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!

New X-Men #128
New Worlds
writer: Grant Morrison
artist: Igor Kordey

Does anyone miss the sense of an outside Marvel Universe in this book? It's amazing that it took Marvel so long to allow this sort of approach, because it's working so well.

Forced into public life by Cassandra Nova, Charles Xavier takes the opportunity to try to "brand" the X-Men through his X-Corporation. Mutants all over the world have the opportunity to use their powers for good, although in Morrison's brave new world, that could be a relative term. Rising from the ashes of the X-Corps (from Uncanny X-Men), they're making mutants a name the people can trust.

For the first time ever, a writer is really evaluating what Xavier's long-idealized dream is supposed to be all about. And it's not about putting teens in masks and hiding them away from the public. It's almost a shame that this has to be a continuing comic; as a finite story, it begs to be told.

Also in the mix is Xavier's exploration of the return of The Phoenix; Morrison's explanations of the subtle ramifications of that power will cause you to say "cool" out loud.

Any artist on this book now has to be able to deal with a cast of thousands, and Kordey is more than up to the task. While occasionally his faces slip into the grotesque (a supposedly alluring shot of Emma Frost fails in its intent), every character has his or her own identity.


Peter Parker: Spider-Man #45
A Death In The Family
writer: Paul Jenkins
artists: Humberto Ramos and Wayne Faucher

Jenkins lifts a plot complication right out of Batman the movie, as The Green Goblin goes on television to "clear his name" in the death of Gwen Stacy. Long-debated by comics fans (and no doubt, still will be), finally the Goblin lobs the accusation that Peter Parker can never accept: that his attempt to save Gwen was actually what killed her.

It's unthinkable, it's horrible, and it injects what little life this story has. Rather than deal with the public accusation, Peter goes for an angry confrontation with Norman Osborn. Perhaps he thinks to embarrass him. But of course, it's only going to backfire in a major way.

The problem with this return of The Green Goblin is that it has almost no motivation beyond a tie-in with the film. Osborn was causing enough trouble pulling strings; granted, he is insane, but his successes in messing with Peter's head in his civilian identity prove that he has no need to dress up.

Ramos puts a lot of effort into the artwork, which, if you're a fan of his, you'll enjoy. On the plus side, he makes an effort to make the Goblin appear more armored (thus more in line with the movie version), but in his stylization, he also draws Norman's two identities with two different physiques. The Goblin is much smaller. Maybe that's supposed to mean somebody else is wearing the mask, but I doubt it.

And yet, at least that would be somewhat unexpected.


Supergirl #71
Pyramid Schemes
writer: Peter David
artists: Jamal Igle and Jose Marzan, Jr.

Guest-penciller Igle makes this book look better than it has in months. He maintains regular penciller Leonard Kirk's sense of layout, but everybody is a little more real-looking, and, well, attractive without it seeming pandering. In a book loaded with female characters (right now, Buzz is pretty much the only male), they don't have to be slutty; it's just nice to think that Supergirl and Mary Marvel are somewhat attractive.

The three have followed the Chaos Stream down to Mexico. Whether that brings them any closer to the Earth Angel Supergirl remains to be seen. Bizarro Supergirl has found her, and Lilith, but where they all are has not been identified.

Instead, the lure to Mexico is part of Lilith's plan. By spending so much time near chaos energy, Linda has begun absorbing some of its attributes, changing into a source of chaos herself. This could explain the dreams of ancient Aztec sacrifice, dreams that are starting to spill over into her waking life.

As he gets closer to the big finale of this arc, David has eschewed his broader sense of humor, allowing natural interaction among the characters to have funny moments. (By her very nature, Bizarro Supergirl has to say some pretty outrageous things.) Mostly, we get action. And David does not get enough credit for being able to do that well.


Superman: The Man Of Steel #127
Scenes From A Marriage Between Heaven And Earth
writer: Mark Schultz
artists: Yvel Guichet and Walden Wong

Whether or not we find it believable, a lot of characters in the DCU hold Superman with a reverence bordering on worship, even among the superhero community. So for Schultz to introduce a pantheon trying to induct Superman into their numbers makes a lot of sense.

As a story, it works surprisingly well. Lois has been manipulated into becoming the Goddess of Integrity, a move on the evil pantheon's part that can only backfire. But just in case it doesn't, the former Goddess of Truth Wonder Woman steps in to help talk Lois down from the high of near omnipotence.

Meanwhile, Superman battles the gods, and proves himself more clever than they gave him credit for being. The only annoyance is the sudden usage of the name Kal-El. The thing that keeps him tied to Earth is his sense of humanity, but Schultz (and he's not the only writer doing it) keeps emphasizing his alienness. Even though he's from another planet, Superman is supposedly the greatest among us. If we keep him separate, that aspect of his character has no power.

Guichet does a nice job with the layouts, but Wong's inking is still just too dark and heavy. Under his pen, all the airborne characters fly exactly as bricks don't. Lighten it up. Please.


Ultimate X-Men #19
World Tour, part four
writer: Mark Millar
artist: Chris Bachalo

Bachalo adopts a slightly wilder style than he had on Generation X, but it's only appropriate when dealing with the mutant Proteus. Reminiscent of Sienkewicz's days on The New Mutants, it adds an undercurrent to the chaos that is Proteus' reality-warping powers, even when he isn't using them.

Whereas Morrison's X-Men are finally seeing Xavier's dream as something coming close to reality, Millar has put them in a time where it's just about broken. (That, too, makes sense; in both continuities, Xavier's son is exactly what normal humans fear.) And while the action is big, playing out with some surprises, it all turns on a quiet, crucial moment in the past that we all could have seen coming.

It's nothing new that this Xavier is pretty much a jerk, but Millar seems to finally have the old boy realize it. He wasn't just a terrible father; he gave new meaning to the term. And what long-term repercussions that will have remain to be seen. Or will he just mind-wipe himself to forget that uncomfortable discovery?

Unexpected deaths occur, a little bit as if Millar is trying too hard to show long-time fans that we don't know what's coming. The way to do that, sir, is to stop using characters we think we know. Create some new storylines instead of giving us new spins on old familiar battles. (Granted, all the Ultimate books suffer some from this, but some let us forget it.)


Derek McCaw




All comics were reviewed by Derek McCaw unless otherwise noted.

Discuss this and more in the Fanboy forums.

Copyrights and trademarks for existing entertainment (film, TV, comics, wrestling) properties are held by their respective owners and are used with permission or for promotional purposes of said properties. All other content ™ and © 2001 by FanboyPlanet. If you want to quote us, let us know. We're media whores.
Movies Comics Wrestling OnTV Guest Forums About Us Mystery Sites

Click Here!