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The Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 01/18/05
brought to you by Brian's Books of Santa Clara

Each 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.

Nightcrawler #5
writer: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
artists: Darick Robertson and Wayne Faucher

At face value, writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa has done nothing new with Nightcrawler, nor even any of the other X-Men. Only five issues in and already he has a small soap opera going on, as Kurt Wagner feels torn between new acquaintance Christine Palmer (perhaps aka Night Nurse) and new old love Storm. (That being, I suppose, fall-out from the dynamic established in X2 -- must we completely mirror what the movies do?)

Never mind that the writer also seems to be building a relationship between Storm and Wolverine, which Chris Claremont fully intends to happen by X-Men: The End. Claremont also has Nightcrawler interested in the new Marvel Girl - see? It's too convoluted.

Yet this piece must praise a book, and despite being trapped in all the drawbacks of most X-books, Nightcrawler is worthy of praise. Underneath the reflexive melodrama, Aguirre-Sacasa has begun weaving light and effective tales of urban horror.

Some might think that a natural for Kurt Wagner, the mutant that looks like a demon. But that has always been the point of the character; he seeks the light, and despite once dating a sorceress, Kurt always seems more at home just having fun. The first time he got a solo shot, it involved swashbuckling adventure, and fans knew that was where he belonged.

But now, the former derring-doer and ex-priest cannot seem to extricate himself from the long dark night of the soulless. Somehow, this suddenly seems like where he belongs, too.

After running through a strange pastiche of Rosemary's Baby and The Omen, Kurt finds himself in a situation reminiscent of Ghostbusters. Much to his chagrin, he turns out to be who you're gonna call when subway trains become haunted. This isn't going to end with a marshmallow man, though, as the ghosts that ride the rails can apparently reach out and kill. Of course the Mayor of New York wants it all kept hush-hush, especially since the city will shortly be celebrating a subway centennial.

In his own words, Kurt is no Dr. Strange or even a Brother Voodoo. But he is a hero, and if this is the niche fate (and Marvel editorial) has cast him into, he'll do the best he can.

The result keeps on being entertaining. Robertson's take on the characters still seems a little unsteady, as their ages seem to waver. His Storm also shifts back and forth between regal and spoiled rock star princess. Yet there's a willful innocence in Kurt's expressions that seems perfectly appropriate. And Wolverine carries himself a lot older than his companions, even if he doesn't look much older, which is a nice touch.

If we're going to suffer a dozen X-spin-offs, they should all be this good. And unfortunately for our budget, many are.


Hawkman #36: Strangely enough, pitting the Hawks against zombies ends up being a long overdue idea. Throw in Deadman, a character who may know more about the heroes of St. Roch than he's telling, and you've got an intriguing, if slightly gross, superhero story. With Geoff Johns gone, the book has shifted tone, but never lost touch of its pulpish roots. If anything, new writers Gray and Palmiotti have made it more lurid. That ought to perk up the fanboys.

Lucifer #58: Do the boys in the Bible Belt know about this book? A mortal woman struggles with omnipotence, creating a new universe just to see how it's done. Writer Mike Carey gives us evolution, intelligent design, a throwaway cosmology and of course, occasional snide remarks from the former Prince of Lies.

Trigger #2: Conspiracy from a government, oops, pardon, fictional corporation that believes it knows better than the rest of us. Civil liberties be regularly damned as Ethicorp does everything it can to maintain the peace, even brainwash a few of us to kill those considered a threat to the American way of life. Jason Hall's new Vertigo book may not be quite as subversive as he thinks it is, but that's not nearly as important as the fact that it's a good story.

X-Men #166: Peter Milligan takes a shot at the Marvel bank account's favorite mutants, with mixed results. He's trying to strike a balance between the scope of Morrison's work on New X-Men and the intimacy of Claremont which, clearly, editorial loves. It doesn't quite gel with this first issue, but chances are that the book will get stronger. Plus, Salvador Larocca's art just gets better and better.

Sight Unseen:

Freedom Force #1: Based on the classic superhero PC game, this may have a built-in fanbase, and could not possibly be as bad as the City of Heroes comic book. (Love the game...)

Pigtale #1: I have no idea what this is, but the buzz on it is almost unbelievable. So I'll be checking it out. Maybe you should, too.

Plastic Man #14: Come on, people, Kyle Baker makes with the funny every month on this thing. It's GOOD.

Powers #8: And thus concludes our monthly kowtowing to Brian Michael Bendis.

Biggest Disappointment of the Week:

Space Ghost #3: Not only does the "origin" story seem tired, but his costume gets a pointless redesign, until mysteriously it reverts to the way we know it. At this point, they might as well explain how this grim avenger became a talk-show host. That might be fun. Disguising this all under Alex Ross covers makes this a bad con job, too - but not as bad as Wonder Woman #212, which features some truly wretched art under a nice painted cover.

Say What?

Cable & Deadpool #11: Say, does anybody else remember when Cable declared himself the Messiah and took over the world? Is it just me, or is it really weird when an event that big never merits a mention in any other book, especially when you've got Wolverine running through every lame title in need of a boost with weak "crossovers" to "Enemy of the State?" Okay. Just had to get that off my chest.

Hey, write to us and let us know what you think, or talk about it on the forums!

Derek McCaw

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