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!

Fables #3
Blood Tells
writer: Bill Willingham
artists: Lan Medina and Steve Leialoha

With the trend toward de-costuming superheroes, it only makes sense to start de-fantasizing fairy tale characters. (Although Medina and Leialoha's Snow White has probably triggered more than one different kind of fantasy.) Though the characters in Fables haven't completely left the old ways behind, it's rather intriguing that we have waited until the third issue to actually see any magical powers being used. And yet, the series' basic premise has been laid out completely believably.

Willingham manages to offer a summary of what has gone before while still moving the plot forward. Without slowing down those who caught this from the beginning, he expertly catches any newbies up to speed, also deepening our understanding of the past. (And since the first issue has completely sold out, it's a good strategy on Willingham's part.)

Rather arcane in his use of the fairy tale world, only now is the writer starting to explain who is who. The artwork offers a few clues to those who only dimly remember their Mother Goose; three fiddles lie unplayed in "Mayor" Cole's office, and one panel vividly explains Bluebeard to those unfamiliar.

The cleverest thing about the series is in its envisioning the Big Bad Wolf (now palling around with the surviving pig) as a classic hard-boiled detective. Though the series has its moments of humor, Willingham isn't really playing it for laughs. All the jokes come naturally out of the characters; Bogart would have been just as likely to taunt Hansel and Gretel's witch with "…growing tired of gingerbread?"

At the heart of this first arc is a decent mystery. We may not have all the pieces to solve it, we may not even know who all the players are, but it's engrossing and well worth the time.


Green Lantern #152
Out Of Our Heads, part two
writer: Judd Winick
artists: Eric Battle and Robert Campanella

Winick dips fairly deep into DC continuity to bring out a fairly credible adversary for Kyle. Considering the stupid costume Brainwave, Jr. wore in the eighties, it's also a good thing that Battle and Campanella have put him in a simple black business suit. Sometimes the de-costuming thing serves as a mercy.

With the terrible threat of a conscious Brainwave (dropping the Junior, thankfully), Winick still puts the focus on characterization. It's easy to lose track of the legacy and family feeling that has built up in this book, what with all the constant cosmic action. But Brainwave's attack is highly personal (he was once Jade's boyfriend - who remembers that?), and possessing Sentinel reveals much about Alan Scott's own motivations. They're not always noble, but Winick makes them completely believable.

We've been seeing an awful lot of Kyle taking on Alan in the last few months; almost more than makes sense. Though Winick puts it in a decent context and sets up a different type of confrontation for later, it's time to move past the Lantern vs. Lantern idea.

Guest-penciller Battle does some striking (sorry) layouts. Combined with Campanella, the art looks slightly similar to that of former GL artist M.D. Bright, but with more complexity. Thiis one of the few instances this month at DC where having a superstar cover artist does not hide an ordinary interior. Battle's art holds up the standard set by Jim Lee on the front.


New X-Men #129
writer: Grant Morrison
artist: Igor Kordey

It's a dark and ugly world out there. Despite Professor X's attempts to heal the rift between human and mutant with the X-Corporation, things don't look good for The X-Men. Aiding and abetting wanted criminal Fantomex won't help the public profile, either.

As thought-provoking and downright cool as Morrison's stories have been, we're desperately in need of a change of pace. Our favorite mutants deserve at least one full issue to breathe. Instead, what should have been an easy public relations tour promises to become a bloody battle with the ominous Weapon Twelve.

What exactly does Weapon Twelve do? Right now, it's maddeningly vague. Bred by a secret human cabal to kill mutants, it clearly has some telepathic ability, as it has divided and become set on conquering several second-tier X-Men. My bet lies on Siryn surviving because she has a cameo in the upcoming Fox movie, but otherwise, don't grow too attached to Darkstar or Madrox the Multiple Man. Oh. You didn't.

Most of the issue belongs to Fantomex. Like Weapon Twelve, his exact abilities are a little vague, but his brief teaming with Jean proves complementary to her psychic powers. He may very well become a major figure in the upcoming new Phoenix saga. As arrogant as he is skillful, Fantomex at least has a very touching human side, keeping his blind mother completely ignorant of who he really is and what he does.

Credit should go to Morrison for pointing out a head-smackingly obvious little idea about Wolverine. Macintosh users should have figured it out at least a year ago, and boy, the rest of the X-Men should be terribly embarrassed for not having figured it out and exploring its ramifications long ago.

Kordey brings a gritty look to a book that is overall becoming a little tired in its darkness. In its heyday, The Uncanny X-Men filled readers with a sense of wonder. Now it's more like a sense of nihilism. Want to really shake us up, Grant? Bring back the wonder and the hope.


Derek McCaw




All comics were reviewed by Derek McCaw unless otherwise noted.

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