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!
Legends of the
Dark Knight #156 Blink, part one
writer: Dwayne McDuffie, artists: Val Semeiks and Dan Green
Lee Hyland is a
blind grifter with a great con. Gifted with a minor but effective superpower,
Hyland can see through the eyes of the last person (or animal) that
he touched. With this ability, he takes marks' bank account information
and uses it to live a comfortable lifestyle. Not flashy, but comfortable.
Hyland, he brushes up against a serial killer. What can a blind man
do to stop a murder, when the eyes he's using are already miles ahead
of him? Alone, nothing. But, of course, the caped crusader gets involved.
It's often, not
always, fun to see Batman deal with actual metahumans, and such a story
works better when they're not costumed, just regular people using their
power for an edge. Gotham may be a city of grotesques, but they're still
human. By minimizing the superpowered element, McDuffie can spend most
of his time telling a basic crime story, and it's shaping up to be interesting.
Semeiks is far
more consistent here than he was in the JLA: Incarnations mini-series.
Complemented well by Green on inks, Semeiks gives us a Gotham City that
is actually recognizable as a city - it's the hustle and bustle on the
sidewalks, the ordinary citizens, that too often get skimped on.
By its nature,
Legends of the Dark Knight is a crap-shoot. But this round looks
to be a good one.
writer: J. Michael Straczynski, artists: Gary Frank and Jonathan Sibal
After finally winning
the battle for his soul in an unexpected manner, David Grey awakens
back in the real world. Taken to a hospital, he's unsure if the last
year of his life was real or just a dream.
JMS uses this final
issue as an end piece, trying to make sense of his greater metaphysical
themes. It feels rushed, as each previous issue dealt with an individual
event on Grey's road to redemption. This finale covers at least fifteen
years, and leaves as many questions as it answers.
It does not beg
for a sequel (and with JMS' new exclusivity deal with Marvel, it's doubtful
one would happen anyway), but Grey's new mission is either unclear,
or way too literal. Still, it warrants re-reading, and that's a value.
Frank and Sibal
age Grey effectively. It's worth noting because too many hot artists
don't handle characters at different ages well. And their version of
Lazarus will be the one I see next time I peruse the New Testament.
writer: Paul Dini, artist: J. Bone
The subtitle of
the book is a little misleading. Ida Red won't be sheriff of Mutant
for at least another issue. But that's just semantics, and it doesn't
take away from the fun of this book.
With Mutant, Dini
has found a way to bring a Looney Tune landscape to a medium that demands
just a little logic. Combining 1950's fears of the atom, the tall tales
of the American West, and the myths and traditions of Native Americans,
Mutant, Texas manages to be both familiar and fresh.
In the process,
the story throws a couple of real-world concerns, as racism and ecological
concerns run under the whimsical adventure. The book serves as the coolest
Hanna-Barbera show you never saw, except that the duo never made shows
this good. It doesn't matter that Ida Red is almost a superhero; if
you don't like superhero comics in general, you won't notice. Much.
Dini has found
a great collaborator with J. Bone. I've not been much of a fan of Jingle
Belle; the artwork in her initial appearance seemed similar but out
of sync with Dini's own work. Bone, however, looks like he could be
storyboarding a Dini cartoon. And he draws a great Harry Knowles and
Nightwing #70 Dangled
writer: Chuck Dixon, artists: William Rosado, Rob Stull, and Jesse Delperdang
on the title takes care of a loose end, as we see former denizen of
Bludhaven Lunchmeat Deever in his new life. The witness protection program
has re-located him to Arizona, and despite the joke that several other
mob guys are there, this isn't My Blue Heaven.
With Deever, Dixon
proves that a creep is still a creep. Despite a near-death experience
in Bludhaven, Lunchmeat hasn't learned a thing about kindness. And when
Hella comes calling for vengeance, Nightwing only thinks he can save
It's a good, compact
story, though Dixon assumes too much about our memories of Hella. Nightwing
has too many enemies that are wronged women in bondage paraphernalia.
At least it seems like he does.
Next issue, Devin
Grayson takes over as writer, bringing Rick Leonardi as penciller with
Delperdang on inks. As dependable as this title has been, the new team
should be able to jolt some deserved new life into it.
#13 A Good Clean Fight
writer: Garth Ennis, artist: Steve Dillon
Ennis and Dillon
are back, and have lost nothing in their absence. This is Ennis at his
best, with the touches of twisted humor and outrageousness serving the
story, and not overwhelming it.
Castle gets placed
in an odd situation, convinced by the hapless Detective Soap to rescue
(not kill) a mob boss in order to bring peace to the New York families.
Such an adventure combines both sides of The Punisher; the old soldier
has to take on Columbian rebels to free the boss.
As for Soap, his
little interlude reminds me of a page from Dillon's book How
to Be a Superhero -- a trading card labeled "About To Be Buggered."
In short, boy,
I missed these guys on this book.
writer: Brian Michael Bendis, artists: various
Though the second
half of this book gets turned into an excuse for a lot of pin-up pages
with narrative, this wrap-up to Ultimate Marvel Team-Up does
exactly what Bendis said it would. It proves he had a point to the whole
If anybody had
any doubts, this is what Spider-Man is all about. Bendis and a variety
of collaborators have captured the heart of the character without making
him seem out of time. And along the way, a few others get stripped down
to their essentials.
a confrontation between Daredevil and Spider-Man that makes a lot of
sense in their new context; please, Bendis, pick up on it in Ultimate
Spider-Man. Re-visiting the Ultimate Fantastic Four makes me fear
a Grant Morrison version; Bendis already nailed it.
Some of it is rushed;
encounters with Blade and Elektra are clearly cut down from a longer
story idea. But they're still cool.
at the end for becoming too busy to keep up Team-Up. If we're
lucky, he'll at least be able to come back to it every six months or
so. Heck, with Marvel's schedule, he could still claim it was monthly
and no one would notice.