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!
of Superman #606 Culture Shock
writer: Joe Casey
artists: Duncan Rouleau and Marlo Alquiza
In the second chapter
of Return To Krypton II (Return To Krypton Returns?),
we still don't get an explanation as to how this new/old version of
Jor-El and Lara can exist. Nor is there an answer for why everyone from
Krypton now seems to be descended from Jay Leno. But that's probably
just a byproduct of Rouleau's riff on early Todd McFarlane.
Casey does introduce
a potentially cool villain, Xon-Ur. If you connect the dots on this
religious zealot, more pieces fall into place as to why Rao may be a
shunned god in the universal pantheons. The character still has little
more than potential, though, as the art team portrays him inconsistently.
Is his armor metal, or quasi-biological? Depends on which panel you're
There's also a
hint in the art that Jor-El may not be telling the whole truth to his
"son." This could be an inking mistake, but after six modern appearances
by the classic version, we still don't really know enough about him
to make the call, accepting that because he calls himself Jor-El, he
must be. Though Rouleau is more consistent in perspective than Carlos
Meglia, he still seems more like an artist comfortable doing big splash
pages than storytelling from panel to panel. (The last page, a splash,
is even just a redraw of the last panel on the previous page.)
the classic Krypton, and building a mystery into it, DC and its super-teams
have the potential for something really cool. But so far, all we've
been given are vague hints designed to not give us answers. It's
rapidly degenerating to the same level as Origin or TV's The
I'll say it now,
either reveal a cool solution soon, or we're going to just chalk it
all up to Hypertime and move on to something else.
writer: Brian Michael Bendis
artist: Michael Gaydos
Outside of a dream
sequence for Jessica, no actual superpowers get used in this issue.
And yet, Bendis manages to start digging deeply into the true impact
that the very existence of extra abilities has on the common man. Certainly
they have an impact on the sheriff, as a blurry morning after scene
implies that Jessica has super-sexual abilities as well.
But aside from
the slight titillation factor (nowhere near as intense as Jessica's
encounter with Luke Cage), this issue offers more insight into the current
arc's mystery, and definitely focuses on the characterization that has
made Bendis' reputation. Oh, I'd like to believe high school kids aren't
as blunt when dealing with hot substitutes as the football captain is
here, but that's just a product of having been gone too long from high
school. And the casual cruelty of high school is captured deftly.
the vanished Rebecca Cross, that casual cruelty lies endemic in the
whole town. While the girl probably isn't actually a mutant (despite
her white hair, a Marvel Universe shortcut to "otherness"), it doesn't
matter. Her reputation as one preceded her wherever she went.
Think this seems
a little out there? Substitute "Arab" for "mutant" right now, and I'd
bet this scenario would play out all too similarly in some places in
America. The best of these stories uses mutation as a metaphor for racism,
and keeps it simple. Bendis keeps it simple.
In a nice touch,
Gaydos gives the dream sequence over to Mark Bagley. The result makes
Jessica's abilities even more jarring. We've been told she was once
a superhero, but somehow, until Bagley penciled it, it wasn't quite
Knights #31 Clean
writer: Devin Grayson
artists: Roger Robinson and John Floyd
Once he finally
decides that Bruce Wayne is innocent, it takes Batman only one issue
to track down the framer. One issue.
On one hand, it
goes to prove that he really is the world's greatest detective, and
the rest of his team operates in his shadow. On the other hand, through
no fault of writer Grayson, it also proves how completely stupid the
layout of this crossover event has been.
An integral piece
of the puzzle falls into place, including a none-too-subtly hidden actual
answer as to who did it. Grayson, Robinson and Floyd all do a bang-up
job of proving what a badass the Bat is, particularly in a confrontation
with a black ops team. For its sheer determination, the scene comes
close to that classic JLA moment when Batman left the note for the Hyperclan
- "I Know Who You Are." It's chilling, and thus all the more frustrating
in the larger context of the storyline.
Let's replay the
song: Batman has let all of his "family" agonize over his possible guilt,
and one member go to prison for life, when all along he of course knew
he was innocent. The editorial team has created a character flaw this
huge just to make a plot work. We've been cheated, and so have the writers
and artists who all along have been struggling valiantly (and occasionally
successfully) to make us not notice how flimsy all this is.
In the back-up
slot, Scott Peterson and Danuel Zezelj deliver Hands, a good,
quick look at Batman's sense of justice. It's a bit of a disturbing
story in the best sense. In fact, most of the back-ups that have been
running through this madness have done a good job of keeping the flame
alive. Read it and it will give a taste of why Bat-fans deserve better
than they've been given the last few months.
writer: Brian Michael Bendis
artist: Alex Maleev
To prove himself
"The Man Without Fear," Matt Murdock contemplates a pack of savage reporters
outside his office, and almost appears in uniform without his mask.
Clearly, the events of the last couple of issues have got him acting
more foolhardy than fearless.
Worse, with the
alleged revelation of his secret identity, super-villains now know where
to go calling with revenge on their minds. It's times like these that
it's good to have friends like Spider-Man. Who else would understand
the cathartic necessity of beating up Mr. Hyde?
Bendis has pretty
much eschewed the time-jumping that set up this arc, but he is still
moving pretty slowly. Despite how it may sound, that's not a bad thing,
as we have time to really feel Matt's confusion, Foggy's pain, and have
a quiet moment with Spider-Man. Not enough writers take advantage of
that friendship, but it makes perfect sense that the loner superheroes
still find camaraderie with others of their ilk. In the Ultimate universe,
Spidey and DD aren't friends, but Bendis allows that their relationship
makes sense as things have played out in the old continuity.
The digital artwork
of Maleev gets better and better with each issue. Appreciate that Maleev
is one of the few artists that makes Matt Murdock believably blind,
not just a guy who wears dark glasses for a fashion statement.