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The Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 07/13/05
brought to you by Brian's Books of Santa Clara

Because I really should be sleeping so I can get up early and drive to San Diego, this week's Spotlight column will be a little shorter than usual, unless it turns out I've rambled on and on again, in which case, never mind. Just enjoy comics this week.

Action Comics #829
writer: Gail Simone
artists: John Byrne and Nelson

This week, I had to go with something a little out of the norm for the spotlight. Action Comics #829 isn't the best-written comic book this week, though as always, Gail Simone delivers a fast-paced and compelling tale. It isn't the best-drawn, though John Byrne is doing some of the best work of his career returning to a book he once redefined.

No, this week's Action may not be the best (I have hopes for All-Star Batman and Robin, foolish though they may be), but it is the most important in terms of continuity. If DC has the stones to do what this storyline, "Sacrifice," implies will be happening, Joe Quesada will be stewing in his own juices. This is the arc that will tear the internet in two.

As the second part of a four-part crossover, this issue actually repeats a lot of information from last week's Superman book - sort of. Readers of The OMAC Project know that Superman may not exactly be in his right mind right now, and last week he fought with Brainiac to what he thought may have been the death.

Only now, with the JLA hovering around him in his Fortress of Solitude, Superman remembers it differently. This time, he struggled with Darkseid. The end result is the same: he awakens with blood on his hands. But the question is whose...

Byrne really goes to town with his designs this issue. Long loving the Kirby creations, Byrne is one of a handful of artists that can make the Fourth World seem new without betraying the work of "the King." Compare his Apokalips with the flashbacks Val Semeiks did in last week's Villains United, and you'll see just how much sweat Byrne puts into every panel.

Of course, we should expect that Simone would also put a nice spin on Apokolips, too. Long-time flunky Desaad actually gets to be effective comic relief instead of just simpering.

It's not the creative team's fault that this crossover is almost like Rashomon on acid, and thus only a couple of pages give us any new information. If you missed last week's Superman, this book will read much better. In either case, you will want to read this one.


Desolation Jones #2: Warren Ellis and J.H. Williams give us something moody, something vaguely disturbing and something just damned intriguing. "Desolation" Jones follows in the footsteps of a long line of flippant burned out British heroes, but this issue gives us the softer side even as it takes a stab at a twisted version of the Black Widow. It's excellent reading, but what did you expect from Ellis?

Hercules #4: According to Andy at Brian's Books, nobody is buying this thing. That's a shame, because it just keeps getting better and better. With this issue, Hercules faces the New Avengers, and the results are funny but also a little bit poignant. Nothing in Frank Tieri's previous work would have led me to this unexpectedly touching and dynamic book, but there it is.

Mutopia #1: Since District X is the best X-book, it only makes sense that its House of M redesign would be intriguing, too. If the first three pages are accurate, there's also a lot more to the entire House of M storyline than originally met the eye.

New Avengers #7: Spider-Man hasn't been this funny in years. Jessica Drew actually turns out to be an effective hero. And Cage - well, he sure knows how to pose. Bendis introduces the ruling council of the Marvel Universe, and that concept alone should have long-lasting repercussions. As he delves into the mystery of the Sentry, though, the writer may get a lot of hate mail - but for now, we say "trust your Bendis."

Spider-Man: Breakout #4: Tony Bedard started slowly with this one, turning it into a good story highlighting the differences between Spider-Man's solo career and his new awkward relationship with the Avengers. This could have easily been a throwaway mini-series designed to capitalize on any New Avengers fever, and despite its cover blurb, it really only has a tenuous connection. But it is a good book, and deserves your attention.

Sight Unseen:

All-Star Batman & Robin #1: Frank Miller. Jim Lee. No-brainer. But be warned -- this one has two different covers; you can buy Batman or Robin. You can buy both. We still can't decide.

The Plot: The Secret Story of the Elders of Zion: Treat this one with respect, gang. We are seeing the last work of Will Eisner, two days before the first posthumous awards ceremony in his name.

Serenity #1: Dark Horse bridges the gap between Firefly and its big-screen incarnation with this three-issue mini-series that Joss Whedon announced back at Wondercon. Once again, you have a choice of three covers, depending on which character you find the hottest. Just admit that drives a lot of your choices.

That's it. I'm off to bed, I swear it. You'll hear from me next when I get to San Diego.

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

Derek McCaw

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