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Birds of Prey #48
writer: Terry Moore
artists: Amanda Conner and Jimmy Palmiotti

Many writers have danced around it, but nobody has managed to do it: restore Barbara's legs. For at least one issue, Moore crosses that line, but doesn't give Oracle time to really explore the consequences. Still, we get her sense of joy.

What we also get is a Black Canary who acts younger and sassier than usually portrayed, and it makes sense. A far cry from the new TV version of the character, we should remember that Dinah is still the daughter of the original, and not likely to be more than 28. Even Chuck Dixon, who had a strong handle on the character, made her seem closer to 40. In Moore's hands, the Birds of Prey are more fun than the book usually allows them to be. This arc should pull in new readers, and just in time.

If you've been watching the TV show and wondering what the fuss was about, go here. You'll understand, and wish for better television.


Fantastic Four #62
writer: Mark Waid
artists: Mike Wieringo and Karl Kesel

Once again, the new creative team remembers what makes this "the world's greatest comics magazine," even if that brag has been removed from the logo. It's all in the little details, the tiny pieces of wonder smack dab in the middle of the mundane. Put it together and you get the fantastic.

Though you might balk at Mr. Fantastic needing to do his best work in the middle of Times Square, Waid provides a lot of other throwaway bits that make you want to see more. Uncle Benjy would make one heck of a great babysitter, while Johnny faces evil far greater than Annihilus: corporate backstabbing.

And then, of course, comes the real menace, hinted at last issue. It all has something to do with Reed's PDA, which accesses an entire universe for its storage space. Something has begun leaking out, and it will take us a couple of issues to find out what. This team makes it all so compelling, there's no doubt we're sticking around.


Global Frequency #1
writer: Warren Ellis
artist: Garry Leach

One of comicdom's best low-profile artists teams with one of its most outspoken writers. The result should be magic. Instead, it's a pale rehash of a lot of other popular books, many by Ellis himself.

Being from the mind of Ellis, of course, Global Frequency still has a some interesting plot ideas to it, but most of them could just as well have fit in Wildcats, The Authority, The Filth or possibly even Planetary. (And boy, it's annoying that the latter book and Ministry of Space remain unfinished for this project.) Once Miranda Zero steps into a panel, you know that she comes from the same mold as Jenny Sparks and Jakita Wagner, though she has no superpowers.

I admire the effort to tell stories without resorting to standard superhero clichés, and perhaps Ellis will do something unexpected with the idea of a global watchforce made up of ordinary people. So far, though, even the ordinary people thing seems forced, with a paranoia that gets talked about more than actually shown. We're told being called to Global Frequency would be dreadful, but beyond the writer's captions, it's just not there.

Because Global Frequency echoes other books so strongly, it's hard to want to give it a chance.


Liberty Meadows #28
story and art: Frank Cho

The shift over to Image has done wonders for Cho, and not just because of the format change that allows the strips to run as actual strips. For some reason, the artist seems freer to go back and redo his strips in their unexpurgated form. The result runs wildly from family friendly to a nice PG-13 (the fabulous Jen-cam) you won't want to explain to your nephews, but it's always funny.

Some of the drama in the storylines has been undercut by Cho's already given us the wrap-up to his comic strip a few months ago. But just as in its newspaper days, Liberty Meadows is not in a hurry to get caught up in plot (why would Dean's DNA turn Frank into a pig? Don't ask). It's still a comic strip, and one of the finest modern examples of the form. Too bad his old newspaper syndicate couldn't quite see that.


JLA #74
writer: Joe Kelly
artists: Doug Mahnke and Tom Nguyen

The parallel structure of "The Obsidian Age" storyline finally coalesces. Last issue, we found out that the "real" JLA had died in Atlantis. This issue, we see how. Somehow it's all going to work, and for those who may have never read comics before, it's still a safe bet that they'll come back to life.

What makes it so cool remains in Kelly's unique take on the characters mixed with Mahnke's vision. No artist has taken as much advantage of the malleability of characters like Plastic Man and J'onn J'onnz. While some may be annoyed by the daring of Kelly's interpretations (not all of them fit "conventional" wisdom), he never wavers from his take. Though the Wonder Woman/Batman relationship may not exist outside of this title, it's consistent enough here that their kiss should elicit a "well, duh" from readers. But would Batman really love magic? That's for letter writers to argue. Clearly, Kelly believes he does. And that's enough.


Peter Parker: Spider-Man #49
writer: Paul Jenkins
artists: Mark Buckingham and Wayne Faucher

Already, the shockwaves of Kevin Smith's impending arrival are here. Within two pages, Jenkins has Spider-Man doing blue. It's not necessarily out of character, but it's more blunt than we usually get in this title. But then, the whole opening sequence just seems rushed, as Spider-Man gets the answers he seeks so casually that you have to wonder if you missed something.

Eventually, it gets to action and the creation of a new super-villain with a little more potential than Typeface. Along the way, Spider-Man doesn't do much to fight his attraction for new superheroine (or maybe truly goddess) Tara, who raises another point. Why do heroes from other countries always have a specific cultural tie-in so you know exactly which nationality they are? Or does the U.S. just suffer a paucity of cultural history for us to identify? Maybe I don't want that answer.


Supergirl #75
writer: Peter David
artists: Ed Benes and Alex Lei

Yes, the post-U-DECIDE Peter David really does seem invigorated, bringing in a whole new era, a whole new art team, and a whole new Supergirl. And if you can't decide which new Supergirl you like, we have a couple to choose from.

Finally freed from the Earth Angel's shadow, Linda looks ready to come into her own as the girl of steel. She's back to the full-strength we expect, and has the added bonus of telekinetic blasts. Gone is the shape-shifting ability, but that was really just an extra. Of course, just as she starts finding her footing in Leesburg, a rocket lands with a suspiciously familiar blonde in it.

Don't worry about getting lost in continuity. Everything you need to know, David does a reasonable job of filling in. The main cast gets re-established, and though there are a few references to past events, they don't affect the story.

What does affect the tale is the new art team, and it's a good one. Benes and Lei manage to use the best techniques of all the artists before them, so that the book looks familiar and new. Most importantly, it looks good.


Derek McCaw


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