Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 06/01/06
week we look through the upcoming releases to offer our two
cents as to what's hot and what's not. You can agree with
us or not, but spend your money wisely.
brought to you by FanboyPlanet.Comics
of Santa Clara
writer: Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis
artist: Joe Abraham
Right now, it
feels as if Keith Giffen has been secretly replaced with
a talented android writer that never sleeps. How else could
he be in the midst of Marvel's Annihilation, DC's
52 and writing three or four books for Boom! Studios?
this case he's co-writing or mindmelding with long-time
collaborator J.M. DeMatteis, himself no slouch in the constantly
working department. Together, they make a formidable opponent
- the Master Blaster of Comicdom.
Be that as it
may, Hero Squared has had its fits and starts. Beginning
as a one-shot, then offering a mini-series, it finally gets
what Boom promises is an ongoing series. Though it feels
like they're recycling the cover.
As a relaunch,
you might think that it has a lot of catching up to do.
Much has happened in the earlier issues, but Giffen and
DeMatteis deftly drop hints throughout the dialogue that
gets new readers up to speed.
And this book
should have new readers. The last bastion of the writers'
"bwaa-ha-ha" style, Hero Squared doesn't abuse the
privilege. Instead, it's very much about dealing as realistically
as possible with its ludicrous premise.
Milo Stone lived
a pretty ordinary slacker life, actually about to let it
slip through his fingers, when an other-dimensional version
of him popped into existence. At some key moment in his
past, Milo had the opportunity to become a superhero, but
of course missed the boat. The Milo that did, now calling
himself Captain Valor, has been a paragon of virtue and
righteousness but somehow still managed to hurt his girlfriend
so badly that she became a super-villain.
herself "Caliginous," Milo's wrathful ex-girlfriend Stephie
has destroyed countless dimensions. What could be confusing
to Milo and the readers is that, of course, he's still happily
with Stephie. Then things go horribly wrong.
Captain Valor did to tick his Stephie off has not yet been
revealed. But it doesn't feel like a cheap narrative trick.
Plenty of clues get dropped along the way through that subtle
art called characterization. Already Captain Valor has proven
that his sense of valor might take precedence over things
like loyalty and right (not righteousness), the elements
of human behavior that require delving into grey areas.
The book is
still funny, and artist Joe Abraham has a style that carefully
walks the fine line between standard superhero fare and
a simpler cartoonishness. He handles the close-ups and "takes"
that Giffen and DeMatteis developed as a hallmark of their
style with Kevin Maguire without copying Maguire. That's
a pretty good skill.
Should you need
action, that's here, too. But really, Hero Squared
should be picked up because it handles superheroes in a
way that really calls attention to their humanity, while
letting us laugh at it. And wince, because it's not afraid
to deal with the consequences of its plot.
Also on the
Creature #3: The bad news is that this is only a four-issue
mini-series. The good news is that it's a good one. Rick
Remender writes true graphic novels, albeit pulpy frothy
ones, versatile in his narrative techniques and unafraid
to walk away from a story when it's done. Though some of
the societal elements here are still a bit fuzzy (I haven't
found the first issue yet - maybe that explains things better),
Doll and Creature whips along at a pace that never
lets up on the action or the fun.
Hulk #95: Marshall Rogers steps in to pencil a few pages
of the Silver Surfer, a cool trip down Marvel Memory Lane.
But it wouldn't work without the story, fortuitously calling
to mind obscure Hulk trivia while continuing an arc that
redefines the character. Marvel has anointed a few writers
as their next big thing over the years - Greg Pak is finally
the one they promised.
When this book is finished, I'll have to go back and reread
it all again, because I know that I'll find even more nuance
from Mike Carey. This issue focuses on the Women of Heaven
and Hell, wrapping up a few storylines but leaving a central
question open. Gently, Carey prods at the nature of being
God, and whether you believe or not doesn't matter. He makes
you think about it.
Sea of Red
#10: See earlier comments about Rick Remender. This
book bears little resemblance to the style of Doll and
Creature or Fear Agent. Its story nears its conclusion,
and honestly, at this point, if you're not involved already,
you should get the trade. Some of the narrative feels cramped
and rushed, but that may just be because this is clearly
only a chapter in a well-written whole that needs to be
appreciated from its very beginning. Besides, it's vampires
and pirates. Really - how could this not be good?
Son of M
#6: Delve deeper than that great cover painting. David
Hine proves that Black Bolt is the most powerful character
in the Marvel Universe. And this series really will have
repercussions. It's brave to deliver exactly what it promised.
Now if only editorial will let it stay like this.
War of the Worlds #3: Still clever, with nice moody
art that's enhanced by the black and white. There also may
be a new and interesting way for the Martians to die.
Spectre #1: This holds a lot of potential. The Spectre's
new host has a different approach than Jim Corrigan did,
a more methodical detective with a strong sense of justice
that may be more easily tempered with mercy. Cliff Chiang
makes a good art choice and Will Pfiefer's writing carries
us through a lot of origin exposition so we can get to the
action. However, things are already conflicting with events
portrayed in Infinite Crisis and beyond an origin,
there's no clue as to where this book will actually go.
At least we've got a different look -- not the Spectre Lantern
thing Hal had -- now the Spectre has a cool goatee. Okay,
it's actually kind of silly.
#7: Dan Slott has to hurriedly start wrapping up this
series unless sales drastically improve. Buy the trade.
Prove to Marvel that there's a market for this book. Ben
Grimm goes back in time to find the Venus de Milo, and hilarious
hijinks ensue. Really. Slott combines comedy and action
with a rare gift.
Top Ten &
Team: Part of America's Best Comics' series of indexes,
this book actually stands pretty strongly on its own, at
least in the first half. The "back-up" story proves too
whimsical for its own good, but the story that will take
you through Alan Moore's superpowered cop show does exactly
what it promises - and then some, giving a good rundown
on the status quo in Top Ten while still being a
Books 1 and 2: Disney snuck this one back out onto the
market - the first of CrossGen to be resurrected and aimed
right for the kids' market without compromising its sense
Blackbeard Legacy #1: Alias Comics pulls a classic bait
and switch with a beautiful cover of a hot pirate lass,
played by model Traci Bingham. Inside, however, the artwork
makes me want to lose a hand in battle, replace it with
a hook, then accidentally rub my eyes with it during an
#37: Come back, Frank Cho, all is forgiven! We missed
this book so danged much…
Extinction #5: The Ultimate Galactus trilogy continues
- and should continue to be great Warren Ellis while still
geing distinctly Marvel.
Fantastic Four #30: Those pesky zombie versions of the
team escape and join forces with …Doom!
Hey, write to us and
let us know what you think, or talk about it on the