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!
of Barry Ween: Boy Genius Monkey Tales #5
Our Little Girl's All Grown Up
story and art by Judd Winick
Pulled into an
alternate dimension in search of their lost friend Sara, Barry and his
friend Jeremy the walking hormone have been surrounded by human-like
warriors. Leading the tribe, of course, is Sara, ten years older, with
bazoobies and a booty that makes J. Lo look like Jeremy's Aunt Rosa
after she gave up the Slimfast.
All of it has happened
at the behest of Bezeruul, the super-intelligent ape Barry helped in
issue #1. And all of it makes Barry very, very bitter.
when bitter, Barry is hilarious.
this strange mix of South Park and genuine intelligence. Some
of it moves slower than the usual Ween, mostly because he's adding
in real plot and continuity. Whatever. It's still one of the funniest
books out there.
writer: Brian Michael Bendis, artist: Michael Gaydos
The mystery continues,
though Jessica gets a little closer in the chain. Who really hired her
to find the woman who may or may not be Captain America's girlfriend,
and did they kill her? We still have to wait another issue, but at least
Jessica's lawyer can offer her a clue.
Bendis also spends
some time putting things in a political perspective, which seems a little
awkward. The President is under fire for spending too much time hobnobbing
with heroes. Granted, it's obviously part of a larger agenda, but Bendis
has also established a regular citizenry in awe of the Marvels.
Be that as it may,
it does give the story a larger resonance. Despite Jessica's having
turned her back on the hero lifestyle, it's clear in this issue that
she has tremendous respect for it. And not just Captain America.
We've come this
far; we've got to see where it goes.
Brave New World
writer: Mark Millar, artists: Arthur Adams and Tim Townsend
After taking out
a familiar-looking futuristic teen super-hero group, the new state-sponsored
Authority relax on The Carrier. Of course it's part of Millar's point,
but these new "safer" heroes are far more decadent than their predecessors.
Last Call, for example, spends his leisure time torturing the defeated
Apollo. It turns out that despite appearances, all but one member of
the original Authority have survived, each being given their own unique
Ah, that one member.
That one member would be The Midnighter, and as the Batman analogue
for the team, it would be foolish to count him out, especially since
no one has actually found his body.
Without a doubt,
The Midnighter will prove far more dangerous than the Cosmic Hemophilia
caused when The Carrier crashed so many months ago.
to twist this book inside out, working his way back to status quo just
in time to leave it. This time out he gets matched with the great pencils
of Adams, who really doesn't work enough. It's his choice, but still.
Adams pulls off the unique trick of making The Authority look
And you know what
The Midnighter would have to say about that.
writer: Kelley Puckett, artists: Damion Scott and Robert Campanella
"Say hello to my
Somehow that quote
loses something when translated to comics. It comes from a guy who has
strapped a bomb to himself, a bomb that Batgirl must defuse with the
help of Oracle.
only a macguffin, giving Puckett an excuse to get old and new Batgirls
to sit down and talk. Barbara reminisces about her early days, and as
Batgirl goes off to train, Barbara snaps into Oracle mode to conference
best efforts to keep it secret, Batman and Oracle know about her impending
death-match with Shiva. Puckett drops hints that Batman may even have
orchestrated it. Can he be that machiavellian? We will find out soon,
because it has loomed too large over the last couple of issues to wait
for DC time.
still bothers me, but his layouts have become much easier to follow
over the last few months. From a book that I read out of habit, Batgirl
has managed to work its way up a couple of notches in quality.
of the Dark Knight
My Adventures Underground
writer: J.M. DeMatteis, artists: Trevor Von Eeden and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez
When Robin first
appeared on the scene back in 1940, characterization was a lot simpler.
By the time we as readers demanded something deeper, Dick Grayson already
had experience, so complex tales of his early days remain in short supply.
This leaves DeMatteis
with quite a bit of room to play, and so far this storyline, Grimm,
has proved pretty interesting. A villain(ess) who acts like she just
stepped out of the Batman television show has become the toast
With this second
chapter, it turns out that she runs an underground orphanage-cum-amusement
park called Dreamland. With this kind of fun, Gotham kids must be begging
to be abandoned. In fact, a fledgling Robin abandons Batman for it,
an act that Bruce Wayne can hardly blame him for.
Before you roll
your eyes and call this a Devin Grayson rip-off, remember that really,
Bruce Wayne was emotionally unprepared to take care of a kid,
no matter what Bob Kane thought. Grimm explores territory that
And it's good to
have Von Eeden and Garcia-Lopez back. The combination looks a bit like
the classic Dillin-Giordano team, but with a modern feel. This storyline
has rescued LOTDK from being just bat-filler.
Rating: Four Planets
The Dark Knight Strikes Again #1
storyteller: Frank Miller, colorist: Lynn Varley
Okay, now that
the visceral reaction is out of the way, the real question is, how is
A lot has changed
since Miller created The Dark Knight Returns and truthfully changed
a lot about the way people see Batman. Society has changed. Technology
has changed, in ways that he could not have predicted. And somehow Miller
absorbs it all without blinking, integrating the changes (and satirizing
them well) into his story without having to re-write the past.
What may disappoint
some (fools!) is that Batman acts more as an unseen presence in this
story. Instead, as promised, Miller's business now is about reviving
the fun of the silver age heroes through his kaleidoscopic vision.
We get a clearer
view of why Superman seems so fascist, and disturbingly, see that he
still has powerful heroes on his side with Wonder Woman and Captain
Marvel, looking suspiciously like his Uncle Dudley.
Miller gives us an Atom that kicks butt. Writers always make Ray Palmer
crucial in big events like this, and yet the guy cannot hold his own
book. Perhaps he is just best in small doses, but in Miller's hands
you want more.
Varley works in
a much brighter color palette than she did in the original, reflecting
the brighter tone of the book. It's beautiful work, as was to be expected.
The events in the
story may be horrific, but clearly, Miller isn't just headed towards
good triumphing over evil. Good will completely tan evil's hide.
Climb in and enjoy
writer: John Arcudi, artist: Tan Eng Huat
The team has moved
into an abandoned nightclub, but they haven't done much to bond any
further. They're still saddled with the new Negative Man, whose chief
asset in a fight seems to be that using his abilities deeply disturbs
his foes. And we still really barely know who they are.
party comes a wanna-be supervillain with motivations unclear. He talks
a good game, and he looks big enough, but nobody seems to have ever
heard of him. But he has a nifty leather mask that makes him look like
"The Butcher" from the game Diablo.
I'm all for letting
a story develop, but already this feels too slow. Take your time, Arcudi,
but still please reveal information to us. Even out of Jost's shadow,
we know more about the tycoon than we do about the team.
Huat proves himself
to be the right artist for this team of freaks. His work has an unpredictability
to it, cartoonish but with a fine eye for detail. But it's not necessarily
enough to justify buying this one.
A Chance To Dream…
writer: Judd Winick, artists: Mike McKone and Mark McKenna
It's 'Nuff Said
month at Marvel, in which the writers and artists have been challenged
to create stories in which no words are necessary at all. Screw the
Okay, that's flippant.
Winick and the art team rise to the challenge quite handily here, giving
us insight into the dreams of the Exiles. Some are fantasies, some are
nightmares, but all are interesting. (Though I'll admit I was mostly
confused by Nightcrawler's daughters dreams.)
Morph also once
again proves that he enjoys being a girl. Granted, it's meant to distract
a hotel clerk from noticing that Morph's credit card is fake, but he
still seems to take terrific pleasure from it. It would not work if
not for the excellent layouts of McKone and McKenna. The dream sequences
may not call for much in the way of narrative ability, but the framing
sequence does, and their work speaks volumes.
The First #14
writer: Barbara Kesel, artists: Bart Sears and Andy Smith
reviewed by Charlie Wentling
The long-term story arc that Kesel has been building is starting to
pay off. I thought that this issue would bring a turning point for the
series, but that is still ahead. I have no complaints though, this is
one of the best issues to date. I am anxiously awaiting issue #15.
The conflict that has been building between Pyrem and Seahn for the
past 6 months finally boils over. I get the feeling that one of them
will be killed off soon. The interesting thing is that I am not sure
which one it will be. One of the advantages of having such a large,
interesting cast of characters is that all of them are expendable.
If I had to choose who I think will win, my money would be on Seahn.
He is clearly not planning a fair fight, and his alliance with house
Sinister will play a big role. But I hope I am wrong, Pyrem has developed
into a more interesting character. This is Bart Sears' last issue on
this title, and he will be missed.
writer: Joss Whedon, artists: Karl Moline and Andy Owens
Whedon once again
proves that he holds no character sacred. Somebody close to Melaka Fray
gets killed as a message to the Slayer. It's done in such a way that
it puzzles Urkonn, her discomfited Watcher.
Faced with certain
doom, Fray comes clean to her sister and tries to make sense of her
new role. As Urkonn pointed out previously, there have never been twins
born with the power, so it split between Melaka and her brother. Trouble
is, he's a vampire.
The story also
has frustrating clues as to the ending of the actual Buffy saga, which
makes one hopeful that Whedon is not pulling a Twin Peaks on
his fans and just making it up as he goes along.
It's headed for
a showdown, and you really want to be there.
by Frank Cho
Most of this issue
covers Dean the Pig's attempts to pick up women, alternately at the
Treetop Tavern and the local gym. All of them fail spectacularly, and
all of them will make you laugh.
One of the main
reasons Cho has decided to go for just comics is that he has the freedom
to give you the punchlines he wants. Seeing his repaired (after newspaper
syndicate censorship) strips bodes well for Cho's instincts. The man
And his books are
always worth it.
writer: Tony Bedard, artists: Brandon Peterson and Joe Weems
reviewed by Charlie Wentling
Mystic reads a lot like an action movie this month. It takes
a simple premise and runs with it. Animora brings the planet of Ciress
to its knees in an attempt lure Giselle into a confrontation. We don't
yet have the full picture of what she is planning, but she obviously
doesn't care about Ciress. Her plan may just be for revenge, or possibly
something more sinister.
Either way, the action moves a lot faster than in a typical CrossGen
comic. Bedard manages to inject humor into the story without losing
the serious tone. Peterson gets to draw a bunch of giant creatures beating
the crap out of each other. His art is good as always, but inker Joe
Weems is not as polished as normal inker John Dell.
Overall, this series is moving in the right direction.
writer: Jeph Loeb, artists: Ed McGuinnes, Kevin Maguire, and Cam Smith
An annual tradition
in Superman, the Man of Steel meets up with Perry White to answer
letters people send in to the Daily Planet, hoping that Superman can
help them. No man can do everything, but he chooses as many as he can.
Unfortunately this year, a new supervillain has come to town.
Luckily, the new
Toyman (made in Japan) only has eyes for Metallo. For some reason he
believes that Metallo's technology was stolen from his family generations
before, and so he must assume a mecha disguise to get it back.
It's a neat trick
on Loeb's part, giving us action while still allowing Superman to perform
his annual good deeds. As long as the two villains only beat on each
other, he can leave them be for a while.
Just don't ask
about the giant Pokemon.
As usual, the requests
for Superman are poignant and in keeping with the season. As a result
of the war, I'd say doubly so. We could all wish for a Superman to help
make the little things right.
Man-Thing and Spider-Man
writer: Brian Michael Bendis, artist: John Totleben (with assist from
Bendis has the
coolest job at Marvel. He gets to revamp just about anyone and everyone
to fit his whims on this book. This month, he even gets to play an odd
nostalgic game by having famed Swamp Thing artist Totleben take
a whack at Marvel's version. (Go ahead, e-mail your protests.)
Marvel's version, for this Man-Thing in just a couple of pages seems
more intriguing than Manny's last few regular MU appearances.
We also get the
new improved Curt Conner, whose plight has no connection to Spider-Man
except that Peter simply has a strong drive to do good. With all due
respect to J. Michael Straczynski, between this and Ultimate Spider-Man
Bendis has managed to winnow Peter down to the core of what made him
such a compelling character in the first place. This kid is a hero because
he chooses to be. And that's pretty good to see.
With a little smoothing,
I suspect, from Ron Randall, Totleben's art looks beautiful. His re-imagining
of The Lizard provides some real chills, but of course that's why Bendis
asked him to do this issue. The man draws horror well.
Return To Weapon X
writer: Mark Millar, artists: Kubert, Derenick, Miki, Hanna, and Stucker
In Philip Jose
Farmer's classic novel A Feast Unknown, the writer poses the
question, "why don't superheroes have genitalia?" He comes up with the
same answer Millar does here. And it's a doozy. Guys, cross your legs
when Wolverine takes on Sabertooth.
Elsewhere in the
ongoing saga, alliances shift, sides change, and it may very well be
that nothing is as it appeared to be. And finally, I'm really cool with
Though he brings
this arc to a close, Millar has set up a lot of interesting food for
thought, and to describe almost anything would ruin it. Just suffice
to say that even with the coming of Gambit (who annoys me), I can't
wait for next month.
For alternate views
and more books, check out Daryl Tay's site, Unique
were reviewed by Derek McCaw unless otherwise noted.
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