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The Fanboy Planet Preview Spotlight 11/29/06
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Whisper #1
writer: Steven Grant
artist: Jean Dzialowski

"The trouble with the past, with history, is it's always there, all around us, inescapable…We ignore it. We look the other way. We make believe we are new."

So Steven Grant opens Whisper, a one-shot issue from Boom! Studios. But the title is a part of Grant's history, one that he never quite gets away from. Each time the character reappears, Grant has allegedly reinvented her in some way, making believe she is new.

Hey, for me she is. For Grant, a once-hot and still vitally talented writer, this version fits the Boom! mold very well. It's well-written, fast-paced and an easy slide over to some sort of Hollywood adaptation.

That's not a bad thing, and that's not to say that's Grant's goal. One thing comics do that Hollywood won't is trust its audience to be smart. The narrative isn't straightforward. The mystery here isn't even revealed to be a mystery until the last third. What is clear is that Grant has put together a tight story that dances around political issues, touching personal vengeance with a corrupt world larger than we want to admit.

It takes place in our recent history, alluding to but not rehashing events and problems that nobody seems to quite be able to prove anyway. Anyone who reads Grant's column on Comic Book Resources already have a clue to his biases anyway. They never get in the way here, but they do provoke some thought in what could have been a straightforward actioner.

Aside from getting caught up in this tale of a young woman kicking butt and seeking revenge, what pushes this into the spotlight is the discovery (for me) of an artist I want to see a lot more of: Jean Dzialowski.

Dzialowski definitely shows a European influence. It's not necessarily flashy, but the pencils have great composition. Quietly, the figures really act. If you re-read the book, at least one panel early on tips off a plot point, based just on a subtle facial expression. It's not just the human moments, though; Dzialowski handles action really well, too.

Part of what makes the art so compelling likely lies in the beautiful coloring work of Sunder Raj. It's got depth and texture. But then, I've been noticing this a lot with Boom! Studios books; they do put a special and appreciated emphasis on colors, working with some of the best in the business, if not the most feted.

So another one knocked out of the park by this publisher, but also rich and solid to stand on its own. You can want more. There might be more. But you won't be disappointed by what you get here.

Also on the Stands:

Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man #14: One of the biggest problems with Civil War is how it's forced creative teams to put aside what they obviously had plans to do in favor of fitting in with the big event. Of course, life kind of works like that, too, so maybe that's just cranky old comics fan talking. Certainly, Peter David has made lemonade out of this lemon, hurriedly establishing a new status quo for Peter Parker. Scot Eaton guest-pencils, and he does a good job tipping off the secret behind this story without calling too much attention to it. It's a fun issue, but it discards momentum in order to keep up.

The Immortal Iron Fist #1: For whatever reason, I never got into Iron Fist's adventures. Thank heavens for Slurpee cups so that I could have some sort of clue as to who he was. In the hands of Ed Brubaker and Matt Fraction, none of the past appearances much matter. Because I get the strong sense that for the very first time, the past matters. With artist David Aja, the book alludes to Marvel continuity while working hard to establish some of its own firmly. This becomes a story of legacy, something that Marvel doesn't do much well, but these writers pull it off. If you're an Iron Fist fan, you want this. If you're not, you should at least check it out.

Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E. #10 I did not like this book. I did not. But Warren Ellis just brought back Forbush-Man, and made the character actually formidable, though still silly. Stuart Immonen has a field day changing up his style for a variety of Forbush-induced flashbacks, resulting in a trippy fun book that reveals much about the characters without the smugness and the sense of biting the hand that feeds it that earlier issues had.

Onslaught Reborn #1: While artistically a lot more coherent than in the Teen Titans book last year that almost destroyed Gail Simone, Rob Liefeld still delivers the usual. No real sense of anatomy, only a minimal sense of storytelling and a lot of people just staring angrily at the reader between huge splash pages that show Liefeld draws real gud. The bad news is that Jeph Loeb is quite possibly the only writer alive that can keep Liefeld's strengths focused, so Onslaught Reborn isn't actually as bad as it should have been. But geez, everybody still acts a lot more stupidly than they would in their own regular books.

Sea of Red #13: Rick Remender and Kieron Dwyer's vampire pirate epic draws to a close and though it's good stuff, I'm going to have to recommend trade paperbacks over picking this up. Too many of the vampirates look alike at this point to keep the double and triple crosses straight. It's a great idea, executed in a complex manner, but at this point, you've just got to go back to the beginning and let it wash over you like, well, a sea of red.

The Sensational Spider-Man #32: Another victim of the Civil War, Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa treads water while waiting to be allowed to show us just what's going to be happening with Spider-Man. If anything, this might even be contradicting what the other Spider-books have going on - because no one can quite know yet. It's a shame to see Aguirre-Sacasa and Angel Medina doing stellar work that signifies nothing.

Talent #4: Another in Boom! Studios stories off the beaten path but destined to hit a Cineplex or a television near you, Talent finishes off its first arc neatly, closing some doors while raising some questions. The only frustration with it is that it clearly does mean to continue, so its "The End" caption rings false. Otherwise, the conspiracy and supernatural doings here are just the sort of things that may be ridiculous but we have to just keep on enjoying it.

True Story, Swear To God #2: If you're not reading Tom Beland, you should be. As insightful as Harvey Pekar with only a quarter of the spleen, every issue has been terrific. This issue maintains the trend.

What If? Featuring Wolverine: Enemy of the State: Back in the day, which was a Wednesday, What If? stories might have ended dramatically, but not depressingly. Things have certainly changed. Getting right to the heart of its change, with a tiny group of heroes making a last stand against the insane Wolverine, this beautifully drawn book just isn't very fun. It's sad, though with its subject matter, it's hard to see how it could be any other way.

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

Derek McCaw


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