Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 07/05/06
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.
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of Santa Clara
writer: Ed Brubaker
artist: Billy Tan
Going through the stack of this week's
preview books at the store, I singled out Uncanny X-Men
#475. "This," I said to Steve, "is good."
He looked at me like I was an idiot. "Of
course it is," he replied calmly. "It's Ed Brubaker."
So true, and what a relief it is to have
a writer that you know will knock it out of the park. Of
course, we're in a golden time right now when several can
lay claim to that. It's just so surprising when Brubaker,
who does gritty really well, can take his approach and apply
it to mutant space opera - and have it work.
After the events of Deadly Genesis,
the X-Men found themselves having accidentally unleashed
a threat to the Shi'ar Empire. Since Charles Xavier and
Lilandra broke up, however, the Empire isn't taking any
of the X-Men's calls. Both threat and threatened are in
this position because Xavier has been manipulative and secretive,
and now that he has no power, he can't be either and save
Instead, he has to gather a team willing
to throw themselves into space after what could have been
their most powerful member. (At least, if not for the Phoenix.)
They may be willing to do the right thing, but some are
torn by having to do it for Xavier.
Brubaker and Tan undo at least one of the
previous creative team's dangling threads. Though Polaris
had left just an issue ago, changed by Apokolips, she gives
in to return a bit quickly. Perhaps, however, she is driven
by the need to fix one of Xavier's wrongs. At any rate,
the changes wrought in her do not go unnoted, just so far
Despite that quick turnaround, the rest
of the book seems rooted in X-history without getting bogged
down in it. When Xavier recruits John Proudstar, the mutant
known as Warpath, he notes that the Native American mutant
is absolutely crucial to this mission to retrieve the rogue
Kid Vulcan. Why? Because no member of the X-Men has ever
hated Xavier more strongly than Proudstar, yet still been
brought around to the cause of Xavier's dream.
Few writers can get to the heart of a formerly
perfect character's flaws as incisively as Brubaker. Sure,
Xavier has been a manipulative jerk in Ultimate X-Men
from the outset; it takes real skill to retroactively add
that subtext without actually rewriting the old stories.
Yet as in his books like Sleeper, Captain America
and Daredevil, Brubaker also keeps it clear that
Xavier only did what he thought was right, and you can believe
Unless Brubaker's setting us up for another
Billy Tan joins a long list of artists
that bring dynamic excitement to the pages of the X-books.
Already, he's made some subtle differentiations that may
get more pronounced as he gets comfortable. It's easy to
make everybody pretty, but Tan captures a few demeanors.
Nobody has drawn Nightcrawler so outright (and appropriately)
cheery since Dave Cockrum.
Yes, this new team should keep fans whipped
into a frenzy of excitement about the X-Men. More impressively,
they're doing it without Wolverine. Now that's uncanny.
on the Shelves:
Secrets #5: A cool mini-series draws to a close, though
ultimately it lacks any great final revelations. Sam Keith
laid out this conclusion with the previous issue, and though
it has some action, this is much more a denoument
than a climax. However, it would be nice if down the road
somebody remembered the little character shadings he set
up here; this new childhood friend seems a lot less forced
Battler Britton #1: Reviving another
"lost" British comic, Garth Ennis writes a simply good war
story and a surprisingly heartfelt essay in the back explaining
the character's history. The writer has long excelled at
two-fisted war stories, but there's also a passion here
that doesn't always seep into his work. With art by Colin
Wilson, Battler Britton makes a promising start;
just don't pretend you know anything about the character.
Beyond! #1: Like we really needed
a direct sequel to the 80's "classic," Secret Wars.
Yet somehow, Dwayne McDuffie makes it work by having the
characters acknowledge the previous event, hint at its lameness,
then turn it upside down. The heroes (and villains) gathered
here are a motley lot; who demanded Gravity team up with
The Hood? Heck, who remembers the Hood? However, with this
story already having more focus than half of the original
event, it just might be that we will care about these C-list
heroes and the obligatory Spider-Man.
Franklin Richards, Son of a Genius Super
Summer Spectacular: This book is definitely an entry
drug into the wonders of the Fantastic Four. Everybody,
including the Thing, seems so harmless and fun. Let's face
it; they really are that way, and despite the outrageousness
of Marc Sumerak's stories, Chris Eliopoulos makes the FF
(no Johnny appearances here, though) into a believable family.
I'm buying this one for my kids, thus getting them ready
for the harder stuff. Blow their minds early, I say.
The Incredible Hulk #96: With all
of the talk about Marvel doing another Hulk movie, what
fans should really clamor for is for one film to revive
the franchise, then launch it into space. We want Planet
Hulk: The Movie. Moving into "Anarchy," Greg Pak just
keeps delivering surprises, moving revelations and the best
Hulk since Peter David.
Jonah Hex #9: The story is a little
wonky, so what makes this one worthwhile is Tony DeZuniga,
one of the original Jonah Hex artists, penciling
and inking. Once again, an old master reminds us he's still
got it. So why don't you get it?
Justice League Unlimited #23: This
issue is a little more simplistic than an episode of the
animated series, but it's still good to see DC willing to
keep the continuity alive a while longer. The Royal Flush
Gang takes on the League, but it's all told from the witnesses'
perspectives. You'll guess the identity of the interviewer
fairly quickly, but a younger kid will just be caught up
in the excitement.
Kid Colt and the Arizona Girl #1:
While they're fun characters, it seems weird that this book
ties them so closely into Marvel continuity. Didn't anybody
in Marvel's old West just star in Westerns? Why, yes, apparently,
as the new back-up character "The Philadelphia Filly" bears
no trace of the strange and bizarre, instead being just
a fun little tale. Then we get a few classic Rawhide Kid
tales, all of them appropriately manly and good glimpses
back into Marvel's history.
Marvel Adventures Spider-Man #17:
Peter David steps in to write an issue guest-starring Werewolf
by Night. Somehow, he makes it fun and not the least bit
scary, another perfect book to give your kids this summer.
That makes three this week alone. Oh, sure, Archie's probably
having Summer Fun, too, and that's okay, but it's kid-friendly
superheroes we've got to encourage. And no, I don't mean
Pureheart the Powerful, though he's welcome, too.
Second Wave: War of the Worlds #4:
Michael Alan Nelson has taken the approach of The Walking
Dead and transplanted it to H.G. Wells' classic. The
Martians in this second wave are pretty much unknowable,
but the darkness and fear in mankind's heart - yeah, we
probably know that too well. In four issues the cast has
gotten almost unwieldy, but the book has been plotted so
densely that it's worth sticking around to see how everything
Talent #2: Religious conspiracy,
government black ops and one guy in the wrong place at the
right time. Oh, and there just might be an actual angel
involved. Throw them all together and you've got this pretty
gripping thriller from Christopher Golden and Tom Sniegoski.
Universal Studios thinks so, too, because they already snapped
up the movie rights. Reading this, though, a television
series seems just as likely, but in either case, this book
has talent to spare.
All New Atom #1: No swords, no camouflage
vests, but also no Ray Palmer - at least, for now. Instead,
it's Gail Simone literally channeling Grant Morrison so
that John Byrne can draw all the wild stuff he wants. Somehow,
it seems pretty much like a win-win situation.
Ares #5: See how this one wraps
up, and how the God of War may be catapulting himself into
Devi #1: Virgin Comics launches
its first title, and from last week's free preview sampler,
this series looked like it could be interesting, exposing
us Americans to a view of Indian culture we just don't often
get, and probably really need.
Grimm Fairy Tales #7: I'm not quite
sure if this actually has a through arc or not, but at its
worst, it's still been a pretty fun read. However, buy it
because you like fairy tales being tweaked, not because
the cover has drawn you in with its nymphette sexuality.
Thing #8: Read this and be a kid again, loving Ben Grimm
and his …poker …parties. Okay, maybe it's not the best example
to set, but the Grimm Poker Parties have been part of Marvel
lore for decades. It's always a treat to get to look in
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