I picked up "Top Cow: First Look" last week, based on it's cover alone. The art didn't do much for me, but a 4.99 price tag was enough to entice me to give it a whirl. Actually, the rest of the cover design does leave something to be desired. It looks pretty lazily done, especially considering the goal of this book would be to entice new readers and sell them on what a great job Top Cow is doing.
The quick review: Top Cow is sort of doing okay, but not always.
I'll talk about the first three issues in the collection today, and save the next three for later.
First up is "Genius". Described by Top Cow:
"The Pilot Season 2008 winning team of Marc Bernardin & Adam Freeman (The Authority) and Afua Richardson (Cyblade) returns with Genius-a story of a young African-American military genius taking over LA's gangs."
It sounds liek a silly concept, but it was a fun read with bits of cleverness peppered throughout (even if some of those clever bits illustrated how to be a better domestic terrorist). The concept is basically a young woman, raised in South Central Los Angeles, has risen to take over and unify the gangs in her city, and declares war on the oppressors of her people, the LAPD.
Bernardin and Freeman obviously take a lot of their influences from "Boyz n the Hood" and N.W.A., and the dialogue feels like it's trying to be authentic, without it actually being authentic. The plotting is solid, however, and the Origin tale of a modern day Sun Tzu is compelling.
Richardson's art is pop-y and looks good on the page, but sometimes he makes strange decisions and the storytelling breaks down. Odd halos around characters, silhouettes, and confusing camera angles made me, at times, have to go back and reread the page to try and figure out what was going on.
"Genius" was a fun, but sometimes sloppy, read.
Next up is "Sunset", tagged by the publisher as:
"Sunset by Christos Gage (Avengers Academy) and Jorge Lucas (The Darkness) tells the tale of an old Vegas enforcer on a quest for revenge in his twilight years."
I know Christos Gage from his work on IDW's GI Joe books, and I quite like the slow burn drama he's able to build. This one starts off very similarly to Clint Eastwood's "Gran Torino", but there's a good twist at the end that stops it from being a heartwarming tale of the redemption of a cranky old man.
I hadn't really run across Jorge Lucas prior to this, but his art is serviceable, with similarities to Alex Maleev. I think he uses a bit too much digital processing, and it could benefit from a little more economy of the lines.
The set up was good, and I'm interested to see where Gage is taking the character, so this one was a pretty good preview. The benign beginning of the story is contrasted by the shock of the "ol' uber-violence" that jumps in at the end.
Comic Book Resources has an archived preview of the book here, if you wanna check it out.
Lastly, for today, is Mysterious Ways, which Top Cow describes thusly:
"Jason Rubin (The Iron Saint) and Tyler Kirkham (Green Lantern Corps) unveil the supernatural murder-mystery Mysterious Ways."
It's hard sometimes, I find, to review comics. This is usually true when I find a comic that I really do not like, and such is the case with "Mysterious Ways".
Right off the bat, Kirkham's art rubs me the wrong way, as it gave me a 1992 "Extreme Studios"/ Rob Liefeld vibe. Too many lines, too sketchy, and... an interesting take on the study of anatomy.
Once the art leaves me cold, it's very hard for a writer to bring me back into the fold, and in this case, Jason Rubin was not up to the task. The story, about an ex-con/former cop turned alcoholic who is possibly framed for a grisly murder is seemed in "Spawn"-like melodrama and lacks any real emotional content. The min character spends nearly the entire book drunk and that prevents the reader from ever getting a chance to relate to or engage him, and the mystery just sort of falls flat because there's no one to care about.
That's it for now. I'll review the other 3 issues in the book sometime later.