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The Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 12/14/05
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.

X-Factor #1
writer: Peter David
artist: Ryan Sook

As part of Marvel's "Decimation," we're getting a lot of mini-series exploring the ramifications of the House of M. The ephemeral nature of these leads the cynics among us to believe that within a year, the Scarlet Witch will raise her hand and say, "oops. Sorry. Didn't mean it…" and undo our emotional investment.

Still, they've been cool. See Son of M below.

Then comes this new X-Factor. Spinning out of the set-up of last year's Madrox mini-series, Peter David's new Marvel series looks to deal with the consequences of Wanda Maximoff in the long-term. Many have lost their powers, but the outside world still calls them mutants. And it will be hard to adjust to the loss of those powers.

Sure, Generation M focuses on a few high-profile ex-mutants, but X-Factor could very well maintain the gritty feel of the late lamented District X. Even with superpowers still prevalent, David can bring the human side to Marvel's not-so-merry mutants without dipping into melodrama.

Case in point: a now powerless Rictor. Once upon a time, he was one with the Earth. As Erik Lensherr with his magnetic fields, so Rictor was with the ground. Now he stands high above the Earth, ready to end it all.

Across the street, Madrox argues with himself in a moment that provides more characterization than the first ten years after his creation. For if you don't know him, he's often known as the Multiple Man, and David has played the concept that each "multiple" represents a facet of his personality to the hilt. Before Madrox can take action, he has to decide which "him" would do the best job.

This X-Factor now has a cracked mirror image job of the original team, which then consisted of the original five X-Men. Then and now, the team existed to rescue mutants. Only now, it's helping them handle life as a normal in a world that will never accept them as normal.

In short, many of the post-M books offer action, introspection and clever plot twists, but X-Factor offers hope.

The other things are still there, too. Rescuing mutants may not pay the bills; getting involved solving mysteries and fighting bad guys does. Siryn, Strong Guy and Wolfsbane seem involved in that, and of course it gets personal. Then David throws in one heck of a cliffhanger.

Would this be Ryan Sook's Marvel debut? This guy has to be one of the most underrated artists in the business. It may be a matter of speed; Zatanna seemed to fall behind schedule, but that may have been more Grant Morrison's fault than Sook's.

At any rate, Sook gives this work so much personality. It's earthy (sorry, Rictor) yet fantastic when it needs to be. Always, it's beautiful.

The thing that ticks me off about this is that for the past few years, Marvel has been slowly insidiously converting me back to digging these characters. I really wish they would stop, but for now, I'm along for the ride as far as they want to take me.


The Authority: The Magnificent Kevin #5: Once again, Garth Ennis manages to make, in his parlance, utter arseholes still seem somehow noble. Kev and the Midnighter form a kind of friendship under fire that actually leaves both men changed. Another writer might have bollocked it up, but that part of it really works. The solution to what has been going on seems a little cheap, with that mysterious coily thing (I'm being vague - you know, for the kids) still rather unsatisfactorily explained. It wasn't a perfect mini-series, but it was a good one.

Fables #44: When a new issue of Fables comes out, it goes right to the top of the read pile. Damn. Not a single issue has let me down. Somebody adapt this for television or something so that mainstream America will learn how incredibly cool Bill Willingham's epic rethinking of children's story really is. On second thought, that's probably a foolish plan…

GLX-Mas Special #1: Too mordant to recommend to just anyone, this Dan Slott tour de force is still great fun. Most members of the team get a solo chapter with various artists, each one a perfect summation of the character. Maybe it's just me, but the idea that Squirrel Girl is secretly the most competent superhero in the Marvel Universe is just brilliantly subversive, if that's really what Slott is saying. Read it and decide for yourself. Then let me know you think I'm an idiot.

Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four #7: Okay. This one might sit on the shelves, but I think it is the duty of Fanboy Planet to spread the word. With Christmas (or insert the commercialized bastardization of your favorite Winter holiday here) coming, this makes a great stocking stuffer. There. I was blatantly commercial about it. A retelling of the coming of Namor that allows everybody to still sort of be good guys, this book is appropriate for kids without condescending to them. Ho ho ho.

Son of M #1: The mastermind behind House of M, one of the most arrogant superheroes in Marvel history, now is one of those cursed by his sister - "No more mutants." No question, Quicksilver will not be able to function as a normal human being. Why this book caught my attention, though, is because it's the first to deal with the fallout of House of M for Spider-Man. Peter remembers his "perfect" life and hunts down Quicksilver to let him have it. This is powerful, but the reason it didn't quite make the Spotlight is simply because it does spin so directly out of House of M. If you read that series and liked it, you must read this.

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

Derek McCaw

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