Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 12/14/04
good stuff, some not so good stuff, and Identity Crisis finishes
up. I'm on pins and needles.
brought to you by Brian's Books of Santa
Gotham Knights #60
writer: A.J. Lieberman
artists: Javi Pina and Francis Portela
Maybe this was in the plan all along, but
it seems like in the aftermath of "War Games," all the Bat-books
have gotten a little jolt of creativity. Ironically, they
all seem to be ignoring "War Games" entirely.
Let's not give A.J. Lieberman short shrift
here; he had quietly been crafting solid Batman stories
month after month for quite a while before he got sucked
in to the crossover. More impressively, those stories also
often added depth to the glitzier high-profile "Hush" storyline.
Freed from the constraints of making sure a superstar artist
gets to do what he does best (huge panoramic panels of people
posing beautifully), Lieberman gets to do the most important
thing a comic book writer should do: tell a great story.
That's not to slag on Pina and Portela,
this issue's art team. They've got a clean style, easy to
follow with a good layout sense. Their Batman has a functional
look without losing his superhero conventions. As Lieberman's
script dictates, they also draw an Alfred with a sense of
age, yet not forgetting that he spent time in MI-5.
It's an important point, as Hush pushes
Alfred to the limit. As much the butler's adventure as it
is Batman's, this issue moves along at a good clip. Lieberman's
characterization of Batman and Alfred may not be all that
deep, but he has a good grasp of their basic character.
What has made these revisits of Hush worth
reading, though, is that Lieberman has an excellent grasp
of that new villain's character. As fun as the Loeb/Lee
run on Batman was, there just wasn't that much depth
to it. Lieberman has exposed more of the psyche of Hush,
and with this issue provides some surprises to it. Extra
credit has to be given for also bringing back Prometheus,
an anti-Batman created by Grant Morrison in JLA and
then largely forgotten.
The two villains together make a more creditable
foe than Bane ever did, and they also have far more patience.
Their dalliance with torturing Alfred seems more a distraction,
with Hush hinting that he has long-range plans to make Batman's
life miserable without actually destroying him.
See? This is how you get readers to buy
into that whole long-range planning thing - by making it
clear all along that that's the bad guy's plan. If it turns
out that Hush slept with Vicki Vale, then maybe you can
all make me eat my words. Then again, nobody ever really
accused Vicki Vale of being purity personified, either.
Best of all, this story stands on its own.
Lieberman gets you right into the action, and though he
does make occasional references to earlier stories in his
run, none of them are germane to getting the story. But
that's how he has structured this entire arc; most of the
stories could be read and appreciated on their own, but
lock together for a bigger picture. You can take it either
way. But I recommend you take this one.
Machina #7: This series just gets better and better.
If it weren't the middle of an arc, it would be the spotlight
book. Once again, Brian K. Vaughan mixes politics and superheroes
in a way that challenges you to think without attacking
you. While provoking your thoughts, he also throws in great
plotting with a twist involving subway graffiti that is
Madrox #4: The Multiple Man tries
to solve his own murder. It makes sense if you know the
character, and Peter David clearly does. He also makes sure
that we get swept up in Madrox, clarifying what it means
for a guy to be able to split himself up, and the consequences
of compartmentalizing his personality traits. All that and
a nice subplot with Wolfsbane, too. It's an X-spin-off worth
your time. Ocean #3: Finally, this book veers away
from works like Solaris to firmly stake its own quirky
claim. Warren Ellis may never actually reveal what's in
the coffins in an alien moon's ocean, but it doesn't matter
because he has us so riveted by the ongoing war in our own
Trigger #1: Vertigo releases this
interesting dystopian book by Jason Hall. The problem is
that it seems like Vertigo has a lot of dystopian books,
with pot shots at our existing culture getting ever more
thinly veiled. Here, society is ruled by a corporation called
Ethicorp, which has a unique method of taking care of its
problems. Apparently, any of its employees can be "triggered"
into becoming the perfect assassin. Trouble may rear its
head when one of them also has dreams of being a pulp writer.
It's actually cooler than it sounds, and worth taking a
look. Hall worked on last year's massive rethink of The
Creeper, a book that really tried to be different.
Splendor: Our Movie Year: Harvey Pekar comes to a strange
sort of full circle by telling the story of his life in
the wake of being involved in a movie about his life. If
there's an annoying interviewer character in there trying
to see if he'll go off on a rant, know
now that that would be me.
Birds of Prey #77: Gail Simone takes
her team into a whole new era, Gotham-free. It begins here,
and it will be absolutely a great read.
Identity Crisis #7: Everything will
be revealed here. I may have to break into the comic book
store at midnight just to find out.
What If Classic vol.1: Marvel reprints
the first five issues of the original run, which includes
"What If Spider-Man Joined the Fantastic Four?" and "What
If The Hulk Always Had The Mind Of Bruce Banner?" You've
got some classic artists working on simply fun stories that
hopefully still hold up today.
The Worst Drawing of The Thing EVER:
Age Fantastic Four #9: So powerful was its lame-itude,
I could barely bring myself to read the story within. A
re-telling of a classic Lee/Kirby story that involves Namor
and Reality TV, it proves how prescient these guys were
back in the sixties. And sorry for the continued ranting
but hey, between the just bad writing this book gets and
the datedness of the originals, let's still just take the
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