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: Devin Grayson, artists: Roger Robinson and John Floyd
The Scrappy Doo
of Bat-characters finally shows up in the crossover. Yes, Azrael comes
It's long overdue,
as all of the goings-on with Bruce Wayne should have immediately captured
the former Batman's attention. Grayson does briefly throw in that Jean-Paul
has been busy with brain problems of his own, but to most of us, we
don't need that explanation to know that Azrael is nuts. Every time
he shows up in one of these main books he's a loon; only his armor changes.
But he's also dangerous.
Determined to reclaim the cowl, Azrael seems forced by St. Dumas to
destroy the original Batman. His blind lust for justice endangers innocents
along the way. At first Nightwing has to try and stop him, but it's
headed for a showdown between Batmen that Grayson seems poised to use
as a demonstration of just how far gone Bruce actually is.
this one has a cliff-hanger that necessitates buying Azrael #91,
which we didn't do this week. So we may never know who lives or dies.
In the back-up
slot, Doug Alexander and Rob Haynes contribute a cool silent piece with
Harley Quinn. It's short and fun, characteristics these back-up stories
don't always achieve.
#21 Hell And Highwater
writer: Karl Kesel, artists: Brandon Badeaux and Dan Davis
The clown princess
of crime has gone to Hell. Whether or not her book has followed suit,
I still can't decide.
that she still had free will (apparently the greatest crime in Hell),
Harley has convinced her gang that they can break free of their loop
of painful death. Obviously, the powers that be cannot stand for this,
and Harley's antisocial worker, Etrigan, calls in a specialist, Ulysses
Highwater was a
contemporary of Jonah Hex, and acts more like a mainstream DCU stand-in
for Garth Ennis' Saint of Killers. If he has appeared before, it's news
to me. Stuck on an eternal loop of his own, Highwater's grimness is
meant to be the immovable object to Harley's irresistible force.
the result seems to be lacking something. It could be that Kesel seems
really reticent to actually utilize Etrigan in his story. If he had,
he wouldn't need Highwater. The Demon has more than enough potential
lunacy to combat Harley on his own.
With such a powerful
character reduced to impotence (and drawn far more hulkingly by Badeaux
than any other incarnation I've seen), this story feels like filler
until the new creative team can come aboard. Kesel also hasn't laid
out the rules of this Hell very well; saying that anything can happen
is taking the easy way out.
JSA #37 Crossing Over
writers: David Goyer & Geoff Johns, artists: Leonard Kirk and Keith
Thunder storyline comes storming to a close. This one had it all,
in just the right number of issues to make a nifty trade paperback.
(And that is, after all, the seeming goal these days.) Lest you think
there's cynicism here, that's not the intent. This really is superhero
action that combines classic and modern sensibilities with just the
Just about everybody
who is anybody in the DC Universe made a brief appearance here, including
new characters that for once don't feel like an arbitrary effort to
save a trademark. The new Crimson Avenger borrows a bit from Nexus,
but the execution (sorry) of the character holds a lot of mystery and
promise, with an interesting take on the previously rather bland original.
Sand finally comes
into his own, along with some taunting from the Ultra-Humanite that
should provide food for further plotlines. We still haven't been given
an explanation for how he returned from being a silicate monster, but
we can trust that Johns and Goyer do have one.
As the arc title
suggests, though, this story is really about Johnny and Jakeem Thunder.
The changes they go through are interesting; if anything rings hollow,
it's that Jakeem feels so much attachment to Johnny, a man he really
hardly knows. But then, they both have a power in common. Maybe that's
In the end, many
characters are changed, and the JSA gets Captain Marvel on a permanent
basis. I'm going to have to agree with Troy Benson in our letter column
last week: the JLA is starting to look like pikers in comparison.
writer: Scott Wherle, artists: Eric Wolfe Hanson, Barbara Schulz, and
Though they haven't
all fallen into place, it looks like all the old favorite toys are here.
For fans of the original Marvel comic book series, this revival by Devil's
Due Studios looks a little different, but feels the same.
And that's not
necessarily a good thing.
Because they couldn't
actually use the characters Marvel created (which were then shoe-horned
with names from the original Micronauts toy line), Devil's Due had to
create their own. But with the exception of the lead character (eventual
Space Glider?) being a teen from Earth, everyone seems a pale imitation
of past glory.
Acroyear is still
a taciturn armored warrior, so far with less character than Marvel's
incarnation. There's a six-limbed alien obviously meant to stand in
for Bug, the Galactic Warrior. Baron Karza is exactly the same, ruling
his planet with the same detachable iron fist he always had. Under his
rule, body parts are a hot commodity, with the rabble serving as fodder
for Karza's biopits. All of it suffers in comparison to the original,
because writer Wherle assumes our familiarity, and doesn't bother actually
When Devil's Due
revived G.I. Joe, at least they moved the story forward. Because
Micronauts merely re-envisions Bill Mantlo's original story for
Marvel (and it's dedicated to him), we've been there, done that. There
may be differences, but we're still working through an outline we've
Because the concept
still has its fans (even Marvel can't completely let their versions
go), the book will last a few issues on good will alone. But it needs
to start offering something new, not just exercises in nostalgia. Or
is that all we're paying for?
For page 3, New
X-Men to Ultimate X-Men, click here.