Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 12/28/05
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
Loves Mary Jane #1
writer: Sean McKeever
artist: Takeshi Miyazawa
Here's hoping the third time makes the
charm for McKeever and Miyazawa's delightful (yes, I said
delightful) recasting of Spider-Man's high school days as
a romance. After all, our culture has repositioned the story
of Peter Parker and Mary Jane as a classic love story. At
some point, the comics had to follow suit.
Though this new series refers back to the
two earlier tries, it really works as a stand-alone issue,
which makes it a perfect spotlight book, but more importantly,
makes it a perfect effort to get new readers. Told from
Mary Jane's point of view, this may be the most realistic
look at the life of these teenagers.
McKeever has an even better ear for teenagers
than Bendis does in Ultimate Spider-Man. Over there,
as brilliant a book as that is, teens seem realistic but
through the filter of the Bendis rhythm. Somehow over here,
though, the teenage girls talk like teenage girls without
any rhythm but their own. Maybe it's that I haven't read
nearly as much McKeever as I have Bendis, but that's not
a bad thing; it's great to discover a new writer catching
As simple graphic storytelling, this book
has flashes of brilliance. The issue opens with a battle
between Dr. Octopus and Spider-Man, showing what a clever
little spider hero he is, but Miyazawa pulls back the camera
to reveal it to be a news report. In her upstairs bedroom,
Mary Jane Watson watches raptly, struggling with what she
knows is an impossible crush.
Then the camera pans back to her bed, where
Peter Parker sits patiently waiting for attention so he
can tutor her. Yes, tutor her. Right now he might as well
be invisible, but McKeever is slowly but surely building
up to Mary Jane understanding Peter's good qualities as
she starts seeing the shortsightedness of her friends and
ex-boyfriend, Norman Osborn.
The Mary Jane books are clearly
set in a universe somewhere between Ultimate and Sony Pictures,
because this is that universe where Peter is nowhere near
as painfully dorky as he was in the original Lee-Ditko collaborations,
and Harry is smooth, suave and just a bit of a bully. If
Gwen Stacy exists here, she hasn't been made obvious. But
the general public never got that great romance.
Put continuity aside. Revel in the resourcefulness
of a determined redhead teen on the cusp of adulthood, doing
crazy things in pursuit of a dream, but willing to accept
that the dream is crazy. Yet, of course, it's closer than
Marvel's push in pursuit of new readership
is laudable. Despite this book being a rehashing of a franchise
instead of something wholly new, the company's commitment
to it is absolutely right. Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane
fits a niche and deserves its audience. Make it work this
time, and if you know someone that loves teen romance, tell
her. Or him. Let me not be unenlightened about this, because
as McKeever and Miyazawa prove, good storytelling is good
JLA Classified #15: "New Maps From
Hell" ends with this issue, the last great hurrah of what
DC and Grant Morrison intended JLA to be. The big
guns get together and prove why they're the big guns in
creative ways that blow the readers' minds. Let it serve
as a reminder that this iteration of the League had greatness
once. And remember that if more people had written Kyle
Rayner as this competent a hero, maybe Hal Jordan wouldn't
have had to come back from the dead.
The Savage Sensational She-Hulk #3/100:
Having the strange dual numbering and superlative makes
sense to fandom. Though this is the fourth series that the
character of She-Hulk has had, it adds up to one hundred
total issues. Marvel gives a sampling of the Jade Giantess
over the years, starting with current writer Dan Slott wrapping
up his relaunch arc. He has help from a variety of artists,
and the story also drops a few hints about what's coming
up in the Marvel Universe, sort of the equivalent to DC
laying the groundwork for Infinite Crisis in the
pages of Aquaman.. The difference is that nobody
thinks I'm insane for liking She-Hulk.
Solo #8: The solo light falls on
European artist Teddy Kristiansen. Though his work is quirky
and interesting, that's not why you should pick up this
book. No. Without much fanfare, it turns out that Kristiansen
had a little help from one of comics' most popular writers,
one who had left us for a little while. Neil Gaiman writes
a Deadman tale. Let me repeat that. Neil Gaiman writes
a Deadman tale. Of course, he captures the character
perfectly and makes me want a Deadman book from Gaiman.
Maybe I can convince Grant Morrison to write something that
contains a sigil that will convince Gaiman to do it.
Vigilante #4: The first couple of
issues didn't seem to have anything all that new going for
them, just the aura of Bruce Jones doing some work for DC.
Though it still feels like a lot of the take on this book
is darkness for its own sake, Jones has begun ratcheting
up the plot and this new Vigilante may become something
more than a vaguely S & M pulp hero.
X-Factor #2: Ryan Sook gets a little
help to keep this thing going monthly. We're okay with that,
because Peter David's revamp of the concept (revealed in
the editorial page to have been hoped for from the beginning
of his brilliant Madrox mini-series) needs to stay
on time. And then some. He's the master of the cliffhanger
that gets resolved in the next issue while building to the
next cliffhanger. Everything about this book is fun, especially
the recasting of House of M plot device Layla Miller
as an actual character. Well done.
X-Men/Power Pack #3: Every time
Power Pack has met an X-Man it's been quite a stretch of
coincidence, but the book is just so fun and right for kids
that it just doesn't matter. So this week, if you know children
that think they might be interested in comic books but fear
that your average X-Men by Peter Milligan or the
alternately disgusting and stupid "The Other" storyline
may be way too intense, buy them this. They'll love it.
Or buy them Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane. They'll love
The Alternately Disgusting and Stupid
"The Other" Storyline:
Truly, I understand that characters periodically
need an update, but not at the expense of either my belief
or their core. Spider-Man ate a guy's head. Spider-Man could
potentially have powers like Wolverine. And a few issues
back, he put his loved ones in old Iron Man armor (The Invincible
Iron May and Iron Mary Jane), broke into Dr. Doom's castle
and traveled back in time to the day that his parents left
him with Ben and May. Um, if I could travel back in time
to see my parents, I'd pick a freakin' day that they didn't
drop me off to never be seen again. Instead, a time-distorted
invisible Peter Parker waves for them to come back, as impotent
as the writing of Reginald Hudlin has been on this arc.
Sorry. I hadn't worked that up into a full rant for anyplace
else. So go buy comics. Enjoy. Complain to me. Something.
Have a Happy New Year.
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