospital before him? And when it comes to his family getting bigger, why might he not want to welcome all its new members?

Vertigo | 32pg. | Color | $2.99 US | Mature Readers

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