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Tuesday, September 9, 2008

What Do You Mean They're Not Superheroes?: Sneak Peek Reviews 09/09/2008

Stephen King's The Stand: Captain Trips #1 (of 5)
Written by: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Art by: Mike Perkins

I will admit that I have never read Stephen King's post-apocalyptic/horror epic "The Stand", I have vague memories of having watched a night or so of the mini-series in 1994 but being an imaginative child there was something about it that shook me to my core and kept me from being able to enjoy the story. So this adaptation by playwright/writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa (Nightcrawler, Marvel Knights 4, Angel: Redemption) is my first true exposure to the story. I think that Aguirre-Sacasa is a fantastic choice to adapt a story of such epic proportions and with such a large cast as he has plenty of experience writing for the stage and dealing with lots of characters having to share the same stage. Mike Perkins (Captain America, Ruse, Union Jack) does an incredible job depicting characters all of whom need to look distinctly different since they are all "just people" and without distinct costumes to discern one character from the next it takes an artist of great talent. The cover by Lee Bermejo (Joker, Lex Luthor – Man of Steel) is stunningly well rendered and most assuredly makes you want to pick the book up and read it. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the story of The Stand this is the story of a truly frightening disease (that seems to be a military bio-weapon) that wipes out a good portion of the American population and we follow the survivors as they attempt to make one last Stand against the darkening skies and terrifying world before them. I was honestly really taken by this story and I had no intention whatsoever of picking up the series ... this first issue changed my mind. I cannot recommend this series more highly. Surely a must read for all.

X-Men: Magneto – Testament #1 (of 5)
Written by: Greg Pak
Art by: Carmine Di Giandomenico

Marvel Knights has really been rolling out some great stories lately. Ever since it became an imprint exclusively for mini-series they have been cranking out some really intriguing stories about all different kinds of characters. Greg Pak is probably best known for his work on Planet Hulk, World War Hulk and his current run on The Incredible Hercules, he has penned a really engaging story here. Carmine Di Giandomenico worked on the underrated Marvel Knights mini-series Daredevil: Battlin' Jack Murdock, and in this issue his pencils look strikingly like Tim Sale. Here we see the story of Max Eisenhardt, a young man who is crushing on a young woman named Magda.Max is the top of his class in almost all his subjects. He isn't much of an athlete but he is the best of all of the students at hurling the javelin. One of his teachers tells him that he is an gifted student with immense promise. His father is a jeweler who fought in a war and was awarded many medals and was considered by his government to be a hero, his eyes are failing him and his work has become more difficult but he does his best and takes the help of his younger brother Erich. Max's uncle Erich has a girlfriend and gives him girl advice. His mother dotes over him, his sister works at a flower shop. Everything sounds pretty good for Max ... but it's not. Because Max lives in Germany, and it's 1935. His father fought in World War I. His Uncle is dating a gentile woman. His sister passes for gentile. Everyone at his school thinks that he must be cheating to be so good. You are probably wondering why there is a story at all about Max Eisenhardt ... you don't know Max by name do you? No, of course not. He goes by another name these days. You probably know him better by Erik Magnus Lehnsherr.

Dragon Prince #1
Written by: Ron Marz
Art by: Lee Moder

Well, this certainly was not what I was expecting. That doesn't by any stretch of the imagination mean that it was bad. I just wasn't expecting what I found within these pages. I think that Lee Moder is a rather talented artist. He does a really admirable job of crafting some interesting looking characters and all in all he has a great sense for pacing a page and is a very talented visual storyteller. But the promise of the Jeff Johnson cover held such a great place in my heart. Since Johnson and Ron Marz worked together on the incredibly fun series Way of the Rat by the now defunct CrossGen comics company, I have longed to see them work together again. So there is some measure of disappointment but it is tempered because Moder does such a good job. The cover also has a lot of disparate images working on it. A mountain range with dragons flying about and a cliff side monastery style building. Also featured on the cover is a bald Asian man in older style clothing, an Asian man in a black leather jacket, a fetching young woman in a sweater, and a young boy wearing headphones around his neck ... so your best guess is as good as mine was when I cracked the cover and dove into the story within. The first several pages are really engaging and ultimately the story was interesting enough for me to want to see where it is going. I think though that there could have been a much cooler story to be told but I trust Ron Marz and so I will follow along. Let's just hope my trust isn't misplaced this time around.

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