Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 09/20/06
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
writers: Greg Rucka,
Nunzia Defilippis and Christina Weir
artists: Cliff Richards and Dan Green
If it's Qurac, it must be the DC Universe.
And if that guy in the tiger mask also happens to have a
costume you could call bronze, it must be the Bronze Tiger,
a martial arts expert whose viability as a character never
seems quite so strong as when he's with the Suicide Squad.
So really, you can connect the dots and
see that the book Greg Rucka should be writing rears
its villainous-forced-into-heroic head here. To be fair,
if we can't have Suicide Squad, then Checkmate
will do quite nicely. But some of us are greedy - why not
The book starts off with a bang, as the
aforementioned Bronze Tiger breaks into a Quraci prison
to rescue a character we should recognize, but hey, without
a fancy costume, you never can tell. But despite the presence
of costumed superpowers, Checkmate really is about
the behind-the-scenes maneuvering, and so this issue quickly
shifts over to the United Nations.
There Amanda Waller fights for her political
life, and the more this book delves into the mechanics of
the organization Checkmate, the more it seems like this
is the DC version of Civil War. Unlike that book,
though, this is low-key and consistently entertaining without
shocking us to keep us interested and not insistent that
we buy cross-over issues to understand. That's a pretty
tall order when deconstructing the political landscape in
a world with superheroes, but it's one of the things Rucka
and his cohorts do best.
In the Brave New World, though, there's
a third factor that the Squad didn't have to face the last
time around. The Secret Society of Super-Villains is pretty
strong, and they don't take kindly to any rogue operations
of rogues, even if it comes from older loyalties.
With this issue, the writing team has captured
the flavor of John Ostrander's original work. I'd say they
updated it, too, but that's unfair; Suicide Squad,
at least when it featured super-villains, was ahead of its
time in its unflinching grittiness. Let's just say it's
all fun and games until someone in a ridiculous costume
The artwork throws back a bit to the original
series, too, with Richards and Green doing a slightly more
cinematic riff on Luke McDonnell's style. It's a little
bit stiff in places, but the pacing of the story makes up
Granted, this title has been steeped in
intrigue, but it slows down more than enough for new readers
to jump on. There's a vacancy in the leadership of Checkmate
due to events of the previous issue, but it's not something
that is in any way relevant to this story. You're
free to have fun, in a gritty but not too grim way.
Also on the Stands:
Birds of Prey #98: Okay, so the
new/old Batgirl isn't who we thought it was. Gail Simone
also happens to be a good enough writer that even though
we probably don't have any clue, it doesn't feel like a
cheat. She'll reveal it all in good time. Meanwhile, Black
Canary grapples with the thought of becoming a mother, while
the rest of the team wonders if it's fair to bring a child
into the life. When a book touches on one of those realistic
questions, presents great art and still has lots of action,
it's a winner in my book.
Catwoman #59: Will Pfeifer reminds
me of why the Film Freak had to die in his first appearance.
It's too easy to quickly burn through all the iconic film
references, especially when you keep the character's influences
limited to black and white. In just a few pages, the Film
Freak makes a case for himself to fit in with Batman's rogues,
but it's highly unlikely that he himself would approve of
a sequel. Oh, yeah, and we learn who the baby's father is.
Deadman #2: John Watkiss' art really
sets a paranoid tone to this book. Unfortunately, Bruce
Jones' story seems to be treading water a bit. Granted,
he adds some information here that may be sending Brandon
Cayce's story in a new direction, but he belabors the point
three or four times before the characters catch up. If he
had condensed this to a single issue story, like his horror
and sci fi work that marked his early career, it would probably
be taut and really cool. He's just losing his momentum.
Hatter M #3: Doing a science fiction
version of Alice in Wonderland and turning the Mad
Hatter into some sort of super-soldier shouldn't work. But
it does. Ben Templesmith ratchets up the creep factor while
maintaining a strange innocence on Hatter M's face, and
Frank Beddor's story refracts Lewis Carroll's original without
seeming forced. It's easy to see how things could have been
bowdlerized for children while explaining a somewhat whimsical
but no less deadly war. It's a simple idea done extremely
John Constantine, Hellblazer #224:
Denise Mina has made her mark with her run, restoring Constantine
to the character he seemed meant to be. World-weary, cynical
and with a keen eye for consequences, he's at his best when
he still gets blindsided. Of course, Mina has blindsided
him, and the concept that gets "The Red Right Hand" rolling
is a pretty good one. It turns this comic into one of slow
creeping horror, a subtle effect that the book has been
missing for a while.
Krypto the Superdog #1: Adapting
the pilot episode and contributing one original story, this
is hard to turn down if you have young kids in the house.
It reads like an old Gold Key book, and that's high praise.
Though older readers will probably be annoyed (they can't
get past the continuity violations), it's as charming for
kids as the TV show is.
Occult Crimes Taskforce #2: Give
Rosario Dawson all due props for using the comics medium
to build herself a franchise. Heck, give yourself extra
points that Dawson admits she's a geek. We take hope where
can find it. Despite an interesting premise, though, this
book just doesn't flow. It jumps from idea to idea, explaining
some of it in text pages in the back but still not really
holding together as a story. The artwork seems almost photo-realistic
in places, and that's actually a drawback, as everything
looks posed and static. It has potential, but this issue
doesn't even come close to reaching it.
Shadowpact #5: They've been gone
a year. Guess what? Life moved on. Never mind that they
also appeared in 52. Bill Willingham will probably
get around to explaining that - probably. Shadowpact
has so far been goofy fun, but nothing more. Willingham really
needs to crank up the stakes soon if this is to hold people's
interests. You only have so long to coast on people thinking
the idea of the characters is cool.
The Walking Dead #31: Barely any
zombies in sight, and this book is still utterly compelling.
It's got tight, consistent characterization, and Robert
Kirkman always manages to throw a plot curveball without
cheating. I think I said that last month, and it holds true
this month. It's a zombie book even for those that hate
Astonishing X-Men #17: You just
know that Kitty Pryde is going to kick some Hellfire ass.
This has any right-thinking comics fan swooning like sweaty
Baby Boomers at a Tom Jones concert.
Blade #1: A decent writer with one
of the giants in the industry. This time the character's
just GOTTA work!
Civil War #4: "Dear Sharon Carter,
tomorrow we march on Quackychaps…"
Dwight T. Albatross' The Goon Noir #1:
Other creators take a crack at The Goon, in a hillbilly
redneck inbred version of Batman: Black & White.
What could possibly be wrong with this book, other than
its basic sensibility?
Impeach Bush: The subtlety of the
title intrigues me, and I'd like to help but the economy
has rendered me unable to pay the $12.95 cover price. Oh,
Irony, we meet again.
Wetworks #1: It's back! It's…aw,
heck, does anybody care for any reason other than the McFarlane
toys were kind of cool?
Hey, write to us and
let us know what you think, or talk about it on the