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: Brian Michael Bendis, artist: Michael Gaydos
Still not sure
if this book takes place in continuity, nor even if it matters. But,
as any sharp Marvelite suspected, the Rick Jones that Jessica found
is not the Rick Jones that lived and wrote Sidekick. (I still
want that book to really exist someday.)
Bendis uses this
revelation to explore the effect of fame on the so-called "little people."
It's an effect that clearly reached Jessica herself, blind to the clues
that her quarry was not the man he claimed to be. And even as she herself
has become the object of a fan's obsession, she never put it together.
For all the potential
action dreamed up by the Rick Jones-wannabe, this issue proves surprisingly
quiet, meditative, and extremely powerful. One of the most fascinating
mysteries of the overall book is why Jessica quit the superhero game.
She offers up excuses, but more and more it seems like it's a mystery
to her as well.
himself this issue, with his usual excellent draftsmanship and some
clever composition. He works in a reverse split-screen effect that really
adds power to an otherwise low-key confrontation. It's cool.
#770 Purity, part 3
writer: Greg Rucka, artists: Steve Lieber and Mark McKenna
The Josie Mac storyline
takes a dramatic leap forward, as (not unexpectedly) The Dark Knight
takes a far more active role. But what makes it interesting is getting
Josie's take on him, discovering the man behind the myth. Though this
remains her story, having a familiar Gothamite encounter Batman for
the first time gives him a fresh spin.
lines are very reminiscent of the work of Alex Toth, giving the story
a bit of a nostalgic feel without undermining Winick's very modern storytelling.
Should DC decide a one-shot is in order, this team should stay together.
Of course, Josie
Mac is actually the back-up in Detective, but one we've been
giving short shrift to in the past few months. Actually headlining the
book is Batman, still fighting to stop the bad heroin trade into Gotham
City. One of his allies/opponents has been revealed to work for Checkmate,
which came as a bit of a surprise even though it shouldn't have. Checkmate
has been keeping quite a low profile in the DCU, and Rucka uses this
return to springboard into a more political storyline, dove-tailing
nicely with this week's Superman.
Seeing Batman get
involved in national affairs has interesting potential, though it feels
like this could have gotten started a month ago if the battle with the
mutated Dai Lo had not been drawn out into three issues. And yet again,
Rucka pays only cursory acknowledgment to this being part of the Bruce
Wayne: Fugitive arc. He could have comfortably cut those two pages
and furthered his own plot along instead.
#8 But When I Wake…
writer: John Arcudi, artist: Tan Eng Huat
When the Doom Patrol
went Vertigo many years ago, I dimly recall that they ended up on a
parallel Earth of some kind. Are they still there? It's so hard to tell,
and Arcudi really isn't in a hurry to answer that question.
The new original
Robotman returns, in a pretty awkward and yet perfectly Soviet looking
body. (Great design work by Huat.) He has a lot of questions, and few
memories of what actually happened to him. Though Gar believes this
is the real Cliff, and he believes it's really Gar, nobody can really
say for sure. And that makes the book more maddening than enjoyable
take a back seat while Ava's parasitical power source escapes her body,
and while it's intriguing, it's still just an excuse to have us look
away for another issue. No character within the book is asking the questions
he should like, just who exactly was the fake Cliff, why did
he fade away, and where did he go? How did Metamorpho come back to life?
(The letter column glibly offers that that's for the guys doing JLA
to figure out, but that sure seems like a cop-out to me.)
And really, why
did the group decide so quickly that their original Cliff was fake?
Other than his being declared dead, there really wasn't any evidence
against him. Nor is there still.
Exiles #13 Another Rooster In The Henhouse
writer: Judd Winick, artists: Mike McKone and Jon Holdredge
Great. Now Marvel
is putting critics quotes on the cover of this book. Another company
to which I must pander. But actually, I have little of noteworthy pith
to say. I buy this book. I read this book. I like this book.
Until Winick reminded
us, I'd forgotten how beholden Blink was to her version of Sabertooth.
This relationship reaches a modicum of poignancy, but not as much as
it might have if Blink had mentioned "Mr. Creed" every issue. For writing
an X-book and showing melodramatic restraint, Winick is to be lauded.
He's also managed
to make this "What If --?" conceit work smoothly. The introduction of
the interdimensional Weapon X takes on a dark dimension this issue,
and it makes sense. Despite their sometimes grim and gritty exteriors,
all of The Exiles are still superheroes barely past the "hey kids! Let's
put on a show!" stage of their careers. When the powers that be need
something nasty done on an alternate Earth, they call in Weapon X.
The only drawback
I see is wanting to explore how these alternate assassins got to be
the way they are. How did Peter Parker get to be ruthless? All we have
for a clue is that his uniform looks more like Carnage than Spider-Man.
It's a bit frustrating, but again, that makes the book a little more
challenging to our imaginations.
Which should be
the point of comics in the first place…
Hawkman #3 Lost In The Battlelands
writers: Geoff Johns and James Robinson; artists: Rags Morales and Michael
If you go back
into the original Golden Age Hawkman stories, you'll see that Johns
and Robinson are really taking what was best about them and applying
them here. Being as it's Johns and Robinson, of course, this shouldn't
come as a surprise. But it does come as welcome, for this incarnation
of Hawkman (and we mean that literally) certainly feels like he will
In many ways, the
original Hawk stories were lurid pulp fiction brought to comics, discovering
hidden cities and civilizations, and always fighting for an American
brand of justice. It may be a more global notion now, but even the cover
has that throwback feel.
The actual story
is appropriately pulse-pounding. Hawkman takes on elephantine avatars
from another dimension, only to be rescued by blue-skinned warriors
who throw them a feast. Meanwhile, Shiera fights mercenaries in the
real world, as befits a character who really has a hard time accepting
Morales and Bair's
art is really cool, though a little splash heavy this issue. And yet,
so detailed are the spreads that they seem worth the loss of storytelling
panels. They certainly know how to buckle their swashes.
Superman #182 Dead Men
writer: Jeph Loeb, artists: Ed McGuinness and Cam Smith
Though it makes
a good cover, Superman and Solomon Grundy don't actually meet inside.
Instead, we abruptly get Grundy hurling Lois Lane off of a building,
only to be rescued by Killer Frost, only to be imperiled by her, only
to be rescued by Deadshot. It's a bizarre psychological game, one that
Superman seems almost on the sidelines throughout.
Lois is working
on the story of a lifetime, the one that could blow the lid off the
entire Republican administration. Oh, I'm sorry, that should read Luthorian.
(Did Lex even have a political party affiliation?) After snooping around
quite a bit, she has discovered that Lex knew about the Imperiex attack
on Kansas before it happened, because of his alliance with Brainiac
13. As Margot Kidder might have put it, "capital P…little u…little l…"
But many moons
ago Lois made a deal with the devil. Lex would save the Daily Planet
on the condition that he could make her kill one story. This one sure
looks like that story.
Though Luthor himself
barely appears, Loeb brings back an element of his character that has
been missing for a while: the sheer joy Luthor takes in manipulating
people for the hell of it. It was one of the best contributions of John
Byrne's revamp back in the '80's, and it's good to see a writer remember
and run with it.
As always, McGuinness
provides some dynamic imagery, and I'm sure there will be a bidding
war for that cover. Sorry, Doug.
For our opinions
on this week's Ultimate Marvel releases, click