Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 07/27/06
hasn't yet returned to Santa Clara to pick up this week's
books, and since he spent last week at Comic-Con, he also
couldn't read the retailer previews for this week. Sure, Mario
was going to pick them up, but there was something about "the
chance to move out of this cardboard box and into a real home"
that came up. Comics over shelter, Mario. Get your priorities
brought to you by FanboyPlanet.Comics
of Santa Clara
Anyway, instead of looking at the most
mainstream books this week, we're going to focus on the
books and publishers that we ran into at Comic-Con. A few
books have been available for a few weeks, but as they're
with a smaller circulation, you probably didn't see them
at your local comics shop. Take our recommendations and
go back to your shop and see if you can get them.
writers: Ronald Shusett, Michael Town
and Dave Elliott
artist: Steve Pugh and Garry Leach
A state of the
art cruise ship serenely trolls the waters off the coast
of California. Maybe not so serenely, as they're entering
into shark infested waters. Up ahead, those aren't sharks
- they're pirates! Clearly, this is a job for Shark-Man.
You say you've
never heard of him? The people of New Venice City have,
for he has protected them for quite a while, aided by his
manservant Edgar. Using futuristic weapons and gadgetry,
Alan Gaskill defends his own creation, for he is also secretly
the architect of New Venice City.
Of course, when
you're high profile in both your identities, you have all
kinds of enemies. Politics can be deadlier than crime-fighting.
Even that sells the concept of Shark-Man short. As
much as it resembles the lovechild of Batman and Aquaman,
the book also throws back to Henry IV and Ultraman.
Comics is doing what Alan Moore did with his ABC line -
re-thinking the superhero through the lens of pulp fiction
and maybe a little Japanese television. I may be stretching
that last comparison, though artist Steve Pugh has definitely
given Shark-Man a suit that almost overstates the motif.
That is, until the book delivers on the stakes that Shark-Man
with dialogue offers great character moments. While the
wealthy citizen crimefighter is old hat, Shusett defines
Shark-Man's motivation in beautifully simple terms:
"…I keep a list,
a tally of all the people I've raged and fought to save,
and I balance it against those I've failed. Is that odd?
Is it weird to think of it as profit and loss? Well, it
keeps me sane. It keeps me going through those dark nights."
There's a lot
more to the story and the characters than that. This first
issue lays out a pretty complex turn of events that shouldn't
be spoiled here. But it's a grabber, and not just because
of the incredibly dynamic artwork of Steve Pugh with help
from Garry Leach.
The art direction
on this book is stunning. Character design works seamlessly
with architecture and even fashion. Shark-Man is
almost a movie, thanks to the cinematic eye of Pugh. But
again, this is where comics succeed in a way that movies
(for now) won't; Pugh's imagination has an unlimited budget
on the page, and can suck us into its own world.
So spend some
time in New Venice City.
Do These Toys Belong Somewhere?
writer and artist: Kyle Baker
hardbound collection of strips from Eisner-award winner
Baker isn't just a nice package. It's insightful and honest
about family life, sometimes painfully true but always funny.
Some of these strips appeared in the earlier Kyle Baker:
Illustrator books, but that mixed family friendly stuff
with Baker's harder-edged wit. He was right to separate
these out, and not just because he and his family are about
to be animated for BET (though you can see some stuff Baker
has done on his own at his
site). Everybody in the family can enjoy this book,
and should. As he puts it in his own back-cover copy, "…it's
funny because it's happening to someone else."
To Dillinger #1 and 2
writer: James Patrick
debuted the second issue of this Western horror mini-series
at the Con, so we were able to absorb it all in one sitting.
Heavily influenced by Sergio Leone in its pacing, Death
Comes To Dillinger tells a Twilight Zoneish story
about even Death being lawless in the wild wild west. As
cool as Se7enhedd's art is (nicely complemented by JM Ringuet's
coloring), the story takes a couple of extra bounces in
the effort to stretch this out into two issues. A slightly
larger one-shot might have done it; for a company like Silent
Devil, though, it's hard to know if that would be economically
writer: Siddharth Kotian
artist: Mukesh Singh
Of the three
full Virgin Comics books that have come out, this one seems
to have the most mainstream appeal. It's fun plunging into
Indian mythology, and when the book shifts to modern day,
it lays out the villains in a way that seems like the best
of Marvel. The modern Devi herself has to wait until the
next issue, though if you picked up the free "zero issue"
preview a few weeks ago, you'd get a stronger taste of the
writer: Gotham Chopra
artist: Jeevan Kang
Gotham's presentation to the press last week, this book
had me the most intrigued for exactly the reason he wanted.
It's an element of Indian culture that has not really penetrated
Western pop culture; while we know of ninjas, samurais and
senseis, the wise warriors of India aren't well-known enough
to even have a stereotype. Chopra has laid out a good backstory
here, setting it firmly in the so-called glory days of the
British Empire, but no doubt everything we know will be
turned upside down. In the character of James, we can experience
all this through Western eyes being opened, and it's a great
way in for American audiences (if indeed, we are a goal).
writer: Zeb Wells
artist: Michael Gaydos
Since both Wells
and Gaydos have a history with Marvel, you'd think this
would be some sort of straightforward weird superhero thing.
It's far from it. Instead, it catches the multi-cultural
beat of being young in Los Angeles with something horribly
wrong happening to Jessica Peterson. The book has a creepy
vibe to it, and the story lays out both a culture mix and
clash as Jessica discovers she might not be human. Wells
did some cool quirky stuff in his time for Marvel; this
is a change of pace that works well. The only jarring note
is naming the lead Jessica, as Gaydos, of course, rose to
fame with Brian Michael Bendis on Alias, featuring
another Jessica that looks pretty much just like this one.
of the Unusual: Special Spooky Retailer Preview
writer and artist: various
As befits an
anthology book, this one goes all over the map in style.
Luckily, I'd say it doesn't go all over the map in quality.
Though a couple of the stories are scripted straightforwardly,
the art in them provides more of a challenge - in a good
way. This edition was meant more to tease retailers into
ordering an upcoming title from 3 Boys Productions, so some
of the stories are really more excerpts than stand-alones.
However, it provided a good taste of the stuff these guys
are doing, marching to the beat of their own drummer, a
little more out there than The Goon in taste. But
you know what? I love The Goon. Plus it comes with
a DVD of earlier stories adapted to short films by a variety
of artists. This will come with the direct market edition,
too - at no extra cost! So 3 Boys Productions is really
trying to stretch the boundaries of the market, and as far
as I can tell, they're succeeding.
#1, 2 and 3
writer: John Taddeo
artists: Billy Dallas Patton and Kris Justice
As if Taddeo
needs my help. Zoom Suit is a real indie phenomenon,
aided by the incredibly savvy marketing skills of Taddeo
and his wife. Why is this book so successful? Even though
he uses the old armored hero concept, Taddeo gave it a spin
that nobody else seems to have thought of - just put it
on a kid. (Okay, so the Japanese have been doing it for
years - and LOOK HOW THAT WORKED OUT!) Though the characters
occasionally get bogged down in snappy pop culture references,
it's a well-told story with bright art that appeals directly
to its target audience. It's a fun book that kids must just
be eating up.
Hey, write to us and
let us know what you think, or talk about it on the