Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 03/16/05
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: Allan Heinberg
artists: Jim Cheung and John Dell
When Marvel announced Young Avengers
last summer, the book seemed like weird pandering. At one
point, I think they even crowed, "they're not who you think."
Most fans, not really knowing what lay ahead in "Avengers
Disassembled," really didn't think they were much of anything.
But the preview image did have sufficient power to it to
keep the book from being written off sight unseen.
After two issues, we still do not know
who they are. However, we do know that writer Allan Heinberg
can tell a great story that moves things along while still
maintaining suspense, a tricky balancing act when that elusive
trade paperback glows in the future. The other tricky part,
where Heinberg rules, lies in somehow making a second issue
stand on its own so new readers can still enjoy it.
Some of it echoes DC's recently relaunched
Legion of Super-Heroes, including ties to the 30th
Century. The members of the Young Avengers (who do not call
themselves such) should not be seen as potential sidekicks.
Each one takes inspiration from a founding (or close to
founding) Avenger. In a nice nod to this conceit and picking
up a spare plot thread from Bendis, Cassie Lang, daughter
of the late Ant-Man, wants to claim her "birthright" and
join the group.
Heinberg and co-creator Jim Cheung have
also thrown a bone to one of the lamest Avengers plotlines,
and this time, they might do it right. At the end of last
issue, when Iron Lad removed his helmet before the actual
Avengers, he revealed himself to be a very young version
of Kang. However, he also looks suspiciously like a very
young version of Tony Stark.
Jaded fans may remember that at one point,
Stark himself had turned evil, revealed to be a puppet of
Kang. The solution then? Bring in his 19-year-old self,
before Kang had corrupted him, to battle the man he would
become. For a few months, this younger Stark wore the armor
and starred in Iron Man, before getting sucked into
The young Kang faces a similar problem
(not the Heroes Reborn thing - hopefully). He has gathered
other teen heroes to both carry on the legacy of justice
established by the Avengers and to stop his older self from
trying to conquer the 21st Century. All props to the kid
for wanting to help, but it's a good bet that things are
not exactly what he thinks they are.
Perhaps the plot breaks little new ground,
but it has a breezy entertaining style. So far its real
strength comes from the accessible characterization. From
this slightly older writer's perspective, the teen heroes
speak like real teens, only perhaps a little quicker on
the comebacks. Like the Legionnaires, their costumed identities
are being so fully realized that meeting their "secret identities"
might be a letdown, or at least beside the point. Precocious
adolescents might pick up this book and nod knowingly at
its sophistication, especially with the likely gay Hulkling.
Cheung's art has always had an androgynous
element to it (let's face it - in Scion, the title
character was prettier than his girlfriend, the super-hot
Ashleigh). Having a character like Hulkling takes advantage
of that quality. We're assuming he is a he, but maybe not.
Or maybe I'm looking for one surprise too many.
Young Avengers has made it two for
two. It's solid fun, and this week, I really needed that.
Ex Machina #9: Though it's a hard
issue to jump aboard with, I can't stress enough how good
this book actually is. Vaughan keeps us guessing on the
source of Mayor Hundred's powers, and gives us a good "but
of course!" moment as a would-be assassin tries to get around
them. The action would be pointless without Vaughan's insistence
on injecting ideas into each issue. Whether you're
in a red state or blue state, the writer refuses to let
you read in a vegetative state.
4 #16: I never thought that I would
like the Fantastic Four enough to enjoy it twice a month.
But as Bendis and my wife keep reminding me, never say never.
The FF face a villain sort of like Kang yet not, while writer
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa shows some creative uses of the team's
powers and personalities. Plus you've got a cool Tony Harris
Space Ghost #5: Earlier issues led
me to some regret that we had to have a grim and gritty
version of Space Ghost. With this issue, Joe Kelly has made
me not mind quite so much. We've finally got Jan and Jayce
restoring an element of humanity to Tad's heart, and dubbing
him Space Ghost. It's almost believable that he would bring
them into his galactic crusade, though we haven't yet seen
him move past revenge into true justice. Then there's this
really creepy Zorak...
Spider-Man Unlimited #8: The problem
with books like this in today's marketplace is that they
tend to sort of sit on the shelf. What, you ask, how could
a Spider-Man book sit on the shelf? Because today's market
tends to be driven by continuity, and thus casual readers
may miss some really nice one-off work. Sometimes this book
is hit and miss, but this issue has two good concepts done
extremely well. "Fanboyz" explains what the Jackass
guys would be doing in a world people with superheroes.
"Everything" strikes just the right chord between sentiment
and characterization, with a writer that knows that heroes
don't get destroyed by their tragedies, but instead use
them to become stronger. Take that, J.D. Finn.
Wolverine #26: "Agent of SHIELD"
begins. Some of Mark Millar's plotting here defies logic,
but the scope is so large, the art by J.R., Jr. so dynamic,
that it's best just not to think about it. Get sucked in
to grand adventure, and the real Secret War that's going
on in the Marvel Universe.
Human Race #1: DC has high hopes for this series, and
by not actually giving us a preview, that's a sign they've
got utmost confidence in its quality. The art team has already
been signed for Day of Vengeance.
Symbiotes #4: Not particularly groundbreaking in its
scope, perhaps, but it's really nice to read a futuristic
superhero story that knows where it's going, even if you
don't. Drive Comics seem more interested in telling a story
than building a franchise, and that actually makes it stronger.
Millionaire's Sock Monkey: That Darn Yarn: Bizarre one-shot
that could be for children - hopefully, that vague feeling
of unease that Tony Millionaire usually inspires will go
right over their heads. If not, hey, it's good for kids
to learn about the macabre early.
Already Feeling Let Down:
Panther #2: Two issues, and already this book is like
a panther chasing its own tail. Hudlin is so busy giving
Black Panther's origin a new slant that the plot doesn't
actually advance one bit.
Hey, write to us and
let us know what you think, or talk about it on the