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!
demand, this week marks the beginning of Fanboy Planet's ratings system
for comics. Could we do a scale of 1 to 10? No. That would be too easy.
Rather, we shall judge books this week by a sliding scale based on the
women of Archie Comics.
The awkward, snaggle-toothed woman with a crush on Jughead. If someone
caught you on a date with Big Ethel, you would try to hide. Same thing
goes for a comic book rated Big Ethel.
girlfriend. Sure, she looks attractive, but you know better.
solid, dependable. You can't go wrong with Betty, but you may wish you
What's not to like? Hot, smart, and wealthy, she'll hurt you and make
you love every minute of it. Sort of like most Warren Ellis books.
The tartiest woman in Riverdale, and thus, the one you want the most.
This will be Fanboy Planet's highest honor.
writer: Brian Michael Bendis, artist: Michael Gaydos
Well, we can say
this much for the Max line. They sure swear a lot.
But aside from
that, they also deliver some really good stories. With Alias, Bendis
has the freedom to explore plotlines that cannot fit in the candy-colored
mainstream Marvel Universe, but you know have to happen to heroes.
Jessica Jones has
been royally set up, but whether it's to bring down Captain America
or herself appears unclear. We still don't get to know all that much
about Jones, but the first issue implied that she had formerly run with
The Avengers. Bendis implies that it was not a very amicable parting,
because Jones flounders in her attempts to contact the star-spangled
avenger. If, indeed, it was he she saw leaving a tryst with a woman
murdered just hours later.
This seedy corner
of the Marvel Universe feels very dark, very cold, and like Jessica,
very alone. Gaydos' artwork perfectly fits the bill, full of shadows
and huge empty spaces.
For the mystery
alone, this issue rates a Veronica.
#35 or 476
writer: J. Michael Straczynski, artists: John Romita, Jr. and Scott
At last, rather
than running or standing still and taking a beating, Peter uses his
head. Of course, we knew he had to defeat Morlun eventually. The actual
method reminds readers that, oh yes, Peter is supposedly one of the
smartest guys around.
And after completely
turning fanboys' heads around with the new question of where Peter's
powers came from, Straczynski settles the issue. It may disappoint some,
but it perfectly balances the status quo while still leaving story ideas
for others to follow. Even while wrapping up the adventure, he still
provides a thrill that will rock the book for a long, long time.
For whatever reason,
Romita has really been doing some beautiful work with Straczynski. It's
not just hype; The Amazing Spider-Man has returned to being one
of the most solid books on the market.
writer: John Arcudi, artist: Tan Eng Huat
Fans of every previous
incarnation of the Doom Patrol will find something to like here. From
the original, Cliff Steele goes back to being a blue-collar goofball
stuck in a robot body. The Showcase revival and pre-Vertigo version
contributes the idea that these guys may not actually be all that likeable.
And in a nod to Grant Morrison, a couple of these guys are really freaks.
Of course, Morrison
himself has been exploring that quite nicely over in New X-Men,
and many consider the Doom Patrol to be a knock-off of the Marvel concept.
It's more than that, and less.
Instead of being
hounded by society, the freaks of the Doom Patrol tend to be able to
fit in rather well. When this book opens, Robotman has a job at a chemical
plant, being able to withstand temperatures and fumes that ordinary
humans can't. The rest of the new team are on a payroll, training to
make a public debut as a super-team.
It isn't until
their mysterious financial backer decides to license the Doom Patrol
name from Robotman (the last surviving original member - until Arcudi
figures out how to bring others back) that the team really gels. As
much as he hates it, Robotman plays superhero very well.
Arcudi has brought
an interesting, if not yet really vivid, cast together. Malaysian artist
Tan Eng Huat brings a new style to DC, and it really works. The kid
can tell a story with great cinematic flourishes without letting his
obvious manga influences overwhelm things.
Give him some time,
and he may just be the next guy everybody rushes to copy. Right now,
it's just intriguing.
Up North And In The Green
writer: Judd Winick, artists: J. Calafiore and Mark McKenna
After putting his
team through the wringer by re-living the Dark Phoenix Saga, Winick
changes gears a little. Only a little.
The Exiles materialize
in a version of Canada, with no word from the Tellus as to what they
have to change. As they banter (appropriately, they're like The Real
World: Mutant Nation), The Hulk bounds into their midsts.
He's not happy;
they're not happy. But despite the violence and rage, Winick and his
art team make it all funny. To top it all off, they encounter a Wolverine
(with Alpha Flight in tow) who has mastered his savage nature completely.
Amongst his team is a version of John Proudstar in a completely unexpected
Instead of just
filling in the alternate histories of his cast, Winick can finally start
building character. The two Proudstars have an interesting exchange,
and the team dynamics start to really come out.
For a book I swore
I would not buy, I'm having a surprisingly good time.
The Iceman Cometh
writers: Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, artists: Karl Kerschl
Bobby Drake travels
to Hong Kong in order to find his son. At the airport he gets attacked
by mutant mutant-haters (no, really, they say "Burn, mutant, burn,"
even though they apparently take orders from one themselves). It seems
that somebody wants a genetic sample from Iceman for nefarious purposes,
and they involve his infant son, too.
last few years have seen Bobby Drake grow as a character; the applications
for his powers have come a long way. (Leaving ice duplicates of himself?
Nice trick.) But no matter how hard Abnett and Lanning try, this still
just feels tired. Stick DC's Arsenal from a few years ago in here, and
the story would hardly change (minus the mutant angle, of course).
And despite an
appearance from the new, improved Beast, the overwhelming mutant hysteria
in the other X books has not yet really reared its head. Once again,
it's a mini-series that we know will have no impact, even with the pretty
art of Karl Kerschl.
The First #12
The Choice / Mentor's Counsel (back-up story)
writer: Barbara Kesel, artists: Andrea Di Vito and Rob Hunter
Reviewed by Charlie
If you just read the
first eight pages of this story, you might think that it was an issue
of Crux rather than the First. The cast of Crux guest stars, but it is
unusual in that there is not really any interaction between the First
and the Atlanteans. After this, we jump around and get three or four pages
spent on each of the continuing subplots. It seems like this series is
all subplot and no plot, but I am sure that someday everything will build
up to an amazing climax. The characters are interesting enough that I
don't mind the slow pace.
The art is good
for a fill-in issue. Which is a relief since a few months from now this
will be the permanent art team. We also get a back-up story focusing
on the Mentor characters. Good art here by Andy Smith and Andrew Hennessy,
and we get more hints at the motives of the mentors. The use of color
here is nice as well; CrossGen uses the whole red/orange/yellow thing
to their advantage.
The First #12
The Choice / Mentor's Counsel (back-up story)
writer: Barbara Kesel, artists: Andrea Di Vito and Rob Hunter
Reviewed by Daryl Tay
Gannish is on the Planet Earth, home of Crux, where he watches the 6
sigil-bearers fight the Negation while staying etheral, despite almost
being noticed by Verityn. He makes many accurate observations of the
cast of Crux, including the fact that they may have existed before the
First, thus reducing the status of the First to secondary. Meanwhile,
Yala interrupts the daughter-father pair of Persha and Pyrem, reporting
that another sigil-bearer has vanished. Ingra summons Orium to find
Persha, and realises that her spell over her has been broken, by an
unknown person. Meanwhile, Seahn and his parti of... persuaded members
of the First get ready to take over House Dexter from Pyrem by force,
with Enson's help. Over in the backup story, we see that Wyture is much
more than she appears, even stronger than Ingra herself, and Persha's
My thoughts about the First being the least interesting and impressive
comic has totally vanished. The pieces are all falling into place, and
definitely the execution alone makes it worthy of the Most Impressive
Comic of the Week. While not Best of the Week, it has much surpassed
all my previous expectations and has turned into a truly spectacular
read. As I've said before, the Seahn/Ingra dalliance as well as the
meetings with Pyrem and Persha are just intruiging, each party having
their own agenda, and of course, Enson and Wyture and working their
manipulations as well, to a rather good effect.
Andrea Di Vito didn't do too much of an impressive job over on Scion
when he took over once, but his work is much suited to the First, and
manages to make all the characters look recognisable. He draws the same
kind of powerful males and slender females Bart Sears draws, but without
making them overly exaggerated. I liked the backup story too because
of Wyture's standing up to Ingra and a display of perhaps a mere fraction
of her powers. There seems to be a link to her and the characters of
Meridian as well as Enson, but since I don't read Meridian I can't really
comment. Barbara Kesel has paced the book perfectly. While I wouldn't
have minded the story being a little clearer from the start, the way
the everything is coming together masterfully is pure genius. I'd like
to see how Seahn's little rebellion works out, as well as Persha's plant
to try contacting Altwaal.
Sheesh. I think Gannish's thought font is just too damn hard to read.
I had to squint to make out every word he was thinking. Somewhere towards
the middle of the book, where we have a spread-page of Persha and Wyture
at Atwaal's Obelisk, Persha seems to have some weird fungal disease
at the back of her skirt and rear end, it's only after flipping the
page do we realise that it's actually the back pattern. Seriously, do
something about the coloring, inking and the art.
I still don't care for the amount of crossing over that the First has.
They have practically crossed over to every CrossGen book, and this
issue has about 1/4 of the book focused on the characters of Crux. I
also think Gannish's conclusion is wrong; the Crux members are technically
not older than the First, they only have woken up 10,000 years later
due to cryogenic freezing, not that they existed for that long. No more
waiting for the TPB for the First, and I think Sojourn is gonna take
the new place as the weakest Crossgen book that I collect.
8/10 High Frequency
Legends of the
Dark Knight #148
Bad, Part Three
writer: Doug Moench, artist: Barry Kitson
The noose tightens
around gentle giant/psycho killer Jordy and his "Bad." Still trying
to understand, Batman does everything he can to keep a terrible disaster
from happening. And by the time writer Moench throws in his plot twist
(or does he?), all interest we might have had is lost.
In all three parts
of this story, Batman has spent a remarkable amount of time conferencing
with the hot psychologist, really just re-hashing the same points over
and over. Instead of entertaining us, it becomes a pedantic dialogue
on the nature of evil. And of course, the answers are as vague as they
always must be.
If DC could please
remember, the title of this book is Legends of the Dark Knight.
Give us stories that readers might talk about for a while, instead of
fillers outside of continuity.
writer: Brian Michael Bendis, artists: Mark Bagley and Art Thibert
Once again, Bendis
reminds us that a lot of classic origin tales are actually pretty disgusting.
This month, Doctor Otto Octavius awakens after a three month coma, to
discover that his robotic arm harness has fused to his flesh. Or to
be more apt, into his flesh. His eyes, too, have been severely
damaged, and they ain't no picnic to look at, either.
and grotesque to look at (it was so much cleaner when Ditko drew
it. Thanks, Bagley.), he has no choice but to begin a homicidal rampage.
All without leaving his hospital bed.
Peter has no idea
that danger awaits, blissfully enjoying finally having shared his secret
with Mary Jane. As the two teens grow closer, the Ultimate Gwen Stacy
appears, hot, blonde, and punk. Let the soap opera begin.
In The Heart of Darkness
writer: Mark Millar, artists: Adam Kubert and Art Thibert
control, the team formerly known as The X-Men invades an Indian stronghold
to rescue Nick Fury, destroy a genetic weapons experiment, and coincidentally
push their ethics to the limit.
Millar may have
chosen an unlikely country for this sort of attack, but his characterization
remains sharp. Jean Grey makes a terrible choice, and we know the consequences
will be far-reaching without being summarized by interior dialogue.
Rogue's loyalties may be changing, but Millar is content to tease us
with just a panel and a simple sentence that speaks paragraphs.
Kubert and Thibert
do their usual bang-up job, simple when they need to be, but capable
of Kirbyesque complication.
And just a nice
touch: Iceman has to wear a rocket pack. None of those silly and physics-defying
ice slides in the Ultimate Universe. For now.
writer: Joe Casey, artists: Sean Phillips and Ashley Wood
with Sugar Kane gets exposed for the fallacy the rest of the X-Men knew
it was. Nightcrawler gets to pontificate, and Wolverine throws down
with Mr. Clean. Ultimately, all this arc has done is establish Chamber
as an X-Man.
Each issue under
Casey has had a sameness to it. The British Morlocks distrust normal
humans and flashier mutants. (Though this month, Iceman gets to whine
about knowing how rough it is for the ugly ones - this in a storyline
in which he has not iced up once.) Sugar's agent expresses hatred for
mutants. Ho hum.
The big difference
comes in the art. Ashley Wood inks over Sean Phillips in a bad Sienkewicz
pastiche. Phillips has the tendency, but manages to pull back from being
nothing but hard lines in inking himself (see Wildcats). Wood
shows no such restraint. Even the flames are angular.
held up against Ethan Van Sciver's beautiful art in last week's New
X-Men, this book just looks as ugly as those underground mutants.
writer: Joe Casey, artist: Sean Phillips
And now on to the flip-side.
As boring a job as Casey has done with the X-Men, he has consistently
delivered a compelling book with Wildcats. Maybe it's because this
team doesn't have a lot of baggage. What little there was sucked in the
first place. He has room to play here.
The former Voodoo
gets a lesson in her half-Daemonite heritage from one of the last survivors
of that race, while Maul learns to accept that he really does sort of
With this issue,
Casey and Phillips bring their run to an end, though set the stage for
whatever form the title will take next year. It's quiet, even when dealing
with the more ridiculous aspects of its continuity (Daemonites, Kherubim
- does Jim Lee duck his head in shame?).
And Phillips, strangely
well-suited for talking heads, delivers a beautiful book, brimming with
emotion. Don't let his work on Uncanny X-Men turn you off. He
is a top-notch artist, and he and Casey make a great team, under the
The Witch And The Warrior
writer: Phil Jimenez, artists: Jimenez, Lanning, Strucker, Alquiza
Circe makes her
move. While the world recovers from an intergalactic war, she gathers
all the villainesses on Earth and makes Manhattan their hunting ground.
Their prey? All the superheroes and some of the supervillains, partially
transformed into animals. Oh, Batman makes one sorry snake.
Of course Diana
cannot stand for this, and gathers all the superwomen to her side. Despite
being devoted to peace, Wonder Woman does not just have a strong warrior
side - she makes a great commander. Jimenez has created the perfect
scenario to prove it.
Mostly, this issue
serves to marshal the forces and draw the sides. Next issue will be
the real brouhaha, unfortunately coinciding with The Last Laugh,
so it may not be as purely fun a story as Jimenez had intended. Come
on, DC, how much crazier does Circe really need to get?
As usual, the artwork
is lush, though I've lost track of Zatanna's costumes. Jimenez puts
her back in her JLA Detroit duds. Someone please remind me when she
lost the fishnets.
writer: Peter Milligan, artist: Michael Allred
The front cover
also serves as the first panel of the story. Tying this book loosely
into regular X-continuity, Wolverine makes a guest-shot. It may seem
gratuitous at first glance, but it really serves the plot well.
And of all the
X-Force members for him to have a past with, it seems oddly cool that
he knows Doop.
Granted, the book
does not have much of a status quo, but Milligan again upends what little
there is. At the same time, unlikely leader The Orphan grows more likely.
A lot of people
still hate this book, but Milligan has written an all-too likely scenario.
We just don't want to admit it. Even with Allred's cool flat look, we
can still see the ugly backsides of the characters.
Except for Doop.
He remains a mystery, but with this issue becomes even more compelling.
If you want to
wait for the inevitable trade paperback, okay. But do not miss it, because
this is the book that has truly given a jolt of energy to the X-franchise.
were reviewed by Derek McCaw unless otherwise noted.
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