HOME ABOUT SUPPORT US SITES WE LIKE FORUM Search Fanboyplanet.com | Powered by Freefind FANBOY PLANET
Comics Today's Date:

Jason Schachat spent way too much time living mutant high school drama.

Jason Schachat's Weekly Breakdown
July 23, 2004

Each week, Jason Schachat takes you along for his ride on the four-colored pulp pony. Feed the addiction, and the addiction feeds you.

Comic-Con is here!

Well, Comic-Con is in San Diego, actually, and I’m still rotting away in my cell while Derek and the others traipse around the floor with the rest of the downtrodden masses…

But they slipped some comics through the bars before they left, so let’s go nuts!

Daredevil #62 makes a big splash, this week, taking a jab at politics, the espionage community, and fidelity. What really excites me, though, are the reaffirmations that Bendis’ prior arcs aren’t things to be lost in DD lore. Matt Murdock is still seen as Kingpin of Hell’s Kitchen, his marriage to Milla won’t be forgotten, and the revelation of his secret identity won’t magically erase like so many seem to (‘cause let’s face it; realistically, once headlines are made, people aren’t letting go that easy). The arc is still moving pretty slowly, so fans that missed the last couple of issues can still dive in without missing much.

Emma Frost #13 also offers itself as a jumping-on point. A dull, boring jumping-on point. After the last issue, where Emma finally harnessed her powers to “mind-control” a gang of thugs into turning on each other and letting her go, the new arc promises us six issue of action-packed COLLEGE! Yes, that’s right; just in case your own school days weren’t boring enough, Marvel’s gonna let you relive them through the eyes of a bookworm with the body of a playmate. Even though this issue finally provides us with a cold, blonde, vixen Emma (after various teases where they presented the image, only to return to the brunette plain-jane look the next month) she’s still vanilla on the inside. What’s more, all the women Adriana Melo draws here are foxes, so the change may not last.

And, at this rate, it doesn’t look like we’ll EVER get near the Hellfire Club. As a superhero book, Emma Frost rarely works, but, even as soap opera, there simply isn’t enough going on. The only regular character has been Emma, and, for someone who’s been narrating the whole time, we know very little about what she’s thinking, feeling, or even doing. If you want a Marvel soap-opera comic about the troubles of a teenage girl, read Mary Jane (more on that later…); If you want a great female superhero book, pick up She-Hulk. Emma Frost is a snore.

Yes, Jason, this is EXACTLY
what Comic-Con is like.
Ironically enough, DC Presents: Green Lantern #1 makes for a much better read than the adventures of Ms. Frost using a method older than the hills: basing a story off a pre-rendered cover (a favorite tool of Julie Schwartz, of whom this series is made in memoriam). The two tales differ in tone drastically; the first being a cornball jab at the Silver Age, penned by Brian Azzarello and penciled by Norm Breyfogle (who’s facial expressions are some of the best I’ve seen this year), that’ll have you in stitches by the end, and the second a more modern-flavored Green Lantern and Green Arrow team-up by Martin Pasko and Scott McDaniel that offers a creepy but interesting look into the mind of Hal Jordan. And, yes, if you’re a Hal Jordan fan dying for his imminent return, this is one you need to buy.

Of course, DC’s really trying to push Justice League Elite #1 as their must-have, this week; god only knows why… Now, I’ll confess to being an all-too-infrequent JLA reader, and, usually, I would make up for this by researching or playing catch-up, but when the book says “No. 1”, I’d hope to not have to read the original Joe Kelly run with The Elite and JLA #100 to have a clue as to what’s going on. I remember that The Elite are basically a slightly twisted version of The Authority, meant to contrast against the purity and idealism of the JLA, but why am I reading about them now? What’s going on? Why’s all this happening? Is my copy of the issue missing a re-cap page?

The original run of The Authority is something to treasure, and I instantly agreed with Warren Ellis’ bragging that it wasn’t just A superhero book; it was THE superhero book. However, I’ve never enjoyed anything done with the characters since Ellis left, and Justice League Elite hits the same pitfalls of making the characters too callous, cruel, and constantly dripping with blood while the story loops around confusedly and tries to seem important. The events here look like an amalgam of events from Stormwatch (which became The Authority after nearly all the team died, governments pulled support, and the few remaining heroes banded together to save the world on their own) and WildC.A.T.S. Is it entertaining? Maybe. Have we seen it before? Yeah, and it was a lot better, then.

The Twilight of the Gods was also better than the events continuing in this month’s chapter of Loki. Still beautiful yet boring, issue #2 keeps trying to be an Asgardian Macbeth, only without all the intrigue, conflict, and generally good writing that makes the tale an enduring classic. Esad Ribic again paints beautifully, but the story’s nothing more than Loki gloating over his prisoners, flashing back to his torments and misdeeds, and waiting for the inevitable and swift end to his reign. Again, nothing we haven’t already seen.

But are the kids reading it?
But for new things, the surprise of the summer has to be Mary Jane. As soon as I saw the cover for issue #1, I cringed in that just-saw-grandma-naked way (oh, the fear) at the thought of Marvel putting out another teenage book for girls- this time pushing the “For All Ages” label. And with Mary Jane Watson, no less! But I’ll be damned if that first issue didn’t blow me away. Sean McKeever (from Marvel’s Sentinel) and Takeshi Miyazawa (of Oni’s Sidekicks) pool together their vast knowledge of manga-style storytelling to make Mary Jane potentially the most successful girls’ romance comic on the market (Blue Monday is still the best, but I recognize the black and white art and non-serial format chase people off).

McKeever writes a story where the kids actually talk and act like kids dealing with real-world troubles, making a Spider-man appearance unexpected and magical. There’s no token slang “fo’ shizzle” or painfully blatant references to cell phones and the internet. Mary Jane #2 feels real and unforced. And then Miyazawa comes in with the subtlety and pacing of good shoujo that’s been missing from all of Marvel’s attempts to manga-fy™ American comics. This book truly should work for all literate ages and both genders, but it’s DEFINITELY the kind of comic we need to bring young girls back to the medium.

New X-Men: Academy X #3 dives fully into young mutant rivalry at Xavier’s when tension flares up between Professor Dani Moonstar’s New Mutants and Headmistress Emma Frost’s Hellions. You have to love the literacy DeFilippis and Weir showoff with their treatment of the new Xaviers, but Staz Johnson’s pencils are neither as expressive nor as appealing as the work Randy Green did on the first two issues. However, for mutant high school drama, this is really the only place to go in the X-franchise and the book does it very well. No world devouring conquerors or mutant terrorists; just a school drama that’s looking to play out like a mutant version of Harry Potter. Worth looking into.

And I should be really psyched that Outsiders has been chugging along, giving us a three-part arc with Tom Raney back on art duties after a couple months of less than stellar pencils, but somehow, I’m not. I mean, Winick’s dialogue is witty, the characters are endearing, and the tie-ins to situations in the rest of the DCU are cool… yet, when you put them all together, it’s a bit clunky. Maybe it’s an unfortunate case of expecting more from the author of Barry Ween, but the soap opera style just doesn’t leave enough room for the smart plotting, joyful pseudo-science, and historical reference that makes Winick’s stronger writing such a delight. Outsiders #14 is entertaining and should still please fans of Winick’s Exiles… It could be better, though.

But Plastic Man #8 is probably as good as this book gets. Kyle Baker had me laughing from page one on, and I can’t count the number of times I nearly fell out of my chair. The issue starts not long after the events of the last arc, poking fun at the logic of that story’s conclusion before introducing Plastic Man’s son and “wife” in a rollicking series of gags that lead up to an attack on DC continuity itself. The art and panels in this issue are quite different from Baker’s previous work on the series, but it’s still damn near perfect. A must-buy for anyone who likes to laugh.

A blonde teenage girl-Robin in a book where Batman dons big ol’ robo-armor for a super-powered smackdown? No, not a new printing of The Dark Knight Knight Returns, but Robin #128, featuring Tim Drake’s girlfriend Stephanie in her continuing role as the new girl-wonder. I have to admit this issue didn’t tickle me as much as prior episodes of Bill Willingham’s run, though. It lacks the wit of some of his earlier work on the series, and Damion Scott’s uber-fluid characters and overly voluptuous women don’t quite work for me. Still, the threads are as tension-filled and numerous as those running through Fables, and the coolness of new super-villainess Scarab is only surpassed by the constant guessing game of what the future holds for Tim, Stephanie, and the position of Robin itself. The reckless energy Steph brings to the Bat-team harkens to more innocent times, but the book lacks the constant displays of wisdom it had before she took over. So, yeah, it’s a tough decision that’ll keep us coming back for the final answer.

Morrison moons us.
Seaguy #3 concludes Morrison’s bizarre-yet-somehow-less-surreal-than-usual mini with an ending wavering between brilliant and insane (much like Morrison’s mythical persona) that depressed the hell out of me before I read it again and soaked up the metaphor (much like the last issue of The Invisibles). Seaguy’s trip to the moon is fascinating and ridiculous, especially when you add in the pyramids and jackal-headed Egyptians - then again, who’s to say the government really IS telling us the truth about the moon - …and now we’re back to the metaphor. Cameron Stewart’s art is amazing (look at that cover and tell me you don’t want to read it) and we should all be keeping big bloodshot eyes open for his future work. Strongly recommended for Morrison fans and a good read for people following the mini.

Spider-man Unlimited, on the other hand, is a book that prides itself on being instantly accessible as a standalone issue series, yet I find I can rarely recommend it. Issue #4 breaks that hex by re-teaming Robert Kirkman and Cory Walker of Invincible fame for a hilarious first half, then following up with a preachy but decently written tale of a Lakota doctor who’s life is changed by the web-slinger (though the art is pretty bad on both Spidey and the doc). While this kind of book may seem like a wise approach to some, not having regular artists and writers makes it more of an impulse buy than other Spidey titles. This is a good strategy for newsstands, but I have to wonder how it’s working for Marvel in the shops… In any case, this issue is good enough for me to greenlight. Next month, however…

And last and probably least there’s X-Men #159, which proves that even when Chuck Austen can go a few months without bringing the Superman franchise to its knees, he’ll still manage to readily drive a Marvel book into the ground. Couple this with Larroca’s inability to draw Chinese people for a story where the X-Men encounter the Chinese army in China (even when he resorts to Fu Manchu moustaches and topknots) and this is just another snore in the long night of Austen. Don’t worry, kids, it’ll be over soon.

Hot Predictions for Next Week: Conan #6, DC: The New Frontier #5, Planetary #20, Powers #2, Red Star v2 #5, and Ultimate Fantastic Four #9. 

Jason Schachat

Our Friends:

Official PayPal Seal

Copyrights and trademarks for existing entertainment (film, TV, comics, wrestling) properties are held by their respective owners and are used with permission or for promotional purposes of said properties. All other content ™ and © 2001, 2014 by Fanboy Planet™.
"The Fanboy Planet red planet logo is a trademark of Fanboy Planetâ„¢
If you want to quote us, let us know. We're media whores.
Movies | Comics | Wrestling | OnTV | Guest | Forums | About Us | Sites