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PLANET OF THE CAPES
By Larry Young and Brandon McKinney
Published by AiT-PlanetLar

After several years of focusing on publishing other people’s work through his company, Young picks up pen again to deliver his first superhero graphic novel, and it’s a disappointing reading experience that will linger. It’s a poorly plotted, mean-spirited exercise that finds Young so concerned with adding dark twists and tweaks to superhero clichés that he never comes up with a very interesting story to makes these elements matter.

We find a world where superheroes are as common as professional athletes, and a young man seeking the autographs of some of the best, who are comprised of (ho-hum) stand-ins for Batman and Superman, as well as a more interesting behemoth who results from an accidental merging of a man and an alien. He’s kind of like a more impaired Hulk, but with a super-powered daughter to look out for him.

The heroes are somehow shunted to another world much like their own, but one in which they are the only heroes. The Superman type, who we knew from the start was a creep because he wouldn’t sign the autograph, and has a villainous Moe Howard haircut (real heroes have style), decides that this world is ripe for the plucking, and he takes on the other heroes, resulting in a violently bad time for all, including the reader. Oh, and prior to this, Young works in a nod to the Fantastic Four for no discernible reason.

McKinney does solid if unexceptional work, kind of like a Sal Buscema in the 70s or something. He’s shown he can create some impressive visuals before, in Warren Ellis’ SWITCHBLADE HONEY, but Young doesn’t give him a whole lot to work with, and perhaps McKinney just couldn’t get too inspired by this confused effort. Surely Young had some larger creative goal in this outing than the mindless "Everybody Dies, Nobody Learns Anything" back cover copy, but it’s not clear what that might have been. Let’s hope it’s not such a long wait for Young to return with better work to erase the memory of this.

-- Chris Allen



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