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Thursday, August 12, 2010

Comic Reviews 8/13/10

Issue Number: 3
Publisher: Avatar
Creator: Garth Ennis
Writer: David Lapham
Artist: Javier Barreno
Inker: Julien Hugonnard-Bert
Colors: Digikore Studios
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Horror
ADULT MATURE - Comics on the Edge

I added the word ADULT to the listing because I feel this should not be sold to
anyone under 18. I always felt that Garth Ennis pushed the envelope when it came
to shocking comic book readers. Although he created the original concept and
series of CROSSED it seems that David Lapham has taken it to the extreme. For
those unfamiliar, the Cross virus has spread far and wide with only pockets of
unaffected struggling to survive without being discovered by the "Crossed." The
disease is spread by contact with bodily fluids of those already infected. If
you think of how many different bodily fluids could be used you will understand
how easily the writer could resort to acts of depravity as plot devises. The
disease makes those infected go after the normal to either kill them, infect
them, or just perform all kinds of deviancies on them. This second series
follows a group of survivors, a family that ran a horse ranch before the
disaster that spread the virus hit. Early on we learned that this family was
very dysfunctional to begin with. The father has been abusing one teenage
daughter and possibly another, the mother turns a blind eye to it and Addy, the
older sister is the only one among them that worked up enough courage to
confront him. Before he had a chance to give her a good thrashing for
questioning him the Crossed attacked and the entire family that survived took
off on horses to find a place secluded to build a new home. At this stage of the
story they have started a settlement and have been building defenses around it
in the event they are found again. Addy has been sent out on scouting missions,
partly to keep her away while the father has his way with any woman he wants.
The events have pushed him even further into his god complex and he is followed
by the others like a cult leader. Addy has been kept away from her early teens
sister, Kayleen, but soon figured out she must be the victim of her father's
depravity. As this chapter opens she is standing in the door of the room Kayleen
has been kept in. Not only is she almost ready to give birth she has an IV
plugged in that is feeding her Crossed blood. I can't tell you in this review
what Kayleen says explicitly. Let's just say she views her pregnancy as a gift
from god through her father. Before Addy has a chance to even turn her rifle on
dad he slams her against the wall proclaiming himself god's prophet. It is
around this time that the Crossed are closing in on their location. Before long
they will attack. The two plots combine as Addy is locked up and makes a last
appeal to her mother before the father returns. As the fighting begins outside
he is too overwhelmed to teach her a lesson to guide his flock. This will be the
final confrontation between father and daughter with a surprise ending. While
the basic plot is compelling the visuals are some of the most disturbing. If you
think the incest would be bad enough there is much worse, trust me. The point is
to show how much of a monster an uninfected person could be. You either have to
look past the sex acts, the violence and cannibalism and other gross things to
find anything of redeeming value, or really get off on it - which is disturbing
for me to think about. The artwork is superb, it is what is depicted that is not
pleasant, especially the scene of Kayleen after she has given birth. This is not
for the casual curious or fans of Lapham's crime dramas, which are tame compared
to this. I am not saying I recommend it to anyone, I am warning you that it is
one of the most disturbing things on the racks today.

Issue Number: 1 (of 4)
Publisher: Image
Writer: El Torres
Artist: Juan Jose Ryp
Colors: Francis Gamboa
Letters: Malaka Studio
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Horror
MATURE - Comics on the Edge

Well, this one is more suggestive than overt in the adult material. The premise
is that a group of people is in hell but for them it is not fire and brimstone
and constant torture. The title character is a babe and is drawn that way. She
relates her first experience to the others while sitting in a bar with a drink
and a cigarette in hand. She first woke in a lake of blood and made it to "land"
only to find it is really a plain of putrid bones and soon she is attacked by
two female demons with sexual designs on her. Nancy is rescued by a man the
others call the Philosopher. Back at the bar he explains that those there,
including Nancy, are indeed in hell but are not yet brain-dead like the zombies
roaming around outside. Little by little they all will become like them, if they
are not taken by the various demons. That is the set up. The rest of the book
involves confrontations, which include Nancy showing off her female figure as
well as her skills with a chain saw. When things once again seem hopeless an
intriguing figure appears. Most of this just seems like a set up for fight
scenes and some bad girl art. In fact many of the panels are just gore and
blood. There is a plot here but it is mostly drowned out. I can't help but feel
that the story could be told in a much different way with different art and
advance further into the plot. It would be more interesting. But as it is, I
would not buy the second chapter.

Issue Number: 3 (of 5)
Publisher: Marvel
Creator: Stephen King
Script: Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa
Artist: Mike Perkins
Colors: Laura Martin
Letters: Rus Wooton
Cover Artist: Tomm Coker with Laura Martin
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Horror

Someone commented when they saw me with this issue in my hand, "Is that story
still going on?" Obviously it is. Steven King's THE STAND is such a detailed
story that I am glad the creative team is taking their time to bring as much of
it they can to print in these series of mini-series. It is impossible to recap
the entire story until now but the editor gives you key bits of information at
the start of each issue to better understand what has gone before and who the
key players will be in the current issue. People have come from all across
America after the devastating Captain Trips virus killed 99% of the population.
Those left have been compelled through visions in their dreams to either make it
to Las Vegas to follow the Dark Man or to Boulder Colorado guided by the vision
of the righteous 108 year old Mother Abagail. Events up to this point make it
clear that this is a tale of good versus evil that will eventually lead to a
confrontation. But at this point there are more subtle things going on. As the
action this time focuses on the people in Boulder. The everyman Stu Redman and
the girl from Maine, Frannie Goldsmith have fallen in love. Her former traveling
companion, Harold Lauder, was her secret admirer and though he traveled to
boulder he now only dreams of the Dark Man. Likewise, Nadine Cross, who traveled
with Larry Underwood is not among those destined to stay. Her meeting with
Mother Abagail confirms in her mind that she belongs elsewhere. Much of this
chapter is the lead up to the group in Bolder becoming organized into a
community with a steering committee and eventually an elected leadership. While
some have determined that Harold should not have any position in the new
government we see by Harold's journal what he thinks of the others. As usual the
art team does a spectacular job. This is not a series to easily jump into at any
point but the product so far has been excellent. While each group of five issues
do not entirely stand alone they can be read as a concise part of the whole. THE
STAND is well worth collecting in either individual issues or the collected

Issue Number: 1 (of 3)
Publisher: DC
Creator: Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster
Writer: Cary Bates
Artist: Renato Arlem
Colors: Allen Passalaqua
Letters: Pat Brosseau
Cover Artist: Felipe Massafera
Price (USD): $4.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero - ELSEWORLD

DC has not been doing many ELSEWORLD stories lately so this one was a welcome
step sideways from the main DC Universe. Stories like these used to be call
"Imaginary Stories" but once the phenomenal Alan Moore pointed out, "aren't they
all?" they became ELSEWORLDS. So in this divergent Universe the entire El
family, Jor-El, Lara and baby Kal, escaped the destruction of Krypton. Instead
of crashing in a cornfield in Kansas their large spacecraft set down softly in
front of the UN building. After several heroic feats by the entire family the
world embraced them with welcome and offered them a home. In a unique fashion
they choose to settle in Metropolis and using advanced technology the ship
transforms using materials far below the earth surface into a large skyscraper.
While Jor-El sets out on a program to help humans integrate Kryptonian
technology Lara devotes her time to the lecture circuit. From the start of the
story we have learned that Jor-El is obsessed with his inability to save Krypton
from destruction. This plays into the plot as it moves along. Two other elements
are introduced this chapter. Kal-El begins life as a human after a long search
by the Els secretly awards foster custody to Jonathan and Martha Kent. In a
strange twist Lex Luthor, a child prodigy, also becomes the youngest employee of
Jorcorp, the new foundation stared by Jor-El. And to finish things out Kal El is
about to get a sibling. This is a fun story for long time fans of the Superman
saga. All the elements are set for the next two chapters. The Els have to adjust
to life among humans as much as the Earthlings need to adjust to them. The
attempt to give Kal more experience by living as them was a natural development.
The addition of Lex with access to advanced technology and more Kryptonians on
the way will surely spice it up. Cary is telling a good story and Renato and the
others do a decent job with the visuals. This one gets two thumbs up from me.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Taken
Title Arc: Metal Mob
Publisher: Dark Horse
Creator: Russ Manning
Writer: Jim Shooter
Artist: Bill Reinhold
Colors: Wes Dzio9ba
Letters: Blambot!
Cover Artist: Raymond Swanland
Price (USD): $3.50
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction

The second reintroduction of the classic Gold Key heroes from Dark Horse is now
on the racks. First I will say I enjoyed this comic more than SOLAR, also on
sale. All the elements of the original Magnus are used to start new. He was
raised as an orphan by the robot A1 (I always think of steak sauce when I read
this) and was trained to the height of human capacity to the point of being able
to smash steel with his bare hands. By the year 4000 man has become very docile
with robots performing all manual labor. But at some point someone or something
has caused some robots to rebel against the prime directive to never cause harm
to humans. Magnus has a secret implant allowing him to monitor robot
transmissions so he is at an advantage in locating their bad behavior or in
escaping capture if need be. The opening story has a bunch of robots, under the
direction of a yet revealed human perhaps, kidnapping rich females. The latest
is a good friend of Leeja Clane, friend of Magnus and daughter of Senator Victor
Clane. Only Leeja knows that Magnus is the infamous robot fighter protecting
humans lately. She implores him to help her friend, a job he is already on. But
Leeja is an adventurous soul, atypical of most humans, and hatches a plot to
locate her friend using herself as bait. It will be up to Magnus to make sure
the plan works, once he figures out what it is. I found this story easy to
follow with good character building and logical progression to a climax. The art
team does a good job on the story as well. If you are familiar with Magnus this
title will appeal to you. If not it is an excellent start to a decent science
fiction story.

Back up story - "Magnus, Robot Fighter"
Creator: Russ Manning
Originally appeared in MAGNUS, ROBOT FIGHTER #1, Gold Key Comics, 1963

As a bonus feature Dark Horse has made this issue a 56-page bargain for your
comic dollar by including the reprint of the very first MAGNUS, ROBOT FIGHTER
story from 1963. The great Russ Manning had a good concept and his original
story holds up well. This is because a good concept with solid plotting and
master art for the time does not change with time. While Shooter's take on the
relationships are slightly different he does not stray from this classic
version. Like the main story this one introduces us to the main characters and
the origin of Magnus. He is still a vigilante and is often pursued by Polrobs
who are secretly controlled by an evil robot with a master plan involving
kidnapped humans. In this original he first meets Leeja when he saves her from
abusive Polrobs and they work together to get to the bottom of people
disappearing from the streets. It is a full-length story and like many back in
those days is not continued next issue. Hats off to Manning for his
accomplishments with this character and to Dark Horse for exposing a new
generation of readers to his work.

Issue Number: 1-SHOT
Title Story: Living in the Ruins
Title Arc: Women of Marvel
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Paul Cornell
Artist: Elena Casagrande
Colors: Cris Peter
Letters: Dave Lanphear
Cover Artist: Jenny Frison
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

Not having read many of the titles featuring UK based Marvel heroes I was not
familiar with this character. Lady Jacqueline Falsworth served in Britain's Home
Guard during WWII. She was bitten by a vampire and given an emergency blood
transfusion from the original Human Torch. This combination gave her superhuman
speed. Eventually her powers faded until another injury prompted yet another
transfusion from the Human Torch, which not only restored her powers but also
her youth. She also developed some vampiric traits - growing fangs and gaining
regenerative powers. However, she has no desire to drink blood and now works for
the British Secret Service agency MI: 13. Along the way she has developed a
romantic relationship with Blade the Vampire Hunter. They go on missions
protecting Britain's secrets especially when it involves vampires. In this one-
shot the writers attempt to show what a typical mission is while providing
insight into their relationship. Unfortunately this one did not grab my interest
enough to give it a recommendation. I found the scripting disjointed and at
times unnatural, no pun intended. The art is ok but at time looks rushed. I just
did not care for the characters or the plot, which itself twists and turns in a
very loose fashion. The fight scenes are okay but alone do not make a compelling
story. Maybe someone else can do something exciting with these characters but on
this issue they missed the chance.


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:
Which comic does Overstreet list as the first "poster format" comic?

This was a tough one, as the answer was buried in the listing itself, not in
some "list of firsts." It was the original mini series of RADICAL DREAMER from
Blackball Comics. We had no winner this time.

Here was your no prize question:
What was the first movie for which the cost of obtaining rights to the soundtrack outweighed the entire production costs?

The cost of obtaining the rights to the soundtrack (approx. $27,000) for Kevin
Smith's Clerks outweighed the entire production costs for this film (approx.
26,800) - a first in motion picture history.

What 12-issue comic book series also featured THE BLACK FLAME and DYNAMO JOE?

Here is the no prize question:
Which was the last state to require every motorist to come to a complete stop at
a stop sign?

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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