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The Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 12/07/04
brought to you by Brian's Books of Santa Clara

For some strange reason, we couldn't get our hands on any Marvel books this week, but we did our best with a really rockin' preview from DC.

Nightwing #100
writer: Devin Grayson
artists: Mike Lilly and Andy Owens

Throughout all of "War Games," the one title that crossed over without losing a sense of its own big picture was Nightwing. Just before being called back to Gotham City to help his mentor, Dick Grayson had allowed his "girlfriend" The Tarantula to kill Blockbuster, and the guilt was eating Nightwing alive.

Every issue swept up in the giant crossover still resonated with that action (or inaction), for naturally it informed everything Dick did in Gotham. It also only made sense that he should be the Bat-family member to be shot by the police - an outward wound to symbolize the bullet he had allowed into his own soul.

Writer Devin Grayson peels away the layers of that wound with this issue. We've had enough mindless action for a while, though there's still a fight scene here. Now it's time for us to really understand why the past few issues have been so devastating for Nightwing. The writer handles it methodically, with great imagery from Lilly and Owens.

Nobody has dealt with Dick's father issues as well as Devin Grayson, and here she expands them to include that other father - you know, the biological one killed by Boss Zucco. Lilly and Owens parallel Dick's two childhoods, one as the circus boy and one as the assumed spoiled rich sissy boy. Seeing the two side-by-side gives a brighter facet to Nightwing's crime with Tarantula, and after several issues of build-up, Grayson brings it to a devastating, but absolutely logical, conclusion.

With a far greater sense of continuity than the rest of the Bat-titles seemed to have around "War Games," Grayson also pulls together some threads from Gail Simone's Birds of Prey. If for one issue, these two linked books synch up perfectly, it's a good month. (Subtle plug: keep reading Birds of Prey -- Gail Simone just signed on for another two-year exclusive contract with DC and absolutely deserves it.)

For months, it was rumored that Nightwing would end with this hundredth issue, but it looks like DC has commuted that sentence. But Grayson definitely brings a sense of closure to a major chapter in Nightwing's life here. It's not happy or particularly pretty, but it definitely feels real.

Ironically, it still makes a perfect jump-on point. It's a smart character study of a hero everybody assumes they know, and Grayson proves them wrong. Next month, DC flips the book back to "Year One" for a few issues, but this is the month you need to pay attention.


Action Comics #822: The Lana/Lois/Clark triangle Chuck Austen planted a couple of months back still hasn't sold me (Lana seems way too aggressive), but the promised action of the title occurs in spades without being mindless. Sorry, guys, Chuck Austen is letting me have fun with Superman. Excuse me for liking it and not knowing why.

Captain Gravity and the Power of the Vril #1: Actually, we reviewed this a couple of months ago. Check it out.

Fables #32: The identity of the Adversary has me in almost as much suspense as who killed Sue Dibny. I can't be sure that Bill Willingham tips his hand here, but if it's a red herring, it's sure a provocative one. If it's not, it still provides a plot turn that comes out of left field, but only because you should have thought of it.

JLA #109: More fall-out from the JLA/Avengers crossover, but without all that messy obscure history to annoy you. Instead, Kurt Busiek and Ron Garney are building a logical follow-up that's just fun. Maybe it's me, but it's hard to go wrong with the Crime Syndicate.

Wild Girl #2: The first issue wasn't all that impressive, but it was interesting enough to warrant a look at the second one. Good thing, too, because this month Leah Moore and John Reppion have really fleshed out their fictional world. It's hard to get a sense of what exactly is going on with this "animal messiah," but, along with a variety of top-notch artists, the writers have just made this book seem danged cool. If you like WE3 (and you should), this makes a sort of companion piece. Not thematically, but because both books tell great stories without compromising the thought-processes of animals to do it.

Sight Unseen:

JSA #68: Per Degaton will be making his move in the "JSA/JSA" crossover. Yes, you read that right. Word has it that some of this arc will be extremely intense. If you're a fan of Stargirl, pay close attention. Notice also the spiffy Alex Ross cover.

Nightcrawler #3: It's been interesting so far, with an approach that brings Nightcrawler closer to the dynamic character he used to be than the brooding ascetic he became for a while. The balance works.

Powers #7: We love Bendis. This is largely why.

Rising Stars #23: We can only hope.

She-Hulk #10: And we'll have fun fun fun 'til Marvel Comics takes our gamma rays away.

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

Derek McCaw

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