We’re No. 1! Stories of Many Stripes

Miss me? Well, I’m back with a whole slew of new #1s, from brand new tales to reboots, as well as a smattering of the stuff from last week.

five_ghosts01-c1Image Comics’ Five Ghosts: The Haunting of Fabian Gray is a rather complicated tale about an Indiana Jones-style “treasure hunter” Fabian Gray, who has somehow stumbled upon the restless souls of five iconic literary figures, Dracula, Robin Hood and Sherlock Holmes among them. Now possessed of their powers, as well as those of an unnamed wizard and samurai, he and his ghosts adventure about the globe. Exactly what he’s attempting to achieve is a bit murky, for a host of reasons. First off, this really doesn’t seem like the beginning of this story, though if there are previously published Fabian Gray tales, I couldn’t find them. The writer, Frank J. Barbiere, has done some work for the collective series Dark Horse Presents, but it’s unlikely that another company published Fabian’s early exploits. To top it off, the art by Chirs Mooneyham is, pardon the pun, sketchy. Faces are indistinct, backgrounds are largely just colors used to represent mood, and while the book looks great, its look doesn’t necessarily feed the narrative, and certainly not one that feels like we were dropped into it in mid-story. I hope I can find the earlier bits of this tale, as I was certainly intrigued by the concept, if a touch confused.

Memorial: Imaginary Fiends #1 is also not really a #1 but merely the beginning of a new arc in an existing series. In fact, this is the print edition of a sequel story, which previously appeared in digital only format. It’s the story of a young woman known only as Em, who has inherited some mystical objects (with very punny names), including the Mnemonic Key, which opens a magical floating antique shop in another dimension, a sort of your Grandma’s Magical TARDIS, and a talking cat named Schrodinger. She has an elderly assistant who seems to know all the rules, and in her new tale seems to have lost her sister, with little explanation. Em is also on the trail of a little girl who’s been taken into the Land of Maybe through a mirror by a magical pencil. (Only to have her father’s childhood toy dragon come to life and try to explain it all.) This was also a story that is deeply confusing, without having read the initial books, and if it’s meant to be a jumping in point for new readers, it’s a poor one. However, Like Five Ghosts, Em is an interesting character, struggling with a rather unusual life, and the premise is intriguing enough to warrant a look back at some of the source material.

star wars legacyThere’s another strong-willed young woman gracing the pages of another #1 that’s also part of another ongoing series this week, but this one will at least have a name we all recognize. She’s Ania Solo, a long removed descendant of Han Solo and Princess Leia, and she’s the star of first issue of the Vol. 2 of the Star Wars: Legacy Series from Dark Horse Comics. The first series dealt with a descendant of the Skywalkers, Cade, who rubbed shoulders with the elite of the Galaxy some 130+ years after the events of Return of the Jedi, but Ania has no such powerful friends. She’s a plucky young woman who owns a junkyard on an Outer Rim planet, and when she comes upon a lightsaber hidden inside a recon droid, she’s ready to make a quick buck and try to get off her god-forsaken rock. The Jedi who lost his lightsaber is struggling to deal with a coalition style galactic government that more closely resembles the Prequel Trilogy’s structure. Still, once Ania is confronted by local law enforcement and ordered to give up her find, she’s not afraid to rely on that classic family mode of action: Shoot First and Make Pithy Remarks Later. The layers of this story are interesting, and I must say it’s the first Star Wars comic in a while, besides Dark Horse’s current series set right in the heart of Original Trilogy, that I’ll be sticking with. It’s also an introductory point done well, as there is little one needs to know about the previous Legacy series to follow this exciting adventure.

CONSTANTINEOther releases this week offer new adventures for characters that geeks know well, to varying degrees. DC comics brings the star of HellBlazer into a new series with Constantine #1. Fans of the Kaenu Reeves movie might only vaguely recognize the John Constantine we see here, but he’s the original version from the comics: a blond Brit determined to prevent an imbalance in magical power here on Earth. Constantine this time is on the trail of a magical compass that can lead the bearer to any and all magical items in the world, a nasty little bit of business that comes at the cost of one of his traveling companions. In this Constantine we’re seeing a darker character than most of DC’s mainstream books would normally present. Indeed, John Constantine was one of the New 52’s mainstays in the Justice League Dark series, and even there he wasn’t quite this dark. His cynicism does harken to both the comics’ character and the film version, and it can be a tough read if you’re looking for cheerful adventure.

xtermination Marvel has come up with a whole new way to bring us #1’s, as they launch yet another large crossover with a mini-series intended to bookend the other issues. (They’ve done this before with Minimum Carnage: Alpha and Omega, and are doing something similar with the current Avengers in Age of Ultron.) Here Marvel is wrapping three disparate teams of X-Men into a multiverse jumping event with X-termination #1. This can get a bit tricky, so strap in: Nightcrawler from the “Age of Apocalypse” reality, has been stranded on “mainstream” Earth since the conclusion of that reality’s first tale, along with that reality’s evil version of Hank McCoy, the Dark Beast. Now he wants to go home and enlists his fellow dimensional refugees to help in this pursuit. In doing so, he crosses paths with members of the Astonishing X-Men, the human freedom fighters from his own reality and the stars of the current Age of Apocalypse series, and the reality crossing line-up of alternate reality X-Treme X-men, which includes my favorite of Marvel’s new creations, Howlett. Howlett is Wolverine from a reality where the British empire still exists in some form, which is dull in the extreme. He’s also openly gay, and involved in a serious romance with fellow team member Hercules, who’s an actual Greek demi-god. Gay Wolverine? Awesome! Still with us? X-treme X-men has been an entertaining title for some time and also includes Dazzler, a great female character who’s growing into her own as team leader, and a version of Cyclops who is a Black hero from the Civil War era. These reality jumping X-Men and Women face an unknown enemy from between the fabric of the alternate dimensions, if you can believe it, and the tale is convoluted as can be. Still, there are a great many solid characters here, and I’m mostly hoping the desparate need to crossover these titles won’t diminish each one’s solid work in it’s own vein, in particular X-treme X-men.

Lastly, IDJudgeDredd_YR1_01-cvrAW (who must have the best attorneys in the world) teams up with yet another mega-franchise creator 2000 A.D. for Judge Dredd: Year One  #1. This is a look at the rookie Judge of Mega-City One, an interesting idea that falls quite flat. There is no origin tale, and Dredd isn’t nearly as green as the title might suggest. Apparently, we’re meant to believe the Dredd was ALWAYS a hard ass, even in his first days on the beat, and there’s little to distinguish him here form previous iterations. He’s on the trail of a psychic presence that’s possessing young children, bringing an unusual but not unheard of supernatural element to Dredd’s world. His rookie mistakes here are non-existant, and there’s little to identify this as any kind of character building or prequel, We have to assume Dredd looks younger under his helmet, as Year One does respect tradition, and Dredd never takes it off, thank goodness.

There are a couple of One-shots on the shelves this week that earn honorable mentions, including Wild Rover and The Sacrifice from superstar artist Michael Avon Oeming of Powers, and a return of IDW’s Mystery Society in a 2013 Special single issue, and there are few #1’s from last week that you might have missed while I was gone as well. Marvel put out two new Wolverine stories in two different universes with Wolverine #1, its MarvelNOW! relaunch of the solo book, and Ultimate Wolverine #1, recounting the tale of the slain Ultimate Wolverine’s son Jimmy in Marvel’s Ultimate Universe. Boom Studios also brought the unimpressive Aliens vs. Parker #1, a story about an intergalactic FedEx guy and his goofy pals who get lost on an alien planet because they are too dorky to figure out how to talk to a pretty girl. It featured an obvious homage to Zach Galifinakis but with less humor, and it had the feel of a story about 15 year old boys, written for 15 year old boys.

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