The launch of All-New, All-Different Marvel is in full swing (as Secret Wars has finally relented to concluding in 2016) with plenty of new #1’s from the House of Ideas dropping every Wednesday. This week there are seven new series featuring a wide variety of talent, characters, and styles. We’re taking a look a few of the most exciting debuts to help you decide what’s worth checking out and possibly save some extra strain on your wallet.
Written by Charles Soule
Art by Ron Garney
Colors by Matt Milla
Focusing on Matt Murdock’s change in role from criminal defense attorney to prosecutor serves as an excellent way to understand what Charles Soule and Ron Garney’s Daredevil is all about. This comic is raw, violent, and has a mean streak longer than any ol’ horned head has seen since Frank Miller told his adventures. Daredevil #1 is a comic that isn’t afraid of violence, which is something that defines its best aspects and surprisingly unique place within the All-New, All-Different Marvel universe.
That violent mood is where Garney finds himself at home. Daredevil #1 opens on its strongest scene mid-action. It moves from an interesting visual exploration of his sonar powers to a dense brawl. That beatdown is the selling point of the issue. Garney captures movement in broad strokes and makes each blow land with real effect, erupting with blood and shifting flesh.Even when Matt Murdock is playing attorney, there’s a rage present in his actions. When speaking with an informant, his face is chiseled from ice reflecting back light and incapable of providing comfort. In Garney’s Daredevil, Murdock’s secret is that he’s always angry. Matt Milla only enhances this consistent mood by playing up muted browns and reds against the pale Irishman’s face. He construes this world of crime to be dirty and textured with blood, without that grime overwhelming the page.
The script takes the strength of Garney and Milla’s work for granted, as it is the impactful opening sequence that carries Daredevil #1 through a rocky second half. Soule provides readers with big questions and ones that should be answered in a first issue. Part of this stems from a failure to repeat the preview found in Marvel Point One that introduced Daredevil’s new sidekick. Here he simply appears with no explanation and does or says multiple things that will baffle readers hoping to find a new start. Soule also tries to sneak in a mystery about how Daredevil recovered his secret identity that falls flat. Even with those gaps, there's at least one solid moment with a long speech from Murdock that will leave readers grinning and gritting their teeth. Individual moments just don’t gel together like they would with the inclusion of the Point One material though and the exposition on display is far too obvious. Daredevil #1 is a great start to a new series, and would have been even better if all of the story had been included.
Totally Awesome Hulk #1
Written by Greg Pak
Art by Frank Cho
Colors by Sonia Oback
Totally Awesome Hulk #1 is an appropriately named comic because when I set it down, the first description I thought of for it was “totally awesome”. This debut issue, beyond being a solid introduction to a new concept with some old ideas, is packed with humor, monster violence, and adolescent testosterone. It removes a significant amount of angst from the classic Hulk story in order to tell a totally awesome teenage power fantasy.
Greg Pak embraces Amadeus Cho as a 19 year old and while his genius is not ignored, the impact of his hormones and immaturity are elevated. Able to now transform into the Hulk, he becomes much more flirtatious and even less cautious. What is clever about Totally Awesome Hulk #1 though is not the emphasis on being a teenager, but the subversion of Cho’s power fantasy. In every interaction he has with women from a beachside babysitter to She-Hulk, he is the submissive half being outwitted, laughed at, or beaten due to his own inexperience. Pak loads these scenes with humor that evokes real laughter, not just a chuckle, while finding plenty of time to explore the comics’ premise, characters, and background as well.
Both the big monster action and sexual mischievousness in Totally Awesome Hulk #1 pair perfectly with Frank Cho’s very distinctive style. Cho doesn’t just possess an enjoyable style though, he is a good storyteller. An early brawl on the beach is perfectly clear, excluding the mysterious appearance of a propane tank, and really moves. It’s his delivery of the jokes that stand out the most though. Just like good action, he sets them up before knocking them down in a clear succession of panels (three featuring Mile Morales will have you rolling). Cho and Pak are clearly well-suited to one another and the story they aim to tell here. It’s a rollicking good time that doesn’t take itself too seriously, and manages to deliver both big fun and bigger laughs as a result while laying down some potential drama for later.
Red Wolf #1
Written by Nathan Edmondson
Art by Dalibor Talajic and Jose Marzan, Jr.
Colors by Miroslav Mrva
Red Wolf #1 is a first issue that spends every page it has arriving at the premise of the series. It isn’t until the final page that the story being pitched in interviews and press materials is finally shown. This wouldn’t necessarily be a problem if the journey to the point was enjoyable. Unfortunately, Red Wolf #1 is a Western buried in Western clichés by a writer who either disrespects or has not interacted with the genre. It’s a slog burying a potentially promising lead so deep that it’s not worth wondering what might come next.
If the setting of a small Western town filled with cowpokes and their herds wasn’t enough to make it clear where and when Red Wolf #1 occurs, Nathan Edmondson spends every panel trying to remind you. The townsfolk speak in the most obvious vocabulary possible, forming an amorphous blob of Western humanity. Red Wolf at least exhibits some personality, but in both his interactions with his mother and unruly civilians lives up to the stereotype of the lone, wise native. It is unclear why he is driven to aid people so petulant and racist towards him, but he still manages to ride about like the lone ranger shrugging off calls of “injun”. Much like the characterizations, the plotting of Red Wolf #1 resembles the side of a barn where it is clear what you are seeing, but nothing about it seems significant.
Dalibor Talajic and Jose Marzan, Jr. deliver workmanlike storytelling efforts. It’s always clear what is occurring on the page, even when the issue takes a turn for the weird. The primary problem lies in the stiffness of the action being shown. Punches never seem to truly land, but are captured in a freeze frame. All anatomy is drawn correctly, but a sense of motion fails to be conveyed in these conservative lines. Their combination of pencils and inks provide clarity with promise, but nothing worth a second glance here. That’s not too great of a loss though considering the skeleton of Red Wolf #1 is as weak as it is. Maybe there will be something more enjoyable to be discovered in the second issue, but based on this debut it’s probably more difficult to justify spending more money to find out.
What did you think of this week's comics? Sound off in the comments below.