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The Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 06/15/05
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.

Birds of Prey #83
writer: Gail Simone
artists: Joe Bennett and Jack Jadson

In all honesty, the best comic book you could possibly read this week is Batman Begins. No, I don't mean the comic book adaptation, though I'm sure a lot of love went into it; if you have ten bucks to drop, it should be in your local cinema.

But you're a comic book reader. You have slightly more than ten bucks, and you need to ride the pulp pony. So pick up this Bat-book that actually doesn't have Batman in it at all, rarely does, in fact, and never needs to. What Birds of Prey does have is some of the best writing and deepest characterization on the stands. If that intellectual appeal doesn't work for you, try great action and strong women (in all senses of the phrase) kicking butt.

Though this issue covers the middle of a complex storyline, Gail Simone knows how to keep new readers up to speed. Good thing, too, because no doubt many will be attracted by the huge "The OMAC Project Tie-in" logo on the cover. Unlike many such tie-ins, Birds of Prey really does have something integral to the overall scheme of things. In fact, Simone had been planting seeds for that mini-series for months here.

Due to a confrontation with Brainiac 13, Barbara Gordon, aka Oracle, has gained the ability to literally surf the web with her mind. On one such trip, she encountered the satellite we would come to know as Brother I, and in this issue, it takes steps to ensure Oracle will never find it again.

The sweep of Birds of Prey, however, is so great that that's less than a third of the action. Meanwhile, Black Canary and Wildcat have been undercover trying to keep a drug ring from pumping its poison into Gotham City. Possibly working against them? Former affiliate of the Birds of Prey (I'm really not sure they call themselves that) The Huntress, who has set herself up to reclaim her birthright as ...mob boss of Gotham City.

It isn't all tying together yet, but no doubt Simone intends it to. Her entire run has proven that she will do it skillfully as well.

The book has recently had a change of art teams, with Simone's original collaborator Ed Benes getting a promotion (?) to one of the Superman books. New artists Bennett and Jadson do not work in quite as many pin-up shots as Benes did, but this seems more appropriate. With the possible exception of The Huntress and her ab-displaying costume, the Birds of Prey wouldn't sit still for being thought of as objects. Even Huntress would only allow it for about a minute before she kicked you in your fanboys.

With Justice League Unlimited putting so much attention on both Black Canary and Huntress, this book was bound to get a higher profile anyway, undoing any damage from the live-action series. Catch it now while the recent issues are still relatively inexpensive. Birds of Prey is one of the best books DC has, and more and more people are figuring that out.


Daredevil #74: Though the thematic elements of doing a Decalogue haven't been the most overt in this arc, Bendis and Maleev have still been managing to top themselves. Considering how powerful all their work on this book has been, that's saying something. Putting a bit of focus on Matt Murdock's marriage, the story takes a surprising turn that, needless to say, has me on edge for the next issue.

GLA #3: There's something deceptively good about a writer that can present us with a joke character like Squirrel Girl and still make us think her effective as a crimefighter, even as we laugh. Unfortunately, her sidekick Monkey Joe may not have as high an opinion of Dan Slott after this issue. You should, though.

Hawkman #41: Um, ew. Gray and Palmiotti do something with Hawkman that I never thought I'd see and never really hoped to see. Really. But I'm still hooked as they put their own spin on the mythos that Geoff Johns tried to straighten out. It may be about to get more complicated, but considering that Hawkman may be very integral to the coming Crisis, this book bears reading.

Hercules #3: Hercules redoes his legendary Twelve Labors for a reality show. So far, this book has walked a fine line between being an interesting adventure and low comedy. It helps that Frank Tieri does remember that though Hercules is a drunken idiot, emphasis apparently on idiot, he is still a hero.

Klarion The Witch Boy #2: The Seven Soldiers Saga continues with this creepy title that brings a few different elements into focus. As his bigger picture unfolds, Grant Morrison still remembers that he has to build great characters.

Marvel Knights 4 #19: Every run on the Fantastic Four has to include an Inhumans story. Though this territory has been covered before, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa looks to be bringing in ties to real world concerns in a way that earlier writers haven't. The art, too, looks great.

Mnemovore #3: This book just creeps me out.

Uncanny X-Men #461: Claremont makes a fairly coherent attempt to fit this super-team in the larger scheme of the X-books. To do it, he has to bring back the X-Babies and Mojo, but that's okay. This issue is fun and surprisingly accessible, and something about the cover makes me think that Claremont wants to remind us all that yes, ahem, this book is really the ultimate X-Men.

Vimanarama #3: This quirky mini-series comes to the kind of end that Morrison only occasionally accomplishes: satisfying. His rides are always worthwhile, but they still often lead to headscratching. Not so here. Vimanarama has been bold, unique and even sweet. Somehow I don't think I'll ever be saying that about Klarion.

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

Derek McCaw

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