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The Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 06/02/05
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 Incredible Hulk #82
writer: Peter David
artists: Jae Lee and June Chung

After a strange six issue arc heralding the return of Peter David to the helm of Hulk, the writer stops and breathes for a beautiful one-issue story that wisely steers clear of all the oddity of previous issues.

Don't misunderstand; with "Tempus Fugit," David did the best thing he could after so long gone. He gave continuity-obsessed readers a way to safely ignore the stories they haven't liked, at least as far as the Hulk goes. Take it a step further, and it quietly explains everything that seems to be rebooting left and right in the Marvel Universe, without the bombast of House of M.

But you're sitting here thinking, yeah, but how does that help me with this issue?

"Dear Tricia..." plays with some of the preconceptions people have about the Hulk. Bruce Banner wanders the streets of London - don't ask how or when - and sees a mysterious, beautiful (of course) and sympathetic-looking woman. Their eyes meet; she gets in a cab and it explodes.

Tragedy, of course, lies at the heart of the Hulk's story, and so something like this was bound to happen. For a guy that sometimes barely comprehends a Dr. Seuss book, there's also the irony of him getting involved in the unknowable realm of magic.

The girl appears moments later as an astral projection, anxious to find her killer before her life force fades away from this plane for good. Why should the Hulk help? Tricia recognized in that one living look that she and Banner could have been soul-mates; by extension, Hulk has now lost a third woman who would have been able to accept him for who he is. (Betty's fate has me confused, too, and I'm going to count Jarella of the Sub-atomic World.)

Though this issue has plenty of action and doesn't shy from the inherent cruelty the Hulk can summon, David suffuses it with the right note of melancholy. Actually, that comes from the striking art team of Jae Lee and June Chung.

This may be one of the most relaxed works Lee has done in a long while. It's simpler than his higher-profile work, yet captures emotional depths. Within the bulk of the angry Hulk's face you can catch a glimpse of the hurt child. Like on the cover image, which appears as a panel within, the connection between the Hulk and Boris Karloff, always intended by Stan Lee, becomes subtly explicit.

The subtlety extends to Chung's coloring. Marvel credits her as "color artist," and it seems only fair. Melancholy hues wash over each page, as the fog of London and the fog of Hulk's mental state find kinship. Everything has a slightly faded look, as Tricia herself fades from Earthly existence.

This is why fans rejoiced over David's return. Though he has done great work for other series, The Incredible Hulk holds a special place in fandom's heart. Sometimes you can go home again. And if you haven't yet, pick this one up, even if you're just visiting.


Amazing Fantasy #9: "Please don't say Scorpion. Please don't say Scorpion." So begs a SHIELD agent to himself as our heroine gets asked what her superhero name is. But you know what? Now that Mac Gargan has become Venom, I say go ahead: be the Scorpion, because this origin tale has been surprisingly good.

Exiles #65: Tony Bedard brings the Exiles to the end of their raison d'etre. To do it, he also loads in more Hyperions than you can shake a stick at, one from the Mark Gruenwald Squadron Supreme series. Mysteriously, J. Michael Straczynski's version does not appear. Ah, well; check in for this transition issue, as the team has to figure out next issue just what the heck they intend to do now that they understand everything.

Son of Vulcan #1: I'm not a big fan of new titles that try to convince me that the superhero they're introducing has been operating on the fringe for quite some time now. It might not even fit in a DC Universe heading towards a Crisis. But writer Scott Beatty plays it vaguely enough, and finds a way to bring back the Floronic Man, Jason Woodrue, as both a villain and a hero. As for the Son of Vulcan himself, he's a young kid thrust into a role he never expected to play - think Damage, but with a better name and hopefully a longer run.

WE3: If you did not buy the individual issues, do not miss this trade paperback. Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely delivered a powerful science fiction tale that seems only half a step past plausible.

Zatanna #2: Notice that the Seven Soldiers storylines have changed a bit from what was originally advertised. This issue, in fact, bears no resemblance to the plot summary of it that had been appearing in all the other titles. So Grant Morrison had to shift gears; what he accomplishes on the fly here is still fun. Let's just hope the seams don't start to show on this project.

Sight Unseen:

House of M #1: Bendis. A Marvel Crisis that promises to alter reality. Really, how can we not give it a try?

Invincible #23: Others have heaped praise upon this title. Kirkman's work at Marvel has been pretty spotty, but once I went back and read this book, I completely understood why everybody raves about his superhero work. Between this and The Walking Dead, he really proves himself as one of the best writers in comics.

Villains United #2: Though it ties into the overall DC Countdown, this book stands pretty well on its own. Have you yet read a title by Gail Simone that let you down? Compound that with all the villains you love to hate - heck, all the villains - and this one comes up a winner.

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

Derek McCaw

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