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The Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 11/16/05
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 Thing #1
writer: Dan Slott
artist: Andrea DiVito

At both major publishers, you can see a schism. How important should continuity be? How tightly knit are these characters? Should we be grim and gritty, or should we be having fun?

Heck, it's probably a reflection of our national psyche. We don't know what to be. But it's somehow reassuring that Joe Quesada understands that while, sure, House of M can give us a daily recommended dose of angst, Marvel has a character that has every right to be grim but refuses to be so.

No, it's not Spider-Man, though he obviously leaps to marketer's minds. In the seventies and early eighties, The Thing had a much more central role in comics, far more than any of his fantastic teammates.

Despite his rocky exterior, Ben Grimm remains somehow playful. People can talk about the webslinger and his glory days in Marvel Team-Up running through the Marvel Universe, but really, the better book was Marvel Two-In-One, because despite his being set apart physically, The Thing is anything but a loner.

And Dan Slott is exactly the guy to remind us of this. Just as he has done with Spider-Man Human Torch and She-Hulk, Slott gives us an interconnected Marvel Universe that isn't so much about continuity as genuine camaraderie. If the newly rich Thing goes to a party for the upper crust, of course he'll run into Tony Stark and Kyle Richmond and know perfectly well who they are.

The effects of his wealth also ripple around nicely. Yes, Ben Grimm has become a different kind of celebrity, but more importantly, being super-wealthy has ruined the fun of his Saturday night poker game. He's also dating a supermodel, the conflict of which Slott wisely points out with Spider-Man - let me again rant, how bad can Peter's life be with Mary Jane at his side?

It's not all just social interaction, of course, as Slott sets up the return of one of Marvel's coolest but best left underused villains.

All of ties together with clean and fun art from Andrea DiVito. Once again, the loss of CrossGen has benefited Marvel immeasurably, as DiVito is one of those artists that has a style combining the best of the old school with newer techniques.

If The Thing has any flaws, they lie in a creeping moral subplot that Reed Richards is just waiting for Ben to realize how expensive being The Thing is, and the disturbing thought that there's a reason he has to wear those shiny blue trunks.

A word of warning to The Thing's model-actress girlfriend - once you've gone stony orange, you'll…um…nothing really rhymes there.


Batman and the Monster Men #1: This one comes with a caveat: if you have any, ANY, familiarity with old Batman stories, you'll recognize this for what it is - simply a redo of one of the Batman's earliest adventures combined with the classic Steve Englehart/Marshall Rogers run. However, it's completely understandable that many new readers (all twelve of you) haven't read either. So enjoy Matt Wagner's take on the Hugo Strange saga, updated and unexpurgated for 21st Century sensibilities. It's well-done, but for some of us, it looks eerily familiar. Maybe it will break out like Batman: Journey Into Knight.

Books of Doom #1: Ed Brubaker fills in Doom's past. You may think you know it; you may think that there's too much exploring of villains' motivations. Doom says no, you must know the man to truly understand why you should serve the dictator. Of course, under that armor lies an armor of lies, and Brubaker is a skillful enough writer to make this one of those books worth re-reading a few times.

Fables #43: Sinbad! Genies! Sex! Not necessarily in that order. I will keep putting this on my recommendation list long after you have been hooked on one of the best books on the market.

Mutopia #5: A bittersweet ending to not just a House of M crossover mini-series, but the most unique mutant-related series Marvel had. For those following continuity, it's obvious why it ends here. In the wake of the loss of mutantkind, David Hine provides a very human drama, elegaically celebrating the simple things while also sneaking in some ramifications of House of M that he'll hopefully pick up with Son of M. Don't wait for the trade; sniff around for the back issues on this one.

Runaways #10: It had to happen. The Runaways hit New York and run into trouble with some people that seem to know more about them than they do. Plus you've got Cloak, Dagger and the New Avengers. Trust us, kids, Runaways is like Life cereal. You'll like it.

Sight Unseen:

All-Star Superman #1: Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely take a break from designing Robbie Williams to take on the greatest hero of them all. Though Quitely's art can sometimes be a turn-off, advance sketches have been really promising. Morrison promises to blow our minds, which is something he can do just as easily as blow his own nose.

Manhunter #16: I promised Marc Andreyko that I would give a shout out to this really good but unfortunately low-key book. Guys, she's got all kinds of weapons from all kinds of stages from DC's past. That alone should have you interested.

X-Men: Deadly Genesis #1: More Ed Brubaker, with the terrific Trevor Hairsine. This book threatens to answer the musical question: where in the world is Professor X?

A Tribute To Humbert Humbert:

Supergirl #3: Sorry. I like Jeph Loeb, but I'm finding this series to be only vaguely comprehensible and chalk its popularity up to the fact that comics readers, many of whom are men in their thirties and forties, like pictures of cute young girls beating up…well, not even bad guys. They just like pictures of cute young girls. Heck, in Superman #223, she even mentions that she's found photoshopped nude pictures of herself on the web. And yet I'm giving it one more chance…

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

Derek McCaw

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