Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 01/09/07
brought to you by FanboyPlanet.Comics
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Hyperion vs. Nighthawk #1
writer: Marc Guggenheim
artist: Paul Gulacy
spotlight pick doesn't make for the most comfortable read.
In fact, it's rather disturbing, and regardless of your
domestic politics, it will get to you. But you could get
lectured about Darfur, agree on the horror of what's going
on there and still feel lectured. Through Marvel, Marc Guggenheim
gets to couch it in a superhero story, with the conflict
that everybody knew had to be coming.
For those intrigued
and just picking this book up on a whim, yes, that's a thinly
disguised Superman/Batman analog on the cover. Unlike Superman/Batman,
however, they're fighting for good reasons - or at least
what they individually think is right - and their conflict
is pretty clear.
These two will
never be the marquee characters they parody, and thus Guggenheim
can follow a long tradition of using them to tell a story
that provokes readers. Yet he gets the grittiest. Though
J. Michael Straczynski, who revitalized the concept, has
flirted with real world issues in the regular title, it's
still been with fictionalized events, heavily altered by
the participation of superheroes.
the horror is so pervasive that even the efforts of Nighthawk
are like a bee sting to it. Committing acts of violence
(against those that arguably deserve it) catch attention,
but the political landscape is so screwed up that the masked
hero's interference merely distracts from the larger violence.
And hey, nobody seemed to be talking about that in
the first place.
The status quo
of Hyperion and Nighthawk don't matter. All you need to
know, and Guggenheim establishes right off the bat, is that
they have philosophical differences about their responsibilities.
The writer quickly establishes Hyperion's attitude, and
you can get Nighthawk's from his physical responses. Actually,
Nighthawk barely speaks in this book, but his archetype
is so powerful that we can feel his impact throughout.
Of course, Paul
Gulacy's artwork itself makes an impact. One of the best
artists around, Gulacy does dynamic layouts, but provides
some devastatingly quiet moments. He pulls back from some
of his signature moves in order to make the violence against
innocents personal, and it makes for a tremendous issue.
The issue at
its heart, the genocide in Darfur, is almost overwhelming.
One comic book isn't going to change the world, but Guggenheim's
heartfelt plea at the back of the book, along with websites
listed, may at least wake a few people up.
any easy solutions. Guggenheim's writing hints that his
story won't offer any, either. But this may be the most
important comic book hitting the stands this week. Luckily
for its legacy, it's also damned good.
Also on the
Atlas #6: Despite its popularity, Marvel has rarely
had a sense of history and legacy in its books. Sure, Roy
Thomas created the Invaders and staked a claim for the 1940's,
but the company still had a huge gap. Creators have taken
shots at it from time to time, but it hasn't been until
recently that it's really worked. Most of the attention
has gone to Ed Brubaker, a skilled and deservedly popular
writer. But quietly Jeff Parker has been building a foundation,
and if you haven't been reading this title, you're missing
out. Unexpectedly, this has turned into one of my favorite
mini-series of the year, with solid writing and the best
art of Leonard Kirk's career. This isn't just adding a sense
of history, though - it's also been fun, something in short
supply in the Marvel mainstream.
Spider-Girl #4: Right now, if you're reading this book,
it's best to just completely cut free of any concept of
continuity. It's a decent read, but it occurred to me that
what was once "Spider-Man's future" may now be our present.
Certainly, Tom DeFalco borrows from real life figures of
today; it's hard to imagine somebody would rip off "The
Dog" ten years from now. It's a solid book, just not gripping,
but perfect for some young reader between 9 and 12.
Neighborhood Spider-Man #16: Resolving another little
corner of his own creation, Peter David delivers another
decent book. Along the way, he's given Peter another "power"
that other writers seem so far to have utterly ignored.
Taken on its own, this issue is good, but woven into the
grand tapestry of things, it's further proof that Civil
War the event is a runaway train, and nobody seems to
be trying to get ahold of it.
#15: It's tough to write a team book when your main
point is that the team just doesn't like each other. At
least Frank Tieri tries to correct a continuity gaffe between
this book and Black Panther. Otherwise, it's just
the least likeable X-Men (and Captain Britain) arguing with
each other, while the most believable if unlikely redemption
in X-characters gets undone for no good reason except to
leave Chris Claremont with a bit of a mess to straighten
out when his health permits his return. This title was shaky
from the start, and it really hasn't straightened up.
#34: Yes, in the wake of House of M, we have
approximately 198 mutants left. And has anybody noticed
that every single one of them seems to be featured in a
team book? It's really hard to keep them straight, but credit
goes to the creative team of this one that their story works
even though it's hard to get a grip on the characters. Still,
Kyle and Yost continue succeeding in their quest to make
us like X-23 (who, by the way, still has a series of her
own - she's just like her big brother).
#23: Just when you think you've figured out where the
book is heading, Brian K. Vaughan pulls the rug out again.
Once again the team has an enemy within, but for heartbreakingly
understandable reasons. Not much actually happens here,
just young superkids trying to sort through their griefs.
It seems like the end of the world when you're an adolescent
- and of course, with their abilities, it could be.
#110: It's hard to get a grip on this one. In Frontline,
we're seeing Norman Osborn being manipulated by an outside
force; here, he's perfectly in control of himself and, by
extension, the Thunderbolts. We've got a missing piece.
With that, it's still an interesting book, but not particularly
likeable. Well-written by Warren Ellis and well-drawn by
Mike Deodato, Jr., it's missing (on purpose) the key element
that the previous team had - people striving for some sort
of redemption. Unless you count Penance, who seeks his name
without any hope of actually achieving it. Ellis throws
in some elements of social satire, too, but ultimately,
this is an ugly book at its heart. That might work for a
few issues, but it's as radical a rethink in many ways as
that Fight Club take Marvel tried a few years ago.
Designed to get you to suddenly pick up the book in excitement,
it's an idea whose time will pass quickly, or worse, really
came about twenty years ago when DC did it as Suicide
Origins #10: Plodding like The Blob after a bender,
this issue does finally manage to accomplish a couple of
things. We see Wolverine as a caring foster parent for Jubilee,
totally beating us over the head with the idea that of course
he has a genetic son that he's never even seen. The carbonadium
synthesizer issue gets resolved, and then, just for kicks,
Daniel Way throws in a truly shocking moment followed by
a cliffhanger that just doesn't quite make sense. It's a
week for ugly books, and unfortunately, this one follows
Corps #8: This book suddenly took off last month, deepening
its impact and importance to the DC Universe. Chalk it up
to Keith Champagne, a writer/inker who really loves the
lore of DC continuity and expands it without warping it
and claiming that's what it looked like in the first place.
#6: The change of costume still doesn't make much sense
other than to finally give J'onn J'onnz a new costume, but
this mini-series has been surprisingly good. Maybe, just
maybe, it will finally give J'onn the respect among fans
as a solo hero that he deserves.
Batman vs. Aliens Predators #1: Really, I have no clue,
but this just seems so ridiculously over the top that I've
just got to know.
write to us and let us know what you think, or talk about
it on the forums!