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Pulp and powerless

'First Wave' #1 cover by J.G. Jones
'First Wave' #1 cover by J.G. Jones
DC Universe

DC Comics is launching another new title. For those concerned with more confusing continuity changes to the DCU, fear not, for this new title will stand alone, apart from the greater DCU, in a brand new universe. This is the universe of First Wave, DC's new monthly series!

First Wave is a new part of the DC universe that is a throwback to the days of pulp comics like The Shadow, The Phantom and comics that starred First Wave's three heroes, Batman, Doc Savage and The Spirit. In these pulp comics, many a time the heroes would possess no powers at all. These days, it's hard to imagine a time when Batman didn't hang out with heroes who can fly, shoot lasers from their eyes, run really fast or bend steel, but there was such a time. These days, many Batman fans are beginning to long for those days. Batman is, after all, a human being with no powers but the power of human will, and many fans long for him to not spend time with super beings. First Wave will give those fans what they've been waiting for.

In the prequel to First Wave, a one shot called The Batman /Doc Savage Special, writer Brian Azzarello and artist Phil Noto bring us the story of the first meeting between Batman and Doc Savage. In this story, Savage is the perfect man, being not only the smartest man on Earth, but also the most physically impressive. He's quite cold, feeling no real attachment to his fellow human beings because of his unmatched superiority. He also views himself as a protector of his fellow man and acts as a hero. He is a celebrity and no one, including the police, have any qualms about letting him bring criminals to justice. So, when it appears that Batman is involved in a shooting (in this incarnation, Batman packs heat which, while it seems strange now given the character's aversion to guns these days, is actually a perfect homage to his origins) Savage takes it upon himself to bring him down.

Batman, of course, is the exact opposite of Savage. He works in shadows, he's a wanted man, and he's looked down upon. In this incarnation, he's not yet the brooding hero most of the world now knows. Instead he's young and has fun doing what he does. But, Azzarello promises in some after-notes "what we'll put him through will get him there(to be the brooding hero)." And while, as was mentioned above, he carries guns, he is very much the Batman fans know and love.

The Batman/ Doc Savage Special is a must read for all those looking to take a break from the mainstream DCU, especially Batman fans who want to see Bruce Wayne back in the cowl and away from super beings. The story by Azzarello is enough to whet the appetite for what is to come in the First Wave monthlies and the art by Noto is smooth with a retro feel. While it is not clear yet how The Spirit will become involve, those who read this prequel will no doubt be eager to find out.