Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 03/02/05
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
Luthor: Man of Steel #1
writer: Brian Azzarello
artist: Lee Bermejo
This week marked
a tough choice for main spotlight book. Howard Chaykin and
the grand old man Russ Heath have done a remarkable job
taking a look back at the roots of modern superheroism with
Legend. In another week, that book would be my choice,
But then along
comes another book I heard Chaykin himself praise to high
heaven at last year's WonderCon, and it's better late than
never, because Chaykin was right. This book has complexity,
intelligence and an overwhelming disturbing undertone. Lex
Luthor: Man of Steel does nothing to compromise Luthor's
status as a villain, yet makes it absolutely clear how he
could see himself as the hero.
current media hype designed to make Smallville seem
groundbreaking, the idea of that streak of nobility in Luthor
has been around for quite a while. In Silver Age continuity,
Lex and Superboy were good friends, until the accident that
made Luthor bald. At one point, Lex also played the hero,
albeit to an alien planet, a streak which kept being undone
by his unreasoning hatred of the Kryptonian. When Byrne
revamped Luthor, he hadn't committed anything more evil
than your average big businessman, really, until Superman
showed up to be a thorn in his side.
team makes a good (though we know one-sided) case for that
thorn being something Luthor resents for almost altruistic
reasons. Almost. Artist Lee Bermejo has amped up the alien
aspects of Superman.
What alien aspects,
you might ask? Haven't you ever noticed those glowing red
eyes? That can't be healthy. How about the way that skin
as hard as steel occasionally catches a glint of sunlight?
Maybe you haven't really paid attention to these things,
but Lex Luthor has.
portrays him with a look of grim determination, and despite
his follicular challenges, an All-American mein (call it
the Rosenbaum effect). If you look closely, you can even
see warmth. Whether it's genuine or not is up to you. The
decision may be hard to make as Luthor bonds with one of
his janitors over the man's hopes for his son, then turns
to ice when negotiating to give that boy a leg up in the
world. The reasons may be right, and good may be done. But
Lex Luthor is probably still a bastard.
This is the
kind of Superman story we should be expecting from Brian
Azzarello. It's morally ambiguous, and challenging to the
reader. Despite Azzarello's attempts in the regular Superman
title to make us think about bigger issues, there he is
undone by the need to provide for Jim Lee's splashy style.
Here he writes for an artist better able to serve the needs
of the story.
Only one issue
in, and this may be the best Lex Luthor story since a classic
back-up by John Byrne almost twenty years ago. They're different
takes on the man, but both make him far richer in character
than what we usually have time for. This one left me feeling
very, very satisfied.
of Apocalypse #1: A revisit that could have easily seemed
simply cheap and opportunistic. Well, it is opportunistic,
but it also brings Chris Bachalo back to art on Marvel's
favorite franchise. It may be hard to remember what actually
happened ten years ago - like, didn't that Earth just ...end?
But the story moves along at a good clip with a sense of
excitement that doesn't leave you room to ask such questions.
(It looks like Marvel has a companion flashback edition
coming to help with this problem.)
Armor X #1:
JSA inker Keith Champagne once again takes a dip into writing,
and has set himself no easy task. The protagonist may not
be the most likeable picked upon teenager in comic book
history - far from it, really - but he is one of the most
realistic. There's rage here that is very close to being
unreasoning. Couple that with alien weaponry and, well,
it's off to a heck of a good start.
#4: Unfortunately, Ultimate Falcon used Deadshot's best
move here a week ago in Ultimate Secret. But Christos
N. Gage still spins an interesting story of a hardened criminal
going straight against his better judgment.
More madness in the Age of Apocalypse. The Timebroker brings
back Holocaust - wasn't the name changed to Nemesis? Still,
Tony Bedard continues in the tradition of making the Exiles
a fun book.
Chaykin writes for one of his artistic influences, the great
Russ Heath. Inspired by Philip Wylie's seminal superhero
novel Gladiator, the two produce a beautiful book
that asks all the right questions about what a boy would
do if he discovered himself to be much, much stronger than
anyone else around him. If this were Clark Kent, we would
know that everything will turn out all right. But it isn't,
so we don't, and Chaykin isn't going to make it easy on
us. Young Hugo Danner clearly hasn't made the final right
decision. You should, though, and pick this one up.
Spider-Man #1: For those who found Marvel Age Spider-Man
too advanced, Marvel retells Lee and Ditko's classic origin
yet again. But this time, it works. Peter Parker may look
suspiciously like Harry Potter for quite a few pages, but
at this point, whatever it takes to hook those eight-year-olds
is all right with me.
#13: Now that he's done with the obligatory Arcane story,
required to re-set the saga of the Swamp Thing, Joshua M.
Dysart can finally start telling his own stories, and seems
off to a good start. Let it be no surprise that the most
evil things in Houma would still be evil without the interference
of the supernatural.
#24: Take off your hats, boys, the Specials are passing
the She-Devil #2: In truth, so far this is more one
for those of you that like your Nazis evil, your dinosaurs
hungry and your voluptuous women extremely so. But that's
probably enough for most of you. Honestly, the storytelling
wasn't all that gripping in the first issue, but Frank Cho's
art - niiiiiiice.
Iron Man #1: Orson Scott Card takes his first step
into writing comics. It seems so natural, it's a wonder
nobody thought of it before.
If somebody (besides Joe Quesada) wants to defend Arana
to me, the door is always open.
Hey, write to us and
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