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The Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 08/17/05
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.

I have returned from my "working" vacation in Los Angeles, and hope we'll see its fruits in the near future. If not, for the record, I did not sleep with any fashion models.

Sorry this one was late -- we've been having some internet connectivity problems.

Top 10:
Beyond the Farthest Precinct #1

writer: Paul Di Filippo
artist: Jerry Ordway

It's been five years since the heroes of Top 10 stopped their rogue other-dimensional commander. In the meantime we've taken a little side-trip with the giant blue police officer called Smax, and Alan Moore has decided never to work for a company even vaguely associated with DC Comics again.

So Beyond the Farthest Precinct gets a slightly lighter critical eye than it may deserve, for fear that it is the swansong of a really great concept. The new creative team still presumably works under the baleful genius eye of Moore, and once it closes, we will bid farewell to these brave heroes.

Di Filippo starts off well. The opening page of a crisis gives the reader a quick snapshot of most of the main characters, all in some state of emergency. Except it's actually a picnic, with the force getting the day off thanks to an extra-dimensional relief squad. (That squad, by the way, is hilarious.)

Then some robots in the park start doing a transistorized drug that sparks a massive horrifying hallucination - or maybe it's an holographic projection. In either case, you'd think it would cause some sort of ramifications in the story, but instead Di Filippo jump cuts to a morning briefing that mentions it off-handedly. The bigger concern is this new street drug, not the possibility that some sort of demon looks to be taking over the city.

It's still a clever series and concept. In Di Filippo's hands, it just doesn't read as smoothly as the previous mini-series did. Perhaps the big picture will make it all clearer, and when Moore's protégés are involved, it's easier to give it the benefit of the doubt.

And of course, with Jerry Ordway on art, the small pictures, too, are some of the best on the stands this week. As is tradition with this series, every panel teems with detail, and many have throwaway jokes and references that make this a book you need to re-read at least once. Those with children may appreciate the cameo by Swiper from Dora the Explorer.

Ordway easily maintains the high standard set by series co-creator Gene Ha. Every character lives and breathes, even the samurai robot Joe Pi.

Though flawed, Beyond the Farthest Precinct makes a good read, with the promise of more, if not more Moore.


Birds of Prey #85: Don't let the cover fool you. Of course Barbara Gordon won't lose her battle with the Brainiac virus. But somebody in the story does lose a crucial battle, and it's a testament to Gail Simone's skill with characterization that you'll care. Several long-standing plot threads come together, but it's the easy way that Simone allows you to see the Birds' importance in the DCU that makes this book worthwhile, month after month. If only the rest of the DCU understood...

Defenders #2: I don't think anybody in the Marvel Universe has let loose with a hearty "Bwa-ha-HAAAA" but it's only a matter of time. Giffen and DeMatteis have an uncanny knack for making the end of the universe be both terrifying and hilarious. The Hulk finds a new role in life, Dr. Strange and Namor continue hating each other, and at some point, the Silver Surfer has got to come in and save everything. But only after he catches the perfect wave.

Klarion #3: Once again, Grant Morrison deftly works his way with the creepy. Klarion gets a clear origin and a mission that makes him heroic without necessarily removing the touch of the psychotic that has marked every previous appearance. How all these Seven Soldiers will remain unaware of each other remains to be seen ...or unseen. Missing an issue, however, is a tragic waste of comic book money.

Lucifer #65: Speaking of protagonists that have no right to be heroes but still sort of are, take a look at Lucifer Morningstar. Mike Carey continues weaving an epic that evidently has only ten more issues to go. Check it out, then go back and get some trades. This is Vertigo's current shining star.

Mutopia #2: Of all the House of M crossover books, this one feels the freshest. District X didn't have a longstanding status quo to turn upside down, so writer David Hine instead gets to use his cast to explore the common man's consequences in this brave new world. It's chilling, perfectly logical and cleared of the bombast of, say, the still-interesting Spider-Man, makes for a neat little story.

Spider-Man: House of M #3: And here's another. It's bigger and playing with what we know and what we think we know. I'm going to bow to one of our readers and admit I completely misread a key point of the first issue. With that surprise gone, Waid has still more, and if indeed our heroes remember what happened in this Age of M when things return to normal, things will never be the same.


Batman: Journey Into Knight #1 In a move that seems more to entice creators than readers, Andrew Helfer and Tan Eng Huat do Year One and a half. It's no worse an idea than Superman: Birthright, and yet that one really worked for me from the get-go, while this seems callow. Huat's art always has a nice rhythm to it, but the story just seems kind of pointless and worse, over the top. For those who remember and treasure Frank Miller's writing on Year One -- and can forget All-Star Batman and Robin -- there are better ways to spend your money this week.

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

Derek McCaw

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