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The Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 03/23/05
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.

The Guardian #1
writer: Grant Morrison
artist: Cameron Stewart

A headless spectre haunts the halls of a metropolitan hospital. Aliens walk among us. Pirates roam the tunnels of the subway in Manhattan, terrorizing unsuspecting commuters. JFK and Marilyn Monroe make a cozy love nest in Trump Tower. In the DC Universe, most of these headlines should be true, and yet it speaks to the blasé nature of the populace that they all get dismissed as tabloid hackwork.

Enter the Manhattan Guardian - the newspaper, not the titular hero. "Written by its readers," it chronicles the strange goings-on in a world of supermen. From the job interview former cop Jake Jordan has with the paper, it's clear that something is strange within the paper's offices, too. You might think the headline trumpeting the presence of a golem in the streets would refer to sister book The Monolith, but no, the Guardian has one working security for the office.

But first, the pirates.

The book opens with visceral power, featuring a daring train raid in search of a treasure map. Horrified onlookers can only stare and cringe as these bottom-dwelling buccaneers have at it. From the savagery of treachery on the low rails Morrison jumps to the slow pain of a marriage on the rocks.

Of course the elements have to come together, but not until Jordan wins that job at the Manhattan Guardian, as the Manhattan Guardian. It seems that somewhere in the morass of continuity (not that it really matters), the previous Guardian died, and his armor went up for sale.

Once again, Morrison has taken a piece of obscure DC continuity and mixed it up so well that it almost seems beside the point. Though this revamp of the classic Simon and Kirby character has its nods to the past, not knowing the history will not hurt you. This Guardian stands on his own, with superficial bits and pieces of comics standards for those who need it.

For the first time, too, the character really gets to be the focus. The two previous Guardians, both Jim Harper, played second fiddle to the Newsboy Legion and Jimmy Olsen. Even post-Crisis, he never really came into his own. Jake Jordan hasn't yet, either, but at least his version of the Newsboy Legion makes more sense, and sensibly stays in the background. The groundwork is all here.

So is the artwork. Cameron Stewart proved himself an artist of rich imagination collaborating with Morrison on Seaguy, but ultimately, that book caused more confusion than appreciation. Working on something a little more straightforward, Stewart may get the attention he deserves. Though Morrison has not allowed much in the way of quiet moments here, Stewart hints he could handle them. Not too many, please, because the flights of imagination are what makes Morrison's writing so worthwhile.

The Seven Soldiers of Victory have managed to be individually entertaining. Again, if the scope of the project daunts you, have no fear. This book looks to stand completely on its own. But they're like potato chips; it's hard to read just one of these heroes.


Daredevil #71: Some fans may cheer; some will mourn. Bendis and Maleev embark on their final arc in a long and controversial run. We side with the mourners. This Daredevil hasn't always been straightforward, but it's always had a mark of realism that few creative teams can match. Here, in part one of Decalogue, Bendis jumps back to Daredevil's "missing year" as Kingpin, told from the point of view of the citizens of Hell's Kitchen. Will it change how you view the character? Probably not, but it's still good comics.

Hawkman #38: After Geoff Johns and Rags Morales left the book, it meandered for a while, trying to find a new footing. Hawkman never stopped being fun, however, and finally there's a good place for new readers to jump aboard, setting up a new mystery with ex-Teen Titan Golden Eagle.

JLA: Classified #5: Next week, Countdown to Infinite Crisis #1 will change everything you think about the DC Universe. So this week, laugh while you can.

Legend #2: Not having actually read Philip Wylie's source novel, Gladiator, it's hard to say how much of the usual Howard Chaykin obsessions have injected themselves in here. It sure looks like a lot. However, they make sense, and Russ Heath continues doing some really great artwork.

Runaways #2: Marvel's new line of comics aimed at teens feels like a superhuman WB line-up. Gather a variety of teens. Give them superpowers they don't fully comprehend. Throw in some angst. However, this one came first, and thus, actually works the best.

Spellbinders #1: See above. However, Mike Carey, who does some really chilling stuff at Vertigo, writes this book, and this first issue proves that he's not about making it particularly safe.

Sight Unseen:

Doc Frankenstein #1: Actually, Burlyman releases a second printing this week, so if you already bought it, you've got it. But a lot of people missed it, and need to check it out. It's a great blend of pulp fiction, the modern Prometheus and some modern-day concerns.

New West #1: From the shadowy depths of Black Bull Comics, which I thought had gone away, comes a new series from Jimmy Palmiotti and Phil Noto, the team behind Beautiful Killer. Palmiotti's writing can sometimes be uneven, but Noto brings out the best in him.

Spider-Man/Human Torch #3: It's a shame this is only a limited series. But then, it would also be a shame if Marvel extended it and couldn't keep up the fun. Grab it while you can, and enjoy the best rivalry in comics. With all due respect to Bendis' opinion, Johnny Storm and Spider-Man make a better comedy team than Spidey and Logan.

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

Derek McCaw

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