Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 01/11/06
week we look through the upcoming releases to offer our two
cents as to what's hot and what's not. You can agree with
us or not, but spend your money wisely.
brought to you by Brian's Books of Santa
writer: Mike Oeming
artists: Travel Foreman and Derek Fridolfs
We've thrilled to the adventures of Hercules
in all kinds of incarnations - some heroic, some drunken
and some funny. Always, though he has been noble when the
chips are down. Yet as Mike Oeming writes the character,
he comes off as kind of a jerk when it comes to his half-brother,
Ares, the God of War.
Of course, Oeming has had some experience
in dealing with sibling rivalries among deities, creating
the most affecting tales of Thor and Loki in years to finish
off the Norse Thundergod's last run. The difference here
is that Marvel's version of Ares (who occasionally wanders
around Wonder Woman in the DC Universe) has been woefully
underdeveloped in the first place.
Until now, Ares has lurked around the occasional
Marvel story, a Greek echo of Loki. But Oeming makes the
case that war in its essence may not be good, but it's not
exactly evil. The incarnation of war does what must be done
in order to ensure victory; more rational heads may abhor
his acts, but without him they would have been destroyed.
Thus an embittered Ares imposes exile upon
himself. He cannot fit amongst the Greek pantheon, for he
has committed truly atrocious deeds that still secured Olympus.
"Only base men revered me," he admits, "and I loathed them
Oeming writes that the bulk of his story
occurs "many years later," as Ares has settled into suburban
life. You can take the man out of the war, but you cannot,
apparently, take the war out of the man, as he raises his
son to be tough. In third grade, the boy worries his teachers.
What remains to be seen is if Ares has raised his son to
Still, this would not be conflict enough
for a mini-series, though it might make an interesting novel.
Things take a dark turn when Olympus calls again.
As he proved with Thor and with his own
series Hammer of God, Oeming understands mythology.
Though the bulk of the book takes place in modern day, the
ancient prologue has the truly fantastical aura of an otherworldly
tale. Both parts of the story read with equal believability.
Traversing both worlds, the art team of
Travel Foreman and Derek Fridolfs make the mythical and
the mundane shine. A bit redolent of Pascal Ferry's work,
the artists have a slightly cartoonish side that never undercuts
the horror implied by Ares' attititude.
As a penciler, Foreman is a good actor,
capturing love and fear on the face of a violent man without
letting us lose our sympathy. But he's definitely aided
by the inking; Foreman's work on Doctor Spectrum
last year did not stand out this much.
It's a little off the beaten path, though
obviously not far off, but Ares is definitely a book
to buy now and laugh at those who missed it later. Ares
might not appreciate it, but Hercules would.
Captain Atom: Armageddon #4: Secretly,
this book is more about defining and reshaping the Wildstorm
universe than it is about Captain Atom, the hero whose power
level is inversely proportional to the lameness of his costumes.
As such, it works better than Wildcats: Nemesis,
a book I keep trying to read but can't. This issue ramps
up to Captain Atom confronting the Authority, and that's
one clash that should be worth reading.
Desolation Jones #5: It's a creepy
cool book. Yes, Desolation Jones is another riff on Ellis'
prototypical hero, his own slice of Michael Moorcock's Eternal
Champion. But Ellis keeps coming up with intriguing new
stories, and though the mini-series got a bit diverted a
couple of issues ago, it's come back on track with its cyber-noir
thriller. We also get tantalizing insight into the experiment
that altered Jones, but of course not enough that we don't
need to keep reading. Damn Ellis for always being challenging!
Elfquest: The Discovery #1: I recommend
this solely because then legions of Elfquest fans
will flood this site and maybe explain to me why there are
legions of Elfquest fans. I kid because I love. I've
tried to give Elfquest a fair shake, but I know it's
just not for me, for I am not now nor have I ever been a
13-year-old girl who believes in eternal bonding with a
lifemate yet occasional guilt-free hot sex with others that
apparently does not involve genitalia. Again, I kid, I kid.
Regardless of my appreciation of the material, or lack thereof,
Wendy Pini is truly a great artist, and her husband Richard
has helped her spin her mythos with consistency. This is
not hack work; it's truly a labor of love and we absolutely
Fables #45: The end of "Arabian
Nights" is just not what you might have thought it would
be. Once again, Bill Willingham pulls surprises out of his
hat, though I've seen him at conventions and I'm going to
say, sorry, he's not nearly as sexy as Scheherezade.
Son of M #2: So many aspects of
Quicksilver's continuity label him an ass. We've always
known it, but readers rarely get the chance to see them
all add up like this. Yet it's good. Artist Roy Allan Martinez
draws Inhumans that look different, but you can still see
the humanity within them. Both men and women appear handsome
and beautiful, but clearly not in "classic" ways. I've raved
enough about Hine elsewhere; it's time for a new unique
artist to get his due here.
X-Men: The 198 #1 Why did Marvel
arbitrarily choose 198 mutants to remain such? It's definitely
a quirky but memorable decision, though 198 is neither the
ten percent Marvel implied or the ninety percent the word
"Decimation" actually means. This book begins with fire,
exposing one of the most horrific of the "M Day" tragedies.
David Hine transfers "Mr. M" from the pages of District
X here, and it's welcome, as the character deserves
more attention as a true spiritual leader among mutantkind.
The art here is a little inconsistent, as is the choice
of some other characters - if Callisto has lost her mutant
abilities, why would she make a pilgrimage to Xavier's Mansion?
It's nitpicking in the midst of a truly moving event in
Universe: The Stories of Alan Moore:
This time, DC gathers all of Moore's short stories (the
previous edition, Across the Universe did not include
The Killing Joke and Whatever Happened to the
Man of Tomorrow?) in a book sure to please fans and
piss Moore off by its very existence. Unless you fear his
magical wrath, do yourself a favor and buy this.
Ultimate Extinction #1: Gah Lak
Tus is coming, which means the Ultimate heroes will be doing
some Gah Lak Tussling. Wow. That may be the worst joke I've
ever written in recommendation of a book I'm dying to read.
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