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The Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 10/12/05
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.

Where Monsters Dwell #1
writers: various
artists: various

Sometimes you just have to go with the best value, and this week's offering from the "new" Marvel Monsters Group is absolutely it.

Where Monsters Dwell revives an old Marvel title, but with tongue firmly planted in cheek. Two stories apparently sequelize old Lee and Kirby classics, with a third that feels very retro but still well done. Included also is a look back at one of those original monster tales, just as Marvel did last week with The Hulk vs. Devil Dinosaur (which rocked).

Temporarily freed from his duties mocking icons in The Defenders, Keith Giffen brings his biting sarcasm to the early days of Marvel. In his offering, "Bring on the Bombu," he ridicules what had to have been a silly story in the first place. A scaly, pot-bellied alien race with faces like tiki masks tried to conquer Earth (as they always did in the late fifties and early sixties), but their lone envoy was repelled by lightning and ...the pelting of garbage.

It's a pathetic image, and Bombu must seek some sort of redemption. Of course, it doesn't go well. Giffen has a nice knack, though, for making it seem strangely plausible, even giving a reasonable explanation for an alien race's overconfidence when approaching Earth. Then comes the Walla Walla Bing Bang.

Mike Allred takes a break from his magnum opus, The Golden Plates , to ink Giffen, and the combination isn't quite as thrilling as I'd hoped it would be. It does shift Giffen's pencils into looking almost Kirbyesque at times, which makes a notable achievement. Welcome back, Mike. We'll see you next in Solo.

Peter David and Arnold Pander team for "The Return of Monstrollo," a slightly weaker effort that paints Hollywood with a broad brush but has a nice punchline. Though a quirky artist, Pander has a deft touch and his approach to the material works well. On a weird aside, David actually predicts one of the successes on ABC's fall schedule - why isn't this man writing a TV show of his own?

The reprint, "I Was Trapped By Titano!", only serves to prove that before Fantastic Four #1, Atlas/Marvel churned out a lot of crap. Sorry, but it's crap. However, Jeff Parker, Russell Braun and Jimmy Palmiotti turn a knowing look back with "The Shadow of Manoo," capturing just the right note of Red Scare paranoia sublimated into alien menace.

Atmospheric, moody and with the occasional nod to modern sensibility, it makes me want to look for more of Parker's work. The story turns satirical at the end, and it doesn't quite pay off the way it seems intended. But it has ambition, and when I read comics, I can't get enough of that.


100 Bullets #65: I hadn't picked up this book in a while, freely admitting that for Azzarello and Risso's beautiful work, I need to read arcs in one sitting. But this story, not for the squeamish, served to remind me how good this thing is. Even if you don't know the overall plotline, this story will grip you.

Action Comics #832: Oh, yeah, Lord Satanus was still running around Metropolis running Newstime magazine. Maybe there is something to that idea of the Liberal Media being a tool of the devil. Of course, we've also got this whole Day of Vengeance thing going on, with the Spectre systematically wiping out all traces of magic in the DC Universe. That leaves Satanus sweating and Superman wondering if he should bother at all.

Fables #42: Would you like to get your significant other to read comics? This would be the book. Bringing in the Arabian Nights (literally), Willingham keeps goosing this title with energy, fun and the occasional thought.

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #1: As it was nice to see Peter David back on the Hulk, it's good to see him back on Spider-Man. Even better to see him launching the strange new plotline, "The Other," because at least it starts off without ticking off anybody. Instead, David focuses on Spider-Man's relationship with Captain America and points out that really, Peter Parker has no actual fighting technique beyond coming out swinging. Being in the Avengers should take care of that.

Gravity #5: A decent story about a decent guy trying to be a superhero. This calls back to the early days of Marvel's motivations, and it's nice to see it done without some strange darkness clouding the whole issue, as years ago was done with Darkhawk. Sean McKeever writes teens better than just about anyone, and Mike Norton has a good style that should bring in those pesky manga fans without losing the Western look.

Mutopia #4: It's a crossover that actually will deal with the fallout of the crossover being over. Yes, that's too many overs. But Mutopia has consistently been an interesting average joe look at the consequences of the Scarlet Witch's reality manipulation, and David Hine brings it to a surprising head before finishing the series. Get the back issues!

Metafiction Makes Me Cry:

Marvel Knights 4 #23: In order for this story of the Impossible Man to work, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa makes the Fantastic Four act impossibly retarded. This has been the first mis-step in a run I didn't want to like in the first place. If only the writer hadn't inserted himself in the story. It's a tricky line to walk, and few do it well.

Sight Unseen:

Essential Werewolf By Night: Despite the strange pun of a werewolf named Jack Russell, these stories were good. Strangely good. Laboring under the restrictions of the Comics Code Authority, Marvel still did good horror in the seventies, creating continuing monster protagonists in days before Vertigo.

The Goon Fancy Pants Edition: Look, this stuff rocks. If you don't know it, get this.

Infinite Crisis #1: Finally, we get to know what the heck this is all about!

JLA #120: How can this book exist in the face of Infinite Crisis? Who was in the transporter? AAAAAAAAAAAAAGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!

Villains United #6: Who is Mockingbird? And do you get the feeling that it really won't be answered this issue while DC continues roasting me on a metaphorical spit begging for answers to all their mysteries?

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

Derek McCaw

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