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The Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 06/14/06
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Each 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.

The Two-Gun Kid #1
writers: Dan Slott and various
artists: Eduardo Barreto and various

Let this be a nice painless way to slide back into the Western genre. By starting off with the Two-Gun Kid, Dan Slott eases us from modern day superheroics (without any Civil War) into the Old West.

Matt Hawk, of course, has been stranded in the 21st century. Some might say rescued, as She-Hulk literally brought him back into continuity in the pages of her own book. If you're a fan of that book, you might want to only skim the first couple of pages; thanks to the vagaries of books being behind schedule, the Two-Gun Kid makes passing reference to what might be a major plot twist in She-Hulk, but hasn't happened yet.

The case he's on here reminds him of an adventure back in his own time period, and it's definitely in the Mighty Marvel tradition. Blending the supernatural with a strong sense of respect for the Western, this opening story both leads right back to the pages of She-Hulk and may plant some seeds for other books in this Western mini-revival.

Slott also has the clean work of Barreto backing him up. Not a particularly flashy artist, Barreto has always been first and foremost a straightforward storyteller. Because of this, he's also an artist whose style can span a variety of genres, as he has to do here - superhero, Western and horror.

We even get a nod to the Lone Ranger, less offensive here than in the controversial Rawhide Kid mini-series a few years back. The character has a different name, but you know exactly who that masked man is - because, let's face it, in comics they're all a riff on him.

Keith Giffen does his best to break that mold with the story of Hugo. I should just leave it at that, but then there's the joy of reading him reunite with his Ambush Bug co-creator Robert Loren Fleming, all of inked by Mike Allred.

As essentially a one-joke story, they keep it down to five pages, but oh, what pages they are. That Giffen bothers to reference Michael Redgrave, well, just proves the guy is working on levels beyond levels, or he really hasn't been sleeping in order to churn out all the material he has due this summer.

Rounding out the book and making it worth the addition of a dollar to the usual cover price, a Lee and Kirby Rawhide Kid story sees a reprint. If anything, it proves that Marvel's founding fathers always made a stew of their genres. It's weird but classic, though I'll admit that seeing Kirby draw Western stuff always struck me as a little off.

To be even more candid, though I can see that the Kid has a sense of style, there doesn't seem to be even the slightest hint of gay subtext. For some, that might be a relief (for shame), but really, it just again proves that that whole Slap Leather thing was ill thought and ill-defended.

Also On The Shelves:

Cartoon Network Action Pack! #2: Partly, this is worth a recommendation because DC has held the line on its price at $2.25. Then, it's rare that you get to read Judd Winick justifying himself to kids, as he does in an interview here (possibly a bait-and-switch for kids that like Juniper Lee -- there's no comics story in this issue). Mostly, though, it's a decent kids' book with truly no objectionable material without being insipid. If your kids like these Cartoon Network shows, this would be a great buy to keep them quiet for five minutes once school gets out.

Civil War #2: Yes, the events in this issue will reverberate throughout the Marvel Universe. There's just no backpedaling on it, either. Something pretty major happens here, and if you want to really be shocked, DO NOT READ THUNDERBOLTS UNTIL AFTER YOU HAVE READ THIS ISSUE. You have been warned. The question is, have you been entertained? Not so much, really.

Fear Agent #5: Rick Remender wanted to revisit Space Opera in comics as done by Wally Wood for E.C. He really has succeeded. Fear Agent is fun, suspenseful and occasionally politely gross, with a story that keeps looping back around on itself in clever ways. Artist Jerome Opena looks destined for big things, because his work here is simply beautiful, even when it's politely gross.

Marvel Romance Redux #5: Love Is a Four Letter Word: When will they stop? Like the other collections, this rewriting of old romance comics is a hit or miss affair, most notable for horror writer Joe R. Lansdale taking a swing. While he's funny, the only story that really works comes from Peter David, who consistently takes the approach of trying to find an inner storytelling logic to his jokes, instead of just filling the story with non sequitirs.

Michael Moorcock's Elric: The Making of a Sorcerer #3: By the great black blade, how long has it been since the second issue? And who besides Moorcock fans are going to care? I include a write-up here in hopes that a search engine will bring you to Fanboy Planet, and you will be grateful to us for informing you that this book exists. It's actually pretty good, and if memory serves, Moorcock has been using each chapter to deepen our understanding of Melnibone while cleverly adding new aspects to the Eternal Champion. And if you don't understand that sentence, then you were here already. Move along to the next review.

Ms. Marvel #4: The Frank Cho covers certainly help sell this book. On the inside, however, it's still got good art and decent story. Unfortunately, it still refers very heavily to the events of House of M, and some of us didn't think to pick up Ms. Marvel's spin-off mini-series from that event.

Umbra #1: Intriguingly, we've got a murder mystery in Iceland. More intriguingly, the victim is a Neanderthal woman, and she was killed by a bullet. Mayhem and mysticism collide, all in a culture that most of us really don't know much about, except that maybe we listened to Bjork once in college. The story builds quite nicely and really readably; you might even find the lesbian sex a distraction.

Wolverine: Origins #3: Daniel Way has completely surprised me. Wolverine has his memories back and yes, he's done some dirty things. We expected that. But he's done some dirty things for either the other side or an operation so covert it's impossible to tell if anybody was right. On top of that, Way has made the once throwaway but cool villain Nuke into a figure of sympathy. Almost, anyway. The surprises just keep coming…

Hey, write to us and let us know what you think, or talk about it on the forums!

Derek McCaw

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