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The Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 11/23/04
brought to you by Brian's Books of Santa Clara

Once 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...

I warn you -- it's not a week with a whole heck of a lot to be excited about. But there are still some solid books to be had.

Adam Strange #3
writer: Andy Diggle
artist: Pascal Ferry

For just a moment, the tortured Adam Strange awakens to find everything is right with his worlds again. His beautiful wife and daughter greet him, and then they notice that something is wrong with the sun.

Of course it's all been a dream, but up until this point in the series, writer Andy Diggle hadn't really reminded us what Strange believes he has lost. For just that moment, these fantastic elements seem real and, if the Rannians (Rannites?) will forgive the comparison, human. If you're not up with this series, take note that this fever dream of Adam Strange actually takes place in the vacuum of space, but not the cold vacuum. That something wrong with the sun? It exploded, and Strange drifts in its radioactive afterglow, barely protected by his special suit.

Though all this got covered in the first two issues, this third issue still makes a good jumping-on point. Diggle's intent with the series is to revive the lost galactic component of the DC Universe, and this is where he really gets to start.

It turns out that in the wake of the destruction of Oa, the Thanagarians have taken on the role of galactic policemen - with a galaxy very suspicious of them in the first place. The Thanagarians need to find a scapegoat for the alleged destruction of Rann, and just look at who they find floating in the midst of the alleged wreckage.

Between Diggle and artist Pascal Ferry, the Thanagarian Empire has been sweepingly re-imagined since their last appearance in JSA. Now free of Hawkman continuity, they have a larger "bird of prey" motif (without aping Klingons or Romulans) in their culture. Better positioned as an ambiguous but threatening presence in the DC Universe, already you'll want to see more of them.

Luckily, you will, as Strange's journey to Thanagar will spill over into the next issue. Diggle offers tantalizing glimpses into a warrior culture that may or not be struggling to find a conscience more in line with the rest of the galaxy.

With Wing Commander Sh'ri Valkyr, the writer also offers a compelling character. Cryptically accused of "heretical beliefs" not yet explained, she finds herself forced into the role of defender of "The Defender of Rann." Ferry's portrayal of her adds to the intrigue; when faced with a naked Adam Strange, does she see him as a raptor sees its prey, or is she attracted to him? Or in Thanagarian culture, is there a difference?

So far, this series has proven to be a vivid exploration of imagination, restoring the glory days of Mystery in Space. It may be through a slightly jaundiced lens, but the fun is definitely still there.


The Authority: Revolution #2: We've ragged on Robbie Morrison's take on the characters enough this past week. Forget about that one, and get this - The Authority takes on a twisted, amped-up version of the Freedom Fighters, while The Midnighter sees his own future, and has to work against his own team to keep it from happening. This truly could send the characters in a new direction that is actually growth, not a strange misreading of what made this series great in the first place.

Black Widow #3: I've clearly got a thing for spy stories. Don't buy this for the Greg Land covers, because that will only make you feel guilty. Instead, read the complex story within. This is one of those "this is why comics should exist" books: a mini-series not to maintain a copyright or market share, but because a writer has a great story to tell.

John Constantine, Hellblazer #203: Notice that slight shift in title, so that those driven from the movie theater by the Keanu Reeves movie will know to find the book. Of course, they're more likely driven from the movie theater to go curl up in a ball, but then they'd miss a consistently entertaining and disturbing title.

Mystique #21: Yes, this book has been cancelled. But that doesn't mean you shouldn't read its last hurrah, an arc called "Quiet." Nightcrawler's mother doesn't know exactly who all the players are; you might not, either, but Sean McKeever has made the narrative so rich, you won't mind having to play catch-up. Most of the mainstream X-fare bores me, but this is truly a worthwhile exploration into another genre still using the mutant concept.

Sleeper #6: The intrigue gets more complex. Again, don't jump on here, but buy it then go back and get the previous issues. Sleeper is absolutely worth the expense.

Sight Unseen:

The Flash #216: It's an Identity Crisis crossover, meaning that Geoff Johns has actually used the major event of the year to spark some real major events in the life of Wally West.

Jingle Belle #1: Dark Horse brings back Paul Dini's creation, the wayward and winsome daughter of Santa Claus. Up until now, her adventures have been fun, and there's no reason to think otherwise with this incarnation.

Paradise Lost:

The Amazing Spider-Man #514: And so the controversy ends...for now...not with a bang but an "eh."

Batman #634: An epilogue to "War Games" that features Bruce Wayne drinking alcohol, feeling guilt and yet strangely does not have Uncle Henry ask, "what have you learned, Dorothy?" Wait until next month, when Judd Winick, Doug Mahnke and Dustin Nguyen actually show up on the book (the cover says they already have - it lies.)

New Thunderbolts #2: Okay, it's already trying too hard to throw in twists and turns that you JUST WON'T SEE COMING! In between issues, last issue's twists somehow became status quo. It's not a bad book yet, but it's certainly on its way.

Powerless #6: Wow. I did not see that coming - that the ending to this intriguing concept would be as powerless as the title.

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

Derek McCaw

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