Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 03/14/06
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
Legends of the Dark Knight #201
writer: Christos N. Gage
artists: Ron Wagner and Bill Reinhold
Gage has daylighted as a writer for Law & Order,
it makes some sort of sense that he brings the detective
procedural to Batman. In this case, they're nodding to Cold
Despite a cover
featuring Clayface III, the superheroics take a backseat
to a pretty nifty set-up. Years before Batman appeared on
the scene (as Alfred explains it to Bruce Wayne, "…when
you were a boy and I had a full head of hair"), the Robinson
Park Ripper killed four women in a case that was never solved.
Not the freshest
of plot devices, perhaps, even when a journalist is about
to publish a book naming Thomas Wayne as the killer. No,
the pleasures come in how easily Gage adapts the style of
one of television's hottest genres to a Batman story, and
reminds us that the Dark Knight does have the title of "World's
Gage also characterizes
Bruce Wayne as something other than the public idiot, perhaps
because this is his father's memory he's defending. But
that competence and fairness bleeds over to Batman, too
- making his masked identity much less than the surly ass
that Infinite Crisis has needed him to be.
In many ways,
this story throws back to the days of Denny O'Neill's work
on Detective Comics in the seventies, heightened
by the work of Wagner and Reinhold. The pair have worked
on Batman off and on over the years, and together their
style is very reminiscent of Dick Giordano.
Though the story
has such classic precedents, it's a little more complex
than would have been done in the seventies.
Like the best
of Gage's television work, the mystery plays fairly. It
would have been easy to make this a screed against tabloid
journalism, as Alfred's offended response to the allegations
starts. But Bruce actually has respect for the writer accusing
his father of murder, and wants to know the truth, perhaps
more than he wants to protect a memory.
This could have
turned out to be complex and intriguing without the
presence of metahumans, but of course, nobody would buy
a Batman book without that. So…yes, it's going to turn into
something with fists, armor and possibly superpowers, but
that's just window dressing.
At its heart,
"Cold Case" is a good story, and a fitting beginning to
the next 200 issues of Legends of the Dark Knight.
This book varies in quality, but it's definitely worth looking
at this arc.
Prologue: Marvel launches its star-spanning crossover
that will redefine several of its space-faring heroes. If
you know the characters well, then you'll be excited to
read this. But too much of it reads as mere set-up to a
series of mini-series (shades of Countdown to Infinite
Crisis) without much coherence. Everybody gets a few
pages of spotlight, but not even the Nova Corps Database
pages in the back can make this make much sense. It's a
disappointment, but once this set-up is out of the way,
perhaps the ensuing series will have moments. After all,
it's giving Nova back to the ranks of the competent heroes;
at least, that's what I hope.
Prey #92: One year later, and Gail Simone has us hooked
and a little surprised. Her mystery team member may be startling,
but ultimately makes sense and ups the danger level
in this book. The more these "One Year Later" books keep
working in quality, the less I actually want to read 52.
Figuring out just what changes have taken place has added
an element that has been lacking for a while, even in a
book as good as this one. How did we get here? I'd really
rather wait for Simone to tell me in her own good time.
The Discovery #2: Just reminding people it's out there.
This book is definitely its own special creation, and has
its fans. It's also hard to jump in without going back and
reading the myriad collections. The human woman moping around
and deifying these elves has also started to bug, yet I
suspect that she's a pretty accurate reflection of many
readers' attitudes toward this book. That isn't meant as
a satirical portrayal; Wendy and Richard Pini are earnest
and honest in their storytelling, and that has to be what
strikes a chord with readers and keeps this thing going.
Neighborhood Spider-Man #6: In what seems to be the
first book to acknowledge the new costume since the
new costume, Peter David nods back to Peter Parker's first
fight. Instead of Crusher Hogan we have a super-powered
luchador, challenging Spider-Man to a "mascara contra mascara"
match. The narrative unfolds a little unevenly, and there's
a strange assumption from J. Jonah Jameson about his son,
but otherwise, David writes a decent story.
M #5: Paul Jenkins has a mawkish side that occasionally
takes over his good plotting. In the case of Generation
M, the balance swings the other way. With this issue,
Jenkins brings real heartbreak to the story that outweighs
the pedestrian plotting, and makes the whole thing worth
going back and reading in one sitting.
Brigade #2: Keith Giffen and J. M. DeMatteis have made
their so-called "Bwah-ha-ha" style of superheroics exclusive
to Boom! Studios. With this team book functioning as a sort
of prequel to the superior Hero Squared, the balance
that makes that style work is a little off, perhaps because
they've set up a villain that is not so much mysterious
as utterly unknowable. The art chores also split halfway
through, causing a tonal rift to match the dimensional one
menacing the team. As a result, the first half reads much
more strongly. It's also where the banter works best. Planetary
Brigade has me intrigued to learn more about these characters;
it just wasn't as thrilling as I'd expected after both being
a long-time fan of the Bwah-ha-ha and loving Hero Squared.
Devil's Hands #1: Artist Andy Smith must have been a
Bart Sears protégé, because the Sears style screams out
from panel to panel, though it's softened by his own touches
and the subtle coloring from Wildstorm FX. By hooking the
Red Sonja fanboys, the book provides a decent reintroduction
of the character Claw from John Layman, though it looks
like Chuck Dixon will be taking the ongoing solo series.
If Sword and Sorcery is your thing, then you'll want to
pick up this book.
#14: The Pride is back! Really, there's little more
to say than that, except that of course Brian K.
Vaughan does it in a way you won't expect. Or quite possibly
understand - I can't be sure if I've forgotten a crucial
character, or if Vaughan has twisted things in a totally
new direction. Trust him, though. He won't steer you wrong.
of the New Universe: Justice #1: I'll admit it. Because
Peter David wrote it all those years ago, Justice
was the New Universe book I bought. I liked it then; I like
vs. Dracula #2: Frank Tieri's story is still better
than it should be, though his Van Helsing seems a little
spry and non-European. The biggest disappointment with the
book is that its interior art doesn't really match the mood
set by the cover. Inside, it's bright and competent but
not particularly atmospheric. Both Dracula and En Sabah
Nur work best in shadows, but can't seem to find any.
Godzilla TPB: SHIELD, Red Ronin and I think even the
Champions take a shot at the big green lizard. This book
won't exactly stand as a deathless classic, but it's campy
fun and a good reminder that once upon a time, Herb Trimpe
Crisis Secret Files 2006: Promising to answer what has
been going on inside that crystal dimension of Alex Luthor's
for the past twenty years, this book might turn out to be
the scorecard we need to keep the major players straight.
Twenty years trapped in a crystal room - that's a lot of
games of Uno.
Wars: Hatter M #2: A story set to the side of the upcoming
novel Looking Glass Wars, this book is a violent
look at Alice in Wonderland that reads much better
than it sounds.
Annual #1: Last week's issue of Teen Titans actually
let slip a major plot point, but hey - I think the cover
pretty much gives it away anyway. Hopefully, it will all
be done with taste, though probably not so much taste that
it's worth $4.99. You be the judge.
Justin and the American Way #1: Scott Kurtz makes me
laugh with PvP. Let's see if he has the chops to
do it with another strip.
Hey, write to us and
let us know what you think, or talk about it on the