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Thursday, August 26, 2010

Comic Reviews - 8/26/10

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: IDW
Creator: Harlan Ellison
Writer: Harlan Ellison
Artist: Alan Robinson
Colors: Kote Carvajal
Letters: Robbie Robbins
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction

Harlan Ellison is a well-known writer so it was easy to decide to give this
comic a try. The cover gives a small hint at what the story is about. Note the
central figure in plain farmers clothes holding what may be a large brimmed hat.
In the background is a rural church. In the foreground, clearly out of place is
a metallic portal of sorts in the ground with a circular opening shining light
from below ground. Once you begin the story that part becomes clear as the story
is set in the year 2785. We don't know exactly where but the small community we
zoom in on is a community run by a religious hierarchy. It is a fundamentalist
society where the Elders are the law. But this is also a future place. There is
one among the younger that is beginning to question the authority of Elder
Micah. He wonders why the sky is metal and the ground is not. Where does the
waste go when they put it down the trap? More importantly, why can't they marry
the ones they love rather than follow the genetic dictates of the words of the
creator's machine? Even after being sent to the hills to cleanse him of these
evil thoughts he persists. Though Devon loves Rachel she is promised to Garth by
the creator's machine and they both shun Devon, as does the rest of the
community. And so, Devon decides to spy on the elders. What he learns will
probably get him into even more trouble. But it also may shake up the entire
community. This is a really interesting story. The elders using forgotten
technology to control the community is something right out of The Twilight Zone.
The art is superbly laid out and executed. A lot of the story, in fact, is told
without dialogue and it works because of the art. This is a solid story that
will only get better.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Slave Labor Graphics
Writer: Jason Franks
Artist: J. Marc Schmidt
Some material by Jen Breach
Price (USD): $1.00
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Humor

I had no idea what this comic was about and there is no explanatory text to fill
us in, but I am glad I picked it up. From the cover we get a small clue. This
appears to be an ordinary family - parents, a son and a daughter. However if you
look closer you will see the father is wearing a pentagram pendant over his
shirt. They are Satanists. But this is a humor collection - a series of one and
two page strip gags using that fact as a background. One of the recurring themes
is the father trying to get a job after being a fund manager for twenty years.
In the first situation he gets a bit too enthusiastic and begins talking about
smiting the company's enemies with a burning sword. In another as he talks about
his life - golf, cricket, and being active in his church - the interviewer takes
offense, because he is an atheist. It is a bit ironic telling a Satanist that
Jesus has no place in the job. Some of it is subtle like that. When the family
dog is found by a kind person the son goes to fetch him. When asked why they
named him Furfur he explains he was named after Count Furfur who commands 26
legions in hell. There are even a few scenes in the church. While the "pastor"
is preaching fire and brimstone, literally, father Sixsmith is complaining about
how sore his bottom is getting. It is hard to explain humor like this. It is
funnier to see and read than it is to explain. The art is simple and works well.
I could see this as a daily or weekly strip in an alternative publication.
Though it is not offensive some it touches on subjects you would not see in your
local newspaper comics. I liked it a lot. It is a preview of a graphic novel
coming out in October. Go ahead and spend a buck and see if you agree with me.

Issue Number: 2 (of 4)
Title Story: Warrior of Heaven
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Jonathan Maberry
Artist: Goran Parlov
Colors: Lee Loughridge
Letters: Cory Petit
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

OK, I'll admit when I saw the title I figure this was either a spoof of some
kind or an excuse to sell another mini-series at four dollars a pop. Once I got
into it I was pleasantly surprised. This is one of those out of continuity
stories that could have been labeled "What if?" In this world the Earth has been
ravaged by a pathogen that has turned everyone to their base nature - cunning,
violent and cannibalistic. They spread the disease throughout the world by
either killing or infecting others. The superheroes try to stem the tide but in
the end they either fell or were turned. Frank Castle is in New York and is
somehow immune to the virus. For years he has been hunting down monsters and
infected super humans and killing them. He knows it was him who set this plague
on the world in a crossfire with illegal weapons traders. It is now his mission
to somehow save the world. In this issue he begins with a battle against the
Hulk. This is obviously the carry over from the first issue. One would think it
is a hopeless battle but then this is Frank Castle. When that battle is out of
the way he is drawn to church where a priest and a young boy are the bait for
another super human gone bad seeking to get Frank. As we see now Frank is not
the only one with immunity to this disease. The father relates his story of
survival amid all the chaos while Punisher worries about Deadpool missing from
one of the graves in which Frank scattered his remains the last time he killed
him. But the big problem will reveal itself in the last panel. It is a bit of a
slugfest but there is more to it. The additional characters add some respite
from the constant struggle but we wonder can they survive in the end. For that
reason you feel the need to come back for the next chapter and see where it
goes. Will it be like I AM LEGEND, the original story that is, and Frank will
end up the last man on Earth? Anything is possible.

Issue Number: 50 (Last Issue)
Title Story: Vice
Publisher: Wildstorm/DC
Writer: Brian K. Vaughan
Artist: Tony Harris
Colors: JD Mettler
Letters: Jared K. Fletcher
Variant Cover Artist: Jim Lee
Price (USD): $4.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero/Science Fiction
Mature Readers

If you have not been reading this title this is your last chance. Just kidding,
this will no doubt continue to sell well in collected trades as did Y, THE LAST
MAN. So I cannot really recommend a last issue for the new reader. But now that
it is over I can tell you have read every issue and the few specials and enjoyed
it all. There is a difference, I recognize, in waiting thirty days between
chapters and sitting down with six or seven at a time. I recently read Y, THE
LAST MAN in trade form and could see how the big picture is more coherent when
taken in big gulps. This is in part the structure of the story being told.
Vaughan clearly had the outline of everything he was going to accomplish from
beginning to end. What is neat about EX MACHINA is that each issue moves forward
the main story while mixing in a flash back that either has relevance to the
current plot or directly caused the motivation of characters in the present. We
have gotten to the point where Mayor Hundred has fended off various people who
are out to kill him for a number of reasons. His ability to communicate with
machines and control them brought him initial recognition as the hero that
minimized the damage on September 11 and propelled him to the mayor's office of
New York City. Now he is considering a run for the White House in the 2008
election and the back scenes go back to 2006 and 2007 with the finale in 2008.
There are final meetings with trusted comrades, former allies and others. It is
not all happy endings but it does wrap up nicely and has a bit of a surprise at
the very end. As much as I enjoyed it along the way I know I will enjoy it even
more when I read the whole thing again.

Issue Number: 0
Title Story: Radical Premiere
Publisher: Radical Comics
Creator: E. Max Frye
Writer: E. Max Frye
Artist: J.P. Targete
Letters: John J. Hill
Cover Artist: Natalia Babiy
Price (USD): $1.00
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction

I am not sure why so many of the comics from Radical have such dark coloring. I
realize most if not all of it is the individual artists on the books that make
those choices but it seems there are too many from one publisher to be a
coincidence. Some of the comics have had really interesting stories, a few are a
bit too complex and that is when the lack of clarity in the art is a detriment.
This one is bit better though it purposely starts with a dark setting. Soldiers
are fighting monstrous beings in a rain soaked environment. They fight more than
the weapons their alien adversaries wield but also the sickness they can
transmit. One survives and is rescued by natives. This could be the deeps of the
Amazon, or some other planet. We just don't know. In fact on first reading I
thought it was too similar to James Cameron's AVATAR. Through some scenes with
no dialogues he becomes part of that community but it is soon disrupted. The
rest of the setup for the series is set in a post-war world. After five years
the Earth and Draconia have fought off the enemy and are moving ahead to a great
peace with freedom and unity. Our hero is in a prison camp in the desert now and
the scene there reveals a new reality about this age of freedom and unity. I
admit while parts of it are interesting it does not come together as a thrilling
adventure or intriguing mystery. Part of that is the lack of editorial
direction. I got confused as to who all the different species are and why this
alliance has resulted in humans in a labor camp. I am afraid this preview did
not grab me enough to want to follow the series.


If you think you know the answer to the trivia question send your guess via
Email to me at and you could win the prize. The first six
correct answers will be assigned a number and a roll of the dice will determine
the winner. You should put your real name in your message so we know who you
are. Prizes must be claimed at our store within 30 days of winning. The prize
will be a $10 credit slip, which will be redeemable for merchandise at regular
retail or in-store ongoing specials only. Only one prize per person will be
allowed per every 4 weeks. I will be the sole judge of the correct answer even
if more than one answer could be correct. Submit only one answer per Email
please but guess as often as you like.

Last week's trivia question:
Jon Jackson Stevens was executed for the murder of which hero?
The victim was Retro Girl in the first arc of the POWERS series, aptly titled
"Who Killed Retro Girl?" The winner by the dice roll is David Lizewski. He wins
the ALADDIN graphic novel from Radical Comics.

Here is a no prize question:
What is the oldest continually operating hospital in the US?
Bellevue Hospital in New York was founded on March 31, 1736. David Lizewski got
it first.

From the Silver Age: Can you spell Mr. MXYZPTLK's girlfriend's name? (Hint: it
is spelled just like it sounds!)

Here is your no prize question:
What was the "oldest continuously run family store in North America" through 2008?

Folks, you never know who among the readers is knowledgeable about the question
so don't hesitate to send in an answer - even days after it appears.

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