Schachat's Occasional Breakdown
Schachat will one day
be a real boy.
a break from the machinations of The Adversary and the squabbling
in Fabletown, Fables #51 follows
former princess/current spy Cinderella on a diplomatic mission
to the Cloud Kingdoms.
turns out, the land of Giants discovered when Jack climbed
up the Beanstalk rests over not only the Homelands but also
our Mundy world AND The Adversary’s empire.
Unfortunately, Cindy learns that the High
Kings of the land so loathe their duties, they abdicate
the throne as quickly as possible. This means she only has
a matter of days to get a treaty signed. Worse yet, the
High King is stricken with an ear infection that keeps him
moaning in bed like an 80 ft. tall baby, and his court physician
thinks prayer is the only cure. Cindy disagrees, of course.
issue makes for a great jumping-on point. All the style,
literary references, and wit we’ve come to love in
Fables in a lovely little oneshot. One reference
to Bigby Wolf aside, new readers shouldn’t suffer.
Rounded out by guest artist Shawn McManus’ warm, friendly
style, it’s good times all around.
latest attempt to resurrect their flaming biker in Ghost
Rider #1 is a bit harder to pin down. It reads
more like a “#1/2" issue you’d get in Wizard
than a relaunch. Artistically, Javier Saltares, Mark Texeira,
and colorist Dan Brown make ol’ flaming skullhead
just what fans want– but we have no clue where the
in Hell (like all great romances), Ghost Rider narrates
his situation: how Satan constantly teases him with hope
of escape, how he never escapes, how possibilities for escape
keep popping up, etc. 19 pages later, all we know is that
Ghost Rider’s still a sucker and Satan’s still
tormenting him. No plot development, but we do get a nice
glimpse into Ghosty’s moral code.
he always looks cool on a t-shirt.
last two pages, however, hint at where the story really
should’ve started. How this issue could’ve been
summed-up in one page so we could get to an inciting incident.
As usual, Daniel Way ignores the fundamentals of storytelling
just so he can stretch out a thin plot. As with his dull
“Peace in our Time” run on Incredible Hulk,
this looks to be another waste of time. But that arc DID
lead to “Planet Hulk”, so maybe there’s
a chance Ghost Rider can stay alive. Without Way,
one of the most jam-packed plots this week comes in Green
Lantern #12. After the initial arcs, it seemed
like Geoff Johns’ crusade might already have run out
of steam, but this outing weaves five or six solid threads
into a fast-paced thriller.
himself and Guy Gardner captured by Hank Henshaw (AKA The
Cyborg Superman, AKA I-Can’t-Believe-It’s-Not-Dead),
Hal Jordan learns that his last battle with the Cyborg delivered
Henshaw into the arms of the Manhunters. They rallied and
collected the fallen Green Lanterns Jordan left for dead
and tapped into their power rings. Plans for universal domination
all this, we learn that Crimson Fox has completely changed
her mind (or had her mind changed for her), and has now
joined the new Global Guardians. Allan Scott isn’t
buying it and calls up Oliver Queen. On the other side of
the pond, bounty hunters argue over the contract on Jordan’s
head (look for the Boba Fett cameo). Then, just when you
thought we’d run out of Green Lanterns to resurrect,
Jordan hits the jackpot.
this issue hits a few snags. First, it does the usual “oh,
that character didn’t really die” thing a few
dozen times. Then it somehow places the rings stolen by
Jordan in Henshaw’s hands. And, of course, we again
have to wonder about the rules on who’s able to control
a ring and why.
Johns overcomes this by racing through the details like
his pen is on fire. He also does us the service of remembering
Jordan’s past sins, giving the character the depth
he needs. If the story can keep building like this and not
tuck tail between its legs, this might be the best run on
Green Lantern in at least three years.
year wait also preceded Scarlet Traces: The
Great Game #1, the sequel to Ian Edginton
and Ben D’Israeli’s steampunk sequel to H.G.
Welles’ War of the Worlds. Set 40 years after
the British conquest of Mars staged at the end of Scarlet
Traces, this tale sets itself in a world where Britain
became the uncontested superpower. The War of the Worlds
supplanted the World Wars, colonies never left British control,
and almost all technological advances of the 20th century
were founded on Martian technology.
how great a game is it?
This time around, the story switches perspectives
from an Alan Quartermain to a Lois Lane. While the world
chafes under English rule, Lotte begins to unravel a mystery
tied into the Scottish terrorist movement and what really
happened on Mars. All that stands in her way is the most
powerful fascist dictatorship in the history of the world.
the first Scarlet Traces delivered some great Victoriana,
the ending did cheat readers a bit. The revelation of the
states’ crimes was never intended as a surprise (and
the empire was quite similar to Warren Ellis’ Ministry
of Space), but taking the fight to Mars almost demanded
a sequel. Now, we find ourselves well past that fight, but
presented with a more tightly guarded mystery. What did
happen on Mars? Did the warnings of the captured Martian
from the first book come to pass?
story is certainly more of a nail-biter, but, as ever, D’Israeli’s
gorgeous architecture and technology are the big draw. For
those wanting more stories like League of Extraordinary
Gentlemen, Welles groupies and fans of steampunk, this
one’s definitely worth a look.
Superman #654 is one of the best
issues in recent years and foretells a great run by Kurt
Busiek, it missed out on a golden opportunity. THIS should
have been the book to come out when Superman Returns
hit theaters. It’s a oneshot with action, romance,
and no confusing continuity to chase off new readers, unlike
certain arcs involving Kryptonian battleships and infinite
Playing like a “day in the life”,
this issue takes us through the Man of Steel handling his
duties as a reporter, husband, and defender of mankind.
In lots of ways, it’s like trying to explain Santa
Claus: some writers will say he fits it all into one day
because he’s “magic”. Busiek, on the other
hand, demonstrates exactly how Superman gets through it
all. How the superpowers are used for more than just cracking
skulls. He also reminds us of the weakest link in so many
Superman stories: the importance of being Clark Kent.
Lots of people talk a good game about how
they’d write Superman, but Busiek is a master. This
story is great for new readers to dive into and well worth
the money. I do have a couple qualms with Carlos Pacheco’s
choice to illustrate Supes’ more sadistic side, and
there’s something odd about Lois spending most of
her scenes running around in tiny panties, but this is one
of the rare times where it looks like there’s hope
A different angle
on a classic cover.
subtitle for Ultimate Spider-Man #97
nearly thrashed all hope out of me. “Clone Saga: Part
1"? What Bendis promised to never do? And the friggin’
Scorpion is on the cover? Dooooooooom...
But, as ever, Bendis is taking familiar
titles and characters, beating them into submission, and
setting up an entirely different continuity. Thank God.
The main plot of the story still centers
on Peter Parker’s dysfunctional love life. Sure, he’s
dating Kitty Pryde, but her neediness is giving rise to
jealousy. But, then again, doesn’t he love MJ? Didn’t
they only break up to keep her safe? Is it wise for them
to pretend they’re just friends now?
Then, before we can absorb all these questions, the most
deranged person to ever don Scorpion armor decides to blow
up the mall. And, yes, you’ll recognize his face,
but you won’t want to send hate mail to Bendis for
pencils may be a little more rushed than usual, but this
book just keeps blazing along. Though the words “Clone
Saga” strike fear in the hearts of many a Spider-fan,
the Ultimate interpretation looks to be taking the same
unique tac that made the “Carnage” arc a classic.
In Bendis we trust.