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The Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 11/23/05
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 Authority:
The Magnificent Kevin #4

writer: Garth Ennis
artist: Carlos Ezquerra

This was a tough week to choose a spotlight book. Many books proved fun and some even thought-provoking. Most, unfortunately, were also in the middle of runs and storylines; in some cases, they also completely made up for earlier, draggier issues.

So why go with the fourth issue of a mini-series, especially another one combining the controversial Authority with their clownish foil Kev? Finally, finally, Garth Ennis moves the interesting Kev from deadly buffoon to genuine hero.

Much of it relies on the limited but complex continuity that the Authority has accrued over the years, but Ennis gives just enough information to make it enjoyable without slogging through six or seven years' worth of books.

The previous issue delved deep into Kev's past, but missing it will only slightly compromise the depth of the change he undergoes here. Suffice to say that he questions his mission and begins working from his heart, which could make him an even more formidable soldier.

The Authority barely appears, in fact, as the only one not in a coma is the Midnighter. Even he has been compromised. Despite the cover, this isn't really about them. Nor should it be, as neither Ennis nor Ezquerra have yet given a credible explanation for what actually happened to them.

That initial incident almost turned me off to this mini-series, as it seemed like something designed to shock, perhaps appall and then cause prurient giggles. Now it doesn't even matter.

Instead, focus on the main plot, that has the Midnighter being harvested for genetic material in an insidious government plot. Possibly, the plot thread has been lying around since the Warren Ellis days on Stormwatch; certainly Ennis hints at it. No matter what the case, the book ends up extremely readable.

As he has proven in series after series, Ennis excels at writing about real men facing their moment of truth. It works surprisingly well when matched with an artist like Ezquerra. Though the art often has a cartoonish feel, it's in the best sense of draftsmen like Alex Toth, capturing and heightening emotion for dramatic effect.

It's not that The Magnificent Kevin becomes lovable. It's just that this book is absolute driving superhero action that comes up with an actual hero.


Black Widow: The Things They Say About Her… #3: I'm going to give Marvel a lot of credit for this one. Rather than give Black Widow an ongoing series, novelist Richard K. Morgan just creates little arcs when he actually has a story. If only more books in the industry worked this way. Heck, if only more books could be this cool.

Captain America #12: Continuing "the Winter Soldier" storyline, this issue presents a believably conflicted Captain America. We also start to see the hazards of using a flawed Cosmic Cube, as points established in the very first issue begin paying off. Ed Brubaker, Steve Epting and Michael Lark are doing stellar work here. But you already know that, don't you?

Daredevil #79: And soon two out of three of them will move over here. In the meantime, Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev say their long good-bye with a devastating twist to "The Murdock Papers."

Jack Cross #4: The first four issues will bear re-reading in one sitting to follow all the twists and turns. Once again, Warren Ellis dares actually say some interesting things with this book, and suddenly I can't wait for its return in a few months once he decided he has some more to say.

Lucifer #68: If the Bible Belt hasn't already stopped reading this book, this issue should do it. Finally, Morningstar meets his Father. Though this book never quite reached the critical acclaim of its progenitor, The Sandman, it should have. Call it a gut feeling, but Mike Carey may soon be lost to the world of novels and screenplays where most of his readers pretend they don't know comics. He's good. Too good.

Punisher vs. Bullseye #1: Writer Daniel Way writes a darkly humorous Punisher, and it's great to see Steve Dillon indulging his sense of humor with his penchant for violence. Ultimately, this is just another wacky ultra-violent mob vengeance story, but some of us occasionally like that.

She-Hulk #2: When Hawkeye died, I remained curiously unmoved, and not just because of course we knew he would be back soon. They always come back. But Dan Slott found a way to do it without cheapening his death and to add the element of poignancy that (sorry, Bendis) Avengers Disassembled seemed to force. Now I get why people think Hawkeye is cool.

Young Avengers #9: Did the Teen Titans ever have these problems? If the Young Avengers fight crime, they could get hurt, maimed or killed. Worse, they could get grounded. Yet they fight on anyway. It's a good book, featuring characters that act and talk like real teens…albeit with superpowers.

Gasp…Choke…It's Horrible…But I Can't Look Away…

Nick Fury's Howling Commandos #2: Everything about the concept screams fun. Keith Giffen is absolutely the perfect writer for it. But the art by Eduardo Francisco and Rob Campanella looks like Bart Sears took steroids and then went on a drinking binge. It's almost impossible to decipher, and every monster looks strangely the same. When Clay Quatermain looks only slightly more handsome than the Living Mummy, you know somebody needs to cut back on the bold linework.

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

Derek McCaw

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