Each week we take a critical
look at some of the best books on the stands, courtesy of Big
Guy's Comics (the unofficial comic book store of FanboyPlanet.com).
If you publish a book that you want us to be covering, contact us. Or
contact Derek. He doesn't have
enough to do.
Hey Kids! Comics!
#792 Big City Little Man
writer: Joe Kelly
artists: Pascual Ferry and Mark Morales
With all the big
goings-on that have been happening lately for Superman, this quieter,
poignant tale by Kelly brings a good change of pace. Though the first
three pages are a little disjointed, they paint a picture of what Lois
Lane calls "one of the background players in your life."
In this case, that
background player is Valentin, the newsstand operator to whom Clark
gives his lunch every day. Kelly, Ferry and Morales show us the seasons
changing around Valentin's dependability. And then one day, Valentin
is gone, and no one knows where.
Least of all Clark,
who until Valentin vanished didn't even care enough to learn his last
name. It's a hard realization for Superman that in saving the world,
he's lost track of the little guy. Even as he helps Wonder Woman save
Hawaii, this thought troubles him. And so, with the help of Lois and
Batman, he sets out to solve the mystery of Valentin's disappearance.
In the process,
Kelly demonstrates how Clark has tended to use his powers to coast by
in his civilian life. For an allegedly former reporter for a great metropolitan
newspaper, Clark's investigative skills are pretty weak. Thank heavens
for x-ray vision, or he'd never find out anything.
That x-ray vision
is one of several little artistic flourishes Ferry gives that makes
his mark on the character. It's an original interpretation that works.
Kelly has also given him some nice little throwaway bits - there's an
untold JLA adventure between panels that looks like Morrison wrote one
more script while heavily medicated. Visually, this is the most visually
exciting Superman book in months, which might seem to contrast with
the small scale of the story.
Best of all, this
issue stands alone. While I appreciate continuity, it's good to take
a break from having to remember who's done what to whom and when.
Spider-Man #42 A Strange Turn Of Events
writer: J. Michael Straczynski
artists: John Romita, Jr. and Scott Hanna
JMS revives an
old standard practice. opening with a recap page that's both in context
and extremely useful for those who missed the previous issue. Though
it is the end of a larger story, this chapter could be read alone without
turned to Doctor Strange for help in capturing The Shade, and gets more
than he bargained for. While the Sorcerer Supreme cannot join the wallcrawler
in battle, he prepares him for an astral journey. (The good doctor has
a mini-series to tend to, as yet unwritten, as yet unwritten, as noted
in some clever captions.)
journeys to another realm, rendered by Romita and Hanna in such a manner
to do Steve Ditko proud. In contrast to its loopy setting, this issue
may be the tightest artwork that the team has yet provided. Their illustration
of a future menace (?) for Spider-Man is suitably disturbing.
All in all, it's
a very satisfying issue, particularly as JMS once again brushes up against
the idea that there's far more to Peter's power than he ever suspected.
Such a tease, and yet so good at it. But between this issue and The
Evil That Men Do, I have to wonder: when does Peter have time to
do his lesson plans?
Batman #604 Reasons
writer: Ed Brubaker
artists: Scott McDaniel and Andy Owens
Though not directly
tied in to Bruce Wayne: Futileplot, Brubaker's story explores
the ideals that the Darknight Detective has forgotten (and will obviously
recommit to) in the course of that crossover. For good measure, he throws
in Catwoman, doing a little emotional dance with Batman that he seems
to actually enjoy. It's an interesting take, though a little at odds
with the borderline psycho we've been seeing lately.
Overall, the story
explores Batman's reverence for life, even that of the criminal dregs.
Some of The Joker's henchmen have struck out on their own, still using
a clown motif and trying to establish territory. (Brubaker acknowledges
that they must be a bit deranged themselves, just for working for The
Joker. Most readers have wondered the same thing.)
the tale are McDaniel's takes on classic scenes from Batman's history.
For those who've forgotten the huge influence Frank Miller had on the
character, notice how many of these scenes are directly from his and
David Mazzuchelli's playbook. Oddly, though, McDaniel draws Thomas Wayne
looking like a guy from the twenties. Maybe Gotham City has a time warp
to match that of Fawcett City.
It seems to be
the month for solid stand-alone stories. Likely unintentional, it's
still welcome timing as comics ride a new wave of popularity.
#3 Soft Target
writer: John Ney Rieber
artist: John Cassaday
isn't functioning like a terrorist, though he comes close. In the Marvel
Universe, that's probably enough.
The dastardly villain
has surrounded Captain America with crazed children, each bearing the
wounds of wars past. Despite its bombast, it makes for a poignant moment.
Unfortunately, that gives way to the self-doubt in Captain America that
we've seen a few too many times.
Though Ney Rieber
has Cap reconcile his inner thoughts fairly believably, we get too many
scenes that exist merely to underscore the writer's points rather than
serve the plot. In such a small town, it seems hardly believable that
the populace can convince themselves they merely make parts of weapons,
not the weapons themselves. But the theme is the willful blindness we've
put upon ourselves, so…there it is. And the mere sight of Captain America's
shield convinces one of the child soldiers that he is not fighting his
enemy. Maybe a few panels got dropped on the way to the printer. Even
though I agree with some of Ney Rieber's points, too much reads like
mere propaganda instead of great comics.
However, it is
beautifully drawn propaganda. Cassaday was doing great work on Planetary
before, but his Captain America outshines even that. Not even Alex Ross
has made the uniform seem so believable. With the mark of a master of
the craft, Cassaday plays both action and quiet moments with equal skill.
This book has not
fallen quite yet, but it has stumbled after a brilliant first issue.
Certainly, sales-wise, it has time to get back on track. Let's hope
they care enough to try.
After a meeting with Dazzler last issue and getting rid of Keychain
Rhino, Wade Wilson finally spends his time finding out who Black Swan
really is. This latest installment of Gail Simone's Deadpool
is by far the most interesting Deadpool we've had in recent months,
if not years.
Simone has definitely
breathed new life into the book, strongly capturing the character of
everyone's favorite merc with the mouth. This book is filled with much
humor the way Deadpool books should be, but with a fair bit of
action and sub-plots about the secondary characters as well, all beautifully
thought out and executed.
Whether it's Deadpool's
amusement at 'nut porn', or interaction with the hideously deformed
kid of Deadpool's employer, Simone manages to just make these gags laugh
out loud funny, and best of all, believable and not exaggerated in stupidity
as is not at all uncommon in comics.
Udon does a great
job with the art, and the bits between Deadpool and Taskmaster, fresh
out of his mini-series, didn't need any action to get the right tone
conveyed to the readers. The constant narration by Deadpool in his head
during the whole scene was not just amusing, but gives us an insight
on how Deadpool treats this potential ally or foe.
This isn't the first
time Deadpool has been prophesized to die, but it could be the most
interesting incident yet. The Black Swan apparently has formidable powers
that can be used without even touching his opponent, and Deadpool is
still more out of his mind than usual (yeah, like that could happen),
and his aim is off.
In any case, the
conclusion to "Healing Factor" should be an amusing and concrete
close to Simone's first arc, if the first few issues have been any indication.
And it still isn't too late to get the back issues, read them, and come
back for the final.
For part two this
week -- including Crux and The Incredible Hulk, click