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The Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 03/09/05
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.

Shining Knight #1
writer: Grant Morrison
artist: Simone Bianchi

This week, DC releases two books with their origins in Camelot, and they couldn't be more different. One takes a bizarre hero and thrusts him into a slightly more mundane setting that returns him to his early days but loses some of his charm, and the other is Shining Knight.

The second salvo in Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers of Victory project, the Shining Knight has, as expected, been radically re-thought. Originally quite shining and strapping, Sir Justin had an origin similar to that of Jack Kirby's Demon. Defending the last days of Camelot (thus allowing the Golden Age series to shift back and forth in time), the Shining Knight was given bullet-proof armor by Merlin and sent into the 1940's. For reasons that made sense then, this thrusting forward of Justin and his winged horse Victory was done on purpose.

In the 21st Century, however, chaos makes a better explanation than anything else. Though we've long considered the fall of Camelot to be something rather ugly, it has never been as disturbing as Morrison makes it here.

Let's be fair: a lot of that disturbing quality comes from the beautifully ghastly artwork of Simone Bianchi. This artist is new to me, but has a touch that portrays innocence and extreme corruption with equal facility. One shot of a maiden turning into a ghoul has a frightening allure; Bianchi understands the seductiveness of evil, and how little it actually has to hide.

Demons overrun Camelot, and among those fighting back is a young knight named Justin. This boy is smaller and weaker than the brawny red and gold hero now occasionally appearing on Justice League Unlimited. No Frazetta masterpiece, this Justin may have a noble heart, but it seems that this onslaught is his first test.

Chased by the supernatural on a quest to save his sweetheart, Justin ventures into a faerie realm. There he encounters corruption on a level he cannot comprehend. Just wait until he sees modern America.

Of the characters Morrison has chosen for his new Seven Soldiers, the Shining Knight stands as the only "founding" member. In the zero issue, another founder bit the dust (not for the first time) when the Vigilante met his end in the high desert of another dimension. Despite the series seeming to be steeped in continuity, Morrison is actually pulling a lot of this backstory out of his own imagination. The characters may have connections to things that have happened before in comics, but how they reached this point is all found in the pages of Seven Soldiers of Victory.

How this Sir Justin will shape up into a hero for our times lies in future pages. For now, we've just got one rich and dense beginning that continues what should be the most intricate and exciting project of the year.


Armor X #1: I meant to give this one a big extensive review after Keith Champagne let me see it a while back - it's good, and if you think you've seen it before, you're wrong. These guys from the fledgling Across the Pond Studios have struck out in a new direction that is absolutely worth your attention.

Blood of the Demon #1: Despite my remarks above, this book isn't bad. It's just that throwing back to the original Kirby run may now seem tame to many readers. This is horror made palatable for younger audiences, and a Prince of Hell made to serve as a more straightforward superhero. After all we've seen Etrigan go through over the years, this seems restrained. But John Byrne clearly has an affinity for the Demon, and Will Pfeifer always writes interesting scripts.

Fables #35: Jack of the Stories conquers Hollywood. Oh, how I wish it were true. Along the way, Bill Willingham drops a few hints as to what happened in Fabletown in the meantime, ending one arc strongly and getting us all whipped up for the next one.

Gotham Central #29: Sure, other series have tackled ordinary cops facing down the extraordinary. Other such series have even featured quotes from this very website on the cover. But there's something satisfying about seeing it happen with characters we already knew, and seeing how deadly even an obscure villain can be to the average joe. Every issue of Gotham Central that I've picked up has left me with at least one thought-provoking moment, and that's not bad.

Mary Jane Homecoming #1: I include this for the young girls out there in our readership - both of you. Spider-Man's girlfriend (and eventual wife) returns in a mini-series that hopefully will not be her last. It flies in the face of all the continuity I remember, but you know what? I'm old, and Marvel must begin grooming new readers to replace me when I go to Carousel.

Spider-Girl #84: Ibid.

Vimanarama #2: My love affair with Grant Morrison had gone cold after The Filth confused me and I had a hard time defending Seaguy. Then came WE3, followed by this mini-series that has somehow brought Bollywood to the superhero comic. If Seven Soldiers seems too epic, give this a try.

Sight Unseen:

Terra Obscura v.2 #6: I dig alternate worlds full of superheroes you may never have heard of, because anything can happen. Because Alan Moore oversees this project, you can count on anything happening.

Western Tales of Terror #3: I'm a sucker for horror in the Old West, and like anthology books when they're well done. So far, this one has been.

Designed To Claw Extra Money Out of You:

Wolverine: Soultaker #1: He won't actually take your soul, but if you're a sucker for every single book calculated to prey upon your appreciation of Wolverine, you may not have much of one left anyway. Interestingly, this manga-like mini-series has that tall, handsome Logan. You know - the one played by Hugh Jackman.

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

Derek McCaw

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