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!

Crux #15
writer: Chuck Dixon
artists: Steve Epting and Rick Magyar
reviewed by: Charlie Wentling

Dixon continues to shake things up, with the Atlanteans still searching for a direction. Ever since they learned that the human race had transitioned onto a new plane of existence, they haven't been sure of what to do next. One long-standing question is answered in this issue: Why do The Negation continue to attack? It turns out that they are after Capricia. What they want with her is still a mystery.

The new character of Aristophanes is further fleshed out. He claims to be a legendary warrior from Atlantis, from a time even further back than the rest of the cast. Capricia has doubts that he is telling the truth, but either way he will change the group dynamic if he sticks around. It does seem quite coincidental that the only Atlanteans on the planet would just happen to find him the way that they did, even with Verityn's help.

Galvan continues to be in contact with his twin Gammid, or at least he thinks he is. Geromi manages to outwit the Negation soldiers who have come after him. And Danik remains distant from the others with his own agenda. The story keeps me interested in spite of all the unanswered questions.


The Flash #187
writer: Geoff Johns
artists: Scott Kolins, Doug Hazlewood and Panosian

Ah, the solution to beating The Thinker seems so simple: think fast. There's a scary inhumanity to that answer, too, that remains untapped for now. But Johns takes it a step further, proving (as most good superhero comics usually do) that the concept of humanity must prevail.

Of course, in defeating The Thinker there are still consequences to be had. Among them are a restoration of Cyborg's original appearance, though what this means for his abilities hasn't yet been shown. And The Rogues can continue their reign of terror so rudely interrupted by the cyber-menace.

Well done as this has been, The Thinker's portion of the threat feels like a rehash of Wally's struggles against Kilg%re. Granted, I can't remember how The Flash finally defeated it, but you'd think at some point, Wally would make the comparison.

But that's continuity nit-picking, and we're in an age where we're trying to stay free of such things.


The Incredible Hulk #42
All Fall Down
Writer: Bruce Jones
Artists: Lee Weeks and Tom Palmer
reviewed by: Daryl Tay

Bruce Jones has yet to disappoint. After the whole hostage situation, Pratt finally shows his hand, and the Hulk is shown in his full rage.

The Hulk is royally pissed off after being shot at, and goes on full rampage. While Lee Weeks does a competent job drawing his anger, if John Romita, Jr. were still on the book, he would have been able to make the first full appearance of the Hulk even bigger, badder and more menacing. Both Jones and Weeks do good work in playing the scene; Jones' slow build up of Pratt confidently going after the Hulk, and Weeks showing the fear in Pratt's eyes when it doesn't look like the Hulk is going to fall were both excellent moments in this issue.

Sally Riker's involvement in this issue may be necessary to be Bruce's savior next issue, but it still seems rather forced. Mostly, she seems to be trying to do her job, and she's suddenly thrust into this whole web of deceit and danger. However, she seems to have developed a high level of concern for Banner after just a few minutes with him in the store previously, and the whole idea of her just going after him by herself does not seem logical.

Generally, Jones has managed to keep this whole mystery setting going on for a good many issues now, and it doesn't stop getting more and more interesting with each issue. What he has yet to make use of is the narration in Bruce's head, which would give us a much better idea of why exactly Bruce is running, and from whom. It would have served as an excellent build up to next month's conclusion.

All in all, this has got to be the most interesting run on The Hulk I've ever read, and a $22 price tag on the Wizard guide for Jones' first issue says something about the standard of work going on here. If you're looking for something different than from the normal Hulk stories, or even superhero stories in general, give this book a try.

Rating :

JLA #67
The Destroyers, part two
writer: Joe Kelly
artists: Doug Mahnke and Tom Nguyen

Even with Jade as his girlfriend, Kyle still whips up busty nurses to help him through the dark times. It's amazing Hal Jordan never did that. While Kyle convalesces, the rest of his team has been defeated by the Mayan menace, with Wonder Woman slated for sacrifice.

As the axe is about to fall, Kelly gives us an ear into the adversary's mind, quickly making it apparent that all is not what it seems. That doubt, combined with the superior willpower of Batman (which Wonder Woman finds very attractive, by the way - does Phil Jimenez know Kelly thinks they should be a couple?), allows the tide to turn.

All of this leads into a storyline entitled The Obsidian Age, which promises the return of Aquaman. Except for the heavy-handed way in which the last two issues have suddenly reminded us that there's a huge memorial statue of Aquaman standing in the middle of the Atlantic, it's been a pretty suspenseful and intriguing lead in to something bigger.

Kelly continues handling these seven heroes with a great insight into their psychologies. More impressively, he manages to consistently make Plastic Man useful in unexpected ways. When a lot of JLA fans write the malleable hero off as comic relief, the writer offers proof that he deserves to be there. Mahnke and Nguyen deliver another intricate art job to match the grandeur of the storyline. The inking still looks unnecessarily heavy, but it fits better on the archaic designs of The Raven's chosen warriors, and lends a little something to the ruined grandeur of a "surprise" guest-city.


Out There #12
Where The Heart Is
writer: Brian Augustyn
artists: Humberto Ramos and Sandra Hope

Wildstorm insists this book really isn't meant to be Christian. But aside from a willingness to accept other forces of evil besides Satan, it sure feels like one. Even when Becky Goodwin wanders into a Burning Man Festival stand-in, Augustyn quickly makes sure that the pagan medallion "The Light of the World" gets a connection to mainstream Christianity.

Not that this makes a strike against Out There; it just might be an even more powerful piece of storytelling if the creators weren't so desperately coy about the subtext.

As this arc draws to a close, Augustyn balances characterization with action, shedding particular light on Becky and Abel before shaking things up for the next trade paperb - storyline. Occasionally, he goes a little overboard with the captioning, especially set against the increasingly confident storytelling of Ramos.

Ramos keeps a tight rein on his cartoonish impulses. With Augustyn's sharp writing, the two have created fairly believable teens. And of course, Lord Draedalus looks pretty ominous, despite his manga-esque trappings.

The only flaws this month are high-viscosity tears (standing out because almost every character weeps like a baby at one point or another) and that terrible, terrible Wildstorm habit of changing a few letters around to make their names seem more original than they are. Does Lord Draedalus really live in "The Draedrealm?"


Derek McCaw




All comics were reviewed by Derek McCaw unless otherwise noted.

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