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01/11/06 by Reviews Weekly

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 Comics Round-up
A look at some of the new comics in your local comic shop each week.

The Authority #1

Writer: Grant Morrison

Art by: Gene Ha

Publisher: Wildstorm

The Authority returns, or at least it will do in issue #2 as there is not a single glimpse of the Authority in issue #1 other than one look at their shiftship deep under the Artic Ocean at the top of the world. The story is a simple Ďmysterious eventí plot where a special agent is sent out to the Artic to find out about an unexplained phenomenon that has adversely affected a submarine and itís crew, there they discover the Authorityís shiftship. The artwork is dark and realistically drawn, although the colouring seems to suffer from a seemingly unintentional blur effect on some panels. This first issue works more like a prologue than a genuine start to a new series, with no appearance, other than the deceptive front cover, of the titular team. Itís disappointing work from a writer that I admire a lot but hopefully this slow build-up will pay-off sooner rather than later.

2.5 out of 5


Civil War: Choosing Sides #1

Writer: Various

Illustrated by: Various

Publisher: Marvel

Following in the successful footsteps of DCís DCU-Brave New World and 52, Marvel uses a similar set-up, introducing several new titles of lesser-known characters (including some filler stories) and ties them to the current Civil War event. In Choosing Sides we are presented with six short stories following; Venom, the Irredeemable Ant-Man, the Immortal Iron Fist, Howard the Duck, U.S Agent and Harley Cooper. If few of these names ring a bell then that is unsurprising, in what can only be described as an odd assortment of characters Choosing Sides is highly disappointing. Conceivably created to kill time between delayed issues of Civil War and its more important tie-ins, Choosing Sides is a mixture of the enjoyable and plain dumb. The two filler stories, a daft one-off Howard the Duck riff on Civil War and a cheap plug for an episode of Guiding light on CBS involving Harley Cooper arenít worth the paper they were printed on.

The most recognisable characters, Venom and Iron Fist look interesting. Danny Rand aka Iron Fist getting his own series has been overdue and means sometime soon heíll stop running around as Daredevil. With the potential to draw upon much of Randís origin and backstory, plus the likely appearances of Heroes for Hire buddy Luke Cage, the Immortal Iron Fist could be an enjoyable addition to the Marvel Universe, especially with the gritty, dark art of David Aja. Also likely to shake things up is MacDonald Gargan, formerly known as the Scorpion Ė one of Spidermanís weaker enemies, who is now in possession of and being possessed by the Venom symbiote. Being a villain from the off, and in this short story despatching several cape-killers with ease in being recruited for the Thunderbolts, Gargan could create far more mayhem than Eddie Brock did and with the Venom character playing a moderately large role in Iron Manís Ďgive villains a licenseí idea, things could improve dramatically for the Venom character. Hereís hoping.

The U.S. Agent storyline is a prologue to the new Canadian team Omega Flight, no longer a group of villains but a combination of former Alpha Flight members and other characters from the Marvel Universe. In a tenuous link to Civil War Iron Man expects Captain John Walker aka U.S. Agent and Captain America clone, to work as a liaison with the new Omega Flight team, which, although unconfirmed, appears from promotional artwork to consist of Beta Ray Bill, Arachne, Talisman and Guardian. Walker refuses, gets easily beaten in a fight with Purple Man, and wakes up on the SHIELD carrier with Iron Man telling him that the Purple Man has escaped to, you guessed it, Canada. Having read almost no Alpha Flight, Iím really not sure what to make of the newest incarnation.

Finally the Irredeemable Ant-Man. Why we need another size-changer is beyond me and although this small tale isn't overly exciting, the first full comic - Irredeemable Ant-Man #2 - which I've managed to see, takes an interesting slant on what could have been a very straightforward hero story. Worth picking up for the next few issues just to see how the plot unfolds.

2 out of 5 overall


Planetary #26

Writer: Warren Ellis

Art: John Cassaday

Publisher: Wildstorm

The end! Or at least Ďthe endingí until #27 appears some time next year as an epilogue to wrap up the few remaining threads. For those who have been on the ride from the start or joined in along the many breaks, itís a little disappointing. For those yet to read Planetary get hold of the previous issues now but READ NO FURTHER. We all knew Planetary would have to end sooner rather than later but the appearance of a new Planetary issue after some time and then to find out it neatly ties up everything that has been set-up, bar one last thread, is sad. For all the craziness and strange invention to be solved in a single issue and, if I'm honest, in such an underwhelming fashion disappoints because of the high expectations surrounding this title. Yes we do see Elijah finally confront the remaining members of the Four, Dowling and Suskind, yes several of the remaining issues that the series has brought up - the buried shiftship, the inhabitants of Science City Zero, the Century Baby concept, Snow's nicotine craving - are answered, but when every issue has been nothing short of brilliant the ending arrives as a damp squib. As a body of work Planetary is exceptional, as a single issue the finale is a bit of a let down.

3.5 out of 5


Superman-Batman Annual #1 ĎA Re-Imaginary Storyí

Writer: Joe Kelly

Illustrated by Ed McGuinness, Ryan Ottley, Dexter Vines et al

Publisher: DC

Some times I really do wonder about this title and whether DC thinks it will sell regardless of the quality and continuity that it is clearly lacking. The two most recognisable characters in all of comics and their first Annual is a multiple-universe, alternate-bad guy story from the beginning of their careers where Batman and Superman figure out each otherís secret identities in the most ludicrous of fashions. Then you find out the story was written by Mxyzptlk and is a silly attempt at self-referencing humour by the creative team. * Yawn * This is everything that DC comics does wrong encapsulated into a single issue; the storyline is daft to the point of infuriating, the artwork is in the Animated style aimed at young children with the prerequisite chiselled jaws and bland faces creating non-descript clones (and drawn by no less than ten different artists!), the colouring is overly bright and the cost is prohibitive. Avoid like the plague.

0 out of 5

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