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)
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 to do.
Hey Kids! Comics!
This cover is so
cool, I can't even make a Super Fart joke about it.
Action Comics #783
writer: Joe Kelly, artists: Brandon Badeaux and Mark Morales
Kelly contrasts two separate narratives
from the same man. In one, Clark Kent a thought piece for the Daily
Planet. Superman finds himself making the same speech over and over
to different super-villains. Interestingly, Clark sounds a pessimistic
note, while his alter ego once again (and rightly) symbolizes hope.
Serving perhaps as a prequel to Suicide
Squad, with none of Giffen's archness, this issue also finds resonance
in America this week. In some ways, I almost wish that we had been attacked
by aliens. It would make more sense. And even more so than last week's
Superman story, this one gives us a sense of redemption.
Guest-penciller Badeaux does some beautiful
work here, though his version of Superman has an over-muscled face.
Real kudos go to colorist Moose Baumann, who hues each encounter in
different tones, finally bleeding into full color for the final grace
For those who wonder what Superman should
be about, give them this book.
Out Of The Past
writer: Ed Brubaker, artists: Scott McDaniel and Aaron Sowd
Angry at some remarks from Sasha, Batman
goes in search of the connection between his current case and his own
family history. The answers surprise him some, and may surprise those
obsessively devoted to pre-Crisis continuity.
And yet Brubaker does not insult what
has gone before. He pays homage while still maintaining today's status
quo. The only quibble one can have with this whole arc is the idea that
Bruce Wayne could have blocked out so many vivid childhood memories.
He has, after all, trained himself to have a stellar recall. Perhaps
this plot point will be mined for further complications, but it still
McDaniel and Sowd provide solid pictures,
with some particularly interesting close-ups on the face behind the
cowl. Not necessarily groundbreaking, but the image is striking.
Hey, Bat-fans! Notice, too, that on the
back cover Warner is sponsoring a contest so that you could be
in the next Batman movie! Nowhere does it mention that they don't know
which one they're going to make. But if it's Year One, you could
get a cameo as a pimp.
Fantastic Four 1234 #3
Darkness And The Mole Man
writer: Grant Morrison, artist: Jae Lee
Doom's twisted plan comes into clearer
focus, as The Mole Man attempts to capture Johnny Storm. Both Namor
and The Mole Man have struck alliances with the Latverian dictator,
but Doom did not take into account the arrogance of his allies. Of course,
that's due to his own arrogance.
And, oh yes, this issue features the world's
No matter what you think of Morrison,
you have to admit that he has opened up superhero comics in an interesting
direction. (See this week's JLA) He continues to give us stories
that we could not get out of Hollywood. The sheer scale of his imagination
can be boggling. Just don't get bogged down in little details like actual
plots. Like early Moore, it's more about the experience.
Jae Lee, by the way, draws the coolest
Human Torch since Alex Ross, and the most. Disgusting. Mole Man. Ever.
The Flash #178
writer: Geoff Johns, artists: Scott Kolins and Doug Hazlewood
A new business wants to move into Keystone
City, one without unions. And Keystone is a union town. In the real
world, that might be drama enough. In Keystone, however, things get
complicated when that new business, "The Cage Factory," tries to prove
their worth by transporting Gorilla Grodd to Iron Heights.
Magenta sabotages Grodd's prison truck,
while someone else wakes up Grodd. What was that they said for King
Kong Lives? He's back, and he's not happy.
Johns does a fine job juxtaposing politics
with savage monkey action. The two collide when Goldface, not the police,
call The Flash in, much to Wally's annoyance.
Thankfully, Kolins and Hazlewood do not
bother trying to make Grodd look too human in expression. Grodd looks
savage, as he should.
The one possible sour note is the destruction
Grodd wreaks. Should comics back off for a time, while the country recovers?
I asked Johns last night how, if at all,
he might change his writing style in the wake of September 11. He replied:
"A little. But more about heroes being
heroic than anything else."
Amen to that.
If they make out,
I'm never buying comics again.
Green Arrow #8
When Ollie Met Ollie
writer: Kevin Smith, artists: Phil Hester and Ande Parks
You know, as tragic flaws go, Hal Jordan
always wanting to try and fix things makes a lot more sense than his
being a drunken, irresponsible lout given too much power. Thank you,
Kevin Smith, for crystallizing that.
As far as the answers to what's going
on, this issue disappoints a bit. One mystery resolves exactly as we
suspected, and for now, the answer to the mystery of Oliver Queen leaves
a hollow (no pun intended) feeling.
But Deadman possessing Etrigan in order
to make out with Black Canary? Priceless.
Those kinds of moments make this series.
Like his films, Kevin Smith's comics really end up being more about
amazing characterization than great plot (though they come close). For
that reason alone, as great a job as Hester has been doing, it would
be nice to see an artist a little better versed in quiet moments on
Read it. Treasure it. And be grateful
that Kevin Smith still slips in the occasional penis joke.
If Harley and Ivy
make out, I'll never stop buying comics.
Harley and Ivy
Love On The Lam
writer: Judd Winick, artist: Joe Chiodo
Really, a Joe Chiodo book needs no more
justification than his drawing cute, if cartoony, good girl art. Winick
adds a bit of story to it, but he did not have to try.
As it is, the plot has been done before,
a couple of times on the animated series. What Winick really does well
is, yes, characterization. In just a few panels, he writes a Joker that
would be nice to see again, providing little details that bridge the
gap between the animated version and the homicidal maniac we keep getting.
The dynamic duo get short shrift, however,
being very stereotyped in their brief appearance. And Poison Ivy seems
curiously uninvolved, though Chiodo sure makes her look pretty.
And don't try to make this fit in continuity,
because you can't. Just thumb through it, admire the art, and put it
back on the shelf.
writer: Mark Waid, artists: Mike Miller and Paul Neary
Terror Incognita wraps up on a
tremendous (literal) global scale. While not quite as big a send-off
for Waid as Morrison gave himself, this one actually makes sense. Granted,
you still have to read it twice, but eventually you can stop muttering
While trapped in The Phantom Zone, the
JLA has to watch the White Martians trample all the other heroes. (And
is that a dig against Geoff John's Our Worlds At War special
with the opening shot being an utterly crushed JSA?) While most of the
JLA despairs, it all goes according to the plans of J'onn J'onzz and
Batman. In this massive epic, they prove that it helps to think small.
Miller and Neary do justice to the scope
of the story, and pull off the hard part of making Plastic Man look
credible alongside the rest of the JLA.
And the ending? Perfect. As much as I
like CrossGen, I'd still rather have Waid here than on Crux.
writer: John Ostrander, artists: Val Semeiks, Kevin Conrad & Prentis
Okay, I was wrong. Not even Ostrander
can make JLA Detroit cool. But he tries.
On the plus side, he does more to explain
what exactly the characters in the DC Universe think happened in the
Crisis. Instead of a multidimensional disaster, it was temporal. And
Vibe (who?) actually stopped it.
Two back-up stories also attempt to fill
in more. A Flash tale with Norm Breyfogle art is pretty, and a decent
recap of how noble Barry Allen truly was as a character. But the other
story, involving the reporter who has flitted around this series, flashes
back and forth without a clear touchstone in time, and mixes the Legends
mini-series in, too. It's confusing for someone who actually did read
all of it the first time around.
If this weren't the middle of a mini-series,
we'd say skip it.
Spider-Man's Tangled Web #6
Flowers for Rhino, Part Two
writer: Peter Milligan, artist: Duncan Fegredo
Reviewed by Michael Goodson
You ever finish a comic a look at the
price on the front and think, "wow, I paid 3 bucks for that"? I find
myself doing that more and more often in these tough times. Right after
I finished part two of Flowers for Rhino, which is basically a Marvel
adaptation of the Flowers for Algernon story by Daniel Keyes, I looked
at the cover and thought, "Wow, I paid 6 bucks for that." The story,
while enjoyable, has been done before and done better.
Rhino had brain surgery in the last issue
to make him smarter. The operation is such a success that he becomes
the "Kingpin of a Citywide Crime Syndicate" and sweeps the girl of his
dreams off her feet. The story has a nice twist on the tale, but ultimately
eventually everything returns to the status quo. So, really I paid 6
bucks and nothing really changed. Flowers for Rhino is a good story
with fine art, but not worth six dollars.
Save your money and go buy one of those
six dollar burgers.
writer: Barbara Kesel, artists: Steve McNiven and Tom Simmons
reviewed by Charlie Wentling
Meridian is a really fun series. There
are too many characters for my tastes, and sometimes the politics of
the islands get too much time devoted to it. But overall, it is just
fun to read, and that is the most important thing. In this issue, Sephie
continues to rally more people to her cause, and her reputation grows.
Ilahn learns that she is still alive, and begins plotting out how he
will deal with it. Jad goes in search of Sephie.
The art is good as usual. I am not sure
why the romantic subplots are here, it seems obvious that Sephie and
Jad will end up together. Like a lot of the Crossgen titles, this one
continues from month to month, and just picking up one issue might be
confusing. The recap inside the front cover does help, but to get the
full enjoyment you need to read more than just one issue.
Ministry Of Space #2
writer: Warren Ellis, artist: Chris Weston
Ellis continues pushing the boundaries
of comics with this alternate history. What if Great Britain got all
the Nazi rocket scientists? For one thing, the British Empire would
not have collapsed. And for some strange reason, British pluck pushes
the space program far faster than the Americans did in the real world.
Without dipping into easy parody, Ellis
writes a believable bastard of a protagonist in his legless Sir John.
This could so easily have been farce like Garth Ennis' Adventures
of the Rifle Brigade. Instead, it's intriguing, though not really
all that exciting.
The artwork by Chris Weston, however,
holds magnificent detail, and makes one wonder why we never designed
ships as cool as the British, when these seem so possible.
At this point, you may want to just wait
for the trade paperback, but be warned: these are thinking, but rewarding,
New X Men
writer: Grant Morrison, artists: Ethan Van Sciver and Prentiss Rollins
This may be a very interesting era for
the X-Men. Taking a cue from the movie, the school is finally really
a thriving school, with a heavy population of mutant students. The Danger
Room gets used to train people other than the actual X-Men, and Morrison
has certainly come up with some great useless mutations without relegating
them to Morlock status.
So far Morrison's run on this book has
been much tighter than his famed JLA or The Invisibles.
The balance between action and characterization has finally been perfectly
struck. Not too much gets packed into an issue, just enough for us to
swallow. And The X-Men feel more real than the soap opera characters
they had become in recent years.
New artist/guest artist Van Sciver warms
up nicely for his upcoming book with Geoff Johns, The Morlocks.
If for some reason you missed the previous
arc, try buying in now.
Out There #5
Stain of Evil
writer: Brian Augustyn, artists: Humberto Ramos and Sandra Hope
Finally, some of the good people of El
Dorado realize that making a deal with the devil means you've made a
deal with the devil. It seems so obvious in hindsight.
The kids who have known all along, however,
find that they have more strength than they realized. But just as things
couldn't get any worse, they do.
It seems that this book is rapidly reaching
a major confrontation that should be a conclusion. But Augustyn and
Ramos are planting the seeds for different kinds of evil. All of it
is just clever enough to make me interested in what happens next, despite
not particularly caring for the manga-esque art.
Any book that equates Bill Gates with
the devil has something going for it.
Peter Parker: Spider-Man #35 or 133
Heroes Don't Cry
writer: Paul Jenkins, artists: Mark Buckingham and Wayne Faucher
Young LaFronce has a terrible life. Forced
to live with his junkie mother, barely finding enough to eat from day
to day, he retreats into his room and his fantasy life as Spider-Man's
sidekick. To do this, all he has to do is concentrate on his Spider-Man
In short, this story feels like it would
fit better in Tangled Web.
The real Spidey makes no appearance here,
though the story does spark the question - what kind of stats would
a Spider-Man card actually have in the Marvel Universe? (And despite
no other superhero references, it seems that this is the regular Marvel
Sadly, Jenkins tries too hard with this
one. Like last month's tale, the deck gets too stacked in order to make
the story work. Any social service worker in the real world would immediately
take Lafronce out of his home, but then, he would not need to retreat
Instead of being moving, the story is
mawkish and derivative. Skip this collection of clichés and hope that
Jenkins gets back on track next month.
Star Wars #34
Darkness, part 3
writer: John Ostrander, artists: Jan Duursema and Ray Kryssing
Amnesiac Jedi Quinlan Vos descends further
into the dark side, having already lost the Twi'lek paduwan he forgot
he had. Am I too far gone a geek because I understand the previous sentence
The lost paduwan, Aayla, has not only
gone over to the dark side completely, but she serves a pretty disgusting
villain. The only member of the Anzati to become a Jedi, he had to be
placed in a force-forced coma. You see, the Anzati tend to feed on a
weird amalgam of the life force they call "soup," the essence of what
a being is and what they will be.
It's vague. It's zen. It's cool.
And it's such an Ostrander concept. Once
again, these Star Wars books that can play without fear of continuity
end up being the most satisfying. Former fan favorite Duursema illustrates
this universe extremely well.
Avoid all titles that involve Anakin,
but buy this one.
were reviewed by Derek McCaw unless otherwise noted.
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