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!

Negation #6
writer: Tony Bedard, artists: Andy Smith and Brad Vancata
reviewed by Charlie Wentling

Komptin is still trying to capture Obregon Kaine and his fellow escapees. His latest scheme involves publicly executing the blue-skinned Kremmin one by one until Kaine is drawn into making a rescue attempt. Komptin thinks that sentimentality is the big weakness of the human race. This is sort of odd since Kaine has behaved very much like soldier, and sees most of his companions as resources to be exploited, at least on the surface.

Kaine does have his own reasons for rescuing the Kremmin. They have knowledge of planets in the surrounding area, and this knowledge can be used in conjunction with Evinlea's teleportation powers.

We also catch up with the second group of escapees, lead by Mercer Drake. The two groups will soon be reunited, but it may not be a friendly meeting since Kaine's group thinks they were abandoned.

The guest artwork is by Andy Smith, who seems to be CrossGen's designated relief artist lately. His work here is good and matches the style of regular artist Paul Pelletier well.


Powers #20
writer: Brian Michael Bendis, artist: Michael Avon Oeming

We have 67 days between the first two acts of this issue's story and its quietly explosive wrap-up. Somewhere in those days must be all of the rest of this series, because Bendis has thrown it for one heck of a loop.

With the suicide of Wazz in Walker's apartment, everything has gone to hell. The government has stepped in and taken the investigation away from Walker, who has been left knowing far more than he should about the secrets of FG-3.

But before we can even get to those ramifications, Bendis and Oeming give us snippets of the FG-3 movie, which sucks even more hilariously than had it been left to our imaginations. These creators have gotten caught in the Hollywood trenches enough times to know them too well. (And yet I sort of curse them to get caught some more; I want that Powers movie, even though I know better.)

Left with nowhere to turn, the notoriously reclusive Walker does the one thing no one expects. This act turns the status quo of this book completely upside down, and it's hard to see how it can continue with Walker in it. But Bendis must have a couple of aces up his sleeve.

Oeming delivers his usual spare but dead-on effective artwork, aided by surprisingly lush coloring from Peter Pantazis.

The only drawback this month is that the extra length of the story kills any space for the letters column, which normally provides the best reading of the month.


Sigil #24
writer: Chuck Dixon, artists: Scot Eaton and Andrew Hennessy
reviewed by Charlie Wentling

Last month, Sam saved the planet Gaia from an asteroid launched on a collision course by the Saurians. It wasn't a complete victory, though. Some large rock fragments still hit Gaia, and we get casualty reports like "two billion dead". Numbers like that are too large to be understood.

Sam and his cohorts do what they can to help save as many people as possible. There is a new and out-of-place subplot about some people being worried that Sam's power-level make him seem like a god. Under the circumstances, they should just be happy that he was saving lives.

The Planetary Union gather all of their available forces for a retaliatory strike against the Saurian homeworld. Meanwhile, Tchlusarud manages to escape from captivity. If I had to guess where things were going in the future, I'd say that Tchlusarud will take control of the Saurian forces and end the war with the humans. Hopefully, it won't be that simple.


Sojourn #11
writer: Ron Marz, artists: Greg Land and Drew Geraci
reviewed by Charlie Wentling

Arwyn has struck a deal with Shiara the dragon. In return for killing Mordath, Arwyn will give her magic bow to Shiara. It sounded like a good idea to Arwyn since she wouldn't have to complete her quest for the five fragments. However, we know something that Arwyn doesn't: she's a character in a comic book. It would have been a nice twist if Ron Marz had set up Arwyn's quest only to cut it short so soon, but he sticks to the obvious path.

So we get an issue of Mordath and Shiara blasting fire at each other. It is suitably impressive, but rather empty. Shiara hasn't been developed enough as a character enough for us to care what happens to her. I get the impression that the ending is supposed to be shocking or terrible. For me though, it seemed like a no-lose deal. Either Mordath loses the fight, which is good for Arwyn, or Shiara loses, which keeps things status quo.

Still, it's not a bad issue. The art team has realized how silly it looks that the characters are all so clean in a medieval world, so they now look a bit dirtier. It's a welcome change.


Supergirl #70
A Plague On Both Your Houses
writer: Peter David, artists: Todd Nauck and Robin Riggs

Lilith continues her mysterious vendetta against Supergirl, this time utilizing Hurmizah, a major demon with a talent for raining plagues down upon the guilty. Specifically, in fact, the black plague, a talent which gives him the alternate name of "The Black Plague. Unfortunately, the art reflects this. Even in Hell, if you're a black character, you have to have the word black in your name somewhere.

Guest-artist Nauck undercuts a lot of the more serious side of David's story, though he may very well have been directed to do so. It may just be personal taste, but it seems weird to have this cartoony style for a story in which Lilith, among other things, kills a baby in its mother's womb. And for a heroine who rails against being treated as a sex object, Supergirl sure strikes a lot of cheesecake poses.

But that has been a problem long inherent in this series. On the one hand, David seems to want to tell a serious, though not humorless, story with theological overtones (One aspect of Supergirl is, after all, an angel). Unfortunately, he keeps giving in to prurient impulses, and it's not just the presence of the conflicted Buzz driving them. If David's style had more black humor to it, the dissonance might not be so jarring. But he prefers broad humor, which makes issues like this one just a little unsettling, and not in a good way.

Still, we've got Mary Marvel taking an active role, and for Marvel fans, that makes this a good week.


X-Factor #2
The Natural
writer: Jeff Jensen, artist: Arthur Ranson

How does Marvel manage to release this book in a week when rumors ran rampant that New York Yankee Mike Piazza was planning to come out as a homosexual? (The rumor, by the way, was just that. Piazza felt so harassed he held a press conference to re-affirm his heterosexuality.)

Baseball player Tony Robb plans to "come out" as a mutant, and the FBI has to be called in to protect him from death threats. He has never used his power to affect the game, and could easily continue "passing" as normal. But he's tired of the lie. As unintentional commentary on the real-life bigotry of the week, the timing could not be more perfect.

Nor could the actual commentary.

Relative newcomer Jensen (to comics, anyway) never misses a beat in this agonizingly realistic examination of humans trying to find their way in a world with mutants. An X-Man appears, but merely as a peripheral player; the character does, though, make a perfect choice considering Agent Kearse's struggle to reconcile mutantkind with his religious beliefs.

Previous stories have made such religious conservatives into mindless bigots, but Jensen has managed to make it understandable. You probably won't agree with Kearse's stance, but he doesn't come off as a bigot.

If the appearance of this title made you think this was just Marvel up to its old tricks of flooding the market with X-crap. Think again. They may be flooding the market, but more often than not, they're giving us quality.


For alternate views and other 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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