Writer: Bill Willingham
Artist(s): Sean Chen, Walden Wong (i)
Publisher: DC Comics
To be perfectly honest with all of you fine readers out there, I haven’t been keeping up with any of the “Countdown” phenomenon at DC. Besides this first issue of Salvation Run and Duncan Rouleau’s fine mini-series Metal Men, I haven’t touched anything related to “Countdown” or “52” other than Jim Beard’s fine articles on this website every week. But, seeing as how this series is written by one of my favorites, Bill Willingham, I knew I had to at least pick up this first issue. In addition, Salvation Run looks like it will be heavily populated with delicious baddies throughout the seven issue run, which always makes for a fun read. However, this first issue didn’t quite have the mojo I was expecting, not to mention artwork by Sean Chen that wasn’t thrilling in the least. In a world that is run by some of the most charismatic villains in the DC Universe, particularly members of Flash’s Rogues Gallery, there wasn’t much excitement to speak of. While there is a ton of potential for this mini-series that any reader of super-hero (or should I say super-villain) comics can see off the bat, this wasn’t the best start. In fact, due to my buying limits, I probably won’t pick up the next issue of the series unless it’s a particularly light week at the comic shop.
Still, this isn’t to say that there’s nothing of interest in this first issue. Like I said, this issue is full of all of your favorite villains from past and present, including the Joker, Killer Croc, Cheetah, and the aforementioned Rogues, just to name a few of the more prominent names. All of these ruffians have been sent to a world where they can do Earth no more harm (Sound a little like Planet Hulk? I thought so too). The main players in issue #1 are Captain Cold, Abra Kadabra, Weather Wizard, Mirror Master, and Heat Wave, who are trying to carve some sort of life on a world where threats are constant and rest is impossible. As you can imagine, the best parts of this first issue are the conversations between these various villains and the character traits that are illustrated: Kadabra’s superiority complex, Weather Wizard’s cockiness, and Heat Wave’s continual complaining. Each of the Rogues is distinct and colorful, making for an interesting group to build the series around. However, once the other 23 villains are introduced into this issue, I started to lose interest due to the hackneyed Lost-mentality that develops among all of the castaways. The Rogues try to claim leadership of a group that has spent their entire lives seeking ways to stand alone at the top of the pack. While this may sound like an interesting conflict that will continue throughout the series, I thought it a little too cut-and-dry and predictable. I expect more from Willingham and his writing talents, so I hope that the next few issue will introduce elements into this issue other than an all-out war among villains or a militarized build-up of might that will return to Earth as conquerors (like the Hulk).
As for Chen and Wallace Wong’s artwork, there was little to establish a unique artistic identity for this series, leaving a sterile-looking comic for a story that I would expect to explode off the page. Even the action scenes were boring compared to other modern action-packed titles, full of typical movements and lines, as well as over-dramatic expressions. It was a very standard-looking comic, leaving very little impression on me. The only thing I can give Chen credit for is keeping the iconic appearance of each character intact, which I hope will continue throughout the series as more and more villains are introduced.
I’ve heard from other readers who have kept up with “Countdown” that most of the spin-offs have been less than exciting. I think you have to add Salvation Run to that growing list, as a normally reliable writer like Willingham has taken a dream assignment for most writers and created a first issue that is hardly appealing enough.
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!