A spate of #1s I roadtested and went precog on. My arbitrary rule for first issues has parallels with my filmmaking hero Samuel Fuller’s rule for opening scenes. If it doesn’t give you a hard-on (or a hot flash), discard the movie. Ripe for living by. Two hard-ons, then. And one to discard.
The All New Atom #1(DC)
Gail Simone and John Byrne
A rejig this big on weird with no let-up and you’re suspecting that’s Grant Morrison’s doing, his much-ballyhooed black notebook being the spirit juice that feeds the Brave New World franchise this is loosely attached to. Gail's got her own surfeit of strange , though, and most of this feels so her. Gardner Fox and John Broome’s Atom always had an aura of off-kilter that never got as ferocious or determined as, say, Arnold Drake and Bruno Permiani’s Doom Patrol. Simone bringing that to a boil is a gambit that smacks of what God intended. No Ray Palmer around . . .yet. But we do have that eccentric gaggle of mostly geezer scientists in a college town where the dogs are a bit . . . odd. And the new (and Asian) Atom quoting The Incredible Shrinking Man. And that ether of unease. A superhero comic that makes me uncomfortable - - - loftier praise does not exist. Weird superscience and bizarre combats loom, a future vivid with possibilities. * * * *
Steve Niles , Justiniano and Walden Wong
Steve Niles is a hoax. His horror comic ubiquity is a shot wad long on rehash ,short on attack. And the further away from the comfort zones of his snowed-in vampire town he is , the more his work gets haggard and asthmatic. He leaves the overfamiliar Steve Ditko template untampered - - not god worship, no, but lack of a clue, more like - - -but the Creeper's fetish clown garb has more layers than one note anti-hero Jack Ryder ,wrung ,as he is, through a catalogue of cliches, through severe lapses in logic , through motions without vigor. What joyless crap. This ends here. *
Neil Gaiman and John Romita Jr.
Tales to astonish, right. On one hand, obvious - - -Gaiman tackling gods. The Thor gig would have been moreso. But Gaiman in the folds of Marvel continuity,hard superhero country there, and drunk on trippy Jack Kirby bongwater with Romita Jr. supplying the eyecandy - - -gimme gimme. Also, amnesiac day-glo superheroes , tropewise, bode well for sizzle. Also, three issues in - - - Iron Man guests. Evokes 70s era Marvel comics - - -with its Kirbyesque dynamic of rubbing the out-there up with the mundane - - - and crackles. Expect the arcane cosmologies to foreground. And Gaiman to make the overlap when worlds collide sing octaves. And Romita to eyefuck the scenery. Grab Grant's own Kirby cover ,Mr. Miracle , to go with this. And upgrade your toilet reading. As the deafening Gaimanhead silence rises to a din.
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