Welcome back to Longbox Junk, the blog packed absolutely FULL of comic reviews that nobody ever asked for. No need to thank me. . .it's just what I do!
My work schedule is still pretty chaotic (but I still have a job at least, so I'll keep complaints to a minimum), so I'm TRYING to suppress my long-winded nature a bit in order to keep the Longbox Junk shorter and coming on a somewhat regular basis.
To help with this, I'm stepping outside of the usual Longbox Junk zone and shining the spotlight on some single issues instead of full runs or complete mini-series. For now, that spotlight will shine on the #1 issues I've recently been pulling from my Local Comic Shop's back issue bins as I do my part to try and help them out by spending the same amount every week on back issues (not the bargain bin) that I normally would on new comics. . .and may I take this opportunity to humbly suggest anyone reading this to do the same, if possible?
ANYWAY. . .
First issues. Are they a good introduction to the characters? Do they make me want to keep reading more? These are the main questions I ask myself when I read a first issue. Let's take a look at a couple and find out the answer!
JUDGE DREDD #1
SCRIPT: Andrew Helfer
PENCILS: Mike Avon Oeming
COVER: Mike Avon Oeming
That's a lot of blood right there on the cover, considering this comic still sports the CCA seal up in the corner. Tiptoeing beyond THAT, I like this cover a lot! It's a little cluttered, but the bright primary colors on Dredd and the title really pop in a big way against the background of carnage. I also like the downward perspective, like it's from the view of a security camera. Probably not work safe for the "Wall O' Covers", but very nicely-done.
In the grim, crime-ridden future of America, the Federal Government has authorized the militarization of the police force into heavily-armed "Street Judges", who act as on the spot judges, and possibly executioners, of criminals as they patrol the blocks of gigantic "Mega-Cities".
We begin our story as one of Mega-City One's harshest Judges, Dredd, takes down an unauthorized flight smuggling contraband "Cybernarc" cartridges in his usual explosive and very publicly-violent style. Unfortunately, later investigation reveals that all the Cybernarc has disappeared from the wreckage of the craft. Dredd is called into headquarters to explain himself.
Dredd believes in upholding the law, no matter the cost in either lives or property. His superiors disagree and come to the decision that Judge Dredd is a public relations nightmare and needs to be re-assigned. His first new job. . .street training for a trio of new recruits fresh from the Academy and getting them ready for patrol.
Chafing at being forced to babysit, Dredd takes the opportunity to "train" his new recruits by dragging them along as he begins an unauthorized investigation into exactly what happened to the missing drugs that got him into trouble with his superiors.
Dredd (his terrified recruits in tow) quickly follows a trail of clues straight to a conspiracy involving corrupt Judges working for a gangster known as "Mickey The Stump". He wastes no time in tracking down The Stump's headquarters and shooting his way through the guards, but as he pursues the fleeing gangster, Dredd falls into an ambush and finds himself surrounded, facing dozens of heavily-armed thugs alone.
For Judge Dredd this is just an average Tuesday. . .
To be continued. . .
I have a somewhat sketchy knowledge of Judge Dredd based on the two movies, a few issues of 2000 A.D. and some Dredd mini-series (mostly the set of Batman/Judge Dredd crossovers) in my collection. I wasn't aware that DC had the rights to the character for a while. A bit of research gave me very little information on this series beyond that it has nothing to do with the continuity of 2000 A.D. or the movies, and that DC's time with Judge Dredd was pretty short.
This series only lasted 18 issues and a sister series called "Legends of The Law", which was a "Legends of The Dark Knight" sort of anthology starring Judge Dredd by multiple creative teams, also only lasted 13 issues. Neither series seems to have been popular enough to have been collected, and barely any mention of either can be found beyond raw publication data on various collecting and sales sites.
I believe this might be the only review of this issue that has been (or probably ever will be) written, so there's that.
ANYWAY. . .
I really enjoyed this first issue. It has a tight story that reads like a T.V. cop show on the printed page. It introduces Judge Dredd and his harsh world very nicely for new readers without a lot of exposition, it sets up future stories, and ends on a cliffhanger that makes me want to read the next issue. . .so it hits the marks I expect a first issue to hit.
I think DC might have been in a strange situation here. By ditching the long and involved A.D. 2000 continuity and starting fresh, they did a great job in reaching out to new readers. . .but at the same time, I have the feeling that established fans turned their noses up at the fresh start and didn't support this series enough to last beyond 18 issues. Personally, I liked their decision. . .but if you are a die-hard Judge Dredd fan, this might seem a little "Basic".
Like I mentioned above, the story has a snappy, cinematic pace and style that feels like you're reading a T.V. show on the page. For some, the "cop show" story might feel a bit TOO familiar and procedural, but for me it's one of the best parts of the comic and I could easily see this being adapted as a television series.
The art also lends itself well to the cinematic style of the story, with varying "camera" angles and interesting "shots" as the characters move across the page. The sequence below is a very nice example of what I'm trying to say. It's not the greatest comic art I've ever seen, but it does a great job telling the story at hand.
Overall, what we have here is a first issue that does exactly what I expect a first issue to do. . .introduce characters in a new reader-friendly manner and tell a good enough story that I want to read more. Established Judge Dredd fans might be put off by the complete disregard for all previous continuity, but if you just want to read a dark Sci-Fi "cop show" comic with a bit of humor splashed in, then this is a great place to start.
LAST DAUGHTER OF KRYPTON
SCRIPT: Michael Green & Mike Johnson
PENCILS: Mahmud Asrar
COVER: Mahmud Asrar
A very nicely-done character portrait! I like the muted color scheme quite a bit on this one. Supergirl's face looks just a little strange, but other than that there's nothing I don't like about this. I don't normally like Supergirl (or generally any title in the DC Super-Family, for that matter), but this cover made me buy this comic, so job well done. Let's check out what's inside!
Our tale begins as a mysterious piece of space debris lands in a desolate Russian field. From it emerges a strangely-dressed young woman. She is confused and doesn't remember how she came to be there or what has happened, or why she is dressed the way she is. The last thing she remembers is coming home after visiting her friends. We the reader are given clues through her thoughts that she is from another planet called Krypton and her name is Kara Zor-El.
As the confused girl tries to get her bearings, a group of men wearing power armor suits surround her and attack! Their communication among themselves tells us that they intend to subdue and capture the mysterious stranger on the orders of the leader of the unnamed organization they work for. They seem to have the upper hand at first, but then the sun rises and Kara realizes that she is no longer on Krypton as her body undergoes a change, giving her superhuman strength and the ability to project rays of heat from her eyes.
The tide of battle turns in Kara's favor as she uses her new powers to quickly decimate her attackers. . .but just as quickly as the fight began, it ends with a rush of wind as a flying man wearing the same colors and symbol as Kara does arrives and orders her in Kryptonian to stop fighting!
It's a Super-Cliffhanger!
To be continued. . .
What we have here is an extremely simple story that is mostly a fight between Supergirl and her mysterious attackers. Beyond that, there is very little past a few clues to who she is and where she is from. The simplicity of the story lends itself quite well to a first issue in that the reader shares a bit in the confusion of the main character as she tries to get her bearings.
One would think that such a bare-bones introduction isn't much of an introduction at all, but oddly enough in this case it works. I liked the fact that we don't learn EVERYTHING about Kara Zor-El in her first issue. It's probably the thing I liked most about this issue.
Like I said in my look at the cover, I'm generally not a fan of ANY character in DC's Super-Family. I can enjoy individual issues and stories about Super-Man/Boy/Woman/Girl/Dog/Etc. . . but I've never followed any of them on a regular basis. I like that this first issue seems to be reaching out to new readers such as myself in a big way by not making me deal with any past information or continuity beats beyond general assumed basic comic fan knowledge of who Superman is and the doomed planet of Krypton . .and if you don't know at LEAST those two things about comic books, you might want to stick to crossword puzzles as a hobby. Just sayin'.
ANYWAY. . .
Unlike some other New 52 "introductory" issues I've read recently that seem to be little more than extensions of (then) existing continuity with a few cosmetic changes, Supergirl #1 seems to embrace the idea of being a whole new start for readers that the entire New 52 was SUPPOSED to be. I don't like Super-Comics much, but I liked THIS Super-Comic because it does exactly what a first issue needs to do. . .Introduce characters in a new reader-friendly way and tell a story that makes me want to read more.
With such a simple story, the art is necessarily going to have to carry a lot of weight. Thankfully, Mahmud Asrar is well up to the task. It's not the greatest comic art I've ever seen, but it's interesting, dynamic, and colorful without being cartoony. It's hard for me to take a character like Supergirl seriously, but the art here definitely helps me decide that I wouldn't mind reading a few more issues to see what happens next.
Overall, despite my general dislike of DC's Super-Family of comic characters, I liked this issue quite a bit. The story was extremely simple, but it gave me just enough meat on the bone to want to see what happens next and to learn a little more about Kara Zor-El.
The art did a lot of the heavy lifting in an issue that's pretty much an extended fight scene with a few story bits thrown in for introductory flavor, but I like the art style and it did a lot to help me decide that I MIGHT decide to like a Super-Comic for once, and that maybe I'll pick up a few more issues next time I hit the LCS to see where the story goes.
I can't speak for the rest of the series, but I can heartily recommend THIS issue if you want a good example of a first issue doing it right. If you are an established Supergirl fan, you might find this story extremely basic and not what you were wanting, but if you're a new reader like myself it's a great little piece of Longbox Junk. Give it a try if you should spot it in the bargain bin.
All in all, not a bad couple of first issues! Not bad at all. Both of them hit the marks I expect a first issue to hit. . .introducing characters in a new reader-friendly way and telling a story that makes me want to read more. Neither one of these comics are GREAT, but both are good. I couldn't find much wrong with either one of them.
If you're looking for some dark sci-fi police action with a little humor thrown in, then Judge Dredd #1 is a good place to start. Just be warned that if you are already a Judge Dredd fan from other sources, the DC version is going to seem extremely basic, and probably will be a little disappointing.
It's the same with Supergirl. If you're already a Supergirl fan, the complete reboot aimed specifically at new readers might not make you happy. But if you're looking for a comic that introduces a new character by making you learn about her through story instead of exposition, then Supergirl #1 is surprisingly good.
Up Next. . .
MORE First Issue Fun.
Be there or be square!