Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 12/07/05
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.
brought to you by Brian's Books of Santa
Time Season Two #1
writers: Steve Gerber and Mary Skrenes
artists: Brian Hurtt and Steve Bird
an entirely separate imprint was a bad idea on DC's part.
For some reason, fans in the last decade tend not to support
a subset suddenly arising out of the mists of DC. Witness
their graveyard: Piranha Press, Helix, Impact! and now Focus.
want to get into a book, not a line. (Vertigo, for example,
grew organically when a few of DC's books were deemed too
intense for regular readers - meeting a need, not trying
to market a demand.)
Out of the late
and underrated Focus one book has licked its wounds, regrouped
and returned under the regular DC banner for a "Season Two."
That book, Hard Time, is well worth this second chance.
Gerber and Skrenes likely have to catch a lot of readers
up to speed, they open with a prison death. Who the players
are, what may have caused prison rivalries, take a backseat
to a particularly nasty scene of violence in the laundry
our attention, then the book can explain to us just what
the heck is going on. Readers that got this the first time
around may not find this book as riveting, but the recap
sure works for newcomers.
talks pretty frankly about teen-age alienation, and Gerber
has long been a master at writing about alienation. The
protagonist Ethan Harrow is, at heart, a good kid who made
a dumb decision with fatal consequences. In truth, though,
things might not have turned deadly if his nascent superpower
had not kicked in at a crucial moment.
As a result,
this outcast teenager has been sent to prison for life.
What's a potential superhero to do in a case like that?
From the looks of things, not much.
In fact, the
beginning of "Season Two" only lightly touches upon the
idea that Ethan has any powers; it's a factor in his incarceration,
but it's also something he's definitely trying to keep hidden.
Instead, he goes deeply into his high school circumstances,
explaining it all to a well-meaning lawyer who may be seeking
a new trial.
flashback proves Gerber and Skrenes' ability to understand.
It's a realistic portrayal of those at the bottom of the
social ladder, especially in its unflinching acknowledgment
that Ethan turned on those lower than him whenever he could.
This is the dynamic of high school, captured in a way that
pulls no punches even as it seems unrealistic to those that
were higher up.
The art by Hurtt
and Bird has a vaguely cartoony quality, but it really helps
emphasize just how out of place Ethan is among more hardened
prisoners. At times a bit reminiscent of Daniel Clowes'
work, the book features a rich panoply of high school faces
and bodies, strangely realistic in its stylization. The
muted coloring also underscores the general tension of the
Time a look this second time around. You could call
it OZ meets Smallville, but giving it a high
concept does a disservice to a unique book. Pick it up.
Neighborhood Spider-Man #3: Mike Wieringo's art seems
an odd fit with this storyline, but it helps soften the
blow of some of the turn of events. Overall, I'm not quite
happy with what's going on with Spider-Man, but I admit
I keep reading. And despite the covers for the next few
chapters, this story surprised me and went some place I
really didn't expect. Some place rather grotesque, in fact.
If that intrigues you, then be my guest…but isn't it odd
that a book called "Friendly Neighborhood" should
start off with such a grotesque storyline?
#2: The first issue of this book was simply everything
that I remembered Jonah Hex being when I was a kid, only
better. Then I went back and realized that it was a beat
for beat redo of the first issue of Jonah Hex back
when I was a kid. With this issue, the creative team starts
telling something that's their own, but it's still Jonah
Hex. That's a good thing. Hard-bitten but not immoral, Hex
deserves some more time in the sun.
#15: The Legion of Losers cometh! Robert Kirkman continues
his pattern of creating a new cosmic menace with which to
spawn a long arc, but at least this storyline clearly shows
where it's going. A tyrant from the future wipes out all
the important superheroes, which leaves mostly third-tier
characters behind to liberate the Earth. Can these losers
do it? Of course they can. The fun will be in finding out
#2: Okay, it's here because, well, it's fairly well-written.
Yet on the heels of House of M, a parallel Earth
story that drastically alters and reduces the status quo,
what does Marvel let Chris Claremont do? Set up a mini-series
that barely acknowledges those events and pits surviving
mutants (including Dazzler - DAZZLER GOT TO KEEP HER POWERS?!?)
against alternate universe versions of the original X-Men.
Why buy this series when we really want to know what's happening
with this universe's heroes? Well, maybe not this
universe, but…oh, you know what I mean.
Secret Files & Origins 2005: Ordinarily, I eschew these
things, but there's quite a charming lead story in here about
who's the cooler hero, Superman or Batman, from a unique perspective.
Why should I be surprised? It's by Devin Grayson, who does
have a cool way with characterization. Everything else helps
establish a status quo that in truth doesn't seem all that
different from the previous status quo, but it's still probably
a good thing to have around for reference. In case some really
gorgeous woman (or guy, let me be fair) asks you about Superman's
status quo. It could happen.
Thing #22: Joshua Dysart, the man with the hardest job
in comics, continues making it look easy. This book has
carved its own little corner of creepiness so effectively.
Part of it is the hard-edged work of Enrique Breccia, but
a lot of it comes from Dysart's mix of disgusting ideas,
reasonable presentation and the heartbreaking humanity of
a muck monster fighting hard not to be a force of nature
and just be.
If? Featuring Captain America: Tony Bedard and Carmine
Di Giamenico spin an origin story of an alternate Earth
that ends up having more promise than actual delivery. Let's
call a spade a spade: this is a Marvel Elseworlds, and for
some strange reason the powers that be have created a new
Watcher - a framing device so silly it begs for mockery.
And yet, the book ends up being fun. That promise? That
maybe we'll see some of this Civil War-era Captain America's
adventures fleshed out instead of glossed over.
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