Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 9/14/04
brought to you by Brian's Books of Santa
again, we take a look at some of the books coming out this
week, paying careful attention to one that deserves your
attention and your $2.99...
Recommendation of the Week
writer: Peter David
artist: Pablo Raimondi and Drew Hennessy
Lamer characters have darkened the ranks of the X-Men.
Still, the news of a solo series for the one character that
literally cannot be solo, Madrox the Multiple Man, was not
likely the answer to anyone's prayers. Raised in isolation,
usually relegated to the fringes of Xavier's teams (Fallen
Angels, anyone?), Madrox often ended up more of a plot
point than a real character. Only one writer ever handled
him with any real deftness. It should come as no surprise
then that Peter David, the aforementioned writer, has begun
an intriguing tale with not one, not two but THREE of the
most underdeveloped mutants to wear an X. Taking Madrox,
Wolfsbane and Strong Guy (the overdeveloped Charlie Brown
stand-in) out of the costumed world and putting them right
in the slums of New York for a grim and gritty mutant noir,
David has once again put a surprising spin on characters
we thought we sort of knew.
Not that we know everything yet. New readers are given
a cursory background on Madrox, but the full consequences
of his power have yet to fully unravel. He has apparently
been fatally wounded in the opener of the story, but this
is no flashback. Instead, one of Madrox's doubles has run
into trouble, and his inevitable journey back to the source
fades into the background as David assembles his players.
The Multiple Man has opened a detective agency, XXX Investigators,
on the edge of Mutant Town (which may or may not be the
same as District X). From this seedy centerpoint,
he sends versions of himself out to explore the world and,
evidently, stir up trouble. But this is no superhero book,
even though the lead duplicates himself on impact and his
new part-time secretary can turn into a wolf.
It's clear that David is after something different, and
he's just the writer to pursue it. With Madrox's powers,
he can explore different cultures and ideas while still
having a recognizable baseline. Just as David does with
Fallen Angel (not Fallen Angels), this book
could prove a challenging read month after month.
It's no longer a novelty to have an artist drawing these
characters with a more realistic bent, and for that, Pablo
Raimondi's pencils don't really stand out. However, he does
have a clean sense of composition and a decent command of
facial expressions. Even the ridiculously proportioned (by
design) Strong Guy (though he prefers Guido) looks almost
something within reason. For a change, Raimondi also dares
make Rahne (Wolfsbane) look attractive and not nearly as
tentative as most artists draw her.
Under Drew Hennessy's inks, the book looks like a slightly
prettier Michael Gaydos, though Hennessy tends to be a bit
more solid in his blacks. It's a decent art combo, but the
inker does have room to lighten up a bit, even as the story
may get darker.
Take the ride. Madrox is a welcome surprise in
a flood of tenuous X tie-ins. And so far …no Wolverine.
Batman Strikes! #1:
one that agrees with Adam West that kids need a Batman for
them. Despite some wild redesigns of certain key villains,
the new animated series and this adaptation fits the bill.
Though it clearly refers to information that will be gleaned
from the television show, this game of cat and mouse with
The Penguin is taut and should satisfy the kid audience.
Plus they should respond to this younger, looser version
of Bruce Wayne that seems more comfortable playing the role
of millionaire playboy without the playboy part. The only
real weird note comes in a tacked on epilogue clearly meant
to remind kids of Batman's origin.
The latest chapter in the Black Widow saga draws to a close,
with everything you could ask for: a little bit of titillation,
a little bit of action and a really, really ugly bad guy.
Alex Maleev draws a disturbing Jigsaw, while Bendis continues
his skillful manipulation of the worst situation Matt Murdock
could be in, unable to act against his enemies for fear
of confirming the rumors that he is Daredevil.
Fantastic Four #518:
This book keeps plugging away with solid entertainment.
Though it has the "Disassembled" logo on it, that seems
a pretty weak tie-in. Rather, pay attention to this prologue
to Waid's turn at a Galactus story. Wieringo's art is as
solid as ever, and I can't shake the perversely fun feeling
that the Fantastic Four are struggling against a bunch of
Terra Obscura, v.2 #2:
Be warned: if you buy this, you will be sucked in to complex
superhero fun, with a lot of unfamiliar yet recognizable
characters that each get clear character defining moments
while never losing the flow of a bizarre conspiracy story.
In short, it's vintage Alan Moore, actually overseeing writer
Peter Hogan. Despite the daunting sound of the title, this
is an easily accessible and rewarding book. However, it
may force you into buying the trade paperback of the first
volume. Not a bad thing, and I'll helpfully provide a link
Identity Crisis #4:
Do I really have to explain this?
J. Michael Straczynski FINALLY gets around to his Dr. Strange
mini-series hinted at early in his run on Amazing Spider-Man.
JSA: Strange Adventures #2:
Barry Kitson's art is nice. The robozombies look cool.
But Strange Adventures doesn't have a story to match
- at least, not yet. The conceit of throwing in a real pulp
author has yet to gel, or even have a point. And worse,
novelist Kevin J. Anderson has fashioned a story highlighting
one of the most irritating things about Johnny Thunder:
the guy has almost unlimited power, but is so brain-dead
that it never, NEVER occurs to him to use it. So why feature
him if you're only going to point out he's a moron? This
one is for JSA completists only, which, sadly, I am. Maybe
it will pick up later.
The New Invaders #2:
Aside from its odd political premise and using a lot of
the biggest jerks in the Marvel Universe, this book is also
pretty much incoherent. Full of fictional country names
and references to continuity deemed unimportant for several
decades, it's just really hard to figure out why anybody
is fighting anybody here. Justice League Elite is
actually covering the same ground, with a bit more coherence
in its narrative.
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