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The Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 05/17/06
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.

Fell #5
writer: Warren Ellis
artist: Ben Templesmith

When Fell first appeared, it had a good pedigree. Warren Ellis always writes something interesting, if not always knock-down great. On the art side of things, Ben Templesmith brings a unique look; love him or hate him, at least he looks like Templesmith and no one else.

Still, for whatever reason that week, I skipped it. People talked about it but in a slurry of other books, it sort of kept falling by the wayside. Figuring that with Templesmith involved, it would have a supernatural bent and I'd have the strange feeling I'd seen it all before anyway.


If you miss shows like Homicide: Life on the Street, then Fell #5 is absolutely the book for you. Maybe that's too narrow a description. If you just like graphic storytelling at its finest, then Fell #5 is for you.

Yes, it does have the feel of good crime fiction regardless of medium, with a compelling central character and taut rhythm. Still Ellis and Templesmith make it somehow uniquely fitted to comics.

The book has two things going for it that would make it low risk, even if it wasn't as good as it is. Each issue, apparently, is a stand-alone story, though clearly Ellis has worked in subtle subplots. And Image has gone ahead and let it be priced at $1.99. Literally, this book is your best buy on the stands.

But Templesmith seems far more controlled in this book than in his other work. The chaos that sometimes takes center stage lines the edges, reflecting the constant danger that lurks in the story. However, the characters are all recognizably human, despite the monstrosity of the crimes of the guy sweating in the box. That humanity helps bring the story to an almost touching resolution.

The character of Fell himself has literary antecedents, but both Ellis and Templesmith portray him as something just about life-sized, not exaggerated in either direction. Underplaying the role, if you will, in the spirit of Bogart with a touch of Simon Pegg.

Ellis writes a game of wits that sweats the tension as much as Templesmith's art. A simple police interrogation turns into a nice little psychological thriller, and each panel has to be savored even as you want to rush to the next one.

That's simply good storytelling, and unexpectedly (for me), Fell is simply a great book that has me hook, line and sinker.

And you thought I'd make a falling pun. For shame.

Page 2: 52 #2, Batman Year 100 #4, Fear Agent #4 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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