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Friday, September 10, 2010

Comic Reviews 9/10/10

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Viper Comics
Creators: Chad Feehan & Ryan Dixon
Writer: Chad Feehan & Ryan Dixon
Artist: Tsubasa Yozora
Inker: Jeremiah Lambert & Matt Keltner
Colors: Ed Ryzowski
Price (USD): $9.99
Release Date: September 9 (?)
Genre: Apocalyptic Fiction

On occasion I get free comics in the mail from publishers. This one is from
Viper Comics, the folks who bring you DEAD @ 17. It should be out this week but
they gave me no street date. If it sounds like something you would be interested
in after this review be on the lookout for it or ask someone at the register to
have it ordered for you. What I was surprised about was the strong Christian
message in the story. The title refers to a devise used around Halloween, maybe
with other names like Haunted House, commonly for entertainment. But in this
case the promoter of the Hell House is a fundamentalist Christian academy. They
have devised several rooms in a makeshift building to show those who walk
through the pitfalls of human life. Each shows a situation, with the students as
actors, where a person has to make a choice - to follow the path of
righteousness or the path that leads to damnation. In one room we see a young
girl that chose an abortion and regrets it already. In another there is a rave
where everyone is partying and drugs are offered. The final room has two doors
as exits marked Heaven and Hell. There are several characters, each with their
own levels of morality and weakness. The focus is on two students that are
friends. Darby is the girl who is fully committed to the mission of the church.
She is one of the actors in the Hell House. Her friend is Hitch who although a
student at the academy is very outspoken against any religion to the point of
speaking out in assembly against the pastor, Craig Simeon, challenging his
teaching on the Rapture and the Bible in general as crap. For this he gets
detailed to help at the Hell House souvenir stand (which in itself I found
contrary to the message being espoused.) There are teens who a half hearted
about their religion, but not outspoken like Hitch. The pastor himself proves to
be a human who has faults, to the point of being a stereotype. The plot takes us
through the night of the opening. With the crowd at its max something starts to
go wrong. The ground shakes, parts of the building fall, and some of the
attendees and actors suddenly collapse and their spirits rise from their bodies.
Just as the pastor foretold these are the end times and the Rapture is occurring
before their eyes. The authors include demons rising from the earth that consume
some of the people and then take their form to get close to others. Some
question their faith, others ponder why they were "left behind", a phrase that
is used no doubt as a hat tip to that famous series of novels. By the end we
learn who really is good at heart but not worthy yet to meet their maker. We
also see some who may not find religion but at least know the right course to
take. It is not really preachy in content, though some of the dialogue is that
way. I found it more about choices we make and having the courage to change
course for the greater good. The story does not end here so it would seem we
will see some of the characters that survive try to find their way during the
tribulation to come. There is enough conflict and plenty of demons to make this
an action story as well. The art is pretty good with some very unique layouts.
If you are into Christian fiction this should appeal, though if it has to be
without some nasty language here and there you might take offense. I enjoyed the
story and look to the next chapter to see where it leads.

Issue Number: 1 (of 5)
Title Story: Week One
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Rick Remender
Artist: Andrea Mutti
Letters: Dave Lanphear
Cover Artist: Michael Del Mundo
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

I liked the cover of this comic and did not recall reading any promotional
material about it but gave it a try anyway. I am glad I did. Though it is
labeled with the HEROIC AGE moniker the usual Marvel heroes play only peripheral
roles in the story. The main character is a banker who questions the motives and
necessity of recent decisions made by his boss. He is a family man. He and his
wife are raising their young niece who was orphaned. She is rebellious still
about her new "parents." Dennis has been told to cut off promised funding for a
sculpture garden at a hospital for terminally ill children. It ways on him
heavily but he decides he needs to keep his job and follow orders. As he is
leaving he comes to the aid of a truck driver leaving with biohazardous
material. Two thugs want drugs and when he explains he is carrying waste only
one threatens to kill him. That is the point that Dennis steps in to stop it and
for his efforts he gets a pile of hazardous waste poured down his throat. If not
for the intervention of Ben Grimm they would have shot him as well. A quick trip
to the Baxter Building and an examination by Reed Richards reveals that the dose
was lethal, he may have only one month to live. Dennis decides that for the time
he has left he will make the best of his life, starting with telling off his
boss. But the story gets more interesting when in true comic book fashion Dennis
discovers he has gained the power to manipulate matter that he touches. Suddenly
making the most of his time takes on a new meaning. He will struggle with
temptation to do things with an "end justifies the means" attitude at first but
a conversation with a certain web-slinger and his own family sets him on a
better path. The story will continue for the following four weeks, with some
other creators doing the chores. Dennis uses his new powers at the end of this
chapter in the right way but we see sinister beings in the background that will
figure into the future plots. The art is very good and the story is solid. The
heroes are used smartly in this story so that the main character can develop and
become a hero in his own right. It is a feel good story that is definitely worth

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: American Nightmare
Publisher: DC
Writer: Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray
Artist: Travis Moore
Inker: Trevor Scott
Letters: Travis Lanham
Cover Artist: Dave Johnson
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

DC is once again giving the Freedom Fighters a run at a series. They are Uncle
Sam, Phantom Lady, Black Condor, Human Bomb, Ray and Firebrand. The structure of
this issue is to show the characters doing different tasks either alone or in
pairs as Uncle Sam rounds them up to take on a bigger role for their country.
First Black Condor and Firebrand take down some neo-nazi's killing those they
despise at a local mall. Then we see Human Bomb sent into space to intercept an
asteroid before it wipes out the planet only to find it is inhabited. Meanwhile
Ray and Phantom Lady investigate a town that has been taken over by an alien
intelligence. Some unique team efforts between the three heroes solve both
problems. But after they are gathered together by Uncle Sam they learn of the
dire circumstances that have brought the Freedom Fighters together again. The
Vice President has been kidnapped by a clandestine group looking for parts of a
weapon of mass destruction dating back to the civil war. It will be up to the
Freedom fighters to gather the parts together and rescue the VP. It is a basic
plot with some interesting antagonists waiting at the very first location they
get to. It is clear the bad guys could not assemble the weapon on their own so
they are using kidnapping as a tool to force the good guys to do the dirty work.
We can probably guess how it will end but we could be fooled. As far as the
issue goes it is easy reading. The art works well and the script keeps things
going in a straightforward fashion. Not bad for a first issue, even if it is not
the first time this team has had their own book.

Issue Number: One-Shot
Title Story: Time Stands Still For No Man
Publisher: DC
Writer: Mike Marts
Artist: Victor Ibanez
Colors: Ego
Letters: Rob Leigh
Cover Artist: Joe Kubert w/ Tell-A-Graphics
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: War

Who is not tempted to pick up a brand new war comic one-shot with cover art by
Joe Kubert? Actually the cover alone should not be the reason to buy so let's
take a look inside. This month DC is doing a bunch of war comics and this was
the first. It features side-by-side views of World War II and Afghanistan.
Actually the parallels work well for the story. The opener is stark. First we
get a recreation of the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Turn the page to a two-page
spread of the Twin Towers in smoke and flames. The story moves forward swapping
eras two or three times on each page. It follows the lives of Corporal Anthony
Sigliano who enlisted as a result of the attack on Pearl Harbor and Master
Sergeant Keyon Jasper who joined up after 9/11. To tie in the traditional war
comics we get Anthony joining up on a mission with Sgt. Rock and Easy Company
while Keyon's unit joins forces with Captain Duncan and his Gods of War. Rather
than just a blood and guts war story this book is about the two main characters,
their motivations, similar experiences with the horror of war and the reality of
their situation. The both have memories of the girl back home, but it is not
until the end that we get the whole story. The art is exceptional throughout.
Ibanez is a terrific penciller with comfort in a range of sequences. He gets the
emotions as well as the big splash pages just right. This is complimented by the
colors by Ego. He (she/it?) uses different tones for the two time frames and it
works extremely well. Two thumbs up for this one!

Issue Number: 2
Publisher: Titan Comics
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction/TV adaptation

I was a fan of this British TV series that spun off from Doctor Who when it was
still available on Basic Cable. Now that it has a comic book I decided to check
it out. Jack, Gwen and Ianto are members of a very secret organization that has
been around for centuries. In current times they are very high tech and protect
the motherland from all sorts of alien and extra-dimensional threats. The other
thing you need to know is Jack is essentially immortal - he can't be killed. Oh,
and he and Ianto are an item, not that there's anything wrong with that. So the
comic is a mix of two separate stories followed by a text piece short story by
Brian Minchin. The first is self-contained; the second carries on from last

Story: Fated to Pretend
Writer: Brian Minchin
Artist: Steve Yeowell & John Workman
Colors: Phil Elliott
Letters: John Workman

This story has an interesting beginning. The trio from Torchwood is called to a
prison where all communication has been cut off. The prelude to this was a van
carrying a prisoner crashed and the prisoner escaped to the prison demanding to
be let in - everyone else was eaten. After a forced entry the team finds a very
chaotic scene with a bunch of men looking less than human attacking everyone
else, including our heroes. It turns out these creatures go back centuries; one
even recognizes Jack from the 1890's. They live as humans in disguise but are
eventually drawn to this prison and what lies beneath it. The chaos above is not
part of their plan as they only await the coming of their savior. It is an
interesting concept involving a rift in space/time, a concept common for this
show and others from England. Once we get into the flashbacks of how it all came
about it gets more interesting and the solution is inevitable. The art is
acceptable and the banter among the three main characters fills in a lot of
voids in the action, sometimes a bit too much. Overall it is a good story.

Story: Broken - part 2
Writer/Artist: Paul Grist
Letters: John Workman

Coming in at the second part of the story is not too hard. A recap on the inside
cover lets us know that people and even rooms have been disappearing at the
Clockhouse Hotel. Jack was separated from Gwen and Ianto who themselves are
trapped within the hotel. Jack meets Bilis Manger claiming to be trapped in the
hotel by Rift energy. Each of the team is beset in different ways - Jack by
shadow creatures, Ianto by a woman who lost her husband and takes Ianto for a
shadow creature until they are both attacked by Jack's skeleton - trust me this
is real tricky sci-fi stuff. Gwen finds a couple of kids separated from their
mother but will soon have to deal with the shadow creatures as well. While
getting into the story is not hard, trying to figure out where it is going is
not easy. Still I can see it moving toward something and the weird happenings
make it more intriguing. In all the comic is above average for the genre and
fans of the show may enjoy it a bit more.

Issue Number: 0 - Radical Premiere
Publisher: Radical Comics
Creator: Rich Wilkes
Writer: Rich Wilkes
Artist: Roy Allan Martinez
Paints: Drazenka Kimpel
Letters: Todd Klein
Cover Artist: Tamas Gaspar
Price (USD): $1.00
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Historical Fiction

This is another one of those previews of a graphic novel soon to come - in this
case a hard cover 128-page book in the spring of 2011. Strangely enough I found
the text pages in the back more fascinating than the story as presented in comic
form. Everyone has at least a cursory knowledge of the famous Mata Hari. In this
day she is known as an exotic dancer who during the First World War worked as a
spy for the Germans, was caught and executed. But there is more to the story.
The comic begins in Litmov Russia in 1953. A sixteen-year-old girl, Antonia
Maslov, was found with the severed head of a corpse in a jar. Another young
female is sent into her cell to get her to talk and she begins the story of how
her family was involved in a deed against a famous woman - a woman not even
talked about in that country - the famous Mata Hari. She recaps the story told
in the west of the female spy and her eventual execution but then goes back to
her own enlightenment of the case. Eight months earlier she and her father
visited a monastery to claim the remains of her Uncle Vadim. Antonia retrieved
her uncle's journal and the story begins to unravel through the eyes of this
photographer during the Great War. One of his encounters that will prove to be
pivotal is with a French general named Nivelle. Nivelle is so impressed with
Maslov's work that he take him to Paris to work on propaganda and that is where
he gets his first look at the sensational exotic dancer, Mata Hari. The preview
does not get into the heart of the story, which will be in the graphic novel.
But this issue serves to demonstrate the style of the art, which is very
appealing as well as the tone of what is to come. The text piece in the back
however sheds real light on what the novel will hope to convey. The actual trial
and other details of Mata Hari's case were secret and ordered to be sealed for
100 years by the French government in 1917. What details do exist that she and
others were used as scapegoats to be used as propaganda to steel the French
spirit in the midst of actual strikes by soldiers on the front lines against the
Germans. Without going into more detail I will say it is a fascinating bit of
history that we might be amazed in a few years if the records are unsealed. In
the meantime the graphic novel, which is a work of fiction, will attempt to tell
what might be the truth behind it all. From this preview I would say this would
be a book worth getting. In the meantime spend the buck and see if you don't


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:
Who shared the cover title with THE X-TERNALS?
The full title was GAMBIT AND THE X-TERNALS.
The winner this time is StephenKostrzewa.

Here was your no prize question:
Besides Frank and Nancy Sinatra what is the only other father/daughter
combination to each have a #1 hit on the Billboard Hot 100?
Not the Coles - Natalie never hit #1 on the Hot 100. The answer is Pat and Debby

Whose name means "He who devours your entrails and thoroughly enjoys it"?

Here is your no prize question:
Where is the driest place on Earth?

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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