Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 01/05/06
a new year. So try something new this week.
brought to you by Brian's Books of Santa
Jonah Hex #3:
writers: Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti
artist: Luke Ross
After a few weeks of struggling for a spotlight
choice, this week changes the struggle by giving us a plethora
of good stuff that should (emphasize should, not will) attract
new readers. Admittedly, most of it seems aimed at the genre
booksellers call "Men's Adventure," but though the Big Two
set these books somewhere in their continuity-laden universes,
any resemblance to superheroes is purely accidental and
at worst a marketing ploy.
So I have to go with this childhood favorite,
relaunched for a 21st Century audience without a significant
amount of retooling, just respect and good storytelling.
Aside from clear evocative art from Luke Ross and cynical
yet moral writing from the team of Gray and Palmiotti, this
book accomplishes something few titles seem to want to do.
It's all done in one.
If Jonah Hex has an arc connecting
it from issue to issue, it hasn't made itself clear. Instead,
the book has a strong sense of characterization that hasn't
wavered, and shouldn't waver.
The writers make a reference to Hex's eventual
fate, as two thugs fantasize about having him stuffed after
they kill him. But only long-time fans would catch that
as anything other than a gruesome plan.
According to Palmiotti's self-promotion,
this book has already sold very well. Certainly, Jonah Hex
is one of those characters, like Captain Marvel, that professionals
tend to have a strong affinity for, but fans are responding.
In case Jonah Hex might be spawning a resurgence
in Western comics, this issue also brings back another Silver
Age cowboy, Bat Lash.
Like Hex, Lash doesn't need any real changes.
By using what Grant Morrison called the concept of consistent
characterization, we don't need to know all the details
of what set Bat Lash on his trail of justice. He definitely
has a different take on things than Hex, and the interplay
between the two characters is strong.
But Gray and Palmiotti do not rest on the
laurels of good characterization. They also have a good
sense of plotting, making for an enjoyable story. Not for
nothing does Ross' version of Hex strongly resemble Clint
Eastwood; every issue has had a vibe that a younger Eastwood
could have easily played.
Ross' artwork is so strong, though, that
you might not actually long for a movie version; it's already
all there. Even with his cinematic layouts, he still packs
a lot of action into the few pages of a single issue. Jonah
Hex proves that decompressed storytelling is just another
tool in creators' shed; you can still do satisfying short
stories without shortchanging either writing or art.
Doc Samson #1: With a logo reminiscent
of Doc Savage, this new offering from Marvel has one foot
in traditional men-in-tights storytelling and one in the
classic pulp tradition. Still, it's been blended with some
modern zest. Quickly establishing the requisite support
team, Doc Samson offers high energy, butt-kicking
fun with a shot of psychoanalysis. (What do you do with
a depressed Skrull?) The book also sets up the next adventure
without making it required reading, and yet, you're going
to want to.
The Exterminators #1: You always
knew there was something a little buggy about pest control.
Sorry. A lot of writers are going to use that joke. What's
not a joke is how disgustingly compelling this book is.
With Tony Moore transferring to color, Walking Dead
fans will want to check this book out. They'll stay for
Simon Oliver's black comedy that seems on track to turn
to tragedy. We have met the enemy and it isn't us, but it
Marvel Team-Up #16: The League of
Losers continues, and Kirkman has broken the chapters up
so smoothly that if you missed the previous issue, this
one is still readable and fun. Of course, some of this storyline
confirms what us cranky old fans suspected: characters like
Arana and X-23 haven't really made the impact on the Marvel
Universe that Marvel wants us to believe they have. After
reading this, you might want them to. Frankly, I'm just
still stunned they brought in Terror, Inc., the world's
most grotesque hero with quite possibly the stupidest name.
It's nice to see a survivor of Marvel's Shadowline, at a
time when the New Universe seems to be getting all the love
Marvel Zombies #2: This makes the
second book this week where it feels like Robert Kirkman
is really coming into his own as a Marvel writer. Granted,
he's doing it by doing what he's done best as an independent.
This MU of the Living Dead keeps diverging from known continuity,
which allows us a little distance if not comfort with the
goings-on. Despite a pretty developed stable of known Marvel
characters, this world has not yet been visited by the Silver
Surfer, for instance. Sean Phillips' art hits just the right
note of weary creepiness. It's not for everyone, but some
fans will just eat up Marvel Zombies.
Sable & Fortune #1: It's the best
spy movie you won't see at your local theater this year.
Though Marvel seems to be on a kick to make us consider
Silver Sable an integral part of its continuity, this book
doesn't do it. It doesn't need to. Instead, Brendan Cahill
writes tight international espionage, a fitting companion
to Richard K. Morgan's work on Black Widow, with
lush art by John Burns. Everything you need to know is here,
so sit back and read it with a single malt sunrise by your
Spider-Man Unlimited #13: For $2.99,
you get a lot of whimsy that doesn't betray the characters
at all. First, Spider-Man and the Rhino get into a tussle
over fast food, in a story by Aaron Williams and Casey Jones
that Stan Lee should adore. Then Lenar Clark writes a story
of Spider-Man getting a bad flu bug. Tim Smith 3 and Don
Hillsman provide a sight gag involving Spider-Man's mask
that might just be worth the whole $2.99 on its own.
Team Zero #2: Chuck Dixon writes
two-fisted war stories with the best of them. Doug Mahnke
is at the top of his game when drawing hyper-violence. Put
the two together and you have a mini-series in the vein
of The Dirty Dozen with some vague connection to
the Wildstorm Universe. The first issue was good, but recapped
well here as the bulk of Team Zero gets introduced. If you
like good World War II stories, don't let names like Deathblow
and Grifter stop you from reading this great throwback.
Day of Vengeance Infinite Crisis Special
#1: The mini-series felt purposely unfinished in a way
that Villains United, the best of the tie-ins, did
not. So here's a follow up that probably won't actually
wrap things up neatly, but features one of the most fun
casts in comicdom right now. We're for all things Detective
Chimp, and any book that keeps Walden Wong working.
Gotham Central #39: All signs point
to a new Jim Corrigan wearing the mantle of the Spectre.
Read this book and find out what an ass the guy actually
is. If we're right, we're going to have some interesting
times ahead if the Spirit of Vengeance turns out to be the
reasonable half of the partnership.
Seven Soldiers: Frankenstein #2:
Do we have to really say it? These books are all just so
Titans #31: We love Geoff Johns. We love this book.
And when he left it for a couple of issues for a guest-team,
we have to wonder, could Rob Liefeld be so bad that we wouldn't
like a Geoff Johns story? Let's hope we never find out,
and let's just be grateful that he's back.
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