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) and Brian's Books
(the other 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
story and art by Jeff Smith
Just as things
had gotten grim for the Bones, Smith reminds us what a creative and
charming story this all is. Oh, the grim parts still exist, but the
fantasy elements have a renewed sense of fun. And for those of us who
may have missed it, Phony and Smiley get a lot of focus as they try
to sneak their pet rat creature into the city of survivors.
This book is nearing
its final showdown between good and evil. If you are not onboard, go
over to our trade paperback site and order at least the first book to
catch up. This one hooks even non-comics readers.
The Evil Brandy Saga
story and art by Frank Cho
Yes, this makes
two "cute, funny" books in a row this week, but both are worth your
attention. For those just jumping on, Liberty Meadows is actually
a daily comic strip chronicling the lives of a group of dysfunctional
animals at an animal sanctuary. Their human caretakers are only slightly
Due to a problem
with the syndicate, Cho's strips got help up being reprinted in book
form, so he chose to launch a monthly comic book both reprinting and
restoring censored strips. Normally the strip covers gags reminiscent
of Tex Avery cartoons, but this issue provides a good launching point
by being one long storyline.
An alternate dimension
version of Brandy, the strip's heroine, has come to our Earth to kill
the one man she considers a threat, and also to provide Cho the opportunity
to draw twice as much cheesecake. It's hilarious, pulse-pounding, and
features the hideous Pokemonkey. Buy it.
going out with a bang. Not like that dweeb, Aquaman."
writer: John Ostrander, artists: Jamal Igle and Ray Kryssing
As the book reaches
its conclusion, it gets good again. Argh.
as a recap of past adventures, it turns out that the past few issues
may have been a forced re-living, as part of a psychic battle J'onn
has been having with one of his oldest living Earth enemies, Dr. Trapps.
Trapps faced J'onn
when he fought alongside the now dead Justice Experience, a group retconned
into existence to cover the DCU sixties and seventies. For the first
time, Ostrander sets up actual arch-enemies for J'onn, and it's too
little, too late. The story does suffer from a cop-out at the end, wrapping
up a long-standing subplot too patly.
The series cannot
be saved, but you can savor this one as a "what should have been," and
realize why J'onn is a cool member of the JLA.
writer: Paul Jenkins, artists: Andy Kubert and Richard Isanove
The story many
believe should not be told is finally here. Jenkins, with help from
Marvel execs Bill Jemas and Joe Quesada, ends up spinning a tale of
class boundaries, with a little of The Secret Garden thrown in.
Despite knowing that somehow this will all end up being about Wolverine,
right now it feels like a Victorian novella, with not a single drop
of adamantium in sight.
inking really lets Kubert's fine penciling come through. Rich in detail
and expression, the only mis-step lies in making one character look
way too much like the modern-day Logan. If part of the mystery of this
series lies in whether the father or the son of the Logan family becomes
Wolverine, the design may prove too red a herring.
Speaking of red,
the beautiful young protagonist, Rose, also looks suspiciously like
a young Jean Grey. Are we now to believe that Wolverine's attraction
for her has an edge of fate to it? Time will tell.
Even the skeptics
should give this book a shot. Jenkins almost never fails as a writer,
and as Jemas has pointed out, if Marvel does not do the origin, the
movies will. At least these guys really care.
Suicide Squad #1
get too used to us. We'll probably all be dead by issue #4."
Almost A Good Idea
writer: Keith Giffen, artists: Paco Medina and Joe Sanchez
Giffen tends to
write books in which we have to play catch-up from the very beginning.
Suicide Squad does not vary from this trend, although readers
of the previous series stand a pretty good chance of figuring it out.
For the rest, this book may jump around too much.
Detailing the first
mission of the revived Squad (with no more of a survival rate than the
X-Force has had these last couple of months), the book jumps around
in time. Major Disaster, apparently de-powered from his deal with Neron,
leads the rest of what was once Justice League Antarctica (no, really)
on a rescue mission that quickly turns deadly. But we jump around a
lot of different narratives, meant to be unsure as to who is telling
us what. It all ends up as an excuse to kill off a lot of lame characters,
with Giffen's usual twisted mix of humor and pathos.
The approach leaves
me a little cold, though I love the basic concept. Medina and Sanchez
do a riff on Ed McGuinnes, except that almost everyone looks alike.
And already, yet another casualty of Our Worlds At War pops up
alive. Doggonit, they could not even wait two weeks.
Right now, consider
this book on probation.
Every Blade Of Grass
writer: Jeph Loeb, guest artist: Steve Lieber
Loeb has been trying to do stylistically the last couple of month finally
pays off. The "speech" he appropriates for narration comes from Martha
Kent's journal, so Loeb can fit the beats together.
Lois and Clark
rebuild the Kent farm (well, Clark rebuilds it, Lois just stands around
looking concerned), while they wait for news of the elder Kents. The
story focuses on the man behind the super, and after the huge cross-over,
it makes for a good breather. As in the recent Rising Stars,
let's just say "selah."
Guest artist Lieber
also helps change the speed. As much as regular penciler Ed McGuinnes'
art has been electrifying to fandom, it looks good to see everyone drawn
in realistic proportions again. A quieter tale needs this quieter approach.
For Superman fans,
this will be a favorite story. For those who don't like superheroics,
this might be an issue to try and understand why some of us do.
The First #11
review this comic twice. It was not by accident.
Frequency Rating: Good Read (6/10)
Writer: Barbara Kesel. Artist: Bart Sears. Inker: Andy Smith.
Reviewed by: Daryl Tay from
Summary of events:
We see how the pieces of the puzzle are coming together. The Seahn/Ingra/Braag
formation has a possible opposition, that of the meeting of Persha and
Pyrem. We find that Seahn is trying to rally more troops to him under
Enson's subtle encouragement and we're given interesting hints about
Wyture and Enson's true nature, and what they are doing with the First.
Gannish also stumbles upon a world, Earth, setting of Crux, from which
he discovers the First were born from, but do not live on.
The First has been one of the more complicated Crossgen books to follow,
basically because of the many characters that are introduced as well
as the rather tough to remember names. However, after 11 issues the
story is beginning to clear. Persha and Pyrem working to unify House
Sinister and House Dexter, while Seahn and Ingra are trying to prevent
I like the interesting choice of the alliances. The child of House Sinister
with the adult of House Dexter and vice versa. And how the Persha is
the opposite of Ingra, as well as Seahn and Pyrem. The art here is a
rather suited to the book, Bart Sears make all the members of the First
Godlike in sppearance, and colourist Michael Atiyeh does a good job
with creating vibrant colours to portray the members of the First. Andrea
DiVito is coming on soon to take over the chores of Bart Sears, but
I think his art style would be rather suited to the book as well.
I can't stand the constant crossovers with the First and the other books.
Granted, the first issue crossover with 'The Path' was to set the stage,
but since then, Ilhan of Meridian and now the Crux cast are going to
appear in the book. Rather contradicting to Crossgen's claim that readers
don't have to read the books all together don't you think? Besides Gannish
and Enson, most of the First all look similar in appearance and not
much is done to really distinguish them from the rest, which really
has always been my big problem with the book. Wytre, Ingra, Persha and
even Yala have no distint, separate identities and even the same goes
for Braag, Pyrem, Seahn and Trenin.
Perhaps the First would be a good book to pick up in TPB form, since
it really is hard to follow both who's who, as well as what the story
is only once a month. While the First remains as my least favourite
Crossgen book at the moment, I'm still interested in seeing the way
everything is going to click together, and how all the members of the
First tie in to this.
writer: Ron Marz, artists: Brandon Peterson and John Dell
Reviewed by CharlieWentling
This is a fun,
self-contained issue where Giselle and Genevieve battle a seemingly
unstoppable golem. People who feel that Crossgen books are all talk
and not enough action should check this one out. The humor and romance
only add to its charm.
The art is good,
but there are a few too many splash pages that tend to disrupt the story's
flow. A six page backup story, continued from the previous issue, focuses
on Genevieve. Nothing out of the ordinary, but then again it is six
extra pages without any increase in price so how can you complain?
If you are curious
about Mystic, this would be a good issue to pick up.
The First #11
writer: Barbara Kesel, artists: Bart Sears and Andy Smith
Reviewed by CharlieWentling
The First is consistently
the best-looking book that Crossgen puts outs, thanks to the penciling
of Bart Sears. At the same time it is probably the hardest title for
the casual reader to follow. There is a continuing story that is always
evolving, and a large cast of characters. But it is worth the effort.
This issue focuses
mainly on Persha's first meeting with Pyrem, and gives plenty of foreshadowing
for who will lead both Houses after the coming civil war. It would be
easy to say that House Sinister are the bad guys and House Dexter the
good guys, but things are not as two-dimensional as that. Most of the
characters fall somewhere in the middle.
This series is
the glue that ties the Crossgen universe together. Stick with it for
a few months and you will be hooked.
of Barry Ween #4 (of 6)
story and art by Judd Winick
Reviewed by Michael Goodson
Barry Ween issues
are few and far between, but they are usually worth the wait. This month
is no exception as we get to see how the relationship between Barry
and Jeremy first started.
If you've read
Barry Ween before then this is more of the same (in a good way). If
you've never read Barry Ween before then this is as good of place to
start as any. Each issue follows the adventures of the foul-mouthed,
boy genius Barry Ween and his dim witted friend Jeremy Ramirez.
Judd Winick brings
the same knack for story telling to Barry as he does to Green Lantern.
If you enjoy South Park, then The Adventures of Barry Ween is right
up your alley.
Guest Writer Chuck Dixon, artists Damion Scott, Robert Campanella, Jason
Reviewed by Michael Goodson
This month we get
to see Spoiler in action as a member of the "Gotham Posse." I was really
looking forward to this issue since we haven't really had a chance to
see Spoiler since she began training with Batman. Who is she? Why does
she get to train with Batman in the Batcave? What's up with that lame
costume? Unfortunately none of these questions are answered. This issue
is really more of a team up book as Spoiler forces herself on a Batgirl
The story is nothing
new and there wasn't any real character development. While I usually
enjoy Batgirl, this issue left me flat. Pass on it, if you can.
writer: Brian Michael Bendis, artists: Michael Gaydos
Reviewed by Michael Goodson
Years from now
when people are talking about the Marvel "Adult Comics" line MAX, an
interesting bit of trivia will be "what was the first printed word in
the first issue of the MAX line?" The answer starts with F and rhymes
with duck. My favorite writer Brian Michael Bendis kicks off Alias with
an enjoyable issue.
Alias follows the
life of former superhero, Jessica Jones. Since "out growing" the superhero
lifestyle, Jessica has opened her own private detective agency, become
an alcoholic and picks up men in bars for one night stands. I can't
imagine why it says "Parental Advisory, Explicit Content" on the front.
That's not actually sarcasm. Take out the swearing and the completely
pointless sex scene with Luke Cage and there really isn't a ground breaking
story that needed to be told so badly that it required Marvel to start
its own line of adult comics.
On the upside,
the story is enjoyable and it ends with a nice cliff hanger that will
definitely make me buy issue #2. The art is dark and rough, but it fits
the flavor of the story. Go out and buy it today.
writer: Bob Gale, artists: Dave Ross and Mark Pennington
artists this week, and it takes a little getting used to. The Ross and
Pennington team draw a little more simply and cleanly than Phil Winslade,
taking the book to earlier, lighter days. And as this story arc nears
its conclusion, that makes sense. Gale resurrects an old, very obscure
archenemy as the mastermind behind this whole plot (and if anyone actually
figured it out ahead of time, buy yourself an ice cream cone. You deserve
it.). Yeah, old Hornhead has a lot of lame enemies.
Still, after all
the hell that Matt Murdock has been put through in his Marvel Knights
incarnation, it's a relief to see Daredevil be a confident man who knows
that eventually good triumphs over evil, especially lame evil.
Never Lead With Your Left
writer: Jeph Loeb, artist: Tim Sale
Forget reader identification
with the blind Matt Murdock; we all have a touch of Foggy Nelson. That
being said, reading about Matt is more fun.
Loeb and Sale continue
getting to the heart of what makes a hero a hero. Matt has avenged his
father's death, and finds himself not nearly as satisfied as he had
hoped. With his ghosts put to rest, he still carries the Daredevil uniform
with him, without knowing why.
on the road to figuring that out with Matt. And since it's all framed
with Loeb's current favorite device of narrative letters, the simplicity
of the action we see has a bittersweet touch of tragedy. How did Karen
Page go from being the girl you bring home to meet your mama to being
hot mama crack whore pornstar?
We'll save that
one for Daredevil: The E! True Hollywood Story.
Old Wounds, New Battles, part two
writer: Judd Winick, artists: Mike McKone and Cannon
For those who do
not remember the Dark Phoenix Saga, this will still seem like a rocking
X-story. For those who do remember it, Winick serves the memory well.
The Exiles have
been mysteriously handed the task of righting the possible wrongs in
other continuities. (So far this basically means making sure that the
X-Men do as close to what they actually did in the Marvel Universe.)
In some ways, it's a very clever way of reviving What If? without
actually doing it.
Winick tells the
story with great sensitivity, especially as Nocturne has to take out
her own father, Nightcrawler, in the battle to kill the Dark Phoenix.
McKone and Cannon draw some great fight scenes, with due homage to the
The premise may
play itself out sooner than later, but for now, this book has our attention.
House On Fire, Part Two
writer: Judd Winick, artists: Eric Battle, Rich Faber, and John Lowe
Kyle suffers from
third-degree burns while Jen fights against a group of fire-powered
villains. Just to make this month complete for Hal Jordan, The Spectre
makes a quick appearance, in order to foreshadow something big coming.
Just once I'd like
to see a hero acknowledge that this happens to them every other month.
Anyway, Kyle has
trouble healing himself because he's "…trying too hard." This from Hal
Jordan, who mostly used the ring to make giant fists. Yeah, he knows
all about trying too hard. Once the mystery of this issue's villains
gets solved (and it may be forehead-smackingly obvious), Winick dips
into Hypertime and gives us a huge continuity error. Or maybe I missed
an issue. If anyone can explain the reference to Jen's family in the
last couple of pages, please e-mail me.
The art doesn't
help. Characters appear lumpy, and have varying proportions from panel
to panel. And for a book about people who essentially have light-based
powers, it sure is dark.
Kyle and company
have a lot of potential, but somehow, Winick's successful attempt to
provide youthful realism becomes less and less interesting with each
Legends Of The
Dark Knight #147
Bad, Part Two
writer: Doug Moench, artist: Barry Kitson
Okay, on this whole
Batman's psyche thing: DECIDE, ALREADY! As anyone could have predicted,
this tale of Batman facing off against a dangerous split personality
and using a psychologist to help is really just an excuse to explore
the split between Bruce Wayne and Batman. Devin Grayson has been doing
just that to varying effect (and far more subtly) in Gotham Knights.
Yes, stories in
this book do tend to explore a younger, less sure Batman, but when the
regular books keep going over this territory, at least bring something
new to the party. Moench does not even help himself by writing dialogue
anything less than leaden and portentious.
Kitson, while not
one of my favorites, has a distinctive style that works well, and luckily
gets his best inker here, himself. A few panels have a nice experimental
feel that almost make up for the hackneyed story.
We have seen this
situation for Batman over and over and over. Only the villains change.
writer: Brian Michael Bendis, artists: Mark Bagley and Art Thibert
or otherwise, does not make an appearance this issue. Instead, Bendis
focuses on Peter and Mary Jane's relationship, in a great change-of-pace
quiet little story.
The two teens sit
in Peter's bedroom as he admits to Mary Jane that he is Spider-Man.
It makes perfect sense. Of course a teen-age boy would share the secret
with someone, and of course we know that eventually these two must get
together. Sorry, but Sony hath decreed it for next May 3.
it with his usual sharply real dialogue, and reminds us that this Aunt
May is far more on top of things than in her previous incarnation. The
artists do a great job of giving us a believable teen-aged boy with
an unbelievable secret. Not an emotional moment gets lost.
Jump on here if
you have not. Give it to a teen-ager.
writer: Joe Casey, artist: Sean Phillips
It's all moving
towards an inexplicable re-launch as a "Mature Readers" title. Again
I say, it already is such. But anyway, Casey and Phillips begin wrapping
things up in anticipation, and set the stage for a new status quo.
They do need to
clean things up next issue. A lot of what has been going on in this
book does spin on continuity from Jim Lee's original vision, WildC.A.T.S.
Zealot may mean next to nothing to you, but her storyline is coming
to a close anyway.
This issue seems
to be more marking time than anything else, though it does prove that
Grifter has the biggest cajones in all of comics.
All comics were reviewed by Derek
McCaw unless otherwise noted.
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