Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 08/09/06
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: A. J. Leiberman
artists: Al Barrionuevo and Bit
As one disgruntled fan pointed out at Comic-Con,
every time J'onn J'onnz gets a new series, it seems like
he gets a new origin. Sometimes he's the last Martian, then
he's the last Green Martian, then he's the big spiky headed
thing. Let's just count our blessings that he's never appeared
to be Gumby.
But those changes have been there for longer
than fans want to realize - how many people remember that
the whole reason the Justice League Detroit formed was because
GREEN Martians had knocked down the satellite? By H'ronmeer's
Ghost, if fans would just be happy with the elements of
J'onn's origin, he wouldn't have to change it as often as
So let us count another blessing, that
in the wake of DC's "Brave New World," writer A. J. Leiberman
got the call to inject new energy into the Martian Manhunter.
Lieberman, if you recall, had the unenviable task of following
up Jeph Loeb and Jim Lee by writing Hush. There he quietly
made the character not only his own, but viable and almost
With "The Others Among Us," Leiberman asks
us to forget what we think we know. For now, we have to
go along with a vibe of paranoia. The story keeps the Martian
Manhunter off-balance, but before it does that, it knocks
the readers off-balance. There's a deep conspiracy within
the DCU, and if it's managed to keep hidden this long, maybe
J'onn is right to be angry at his previous attempts at assimilation.
The thing that has been hard to remember
for long time fans is that this is "New Earth." It's a chance
for DC to pick and choose continuity, and at least Lieberman
seems to be dealing with what casual fans think they
know about the Martian Manhunter. Why he has taken this
darker, more leathery look hasn't yet been revealed.
One thing for certain, it does freak out
the locals. From the very first Martian Manhunter story,
"The Strange Experiment of Professor Erdel," the character's
alienness has been a factor, but it's usually quickly swept
away. Lieberman and his art team make it front and center,
putting J'onnz in an angry depression that may seem out
of character, but also might be long overdue.
It's not invalidating the "elder statesman"
role that he has held for so long, but it looks like these
first few issues, at least, will tear J'onn down and build
him back up into something new and edgier. Being the wise
patriarch just isn't going to cut it for him anymore.
If it turns out he is still the last Martian
(and Teen Titans isn't messing with our heads about
that too badly - noooooo), then it will be a long time before
he can trust humanity again. However, Lieberman doesn't
seem to be compromising the character's basic heroism.
The artwork is pretty solid, though Barrionuevo
gives J'onn a little bit too much of a Skrull appearance
in the chin. (No claims of rip-offs, please, as the Martian
Manhunter predates the Skrulls by at least five years.)
The All-New Atom still stands as
the best Brave New World launch, but give this one time:
the talent involved keeps flying under the radar, but deserves
a lot more attention. This book should garner it.
Also on the Stands:
Brother Bedlam: For genre fans,
'70's television is littered with two-hour pilots that set
up a really cool premise and then disappeared, like The
Questor Tapes or Genesis II. Heck, that's how
we got The Six Million Dollar Man. That's how Brother
Bedlam feels, like a really cool pilot movie. Except
that Keith Giffen got involved, so it's one that no television
executive in his right mind would green-light due to excessive
violence and glorious lack of taste. A Lutheran priest discovers
that he's far more than he thought he was, and has to battle
back an attempt to hijack the Apocalypse. There's blood,
guts and artist Matt Jacobs freely dancing around the styles
of Sam Kieth, Giffen himself and Simon Bisley.
Fables #52: Bill Willingham changes
tack a little bit with this issue, dividing it up into a
lead story and a back-up to give us a little more background.
The main plot moves along, and if it doesn't create any
more intrigue, it does show us how deep the Adversary's
conspiracy goes. In the back-up slot, Gene Ha illustrates
the story of Rapunzel in modern times. Once again, one of
the best books out there.
Firestorm the Nuclear Man #28: If
the One Year Later trick didn't draw you in, this jumping
on point should do it. Stuart Moore brings in a lot from
the first Firestorm's past, but does it without leaving
new readers behind. Somehow, he also manages to liven up
Jason Rusch's backstory in a way that isn't alienating.
Moore has not received enough credit for taking this book
from one of the worst DC relaunches to the best, but credit
also has to go to Jamal Igle and Keith Champagne, an art
team that gets stronger and stronger with each issue.
A Man Called Kev #2: The first issue
disappointed me, but that may just be because Ennis had
to shift tones from the earlier mini-series. Kev has never
been presented as a character that had much time (or ability)
to stop and reflect, so it's jarring for this mini-series
to focus so heavily on his taking stock of himself. Jarring,
maybe, but also turning out to be daring and quietly interesting.
It's still not the wild ride of the earlier books, but it's
certainly adding depth.
Negative Burn #3: This Image anthology
book has all the strengths and weaknesses you might expect.
Not everything will hit everybody's tastes, and all of it
is meant to push the boundaries. I've become a fan of Matthew
Smith's "Fade" stories, but I think I'd be happier to just
have it in one edition rather than wade through so much stuff
that isn't my cup of tea. The first issue of this revival
worked much better for me. If you like experimental stuff,
pick it up, thumb through it and make sure you're digging
enough of the art to justify the $5.99 price tag.
The Savage Brothers #1: The first
page makes this seem like Boom! Studios trying to squeeze
more life out of the zombie genre that has served them so
well. But writers Andrew Cosby and Johanna Stokes have a
lot more in mind than that, and I'm glad I didn't dismiss
it too quickly. The title characters are barely moral bounty
hunters at the End of Days, wading through more than just
the undead. However, any ethical morasses they find themselves
in may just be too deep for them to comprehend. Somehow,
this book ended up being just a heck of a lot of fun. Similar
in tone to Brother Bedlam, I'll even hazard that
this is the stronger book.
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