First Issue Lightning Round!

As some of you may have read, I have been out of town for the past three weeks and just arrived yesterday afternoon. My priorities are pretty much intact, so the first thing I did once I got in my car was amble over to my comic book shop in Studio City to pick up the comics that Cat over at DJ’s Universal Comics (where I bumped into founder Jonathan London, actually) saved for me during my trip.  Suffice to say, it was a massive stack — the kind that actually cannot be stacked because they all just spill over. Like, clearly, lots of comics have come out over the past month. We have what looks like some kind of gentle event spanning a few titles called Utopia, we have Captain America Rebirth, we have the “this looks really good” Wednesday Comics, we even have the next issue of Red Mass for Mars.  It’s an intimidating stack and I am sitting here on Tuesday morning trying to figure out what I am going to read, because what I am going to read will definitely inform this article as I work on it tonight.

So, last night, I rummaged through the stack and tried to figure out exactly which books to read first. I found myself gravitating to the Picks of the Week, basically so I could listen to at least the beginnings of the podcasts on my way home, but now, as I continue this sentence 8 hours after the first part of the sentence, I think I have changed my mind.  I noticed that I had a bunch of first issues in my stack, and I thought that I would kill 4 birds with one stone — read the issue, then write a few sentences about it, then sum them up. Yes, it’s the return of my first issue round up, but now speedier — it’s time for FILR — First Issue Lightning Round! Ready? Let’s get started…

#1 – Justice League – Cry for Justice

Okay, like, I dunno — where have I read so much of this issue before? I know this must have been discussed in the podcast, but, like, am I crazy to think that I read the first part of the issue already in another issue of Justice League? I did, right? No matter, fine, but still, that was a long conversation to have read before. Maybe I didn’t. But I did. I get it, it’s fun to echo another scene, but this was a lot of that other scene. Too much, methinks.  Anyway.  Art was good, though I can see this book slipping schedule a lot given how much work is being put into each page. I am a big fan of Green Arrow and Green Lantern being good buddies (I wonder if Barry was ever jealous? Did they ever hang out as a trio?) but I thought the whole “let’s build a team” came in rather jarringly. I would have rather had the team building stuff happen during the second issue and see Hal and Oliver come to grips with the repercussions of their decision.  And was Starman always blue? And did we need each story to end with “Justice!” ? Still, a solid opening, and I liked the back matter, which I haven’t read but is there another term we can use for this? It sounds like something that needs to be shaved. Good opening, though not stellar. The idea itself kind of annoys me, but given how bad Justice League has been, perhaps this is what’s needed. I’ll check out #2.

#2 – Gotham City Sirens

Okay, I admit it–I might have picked it up for the cover. Maybe. Maybe not, maybe I am making an adolescent joke. You ask me in San Diego. ((((super parenthetical – I like the “You Have One Life Remaining” PSA; expect an article eventually)))) Okay, done. First: Boneblaster?! Lame name. Otherwise, I gotta admit, I really kinda liked this book.  Guillem March’s art, while, okay– a little pinup-y, was actually really dynamic and fun. It reminded me of Chinese comic book art mixed with a bit of iFanboy favorite Fabio Moon — great, swooping lines, and great facial acting.  I liked a peek into what it’s like to be a bad guy, er, girl, in Gotham City (I think The Broker character could use a oneshot or a backup story, myself), and the last moment, well, that was a great cliffhanger.  I am not sure how far this setup can go — it is clear that there is still no honor among these thieves — but still, I had fun with the book and will definitely get #2.

#3 – Captain America: Reborn

Okay, I know tons of stuff has been written and spoken about this book so I will try to keep it brief. First, is it just me or does Bryan Hitch’s art just sometimes look all disjointed sometimes? Like the third page, with Cap getting out of the boat — what’s with his left arm?  The angles are all mismatched and it just feels pasted together somehow.  And then he starts doing the long torso thing that I think Billy Tan does a lot…I think he just likes drawing faces or really large two page spreads of massive buildings and stuff like that. No matter, I always have this problem with him though, so I will continue.  

Geez. Okay, I just finished this book and I am kind of disgusted by it. Really? Steve’s doing the Quantum Leap boogie now? He’s sent back in time like Batman? Gimme a break! And the art was really uneven — nice sometimes, rushed in others (this has to be a result of Butch Guice having to help out Hitch, I am realizing), this book seemed like Marvel decided to bring Steve back a few weeks ago. This is really disappointing, in my opinion. Better that Steve stay dead for awhile. Bucky was just figuring things out. So, how’s this going to end, with Bucky sacrificing himself for Steve Rogers? Oh wow, so ironic!  (I don’t know that this will happen but given the opening, it just seems likely.) I am terrifically frustrated by this book. I haven’t read any reviews and I bet I am in the minority, but overall, this book doesn’t seem to need to be happening now and the whole deal seems to be happening a few years too early. Yuk. Will I buy issue 2?  I guess so, but I will do it out of my sense of responsibility to the site, not necessarily to the story.  Blurgh. This issue is going to bother me for awhile.  

#4 – Utopia

(As I am reading) – I am liking the art, I don’t really know Marc Silvestri — I know his name, of course, but honestly, I haven’t read a lot of books with his art, and I like many of these pages.  I do like how they are tying in the other books, with scenes of The New Avengers hanging out, and Doom and Loki chillin’ like, er, villains.  I also like all the shots of San Francisco, my home town, though did they really have to take out The Castro Theatre? Also, I dunno if I like the omniscient narrator thing.  Just let the action happen, you know? (Let it be said that I think Matt Fraction is really finding his voice as a writer; it’s been a pleasure to watch him get better and better.) Oh, and I am officially tired of being told who every character is all the freaking time. I buy these books every freaking week, I know who the hell they are and if there are readers who don’t let them eat wiki!  Sorry, but jeez, get off it already. Now, I need to finish this. (Done reading.) Dammit, well, if that wasn’t just one of the best first issues I’ve read in awhile. It’s more of a one shot, but it does setup a whole ton of great possibilities for a good story and what’s better, it sounds like the story will be told fairly quickly, since the main thrust of it seems to be happening in Uncanny and Dark Avengers!  While I am dismayed by what seems to be the “well it had to come sometime” betrayal by Emma Frost, this is what makes for good story telling, methinks.  Solid story telling by Fraction, solid art by Silvestri, a nice, big opening with ramifications — I instantly wanted to pick up the next issue. A good sign. I had tried to drop Uncanny X-Men, but I guess I am back…Fraaaaaaactionnn!!

Ah, the first issue. It embodies the hope, intrigue, and promise of a new story, while filling some of us with dread (“another first issue?! another comic to collect?!).  Some work, some don’t.  I had actually planned to talk about three more comics, but I think four will suffice — I want to roll in the other issues into a different article on miniseries anyway.  This batch was pretty good, with the most anticipated issue, Captain America: Rebirth, being the surprise disappointment. It wasn’t fun, it wasn’t exciting, it seemed rushed — not a great way to start things off. Well, we’ll have to see what happens; I am sure we’ll wrap the series up with an article or podcast when it’s done.

I know that in some of cases, these stories are a few weeks old and I hope I am not rehashing what has been said too much. But let’s flip it around–if you read these issues when they came out, are you still excited about what’s around the corner or have the details of the story already started to fade from memory?  Do you pick up first issues religiously or page through them and pick them up after talking to people or reading reviews?  Have you ever stopped reading a book with the first issue?

Next week is San Diego! It looks like I’ll be there the whole time and look forward to seeing you at the show — hope you can make it!

Mike Romo lives in LA and really likes it, but admits that the heat, combined with the molten surface that is his Mac laptop, er, portable, is driving him a bit crazy. Facebook, twitter and email are all valid ways to reach his sweaty wrists.


  1. Yay for "Utopia."  And I imagine there are more twists coming with the Emma thing.

    Re: Justice League and Barry being jealous of Hal’s friendship with Ollie — there’s literally a whole issue of that in Mark Waid’s "Flash/Green Lantern: Brave and the Bold" miniseries. 

  2. I was disappointed in Reborn as well Mike, you are not alone! 

  3. Did you read Mr. Robinson’s prose at the end of Cry for Justice?  I really, really enjoyed his writeup.  I wasn’t a Robinson fan (especially after the way he treated Josh), but that piece is changing my opinion of him.

  4. After 50 something Brubaker Cap issues, he finally wrote one I didn’t love.  Or even like, really.  This issue also marks the 1st time I didn’t love Hitch’s art.  Not a good start for me.   Let’s hope the next issue is better.

  5. Sirens has promise to be a great series. Dini has a knack for writing strong female characters, and these are really his girls when you think about it. But I still find it to have too much cheesecake in it. I dont want to cause another huge debate on the issue, it’s just how I feel.

  6. It is ruse. Marc silvestri wasn’t the only artist on Utopia.

  7. It is also bad grammar. bad! bad! bad!


    Which is my way of saying sorry and give us the edit button.


    I’ve only read the first volume of Grant Morrison’s JLA, apart from that I’ve never read any Justice League, so I liked Cry for Justice. It was new to me, I guess.

  9. Quantom Leap actually sounds good. Reminds me of a TV series about a bunch of 20 year olds who travel through dimensions trying to return to their own dimension. Don’t know the name, but it’s a good adventure show.

    Nice article. 

  10. @chlop Sliders?

  11. @hbkhumanity – maybe. I think Jerry O’Connell was in it but I’m not sure. I watched it religously for several days while visiting my cousin, and all I remember of it is an episode where they landed in a dimension where everyone were naked. Didn’t make sense – they showed a maleman delivering to some woman and it was very much like Austin Powers with the hiding of the bits and pieces.

    I think there was also some arc of episodes where the earth was destroyed somehow and they had to find out why, but I might be confusing this with some other sci-fi movie, tv show or book. 

  12. @chlop That’s definitely Sliders, I watched the first season, mostly for John Rhys-Davies and Sabrina Lloyd, my girl Natalie from Sports Night. It was a decent enough show at the time, at some point though Jerry O’Connell left and the lesser O’Connell brother took his place, no thanks.  Check out Quantum Leap if you havn’t alrerady, great show.

    Wait a minute, where am I, this isn’t

    @Mike I myself was tempted to pick up Sirens based on the cover, but will settle for reading my friends issue. I missed Utopia and just jumped right into Uncanny 513, at which point Emma was already a full blown "Dark X-men." Enjoying it so far, although some of the mutant/human tension points feel a little familiar.  Hopefully we get more of a reaction from Scott about Ms. Frost, unless that took place already.

  13. thanks for the nice comments, guys. I am finally getting back into the swing of things. Yeah, @chlop, Jerry O’Connell was in Sliders–I remember liking that show as well…



  14. Are you sure you didn’t recognize the first 6 or so pages of Justice League: Cry For Justice from it being a preview in the back of a ton of DC books over the last few months?

  15. Generally, I think the world of Fraction but this story is pretty shoe-horned in. It does not feel organic.

  16. @mikeromo – I know. I went to the imdb page and saw his picture there, and thought it looked like an actor that was in the TV show I saw. I don’t vividly remember if Jerry was there, so I’m still not 100% sure. I’ll be sure when I’ll see that naked episode.

  17. Paul Montgomery (@fuzzytypewriter) says:

    Had the same reaction to Cry For Justice. Giving it another issue though.  

  18. @gothamcentral79 — you are right, that is EXACTLY what I was remembering. I reread Batman last night (to get ready for the newer issue) and I realized that was where I had read it. Ah, senility.


  19. It looks like our tastes are strikingly similar. I enjoyed the heated hell out of Utopia, although I worry that in our rush to hit all the plot points we’re never going to get a good look at what is going through Emma’s mind as she does all of this. She has just accepted Osborn’s job offer with a smile and a handshake; I’d love some thought balloons right about now.

    I still can’t believe how flat Cap Reborn left me. It’s not like my enthusiasm for the book or characters has been flagging (no pun intended); I went from full speed to zero in the span of an issue or two.

  20. >She has just accepted Osborn’s job offer with a smile and a handshake; I’d love some thought balloons right >about now.

     Hear hear.  Say what you want about Claremont, he didn’t leave you in doubt about what the characters were thinking about important developments for issues on end.  I mean, half the time, what they were supposed to be thinking was *insane* but at least it was there.  Not that I need to have character motivations spoonfed, but it is asking a lot of faith from the reader to tell a story where it’s difficult/impossible to discern the motive for anybody’s actions.  Obviously, you don’t need thought balloons, but having captions or characters who actually converse with other characters who are on the same page as them accomplishes the same thing.  The X-Men status quo is such that noboody trusts or confides in anyone else so the reader is constantly guessing what anybody’s up to.  Which is a valid way to tell a story if it gets wrapped up in the end, but there’s not a lot of precedent to suggest it’s going to.  

  21. great article Mike. agreed with all those Number ones