Cover art by J.G. Jones
First Wave #1
Script: Brian Azzarello
Art: Rags Morales
Colors: Nei Ruffino
March 3, 2010
As a fledgling fangirl, I mostly read what others loaned me. In time, I learned what I liked and didn’t. Much of what I enjoy is of the Spandex persuasion and has a strong female presence. Thus, First Wave is not a typical read for me. Had it not been for Rags Morales’ involvement, I wouldn’t have picked up the book at all. I’m such a fan of Rags’ art that I figured the comic would be worth it even if the story turned out to be a bore. I also approached First Wave knowing nothing about Doc Savage, his entourage, or The Spirit. So here’s my “Tabula Rasa” take on issue #1.
The art is the shining star of this issue. I always enjoy a JG Jones cover. The smooth lines and the sort of chalky, muted tones are nice touches that complement Jones’ take on the characters. It reminds me of Chris Van Allsburg, whose work I enjoyed so much as a kid. Rags’ interior art is amazing. During a quite amusing conversation between The Spirit and crooked cop Dolan, there’s this up-close panel of Dolan’s smirky face that I just stared at: The smoke coming off the just-used match, the shadow cast from the brim of his hat and pipe, and the distinct look of the character. It said so much more than the dialogue could — and that’s just one panel!
If you think of the art for a character-driven book in terms of movie casting, Rags is the best casting director in the studio. He manages to define all of the characters so that you got a feel for who they might turn out to be in this story. He has a real gift for drawing eyes, giving them depth and an almost photo-realistic intensity. I generally liked Ruffino’s colors, but at times, some of Rags’ detail work seemed lost to the coloring. But since the palette and contrasts were aesthetically pleasing as a package, perhaps that’s a fair trade-off.
Since I am not familiar with the characters in First Wave, I had to read the issue a couple times to absorb what was going on. It’s mostly a lot of seed planting, but no real forward motion. We see Dr. Littlejohn somewhere in the South American jungle fleeing from a killer robot. Doc Savage comes home from solitude to his father’s gravesite, only to find some serious shenanigans surrounding his “death.” A Russian guy, who I guess is the big baddie, reads a news report about Doc’s goings-on and has some opinions about the scene taking place in the jungle. The Spirit provides kooky commentary while following a lead on some criminal activity, only to find a fight and a few things unexpected.
I’m curious to see where the story goes, and I’m excited about some of the characters. We get a brief glimpse at Rima the Jungle Girl in this first issue. Based on a preview from Rag’s character notebook that I saw a while back, I love Rima’s look, and I’m looking forward to seeing what Azzarello does with her. She doesn’t have a great deal of established continuity, but in the hands of an able writer, that can be a great thing. There is a Black Canary yet to be revealed, which I have high hopes for. The Spirit was wildly entertaining, as he’s a special kind of crazy. I’ve always had an affinity for eccentric characters. Plus, I’m really digging Doc Savage, who’s all smart and bronzy. Yum.
Verdict: The first issue doesn’t offer a great deal of exposition, and I imagine it’ll take another issue or two before we get any. You might get more out of it if you are familiar with Doc and Spirit. The story was certainly not a bore. Azzarello managed to pique my interest, but Rags Morales is what made First Wave worth my $3.99.