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From the Hoss’ Mouth 01/17/07

I’ve returned and brought 5 new books to review.  This week I rant and ramble my way through Fantastic Four, 52, The Spirit, Helmet of Fate, the Exiles, and a hosts of horgoth more.

Full Reviews:

Fantastic Four #542
Written by Dwayne McDuffie
Penciled by Mike McKone

A familiar name comes aboard to give a fresh start for the Four and I couldn’t be more pleased about it.  This issue is perhaps the best Civil War tie-in yet and one damn fine way to start a run on the first family of comics.  Mr. McDuffie manages to single-handedly correct the gross mischaracterization of Reed Richards with but this single book.  Reed’s given a voice and he gets to tell his tale, or more importantly he drops the real reasons on why Iron Man and he have been acting so crazy lately.

To go into it anymore would be spoiling, but I’ll just cut around this by saying that once again Reed’s near omniscient intelligence has gotten the better of him and that essentially Reed and Tony are too smart for their own good and are capable of seeing the future in terms of inevitabilities.  One such inevitability is why the SHRA is necessary as well as why both of them have been so adamant in its support.  This is primarily a Reed story, but the rest of the cast sees some action too.  Johnny, ever loyal, meets with both Reed and Ben to check up and make a little headway in the argument swaying department.  Ben continues his French Justice League adventures, but even his new teammates can see that he is out of place.  Finally Sue rounds off the last of this story by being sneaky.

For a mere tie-in the ramifications of this issue are huge.  The clear and concise methodology behind Reed is great.  As much as I may loathe to admit it, I am simply not capable of hating Reed Richards or Tony Stark no matter how low they may sink.  To finally be given a justification for their actions is fantastic because it means I can actually enjoy these characters again without feeling like it’s a total betrayal to truth, justice, and Captain America’s way.  Awww, the pleasures of actually being able to like fictional characters again.

McKone does a great job here.  His backgrounds are plain, but he sets up his shots well and is able to draw each character in a clear consistent manner.  It’s not overly detailed work, but it gets the job done and its simplicity helps the story along by not drawing too much attention away from it or being distracting.

Verdict:  McDuffie’s going to kill on his run, so grab your copy, get ready, and dig in. 

Quick Reviews:

The Helmet of Fate: Detective Chimp:  I had a whole lot of fun with this book.  It’s a one-shot about the Helm of Nabu and in particular where it’s been.  I assume all this may be happening after its time with Ralph but it’s still kind of murky.  Detective B. T. Chimp has been assigned by Nabu to find a proper host for the helm and in his unerring judgment he decides tossing it into space is the best solution.  Eventually, as things often have a way of doing, the helm finds its way back and everyone’s favorite simian detective is given godlike knowledge of the universe.  Sound like fun?  It is.  Bobo manages to give us some truly great comedic moments and even provides a deeper understanding of what it truly means to wear the helm.

Verdict: A lot of fun as well as being fairly important as this series will lead up to the creation of the new Doctor Fate.

52 Week 37:  I can make this one quick.  It’s the usual goodness you expect from 52 except this time they actually throw us a bone and finish a dangling plot line.  The identity of Supernova is revealed.  A fun issue that’s not too shocking but the surprise reveal is definitely welcome.

Verdict:  I recommend every issue of this event and this one’s no different.

The Spirit #1 & 2:  Since I missed this book the first time and in the Plex thread I promised I’d get to it on issue 2, I’ve decided to go back and cover both issues.  In issue 1 the Spirit saves a nosy reporter from a grotesque mobster.  In issue 2, P’Gell manages to snare a murdering prince.  This series is an excellent and simple read that feels a lot like a classic golden age tale, but in no way does it date itself.  It sticks with its roots but stays pertinent for a modern audience.  Each issue is a fun one-shot that manages to provide everything a standalone story would need.  Also I was rather grateful that I didn’t need a degree in pneumatology to enjoy this series.  There’s no heavy weighing of continuity that can bog down new readers.  Everything is very straightforward and a lot of fun overall.  It also greatly helps that Cooke’s art was destined for these stories and characters.

Verdict: A lot more fun than I thought it would be.  Highly recommended.

The Loser of the Week:

Exiles #90:  I tried to go into this book with an open mind but between Claremont constantly recapping the past 89 issues for me and yet still managing to forget the continuity himself I pretty much had had it.  To sum up: Heather’s now a mutant, those stasis walls have developed healing powers, and the bugs are all called lizards.  Fine at least he hasn’t shoehorned Psylocke in yet… oh wait I spoke to soon.  Power Princess gets swiftly jettisoned in exchange for his beloved Betsy.  Ignoring all this though, the real reason this book is the loser for this week is that it’s just plain boring.  Even his big typical foreboding doom opener did nothing for me.

Verdict: Bored to tears.  Hopefully things will shape up.

The Rundown:

Notable Notables a.k.a. the “Must Buys” for this week:

The Spirit: Grab this book, it’s fun and different.

The Helmet of Fate: Detective Chimp: Nice one shot with a great character.

52:  Now that things are wrapping up, we’re finally getting those answers we’ve been craving

Fantastic Four: Probably the best CW tie-in yet.

The Good:

Birds of Prey: The new Birds are a lot of fun.

Catwoman: The addition of the Calculator stopped this one short of being filler.

Green Lantern: An underused appearance by the JLA, but a great cameo by the OGL Alan Scott.

Cable & Deadpool: See how nice this book can be even without Cable.  Always a crowd pleaser and Nicieza never disappoints.

Sensational Spider-Man: A Black Cat story that could have used a little less talking yet it’s nice to see one of Spidey’s other cast members address his current situation.

She-Hulk: Jen’s becoming a little unbound by her current Shulk all the time behavior.  A fun read with interesting psychobabble bits. Plus this book has a very cool cover by Greg Horn in homage of the fabled James Steranko.

X-Men: First Class:  I’ve really enjoyed this title.  It’s simple and silly, but it does have the guts to take the X-Men out of Xavier’s for 2 seconds and allow them to interact with the rest of the Marvel U and in this case Thor.

Shadowpact:  Gone! Gone! The form of Man, rise the Demon Etrigan.  Blue Devil vs. Etrigan…nice!

The Filler:

Aquaman: Not a good start to a new arc.

Ghost Rider: Way, you had but now you’ve lost me… again. 

Exiles: So bored I almost couldn’t finish it.

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