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The Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 9/14/04
brought to you by Brian's Books of Santa Clara

Once 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...

Top Recommendation of the Week

Madrox #1
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.


The Batman Strikes! #1:

I'm 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.

Daredevil #64:

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 Pokemon.

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 here.

Sight Unseen:

Identity Crisis #4:

Do I really have to explain this?

Strange #1:

J. Michael Straczynski FINALLY gets around to his Dr. Strange mini-series hinted at early in his run on Amazing Spider-Man.

Skip It:

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.

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

Derek McCaw

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