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!

Meridian #25
writer: Barbara Kesel
artists: Steve McNiven and Tom Simmons
reviewed by: Charlie Wentling

This issue is very similar to Scion #25. The main character is in "final" battle with their arch-nemesis, the result of two years of buildup. The majority of the issue is taken up by the two rivals struggling for supremacy. And just when the hero is about the strike the decisive blow, something unexpected happens.

There isn't as much letdown here as there was in Scion (which was a major anticlimax). Sephie goes through some big changes, both internally and in the eyes of the people of Meridian. If the ending had been different, this would have been the best issue of Meridian to date. McNiven does do his best artwork yet, and the use of color is very dramatic.

Ilahn comes across as a dangerous and intelligent adversary, unlike Bron from Scion. It's just too bad that Kesel doesn't follow through with the implied outcome. And we are left in suspense about the fate of Jad.


The Path #4
writer: Ron Marz, artists: Bart Sears and Mark Pennington
reviewed by: Charlie Wentling

Obo-San has retreated to his monastery in the north, pursued by former friend General Ryuichi and the entire army of Nayado. Emperor Mitsumune has sent Ryuichi to recover the weapon of heaven that Obo-San possesses.

Welcomed back into the monastery despite his lost faith and pursuing army, Obo-San meets a visiting monk named Katayama Sojirou, who offers him some useful advice. Regular CrossGen readers will note Sojirou's orange eyes and realize that he is one of the mentor characters that can be found in all CrossGen books.

General Ryuichi meets with Obo-San under the white flag of truce, but the siege of the monastery is inevitable. The story moves along better than normal this month, and it holds promise for the future. The Emperor of neighboring country Shinacea plans to take advantage of the situation, and use his servant Yukio to steal the weapon of heaven.


Powers #21
writer: Brian Michael Bendis
artist: Michael Avon Oeming

Omega 6 takes on Black Mondo above a crowded street of onlookers. They fight, they banter, they swear, and in the end, good triumphs over evil. Along the way, Bendis even slips in a little moral relativism: why not use superpowers for the common good? We've seen it in thousands of comics.

Except that once Omega 6 has securely trussed up Black Mondo, someone in the crowd sets the hero on fire. And while everyone watches that spectacle, someone beheads the helpless Black Mondo. As Deena Pilgrim screams at headquarters, "red ball!"

Along with this new story arc, Pilgrim has a new partner, Detective Argento (in tribute to Dario?). Little acknowledgment of Walker occurs, though it's clear that Argento has followed the careers of the previous team. Strangely enough, Walker's absence is hardly felt, with Bendis getting to the meat of his new plot rather quickly. As for Argento himself, he's a nervous talker, which makes a new and interesting contrast to Pilgrim and her former partner, should he ever reappear.

As always, the book rocks, setting up an interesting arc that hearkens back to its first. Who killed Retro Girl (and many, many more - including a new favorite team: Nickel and Dime)? It may turn out to be you and me.


Ruse #9
writer: Mark Waid
artists: Butch Guice and Mike Perkins
reviewed by: Charlie Wentling

Simon Archard and Emma investigate the death of Lionel Oxford-Collins, one of the wealthiest citizens of Partington. First appearances don't suggest a murder, but Archard immediately knows differently. Everyone had motive to kill Oxford-Collins, and things become even more convoluted when all copies of his will are stolen. Ophelia Pressmonk, the bearded lady shown on the cover, is introduced as one of Archard's past associates, but the character is grating and doesn't work.

As always, the mystery in this issue is just a few steps short of being solvable by the reader. We never get all the information that Archard has at his disposal. Waid is good at giving hints that Archard can point to when explaining his deductions, but the reader never has quite enough. Make no mistake, the story is still entertaining and the art lovely.

The mystery of Archard's former partner Lightbourne seems to be shifted to the background, but everything ties together neatly in the end. Emma and Simon also come to a new understanding.


Uncanny X-Men #408
Identity Crisis
Writer: Joe Casey
Artist: Sean Phillips
reviewed by: Daryl Tay

After last month's issue, which must have been the worst I've ever read, this issue marks an improvement. It has a certain amount of downtime and character interaction, which doesn't quite save Casey from his pathetic run so far, but it's still better.

It's hard not to compare the two X-books with each other, but anyone reading both knows New X-Men wins hands down. Why? Because Uncanny's characters are just not interesting. And considering two of my all-time favorite mutants are Iceman and Angel, I wonder how in the world this book has fallen to the depths it is in today.

Philips's art and the coloring are a little dark to fit the book, but no one has really captured the Uncanny feel since the new creative team took over. The more humane aspects of this book, such as the dispute between Angel and Nightcrawler, show that despite the X-Men being a family, they aren't perfect. We don't get much of that these days. However, the whole talk between Stacy and Wolverine comes across as sort of false and plain unnecessary.

The X-Men intruding on Stacy's appointment is inappropriate, as is the exchange that follows. It gets into an all holier-than-thou conversation again, so cliched in any comic book, but especially this one.

Readers of Casey's other work, such as Cable and Wildcats, would probably be amazed at the low level of writing here. It seems that Casey just loves the kick of writing the X-Men, and is on it for the thrill of the ride, not to actually make anything worth reading. That would sure explain the current standard.


Derek McCaw




All comics were reviewed by Derek McCaw unless otherwise noted.

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