New No. 1’s

I’ve reached out to a few new series lately and have more or less enjoyed them. Some are sure-fire additions to the buy pile, while others are still on the issue to issue trial basis. Either way, all are worth a look and you can probably find them on the shelves for another week or so.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingAgents of Atlas (Marvel)
I picked this up pretty much on a whim, knowing only that it was a supposed team of weird Eisenhower-era heroes who rejoin forces to fight… um… someone. From that nondescript premise comes a surprisingly fun and intriguing series that has absolutely nothing to do with Marvel continuity.

Writer Jeff Parker (who’d previously been relegated to Marvel B-titles such as Marvel Adventures, Marvel Westerns, etc.) cooks up a pretty major whodunnit/whatthehell’sgoingon? We know the agents of atlas were once a great government team and that they save Ike from some mysterious Asian villain. They disbanded, fast forward to today and we find out that the human leader of the group, Jimmy Woo, led a rogue group of SHIELD agents into a craptastic situation and he’s the only one that made it out alive.

A giant talking gorilla and a robot (former atlas agents) steal a near-dead Woo away from SHIELD and revert him to his much-younger self – their only way to save his life. Seriously, what the heck is going on?

What makes the series worth following, beyond the solid art and the curiosity, is the subtle fun Parker has with the characters. Little touches like everyone referring to super-superhero Marvel Boy as “Bob,” and the great chemistry between the previously mentioned ape and robot made the first issue a blast. Give issue #2 a chance.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingMartian Manhunter (DC)
I had been VERY on the fence about the new Martian Manhunter after reading DC’s Brave New World. It looked serious to the point of being unintentionally funny, in large part because of MM’s ridiculous new 1990s X-Men look.

I picked up the issue anyway and, surprise, it was pretty decent. I’m not ready to commit to the full series just yet, but I’ll be there for issue #2.

I still don’t really understand where MM disappeared to during the crisis, or how he came back (help me out, 52), but wherever he went, he apparently learned how to be a badass. He no longer is the dorky-but-friendly green-skinned member of the JLA. Now he’s got his traditional Martian oblong head going, the aforementioned brutally serious costume and – holy potatoes – he even kills. Once, anyway.

I still am not quite sure how this didn’t just completely fail, but MM’s search for the other little green men has started with a strong, palpably tense issue. I’m wondering how long Lieberman can keep that up, and if he’ll bother trying to get into MM’s character, rather than just treating him as a green terminator to go around fighting people. But, once again, I’ll give the next issue a chance.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingUncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters (DC)
Okay, this is by far the oldest of the no. 1’s. My apologies. And, probably, everybody has either read this or doesn’t want to. But if you’re among those who passed on the first issue, give me a chance to change your mind.

Uncle Sam and the Freedom Fighters was another Brave New World promo, and this is easily one to go ahead and add to the buy pile before that next issue hits shelves in a couple weeks.

The Jonah Hex writing team is at top form, throwing you into a world of politics, conspiracy and violence. The complexity of just who’s who in this conspiracy is a good reason to grab that first issue. Miss it, and you’re probably lost till the trade comes out. Think a more violent, exciting comic version of the Manchurian Candidate.

I always love when writers take potentially lame characters (in this case, Father Time, Toy Man, Uncle Sam, the Ray and pretty much everyone else) and finds some way to make them interesting. You’ll find that here (and it continues to be a trend in DC).

The art is fresh; I can’t figure out just where drawing and painting butt heads on Daniel Ocuna’s work. My only gripe is the sometimes overbearing political message. But then again, subtlety doesn’t have much place when guys are getting punched through the chest cavity.

Photobucket - Video and Image HostingElephantmen (Image)
I’m really not sure what Image’s Elephantmen is supposed to be about. I guess that makes sense, since it stems from a character created to advertise comic book lettering.

The first issue of the latest run of comics by creator Richard Starkings serves as a sly introduction to this world, showing that Elephantmen are genetic creations, bred as killing monsters, now curiosities more than anything. There’s no plot to speak of on display, just a lengthy interaction between an elephantman and a little girl.

While it was fun and merited a second look, I can’t imagine the stand-alone nature of the series being able to hold my interest for too long (only Jonah Hex holds that honor). A minor complaint also is the art, which is really beautiful (aside from the background-less flashbacks) only to be ruined by overly thick outline inking. If you read it, you’ll see what I mean.