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!

The First #21
writer: Barbara Kesel
artists: Andy Smith and Brad Vancata
reviewed by: Charlie Wentling

Trenin continues his hunt for Seahn, and using a parallel structure Barbara Kesel also presents more flashbacks to Trenin's hunt for Seahn's mother Tulity. This is a risky approach, stretching a flashback sequence out over at least three months when all the readers know exactly how it is going to end. The story will read better in collected form than it does in the monthly issues.

Always an uninteresting character to me, until now I've been hoping that Seahn would get killed by Trenin. Events take a turn though, and Enson takes a more active role. Enson is an aspect of the mentor character that appears in every CrossGen universe series, and so far we haven't seen any limits to his powers.

Persha addresses the Dexter counsel in another subplot that could have repercussions for the whole CrossGen universe. We don't get to hear her exact request, but the subject is the sigil-bearers vs. The First. This conflict has played out in some form in at least half of the CrossGen series. Maybe Kesel is building towards a radical change in issue #25. The pacing can be slow at times, almost as if the writers pick out key issues of the series for things to happen in, and the stuff in between is just marking time.

The guest art is by CrossGen go-to artist Andy Smith. Smith has a good feel for all of these characters since he inked Bart Sears on them for more than a year. It's time for Smith to get his own title.


Howard The Duck #6
Creator's Rights
writer: Steve Gerber
artist: Phil Winslade

Marvel has already announced that this will pretty much close the book on Howard The Duck for a while, and appropriately, Gerber does the same thing. After accidentally sucking on a cosmological cigar, Howard finds himself in Hell, where he faces down the Supreme Being. As in the best of the title's glory days, it's really just Howard and Yahweh debating the nature of existence.

And so in this final issue of the mini-series, Gerber regains the stride that made his beloved duck a cult figure in the first place. It may be too little, too late, as most of the previous issues have depended too much on arcane bits of continuity and cheap shots at the rest of the comics industry (not to mention the main joke of Howard rarely appearing as a duck - a bitter jab at Disney that was funny in one panel).

The journey through the afterlife (and by extension, all reality) is full of focused philosophy, and this issue could spark stoned discussions all across the country. Marvel runs a disclaimer at the top, but the content of this issue is not really as radical as Gerber would have you believe. And that, too, has always been his strength and weakness.

If you've skipped the rest of the series, you may still want to pick this issue up. Not only is Gerber at the top of his game with it, but Winslade's art is lush and worth going over a few times. In a nice nod, he's included a guest-shot from Gene Simmons in a dive bar in Hell. While KISS has always been comic booky (and will have a new series soon), it was actually in the pages of Howard The Duck that they made their first four-color appearance.


Transformers: Armada #1
writer: Chris Sarracini
artists: James Raiz, Rob Armstrong and Erik Sander
reviewed by Mish'al Samman

One million years ago. Welcome to the greatest city in the galaxy: CYBERCITY. Village D-10 in the Mini-Con Sector has been attacked by Evil Transformers called Decepticons, ruled by an evil dictator. A cry for help is made, and the Guardians of Cybercity are called for assistance.

The Decepticons attack yet another village on their rampage towards Cybercity, and we get a glimpse of what monstrosity these evil transformers have become. Thus the civil war between Autobots and Decepticons begins.

This book serves as a good intro into what should be a long series. It's the jumping point into the great war that devastates Cybertron, and establishes Optimus Prime as the Guardian of Cybercity. So much potential exists in moving closer to understanding a real legitimate history of The Transformers, and brings a new perspective to the Constructicons theory, and why it would be a valid one. Then again, maybe I am the only one who cares. This book gives me that sense of awe, as flashbacks to the original series is now in full swing, while still refreshing us with new characters' introductions.

Still, one has to question it is they all have rubber tires in such a technologically advanced age? There's no question as to how enjoyable this book is, and wow! the art is just amazingly done. More, please.


Derek McCaw




All comics were reviewed by Derek McCaw unless otherwise noted.

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