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

Jason Schachat once slaughtered the entire Schachat Corps,
but it's okay now because he was such a beloved character
before that.
Jason Schachat's Weekly Breakdown
October 29, 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.

Ahhhhh… “War Games” comes to a close, “Disassembled” isn’t far behind, and Identity Crisis… okay, Identity Crisis still has two more months to go, but two out of three major crossover events are finally coming to a close!

Too bad Green Lantern: Rebirth and New Avengers are rearing their ill-conceived heads…

Not content to let their 30 Days of Night franchise slog through another miniseries, Steve Niles and Ben Templesmith expand their efforts with the ongoing 30 Days of Night: Bloodsucker Tales. The first issue kicks off two new stories starring the villainous vampires:

“Dead Billy Dead” pumps out a realtime narrative of a young man unfortunate enough to cross paths with a lonely vampire whose last companion died at the Barrow. As he bleeds to death in an alley, Billy manages to strike the bloodsucker in the head and relieve him of his immortal coil, but Billy’s own death isn’t far off. Nor is his new life…

“Juarez or Lex Nova & The Case of the 400 Dead Mexican Girls” starts us off with a quirky, self-narrating hick detective checking out the mysterious and bloody serial killings taking place in Juarez, Mexico. The people seem scared to death of the gang running amok in their town, but our gringo hero manages to learn a certain Senora Cero (Spanish for “zero”) is involved with the strange killings. And, wouldn’t you know it, Zero happens to be the family name of a group of traveling vampires!

Niles and Templesmith’s divide and conquer approach to this series makes sure both stories capture the eerie chemistry of 30 Days of Night. Kody Chamberlain’s art on the first story has a far more realistic, photo-referenced appearance than Templesmith’s work, but it achieves a gritty creepiness much like Alex Maleev’s work on Daredevil. Just with huge fangs and buckets of blood.

However, the second story, penned by Matt Fraction and drawn by Templesmith tells much more story and hooks readers with one of the most amusing private investigators we’ve seen lately. The man is such a filthy, looney little bastard you can’t help but enjoy his Hunter Thompson-esque dialogue and misguided notions of detective work. Like so many IDW books, the price is a little steep for the product, but you can be assured that it’s quality work. Recommended.

No matter what the age, that damned billy club defies all known laws of physics.
Brian Michael Bendis revs up his own dynasty, taking us into the “Golden Age” with Daredevil #66 and opening the book on the original New York City Kingpin, Alexander Bont. Our first flashback takes us to the early days of vigilante heroes, when Bont was a mere street criminal running precious gems between Nazi infiltrators and Lucky Luciano. When the end of Lucky’s reign sends the New York underworld into chaos, Bont recognizes it as his time to make a move for control of the territory.

Years later, Bont meets a young, yellow-clad Daredevil fresh from his showdown with The Fixer; the man responsible for the death of Matt Murdock’s father. Of course, by now, Murdock has learned that no one does anything without the Kingpin’s say so, meaning Bont was ultimately to blame. When the Feds come to arrest Bont moments later, it’s easy for us to figure out what kept him from returning to Hell’s Kitchen until now.

Bendis has set this one up well, and playing to his noir roots is always a good thing. Artist Alex Maleev gets a rare chance to display his versatility with the flashback sequences and treats us to both a broadly painted black and white pulp style and a bronze age four-color throwback that sings of history much like the work Michael Gaydos did on Alias’ “Origin of Jessica Jones” flashbacks.

My only qualm with “Golden Age” is the fact it’s yet another cold start that doesn’t pull from any threads laid out earlier in the series. Bendis’ Daredevil has always tended to separate itself from much of the lighter superheroics in the franchise’s past, and I can see that making it hard to pull old threads out of the archives (especially when it’s been done so much in the past), but he’s going to need to re-establish the flow he had before “King of New York” if this series is going to sing again. Definitely recommended, but not as much as I’d like it to be.

And Excalibur really needs to find some kind of direction to move in. This is issue #6, and it could be issue #2 for all the development we’ve had. Claremont’s managed to introduce a lot of mutants with all sorts of freaky powers, but the story’s stuck in a tarpit like the dinosaur it is. No matter how much new dressing it gets, you can tell this is just another attempt at the standard mutant book Marvel’s been peddling for decades.

Now, we find that the Professor and his little gang have been captured by a band of looters out to sell the mutants and their Omega Sentinel pal to the highest bidder (Who knew mutants were in such high demand?) What follows is a lot of sitting around and mouthing of exposition as the looting party try to figure out who Magneto is and how many parts to cut Karima into.

There are some fun moments, like the fight between the “Trolls” and Freakshow in fire-breathing dragon form or the return of a certain refugee from “The Age of Apocalypse”. Callisto’s calamari arms get less stomach turning as time goes by, and Wicked’s whining is miraculously absent from this outing. But it isn’t enough for me to recommend the choppy meandering mess that is Excalibur.

I’m REALLY pissed at Geoff Johns this week (you’ll see why in a bit), but Flash #215 does a decent job of delving into the ret-conned history set up in the wake of Identity Crisis. Half the issue retells Barry Allen’s written confession to Wally of one of the JLA’s botched mind-tinkerings. Yes, it turns out that The Top got his after taking control of Barry’s father, back in the day. So, they reprogrammed him to be a hero, fighting alongside Flash against the other Rogues.

There are plenty of little nods to events in Identity Crisis and readers will get their money’s worth, but Johns’ reworking of The Top has always confused me. I could’ve sworn the whole body-swapping ability was something granted to him by the demon Neron in Underworld Unleashed, so the historical reference doesn’t really work for me. I got more out of the continuing search for Sue Dibny’s killer.

Johns has largely turned Flash from a book about the history and legacy of the speedsters into Rogues Monthly. Not necessarily a bad thing. And one of the big benefits is that we can easily slip into the villains’ perspective of Identity Crisis without it feeling contrived. The “Secret of Barry Allen” arc will come to a close next month, but I hope to see more of the effects this scouring of the villain community has on both the Rogues and Trickster’s little organization.

A fine line between brilliant and lame.
So… Green Lantern: Rebirth #1… It pains me. Truly pains me. Ethan Van Sciver’s artwork here is the best he’s done. Colorist Moose Baumann’s palette is stunning, making for one of the best productions DC is putting out. And Geoff Johns’ storytelling is much like what he’s given us on JSA and The Flash.

But this issue is crap. Boring, patronizing, go-nowhere crap. At the end, we aren’t much further along than we were the last time Hal Jordan appeared in JSA. We ARE three bucks poorer and have lost a precious half hour or so of our lives, though.

The story opens with what may or may not be the death of Kyle Rayner: The Green Lantern. It’s cryptic enough to let us believe Kyle survived the jaunt through the sun that beat up his ship (Oh, and never ask why a Green Lantern would need a spaceship) and left him in possession of a conspicuous emerald coffin. We then join Carol Ferris as she tools around the old test airfield. And she just sorta hangs out for a while. Then we hang out with John Stewart (current JLA GL, not host of The Daily Show) and Guy Gardner (former JLA GL) for a baseball game.

Hal Jordan (original former GL) materializes, too, but the crowd reacts to his Spectre influence and goes nuts trying to be absolved of their sins. Black Hand attempts to steal a GL power ring from Green Arrow, Guy Gardner’s bar gets blown up when his Vuldarian powers go berserk and start to eat him alive, Coast City partially re-materializes, and Hector Hammond starts cackling madly for some reason we’re not smart enough to understand.

So, what do we know? Well, 1) Kyle dragged Hal’s remains out of the sun. Anyone who remembers Final Night can figure that out. 2) Whatever’s happening to Guy is just an excuse to make him a GL again. 3) The DCU Yankees beat the Sox, this year. So, maybe WE are the crazy alternate reality… The rest of these events are jumbled and I have to reserve judgment for after Johns has had a chance to explain himself, but here’s my initial feeling:

Geoff Johns is such a drooling fool for Hal Jordan that he’s concocted a book with horrible characterizations and cheap thrills just to make Hal look bigger than Jesus. Guy Gardner hated Hal. HATED him. Hal booted Guy out of the GL Corps, destroyed his yellow power ring, murdered his best friend and mentor Kilowog, and used him as a pawn during Zero Hour. And now we get this warm and fuzzy nostalgia for Hal from Guy? I can accept some forgiveness, but there’s no way he’d forget.

Worse yet, Johns tries to turn the fans against Batman, and not in a funny way. He has Bats rant and rave about Hal coming back again as a bad guy, and, while that does fit his standard paranoia, the psycho emotional response is totally out of character. Johns digs even deeper by having John Stewart reprimand him, saying “I’m tired of the disrespect Batman slings Hal’s way.”

Not only is Bats infamous for keeping silent, but it’s hard for me to recall him tossing insults Hal’s way. And, doesn’t Hal deserve it? He’s one of the most heinous villains in DCU history; traitor, madman, mass murderer, and wannabe God. Hal doesn’t deserve any respect, even after his work as the Spectre, because he still just runs around killing in the name of vengeance.

While I will be glad to see Guy Gardner rejoin the GL ranks (and they damn well better come through on THAT one) everything else in Green Lantern: Rebirth is tired and uninspiring. If you’re going to give us back Hal Jordan, give us the young, untarnished optimist we saw in DC: The New Frontier. This issue gives us no reason to welcome him back and no hope for the future of the Green Lantern franchise. If the next issue doesn’t get better… well, maybe Green Lantern really is dead.

Harry Johnson’s racy pulp adventuring kicks the bucket this month with issue #2 of 2, and I couldn’t be more sad if… well… no, I could be a lot more sad, but I’m really gonna miss this book. We’ve seen plenty of attempts at self-aware, tongue in cheek humor before. Tons of attempts. Certainly a plethora of attempts. But I can’t recall the last time it not only worked but worked THIS well. Arabs, boobs, Nazis, boobs, Indiana Jones/Sam Spade-hybrid parody hero, and, my god, what ridiculous boobs.

After a very convenient rescue from the waterfall he was plummeting off last time around, Harry and bumbling sidekick Dhalabil meet up with insanely sexy bikini-clad American agent Amber Gale. On the surface, the scene doesn’t really do more than show off Amber’s curves, but they distract the reader enough to make the sudden introduction of Nazi villains completely logical. This kicks off a chase scene that would be ripped directly out of Raiders of the Lost Ark if not for its striking resemblance to one in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. From there, we get a swift jaunt to a Nazi castle, a fight with a Nazi uber-babe, and that dopey little professor Johnson’s been after all this time. But what is it the Nazis kidnapped him for?

I never thought I’d like a book named “Harry Johnson”, much less find myself eagerly waiting for a sequel. I mean, it just seemed like it would be a toned down version of a Playboy cartoon or something. Who knew the comic timing would be so right? Who could guess a comic filled with bizarrely voluptuous woman could still be genuinely funny? I may be pretty jaded, but Harry Johnson got to me. In an above-the-waist sort of way. Definitely hunt this one down if you want some good laughs. With an extra helping of boob.

Steve Niles, prolific bastard behind the deluge of horror comics in recent years, adds another notch to his bedpost with The Lurkers. Run as part of the Meeednight Pulp Presents line of IDW, it joins Secret Skull as one of the new breed of Zombie Noir with a south of the border/Angelino art influence. The opening scenes in both books feel like scenes the studio cut from Touch of Evil, but then Niles veers off towards the graveyard, where headstones disappear over the horizon while the dead underneath them rest uneasily.

Just like Secret Skull, this book owes its identity to the vivid work of the artist. Hector Casanova’s lush painting carries the issue, filling the reader’s eye with a bold and atmospheric Los Angeles trapped somewhere between the 40s and the present. Steve Niles story lays a firm groundwork, but Casanova does the heavy-lifting that makes The Lurkers worth taking a look at. His style is at the same time wholely different from the scratchy, dirty style of Chuck BB’s Secret Skull yet more like it than anything else on the market.

My only worry is that the $3.99 price tag will chase prospective buyers off. Especially with the simplified cover art. Trust me on this one, kids: crack it open and take a look. The Lurkers won’t appeal to everyone, but the art is definitely worth a trip to the store. Recommended.

You'd get a contact high from
the actual cover.
The cover of Planetary #21 says it all: this is one drugged out trip through the swirly delights of the world underneath. Whatever that means. Ellis drags us through the familiar territory of mixing science, pseudo-science, shamanism, and surrealism to answer a question: how can Elijah Snow take out the surviving members of The Four? Of course, this is a big ol’ drug trip, so what we get is more of a blurry examination of life, death, and the afterlife and how Elijah manages to simultaneously fit into none of these realms.

The issue proudly proclaims “2004 Eisner Award Winner for Best Artist”, though the rest of the cover may not clue non-readers into that. But the interior of the book… Damn, John Cassaday’s good. Anyone who’s fallen for the work he and Laura Martin do on Astonishing X-Men should be reading Planetary regularly. (Absolute Planetary , the oversized glossy hardcover collection, comes out in two weeks, so prepare to empty your wallet, preferably through the provided link here on Fanboy Planet .)

However, like Derek said in this week’s Spotlight, this isn’t a very good jumping on point. Ellis fans, Morrison fans, and Planetary fans should enjoy the abstract philosophizing. Newbies should buy the trade paperbacks to bring themselves up to speed before hoping to conquer material this heavy.

Issue #2 of Strange doesn’t give us any reason to cheer. The Doc is still a self-absorbed bastard, only now his hands aren’t in good enough shape to practice surgery. So, we spend two thirds of the story watching him fall into self pity, lash out at those around him, and desperately search for a doctor who can restore his manual dexterity. Would ya believe he doesn’t have any luck?

J. Michael Straczynski delivers a cute dose of irony towards the end, but it doesn’t make up for the lack of sympathy we have for the character or the lack of direction to be found in the series. The minor magical talents he seemed to display in the first outing are nowhere to be found, and there are no signs of the Ancient One, Dormammu, or any other elements familiar to the franchise. Instead, we get a mean snob who gets himself in trouble and then needs others to get him out of it. And he doesn’t even learn his lesson.

I suppose this story wouldn’t be so irritating if we weren’t waiting for him to be a hero in the end. The expectations surely wouldn’t be so high. And then there’s the tension built up by the number of years this mini was being promised to us; to get THIS as a result… ugh. If you want Dr. Strange, dig through the bins at your local shop for some old issues. Or even watch Venture Brothers on Cartoon Network for their hilarious parody, Dr. Orpheus. Strange has no connection to previous Strange stories or the magic that made them fun.

WE3 #2, like the previous issue, is the best comic of the week. And not just because everything else that came out sucked. This book is f**king amazing. I read a lot of comics. Far more than is healthy. But I can’t remember the last time reading one set my pulse racing and made it hard to breathe. WE3 is the product of two of the hottest creators in the industry, totally unfettered by market demographics or comic book formulas. And it is glorious.

The plotline continues the dark lab-animal interpretation of The Incredible Journey, rushing us along the sojourn of a dog, cat, and rabbit turned into bio-weapons by the government. Now, freed by their creator, they sweep across the countryside, hoping to go “home”. Homes which, by the lost pet signs that serve as series covers, they can never return to. Still, the innocent creatures push onward, plowing through soldiers that ambush them in gory, visceral action scenes, only to be overcome by their simple animal natures.

And what makes this so powerful is Grant Morrison’s choice to make the animals the true stars of this mini. They ARE animals. We know this. Morrison never attempts to make them socially aware human-wannabes. They act like a trusting dog, a resentful cat, and a simple rabbit. Or, at least, how those creatures would act if they’d unwittingly been turned into living tanks. And that makes it feel so much more real than what we usually read in comics it’s overwhelming.

Of course, Frank Quitely deserves the lion’s share of credit for this mostly silent story. This is the finest work he’s ever done, playing to his strengths and shoving his weaknesses firmly to one side. As graphic storytelling goes, this is the most perfect combination of bold experimentation and simple, easy flow we’ve seen all year. You could be reading this during a bus accident and never once feel the urge to look up. But it’s also a traumatizing read. You FEEL it. When tragedy strikes, it may even get you crying.

So, I offer this as the book we all must buy… but with a warning. If you can’t bear to see an animal hurt… if the sight of blood offends you… if the idea of an innocent creature being mistreated and caught up in events it can neither understand nor deal with is too upsetting for you, don’t buy WE3. But if you want to feel something from a comic… Something honest, real, and powerful… You MUST buy this book.


I admit it. It's the best book I'm not reading, but if Rucka would return
my e-mails...
Shifting gears, how is it Greg Rucka’s Adventures of Superman can be so muddled and confused while his run on Wonder Woman has made such a compelling move to the mythological elements that so often serve as mere backdrop? Sure, we always get a “By Hera!” or “In Athena’s name!” when the Amazon princess is around, but how often do we actually see Athena moving players around on her chessboard, using Diana and company as tools in a bid for the throne of Olympus?

Most of issue #209 continues the all-out brawl between Diana and the newly resurrected Gorgon Medusa, but, as we’ve seen for more than a year, now, the book is more about the massive cast than Diana herself. When Medusa invades the Themysciran embassy, the battle shifts from a contest of demigoddesses to an attack on the family that keeps Wonder Woman going. And a life is lost.

Some said Phil Jimenez’s run on Wonder Woman was the closest the character got to George Perez’s beloved take. I can only imagine how those fans must have felt when Rucka came along and turned the book into the superhero equivalent of The West Wing. But, while the story now suffers the problem of being a solo book that doesn’t give the hero the majority of screentime, it does give Rucka the ability to never cap Diana’s physical power or force her to be modest.

A certain freedom is gained by having Diana viewed through the eyes of the supporting cast, making it easy for us to see a perfect goddess without her having to do much. Creating a sense of worship from the world around her makes Wonder Woman appear awesomely powerful. And it’s done without forcing her to wrestle a fire-breathing hellbeast every month! A smart strategy, indeed.

The combination of clever writing and great art makes it a damn shame this book is having so much trouble getting into the top 50. Especially since it’s so much better than Green Lantern, Adventures of Superman, Action Comics, and many of the other books that beat it out every month. Wonder Woman deserves better than that. I’d give it a look, if I were you. Definitely recommended.

I was okay with the last issue of X-Men. Might even have recommended it. Chuck Austen’s still at the helm, but he gave us some action and intrigue for a change. Or at least he tried to. #163 returns us to the ineffectual team’s whining and pathetic attempts to defend themselves without really moving the story along. The new Brotherhood of Mutants begins its rampage through the Xavier Institute, raining destruction and mayhem upon the unsuspecting students, but all they manage to do is give Sabretooth heartburn and trash the same buildings that get rebuilt every week.

The death of Sammy last month has been confirmed as something quite real, and I have to give Austen credit for actually making me feel something. This? This is just more dull banter and back and forth. The characters aren’t interesting, the fight isn’t choreographed, and all we get out of this installment is a nice “Go team!” by the end. And I still can’t figure out when or why Rogue absorbed Wolvie’s mutant powers, much less how doing so gave her metal claws.

Sal Larocca’s art is the same mediocre fare we’ve been dealt since he and Chuckles came onboard Uncanny X-men. There’s nothing intrinsically exciting or involving about it. Much as I malign Austen, I think one of the valuable things I learned in my recent marathon read of Mark Waid’s run on The Flash is Larocca’s uncanny ability to suck the humor and excitement right out of a script. That’s the case here.

Requested Review of the Week

You ask. We answer.
We’re trying a new feature out here on the Weekly Breakdown: You, the readers, request a comic you’d like to see reviewed and I, the walrus, will do my best to hunt it down. Earlier this week, I responded to RAM’s request for a review of an Awesome Universe book and took a look at Defex #1.

Today, I made a broad interpretation of greynite1’s request to hear about more independent books and found the indie-est damn book in the shop: Students of the Unusual #2. This little horror anthology crams six short stories into 24 full color pages. The tales range from realistic prison drama to a joking tribute to EC-style urban legends to cheap bathroom humor to a ghostly pirate story to the formation of the ultimate zombie rock band.

Only one of the stories takes itself too seriously, and the zombie band story outstays its welcome, but Students of the Unusual makes for an entertaining outing. If I’d say there’s one fundamental problem, it’s a tendency for the short stories to abruptly end, leaving readers feeling like a page went missing. Aside from some amateur art and unimpressive lettering, that’s the ultimate sign this is more of a college art rag than a professional comic. But the material’s fun and more ambitious than a lot of the mainstream fare. I’m not going to say you should run to your local shop and blow $2.95 on this quirky little book, but it is worth a five minute flip.

Remember, if there’s anything you want us to take a look at, head to the forums and say so!

Hot Predictions for Next Week: Astonishing X-Men #6, Fallen Angel #17, JLA: Classified #1, Rising Stars #22, and Y: The Last Man #28.

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