Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 11/01/06
took us a while to get back on track with a major publisher,
so forgive the long absence. Here now...
brought to you by FanboyPlanet.Comics
of Santa Clara
Incredible Hulk #100
In the midst of Civil War, the Hulk's world
is upside down. Rather, it's not his world at all, as he's
been sent to another plant as a result of the machinations
of the so-called thinkers of the Marvel Universe.
writer: Greg Pak
artists: Carlo Pagulayan,
Jeffrey Huet and more
Readers, too, will see their expectations upended, as
writer Greg Pak opens this issue with a three panel summation
of the "Planet Hulk" epic done for children. It's a puppet
show, but that's not what will be startling to the casual
reader. It's that the puppeteer is a member of the Brood,
a genocidal race of insectoids.
Then it's back to action. The Hulk has been a slave, a
gladiator and a warrior. In all of it, as the Brood member
says slyly (or not - it's hard to tell with all those teeth),
he was a bigger monster than any of them. Now he leads a
rebellion against this planet's Red King, uniting disparate
But is he really their savior?
That question lies at the heart of Pak's main tale, detailedly
delineated by Pagulayan (in a career-making run) and Huet.
Action does dominate the tale; it is, after all, the 100th
issue of the Hulk. But underneath it all lies questions
of faith and destiny.
There's also loss. If you get sucked into this issue,
you'll find yourself more moved by death here than in Civil
War, and that book has characters we've known for years.
Here Pak lets them inhabit more than plot points; we understand
their motivations. One line alone evokes empathy for a Stone
Man from Saturn. How did that happen?
Perhaps on one level, this creative team had little to
prove. By taking Hulk out of the bombast of the big cross-over
event (and thus naturally sparking the next one), they could
take their time carving out a corner of their own.
Which they have. It's been said elsewhere, but it bears
repeating: this is one of the best Hulk stories ever. I'm
a huge fan of Peter David's run, and the two writers may
be apples and oranges in their intent - this is one good
orange. And it's not just Pak. The art team here captures
monstrousness, yet the sadness of the alien armored Miek
is palpable through the drawing, not the caption.
That alone would make this a great book, but Pak also
teams with Gary Frank and Jonathan Sibal for a back-up story
with the awkwardly named Mastermind Excello. This character
debuted in Amazing Fantasy, created by Pak for just
such an emergency. You want to know what's going to happen
with World War Hulk? It starts here. Quietly. Urgently.
Brilliantly. And it also makes Reed Richards' participation
in the Civil War just a little bit more believable.
Marvel also throws in reprints that underscore the themes
in Pak's stories. Not only does the publisher give us fun,
we get depth. At $3.99, this is one heck of a great buy.
Also on the Stands:
Avengers Next #1: This future Marvel
just will not die. It's lightweight and honestly forgettable
but built around cool characters. Tom DeFalco writes it
old-school, and if all you're looking for is fun, you could
do worse. It's just hard to be invested in these Avengers
- maybe because with Marvel Adventures Avengers and Ultimates
and New Avengers, we've got plenty for every taste.
Beyond! #5: At the risk of revealing
a spoiler, I have to ask - are Hank and Jan really just
now getting around to seriously dealing with the domestic
violence in their past? If so, this seems like an odd book
to place that confrontation, but then, almost everything
about this series has been just a little bit odd. It's fun
in its own strange way, just as Secret Wars was in
hindsight, but despite good writing from Dwayne McDuffie
and above average work from Scott Kolins, it lacks any sense
that it's going to mean anything.
Criminal #2: To steal from an acting
cliché, Ed Brubaker could write about a guy reading the
phone book aloud and it just might be a hell of a book.
Luckily, that's not what he's writing about. Instead, he's
part of a small cadre of creators reviving the straightforward
crime book, and this offering from Marvel's Icon imprint
is tense, cool, and great. In addition to having a handle
on noir (with able help from Sean Phillips), Brubaker
also gives us a rundown on a classic film of the genre.
See? You can be entertained and educated.
The Irredeemable Ant-Man #2: This
makes the first book from Robert Kirkman's Marvel career
that feels like Kirkman's career everywhere else. It's got
his unique voice, it's irreverent and most importantly,
it's intriguing. Phil Hester and Ande Parks provide art
that fits pretty well, though they seem to be trying something
with foreshadowing that overplays a couple of moments. It
could be a production error. What isn't an error is creating
this strange anti-hero in an old hero's name.
Red Prophet #3: This Dabel Brothers
effort faithfully adapts one of Orson Scott Card's most
beloved novels. It's competently adapted and drawn, and
moreso than some of the studio's earlier efforts, but therein
lies the problem: it doesn't offer us anything more. As
I read it, I flashed back to my memories of Card's original
prose, and yes, it was pretty much the way I'd pictured
it - except perhaps a little more mundane. The back cover
by John Buxton offers something visionary; Renato Arlem's
work feels slightly stiff and over-inked. The novel offers
wonders; the comic offers an adaptation of same.
She-Hulk #13: Let me hand it to
Dan Slott; he's followed up on his most heavily criticized
She-Hulk storyline and worked hard to burnish its reputation.
It works, though it also feels a little pat. The stakes
had raised so high that it's hard to come up with a denouement
that would satisfy everyone, and Slott's not quite through
Spider-Man/Power Pack #1: For a
bunch of kid heroes that shouldn't be fighting crime anyway,
the Powers sure get in a lot of trouble. Though these stories
aren't particularly insulting to adult readers, Marc Sumerak
writes with kids in mind, and for them, Power Pack is a
good idea. The inclusion of a Mini-Marvels tale at the end
is funny, but not necessarily appropriate as it references
events in Civil War, which are definitely NOT for
children. The Guiding Light cross-over also fills
the last couple of pages, which might not be the best thing
for young readers. We're trying to hook them on one kind
of serial drama; maybe we should keep them away from the
Uncanny X-Men #480: Vulcan trashes
the Shi'ar Imperial Guard. Ed Brubaker writes it. See phone
book comment above.
X-Men: Phoenix: Warsong #3: Greg
Pak found a way of reviving the Phoenix concept without
trashing the memory of Jean Grey. For good measure, he proved
once again that Scott Summers just can't love a woman if
she's not capable of wiping out the human race. If it's
better than it should be, it's because Pak is a subtly humanistic
writer, picking up the threads of Grant Morrison's work
on New X-Men and somehow bringing it all back down
to a human level.
Doll and Creature: Everything Turns
Gray: This trade paperback collects a nifty little mini-series
from Image that's straight out of that monstrous strange
brain of Ric Remender. Do yourself a favor and read this
combo of Blade Runner with Frankenstein.
#1: Grant Morrison writes Batman and now tackles Wildstorm's
Super-Batman. It should be one heck of a great ride.
write to us and let us know what you think, or talk about
it on the forums!