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!

Well, the controversial Women of Archie ratings system has come to an end. Why? Because a teary-eyed editor who shall remain Michael Goodson confessed that he had never read an Archie comic, and therefore preferred his women airbrushed to inked.

So instead we introduce the Fanboy Planetary system, in which all comics are awarded from one to five planets. For old-times' sake, we can pretend that the fifth planet has long red hair and wears nothing but belly shirts and Daisy Dukes. sigh.

Crux #8
writer: Mark Waid, artists: Steve Epting and Rick Magyar
reviewed by Charlie Wentling.

The Atlanteans head to Australia on their hunt for the missing human race, and their search is a qualified success. Some of the underlying questions of the series get answered here. The answers lead to further questions, especially the revelation on the final page. This issue doesn't stand very well on its own. Hopefully a lot of the confusion will be cleared up next month.

Danik starts taking a more active role, but his motivations are still shrouded in mystery. We also see a new type of negation soldier that is smaller and more intelligent. Epting does his usual nice job with the artwork. Fans of the series should enjoy this issue, but new readers may be a bit lost.


Fantastic Four 1234 #4
4: Prime Mover
writer: Grant Morrison, artist: Jae Lee

It seems that Dr. Doom has been studying under Dr. Destiny. In his latest mad scheme to defeat the Fantastic Four, Doom has built a computer called the Prime Mover, a device which makes the world into his own personal videogame.

Utilizing classic Morrisonian physics, Doom's device has altered the very fabric of reality. Luckily, Reed sensed it coming and built one of his own. And so these opposite numbers face off on a whole new level of ridiculousness.

Which, now that he comes down to it, seems to be Morrison's point. By the very nature of their name, the Four dabble in the fantastic. Morrison has stripped that idea down to something a little silly that looks really cool thanks to Jae Lee, but ultimately will leave you scratching your head.

As usual, though, Morrison has given us a fascinating look into the minds of each hero and villain. That alone makes the trip worthwhile.


JSA #30
Fair Play
writer: Geoff Johns, artists: Stephen Sadowski and Keith Champagne

The revelation of Roulette's heritage will rock the comics world.

Okay, probably not, but it should. Unfortunately, JSA flies fairly low on the radar. And yet month after month, Johns and Sadowski deliver one of the most dependable books on the market.

The majority of the team has been kidnapped and forced into various competitions designed to test their strength, wits, and resolve before killing them. Of course each member comes through with flying colors, but it's all in the execution. Johns skillfully blends plot and character development, and along the way the once throw-away Mister Terrific becomes one of the coolest men in comics.

And it's probably been there all along, but it's nice to notice that Sadowski has taken the trouble to make Black Adam actually look Egyptian in features, not just leaving it up to the colorist. JSA has become one of the most effectively diverse books on the market, and the only guy with "black" in his name isn't.

Do not let the title's history fool you. This is one of DC's most vital and "now" books.


Scion #18
writer: Ron Marz, artists: Jim Cheung and Don Hillsman II
reviewed by Charlie Wentling.

The story this month shifts from the lesser races back to the Heron/Raven conflict. Prince Kai leads a group of soldiers into Raven territory and is reunited with his brother Ethan. Plenty of action takes place, and Ashleigh is torn over which side she should be fighting for.

Marz does a good job with the battle scenes, effectively showing the pointlessness of war. The common soldiers are fighting for their familes and their homeland, but no winners can emerge with so much killing. Cheung's art is excellent. The first and last pages are particularly striking, featuring King Dane and King Bron.

All of this adds up to an above average issue of an about average series.


Star Wars: Infinities #4
writer: Chris Warner, artists: Al Rio and Neil Nelson

This series suffered a mid-way dip after an intriguing start. But Warner, Rio and Nelson have brought it home with a bang. Though still ending on a predictable note and without Leia ever donning slave-girl gear, they still manage to surprise.

The secret? Proving that Yoda can be a warrior, in a completely logical fashion. On a lesser note, by reprogramming C-3PO to be evil. I'm not saying that I always knew that droid could not be trusted. But there was always something sinister about the way he wouldn't blink.

At this point, it may make more sense to wait for the inevitable trade paperback, already solicited. If you have longed for a Star Wars tale featuring your heroes where you really don't know what will happen, Infinities will prove worth your while.


Supergirl #64
Deep Soul Rising
writer: Peter David, artists: Leonard Kirk and Robin Riggs

Most people have pretty cryptic dreams. But not the maid of might. When she falls asleep at a beauty parlor, she immediately dreams of a battle less than an hour away, one in which she will almost certainly die, if not for the timely interference of Lagoon Boy.

Yes, Lagoon Boy. Possessed of the power of the puffer fish and obsessed with land-dwellers, this Atlantean reject seems destined to be a favorite of Peter David. Ironic, really, since Lagoon Boy only appeared in Aquaman after David left the title.

Some terrible forces of evil are gathering against Supergirl, and she will need all the help she can get, especially as one close to her prepares for betrayal.

David seems intent on shifting the status quo of this book again. It happens so often that I can't decide if it's lazy or incredibly clever. Maybe everything is exactly as it seems, and then again, maybe not. But the not knowing has held my attention so far. That, and the incredibly ugly Buzz by Kirk and Riggs.


Superman: The Man of Steel #120
What Lies Beneath
writer: Mark Schultz, artists: Yvel Guichet and Dexter Vines

In the hands of Guichet and Vines, the man of steel looks like he could dearly use a laxative. What should be light and airy looks cramped and blocky, dragging down an intriguing story by Schultz. Aside from reintroducing Cave Carson (like you missed him), Schultz sheds light on Superman's relationship to himself. Or rather, how little he depends on the man instead of the super. While a similar theme has been playing out occasionally in the bat-books, it's starting to heat up over here in the super-titles, to interesting effect.

Carson approaches Clark with the chance to run an expose on LexCorp and its danger to the environment. As Clark points out, though, surely Carson has connections in the super-community that could better handle the problem, cleaning up an oil deposit containing a frightening new bio-organism.

While that might be true, having superbeings take care of problems lessens them in the public's mind. What Carson really wants is our outrage. Interesting food for thought, there, deftly placed in a title not often given to thoughtfulness.

Clark's dilemma, and the manipulation involved, make for a compelling story. It almost makes up for the artwork.


For alternate views and more books, check out Daryl Tay's site, Unique Frequencies.

Derek McCaw




All comics were reviewed by Derek McCaw unless otherwise noted.

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