Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 02/01/05
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: Reginald Hudlin
artist: John Romita, Jr. and Klaus Janson
announced film director Reginald Hudlin would be relaunching
Black Panther, it got a lot of notice from the mainstream
press. Of course, that's one of the reasons the House of
Ideas approached Hudlin in the first place, and it's always
nice when the New York Times mentions something happening
in comics - especially if they do it without going through
the compulsory Pow! Zap! Bang! sound effects in the headlines.
But that was
months ago, and now that the press attention has faded away,
the only thing that will sell this book is quality. Evidently,
that didn't work so well the last time T'Challa had
a solo book.
Maybe this time,
though, it will. Hudlin taps into elements of the character
that have been there almost all along, borrowing a little
from Christopher Priest's previous Marvel Knights run while
also acknowledging a heavy debt to Jack Kirby's fleshing
out of the character in the early seventies (which you can
also pick up in a trade paperback this week).
barely appears, despite the striking cover image by Romita
and Janson. Instead, Hudlin concerns himself with the legacy
of the Black Panther, and how for centuries the Wakandan
nation is one not to be messed with. They have never been
conquered; nobody has even gotten close.
Not that many
have not tried. In a few clever sequences, we see another
tribe make the attempt, then the British and even Captain
America during World War II, afraid that the Nazis might
co-opt Wakanda. With just a few glorious panels, the creative
team makes a strong case for the Black Panther being one
of the most dangerous heroes in Marvel history. Forget pitting
Cap against Batman; we need to see a Panther/Batman clash.
And Hero Clix doesn't count.
switches between a mystery villain and Everett Ross, the
Michael J. Fox-like character from the previous series.
Both have their reasons for recounting the history of the
Wakandan nation. Though the two might not tie together directly,
seeing these situations lays out an interesting blueprint
for at least the next several issues.
Ross, by the
way, deals with a suspiciously familiar looking Secretary
of State, Dondi Reese, and Hudlin resists the temptation
to make any political commentary. No matter which administration
this is, the presence of a nation as quietly powerful as
Wakanda would have to make them nervous.
The other quiet
power to the book is, of course, the art. Obviously, the
team of Romita and Janson has a fan following, or they wouldn't
have been put here. They're deserving of their kudos. Romita's
pencils bring out the best in Janson's inking, in a way
that not even Frank Miller accomplished. The lines still
have a bold look, but with a lighter touch than Janson usually
uses, conversely allowing for greater detail.
Will this book
vault T'Challa to the top tier of the Marvel Universe? That's
really up to fans, but Hudlin, Romita and Janson are certainly
doing their best to make the case.
Redemption #1: A mini-series ripped from the headlines
of a few years ago, this story sets Matt Murdock in a small
town trying to solve a killing that looks like the work
of Satanists. It's interesting to see Daredevil out of his
normal urban environment, and the plot already has some
nice twists and turns to it. But beware - writer David Hine
also portrays a Daredevil that's almost too earnest in his
mission, lacking the grim humor that should be a touchstone
of the character.
The New Avengers
#3: Okay, some will still argue that the old Avengers
didn't really need to be destroyed for this to happen. Maybe
so. Deal with it, but don't deny yourself the pleasure of
Bendis' characterizations of his favorite heroes. Tony Stark
has a roguish streak long missing and Steve Rogers seems
just surprisingly, overwhelmingly decent. These guys may
not be the most powerful the Marvel Universe has to offer
(Sentry has conveniently disappeared again), but it makes
sense that the New Avengers are the people Captain America
would want to have by his side, crusading for justice. Isn't
that what it's all about?
Endsong #2: It would have been nice to let Phoenix stay
dead a while longer, but what the heck, even Psylocke is
coming back over in Uncanny X-Men. After an exposition-heavy
first issue, Greg Pak has begun peeling back layers of characterization,
and doing one heck of a great job exploring the relationship
between Cyclops and Emma Frost. In fact, he may be doing
a better job on that one than Joss Whedon in Astonishing
X-Men. Plus you've got Greg Land art. Yes, that means
an awful lot of pin-up posing, but Land also never lets
that overwhelm his layouts.
#4: This series has grown on me, and you can probably
pick up the first three issues fairly cheaply. It's a grim
story, taking a character that not a lot of people could
give a damn about anymore. But the twist is that Warblade
hasn't just outlived his time in the comics market; he's
past his prime in the Wildstorm Universe, too. Writer John
Ridley and artist Simon Bisley explore just what happens
when a hero loses it all and doesn't quite deserve to get
Strength #2: The second issue is even more fun than
the first, with Scott McCloud revealing even more of what
makes Superman's character (not the character Superman)
so strong. I might argue with the need for prestige format,
but only because I hate having to spend more than three
bucks for a book, but this one is actually worth it.
#5: So far, this series has just been one thrill after
another. Why should this issue be any different?
of Victory Archives #1: And likely not to have a number
two, only because there just weren't that many Golden Age
adventures of this barely super team. Still, some of the
art is gorgeous, including some dabblings from Frank Frazetta.
Find out just what Grant Morrison is reviving next.
She-Devil #1: Frank Cho likes drawing beautiful women,
great apes and dinosaurs. Worse, he does these things extremely,
extremely well. Marvel Comics is not run by fools; they
have a character that can encompass all these things, and
so they hired Cho to run wild - a little too wild, apparently,
as some of the artwork has been, ahem, "corrected" so as
not to force this book up onto the top shelf out of reach
Defend This To Me:
#4: I've tried. Maybe I'm just too damned old, but this
book has begun annoying the crap out of me with its cutesy
attempt at reaching a hip youth market. Almost every character
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