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!
#43 Cold Arms
writer: J. Michael Straczynski
artists: John Romita, Jr. and Scott Hanna
In a tale ripped
from the headlines, a high-tech corporation has been sliding money around
various accounts trying to cover up massive losses. When the mastermind
of the scheme gets close to being discovered, he does the only thing
one can do in the Marvel Universe: concocts an evil scheme.
That scheme involves
Dr. Octopus, who gets a far more sane treatment here than Jenkins gave
him in Peter Parker: Spider-Man. JMS gets to the core of Octavius'
arrogance, and reminds us that the guy would rather be renowned as a
scientific genius than a criminal one. Unfortunately, for somebody who
has plagued Spider-Man quite well over the years, Otto Octavius sure
gets suckered by a lot of other bad guys.
As a result, you
may find yourself getting drawn into a sympathetic stance toward Doc
Ock, as somebody far less moral seems to be pulling the mantle around
himself. Who you won't find much sympathy for is Mary Jane.
Yes, it provided
dramatic conflict for the Parkers to separate, and there's something
very heart-warming about May now using her knowledge of Peter's dual
identity to try and make his life better. But the Mary Jane being written
by JMS is someone you'd think May would want out of her nephew's life.
The title of the story may be Cold Hands, but it's Mary Jane
who has the cold heart.
Maybe it would
be hard to deal with having a husband (or wife, for that matter) who
is a superhero. But as Super-Chicken used to say, "You knew the job
was dangerous when you took it, Fred." There must be a way to depict
marital conflicts without depicting the wife as a total bitch.
Mary Jane, don't
hate Peter. Yes, a madman kidnapped you and made the world think you
were dead, but that madman wasn't Peter. It was John Byrne. And one
day you will be avenged. So get over it and love your husband again.
Batman #605 Courage
writer: Ed Brubaker
artists: Scott McDaniel and Andy Owens
The cover triumphantly
blares what we already knew: NOT GUILTY!
It took them long
At least somebody
finally got around to showing a remorseful Batman/Bruce Wayne. In this
issue, he spends a lot of time apologizing: to Vesper, to Dick, and
to the rest of his "family." Brubaker almost makes it believable, especially
in a few early panels in which the emotionally stunted Wayne finally
admits to having loved Vesper.
Lest you think
this issue should be subtitled The Dark Wimp Returns, the book
does have its share of action, as the Bat-family goes after the man
who did all the real dirty work. (And now I have to go back and re-read
some back issues, as I didn't know or remember that the framer knew
Batman's dual identity. But at least it proves that Lex Luthor doesn't
know, which is a relief.)
to handle a Superman book, does a great job pacing and setting the story.
The apologetic first section gets a lot of strength from his delicate
handling of potentially maudlin moments.
Only two things
stuck out as awkward this issue (if we can ignore the story arc as a
whole): a pointless cameo by Jonathan and Martha Kent, and an odd exchange
between the two Batgirls. Barbara kvetches to Cassandra about how Batman's
sudden communication to her is just so Bruce. Cassandra replies, "I
know," which just seems weird when until a couple of issues ago, she
didn't know that Batman and Bruce Wayne were the same person.
Maybe I'm just
holding vestigial resentment over the too-long wait for some real story
writer: Tony Bedard
artists: Paul Pelletier and Dave Meikis
reviewed by Charlie Wentling
Qztr catches up to Kaine and the other escaped prisoners. His objective
is to study Evinlea, who he thinks is the most "powerful" member of
Most of the other
prisoners are beneath his interest, including Kaine himself. Charon,
the ruler of the Negation universe, considers this a mistake, realizing
that Kaine is the driving force behind the escape and the leader of
the prisoners. But for now, Charon chooses to stay in the background.
Qztr has no such
qualms. Ripping through the group with no mercy, he comes up with creative
and gory ways of doing away with people. Clearly, Qztr is more powerful
than Evinlea or anyone else, and they will have no chance against him
unless they can discover some weakness. Even the usually cocky Evinlea
My only complaint
is that the battle is continued next month. This would have been a great
time for a double-sized issue.
writer: Chuck Dixon
artists: Scot Eaton and Andrew Hennessy
reviewed by Charlie Wentling
the entire Planetary Union fleet for an assault on the Saurian Homeworld
two issues back, setting up expectations that the war would be ending
soon, Chuck Dixon backtracks by having the President recall the fleet
back to Gaia. The planet Gaia seems doomed by the Saurian asteroid strike,
and every available ship is needed to help evacuate as many people as
Sam also returns
to Gaia with hopes of saving the planet. This allows for another emotional
separation from Zanniati. For two people in love, it is amazing how
rarely they actually see each other. On the other hand it would be interesting
if Sam actually does have the power to prevent a doomed planet from
total destruction. Sam's sigil is different and more powerful than any
of the other ones in CrossGen series, but nobody has explained the reason
for this, or even the full extent of Sam's powers.
The pacing is still
the main problem with this series. Dixon has been writing Sigil
for six months now, and nothing has really changed. This issue also
contains an eight-page back-up story with art by Rudy Nebres.