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

Jason Schachat got struck by lightning while bathed in chemicals. All it did was hurt him.
Jason Schachat's Independent Breakdown
December 17, 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.

Okay, you kids wanna hear something bizarre? Last week, I blasted Action Comics #822 because I didn’t see how Chuck Austen could possibly tie up all the loose threads that had uber-baddies Preus, Gog, and Doomsday running amuck in Superman’s back yard.

Guess what?

I was right!

Chuckles leaves the series after #823, and we all get to shake our heads in painful, painful confusion at yet another botched Superman title!

It’s hard to be sure whether Adventures of Superman #635 sinks any lower than the last issue or not. Last month diverted from the Parasites plotline to spend some time with Mr. Mxyzptlk as he darted around the DC offices complaining about the script. It wasn’t actually funny and provided an annoying distraction from the current arc, but at least it gave us some creepy development regarding the Parasites.

This time, Supes borrows John Henry Irons’ trusty Steel suit for a big slugfest. Our sexy MCU lieutenant tries to confess some sins to our favorite priest from the current Superman run but is interrupted when word comes in that the Parasites are tearing up midtown. We get a quick romp with the terrible teens that reaffirms how Alexandra has truly gone over to the dark side while Alex still wants to be human again.

And then Superman shows up and they fight.

It might seem unfair to say this issue is worse than a Mxyzptlk outing that’s completely unfunny, but this is the one point in the story where we see it all amounts to nothing. The Parasites were just a distraction, and we’re back to chasing down Ruin. The problem is Ruin’s a snore after all this time dealing with Replikon, his kids, Lois getting shot, and the new Parasites.

Will Ruin be brought to justice? Probably. No big, if he doesn’t. There’s nothing in the story to make us strongly dislike him, and I’ll be damned if I can remember why he’s doing any of this. Next month promises to focus more on the ripples caused by Identity Crisis and Lois’ shooting, so I don’t really see Ruin going out with a bang.

The good news is that Identity Crisis’ Rags Morales is coming aboard Adventures of Superman next time around, so we can at least hope for some good character-heavy storytelling (an area Rucka excels in). As for this issue, pass unless the novelty of seeing a hero wear another hero’s armor still makes you giggle like a little schoolgirl.

Hey! Who's gonna pay for that?
I haven’t been watching The Batman, so I can’t say whether the cartoon really does deliver a Bat for the kiddies, but The Batman Strikes #4 does it pretty well. This interpretation of the Dark Knight finds him acting more like a rich Spider-Man or a significantly less troubled Iron Man. And, oddly enough, the Iron Man comparison holds up when Bruce Wayne must learn whether the suit makes the man or not.

As usual, everything’s nice and peaceful until Bane breaks out (most likely from Arkham, but there’s no convenient sign around to tell us so) and decides to wreak havoc on Gotham City. Meanwhile, Bruce toys around with a few new gadgets, listens to loud music, and gets lectured by Alfred on how both pastimes are hurting Bruce’s romantic life and general worth.

Bruce then goes on a short-lived date with the standard pretty girl he doesn’t really love and runs off into the night at the first sign of a criminal in need of a pounding. Bane beats on some cops and endangers innocent bystanders with a runaway bank vault door, but all that is quickly forgotten the moment Bats shows up and revenge can be had.

Somehow, I found myself liking this issue. It’s light on just about everything and operates on the cynical but true “Superhero Comic Plot” (two fights, one chase, and one big ol’ villain), yet there IS a joy to be found in a Batman for kids. It harkens back to the brief time in his earlier years when Batman was neither very dark nor goofy. He banters with the villain, has some self doubts, asks some tough questions, and is generally pretty happy throughout the story.

Bane, however, is too much of a stock villain here. The concept behind Bane was that, while The Penguin might be smarter than Batman, and someone like Killer Croc is stronger, Bane was both. That’s why he retains the honor of being the only one to break the Bat. Granted, most takes on the man-who-made-Mexican-wrestling-masks-cool-to-a-whole-generation-of-Americans are pretty bad, but that doesn’t mean we can’t aim higher.

Bane is all too often equated with the serum that gives him his strength, and most writers turn that into his Achilles’ heel. It’s no different in The Batman Strikes, but I don’t think the kids will mind too much. For readers who want a new kind of Batman, I can very mildly recommend this, and kids should definitely get their grubby little hands on this friendlier characterization. Dark Knight Returns zealots may want to run for the hills, though.

The “Golden Age” plotline tears along in Daredevil #68 this week, but don’t come to it hoping for major breakthroughs or plot developments. In fact, if you haven’t been following this arc, don’t come at all. The issue’s enjoyable and builds on events of the last few issues and arcs, but the end is nowhere in sight.

Things kick off with a flashback to the time when young Alexander Bont killed a superhero and became New York’s first Kingpin. We then get a quick reminder of the White Tiger trial that took place when Matt Murdock’s identity was finally linked to Daredevil, and come back to the present, where he’s still having the tar beaten out of him by former friend/enemy The Gladiator.

Murdock pleads with Gladiator to come to his senses; that he’s moved on from the thug he used to be. But Gladiator just keeps whomping on him while the aged Bont barks orders in the background. We flashback to an early battle between Gladiator and Daredevil where much the same conversation took place, and the end results of that battle eventually led to Bont’s incarceration.

Moving forward again to the day before Bont and Gladiator walked back into Murdock’s life, we find Foggy and Matt prattling outside Matt’s apartment when they suddenly notice the FBI agent assigned to the Daredevil case standing across the street. And, man oh man, what a bombshell she’s about to drop…

Like most chapters of the Bendis/Maleev Daredevil, this one has depth and intrigue, but is ultimately just a chapter. The lack of chase scenes and fast-moving plots would outrage old school comic fans, but it’s just the kind of thing Daredevil fans have come to love. However, it’s also a small piece of a much larger story that won’t end even when this arc does.

Maleev’s art is gorgeous and gritty as ever, and his Golden Age and Silver Age styles continue to demonstrate some surprising versatility while pulling from the strengths of his usual photo-referencing. As per usual, I have to give a big thumbs up to colorist Dave Stewart for adding just the right amount of effects to make the eras distinctly different (though the method for the Golden Age scenes IS just going black & white…).

Again, I can recommend this to anyone who’s been reading “Golden Age”, but I would advise others to wait for the trade paperback. It’s a good issue. I like it. I just can’t see anything special enough to justify diving in blind.

We're going to need a bigger street.
Quick question: How can anyone not like Mark Waid’s run on Fantastic Four? This book has been stellar since he took over, and news of his departure in two months feels like a knife in my heart. Fantastic Four #521 isn’t the beginning of an arc, the death of a beloved character, or a crisis that forever changes Marvel’s First Family, but, dammit, this is the kind of stuff I want to be reading every month.

Johnny has been conscripted by Galactus to act as his newest herald due to a little snafu that swapped the powers of Human Torch and Invisible Woman. So, now, Johnny has to float down to planets and announce that they’re about to be eaten and thanks for not being able to defend yourselves.

Reed, Sue, and Ben get in touch with Quasar for a lift to the world-devourer’s ship and cruise along wondering how much trouble the poor boy can be in. Of course, Johnny’s managing to find a way to goof around even when hunting down yummy planets for his hungry master, but he stills puts most of his effort into preventing the loss of life.

Unfortunately, everyone recognizes him as the herald of doom— er, Galactus, and he gets a nuclear missile in the face for every attempt to make peace. However, his new powers and understanding of the universe are growing as he spends more time working for the all-mighty appetite, and he begins to see things in a different light.

I love this book.

This should be a completely throwaway issue. The middle of an arc that has no permanent effect on the Fantastic Four and is played for laughs as often as it’s played for meaning. But it’s just great. Wieringo’s art is gorgeous and Waid’s story is smart and witty.

Galactus, despite Jack Kirby’s best intentions, isn’t a character we can take completely seriously, and Waid uses that to simultaneously mock and build upon the intergalactic villain. It’s intelligent. It’s fun. It’s a damn shame it’ll be coming to an end soon.

I have high hopes Waid will be able to resurrect Legion of Superheroes like he has Fantastic Four, but I have to admit that he and Wieringo have been a true dream team. I’m sure Barry Kitson will again complement Waid on Legion, but I hate to see one of my favorite creative teams split. Again. But, until that happens, keep reading Fantastic Four. It’s good stuff.

As for the bad stuff, I’m going to institute a policy to stop giving Marvel Age Spider-Man a chance. Marvel Age Spider-Man #17 does itself the service of not shoehorning in lame pop references, screenager internet lifestyles, or other trendy details, but it still doesn’t accomplish anything.

Spidey gets ragged on by J. Jonah Jameson and considers quitting in the face of discouraging public opinion. Human Torch tries to cheer him up, but Peter decides to lay low while Jonah goes on the airwaves to spread more hatred. Then Spidey bumps into Sandman and, whaddaya know, it’s time for a fight!

I’m really at a loss for why this book is still going. The story isn’t an update so much as a paraphrasing. It isn’t about collectable card games, kids, giant robots, or game-playing kids riding in giant robots, so why does Marvel think kids will want to buy it? For the same price, they can get an issue of Ultimate Spider-Man that’s ALL about being a teenager AND has decent art.

Yeah, that’s right; the one huge thing about these “updates” has been to redraw the stories in a style that will attract young readers, and the work here is awful. Faces are inconsistent, expressions are nebulous, details frequently go missing, and perspectives are ten kinds of wacky. Frankly, it’s an insult to the fine work of Steve Ditko to say this is better in any way, shape, or form.

My suggestion to Marvel: Stop what you’re doing, come up with some high quality, detailed re-colorings of the original Lee/Ditko run (face it guys; kids want pretty pictures and current printing makes the old colors look like crap), pay Stan Lee some royalties, and get the originals back into the kids' hands. Maybe even at a lower cover price.

All I know for sure is that this experiment has been a dismal failure, and anyone with half a brain should just read the originals. The sooner Marvel Age Spider-Man gets the axe, the better.

You have to wonder whose brilliant idea it was to reward us for following Robin through one crossover by immediately throwing us into another. Plotwise, it makes sense for he and Batgirl to be linked like this, what with the big move to Bludhaven by the latest Bat-kids to leave the nest. Still, I would have preferred a good two-issue arc to let us rest before diving into the massive changes in Tim Drake’s life.

Robin #133 starts out when the Dad-less Duo come face to face with Blockbuster. Then Penguin rounds the corner and points out that it’s just Blockbuster’s corpse, which he had stuffed for a souvenir. Hordes of Z-list villains and gangsters then pour into the room, and the standoff soon turns into a brawl. The baddies, being less than accomplished fighters, whip out their guns and proceed to shoot one another to pieces while the kids weave in and out of the swarm.

Eventually, Penguin brings the madness to an end by having Gas Bag flood the room with a sleeping agent. Tim falls into a bloody nightmare where his recently deceased loved ones blame him for their deaths. When he comes to, sure enough, he and Batgirl are tied back to back with Penguin ranting about his plans to unmask them and sell pictures revealing their true identities to every paper in the world. Gasp!

Man, did I forget Penguin could be so corny… Maybe it’s wishful thinking, but I’d like to see us go a year without Penguin droning on about some ridiculous master plan or sitting in some club with showgirls waiting on him. I just can’t believe that the Batman: The Animated Series rendition of the character, despite his mullet, is the only one I consistently had respect for. Sure, you can make him colorful, but there IS such a thing as too much.

And I think this “Fresh Blood” crossover may indeed be giving us too much. We’re thrusts into a teenaged team-up before we’ve really had time to feel out Tim Drake’s new life. His father and girlfriend are dead, everyone he knew at school has been kissed off, and, hell, the notion of school itself has completely disappeared. Robin is flying without the Bat for real, this time, but it still feels like more of the same.

Why do I complain like this? Because the speed at which this is moving doesn’t give us any feeling of permanence. After Stephanie was rushed in and out of the mantle of Robin, we need something to last a while so events can seem important again. Tim’s dad dying wasn’t something that’ll go away. Bludhaven is.

New heroes taking over for a fallen comrade is all well and good, but, if it were serious, you’d think there would be some settling in. As is, they could be back in Gotham tomorrow.

And, while Batgirl has the cleaner art of Ale Garza to draw us in, Robin struggles under the distraction of Damion Scott’s wild caricatures. Distorted, over-emphasized art like this has worked on Bat-books before, but Scott’s style is simply too stretched out and disproportionate for its own good.

The figures and backgrounds are too fluid to give us any sense of solidity, making it hard for a good understanding of the scenes, despite good choreography and flow between panels. On a better story, it’d be an irritance, but here it’s another nail in the coffin. I’m just barely going to advise Robin readers to get this. Everyone else: watch some Teen Titans or something.

The Ultimate New Avengers?
Don’t be fooled by the cover on Ultimate Spider-Man #70: this isn’t a team-up with the Ultimates. America’s superteam last for about two pages when Spidey clocks the new Ultimate Deathlok (now with more death!), and then manage to insult him before running off to the Triskelion.

No, no— like the title of the issue indicates, this is where Spider-man meets Dr. Strange. Again. See, they met in Ultimate Marvel Team-up, but Spidey doesn’t seem to remember that. Or, he thinks he doesn’t remember it, but it did happen. Of course, he also met the Fantastic Four in that book, and that continuity didn’t carry over, so…

Well, in any case, it’s the young Dr. Strange, son of the previous Dr. Strange (officially taking the place of Daredevil as the second hero of the Ultimate Universe) who, apparently has become guru to the stars.

Over a swanky dinner, Peter Parker recounts to Mary Jane his meeting with the young sorcerer. He remembers how J. Jonah Jameson assigned him to follow Ben Urich along on a puff piece, how he once saw an episode of Biography about the Doc, and how his spider senses went ape when they were turned away at the door. Unfortunately, there are some very conspicuous things Peter can’t remember.

There are probably two general types of Ultimate Spider-Man stories that Bendis puts out. Some are made for pure style and the joy of storytelling, and others see just how cleverly he can re-work Marvel continuity into a more unified, coherent saga. One might even go futher by arguing some are a mixture of the two, but I’d say it always leans more one way than the other.

“Strange” tries some clever tricks, but most of the effort goes towards building a solid Dr. Strange origin for those who never read Ulitmate Marvel Team-up. It reads well the first time through, but, looking over it again, there’s more of an “oh, cool! Deathlok!” feel to it than the charge we get when Bendis and Bagley have done things like introduce Black Cat with a nearly silent issue.

However, I do have to recommend this issue for its smart handling of why Peter keeps putting on his tights when he’s supposed to be retired and the slow build up to the not-quite-shocking ending. It’s a lot of bang for your buck and proves, once again, that Ultimate Spider-Man is the driving force behind the Ultimate line.

Hot Predictions for Next Week: Authority: Revolution #3, Astonishing X-Men #7, Conan #11, Sleeper Season Two #7, and Wolverine #23.

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