First issues of a comic, like first episodes of a TV show, have a difficult task in front of them. They need to introduce characters, tone, and story. Usually, they need to world build, and hopefully, they end at just the right point to pique your interest. First Issues will try to let you know about as many of last week’s debuts as possible. Since these reviews are only for the very start of the series, there will be spoilers here.
Last week there were three new Marvel titles, Deadpool The Duck, The Unstoppable Wasp and U.S. Avengers, as well as one new six-issue miniseries from DC, The Fall And Rise Of Captain Atom.
Deadpool The Duck #1
Howard The Duck gets no respect. Sure, he starred in one horrible movie thirty years ago, but so did Doctor Strange! So did Captain America! Where is Howard’s second chance?
Shortly after thinking this, Howard is fortunate enough to run into a bona fide star with great reviews, and huge box office clout…Rocket Raccoon! Less fortunately, Rocket has SPACE RABIES. After Howard is narrowly saved by Deadpool (who has Wolverine in his head offering additional commentary), a transporter accident merges Deadpool with Howard, resulting in the titular Deadpool The Duck.
Deadpool The Duck was pretty funny, and I’m surprised that they haven’t merged these two fourth wall-breaking characters before (unless they already have, I’m no historian). I’m definitely looking forward to more of Deadpool the Duck!
5 stars: Give me more now!
The Fall and Rise of Captain Atom #1 (of 6)
I must admit I am not the biggest fan of DC comics, but I do try to give their #1’s a shot when they put them out, and try to give each one a fair shake. That this one had such a vibrant and engaging cover, and featured a main character that shared my given name didn’t hurt.
Reading this comic, I didn’t find out how Captain Atom got his powers, or even what, exactly, those powers are. There’s all sorts of techno-babble like, “My quantum energy busts are out of my control.” and “My transmutation beams just fizzled out!”. And, of course, multiple members of the Justice League show up, because how would you know it was a DC comic if it didn’t have either Superman or Batman in it?
The only thing that really did work in this issue was the pathos. It’s easy to feel empathy for someone who wreaks havoc through means that are out of their control. Especially when they have good intentions, but are dealing with a power stronger than they can control.
3 Stars: Might continue reading.
The Unstoppable Wasp #1
The Unstoppable Wasp introduces Nadia, orphan daughter of Henry Pym and Maria Trovoya Pym, who was raised in The Red Room in Russia, as she navigates America for the first time, guided by Ms. Marvel.
As they maneuver through Manhattan, they encounter a Pakistani bakery, a US Immigration office, and Mockingbird in the midst of battling a fully operational, internally controlled, building sized automaton piloted by Monica Rappiccini.
Peppered with “Nadia’s Neat Science” notes, the comic is full of witty repartee between the women, real science, and a good dose of adventure. The Unstoppable Wasp #1 sets of the creation of “Agents of G.I.R.L” – Genius In action Research Labs.
5 stars: Give me more now!
U.S. Avengers #1
New Marvel title “U.S. Avengers” begins their run in issue #1 with a multi-part story arc entitled “$kullocracy”.
This issue introduces the characters that make up the new U.S. Avengers, with roughly a 2-page spread per person, while interweaving the storyline of their opening battle with the bad guys of $kullocracy. The team is made up of Iron Patriot (Dr. Toni Ho), Enigma (Aikku Jokinen), Red Hulk (General Robert L. Maverick), Squirrel Girl (Doreen Green), and Cannonball (Sam Guthrie), led by mutant Roberto Da Costa (Citizen V). There’s a surprise ending visit by Captain America, but it’s not the Steve Rogers captain that we’re all familiar with, or even the Sam Wilson captain. No, when Captain America calls Bobby Da Costa, he is as surprised as we readers are by *her* phone call.
The very last page, which highlights “Coming this year in U.S. Avengers”, ends with a promise of “Enter Steve Rogers”, and he’s wearing the titular costume that we’ve all come to expect from him. This panel also teases the upcoming appearances of Thanos, Deadpool, and the death of an Avenger. While the character introductions are helpful, little attempt is made to clarify who these people are for new readers, which is especially confusing for the characters who have the same name as other well-known Marvel superheroes (Iron Patriot and Captain America especially).
The unnamed bad guys who are being fought in this issue feel particularly timely for America at this point in our country. The last few pages show us a skull-faced antagonist as he (?) introduces “$kullocracy” to a captive audience. There is a hint of the potential return of Red Skull (or someone like him), but it’s not entirely clear who these bad guys are.
In spite of these flaws, which are really the result of trying to do so much in a limited number of pages, I think U.S. Avengers is worth continuing, and following it to see what unfolds. If anything, the mountain of characters introduced in this issue promise, or at least hint at, well-fleshed out U.S. Avengers story arcs and character arcs.
4 stars: Will continue reading.