I am giddy with excitement for DC’s First Wave – and that’s not a good sign.
The first comic I ever collected, meaning that I actually sought out all the back issues, was the old Shadow series with Michael Kaluta and Frank Robbins. Terrific stuff if my memory serves – certainly captured the pulp quality of the character and setting. I listened to tape recordings of the old Shadow radio show – great stuff. As I mentioned before, I’m burnt out on superheroes, but I still love the pulp heroes. So when DC put out a First Wave prologue a couple months ago titled Batman/Doc Savage Special, I was geeked.
And when it arrived, I was sorely disappointed. The writer Brian Azzarello, co-creator of 100 Bullets, did a serviceable job but the art by Phil Noto felt static and stiff. Noto can produce beautiful images and pin-ups but his sequential storytelling lacks a certain dynamic quality.
I think the most significant problem with Batman/Doc Savage, and maybe First Wave, is expectations. I want this to be good. Not just good, but sooooooooooo good. I want it to recapture the intrigue, mystery, and atmosphere that’s been missing from most comics. I want a title that I can’t wait to arrive. Can anything live up to that expectation?
For every Tom Strong (perhaps the best pulp hero in the past 30 years), there are a dozen or more X-Men. I remain hopeful but skeptical.