Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 01/25/05
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: Warren Ellis
artist: John Cassaday
If you've been trapped outside the cult
of Planetary, unwilling to take a chance on a trade
paperback, Warren Ellis has the issue for you to jump onboard.
Of course, you will then be hooked and end up going back
and getting the trade paperbacks anyway, but you'll be so
blissful having joined the cult that you really won't mind
Though still in the midst of a larger conspiracy
arc, this issue does what the title does best. Taking a
hard look at pop culture icons of years past through a modern
prism, "The Torture of William Leather" furthers the overall
plotline, but only in its last few pages. By then, you're
completely sucked in, even if you didn't know what had been
going on in issues past.
In reading Ellis' deconstructions, you
might even find yourself intrigued to look at his sources.
While Planetary might be still too fringe a book
to force the mainstream to revive some of its antecedents,
they're out there for the discerning fan. This issue combines
the legends of The Lone Ranger (most recently screwed with
by the WB) and his nephew The Green Hornet (awaiting a screwing
by Kevin Smith) with that of The Shadow. However, and this
is what vaults Ellis up into the pantheon for obsessive
geeks, he also throws in the lesser-known Spider.
But what they hey, these guys all really
did have similar gimmicks. Why not make them essentially
one man? (Actually, I think Philip Jose Farmer claimed they
Through pastiche, Ellis returns these characters
to their greatness with just a few pages. Sure, the Lone
Ranger can be seen quaintly as a nobly heroic cowboy, but
Ellis reminds us that his character was born in blood. Cast
here as "The Dead Ranger," the character cries out for some
full-length adventure, but only if he could be written by
somebody as insightful as Ellis.
Here, strangers, lies the key to loving
Planetary. Almost every issue has been littered with
throwaway characters that can and should lead you to other
works. Most of those other works, by the way, have been
inadequately handled in comics and film. Like Alan Moore's
League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Planetary
should make you want to actually read more straight prose.
So maybe it's odd to note that Planeary
also owes so much to the incredible artwork of John Cassaday.
As proven over at Marvel with Astonishing X-Men,
it seems like this guy can draw anything with equal skill.
This issue almost returns him to his roots, as his first
notable work was on the Western Desperadoes. Whether
it be the Old West, the heady days of art deco and pulp,
or the sterile confines of a futuristic laboratory/torture
chamber, Cassaday makes it all strangely real. Hence, strangely
Climb aboard. This is one hell of a ride,
and you'll be sorry you missed out as it heads toward an
ending that can only be earth-shattering. With this book,
you might be able to take that literally.
Batman #636: Judd Winick writes
a Batman a little more on the superheroic side than the
rest of the books seem to do, but so far, it's entertaining.
Add to that the bright and bold art of Doug Mahnke, and
you get a very satisfying book. Better editorially, Winick
seems to be the one writer right now willing to work with
the new status quo of "Wargames," and it's interesting to
see the territory being carved out here.
Black Widow #5: Even if it didn't
have Greg Land covers to lure in unsuspecting Fanboys (just
like a...black widow...), this book would be worth your
time. A taut, suspenseful spy romp that requires no real
outside knowledge of the character, Black Widow continues
to be of quietly high quality.
John Constantine, Hellblazer #204:
I still haven't figured out what has possessed Chas, or
what the overall plot really is. But for the first time
in a long time, I'm really into Hellblazer again.
It's not excitement for the movie, but because Mike Carey
has a firm grasp on who his version of Constantine is, and
knows how to put him through the paces.
Legion of Super-Heroes #2: For new
fans, it's just fun. For old fans, it's not what you think
and you'll love being fooled. The Legion travels to Naltor
as Waid highlights an internal conflict between Brainiac
5 and Dream Girl. The rational versus the irrational collide,
and neither one of them are quite right. But the story itself
just pounds away, laying the groundwork for several issues,
all with Waid's deft characterization. They're not the Legion
you may have known, but they work really, really well.
Nightwing #102: Like Superman:
Birthright, this Year One has as much of what you think
you know as it does what actually happened. Writers Dixon
and Beatty combine pre-Crisis, post-Zero Hour into something
that's shaping up surprisingly nicely. Superman returns
to Nightwing's history, an idea that will hopefully be explored
X-23 #2: The first issue surprised
me by not sucking. The second issue is even better. Taken
on her own, X-23 turns out to be an interesting character,
and writers Craig Kyle and Chris Yost have set up some great
opposing themes for her early life. If this is what "Marvel
Next" is going to be like, then I hesitantly say, bring
it on. Unless it's Arana.
Classified #3: Madness from the mind of Grant Morrison,
and possibly one of the greatest comic book covers of the
21st Century. I guess the old adage is true: put a gorilla
on the cover and the book will sell like batcakes.
We3 #3: And still more madness from
the mind of Morrison, only this actually makes a lot of
sense. It's chilling, pulse-pounding and sadly, all too
frighteningly not outside the bounds of believability. This
mini-series is one of the best of 2004 ...and into 2005.
Wouldn't Real Pornography Actually Be
a side note, the "Vivid Girls" get their first graphic novel.
Featuring "adult" actresses in a variety of fantastic adventures,
drawn in comic book form, this just seems like
a terrifically pointless exercise to me. But hey, it's your
Hey, write to us and
let us know what you think, or talk about it on the