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!

Route 666 #1
writer: Tony Bedard
artists: Karl Moline and John Dell
reviewed by: Charlie Wentling

This newest CrossGen series has a supernatural horror theme. Whatever else you might say about CrossGen, you can't say that they don't have a diverse line of titles. Judging from this first issue, Route 666 has a lot of potential.

Cassie Starkweather, a college student at Welkin State University, leads the cast. The setting is meant to be similar to America in the fifties, and Bedard and Moline do an excellent job of capturing the feel of it. Cassie has had a troubled childhood, having been gifted with the ability to see ghosts. Though her parents tried to get her medical help, it eventually drove her to a suicide attempt.

When the story begins, Cassie has been cured for eight years. An unfortunate accident leads to the death of her roommate Helene, and it isn't long before Helene's ghost pays a visit to Cassie. Also showing up are two other spirits of the evil variety, and some paramedics that might be werewolves.

Cassie gets committed to a mental hospital with a strong resemblance to the one in the movie Girl, Interrupted. I don't yet have a good feel for where the series will go, but this is a good start. Moline's artwork is very nice, as expected from CrossGen. They always bring out the best in their artists.


Spider-Man's Tangled Web #15
The Collaborator
story and art: Paul Pope

As seems to fit the best of these Tangled Web stories, Spider-Man himself barely appears. But his presence is definitely felt in the suppressed life of Heather Krolnek, a teen who has turned her room into a shrine to the wallcrawler.

Her father carries a strong grudge against Spider-Man, and Pope drops a hint or two at why. And despite the dad also being a new super-villain calling himself The Stag Beetle, that probably isn't it. While Heather knows who's who in the super-world, Mr. Krolnek is clearly too ignorant to pick a name not associated with an already established criminal.

The Collaborator turns out to be a slightly melancholy, unsettling tale. Only appropriate, as the brilliant Pope is an unsettling writer and artist. Though the colors change from panel to panel, each individual shot works mostly monochromatically, a reflection of the drab lives being shown here. The only real color in Heather's life comes from her teen crush (and that's too specific a word) on Spider-Man.

As Heather starts piecing together what's really going on in her life, the panels shift to a wider palette. By then, we are caught up in her little tragedy.

Pope refuses to give us a tidy solution on this one, and as a result, this story stuck with me more than any other this week. I may have to check out his new Vertigo series, 100%, just because this story resonates so well.


Scion #25
writer: Ron Marz
artists: Jim Cheung and Don Hillsman II
reviewed by: Charlie Wentling

This is the climax of two years worth of story. Ethan and Bron are back in the arena on Tournament Isle, for a rematch of the fight they had back in issue #1. Ethan's explosion of power last month has effectively ended the war between the Herons and the Ravens. All of the supporting characters are reunited. While there is some tension between King Dane and Ashleigh, this issue is mainly just Ethan vs. Bron.

The fight itself stretches on a bit longer than it should have. When it's over, the ending isn't the one that I would have chosen, but it works well enough. There are still some unanswered questions about what it means for the Herons and the Ravens, but I think the war that has driven much of this series is over. I hope the next story arc is as good.

Scion has the best art team in comics, and this issue is more proof. Colorist Justin Ponsor adds so much to each panel, it's a shame that is will be moving over Sojourn soon.


X-Force #129
X Storm
writer: Peter Milligan
artist: Duncan Fegredo

X-Force is dead! Long live the X-Statix!

In a nod to the almost too hip quality to the new name, almost every character acknowledges that it's not the best one they could have chosen. But it is what U-Go Girl would have wanted.

As this incarnation of the series draws to a close, Milligan eschews action for deeper exploration of the celebrity culture that would naturally spring up around these superheroes, and the terrible toll they're paying for it.

Forced by Freeman to channel his grief into the approved publicity channels, Guy mourns U-Go Girl alone. Tike and Dead Girl have begun a romance, while Billy-Bob and Myles deal with the consequences of their publicity-driven "love that dare not speak its name" turned real. The public eye may not tear the team apart (with the exception of Guy, they all love fame too much), but their private lives are a mess. And the intervention of a mutant lawyer won't help.

Then there's Doop. Despite an intentionally maudlin cover image, we still don't really know what the heck is going on in this thing's head. But that mystery alone would keep me coming back, even if the rest of the book weren't so absorbing.

Fegredo, always an excellent artist, turns in a performance here that almost (almost) kept me from missing Allred's signature work. Though Allred will be back for Giant-Sized X-Statix #1, it's good to know that he has a guy watching his back.


X-Men: Evolution #8
Angel Underground
Writer: Devin Grayson
Artists: Udon
reviewed by: Daryl Tay

If you're as deprived as I am to not have been able to watch any episodes of X-Men: Evolution or Justice League, this book is the perfect substitute in many ways. Devin Grayson has continually written complete, one issue stand-alone stories, with characterization and sub plots moving on for longtime readers (of all of 8 months). Grayson has supposed to have gotten into comics watching the Batman Animated series, and I wouldn't be surprised if she took what she'd seen on the screen and applied it to the young mutants in X-Men: Evolution. The characterizations are right in step with each character, whether it's Scott and Jean's relationship, Rogue feeling the outsider or Storm's confidence in Scott.

Here we see the introduction of Angel, Warren Worthington III, who appears on the front in uniform, but declines to join the X-Men. He's kept captive by, you guessed it, Morlocks, who of course get into a fight with the X-Men. No surprises on who comes out on top. One of the major selling points of this book to me is that the kids actually act like kids. They're young, inexperienced, and as we see this issue, would rather be back in comfort at the mansion than running around underground in the sewers. I wonder where the kids introduced last issue went though.

Of course, the other selling point is Udon's art, which really gives everyone's favorite mutants a whole new look. Even the Morlocks this issue look interesting and well thought out, and the little manga influenced art like the enlarged SD eyeballs don't hurt the book like it would in any other because it's meant to be more or less a book based on an animated series. Gotham Adventures, Justice League Adventures, Batman Beyond; I've read them all. But X-Men: Evolution is the best adaptation of a TV series that I've read and enjoyed thus far. With all the hype about Ultimate X-Men, Morrison's New X-Men and Uncanny, it's not hard to leave out X-Men: Evolution, which really is a shame, because for a little light reading and fun stories, this is definitely the book to read.


Derek McCaw




All comics were reviewed by Derek McCaw unless otherwise noted.

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