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The Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 11/30/05
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.

Generation M #1
writer: Paul Jenkins
artists: Ramon Bachs
and John Lucas

Any comics fan by now knows that Marvel seriously cut down on their mutant population. Sure, you think, you've heard that one before, plagued by memories of sprawling incoherent events such as X-Tinction Agenda. Press releases promise a lot, colorful noise abounds, and in the end, you get a new status quo that looks a lot like the old status quo.

Welcome to the House of M.

Everything Marvel promised has turned out to be far more than just hype, and ladies and gentlemen, Generation M alone proves it.

Only 198 mutants remain with active mutant powers. That seems like a lot to the casual reader, but in the Marvel Universe that leaves at least hundreds of thousands more suddenly without abilities they had come to rely upon. Mutopia touched briefly on the moments after the Scarlet Witch cried "No more mutants!" Generation M explores the days and weeks afterward.

Specifically, the series looks to focus on some fairly high profile character that now find themselves ordinary. Actually, in the case of Jonathan Starsmore aka Chamber, he is now extraordinary in a very different way.

First appearing in Generation X #1, when Jonathan's power first manifested itself, he blew away his own lower jaw. Possessed of a strange energy equivalent to being a nuclear reactor wrapped in pseudo-human skin, Chamber spoke telepathically and had learned to focus his energy into destructive blasts that wouldn't destroy his human shell - or at least, not damage it much further, because somewhere along the way he lost his chest, too.

Take away those powers, and Starsmore is one horribly disfigured young man. Writer Paul Jenkins lights onto the idea that the mutant now has the same fate as the Tin Woodsman, but no wizard can give him a heart.

Instead, a grim Cyclops and Wolverine contact a local hospital and find a way to hopefully make Chamber's last days more comfortable. It seems almost impossible that there would be a way to bring him back. Nor does it seem like Generation M has miracles on its mind; at best, this celebrates the quiet perseverance of people just trying to survive.

Framed by a character writing a weekly newspaper column, the mini-series already does a great job of capturing the hysteria, the fear and the consequences. It's almost a shame that Jenkins has to throw in a darker connecting plot, because just the individual explorations of ex-mutants' lives resonates with some of the strongest storytelling Marvel has done this year - and that's saying a lot.

Ramon Bachs and John Lucas do a solid job with the artwork, but I have to be honest and admit they look a lot like many other mid-level teams working in comics right now. Though the layouts are readable and quite well-drawn, they don't have much distinctive about them. Bachs looks like Ivan Reis looking like Sal Velluto. And most of you are probably asking, who? Exactly.

Next issue, Generation M focuses on Jubilee. If you want proof of how serious Marvel is about this event, think on that. Just a few months ago, she had her own mini-series. Now she's a statistic.


Amazing Fantasy #15: It's possibly your best buy this week because of the sheer variety of stories. But they're also a variety of quality. A couple read just like the recent Gravity mini-series, riffing on the stereotypes of "the Marvel Hero." Heartbreak Kid is interesting, but clearly a one-shot, placing a J.M. DeMatteis Defenders character at a more crucial juncture in Marvel history. The most potential for being something different comes from Monstro, a mysterious super-powered guy who wants nothing to do with capes and cowls but still does good. For sheer fun, one of my top five writers Dan Slott offers up the whimsical recurring throwaway "Blackjack." Just remember, Dan - satire is what closes on Saturday night. Except in comics, where we don't necessarily understand it but keep on buying it anyway.

Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere #5: Glenn Fabry does some of the best cover work in the business. Even just being adapted, Neil Gaiman throws out tons of great ideas in 21 pages. The plot thickens, the worm turns, and Vertigo continues being the king of dark fantasy in comics. What an odd phrase that is - dark fantasy. Heck, it's just good storytelling.

Plastic Man #19: Once again, a cover image speaks a thousand words, and Kyle Baker wreaks havoc throughout the DC Universe. It's hilarious, surprising, and quite possibly after Infinite Crisis gets through, Plastic Man will find a firm place in continuity. I don't know if that would horrify Baker or not, but in the meantime, I'm having fun.

The Sentry #3: Though Paul Jenkins hasn't quite recaptured the majesty of the first Sentry run, and some of the events here seem to contradict the logic established in that previous mini-series, it's still an interestingly skewed look at the Marvel Universe. How could all of these villains be so effectively wiped from people's memories? What exactly is it about the Sentry that makes the Hulk into a genial giant sidekick? And really, how can this guy retain his powers without completely destroying the world? Enquiring minds want to know, and thus should buy this book.

X-Men/Power Pack #2: Wow. Marvel should be making a fortune with Beast plush toys. Perhaps more importantly, they should be creating a new generation of readers with this issue, which is a great kids' comic without violating the characterization of any X-characters.

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

Derek McCaw

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