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"BOCEPHEUS"
"These reviews are based on the Sneak Peek titles sent out by Marvel & Image (DC no longer sends them out). It's not everything that's shipping for the week, but it is a real good cross-section of this weeks releases. Check the bottom of the page (after you read my reviews) for a link to some SNEAKY PEEKIES of future titles"
DC STORY REVIEW: 52 (half-way in)
Comic Review by:
Larry "Bocepheus" Evans
Writer: Various,  Artist: Various

   We are passing the halfway point of the very risky weekly DC title 52 so lets look and see what we have learned and whether the concept was a good idea or not.
   At the end of Infinite Crisis the big three (Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman) decided it was time to take a break which set up the DC event One Year Later. All DC titles jumped ahead one year and comic fans being the obsessive types they are wanted to know what happened during that missing year. That led to the decision to create a weekly series that told different stories of what happened while the big three were off recharging their batteries. The series would be written by four of DC’s top writers-Geoff Johns, Grant Morrison, Greg Rucka and Mark Waid. We don’t know who writes what since it is supposed to be a collaborative effort but you can sort of guess at times who is doing the tales we see. The book is laid out by Keith Giffen and finished by many artists and we will get to the pros and cons of that situation later. Every issue has a cover by JG Jones and each issue has a back up 2 page origin story done by star creators that showcases one of the characters seen within the issue.
   The early star of the first issues was the now deceased Dan Jurgens created character Booster Gold. Since Booster was from the future he figured he knew what was going to happen but at the end of the first issue he realized that things had changed when the big three were nowhere to be seen at the dedication of a memorial. Thru Booster (and his robotic sidekick Skeets) the creators were able to show us that something was terribly wrong with the new Earth that the DCU found itself in and that has been a thread that the team has brought in from time to time to keep the series moving (and believe me the series has needed that in the early stages of the game).
   Other threads that have been the mainstays of the first half of the project involve the Question’s arrival in Gotham to save Gotham Central’s Renee Montoya from herself, the appearance of a new hero named Supernova (who may be the deceased Kon-El), the unearthing of Sue Dibny and an actual attempt to place flesh on the thin character of Ralph (Elongated Man) Dibny, the return of Lex Luthor and him creating new superheroes, showing us what Black Adam is doing, seeing what happened to Adam Strange, Starfire and Animal Man after the Rann-Thanagar War and the Metal Men’s Doc Magnus being placed on an island with other geniuses.
   Of the various storylines the most successful has been the Question/Montoya relationship which has tied into the Black Adam arc. The creators have a nice handle on Vic Sage and have made Black Adam even more interesting than he has been. This section has also been the one in which DC gained mainstream interest because it was there that the new (and lesbian) Batwoman was introduced. The second most interesting section has been the Ralph Dibny one. We went from him discovering that his wife had been dug up (by the hands of acolytes from a cult based on Superman) to ending up with the helmet of Fate trying to see who would be the next bearer of the helmet. The Luthor arc came off as an out allowing him to get out of being locked up but did lead to the resurrection of Infinity Inc. The cosmic section is just okay and the Doc Magnus section is just getting into gear so it’s too early to like or dislike. As for the mystery surrounding the identity of Supernova I, like most of fandom could care less who he/she is. There is little attention paid to it in most of the issues so mark it up to a lost opportunity.
   As was mentioned before the four writers blend so well together that at times it is hard to figure out which person is writing what but you can tell sometimes. It seems obvious that Rucka is doing the Question sections but giving way to Johns once they started mixing it up with Black Adam. Morrison is likely behind the Dibny sections once the helmet of Fate became involved and is probably driving the car when we see Doc Magnus. Waid is probably behind the Luthor arc and the overall mystery about the numbers 52.
   Where the book suffers most is in the art department. Giffen is doing the layouts but with the number of people assigned to the book you can’t tell anything. When the project was announced only about four artists were named to work on the breakdowns but as the book has progressed we have seen many more than that come in to keep the book on schedule. Stan Lee came up with the phrase ‘the illusion of change’ which as far as art was concerned meant that if an artist left a title the inker remained so that in some cases you never noticed the difference. Here the art changes are somewhat jarring at times and that changes the momentum of the title.
  The second problem is that at least during the early issues there didn’t seem to be anything going on. A long series needs a long set up and most of the first half was laying out what we should be seeing if we were interested enough in sticking with the series. The creators that are working on the book promise that the pieces will start to be put together and then major changes in the DCU will take place but by then some fans will have checked out to follow something else.
   One problem that hasn’t surfaced yet is the effect of Editor Steve Wacker leaving for Marvel in the middle of the damn thing. He along with Giffen was keeping the book on track and his departure may mean delays somewhere near the end of the run.
All in all I have liked most of what I have seen so far but if you pushed me to give the series a rating then the best I could do is give the book a B-minus. Rumors have DC doing a bi-weekly series in 2007 and Marvel taking a shot at a weekly as well.

AVERAGE MSRP: $2.50 per issue,
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MARVEL ROUND UP…
Spider-Man Loves Mary Jane #12 involves a contest and interviews with Harry Osborn and MJ over who is the biggest flirt. There is a larger story here about perception being reality but if your kid reads this they will enjoy the story anyway…Marvel Spotlight this time around interviews Brain Bendis and Mark Bagley about Ultimate Spider-Man…Runaways #22 begins the last arc by the creative team of Brian Vaughan and Adrian Alphona. We start with the team battling a strange group of cowboy werewolves before a discussion about whether certain people should be on the team due to a variety of issues. The resurrection offer to Chase to bring back Gert from the dead is still on the table and the fast paced (character development wise) issue ends with a situation that we will have to wait until next issue to figure out the major reason for…New Excalibur begins the Juggernaut arc that writer Frank Tieri says will make him closer to the badass he is supposed to be. Beginning with Juggernaut getting his ass kicked by the Wrecking Crew and ending at the place where he gained his powers we see here that Tieri will leave the title (Chris Claremont is healthy enough to take over now) after changing a few perceptions…Heroes For Hire #4 begins after the destruction of their office by the not dead at all Ricadonna. The perfectly drawn Bill Tucci issue then proceeds to turn what some could perceive as a 70’s villain knock off into a major league villain. There are three attacks on team members that keep the action quotient high and we see the strangest informant ever within the pages of the issue before seeing that someone went to the power factory…Daredevil #91 clears up a few things such as how Matt learned how to deal with his heightened senses after he got his radar sense as we barrel headlong further into ‘The Devil Takes A Ride’. We get a well choreographed fight between Daredevil, Tombstone and the Matador on the waterfront and also learn how Lily has been able to fool Matt before he learns something that Brubaker is keeping to himself until next issue. I hate it when he does that…Wolverine #48 is an epilogue to Vendetta by Mark Guggenheim and Humberto Ramos. Logan finally gets to Nitro and we see Logan get blown up then slowly recover doe to his healing factor. Guggenheim adds a missing piece to what we didn’t know about what goes on inside Logan’s head as he heals after a major physical attack. He also teases that Logan has another huge secret to be revealed but wont get to that until he returns to the book at some point in the future…X-Factor #13 is a sequel to X-Aminations, a story done in the first incarnation of the title by Peter David and then just regular artist type guy Joe Quesada. There, as is the case here the team sat down with Doc Samson to talk about their lives. In this issue Guido talks about his issues with being mind controlled (with the larger issue of his childhood brought in), Layla Miller does her annoying act during a game of chess that reveals more than you would think. Rictor argues about his lack of powers, Siryn is still on another plane of reality over accepting that her father is dead, Monet shows her real personality, we learn that Jamie is doing something he really shouldn’t and would like life to be simpler. Rahne discusses her internal beast and then Quicksilver pops up offering pastries and offers up a chilling world view that makes him even more dangerous than we thought. It’s a single issue that actually nails down more than some books do in long arcs.

IMAGE ROUND UP…
Image had a lot to offer this week so lets get to it…Hatter M #4 (of 4) finally ended this week (but they promise another limited series) and the offshoot of Alice In Wonderland is a much more violent one that what we read to the kids at night. Out big hated hero does a lot of slicing and dicing in this issue but overall the limited series from Ben Templesmith left me a bit cold…Pirates of Coney Island 2 #2 (of 8) isn’t any better than last issue. I never had an interest in the punk movement and this book has some of the crudest art I have seen since the last issue of The Next. If there is a following for this book its news to me…Impaler #2 is just as murky cool as the first issue. We get more death and blood which should go over well after eating lots of turkey on Thanksgiving. This book has a chance of developing a cult like following such as the one that follows the next book on the review trail Noble Causes #25. The issue is double sized and has a variety of artists working with writer Jay Faerber. Each section has Liz Noble entering into different realities and seeing the differences between each group of Noble’s she sees. One of the realities she enters has her encounter the character Venture who had his own book a long while ago. She does finally get back to where she is supposed to be but when she does things aren’t much better…Godland #14 continues the Jack Kirby inspired title and I have a passing interest in the book but that’s about it…Walking Dead #32 starts us back where the last issue left off with a prison break in the making but here Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard slow it down a bit because the task is more complicated than it seems to be. We do add more participants to the band (and get a cool two page spread showing them crossing the yard) and at the end we see that next issue there is going to be a major fight between the Governor and the now free Michonne…Casanova #8 is more fun from Matt Fraction and Gabriel Ba. Here we get more nudity, green toned art and questions about what to do with a suddenly reactivated giant robot…Drain #1 arrives from Marvel editor CB Cebluski and Sana Takeda. The new series mixes up samurais and vampires. The issue opens with a guy in an alley thinking he’s going to get lucky before he suddenly finds himself without a head (and not the one you were thinking, get your mind out of the gutter). Our sexy lead is the last of her clan and the mission statement for the series is for her to get revenge on those that have done her wrong and look hot while doing it. We spend some time in a psychiatrist’s office where she explains herself but the rest of the issue also lays out what we should expect in future offerings. The blend of genres works well here and I will add this to my pull list and expect others to follow as well.
 
"See, I told you I'd be down here. We've got a bunch of SNEAKY PEEKIES of future MARVEL, DC and IMAGE titles right HERE"

All Books/Characters pictured herein are © Copyright 2006 by their respective owners. No rights given or implied by Alternate Reality, Incorporated.

Reviews © 2006 Alternate Reality, Inc.

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