Publisher DC Comics
I was very curious to see how well DC would be able to continue with these characters after JMS got them all off to a decent start. Well Shield #1 was all set to be a home run, when suddenly Magog appeared on the last page. Well not to worry and I plowed ahead into the Inferno back-up, again all set up to be another hit, when the last panel Green Arrow shows up. Wow, two great stories mucked up with a forced guest star to prove we are in the DCU or something. These little editorial mandates really suck and took the edge off what is otherwise a very good opening issue for both characters, well worth my $4 entry fee.
Writer Brandon Jerwa
Art Greg Scott
Colors Tanya & Richard Horie
I’m going to start with the back up story first. I’m going to give DC tons of credit for these back up series as everyone that I have read have been well done and the Inferno story continues that trend. The story picks up right where JMS left off with Inferno wandering away from the docks where he had a fight and not knowing who he is. The police are starting their investigation and are told they are off the case by a special FBI Unit.
Inferno (in his civilian identity) is struggling to figure out who he is and checks into a small motel and gives his name which is somehow immediately flagged and the FBI is notified. Frank (Inferno) Verrano sees Inferno on TV and realizes that Inferno is a totally different person. He receives a phone call in his hotel room telling him to get out and is attacked by a group of strangely uniformed men. To escape he turns into Inferno and as the place is burning down Green Arrow shows up.
We have a lot of mysteries going on and we are being given bare glimpses of what might be happening. Frank is obviously part of the government or a government experiment, but he has no clue what is happening. We also have no clue why Inferno appears to be a totally different person. The story moves quickly and draws you in and you want more as soon as it is over. Brandon Jerwa does a great job with the story. Remember he only has half the pages to get the story done and he packs each page with action, intrigue and plot.
Greg Scott does a great job with the art. It has a strong realistic touch and is in the Michael Lark type of school with a touch of Mignola’s spotting blacks here and there. The colorists set the tone perfectly by keeping an almost noir feel, but making the fire scenes rather special as they are drenched in the fire color, yet still let the artwork shine through. I like Greg’s work and it is getting better and better every time I see his work.
Grade A- Since we are in Star City I can forgive Green Arrow a little bit, Inferno is off to a great start on his own. We don’t need ham handed editorial mandates shoving a DCU hero in the story.
Writer Eric Trautmann
Pencils Marco Rudy
Inks Mick Gray
Colors Art Lyon
The Shield was also extremely well done. Eric Trautmann I first noticed on Checkmate and I believe he may have co-written a script or two with Rucka. His work on JSA vs Kobra has been very good and I was impressed with his debut issue of the Shield. Eric is moving onto my list of “up and coming” writers.
The story begins as the Shield begins his latest mission. Groups of covert operatives have been getting lost in a Middle Eastern country. The Shield is to go in and find out what has been happening to them. As he is jumping into Bialya, there is mention of the havoc that Black Adam caused and that super heroes are unwelcome. It was clear we were in the DCU, which negated the need for Magog at the end of this story.
Eric has Joe go in as just Joe and then exhibits some different uses of the nano-technology that makes up Joe’s war suit. We have some nice characterization bits as Joe tries to do the right thing by the natives of the area and while he scores some points he also is treated with a fair level of scorn. It exhibits a lot of depth for the situation and is a nice reflection of how America maybe perceived in the Middle East in the real world. It was nice to see a good level of complexity in a scene which could have just been treated very lightly.
The story draws to a conclusion as some of the missing men are found, but they are attacking the Shield. Joe gets caught trying to protect the young man serving as his guide as well as subdue the American soldiers who are attacking him. It was very well done and great stuff and ended with a single panel page of Magog showing up, which again felt very forced. Hopefully Eric will make the mandate work out anyway.
Now let’s talk about Marco Rudy, this artist and is going to be a fast raising star at DC. Neal Adams is the classic photo realism / Jack Kirby artist. By that I mean he makes the people look real, but has the super hero dynamic that is exhibited in page design and layouts and more. Ivan Reis has rapidly become the gold standard at DC with his work on Blackest Night, well Marco Rudy served noticed that he has the potential to move up into that type of class. He is not there yet, but his work was very good and the double page spread for pages 2 and 3 was excellent. Rudy’s work adds to the overall book and makes Eric’s good script even better. The colorist nails the tone as he weaves the super heroic feel with a desert war type feel to the coloring.
Overall Grade B- Magog brings down the grade, but a very strong first issue and has me looking to be back for issue #2 and more.
DC has a new title that I’m happy to add to my list and while not a book that will be a break out hit; this is a strong second tier book that DC has been lacking in their overall product mix.
Thanks to writer Eric Trautmann - his comment says "I did specifically ask for a DC guest star, so it wasn't a "mandate"; Magog was one of the characters available, and given the potential for story overlap with Magog's own monthly, I wanted to help differentiate the two characters.
And the Green Arrow / Black Canary stuff was Jerwa's idea, so the "editorial mandate" stuff is, frankly, incorrect. "
Therefore I have to correct my remarks as Magog and Green Arrow were not editorial mandates both were the writer's ideas. Note sure I agree with the need for a guest star in the first issue. These characters are both being done so well I want to keep the focus on the Shield and Inferno, but still that ups the Grade for both books to "A".
Thanks to Eric for the update - I'd rather be wrong and know then not.