Each week we take a critical look at some of the best books on the stands, courtesy of Big Guy's Comics (the unofficial comic book store of FanboyPlanet.com). If you publish a book that you want us to be covering, contact us. Or contact Derek. He doesn't have enough to do.

CrossGen Reviews 6-14-02

The First #20
writer: Barbara Kesel, artists: Andrea Di Vito and Rob Hunter

Trenin gets this month's focus as he begins a hunt for Seahn. Because Trenin's hunts have always been successful in the past, the odds are good that Seahn's days are numbered. We also get 12 pages worth of flashback to when Trenin went after Tulity, Seahn's mother, and we are shown the birth of Seahn.

Other developments include Persha trying to convince Pyrem to rescue Ingra, and a new mission for Gannish. While Gannish hasn't gotten that much attention in the past, he will become more important. He has been gathering information about the nature of The First and the fact that they aren't quite as godlike as they think.

The art is good but not great, and the story is building up again. Too bad the climax seems to be months away.

Mystic #25
writer: Tony Bedard, artists: Fabrizio Fiorentino and Matt Ryan

Mystic begins its third year with an exciting new direction. Finally, Giselle has put most of her demons behind her, both figuratively and literally. She is beginning to learn the lesson about power and responsibility that Spider-Man lives by. She even forgives her sister Genevieve for stealing her boyfriend, realizing that she had no one to blame but herself for pushing Thierry away.

The seven Eternal Spirits have cut their contact with Giselle because they view her as being unworthy and irresponsible. Now Giselle sets out to prove them wrong. She embarks on a quest to learn about the seven guilds, starting with her own Nouveau guild. She is also forced the deal with Duke Abaddon, a local mob boss with a grudge.

Guest art is by Al Rio and Roland Paris, and it is beautiful. Rio captures the essence of the characters quite well. I prefer Rio's art to regular artist Fabrizio Fiorentino (who admittedly is getting better). Bedard and Rio both do a good job of showing us a society where magic is commonplace. In particular, I like the gun that damages the conscience instead of doing physical injury.

Way of the Rat #2

writer: Chuck Dixon, artists: Jeff Johnson and Tom Ryder

This second issue improves on an already good debut. Boon is on the run from several different groups who want the scroll and ring that he stole. Boss Tiger wants Boon dead for what he sees as a betrayal, and Judge X'Ain wants the artifacts for his own purposes. Fairly clueless, Boon manages to stay alive only with the help of Po Po the monkey and later a mysterious woman called the Silken Ghost.

The humor and action are both strong, as illustrated by a scene where Boon gets beat up by his monkey. He learns a bit more about the Ring of Staffs. It grants him master-level skill with a fighting staff, but it only works for a true staff. A wooden pole with a blade on the end doesn't qualify, and thus doesn't help him much.

Way of the Rat was launched as a "companion" book to The Path, and while they do take place in the same basic setting, they could not be more different from each other. The Path is dark and gritty, both in the tone and the style of the art. Way of the Rat is clean and bright and colorful and fun in the best possible sense. It is easily Chuck Dixon's best series for CrossGen, and Johnson shines with what must be the best work of his career.

For alternate views and more books, check out Daryl Tay's site, Unique Frequencies.

Charlie Wentling




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