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The Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 06/08/05
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.

Gotham Central #32
writer: Greg Rucka
artist: Steve Lieber

When Gotham Central launched, it focused a long overdue spotlight on the good men and women of Gotham that faced both corruption on the force and the shadow of the bat. It had been tried before in back-ups in Detective Comics and other random titles, but none of those efforts hit as hard and effectively as this book.

Part of its success had to be credited to co-writer Ed Brubaker and the simple but gritty work of Michael Lark. Both of these talents, however, fell victim to the Exclusives Wars, as in Marvel Comics made them an offer they wouldn't refuse. Could Gotham Central recover?

Of course. As long as good men in Gotham fight for justice.

And as long as original co-writer Greg Rucka keeps collaborating with artists that make the sometimes fantastic Gotham citizens seem as real as any average joes. In this case, Rucka reunites with Steve Lieber, with pen and ink that handles the rough streets of Gotham and the wild of its nature with equal facility.

Though the series so far has looked at law enforcement from the good cops' point of view, Rucka shifts to the seamy underside for a stand-alone story. Two of Gotham's "Finest" shake a drug dealer and accidentally kill a teen runaway in the process. As they cover up their involvement, Rucka shows just how deep the corruption is on the Gotham police force, and how much the dirty rank and file resent those that aren't on the take.

As should be expected from Rucka, "Nature" works as a solid story of corruption on its own. But of course, this is Gotham City, so a few freaks have to be thrown in. The new king of Gotham crime Black Mask makes his presence felt, a new face to old corruption. As the cover makes clear, another of Batman's foes also appears much to the dismay of the two cops hiding their own crimes.

Playing a major role, Rucka's new vision of Jim Corrigan also pops up. Fans of larger DC continuity should be carefully studying this character; with a freelance Spectre floating around, it still seems suspicious that a cop in desperate but unconscious need of redemption should be raising his profile.

If the rest of the DCU doesn't matter to you, Gotham Central still should. Retailers preparing for an influx of new readers (hope springs eternal) as a result of Batman Begins should have this book on hand. As Myatt Murphy at Second To Some Studios pointed out last year, Gotham Central should be pulling in the same audience that keeps good police shows on the air.

So put this book in the hands of one of those people when they say, "hey, I like Batman, but comics...come on..." Gotham Central offers quiet quality month after month.


Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight #192: It's a good week for fans of all things Gotham. This title varies wildly in quality, but the arc beginning here has everything it should. Re-telling the origin of Mister Freeze, the story has heart and the unsettling but excellent work of Seth Fisher.

Fables #38: Damn you, Bill Willingham! Damn you, Mark Buckingham! You taunt us with a heavily armored Adversary, then still cleverly keep us from learning his identity. Worse, you keep producing a comic book so good that we don't care that you taunt and tease us worse than a drunken booth babe at E3.

Gravity #1: Give Marvel credit for occasionally trying to reach new young readers with something other than a retread of their flagships dumbed down. Sean McKeever, a writer that has consistently proven he writes young characters better than anybody. Mike Norton tackles the artwork with something other than the too-standard quasi-manga style that has possessed Marvel.

Last Hero Standing #2: How did the futuristic "M2" Universe end up being so old-school? That's not necessarily a bad thing; it's just weird. Spider-Girl creator Tom DeFalco finds an excuse to bring us up to date on everybody in the future, and it should enthrall any younger readers you know. It might even intrigue you. But don't let the appearance of Hawkeye give you hope; M2 is a "What If?" that proved popular enough for its own line for a while.

New Warriors #1: Somehow, this team has a place in fandom's heart, despite having no characters that anyone seems to like individually. While the artwork of Skottie Young has a curious lack of proportion and apparent conscious design, writer Zeb Wells is always always worth reading if you're looking for fun. The idea of putting a team on a reality show is inevitable; thank heavens Wells got it first.

Nightwing #109: In the aftermath of "War Games," many of the Bat-books seem confused. Nightwing shrugged it off after a "Year One" adventure, and really used its continuity to alter the status quo. Dick Grayson now works from within the mob in Bludhaven, and with each issue, Devin Grayson makes it clear that it's going to get more and more difficult for him to draw the line between right and wrong. Being "Crutches" isn't nearly as easy as Bruce Wayne made "Matches" seem.

Sight Unseen:

City of Heroes #2: Okay, so it may just be a thinly disguised set-up for the upcoming City of Villains game. In Mark Waid's hands, this comic book became a worthwhile title in its own right, not just an obligatory tie-in.

Lex Luthor: Man of Steel #4: If you hated Azzarello's work on Superman, forgive him. That had to have been a different guy, because this Azzarello rocks when writing Lex Luthor.

I Want To Like You But...

The Pulse #9: If Secret War weren't less likely to appear than the next issue of Spider-Man/Black Cat, I might not resent this. But as nifty as Jessica Jones' view of things has been, not really knowing anything more than she does about what the heck is going on has gotten waaaaaay too frustrating. In hindsight, I'm sure it will all make sense.

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

Derek McCaw

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