Each week we take a critical look at some of the best books on the stands, courtesy of Big Guy's Comics (the unofficial comic book store of FanboyPlanet.com). If you publish a book that you want us to be covering, contact us. Or contact Derek. He doesn't have enough to do.

Hey Kids! Comics!

The Adventures of Superman #601
Cult of Persuasion
writer: Joe Casey, artists: Pete Woods and Jose Marzan, Jr.

First of all, it's a great idea to bring The Persuader into the 21st Century. Whether or not this will be one of those Somewhere In Time things remains to be seen. Does anyone know if the current 31st Century Persuader has a set origin? Could they be the same guy?

It's those questions that keep me reading and fascinated. The actual presentation of the story feels a little cold. It doesn't help that Casey has been saddled with the strange "Lois doesn't want to be with Superman now" subplot. It might make sense if up until now we hadn't seen Clark sharing a romantic moment with her in every issue.

Ahem. Sorry.

At any rate, Casey is giving this a dreamlike quality. The identity of The Persuader's cellmate remains a mystery, but because Dr. Destiny has always been rather non-descript, you might want to put money on him being the solution.

Guest-penciler Woods does a solid job, with some nice camera angles. He also has some fun with the "extras" inhabiting Stryker's Island. Too, it's nice to see that Scud can still get work.

Despite some good ideas, the Superman books seem to be falling into a rhythm: nothing too startling, nothing too enrapturing. But they're dependable.


The Authority #28
Brave New World, part three
writer: Mark Millar, artists: Arthur Adams, Tim Townsend and Trevor Scott

Anytime a writer ventures into Jung's collective unconscious and considers it a real place, things get dicey. As a concept, it may be best to let it be oblique, though it's a great excuse to let an artist go wild. And Art Adams is the kind of artist you want to let loose.

Thankfully, Millar keeps it brief, just a throwaway glimpse of an evil scheme that we know will never come to fruition, either because the real Authority will stop it or DC will cancel the book before then. But the implications of a Religimon are worth playing around with, as well as the idea that Star Trek might be a race memory.

Or maybe I'm reading too much into three pages.

Otherwise, this issue delivers the promise set up previously. The Midnighter returns, taking names and kicking butt the way you always knew Batman could. Actually, no names are required.

So of course the world powers bring back Seth, and we're headed to another apocalyptic confrontation, the kind that The Authority handle like others do sales reports.

If it's true that this title is not long for the world, let us savor it while we can.


Bloodstone #4
In The Blood
writers: Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning, artists: Michael Lopez & Tom Derenick

The rag-tag team of monster hunters come face to face with every conceivable breed of vampire the Marvel Universe has to offer. Many of you probably didn't know they had more than one. And that's why this mini-series just might be worth continuing open-ended.

Though it still has a light tone, Bloodstone takes the vampire threat seriously (more seriously than the mummies were previously), and actually has a pretty ingenious if disgusting plot idea. Thankfully, too, this issue drops the embarrassing cheesecake shots, letting Elsa actually come into her own as a viable heroine.

If Marvel does continue the series, it seems like there's room to include past adventures of Ulysses, Elsa's father. He may not have been very popular originally, but maybe his time has come, too. At any rate, this stab at the supernatural has none of the dirgelike portentious boredom that came with the abortive Midnight Sons thing of years ago, and that alone makes this worth taking a look at.

Plus I just like monsters teaming up to fight monsters.


Deadman #3
Hate Is A Drug
writer: Steve Vance, artists: Josep Maria Beroy and Dan Green

A lot has happened in between issues, and thankfully Vance spares us the tedium. After discovering that Nanda Parbat refugee Duroc has perfected a drug that unleashes pure aggression in the user, Boston Brand has to stem the tide of a tainted cocaine supply in Florida. For the most part he succeeds, but each failure in the great scheme of things eats away at him.

Of course, each failure to find someone with the drug also results in a lot of needless deaths. And even though Deadman has a sense of what peace and glory awaits, he mourns every death he encounters (except the bad guys, of course).

This take on Deadman becomes interesting when Duroc reveals that he knows all about him. For a brief moment, Boston Brand actually develops something like an arch-enemy. (Actually, Vance introduces a second, older enemy, but whether or not he knows he contends with a spirit remains to be seen.)

As decent a story as this has been, the overall conceit of the series may get old fast. How many variations on tracking down the refugees will we see before we tire of it? Hopefully, things will get mixed up a bit, and we can have the occasional story of Boston doing good for its own sake, instead of as part of his "mission."

The artwork inside is interesting, but not up to the promise of the Mike Mignola cover. Now that's a guy that would be fun to see on this book.


Negation #3
writer: Tony Bedard, artists: Paul Pelletier and Dave Meikis
reviewed by Charlie Wentling

Kaine and the other captives have escaped their prison planet. In fact, they have split into two separate groups headed in two different directions. Kaine and his group encounter an alien ship and realize for the first time just how difficult it will be for them to get back home. The second group, led by Mercer Drake, is being pursued by the Negation.

We get more background on the Negation empire. They are not natives in their universe, but invaders who arrived and took over. This ties in with the events in Crux. We also meet some of the natives of this universe, the Kremmin Continuum, clearly a poke at Star Trek.

The Lawbringers, who are the Negation equivalent of the First, are introduced. And there are hints that the baby who has been shown in each issue has some secret or ability that makes her much more than she appears.

It's a shame that Ruse got so much more attention than Negation when they were both launched late last year. This series is easily the better of the two.


Sigil #21
writer: Chuck Dixon, artists: Scot Eaton and Andrew Hennessy
reviewed by Charlie Wentling

Chuck Dixon's first issue of Sigil is not all that impressive. Dixon shouldn't take all of the blame for this though, since he inherited such a bloated storyline. It may be a while before he can take things in his own direction.

This is one of those issues where the main character doesn't appear, and we are stuck with the supporting cast instead. These guys are not interesting. Tchlusarud finds his mother and plots to regain power. Zanniati is out for revenge against her ex-husband. And JeMerik and Roiya try to fool everyone into thinking that Sam is not actually missing. Etc. Etc. Most of this stuff is carried over from previous months.

Dixon does give the story slightly more of a science fictional feel, which is a good thing. He should move even further in that direction.

The art by Eaton and Hennessy is better than normal, particularly the technology and the backgrounds. Sometimes the panels don't flow so well, and I get lost for a second. Even so, this is better than 90% of the artwork from Marvel or DC.


Sojourn #8
writer: Ron Marz, artists: Greg Land and Drew Geraci
reviewed by: Charlie Wentling.

Arwyn and Gareth's search for the first fragment takes them to an inn called the Serpent's Tooth in the land of Middelyn. They are looking for a dragon who is rumored to have the fragment is its treasure hoard. A mysterious woman named Shiara shows up just as a barroom brawl breaks out.

Shiara claims to have knowledge of the dragon and leads Arwyn and Gareth to the spot where the dragon's lair is supposedly hidden. Gareth doubts that the dragon actually exists, but all doubt is removed when the dragon itself arrives.

All of this has been done many times before, but it works here. The characters are fun, and even when you know where the story is going, it is never boring.

Though the secret isn't revealed in this issue, it is quite obvious that Shiara is the dragon in human form. I hope Marz isn't expecting anyone to be surprised next month when this is revealed. The clichés go a bit too far when we see Arwyn's dog growling at Shiara, an obvious signal to anyone that she is the bad guy.

Land's art is excellent as always. The first image of the dragon is wonderful.


For alternate views and more books, check out Daryl Tay's site, Unique Frequencies.

Derek McCaw




All comics were reviewed by Derek McCaw unless otherwise noted.

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