Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 09/27/06
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.
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American Way #8
writer: John Ridley
artist: Georges Jeanty
Some of the
Spotlight rules will be broken with this one. Ordinarily,
this coveted (?) top spot goes to a book that makes its
debut or provides a good jumping on point to a really well-done
Way is a really well-done series, but this issue marks
the ending of it. Yet its passing cannot go unremarked,
because John Ridley and Georges Jeanty have brought this
to an incredibly satisfying conclusion.
For years, the
government has been developing superbeings, carefully controlling
them for maximum public relations value. Not only do they
sell the American Dream, they sell American superiority,
with fake enemies that heighten jingoistic propaganda. Naturally,
something had to go wrong, but this book isn't nearly as
cynical as the shorthand might suggest. Ridley dares to
remember that something ultimately could go right.
But this isn't
some future dystopia - instead, it's America at the dawn
of the Civil Rights movement. The Kennedys lurk in the background.
The main schism tearing the super team apart is the presence
of a black superhero, originally helmeted so no one would
There's a snake
within the organization as well, but that only serves to
accelerate a natural process. These super powers have grown
beyond their original purposes, and as the country struggles
to move forward into being more socially just, so do these
has been a satisfying read, and putting them together makes
for a great story. Ridley doesn't pull any punches, writing
decent but flawed characters as well as complex "evil"ones.
And something about his supervillain, Hellbent, is just
way creepier than the Joker could ever hope to be. Maybe
because in a weird way, Hellbent seems plausible.
As does the
emotion behind the whole series, ably delineated by Georges
Jeanty. His pages are packed with detail, but his characters
are easily distinguishable. This is an artist on the rise.
to specialize in cynical views of heroism, an angle that
may have run its course and force its massive reboot in
the next few months. While The American Way has a
remnant of that attitude, it's really looking forward, leavening
the grim and gritty with the hope that too many posers keep
forgetting should be key.
Also on the
Full of ideas and references to a graphic golden age, Albion
seems stuffed to the gills. It's also confusing as all get-out,
with throwaway characters that too many other characters
deem important, with a feeling that we should recognize
them all. Well, we would if we were British, but because
we're not, we are not amused. Image's Jack Staff
has been riffing on these same characters, thinly disguised,
and taken the time to actually explain them to a new audience.
Albion just assumed we knew, and now this final issue
in the mini-series just limps to a close.
the Mad Monk #2: Foolishly, I just noticed that all
of this falls under the title Dark Moon Rising, Matt
Wagner's way of folding the original Detective Comics
stories into some sort of Year One. It's working, getting
better and better, though it's still weird that he felt
compelled to utterly change up Julie Madison's characterization.
While it may be too clear where Wagner is headed with Julie,
he's added enough new details to the original story to make
it seem fresh and new, and thus worth a look.
#35: As much a slice of life book as it is a superhero
saga, both sides of Invincible prove compelling month
after month. If you haven't checked this one out, go - get
the trade paperbacks, then come back and be up to speed. Why
does Marvel keep offering Robert Kirkman plum assignments?
Invincible. And it's not even a Marvel book.
Jack of Fables
#3: The only spin-off book that could have worked, maybe
Jack of Fables won't have the longevity of its parent
book. But don't tell Jack. He'd take offense, and this first
arc argues that no, he's got a lot of adventures left in
him. And when he meets another Jack, it's also clear he
has a lot to learn. Will he? Buy the book and find out.
Plus there's fairies and a nymphomaniac Goldilocks.
#17: Clearly, I've lost track of current Hourman continuity,
and on New Earth, who can say for sure right now, anyway?
Two generations of Hourmen face down Bane, a dangerously
awkward character, because nobody seems willing to make
up their mind about just what his alliances are anymore.
Still, Scott McDaniel has always been a good artist for
visceral fight scenes (which you have to have with Bane),
and Tony Bedard wades well into a relatively obscure corner
of the DC Universe.
and Bears #3: Mike Bullock gained a lot of attention
with this charming concept, spinning it past its initial
mini-series to this second arc with the same title (though
a different publisher, Image). With artist Paul Gutierrez,
he continues with a lot of charm, but not a lot of sense.
This seems to be enamored of its hype a bit, and Gutierrez'
layouts occasionally leave something to be desired in the
way of storytelling. Pages shift focus abruptly, and not
even a "What has gone before" recap page helps with the
complexity. It's supposed to be a children's book, but it's
starting to read like The Silmarillion.
#1: This graphic novel answers the question we've secretly
asked ourselves for years: what if Bruce Timm did sex comedy?
Once you get past the overtness of lead character Ann Lesbee's
name, this romp through high fashion, Europe, and government
conspiracies is nothing but pure fun. At only $5.99, it's
also a steal with great art from Dennis Budd and Joe Caramagna.
When is the mainstream going to perk up to the consistently
good and interesting work coming from After Hours Press?
#1: It's the sequel to an extremely popular anime. It
offers very little in the way of back story. For all that,
Ninja Scroll worked pretty well, with Michael Chang
Ting Yu using a style that bridges the manga look with something
a little more Western. J. Torres' story must continue things
fairly well, but it also stands pretty well on its own.
Not a fantastic book, necessarily, but one that should really
please fans of the original series.
of Shazam #2: If Mary Batson has been in a coma since
before the first issue, why did Billy seem so jaunty before
the final strange transformation of the lightning? Judd
Winick moves Freddy Freeman up a notch, really playing up
elements of his character that haven't been touched in a
while, so that almost makes up for the Mary Batson thing.
But he's also making changes to the mythos that feel more
marketing driven and strangely pretentious, especially in
Billy's dialogue. I guess true fans will always have Archive
Swear To God #1: Tom Beland moves his brilliant autobiographical
book over to Image, and to celebrate he treads a little
water. To be fair, he had to bring new readers up to speed,
and that's not necessarily going to turn off old fans. It
just feels like he's rehashing instead of giving us a new
insight. Now that he's gotten that out of his system, it's
time to move forward in the second issue. Don't get me wrong;
if you haven't read this book, take advantage of the Image
label that is more likely to have brought it to a store
of America #2: Trying very hard to contain myself.
Mortal Legend Reborn: Once upon a time, this book was
a fan favorite from Image. Now it's coming from Avatar.
Try not to hold that against this revival. Sharon Scott's
story should be enough to get you hooked.
A Plane #2: I want these m*#%ing movie tie-ins off my
m$#@!ing Diamond invoice!
Meets Spider-Man: Do I think this will be a book I will
treasure and read again and again? No, it's not going to
be an Archie Meets The Punisher. But it will be fun,
and hopefully a reminder of what made Stan's creations sparkle
in the first place. Are my sights too high?
Hey, write to us and
let us know what you think, or talk about it on the