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!
Alias #11 Rebecca, Please Come Home, part 1
writer: Brian Michael Bendis
artist: Michael Gaydos
Bendis takes Jessica
out of the city, into a small town where even the notion of a private
investigator ends up being uncomfortably public. Everybody knows everybody's
business in Lago, New York, except that nobody seems to know what happened
to Rebecca Cross.
We actually get
to see detective work being done; while it's always been an element
of the book, it's rare for it to take the forefront. Early on it becomes
clear that Lago is a town that doesn't really know how to handle super-powered
people, but Jessica stands out more for her tendency to swear than for
her previous identities as Jewel and Knightress.
Quickly, she uncovers
the kind of small-town ugliness we've come to expect, but Bendis manages
to keep it from becoming cliched. In tandem with Gaydos, he manages
to create a lot of depth in the people of Lago, though the sheriff looks
amazingly like Luke Wilson. There's one creative shortcut to characterization
But Gaydos doesn't
take the easy way out with his art elsewhere. The people's facial expressions
don't always quite match what they're saying, making this one of the
most well-acted comics in quite some time. He also experiments with
white space in such a way that it never looks lazy; it really adds to
the suspense and mood.
As always, no matter
where Jessica is, she makes for a good story.
writer: Mark Waid
artists: Esteban Maroto and Pablo Marcos
reviewed by: Charlie Wentling
of Capricia and Danik from Crux are explored in this tale that
takes place in the Atlantis of the distant past. The mission of the
Atlanteans was to shepherd the human race to a grand destiny. The two
learn from the scholar Amatus about the best ways to guide humanity.
After hearing so much about their mission, it is nice to finally see
it illustrated and to see some of the tough decisions that they have
As will be familiar
to readers of Crux, Danik and Capricia have contrasting philosophies.
Capricia has the more compassionate view and wants to be more involved
with humanity, while Danik thinks that humanity will be better off by
learning hard lessons and not being completely shielded from the real
world. Waid does a good job of showing both points of view without making
either of them the "right" one.
Much of the action
results from Amatus deciding to start his own colony of humans, and
what Capricia and Danik decide to do about it. We finally begin to understand
why Danik acts the way he does.
This is the final
issue of CrossGen Chronicles (and Waid's swansong on Crux).
In the letter column, it is explained that future stories about the
history of the CrossGen universe will take place in miniseries or one-shot
issues. The first of these will be Lawbringer, a spin-off from
Negation that will appear in October.
writer: Greg Rucka
artists: Sergio Cariello and John Nyberg
Not just remembering
Sasha, this issue shifts all its focus on Bruce Wayne's erstwhile bodyguard.
Apparently somewhere between issues her trial happened at lightning
pace, and for her silence Sasha has been rewarded with life in prison
without possibility of parole.
It gets impossible
to buy into Batman's initial decision when this sort of consequence
gets revealed. Never mind that Bruce Wayne's innocence was in doubt
(no, really) for a few issues; Sasha was obviously innocent. And Batman
has let her suffer for keeping his secret.
Rucka tries to
dig around that, with a heartening speech from Alfred before Sasha can
give in and betray what she really knows. But as driven as Batman is,
the impetus for this crossover has hinged upon him acting not just out
of character, but insanely so.
Then again, that's
probably the key right there.
At any rate, the
art team does a good job resembling Steve Lieber, keeping the steadiness
of this book's look in place. And in the back, Winick and Chiang wrap
up Josie Mac with a satisfying resolution to their mystery, and an end
wide open for a return visit with the psychic cop. I'd buy it.
#10 Asphalt And Good Intentions
writer: John Arcudi
artist: Tan Eng Huat
Robotman has made
peace with Jost, and all lawsuits against the Doom Patrol have been
dropped. While they're not quite on the billionaire's payroll, they
still have a vague alliance; at least enough for Jost to criticize the
Q-rating of the newer members.
Just as Cliff and
Negative Man ponder the consequences of that, Amazo shows up to make
trouble. This being the Doom Patrol, of course, the team never manages
to confront the super-android, instead getting sidetracked by a far
weirder (and lower profile) menace.
Then things really
go to hell.
Now that everything
has been sorted out as to who's really who, the book can start capturing
the vibe that the best Doom Patrol stories have always had. Arcudi has
set up an appropriately disturbing villain (who has been popping up
in previous issues), and the team has reached a believably uneasy peace
with each other. Now they can relax and be weirdness magnets instead
of being the weirdness themselves. (Well, they are weird, but…you get
Huat's art is serviceable,
though he overuses some tilted panel effects. Several pages blur into
each other, and when interrupted by this month's Playstation 2 Space
Race ad, it appears that the Looney Tunes have invaded the book.
Worse, it's starting to look like an excuse not to draw backgrounds.
This issue is not Huat's finest hour.
Exiles #15 I Cover The Waterfront
writer: Judd Winick
artists: Jon Holdredge, Norm Rapmund, and Tim Townsend
Of all the adventures
the Exiles have had so far, this may be the first in which we've seen
very little difference in the character of the alternate universe from
the Marvel Universe we're used to. This Namor, poised to take over the
world through Latveria, certainly seems just a slightly older version
of the one first re-introduced in Fantastic Four. Without, perhaps,
the tempering attraction for Susan Storm, complete annihilation of the
surface world makes sense.
And though this
Doom wears a mask that reveals more of his seared flesh than we may
be used to seeing, he's still a villain. Even when in need of this multi-dimensional
super-team, he still plans Machiavellian schemes, letting them know
only what he deems necessary. As is usually the case with Doom, his
arrogance could prove fatal for his allies.
this only slightly different world to make a blunt point about superheroes
in general, and to explore The Mimic's psyche further. Seeing all these
alternate (and to his mind, wrong) versions of people Calvin
once called friends may be pushing him to the edge. If The Mimic does
lose it, it won't be without warning to the readers, and it's worked
into the story so skillfully, it doesn't seem like forced melodrama.
The art team provides
some great layouts, keeping their splash pages to a minimum. And still
the action builds beautifully. For some reason, I keep expecting this
book to not be great (lots and lots of old prejudices, I guess), and
instead, it always ends up being one of my favorite reads.
The Filth #2
writer: Grant Morrison, artists: Chris Weston and Gary Erskine
Right now, this
book pretty much defies description, but because it's my nature, I'm
going to try.
organization known as The Hand resides in a secret headquarters called
The Crack, where Agent Slade has been called back from an alternate/false/imaginary
existence as Greg Feely. Trouble is brewing, as one of The Hand's best
agents (the only one better than Slade) has gone rogue, setting in motion
events that could overrun the world with nanobeings.
sort of thing has happened before, or maybe such a chronological reference
has no meaning in The Crack. Somehow, orgies, intelligent dolphins,
and a socialist chimpanzee assassin have their place, too.
The Invisibles, this book is getting off to a rollicking start,
daring the reader to keep up. And yet somehow it seems a little easier
to keep straight. Maybe forewarned is forearmed; knowing that Morrison
is really more interested in cool concepts than actual plot makes it
easier to swallow.
And he has great
collaborators with Weston and Erskine. Their art matches the complexity
of the story. A little reminiscent of Phil Jimenez (who did one of the
best arcs of The Invisibles), the layouts are rich in detail,
and warrant going over a couple of times just to try to catch everything.
Okay. After swearing
to myself I wouldn't be, I'm hooked.
Hawkman #5 Slings And Arrows, part one
writer: Geoff Johns and James Robinson
artists: Rags Morales and Michael Bair
You know, when
you're having woman-trouble, the last person you should turn to for
advice is Oliver Queen, a.k.a. Green Arrow. And yet somehow, Johns makes
it plausible that Hawkman and the Emerald Archer end up commiserating.
Better yet, Queen's words of advice sting and ring true. Carter Hall
isn't in love with Kendra; he's obsessed. Who else would dare say that
to his face?
But that's just
the mushy part of this book's plot. For action, there's a killer stalking
the streets of St. Roch, dressed as Green Arrow. In the superhero comic
tradition, Hawkman at first mistakes the real Green Arrow for
the killer, and the two must fight.
Though they reach
an uneasy peace (traditionally, the two have never really liked each
other), it doesn't help that Hawkgirl doesn't like Ollie, either, though
for different reasons. Girls talk after all, though you wouldn't think
hawks and canaries would have that much in common.
If you needed proof
that people other than Kevin Smith could write an interesting and fun
Green Arrow, this issue offers it in spades. And of course, Morales
and Baird draw a mean battling bowman, too.
Finally, the villain
behind it all is one of those slap your head moments that still could
only have come from Robinson and Johns. From start to finish, this book