Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 02/23/05
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 and artist: Paul Pope
Let me come clean on one issue: I do not
in any way like the way that Paul Pope draws Batman. Perhaps
it's because the cowl appears too leathery, recasting the
Caped Crusader as The Gimp from Pulp Fiction. Rather
than glower, it leers. And for all the discomfort Pope's
Batman raises for me, he still rocks.
For one thing, Pope draws a hell of a Robin.
Under his pen, the character looks exactly like a 13-year-old
boy, the laughing young daredevil (as described in 1940).
But that boy could still believably leap from rooftops and
kick one thug's ass at a time. Two thugs and there's trouble,
but that's why Dick Grayson trained so rigidly in the Batcave,
so that he would never allow himself to be outnumbered.
Of course, in Pope's story he breaks that training, and
we shouldn't be surprised.
Boy Wonders keep reaching beyond their
grasp almost any time the spotlight shines on them. It always
leads to trouble, and within the pages of Solo, it
leads to The Joker, a malevolent yet human force in this
Therein lies some of the strength of Pope's
work. He makes the fantastic look believable. Even the mythical
appears slightly rumpled, as proven by his take on the story
of the Minotaur. You believe this baby born with a bull's
head has a taste for human flesh, and yet the image also
evokes some sort of sympathy, if not pity.
And of course, as a writer, Pope can be
unflinching when he needs to be. Greek heroes aren't really
quite as heroic as Disney has convinced our kids, and Pope
makes the point. It's not necessarily subtle, but it is
brief, and this issue of Solo should serve as a wake-up
call and reminder that so-called "compressed" storytelling
Nowhere is that more evident than in his
retelling of the first issue of Jack Kirby's Omac.
In fewer pages than Kirby took, Pope captures all the high
points and the emotional undercurrents of the original.
The design work still pays careful homage to The King, but
it still feels like The Pope.
It's not all high adventure, either. Pope
offers two slice of life stories that reward re-reading.
Both capture small moments and blow them up to great effect.
It's not as if creators like Pope don't
already have a following, but hopefully a book like Solo
will continue expanding their audiences. DC editorial has
made choices both quirky and savvy for this experimental
series, and all three issues have been great showcases for
fans to savor. Every talent has responded not just by taking
risks, but proving why they are worth success.
The next issue belongs to Howard Chaykin.
As a long-time fan, I'm jazzed. But I'm also grateful to
DC for having given us Paul Pope, Richard Corben and Tim
Sale. Keep it up.
Fantastic Four #523 Waid and Wieringo
put a twist on the old "alien among us learns to love us"
trope. When the alien has spent the entire universe's existence
eating planets, there would have to be a twist. The defrocked
Galactus loses none of his arrogance and, despite a now
human appearance, none of his alienness.
The Flash #219 After Geoff Johns
wrote Zoom's initial arc, the chilling villain looked doomed
to be pretty one-note. Until this issue, when he decides
that it's appropriate for him to start perfecting other
heroes and villains. You bet that means mayhem - and good
Spider-Man/Human Torch #2 Ty Templeton
combines the work of Kirby and Romita while still keeping
his own look. Dan Slott writes like classic Marvel without
losing any of his freshness. This creative team is like
Wonder Bread. And it's just fun. Kids, want to know why
the old folks love classic Marvel stories? THIS is why.
X23 #3 Each issue of this book has
been annoyingly not lousy, getting better and better. My,
these words of mine sure are tasty.
Bigfoot #1: I take this one on the
word from Steve down at Brian's Books. This collaboration
between horror whore Steve Niles and Rob Zombie gets the
hanging mylar snug spot on the wall as "Employee's Pick."
There's always a good reason for that.
Courtney Crumrin and the Coven of Mystics:
This is actually a second printing of a trade, but as I
just picked this up at the library, read it and loved it,
I guess it shouldn't be a "Sight Unseen." Maybe they've
added extras; in any case, you should take a look at this
really cool (but not for younger kids) work by Ted Naifeh.
Soldiers of Victory #0: Grant Morrison unleashes a bizarre
and no doubt innovative event that will rock the DC Universe
and prove that there are no bad characters, only bad writers.
Hopefully, Morrison isn't one of them. (He's already been
a character - go back and read Animal Man.)
AIM FOR THE HEAD!
X-Force: Shatterstar #1: A senses-shattering
prequel to the just-finished Rob Liefeld mini-series. After
the apocalypse, all that remains will be the cockroaches,
the sharks and Liefeld's career.
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