Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Image United #1 Review

With so much hype around this one issue, I decided to give Image United the solo review treatment. I did pick up Blackest Night #5 but I’ll be posting that review on Friday as tomorrow I’ll be posting the Comics to be Thankful for here and at the Revolution.

But now to Image United, one of the most highly anticipated comics of the year for me!

Creative Team
Written: Robert Kirkman
Art: Todd McFarlane, Erik Larsen, Rob Liefeld, Jim Valentino, Marc Silvestri and Whilce Portacio

Opening Comments: Image United #1 does a good job of starting up the event and setting everything in place. Though it doesn’t do too much else. Still a good start to something that could be great.

Story Comments: Most of the story is just the various Image heroes doing their thing. We see Dragon and Youngblood team up against Overt-kill and we see Cyberforce take on some Savage Dragon villains like Mako and this is all the while Fortress is trying to get his bearings.

It’s a very simple set up really. Someone or something is behind all these villains attacking the world at the same time. Not exactly a brand new concept but for the most part it’s a good reason to get our heroes riled up and ready for a big fight.

One thing that excels here are the use of all these diverse characters. Kirkman does a great job of finding the characters and their distinct voices then bringing them to life properly and having them sound as we would expect them to.

I especially liked things like the nod that Savage Dragon hates teaming up with Youngblood since he’s a mature adult and they are very immature young heroes that are mostly glory hounds. There’s no secret that Dragon hates Youngblood so seeing him not want to work with them was great.

Another thing I liked was this twist for the character of Shadowhawk. How he wants to join Youngblood. It sort of reminds me how the original Shadowhawk was disappointed that he never joined a team and I can’t help but wonder if this was a little nod to that great hero.

I’m not too familiar with Cyberforce but what I have read up on them leads me to believe that Kirkman did a good job with them as well with the team dynamic they have going.

Really Kirkman did a good job with the 2 teams on this book. Youngblood was the usual brash overly excited group of young heroes they always have been and Cyberforce where fairly smart and interesting to watch. Especially when they discussed if they should act as the villains keep attacking.

Another thing about Shadowhawk that I liked was how Kirkman showed us the young somewhat nervous hero he is. Eddie is probably the youngest hero of the Image United heroes (Maybe he’s older then Fortress, I’m not sure really) so his nervousness at joining Youngblood really fit his character well.

I admit I’ve never liked the Youngblood cast of characters. Though Kirkman did a pretty good job with them even if they still don’t appeal to me he at least presented them in a way that wasn’t as annoying as they have been in the past.

I did like the opening a lot. Kirkman wrote it sort of to give us our action and show that there is a major throw down ahead in the series but that while we’re not exactly getting that now we at least got a taste and it was really great seeing this.

Fortress is an interesting new character into the Image fold. We can assume he’s our “Main Character” of sorts but at the same time he still is there as just one piece of the puzzle and thankfully Kirkman doesn’t push the character at us so much that we lose focus of the other important heroes to this story.

And that’s where Kirkman excels most in this issue is giving all the characters a lot of moments and making them all feel important. No one feels like they where forced into the story and everyone’s moments felt important to the larger story.

Though Fortress may be our main hero in all of this, since clearly he’s tied to whatever is going on and is seeing visions of the future. We still feel like all the other heroes are important to the story and add a lot of depth to what otherwise was a somewhat thin read.

I really like the use of the Image villains here. Especially having Overt-kill be at least a somewhat credible threat. Sure he does get blown up by the end of the issue but seeing one of the best early Spawn villains get so much time and at least posing as somewhat of a major threat was really cool.

I also liked seeing Mako being attacked by Cyberforce. Rather then just having the heroes all fight their regular villains they are doing a good job of showing how the villains are going after everyone not just the heroes they personally hate and that was a nice touch.

Then of course there’s the new Jim Spawn meeting Al Simmons, or as he now goes, Omega Spawn. I must admit this was a really cool moment, seeing the 2 Spawns face to face but I’m not exactly sure how this is all going to work out. Al wants Jim to work for him but Jim already doesn’t seem too fond of Al.

We get a mention of the “unfaithful” husk that Jim is wearing. I’m wondering if this means that Jim is indeed wearing the K7 Leetha suit and that it left Al for some reason and this is all effecting Jim. It’s just a random theory that popped into my head but it seems that Omega Spawn is bitter that Jim is now Spawn.

We did get a nice moment between Dragon and his kids. I really like the characters of Malcolm and Angel so seeing them get a quick moment of wanting to help their father was nicely done.

Now the biggest issue Image United has to it is that really not much happens yet. Villains are attacking everywhere, our heroes are all in place and now the main villain has revealed himself and is looking for a new recruit who I have the funniest feeling won’t be so eager to join him. (It was mentioned that the 2 Spawns will fight in issue #2, something I’m really excited for)

Though really there’s not much else. Besides some great character moments this issue was a pretty thin read with not much bulk to it besides some good moments and handling of the characters.

Kirkman does a solid job with what he can do for a debut issue but sadly because this issue exists to set up the pieces he can’t really do much more. All the real major stuff starts next month and lets be honest this is typical of an event comic so I’m not really complaining much.

Still if Kirkman could have done a little more I think this issue would have been a more exciting read. Just a bit more to really push this issue into a level of excitement and intrigue. So far everything is set up and now the real fun begins next time and while this issue is a good start it leaves you wanting more both in the good and bad way.

Another big flaw is that it’s not exactly new reader friendly. If you’re not familiar with Shadowhawk, or Spawn, or Savage Dragon then you’re probably going to be confused as to who some of these characters are and their back story. While we didn’t need an entire reiteration of their histories a little bit of back story would have been nice for new readers probably.

Now there was also the Haunt back up. I don’t have too much to say on it other then it was a great 6 pages that really used the 2 characters and how they interact very well and also how we see their powers as they try to figure them out. For 6 pages this was a really great read and if you’re reading Haunt you’ll probably like this moment.

Overall the story is a solid and enjoyable read but that just barely misses the mark on becoming an absolute must read.

Art Comments: there’s a lot to say about the art of Image United what with 6 artists, all of them handling their own characters and creations.

First I want to say that Rob Liefeld did a great job on the layouts of this comic as the panels are all designed very nicely. Also while I may not be a big fan of his art, this was pretty good looking for Liefeld art. Still has some weird things like Diehard have an oddly sculpted ass but whatever. Still good art.

McFarlane did a great job both with the 2 Spawns and Overt-kill who looked absolutely awesome in this issue. He really adds that beautiful detail making for a great looking villain.

Larsen did his usual great job and while his style has changed the most over the years it still retains that classic greatness.

Silvestri continues to turn in gorgeous stuff as Cyberforce and Witchblade are very nicely drawn. My only complaint is Witchblade is only in the opening scene so Silvestri didn’t get to draw more of her.

Valentino turned in solid work though I don’t think this was his best. My biggest problem was he draw Shadowhawk only for 2 pages. I love the character so I was really disappointed that he showed up only 2 times.

Portacio turns in some solid work for Fortress. I really like the design of it all and he does a great job with the emotion the character is conveying through his frustration to try and help and make sense of everything.

Overall the art was absolutely gorgeous.

Final Comments: For me and other longtime Image fans this series is a must read. It’s got a great use of the characters we all loved growing up and is absolutely beautifully well drawn. Though if you’re not familiar with Image this issue isn’t exactly great for you. I say give it a read if you’re interested and you may find something fun.

Really this was a good start but Image United needs to make that extra break for greatness now that it’s all ready to go. If Kirkman and crew can really up the ante with next moth’s issue then Image United has ability to be one of the best Event comics out there.

Story Rating: 3 out of 5
Art Rating: 5 out of 5
Overall Rating: 4 out of 5
Must Read 

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