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The Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 09/14/05
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.

The Pulse #11
writer: Brian Michael Bendis
artist: Michael Gaydos

Sure, Marvel frontloaded this with the New Avengers on the cover. And I'm going to officially complain - "Enough with Ronin already! He hasn't actually appeared yet!" Yet the return of Michael Gaydos to the character he made famous (and vice versa) almost completely makes up for the blatant marketing manipulation.

Despite the promises of action, birth, and more action, Brian Michael Bendis actually gives Gaydos an issue of slice of life moments, albeit in a super-powered universe. The story tangentially follows Marvel Knights 4 #22, as Ben Urich and Jessica Jones have a run-in with the Thing. Rather than it involving a supervillain, it turns out that Jessica has a lunch date with Sue Richards, arranged by Carol Danvers.

Bendis, of course, has a knack for realistic quiet moments, and he will make you consider both the improbability and the believability of superheroes having children. When Sue speaks, though, you'll hear a writer really expressing his love and marvel at having a child of his own. The character speaks truer than some of you may know, but it's Bendis' truth. (Though so far, the littlest Bendis has not demonstrated any superpowers.)

When Alias got more superheroic, Gaydos seemed uncomfortable, and indeed shared art duties with Mark Bagley if the action got too steeped in spandex. The humanity of these characters, though, is still right up his alley. If anything, Gaydos' time away has only sharpened his skills, as the women look more strongly different from each other and yes, even a little bit more attractive. Finally his faces are unique.

Even the cliffhanger this issue is quiet, but it's a quiet that some will appreciate as being a huge precursor to panic. I might take issue with a sound effect, but this is after all the Marvel Universe, and things get exaggerated here.

This issue of The Pulse does what Bendis set out to do with it - give a human face to the superheroic action and show us the faces behind the masks. More importantly, it does so without resorting to melodrama. We may never have lunch with Ms. Marvel (okay, we will never have lunch with her), but we still do need to believe she and other heroes have a very human side. Bendis and Gaydos accomplish this in spades. For those who miss Alias (the Marvel one), you will kick yourself if you do not pick up this issue.


Action Comics #831: Gail Simone has a grand old time pointing out all the things about Bizarro that should annoy people. They annoy Zoom, too, but Superman cannot worry about that. He's got Black Adam and Dr. Psycho to contend with. This book delivers on its title, though it might as well be called More Fun.

Desolation Jones #3: Ellis and Williams take a relatively distanced look at the adult film industry, with a protagonist who remains largely a mystery. Once again, we get maddening clues as to what has been done to him in the name of National Security. But Ellis keeps the story going at a fast enough pace that we can trust that we can wait for the answers.

Marvel Knights 4 #22: This issue serves as a companion piece to The Pulse #11, as The Thing tracks down a golem. Roberto Aguirre-Socasa keeps surprising me with sharp characterization. Though he has delved into larger-than-life adventures, the writer really shines at stories like this: making the Fantastic Four seem not so fantastic.

Fables #41: Even with elements like the Blue Fairy (still creeped out by last issue's revelations), Bill Willingham makes evil so disturbingly mundane. Worse, he also makes it almost reasonable. This isn't quite the final puzzle piece, but most of the big picture seems to be in place for Willingham's masterpiece.

Firestorm #17: Yes, Firestorm #17. Stuart Moore has turned this book from my greatest disappointment of last year to the biggest surprise of this year. Freed from the trappings of continually sucking, Jason Rusch has a showdown with the Secret Society of Super-Villains and meets a cute girl with a pretty obvious (for longtime fans) connection to Firestorm. Which is worse, facing down the Queen Bee or a really cute but unstable girl who keeps calling you her boyfriend when you hardly know her name? We know, Jason, we know. Give in. You're going to end up with the cute girl.

Hawkman #44: Just when you think you have it all figured out... If I say anything more, it will ruin the suspense and the overall great asskicking handed to the bad guys. Every now and then, that's more than enough to satisfy.

Spider-Man Unlimited #11: This anthology book keeps delivering satisfying stories. It isn't exactly a must-read, but it has yet to be a disappointment. And that sure puts it up a notch above the predictable and yet lamely plotted Marvel Knights Spider-Man #18, where Reginald Hudlin makes me forget how much I loved Boomerang in my younger days.

Winter Reading:

The Winter Men #2: I missed the first issue, and unfortunately, this book does nothing to get me up to speed. Yet it's clearly well-written with complex characters that leave me confused. It's always commendable when somebody uses comics to tell a more mainstream genre tale, and that's going to goose the industry. I'm just going to have to wait for the trade.

Most Poorly Planned Cover:

Green Arrow #54: Despite the cover image and headline, Mirror Master is actually the villain for next issue. Instead, Green Arrow and Black Lightning take on Dr. Light, who takes on the younger, hotter, more female Dr. Light. But yeah, DC, we probably wouldn't buy a book with a smokin' Asian woman on the cover. Historically, those don't sell.


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

Derek McCaw

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