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First Impressions: Gods Fallen to Earth

Four new comic books where the fantastic and the down-to-earth collide with varying results.

By / Posted on 20 April 2011

It’s been a great season for fresh new comic book launches, so we thought we’d take a look at four of the new series launches from the past month and why we’ve got our hopes up for some exciting new four-color stories.

Herc

Herc #1

Hercules has lost his godly powers. Don’t worry about how, it was in a big Avengers storyline and is quickly glossed over on the first page so we can get to the real action. Despite being a mortal for the first time ever, Herc is still pretty darn strong, has an arsenal of tools from Greek mythology and, by the end of the first issue, a job as bartender at a Greek restaurant in Brooklyn.

Choice Moment: While riding what appears to be the 2 train, Herc protects a scared girl from a gang called the Warhawks. Our hero effortlessly slices off one of their arms, pins another to the wall with an arrow and turns them all to stone. The book is chock full of personality and humor, but this opening volley shows us that it’s also going to be unapologetically violent. We’re totally okay with that.

nonplayer

nonplayer #1

Familiar situations in science fiction meet common ground here.  Not-too-distant future, advancements in industry, videogames are more immersive thanks to virtual reality, kids get addicted to an MMO along the lines of World of Warcraft. What sets Nonplayer apart from the rest of this overdone field is the heart of the characters and the lush artwork. Decisions in the game world are based on money in the real world, decisions in the real world for our players are based on how they’ll allow them to keep playing.

Choice Moment: Eh, nothing in particular. The whole first issue feels like setup and introduction to the world, but damn, is it pretty. Reminds us of Geof Darrow’s original art for The Matrix.

FF

FF #1

The Human Torch is dead, and with him the Fantastic Four. Marvel’s first family can’t just call it quits, though, so Mr. Fantastic, the Invisible Woman and the Thing are back as the Future Foundation, a super-science braintrust that includes Reed’s time-traveling father, a pair of Atlantean children, Dragon Man, and the amazing Spider-Man. There’s still superhero action, as a fight is clearly building up with the Frightful Four (Wizard, Medusa, Sandman and Trapster) but mostly it’s a family of scientists trying to solve humanity’s problems before they become problems, which is refreshing in a world of demons hitting each other ad nauseum.

Choice Moment: Reed’s genius and sometimes-precognitive daughter Valeria invites a new member to the Future Foundation without her father’s permission. Reed is furious, of course, but it drives home that the things this new FF will do are necessary for the greater good, and not always the popular thing to do.

Butcher Baker the Righteous MakerButcher Baker: The Righteous Maker #1

Sometimes it feels like Joe Kelly is trying to prove something about himself. Critically-acclaimed runs on X-Men, Wildcats, Automatic Kafka and others all proved to be commercially unimpressive and conceptually ahead of their time. Then he created Ben 10 for the Cartoon Network and was suddenly a huge success with the all-ages crowd. So now he’s back with a book that makes even those edgy books of yore look like Saturday morning cartoons.

Butcher Baker, as a superhero, is a mix of Captain America and Watchmen‘s Comedian. He fought the good fight for his country and, when superheros fell out of fashion, retired to a life of sex, drugs, and general debauchery. Now the government wants him back for one more black ops mission: break into the super-prison that has housed all of his old enemies for twenty years and kill them all, saving the taxpayers money on housing and feeding terrorists.

Choice Moment: Jay Leno and Dick Cheney, apparently the two most powerful people in American politics, think they’ve got an offer the washed-up hero can’t refuse, only to be stunned by his… erm… lounge.

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Derrick Sanskrit has produced critically-acclaimed work as an artist and writer for Nerve, Babble, Pitchfork, The Onion and the Museum of Comic and Cartoon Art, among others. He founded The Pop Aesthetic during the coldest months of his life in 2010.