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The Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 08/16/06
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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.

Deadman #1
writer: Bruce Jones
artist: John Watkiss

I don't know why I fight this kind of thing so much. I absolutely hate it, hate it, hate it, when a new character shows up with the name of a character I inexplicably love. Yet if comics companies hadn't done this, we wouldn't have things like, well, pretty much the entire DC Silver Age.

Which brings us to Deadman, himself originally a cultish byproduct of that Silver Age. Vertigo now has the right to the name, which doesn't mean that Boston Brand doesn't exist anymore; it just means that somebody else stars in this book.

Some things seem similar. Instead of Boston Brand, we leap off into the life of Brandon Cayce. Like Boston, he has a brother with a strange sense of sibling rivalry, in this case Scott instead of Cleveland. And of course, there's that whole thing about being dead.

But Bruce Jones, who has been an uneasy fit in the mainstream DC Universe of late, flies off into his own cool territory with his Deadman. In the sixties, the story practically begins with the explanation of how Boston Brand could be walking around as a ghost; here, Brandon Cayce's life after life is one of the many mysteries that Jones sets up without actually frustrating us.

He and his brother are pilots, about to be the culprits in a terrible airline disaster. Brandon, however, keeps jumping around in time. Is he a kid dreaming that he's a pilot, or a pilot dreaming that he's still an innocent kid? The more his mind wanders through his past, the more intriguing it becomes.

Jones drops a hint that this could be drug-induced, especially since Brandon's mind/time flights seem to go a little past the point of his own death. Perhaps it would be too simple to consider Brandon a sleeping prophet, and at any rate, like any man, he has to struggle to figure out the meaning of his life.

Even after it's over.

Picking up the art chores, John Watkiss maintains the unique style he had on Trigger. The figure variation, however, has improved wildly. Though Watkiss has a distinctly modern touch, his layouts and characters have the feel of the wildest of DC's 70's horror books, when giants like Alex Toth, Alfredo Alcala and Nestor Redondo penciled merrily through the darkness.

For panicked fans, the new Deadman does not trash the memory of the old. Instead, it sets out its own new territory, one we'll want to explore a little further.

Maybe we'll see Boston Brand again, but for now, Brandon Cayce will do.

Also on the Shelves:

Casanova #3: It's not just another cool issue, laying out more conspiracy and pop art than you can shake a stick at. (Don't shake too hard, though; you've got to keep still and concentrate when sorting through this book.) Writer Matt Fraction also explains the genesis of his scripting of the issue, and it's a good look into the process which may trigger budding storytellers.

Catwoman #58: Who doesn't like Zatanna? Well, perhaps not Catwoman, but she still finds her useful every now and then. Again, Will Pfeifer got handed a tough assignment, not just following up a fan favorite run but being forced to undo a lot of the work done in it. Yet he found a way to turn it around into a quietly effective new chapter in Selena Kyle's life. We get another clue as to the father of her baby, but it could be a red herring.

Girls #16: The horror movie continues. Yes, highly attractive highly naked women roaming around the forest demanding that men have intercourse with them can be scary. Let the Luna Brothers show you why.

Ion: Guardian of the Universe #5: Oh, Kyle. We had such hopes for you. Instead we get inconsistent art, a reminder that you did have your own small rogues' gallery and …the hopes that you can go back around the galaxy and say, "oops! 'scuse me; it was the old evil twin thing." But will that be before or after you remove the mysterious stick up the Guardians' tiny blue rears?

Phonogram #1: If High Fidelity had been more of a fantasy novel than it was, it might be something like this. It mixes magic and music, for writer Kieron Gillen intends to prove that they're the same. Jamie McKelvie's art is clean and consistent. Not quite flashy, but it definitely captures the right mood, and the art handles black and white right.

Rokkin #2: Chaotic but intriguing art barely makes up for a story that seems to be dancing on parody. But I can't be sure. Then there's that name - Rokkin! Yeah, dude, barbarically party on!

Shadowhawk #14: Jim Valentino keeps going back to this well, but has anybody noticed? At times simply light fun, then thuddingly pretentious, Shadowhawk still hasn't quite gelled into whatever it wants to be. Like The Savage Dragon and Spawn, it's one that leaves newcomers out in the cold, but which seems like we should like it more.

Sight Unseen:

The Boys #1: Garth Ennis promises to out-Preacher Preacher. It's too soon to tell if that's a good or bad thing, but one thing's for certain: fans are excited. So it's definitely going to be one to pick up and at least thumb through.

Claws #1: Joseph Michael-Linsner draws the Black Cat, and fanboys everywhere find the blood rushing from their head. Please let it be for the Black Cat and not Wolverine. We've got to have some pride left.

Rex Mundi #1: Dark Horse takes over publication on this cool book that fans of The Da Vinci Code should not miss - especially since this is a heck of a lot better written.

True Story Swear To God #17: Since meeting Tom Beland at WonderCon this year and feeling like I ought to look at his book, I'm hooked. It's honest, simple and told so heartbreakingly well that you'll be hooked, too.

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

Derek McCaw

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