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!
Last week I ran
out of time to cover everything we picked up (thank heavens for the
help from Charlie Wentling), but I do want to recommend two first issues:
from Vertigo was interesting and worth a look. Despite its twisted sensibility,
it seems to be lacking the usual Vertigo bleakness, and could be fun.
Blue #1, run, don't walk, to pick up a copy. Why do long-time
fans miss Gwen Stacy? Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale will give you an education.
#29 Brave New World
writer: Mark Millar, artist: Gary Erskine
We knew this was where the story was going to go. The true, original Authority
had to regain their powers, and so of course they do. Perhaps because
of this title's infrequency (and you shouldn't blame DC - you can if you
really want to, but you shouldn't), Millar hurries through the process
might have been long enough if I could remember what had happened in
the issue before, so digging up #28 before reading #29 might be worthwhile.
Still, once The
Authority officially returns, they have to take down uber-redneck Seth,
and Millar proves his immense creativity with that character. The government
has given Seth powers there aren't even names for yet, and the creature's
poetic descriptions of them are quite vivid in their imagery. Suffice
to say that the language of this book is worth savoring, though Millar
might call me a wanker for writing such a statement.
In the end, Jack
Hawksmoor tries to sum up the experience of The Authority, and
his conclusion may spark debate. And any comic book capable of doing
that is worth the time and effort.
There's just a
hint of the old DC horror books in Manco's style, and it helps make
this issue creepier than the story actually is. Last issue The Mortician
seemed well on his way to being a pretty terrifying enemy for Batman,
but Grayson shifts gears away from the expected.
The Mortician turns
out to be a twisted reflection of Batman's psyche; obsessed with the
loss of his parents, he is determined to bring them back from the dead.
While he may pop up again, Manco gives The Mortician enough real sorrow
on his face to assume his illegal work is done. Instead, the real addition
to Batman's archenemy list may be the titular Zombie Zero, though hopefully,
nobody will call him that.
It's a solid race
for Batman to figure out what's going on. Thank you, Devin Grayson,
for taking a moment to remind us that Batman isn't just an obsessed
juggernaut of vengeance, but also a detective with a keen scientific
mind. Put that way, the whole obsessed juggernaut thing seems kind of
at odds, doesn't it? But as long as no one tells Bruce to grow up, we'll
deal with it.
In the back-up
"Black and White" slot is a rare story that might actually fit into
continuity. Paul Kupperberg and John Watkiss deliver a tale that ties
into Batman's day of training. It's an interesting slice, and introduces
a new character to his past.
writer: Brian Michael Bendis, artist: Alex Maleev
The secret is out.
Or is it?
Luckily for Matt
Murdock, the paper that has exposed him seems to be a bit of a rag,
so he may have some plausible deniability. At least until some real
reporter digs around. Of course, Ben Urich put it together once, so
it looks like Daredevil is screwed.
Bendis throws in
little details that make this story seem sadly human. The government
agent who tipped off the Daily Globe seems to have done so out of a
quiet envy; the betrayal doesn't happen until the agent sees the Black
Widow swinging by just as he mulls over the state of his own relationship.
And Matt's reaction to the exposure is classic. Foggy says it has to
happen to one of "you guys;" without missing a beat Matt answers, "I
just always thought it would be Spider-Man."
True, on the surface
Peter Parker appears to be more impetuous, but as Bendis has been pointing
out, it's Matt Murdock who has been indiscreet about his identity. When
The Kingpin recovers, it will be interesting to understand just why
he's kept the secret this long himself.
As usual, Maleev
delivers a stellar job. If anything, the artwork looks tighter this
issue than it has in months past.
Even if this ground
has been covered before for Daredevil, this team makes it seem fresh,
with real consequences waiting 'round the bend.
#20 Wouldn't Be Caught Dead There
writer: Karl Kesel, artists: Brandon Badeaux and Dan Davis
After last issue
seemed to have closed off the series (and DC had me convinced
it was the end), Harley wakes up in Hell with a new art team. No, they're
not hellish; in fact, Badeaux and Davis gel quite nicely. They're not
a drastic change from the Dodsons, but they still manage to put their
own stamp on the book.
It's a perfect
time to do it, too, as the new team strikes a balance between the wackier
elements of Harley's adventures and the fact that now she's surrounded
by demons. Trapping Harley in a never-ending last stand for her gang,
Kesel refuses to take the easy out for this insane queen of crime.
Were it her ex-boyfriend,
it wouldn't be long before he was running the place. Instead, Harley
has to devise a plan to free herself and, we'll assume, The Quinntets.
All she has in her way is a now demonized Pettit (nice nod to old ancillary
characters) and the formidable Etrigan. Which one of them will prove
the more dangerous?
I was perfectly
willing to write this book off when I thought it had come to a close.
And now I'm hooked again. I'd damn Harley Quinn, but it's too late.
#11 The Wheel
writer: J. Michael Straczynski, artists: Gary Frank and Jonathan Sibal
This book seemed
headed for a satisfying but obvious conclusion. And right on the brink
of finishing up, JMS throws in a twist that sends David, the man searching
for his soul, on a new path. It's not so much his actions that come
as a surprise, but the meaning behind them.
Unlike the past
couple of issues, "The Wheel" moves with an economy of action. A lot
more happens here than has in a while. All of it gets support from dead
on characterization by both JMS and his art team.
If this seems vague
and terse, it's because I don't want to ruin what's going on for those
who haven't yet read it. Suffice to say that Midnight Nation
treads spiritual waters a little more deeply than expected. It's an
interesting take on the nature of reality, and the jury's still out
if this is an optimistic view of creation or not.
Despite the persuasiveness
of the devil figure here, that optimism has a good chance of winning.
writer: Tony Bedard, artists: Fabrizio Fiorentino and Matt Ryan
reviewed by Charlie Wentling
In many ways this
24th issue is a good bookend for Mystic's first two years. A
storyline that has been running on and off since the beginning is tied
up nicely. Animora and Darrow have been the link between this series
and The First, culminating in the battle between Giselle and
Ingra. So it isn't a surprise that Animora was behind a lot of Giselle's
Tony Bedard must
have inherited most of this story from Ron Marz. I'm starting to wonder
just how far ahead CrossGen has each of their titles mapped out. My
guess is that this issue was planned before issue #1 was on sale. In
spite of this, Bedard does a good job putting his own stamp on things.
The next arc is well set up, promising good things for the next year.
The small bits
of humor work well to offset the otherwise grim tone. The Eternal Spirits
that have guided Giselle have become some of the best characters in
this series, and they make a decision that will have major repercussions
for quite some time.