Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 11/16/04
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
writer: Ed Brubaker
artist: Steve Epting
At first glance,
this umpteenth relaunch of the Star Spangled Avenger looks
like it's Brubaker going by the numbers. Appearance by the
Red Skull? Check. Cosmic Cube mentioned? Check. Sharon Carter
hovering around? Steve Rogers missing Bucky? Check.
all out of hand, however, is a mistake. Though Brubaker
has gathered up all the basics that anybody might know about
Captain America (Sharon Carter might even be pushing it),
he achieves a strange melancholy that you wouldn't expect
from a first issue.
and intrigue, as you'd expect from the cover, but the hero's
losses, so often played for melodrama, infuse this book
with a believable subtext. Brubaker gets it that Captain
America may soldier on, but in his mind, he really isn't
that far away from the battlefield. World War II was less
than ten years ago for him, and those memories don't so
much haunt him as color his attitude. The loss of the Avengers
is a recent wound at this point, but really it opens old
at other old scars with his opener, a vignette set five
years previously in the ruins of the Soviet Union, near
Kazakhstan. The Red Skull trades weaponry for one of his
schemes to kill Captain America, and unlike some of the
Green Goblin's "back-up plans in case he fails," you can
believe that the Skull has several schemes in motion at
any one time. Satisfying his more sadistic urges, he also
gets to kill a Red Guardian. True, it's not the same as
killing the Captain, but in a pinch it will do.
But this isn't
just about arch-enemies. The prologue also establishes a
geopolitical struggle, which only makes sense that a symbol
of the U.S. would get caught up in, if unwillingly. Brubaker
introduces General Lukin, a former Soviet turned arms dealer
who wishes to restore Mother Russia to its former glory.
What actions he takes are at least out of a sense of nationalism,
and Brubaker makes a point that the Red Skull has long since
lost his original motivations. It may be a grey area, but
one of these men at least believes what he does is noble.
The Red Skull has given over to pure evil. It's not a surprising
observation, but it's skillfully done.
Let all due
credit go to Steve Epting for absolutely pulling this tone
off. He has the rare ability to draw night scenes that aren't
just big blobs of darkness. Epting's version of the Red
Skull would be creepy enough in daylight, but panels of
the megalomaniac gloating in the evening just add to the
handles the action scenes well, it's really the moments
of reflection and the casualness of the violence in the
prologue that make him stand out as the perfect artist for
this book and Brubaker's take.
make an auspicious debut for a Captain America that looks
and reads far more realistically than usual.
of Superman #634: While the new Parasites try to feed
on Clark Kent's family, Mr. Myzptlk invades the DC editorial
offices to get it all undone. This moment of whimsy doesn't
undo the grotesqueness of the overall plot, and only a writer
like Rucka could pull that off.
#6: Want to spark some heated political debate? Go ahead
and give a friend Ex Machina. Brian K. Vaughan keeps
on crafting an only tangentially superhero story that's actually
about something important. This issue also starts a
new arc, thereby serving as that good and crucial jumping
Four #520: There are horrific elements to this new plotline,
and of course, Galactus should be taken seriously. But having
Johnny Storm play herald to Galactus has its moments of
comedy that are absolutely natural, balanced by Waid writing
some poignant moments as the rest of the FF try to figure
out how to get him back. Once again, a great adventure with
The cliffhanger does not bode well. But Busiek has done
a great job capturing the boredom that has to set in when
evil pretty much runs the world. The whole issue focuses
on the Crime Syndicate, and for those new to the characters,
the book delineates their very "oppositeness" to the JLA
#9: Hey, Howard the Duck finally makes his appearance!
But what really makes this always solid and fun book worth
buying this month is a case involving Hercules, the Prince
of Power. Dan Slott remembers to write the Lion of Olympus
as a big drunken idiot, albeit one with nobility.
#1: You've got your Alex Ross cover. You've got great
painted art from Ariel Olivetti. Joe Kelly tries to keep
up, and for the most part succeeds, giving the classic animated
hero a backstory that we can only hope will make sense.
Don't come looking for the talk show host; that guy isn't
India #1: I really had no interest in this book, though
I absolutely respect its intent. And I admittedly don't know
nearly enough about Indian culture to know if the changes
to character names are realistic or annoying. (There seems
an odd slavish devotion to creating as many parallels as possible
between the two versions' supporting cast.) But the recasting
of the origins works, and the artwork is fresh and original.
Whether Spider-Man India works as a sales tactic in
the U.S. or not, you should check it out.
#22: Cripes. People, just buy this. Millar has kept
up the pace of the best Wolverine as superhero story in
decades. That would be enough. But he's also conducting
a tour of the Marvel Universe that just has to be experienced.
All My Beautiful
#6: Sure, it's been so long since we've seen Secret
War that we really need to re-read it. But not in the
pages of another comic book.
Were you moved by that moment in Identity Crisis
when Batman held a sobbing Tim Drake, thinking that finally
these two had opened up? Forget about it. In the aftermath
of "Wargames," Tim is bitter and moving to Bludhaven, because
Nightwing has been cancelled and evidently the city
with the most ridiculous name in the DC Universe has to
have a hero.
In a Class
#4: Because you demanded it! Wolverine! In bright yellow!
Vs. Shatterstar! Both with strangely pointy feet! And the
only one who loses is YOU!
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