Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 09/14/06
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
Samurai Detective #1
creators: Manny Trembley &
A private detective
gets hired to watch over a client's wife - from a distance.
By seeing her unguarded as he guards her, he falls in love.
But hey, he knows a guy like him doesn't have a chance with
a dame like that, though for just an instant his heart leaps
into his mouth when she shows up on the doorstep of his
Before the truth
of their love can be shared with the other, the dame, Jasmine,
collapses dead with three bullets in her back. Except they're
not bullets, they're throwing stars. And despite a narration
that could easily be delivered by Humphrey Bogart, Sam Noir
isn't really a hardboiled gumshoe the way we usually see
them. He wears sandals. Instead of a trenchcoat, he wears
a kimono. In Japan, apparently, freelance private detective
could just as well be another phrase for "masterless samurai."
With only a
few nods to cultural concepts, the script for Samurai
Detective should be a lot more jarring. Instead, it's
strangely satisfying and works incredibly well. Why not
translate Sam Noir's Japanese narrative into the idioms
of the noir story? The sense of honor isn't exactly
identical, but close enough to make for one cool tale.
warm sake instead of warm scotch, but the dissolution is
the same. He failed his master where a Western detective
might have failed his partner on the police force. Avenging
the death of your dream girl is a hellish shot at redemption
no matter where in the world you are.
No part of the
script forces the genre-blending. Anderson's art delineates
a dark but beautiful feudal Japan, not a society trying
to ape the Los Angeles of Raymond Chandler. Only one panel
seems to slip, in which Sam heads out of the city, and it
looks like dim skyscrapers rising in the horizon behind
him - but that could be a purposeful artistic parallel,
not meant as a literal representation.
The art has
a soft feel to it, a slightly hazy black and white to match
the stark but muddled view of the Samurai Detective. Anderson
has the slight and comfortably unsettling exaggeration of
artists like Kelley Jones and Berni Wrightson; despite having
a familiarity, it should be acknowledged as great work on
Samurai Detective sneaks up like a thug with a heavy
sap on your skull. Unexpectedly fun and well-told, it's
a great start to an interesting story, and the strongest
product yet out of Jim Valentino's Shadowline studio for
Also on the
of the Dark Knight #210: No disrespect to Bruce Jones,
but he writes a much darker uglier world than the mainstream
DC Universe can take comfortably. Yes, this takes place
early on in Batman's career, but it still makes Bruce Wayne
look like little more than an angry chump. If it were about
a character other than Batman, someone original or more
directly noir-ish, maybe this wouldn't taste so bad.
But it isn't, so it does. At least Ariel Olivetti's art
is extremely pretty.
#4: Bowie and Blaine can suck it. That line from the
first page is going to stick with me. Only two pages in,
and Matt Fraction makes us think about certain popular personae
before plunging us into another wild Casanova adventure.
Then comes the twisted Jonny Quest. Once again, I cannot
believe that Fraction and the sublime Gabriel Ba are giving
us this much pure pop joy for only $1.99.
Let me focus on the back-up story first, "Porky Pine Pie"
with art by Joshua Middleton. It's gorgeous. It's fun. As
always, it's clever. And it's absolutely necessary after
the dark and terrible (in a good way) main feature. Some
terrible times are coming for the Fables, and it's insidious
the way Bill Willingham has made these mythical creatures
seem all too real.
The Nuclear Man #29: A few months ago, I wrote that
Jamal Igle's artwork just didn't stand out for me. I clearly
didn't appreciate that the guy has a consistent sense of
layout and storytelling, and draws a clear line in the ages
of his characters. Jason and his father look like father
and son, and Martin Stein looks like an aging scientist,
not some model with glasses. Though this book is in the
middle of an extended plotline, it's worth seeking out back
issues and catching up. Firestorm is good solid comics.
#2: Sure, J'onn J'onnz has become a bit of a jerk, but
A. J. Lieberman makes it understandable. Since 1956, he
has thought himself alone. Apparently, the U.S. government
was quite content to let him think that. Picking up from
Dr. Erdel's experiments, they've got quite a few of his
people, who think the humans must secretly be White Martians.
If only these captors were the hereditary enemies of J'onn
J'onnz, his turn might not be so chilling. It's hard to
guess where Lieberman is heading with this, but his arc
might just be the one that finally convinces people that
the Martian Manhunter is a force to be reckoned with, and
not just a green shape-shifting Superman.
#2: It's dense and different. Like the best of Hellblazer,
Phonogram presents a magical world that's dark and
dirty and not nearly different enough from our own. But
as the creators point out, don't you think that's the way
it really would be? So far, so good.
and the American Way #4: As fun as each issue has been,
this mini-series kind of coasted to stretch out to five
issues. Then again, each episode of The Greatest American
Hero teased the crap out of us before Ralph would suit
up and do something powerful. Finally, this issue sees some
real action that moves the plot along without sacrificing
any of the fun it had before. Let's not just hear the theme
song, guys - let's see a cartoon.
A Face Full of Violence DC collects the first six issues
of their relaunch of the scarred gunfighter. It's good stuff,
and it belongs in your collection.
Baghdad Brian K. Vaughan writes this graphic novel about
zoo animals in Iraq. It is Vaughan. It will rock.
Family Archives, Vol. 1: Mostly adventures of Captain
Marvel, Jr., which are some of the most beautifully drawn
of the Golden Age. The book also features the origin of
Mary Marvel, whose role in The Trials of Shazam!
remains to be seen - or acknowledged.
Legacy #3: I haven't picked this up yet, but Star
Wars fans are going nuts over this book that carries
on the legend after Return of the Jedi. What are
the consequences, really, of having overthrown an Empire
and resetting a quasi-religious warrior caste?
#174: Every now and then, I just like to remind people
that Archie Comics are still going strong.
Hey, write to us and
let us know what you think, or talk about it on the