'Proof': A Secret Agent Sasquatch

Mike Benson and Mark Texeira
(Monthly; issue No. 14 is on sale now)
Marvel's Batman doppelganger is a self-made millionaire (complete with prissy butler!) turned fearsome vigilante who swoops in on his prey wearing an ominous caped getup and wields an assortment of pointy, one-of-a-kind gadgets. Unlike that other Man in Black, this dark Knight (real name: Marc Spector) is a vessel of the ancient Egyptian lunar god Khonshu, his brute muscle power fluctuating from strong to thunderous with the phases of the moon. And while Batman can get a bit broody, our antihero's become certifiably loco: gruesomely playing a hand in the death of arch-nemesis Bushman (let's just say that smug look was peeled off his face), then being taunted by Bushman's apparition to keep killing. In this new story — penned by Entourage scribe Benson, picking up where novelist Charlie Huston left off — Spector is using the superhero Registration Card the government was tricked into giving him as a carte blanche to exact almost homicidal vengeance on anything that crosses him — or it would seem, his path. FOR FANS OF... Batman; Fight Club; Marvel's Civil War. DOES IT DELIVER? This installment doesn't so much further the narrative as evoke an atmosphere punctuated gamely by Texeira's guts-and-all renderings. As such, those new to this title may get impatient. And that's a shame. Because readers who've been following Moon Knight since Huston rebooted it last year (he also plotted out the arc here with Benson), will know to stick around to see how this dark Knight will fair in a scenario far more rich with promise than the recent depth-challenged shenanigans of World War Hulk. B — Nisha Gopalan

Rick Remender and Mat Broome
(Monthly; issue No. 1 is on sale now)
Decades after he inadvertently caused environmental catastrophe and the deaths of three billion people — and the mutations of many others — the extremely Superman-like Astonishman is still trying to make amends. Most of the mutated turned to crime, so Astonishman leads an extremely Justice League-like team from his home base (called the — no kidding — ''Citadel of Seclusion'') in a quest for the one object that will help them prevail over evil: Thor's hammer! FOR FANS OF... Early Image Comics; Valiant Comics. DOES IT DELIVER? Where Watchmen and The Authority used allusions to preexisting characters to comment on the superhero genre, The End League's adherence to conventions feels closer to copyright-law-dodging fan fiction. C — Sean Howe

Andrew Cosby & Kevin Church, Mateus Santolouco
After a failed actor saves a woman from a car wreck, the footage captured by the local news lands him a real hero role — as the lead in the extra-fluffy popcorn flick Catechism of Bullets. But that title doubles as a omen of things to come, since this Good Samaritan act also lands him on an arms dealer's hit list. (Turns out that rescued damsel was escaping from the baddie.) To protect their big-screen invest¬ment, the studio hires a ''cover girl'' — with a tongue as sharp as her curves — to pose as his paramour while she uses her military training to stomp out any danger. And she does, all the while verbally sparring with the star. FOR FANS OF... The Bodyguard, only with a gender reversal (a sassier male target); the Preston Sturges-challenged repartee of Rush Hour. DOES IT DELIVER? Cosby (who co-created Sci Fi's Eureka) and Church duly dole out winky zingers such as this nugget of wisdom imparted by a talent agent: ''All Hollywood asks of late is that you don't suck too much life out of the special effects.'' We hear that. Such ironic musings come off as clunky and obvious, and draw away from what makes Cover Girl so likeable — the gratuitous action, stupid! The satire hits its stride when it catches up to Santolouco's crisp, propulsive artwork, concocting a gooey fondue of indefatigable plot and goofy one-liners (an LAPD detective at a crime scene: ''I'm going to be very pissed off if I missed Dancing With the Stars for nothing''). And who doesn't like cheese? B+ — Nisha Gopalan

Originally posted Jan 08, 2008

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