Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 11/01/04
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 hard-earned shekels...
brought to you by Brian's Books of Santa
JLA: Classified #1
writer: Grant Morrison
artist: Ed McGuinness and Dexter Vines
You can't go home again. In Grant Morrison's
case, that's a good thing. Even when he returns to territory
he has seen before, it isn't what it was before. Give him
credit; his writing may be strange and weird and wonderful,
but it's never the same strange and weird and wonderful
In case you've forgotten, it was Morrison's
take on the JLA that restored it to its former glory after
years of meandering. Though mind-blowing plots seemed to
be his focus, the writer had a great way of somehow just
tossing off characterization without tossing it aside. Action
came first, but interaction followed closely. In a distant
third came coherence.
And now he has returned home. On the first
page of JLA: Classified, "Island of the Mighty,"
Morrison picks up a plot thread from his earlier run. The
International Ultra-Marine Corps makes a splashy entrance
with the rhetorical question, "who needs the Justice League?"
There wouldn't be much point to the story
if the answer was no one, but this entire issue goes by
without an appearance by the world's greatest superheroes.
Scratch that. One Leaguer does appear, the one that Morrison
somewhat improbably considers the most powerful of all,
and somehow managed to make us believe it: The Batman.
As Alfred disdainfully phrases it, Batman's
"…flamboyant allies are …indisposed," leaving Batman to
team up with a youthful Squire. (It's a continuity nightmare,
the kind Morrison loves to cause, as Batman recalls himself
and Dick Grayson teaming up with the original Knight and
Squire well over a decade previously.)
As the fledgling heroine (and communications
expert) calls upon the League for help, Batman grumbles,
"…they got lost saving somebody else's universe.
Typical." (Off-hand, later, Batman also calls it "the infant
universe," another Morrison throwaway idea that makes me
think the JLA has been turned into babies.) Then, calmly,
he puts on a suspiciously Kirby-esque glove and begins saving
How he does it - well, that's the surprise.
And it really is surprising and again in perfect keeping
with Morrison's characterization of the Dark Knight. What
should further surprise you (or not) is that once again,
Morrison gives us superhero comics that are flat-out fun,
even when the stakes are incredibly high. It's almost possible
to forget that they're fighting, among others, the newly
savage Gorilla Grodd. After some horrific visuals by Ed
McGuinness, we're still swept up in the fun of it all.
Though some loved Howard Porter's work
with Morrison, seeing McGuinness here makes one wish he
had been with the writer all along. He really has a way
of capturing all of Morrison's mercurial moods. With The
Knight in action, you've got sprawling yet controlled splash
pages, filled with futuristic detail. When things go sour,
and Morrison describes Grodd as "savagery …crowned king,"
McGuinness makes you believe it. Then he switches to a panel
of Batman and Alfred that perfectly sums up their relationship
before Morrison switches gears again to move the story into
more cosmic territory.
What I have for review is a black and white
Xeroxed copy. There's no doubt that I will be buying, bagging
and boarding this book.
Fans knew it would be good. We just didn't
know how good.
Astonishing X-Men #6: But you knew
this, right? The first arc comes to a satisfying close,
while laying the groundwork for the next one. John Cassaday
continues his beautiful work on this series, and Whedon's
plotting and dialogue is so good, it's time to start beseeching
him to sign on for more than twelve issues.
Avengers #503: Okay. So Wizard
has already spoiled who the master villain is, but I
won't tell you. Instead, I will say that while earlier issues
felt a little rushed, Bendis ties it all together neatly.
The revelation may or may not come as a surprise, but the
logic is all there. A third-act appearance by another major
villain falls flat, mainly because the Avengers seem to
just stand there while a guy they should all think is dead
cleans up the mess. Sort of.
Exiles #54: The future of an Earth
all hinges upon a cheese Danish. I knew it.
Spider-Girl #80: Normally, I don't
read this book. But normally in the future, I may continue.
It quietly accomplishes what all the louder Marvel Age
crap keeps trying to do - tell a decent story about a high
school girl trying to deal with the abnormal problems of
her life in a way that is absolutely appropriate for young
readers without being patronizing. Please skip the Marvel
Age books this week, which try to update Lee, Kirby
and Ditko but end up sacrificing wit and intelligence. Spider-Girl
#80 makes it easy to jump aboard, and tells a story
all in one issue, but with enough soap opera elements to
hook new readers into following with #81.
Swamp Thing #9: Joshua Dysart takes
over the writing on a book that has so far been a good concept
without a direction. Hopefully, he will have some time to
figure it out, as he has done a good job with this issue
mucking up the status quo. Yes, it features the return of
a long-time foe, because you knew it had to, but at least
Dysart has given the character a slight sense of freshness.
Enrique Breccia, so far the only stable thing on this book,
continues filling the pages with absolutely disturbing imagery.
Hell hasn't looked so disgusting since, well, the days of
Moore, Bissette and Tottleben.
Stop Hurting America:
Marvel Age: This week it's both
Spider-Man and Fantastic Four. Actually, the Spider-Man
one isn't that bad, but that's because it veers the least
from Lee and Ditko's original work. And if that's what makes
it palatable, why not JUST GIVE THE KIDS LEE AND DITKO'S
ORIGINAL WORK!?!? Cripes.
and Carnage #4: The computer-generated artwork has some
possibilities, but it's so dark and muddy that - aw, hell.
This just sucks. And as a result, we've got yet another
symbiote running around, except this one's a straight-up
good guy. Named Toxin. The Marvel Age that most of us truly
hated is back. Those that loved it grew up and stopped reading
comics. Or, apparently, started writing them.
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