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.
This week, I got my hands
on a copy of Beautiful Killer a little early. Only a power outage kept
me from posting it before its actual release date.
Beautiful Killer #1
Despite having high-profile
creators, most of Black Bull's offerings have appealed to the basest
of fanboy tastes. Teen-aged boy turns out to have cosmic destiny and
hang out with a tough chick with big boobs? Why, yes, sir, I'll buy
Gatecrashers. And really, Shadow Reavers sounds as much
like a D&D club as a story title. Though Just A Pilgrim was a
fun book, it was still little more than an excuse for Garth Ennis to
amp up his basest tendencies as a writer, and when you've got Marvel
MAX, who needs Black Bull for that?
still carries the residue of that attitude, but has signs of turning
into a book that's more than its hype. Don't let the Adam Hughes cover
fool you (though we forgive you for getting stuck there), and don't
ignore it even though it sounds like bad manga. Inside, Jimmy Palmiotti
and Phil Noto have taken the kind of fun spy film American studios think
we're too dense to follow and run it straight into modern fears, with
its implication of heroine Brigit Cole having suffered genetic modification.
Even though Palmiotti's
narrative tells us that Brigit's story starts only twenty years before
the events of this issue, it must be taking place in a universe where
the sixties never died. Kingsley Cole, spy supreme, looks and dresses
like the love-child of Sean Connery and George Lazenby, sleek, stylish
and charmingly rakish. His soon-to-be-wife Anna is an amalgamation of
every female partner John Steed ever had.
the Coles' adventure depicted here, they retreated to an island where
they raised Brigit in a loving environment, but still teaching her to
be perhaps the greatest spy ever. There's definitely a darkness contrasting
Brigit's story with her parents', and that parallel makes a light comment
on how times have changed, even when wrapped up in a pretty typical
"best friend betrayed them" plot.
Palmiotti has all
the banter down just fine, and despite some hoary story points, Beautiful
Killer still draws the reader in. It's just not particularly surprising,
though Brigit is much wordier in her narration than one might expect
of a girl raised in relative isolation. What Palmiotti has done best
is provide Noto with a perfect match for his art.
Like Mike Kunkel
(creator of Herobear and the Kid), Noto definitely reveals his
animation background with his artwork. Even though Noto worked at Disney,
his style hearkens back more to the first adventure shows by Hanna-Barbera,
a mixture of the best of Doug Wildey and Alex Toth. The covers he has
provided for Birds of Prey obviously have the sixties vibe, and
his interiors for Batgirl have seemed strangely out of place
because of that same vibe. Batgirl is too much a twenty-first century
character; Beautiful Killer lets him cut loose in a comfortable
milieu. This is exactly the book Noto needs to break out into a high
It's also the kind
of property Black Bull needs to establish itself as a player without
the shadow of its parent, Wizard Magazine. Though publisher Gareb
Shamus did make an initial splash and optioned Gatecrasher as
an animated series on MTV (so far, it hasn't happened), Hollywood needs
to see something worth adapting right now. As a high concept,
Beautiful Killer is simple, streamlined, and catchy. It's just
too bad that Courtney Cox-Arquette is likely too old to actually play
Brigit, though Noto obviously modeled the character after the actress.
If Black Bull could
put out a little more substance like this, the excessive hype in the
pages of Wizard becomes almost forgivable. If they can keep up
this level of quality, I might even buy into it.