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!
writer: Greg Rucka, artists: Steve Lieber and Mick Gray
Stuck in Blackgate
for far too long, Sasha has begun to ask the question that DC wants
you to ask: is Bruce Wayne a murderer? Though she comes to the conclusion
that we as loyal bat-fans must, the journey makes for another great
look into her character.
though, the character who ends up assassinated is Vesper. For obvious
romantic reasons (still irking me), Sasha didn't like her, but the bodyguard's
assessment of Vesper runs completely contrary to her characterization
before No Man's Land. This was a woman who managed to attract
Bruce Wayne enough that he started dropping the act. Alfred encouraged
the relationship. And yet Sasha saw Vesper as "…vain and selfish and
it seemed like she only wanted Bruce for the spotlight he'd bring her."
or do we have another schizophrenic suspect? After all, you can't live
in Gotham City without developing some sort of mental problem.
Maybe dressing up as a grayish fox isn't enough for Sasha.
New penciller (to
Detective, anyway) Steve Lieber has a nice touch, and obviously
works well with Rucka. Though it's only a brief glimpse, he draws one
heck of an imposing Batman.
So Rucka still
hasn't had his long-promised shot at Wonder Woman. Instead, he
takes a skewed shot at her background here, in his first issue taking
over the reins of Elektra. It's not Diana, it's not Hippolyta,
but this whole living on an island without men sure looks familiar.
And Austen's character designs have an odd familiarity, too. Or maybe
that's just an ability to actually draw Greek ethnicity.
In this first tale
without Bendis, you can hardly notice the change. Oddly enough, it seems
a little more fanciful than Rucka's work at DC, but it still has his
trademark grit. Rucka establishes how people other than SHIELD contact
Elektra, and puts her in a situation that may reveal a lot about her
attitude towards her heritage.
The book still
has the flavor of international espionage that it needs. Unlike The
Punisher, Marvel has managed to keep up the book's quality after
its initial writer has left.
Stay with this
one. Rucka promises great things.
#17 #1 Am The Loneliest Number
writer: Karl Kesel, artists: Terry Dodson and Rachel Dodson
Does anybody else's
head hurt trying to follow Bizarro's dialogue? Somehow it seemed so
simple in those sixties reprints. Modern writers tend to take on an
inconsistent tack with it, and it gets worse when Harley and Ivy try
to translate their own speech into his.
That said, it's
still a fun book. Having Bizarro develop a crush on Harley makes (im)perfect
sense, and hey, she has a thing for chalk-white skin.
reminding us that Harley has a psychiatric background, an easy thing
to forget when enjoying her lunacy. This may have grave impact on Rose
and The Thorn, but that's a good thing, as the characters are pretty
much blank slates for the 21st Century.
And poor, poor
Jimmy Olsen. Here and in the super-books, he remains pretty much just
a dork with an overinflated ego. At his age, it might be time for him
to become a little more like his pre-Crisis Mister Action self, and
less of George Reeves' sidekick. At least he doesn't say "jeepers."
New X-Men #122 Imperial
writer: Grant Morrison, artists: Frank Quitely, Tim Townsend with Perrotta
As we knew it must,
the Shi'ar Empire has quickly fallen under the sway of Cassandra Nova.
All that's left is a handful of the Imperial Guard and Lilandra herself,
desperate to reach Earth and warn the X-Men. And it doesn't look good
for the Guard.
Back on Earth,
Morrison offers up some odd (but patented) explanation for how Xavier
is still alive, and Cyclops gets the bright idea to bring in a big gun:
Xorn. With a star for a head, though, he had better beware of Jean Grey's
renewed Phoenix abilities getting hungry.
Once again Morrison
gives us a story that requires reading a couple of times, which for
$2.25 is a good thing. Though fans seem sharply divided over Quitely's
attractiveness as an artist, for a tale this horrific no one can doubt
that he is the man for the job. Nova's new "body" (again, let's re-read
this thing) is sad, grotesque, and very, very imposing. Some plot points
seem contradictory from earlier issues, but overall, Morrison has made
The X-Men into a group worth reading about again and again. In less
than a year, he has taken everything that made the group classic and
made it all seem brand-new.
No mean feat, that.
The Power Company
#1 Executive Search
writer: Kurt Busiek, artists: Tom Grummett and Wade Von Grawbadger
It does not bode
well for The Power Company when its contents slip from the mind
after a couple of days. But after so many "introductory" comics for
The Power Company's members, the actual title feels non-descript and
All in all, it's
hard to get a handle on a book that has jumped around its chronology
so much in just seven weeks without really letting us care about any
of the characters. And if memory serves correctly, we've already seen
the team's arch-enemy, Dr. Cyber, die in the preview story last month,
which means we can't even take her seriously as a threat.
Still, the core
concept holds promise, and this is Kurt Busiek, so everyone wants
this to be good. But already things are leaking. Manhunter has gone
too abruptly from being unsure about his destiny to being determined
to outshine Paul Kirk. And why would anyone in the superhero community
(again, besides Batman) know anything about Paul Kirk, whose public
career as a hero was brief and sixty years ago? The whole Manhunter
Saga was a covert private war, not something that a character like Skyrocket
and Von Grawbadger provide solid artwork. And despite the painted cover
pictured here, their own regular pencil and ink work most likely graces
your copy just as well.
writer: Chuck Austen, artist: ?
Ultimate Gambit continues his quest for justice against Hammerhead in
the seedy underbelly of New York. And it works pretty well. Without
as much "charm," leather, or stupid headgear, Austen has created a believable
character. He still has a reluctant nobility, but also still commits
some questionable deeds. (Of course, in this universe, so do most of
the X-Men, without a lot of angst about it, either.)
This Gambit also
seems in better control of his powers, with a couple of usages for them
that I've never seen before. It makes for an interesting idea to pursue
- how many characters have overtly destructive abilities that could
be used to create instead?
Austen leaves it
open for Millar to use Gambit or not. While it would be cool to see
him in the future, it does seem more logical that he would not join
the team. Unexpectedly, this version of Gambit seems at heart too gentle
The artwork, by
the way, is great, compelling, and beautifully laid out. And I wish
I could give proper due. For some reason, Marvel omitted credits for
this book, an oversight that should stop. If you want to get kids interested
in comics through these titles, they're bound to want to know who creates
For last Friday's
reviews, featuring Adventures of Superman through Deadman with a smattering
of CrossGen, click here.