The other week, Image released two new number one issues, Dynamo 5 (by Jay Faerber and Mahmud A. Asrar) and Strongarm (by Steve Horton and David Ahn). It was just announced today that the former is completely sold out at the distributor. This is not that much of a surprise, as the two issues are good examples of the dos and don'ts of debut issues.
Jay Faerber runs an incredibly professional ship with his titles, as he seems to fully embrace the role of the independent comic creator as not just comic creator, but salesman and marketing guru.
Granted, Faerber has more connections in the comic book industry, so he can do more than other creators (such as Steve Horton and David Ahn) in promoting his comic, but at the same time, Faerber milks those connections for every bit they are worth, putting the time in that other creators do not. Ed Brubaker did a similar sales job with Criminal.
The other aspect of Faerber's marketing, though, is something that any comic creator can do, which is to simply create a first issue that draws in a new reader, and it is here that I believe that Strongarm stumbles.
Strongarm has some decidedly interesting concepts in it, specifically the way the book opens up with some bold revolutionary types, and the topic turns to one of the member's brother, who is content to be a simple delivery boy while his brother tries to make a difference in the world. The gist of the situation is that his brother is willing to ignore the problems of the world so that he does not have to worry. Of course, we soon cut to the delivery boy character, who is in a fight for his life, which results in him gaining the cybernetic arms you see on the cover.
David Ahn is a former member of UDON, and his art has that nice manga feel to it...
However, there is not much for Ahn to DRAW, as the comic feels like it is over before it really starts.
The dichtomy between the two brothers - the one who chose a life of danger, while the other having the life thrust upon him - is interesting, but we really don't see that explored in this issue, we mostly see a fight between Rob (the delivery boy) and a bad guy that gets really quite graphic (I think a bit TOO graphic, to be frank). And then after a super quick flashback sequence, we see Rob appear at his girlfriend's place, possessed by the arms.
And that's it.
Nothing to really catch a reader at all, unless strictly the idea of cybernetic arms is enough to capture a reader's attention - which is unlikely.
Dynamo 5, however, by Jay Faerber, has a nice hook for the readers, then Faerber strives to make the issue stand out even FURTHER.
Actually, it's kinda funny, really, to see how Faerber seems to have a formula, now, to his debut issues, as this issue reads almost identical to Faerber's popular Noble Causes. In both instances, Faerber opens up with an interesting concept that would, in and of itself, draw in a reader - then at the end, he throws in a twist to make the issue stand out in the reader's mind even more so. It is an interesting trick, and it is bound to make the series as hard to drop after just one issue as possible.
The hook in Noble Causes was of a "normal" woman marrying into the superhero family, the Nobles.
In Dynamo 5, the hook is that Captain Dynamo, a prominent superhero, has passed away - and after discovering that he had cheated on her numerous times over the years, Dynamo's wife hunts down five of his illegitimate children, and exposes them to the same radiation that gave Dynamo his powers - and sure enough, they each develop one of Dynamo's many powers.
Mahmud A. Asrar's art is quite reminiscent of the artwork of the first issue of Noble Causes, and since that was by current DC star artist (well, if he isn't a star artist, he SHOULD be) Patrick Gleason, Asrar should have a good future ahead of him.
Noble Causes #1 ended with a twist that dramatically changed the series from that point on, while Dynamo 5 ends with a twist that, while certainly not as dramatic as Noble Causes #1 (who can beat that?), perhaps changes the series even MORE - we shall see, I suppose.
The personalities of the Dynamo 5 characters aren't exactly flush, but Faerber does enough with the plot that the reader is willing to wait for the characters to be developed more (and really, when I say "not exactly flush," I more mean "making the personalities of Captain Planet's Planeteers seem multi-faceted").
So two Image #1s, one that I would recommend and has the makings of a hit (with a sell-out already!) and another that may very well be good, but I wouldn't recommend the book based solely on the first issue, and remember, comic creators - often, AN issue is the best you can hope for from a reader, so make that issue count!