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The Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 05/10/06
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.

Truth, Justin,
and the American Way #2

writers: Scott Kurtz and Aaron Williams
artist: Giuseppe Ferrarrio

Homage can be a tricky thing. An artist doesn't want to seem to be just ripping off something he loves, but he also wants to be honest about his inspiration. So why not just come out and admit it? Finding the right balance in order to create something new is a tremendous challenge.

So far, Scott Kurtz, Aaron Williams and Giuseppe Ferrarrio have won that challenge.

On the surface, Truth, Justin, and the American Way screams Greatest American Hero. It even has a theme song with the same feel-good vibe. But just because Justin J. Cannell puts on a suit that grants him great power with no idea how to use it, that does not make him Ralph Handley.

The writers have made their protagonist a bit younger, a well-meaning slacker on the edge of turning into a decent husband for the loving (and lovely) Bailey Smithers. If only his loser buddies hadn't thrown a fateful bachelor party.

If only, really, the last gasp of the Iron Curtain hadn't hidden an experimental suit in Justin's dry cleaning. If only the government agent on his tail wasn't absolutely insane. If only '80's television hadn't happened, there wouldn't be this book.

It all happened, though, and so we might as well enjoy the ride. Elements may seem completely bizarre, starting with the design of the suit. In our twenty-first century rush to make things logical, we lost a lot of the fun and goofy wonder that TJ&TAW celebrates.

For the characters, the stakes are high, even if we know it will all work out in the end. The script never betrays that, but also keeps winking at us. Kurtz and Williams know they're dealing with shadows from a half-dozen beloved action shows from their childhood. There's an innocence forming a bedrock for the danger, especially when you see how cartoonish Ferrarrio has made the Russian spy involved in the whole affair.

By the way, Ferrarrio does a bang-up job. His cartooning slightly resembles Kurtz' own on PvP, but it seems more tightly controlled and right for the time period, almost as if an animated cartoon from the eighties had actually been done well.

Image has apparently sold out the first issue, but the second one stands well enough on its own to make it worth a spotlight recommendation. You'll get up to speed, figure out the characters and really enjoy the ride.

After reading this, I realized that I really missed these kinds of shows. Sure, as an adult, I'm satisfied with harder-edged and more believable dramas, but I'm hard-pressed to imagine my kids glued to the televison to watch reruns of Boston Legal or CSI. I suddenly want an action show that we can all watch together.

In the meantime, I'm going to give them Truth, Justin, and the American Way.

Also in the Preview Stack:

American Virgin #3: The salaciousness of the title and the advance ads were a necessary evil. Yet they do this book a disservice. Though Steven T. Seagle has taken a couple of shots at Christian Conservatives that may have been too easy, the overall story has turned into that of a young man struggling with his faith in the face of man's evil. Comics don't tackle this kind of thing with true seriousness as often as they should, considering what dominates the industry. Bravo to Vertigo for daring to tell this story, but a shame that you might think you're getting some bizarre sex romp.

Batman: Secrets #3: Clearly, Sam Kieth thinks the Joker is coolly sane. And you know what? That almost makes him twice as scary. This meditation on the power of the media smack dab in the middle of a cool Batman-Joker battle just gets better and better with each issue - and so does Kieth's art. This is a creator at the top of his game playing around with a flagship character and still creating something uniquely his. Maybe Alan Moore wrote the definitive Joker story, but Sam Kieth might just be chipping away at that reputation.

Page 2: Cable & Deadpool #28, Cthulhu Tales #1, Firestorm #25 and more...

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

Derek McCaw

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