Publisher DC Comics
Writer Brian Azzarello
Art Rags Morales
Color Nei Ruffino
Format 30 Pages of Story and Art - $3.99
Wow, what a great first issue of this new series. My biggest gripe that this is a mini-series as I already want more than six issues.
I was a little worried about Brian Azzarello on this as super heroes are not his strong suit, but none of these guys are super. I was wondering how Rags art would look as the last regular gig he was working on was Nightwing and I thought it was very good but not his absolute best. This book was his absolute best. The story and art were spot on and we are off and racing to what looks to be an exciting adventure. It is only the second book I have read this week and I believe it will win best book.
Starting with the art first. I want to go a little deeper into what is making this book be so highly regarded by this reviewer. I have always enjoyed Rags Morales artwork from Black Condor to Hourman, Identity Crisis and other projects. I have felt that at times he shows the world that he is one of the top comic book artists in the business. After Identity Crisis I thought he would be the main go to guy for DC. It didn’t happen and I read different things interfere, but wow this is his best work ever and he has done great work before. No one but Rags should ink Rags and I hope he was given enough lead time to do all six issues as the work is stunning. He is one of those rare artists who have a photo realist style and a fluid style that makes him half Neal Adams and half Alan Davis and yet it is all Rags. His work hits on all cylinders and Azz’s script calls for just about everything in this first issue.
We start off with a jungle scene and close up action of a man fleeing for his life. Then we have an old style robot attacking the man and some graphic violence. Shift to a funeral scene as Doc Savage shows up to visit his father’s grave in a classic rain soaked solemn type of event. Jump to the Spirit and Dolan at the Spirit’s grave. We then have Doc in a lab with his father’s body which has been exhumed, a scene on the dock with a bad guy of the story, cut back to the jungle and a shot of a jungle girl who saved the man running through the jungle, some great action sequences with the Spirit and more.
To give you a real feel for Rags work I have scanned a four panel page to give you a sense of how good he is with his work. In panel #1 we see the kick to the face of a bad guy by the Spirit. The Spirit has a great grimace on his face and the bad guy’s back is bending from the force of the blow. The second panel shows the left cross to a bad guy and we also see the Spirit is lifting him under his leg with his other hand. Next we have the clunking of the bad guys’ heads and then a beautiful silhouette shot that breaks out of the panel and has the Spirit’s tie flapping in the wind. Also notice how much weight he gives his figures. On top of all that he knows how to layout pages, draw sexy women and convey all of the emotions. This is a top flight artist at the absolute top of his game. People will be swiping scenes from this book for years to come.
The story itself is a lot of set-up, but it is well structured for the first issue. In this issue we get to meet Doc Savage and The Spirit. We get a lot of insight into both characters in a short amount of time. Also if you followed the other Spirit series you are immediately disabused of the notion of this being the same character. This Denny Colt died for a week and came back. He has a devil may care attitude, but you feel he does want justice. The Dolan in this book is his ex-boss, but more of a crooked cop that on occasion uses The Spirit to help him do right and keep his hands out of it. A lot more grey in this version of the Spirit and it worked fantastically.
Doc Savage is every inch the human paragon of perfection. His mental and physical prowess is never overtly displayed in this issue but he just oozes it from every panel he is in. We are never privy to his thoughts and that makes the outsider news article criticizing Doc have that much more of an impact. This is the Doc Savage that I remember reading about when I was a child.
Finally we are given tons of mysteries. Doc’s father’s empty coffin filled with gold that have bloody handprints on the bags, robots and jungle girls, a heavily bearded and drunk Russian on the dock up to no good, coffins being delivered to airports in the dead of night to a Blackhawk plane. It was just great. A real page turner that you wanted to take you time with in order to be able to drink in all the details you get from both the story and the art. And that is the ultimate compliment, the words and pictures worked together in perfect harmony. The text is never explaining what the art shows us and yet it is giving us enough of the story to be waiting on the edge of our seats for the next issue.
Overall Grade A – Azzarello and Morales have given DC a launch that should make it to the moon and back without a hitch. I’m excited about this new Earth and I’m signed up for this the Doc Savage and Spirit series to come.