again this week, we had trouble getting a look at DC's books
ahead of time. So you'll find at the end of this column recommendations
"sight unseen," that is, some releases we're willing
to gamble on and the reasons for that wager. For now, that's
where the DC books go. Better luck next week.
I remind you that until Tuesday, August 17,
if you mention the code words "Doctor Light,"
Brian's Books will give you 15% off of all DC hardcovers.
Recommendation of the Week:
writer: Mark Waid
artists: Mike Wieringo and Karl Kesel
By now, the
hype over this creative team has faded. We have new flavors
of the month, as Marvel announces its "Young Guns" initiative
of artists, and Bendis, Millar and Ellis divide up as much
of the Marvel Universe as they can. So there's no better
time than now to pick up Fantastic Four (if you're
not already) and be reminded that, even with a couple of
minor stumbles here and there, this has been a consistently
entertaining book of high quality.
art team had taken a couple of issues off, so it's time
to welcome them back, cementing one of the world's greatest
creative teams for what was once called "the world's greatest
comic magazine." What do you do after you've sent the Fantastic
Four to hell and then to heaven to confront their creator?
Waid took a few issues to figure it out, but when stuck
in the midst of a company cross-over (Avengers Disassembled),
he hits his stride again.
you explore the small stuff. This super-team has challenged
the nature of existence, but still has trouble maintaining
the respect of the American public. They're not bankrupt
in this book as they are in Marvel Knights 4, but
money isn't buying them happiness.
Four find joy in their family. It's Halloween, and The Thing
takes Franklin and Valeria trick-or-treating. In three short
pages, Waid and Wieringo sum up the dynamics of the family,
current events in the Marvel Universe and how this positions
the Fantastic Four in New York City if The Avengers have
been destroyed. (It's kind of maddening with so many allusions
to the consequences of Avengers #500 running through
books this month - we know more of the outcome from reading
everything else than from the actual issue.)
And though we
see fluff pieces on what costumes are popular every year
in the media, Waid is right to use this as a reflection
of the times. Ben Grimm bemoans the lack of Avengers costumes,
but notice, too, Wieringo and Kesel's set-up - kids pass
by dressed as Batman, Storm and Luke Cage, but the only
person wearing a Fantastic Four costume is The Thing himself.
And no, he's not in uniform. At least, not his own.
Then, of course,
an event that can only be called fantastic happens. As the
citizenry panics, the Mayor calls for The Avengers. But
they're too busy dying off-panel. (Farewell, Hellcat.) Only
Marvel's first family can save the day, but it doesn't look
like they can salvage the public's trust in them.
The truth is
that all of Marvel's Fantastic Four books, whether Ultimate,
Knighted, or this one, have been incredibly good this year.
And well they should be, because if people get interested
in the FF after the movie comes out, there had best be fun
and Kesel have had the toughest job, though. They didn't
have the luxury of rebooting or changing the direction of
the characters. Instead, they've made magic by finding what
drew us to the Fantastic Four in the first place. Others
may make them cool and different, but only here can you
find the four fantastic, even in their quietest moments.
#63 Bendis and Maleev continue a remarkable run. Bringing
in the Black Widow for this arc takes Daredevil even lower
than he had been before - into the perils of international
politics. If you pick this up, you're going to want to go
back to get issues #61 and 62 for the pertinent details.
Maleev's art is gritty and strangely realistic, and though
critics complain about his repeating panels, he also gets
right at the emotions that Bendis tries to convey with each
Tony Bedard finishes his story of Mimic vs. Mimic, and if
his moral isn't too terribly deep, at least he made the
whole thing entertaining. Everything you need to know about
the characters' backgrounds are here. Continuity need not
apply. Plus artist Mizuki Sakakibara finally shows us all
how to blend the best of American and Manga art styles.
Color me impressed with everything but Calvin Rankin not
being able to tell the difference between Mystique and his
own girlfriend Blink. Somebody's going to have relationship
To Be Missed:
New Invaders #1 Like The Authority,
but with lame characters and already inexplicably confusing
continuity. Or is just that we don't care?
City Special - Listen, even when Busiek isn't delivering
his best on this sporadic book, it's still better than most
of the other superhero stuff out there. So we always gamble
that he's at his best.
Strange Adventures #1 - DC's greatest Golden Age heroes
team up with real-life pulp writer Jack Williamson to face
a startling new menace. Enough of the breathless hype; novelist
Kevin J. Anderson writes the story, Barry Kitson draws it,
and the villain commands an army of robot zombies. We're
#2 - If you like horror comics and didn't buy
the first issue, for shame. Correct that mistake this week
and pick up the first two issues.
#1 - At this point, I don't know how many Manhunters
there have been. But DC tries again, and this time they
have Marc Andreyko writing. If you don't know that name,
take a look at his work with Brian Michael Bendis on Torso.
The guy's good, and we'll bet he has a spin worth reading
with this Manhunter, who, by the way, is a woman.
Obscura, v.2 #1 - Alan Moore continues to not be retired
from comics with this revisit of an alternate Earth loaded
down with "science heroes" that suffered a fate worse than
cancellation - they fell into the public domain. But Uncle
Alan gave them a home in Tom Strong, and then their
own mini-series which rocked. They're back again. Buy it.
and write to us and let us know what you think, or talk
about it on the