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Thursday, September 23, 2010

Comic Reviews 9/25/10

Issue Number: 1-Shot
Publisher: Wildstorm/DC
Creator: Warren Ellis & Cully Hammer
Writers: Jon & Erich Hoeber
Script: Gregory Noveck
Artist: Jason Masters
Colors: Carrie Strachan
Letters: Wes Abbott
Cover Artist: Cully Hammer
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Action/Adventure
Mature - Comics on the Edge

This is one of four prequels to the movie RED. RED is based on the original
graphic novel by Warren Ellis and Cully Hammer. Each of the prequels takes a
look at a main character. This one is about Frank Moses, the Bruce Willis
character in the movie. He is a U.S. operative with a license to kill. The
opening line, "Cairo, it never ends well" gives you an early clue what to
expect. But that germ of an idea is quickly lost, as we get involved with the
plot. Moses has been sent here to assassinate Peshar Tarkani, a man who is known
to help unfriendly countries gain nuclear technology. To his dismay he has also
been saddled with a younger agent who needs the experience. Also in town are the
Russians who want both Tarkani and Moses dead. As a stand-alone comic this is a
pretty good one. The dynamic between Frank and his new partner Jordan is both
serious and somewhat comical. Frank lays out the rules for the newbee who
resists the most important one. The banter serves to develop the characters for
us while slyly laying down the framework for the finale. We get a scene of the
harsh reality that is Frank's world as well as the dangers in trusting anyone.
It is a well-scripted story that goes by too quickly. The artwork is passable
but lacks definition in places. Still it is a good comic. If the other three are
as good I recommend you try them all.

Issue Number: 5
Title Story: Crisis!
Publisher: DC
Writer: Len Wein
Artists: Scott Kolins & George Perez
Inker: Scott Koblish
Colors: Mike Atiyeh & Allen Passalaqua
Letters: Rob Leigh
Cover Artists: George Perez/Walt Simonson
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

This series is sort of a condensed history of the DC Universe as told through
the eyes of a Metropolis cop, Paul Lincoln. I had not sampled it yet but the
Crisis on Infinite Earths cover caught my eye so I picked it up. Lincoln gives
us a look back to a time when lots of things were changing in the DCU. These
were the eighties - a time of change. Lincoln notes the noticeable change around
the time the Doom Patrol was reported dead. From then it is a fast paced history
lesson - an edgier Joker, the re-emergence of the Spectre, the change in Green
Arrow's look, the New Teen Titans, Firestorm, the Charlton heroes, The
Outsiders, the New Doom Patrol, Night Wing, a new Robin and so on. But Lincoln
is more than the narrator. His story also includes the parole of his brother
Jimmy and subsequent re-integration into society and the extended family. The
two interact with heroes in a couple of places and their families are together
when the Crisis begins on Earth 1. This gives a good contrast between average
citizens caught up in a world event versus every hero on the planet fighting
against an unstoppable force. Of course the chapter ends in mid-crisis but I
found it a pleasant trip down memory lane. Perez is up to his usual fine work on
the twenty pages he drew. Len Wein is also commendable for weaving together the
two main plots to produce a new story and recap some pivotal moments in DC

Backup story: Snapshot: Resistance
Len Wein, Walt Simonson, John Workman & Allen Passalaqua

This is a fun story starring some classic DC space/time heroes. It begins with
Adam Strange making a rendezvous with a Zeta Beam only to find himself
transported to a world not on his itinerary. When he gets there he finds Tommy
Tomorrow, Captain Comet, Space Ranger and Cryll. They fill in Adam that they are
one team of pawns against another group in a war orchestrated by unknown
abductors. They are supposed to fight to the death. The other side is composed
of various aliens familiar to one or more of the good guys. The challenge is to
defeat the enemy and get to the manipulators to get back home. It is a basic
plot with an expected outcome. It is nice to see Simonson's art on these classic
characters as well as the surprise Wein sets up for the reveal. It is a perfect
back up for the main story.

Issue Number: 1 (reprint 2005)
Publisher: Dark Horse
Creator: Joss Whedon
Writers: Joss Whedon & Brett Matthews
Artist: Will Conrad
Colors: Laura Martin
Letters: Michael Heisler
Cover Artist: John Cassaday
Price (USD): $1.00
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction/TV Adaptation

You may have noticed that publishers these days are putting out reprints of
first issues of ongoing or finished series for only a buck. This one was
originally timed to begin with the release of the Serenity feature film. The
comic bridges the gap between the TV series and the movie. So, looking at this
comic as a first issue it comes across pretty well. A reader unfamiliar with the
TV series will have no problem following the plot though familiarity brings with
it some understanding of the nuances in the dialogue. Essentially we have a
bunch of space cowboys making their way across space taking jobs along the way.
In this opener they are supposed to grab a big pile of coin from a settlement on
a particular world. With Shepard conducting a sermon in the local church the
team gets in the bank but are stopped from leaving by another band that also
want the cash. Things are going to get worse before they get better. Meanwhile
elsewhere, a couple of men looking for Malcom seek out someone also hunting for
him to set up a plot for the next issue. I guess we'll have to seek out back
issues or a collected trade to follow that plot. While I was not an avid fan of
Serenity while it was on I did see a number of episodes and enjoyed it. The art
on the characters is almost there as far as real likeness of the TV characters.
In fact I chuckle to think that one is now CASTLE, a mystery writer who helps
solve crimes while another is the gritty CIA agent on CHUCK. The plot is good
enough and the price is right. You could spend the usual $3.99 on a current
comic and take your chances but this one is worth a buck.

Issue Number: 1 (of 4)
Title Story: Boot Camp
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Brian Reed
Artist: Felix Ruiz
Colors: Val Staples
Letters: Jared Fletcher
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Video Game Adaptation/Science Fiction
Ages 17+

Video gamers will know a lot more about HALO than me. But then I don't review
games, I review comics. So this then is the story behind one of the most popular
series of games on the market, in particular FALL OF REACH. It is set in the
26th century when over 800 planets in the galaxy have been colonized. The United
Nations Space Command has built the largest empire humanity has ever known. Now
the UNSC is facing a full-blown insurrection with the possibility of endless
civil war. But one woman has a plan to prevent this war, at a very dire cost.
The comic opens on Eridanus II as a Colonel Watts, leader of a rebellious group
is about to evacuate his troops in the face of over one hundred UNSC ships
entering orbit. While the ground troops take the initial brunt of the conflict
the Colonel orders his fleet to slipstream to a rendezvous far away in space.
The scene serves to introduce what will be a major character later in the story.
The main plot revolves around Doctor Catherine Halsey. We meet her four years
later as she lands on Eridanus II accompanied by Lt. Keyes of UNSC. They are
here to identify a young boy of six whose genetic makeup shows certain
anomalies. Her conversation with the boy reveals to the reader just what that
means. Later we learn the same kind of investigation has located seventy-five
six-year-old children that will be taken from their homes and their planets to
be part of a special project named Spartan II. They are now conscripts in the
service of UNSC. A hint of what is to come for them is chilling. There is a text
piece in the back that is an interview with the writer. It gives a little bit
more background and insight so I found it helpful. This reminds me a lot of
ENDER'S GAME wherein youth is conscripted to train for an upcoming fight in
space. The difference here is that the fight will be against other humans. I
like the premise and execution of the plot so far. It is good science fiction
not relying yet on a lot of fighting, a hallmark of this type of video game. The
art is adequate but not very detailed for my tastes. Still it comes off as a
worthy effort. I would be interested to see how fans of the game find it.

Title: X23
Issue Number: 1
Title Story: The Killing Dream - part 1
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Marjorie Liu
Artist: Will Conrad
Colors: John Rauch
Letters: Cory Petit
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

Unless you read every Marvel comic with an "X" in the title certain characters
may not be so familiar. That is the case for me with X23. Fortunately a decent
recap in text and pictures of her story is included in this first issue. It is
seven pages long, which tells me I don't read many X-Men related titles because
most of it is new to me. In a nutshell she is a clone of Wolverine without the X
chromosome. Her surrogate mother Sarah raised her in the Facility. The Facility
trained her in martial arts and coated her claws with Adamantium. They also
developed a trigger scent that when used sends her into a berserker rage killing
everyone in sight. I'll let you read the rest of the story, which has her
sometimes good and sometimes bad and finally ending up in the care of the X-Men.
She served in the covert team known as X-Force but Wolverine pulled her from the
team. Now she is back among the young mutants in Utopia, the island home of the
X-Men off San Francisco. She has been having nightmares of running from a river
of blood only to arrive in cave where Wolverine tells her she can be his right
hand in Hell. That is pretty disturbing for someone who has seen more than her
share of horrors in her short life. Harder still is the treatment she gets from
most of the other teens. Several shun her and are cruel to her. They found out
after the fact that she had been on the killing team X-Force and she never told
them about it. Surge is the major offender who not only resents the secretive
nature of her involvement but the fact that they are being taught how not to
kill people while she is sanctioned to do just that. But they are not all that
way. She is taken with Hellion and he seems to return the affection. But the
issue deals with the adults as well, in particular Ororo, Logan, Scott and Emma
as they each have a perspective on how to help her adjust. As leader Scott deals
with her tormentors he reveals a plan for her away from her fellow mutants. This
issue deals mostly with the angst of the girl forced to do things early in life
and now is trying to find her way among her kind. It is characterization intense
on purpose to give new readers a better idea of the circumstances. The dream
sequences are used to get some action into the story and seem like a foreboding
of things to come. Is she also prescient? That remains to be seen. I had a mixed
reaction to it all. It reads well but will take time to develop into to a more
engaging story. The art is good enough to support the events so far. Time will
tell with this one.

Issue Number: One-Shot
Publisher: IDW
Writers: Joe Hill & Jason Ciaramella
Artist: Nat Jones
Colors: Jay Fotos
Letters: Robbie Robbins
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Horror
MATURE - Comics on the Edge

If you read my reviews regularly you know I am a big fan of Joe Hill's horror
series LOCKE & KEY. So naturally I had to get this one-shot co-written by Mr.
Hill. I was expecting something more terror filled than what I found. It starts
with two curious young boys trying to get a peek in a window to see one of the
local villagers. It is clear they have heard stories about him but have ever
seen him. But a woman catches them and soon the man appears to reveal a face
with three long scars across it. They apologize but had heard he had killed a
monster bear with his bear hands. He invites them in to tell them the real
story. As a young man of 17 he was a fire juggler with a small traveling circus
in Europe. The feature of the troupe was a rather large trained bear. A duke had
hired them to entertain on the occasion of the birthdays of his twin son and
daughter. The bear was renown for never losing a fight and the duke's son bets
his dogs can take it down but loses the bet. This serves to anger him so much
that when he catches our narrator talking with his sister he finds the excuse to
accuse him of seducing her. He promptly has the boy and the head of the circus,
the bear's trainer, thrown in a cell in a basement. The rest of the story
reveals the fate of the two and another prisoner in the cell as well as how the
man received his scars. There is a small twist at the end, which you might guess
if you play close attention. I found this to be an entertaining story with nice
development leading to a proper conclusion. The art is exceptionally well layed
out and has a nice quality to it. It is not what I was expecting but was worth
the time.


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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
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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:
In the SUPERMAN: THE MOVIE, what color was Lois Lane's underwear?
Superman discovered with his X-Ray Vision that they were pink.
The winner by the dice roll is Tom Courchaine.

Here was your no prize question:
What country has more lakes than the rest of the world combined?
The answer is Canada.

Whose alter ego was Dr. Tiffany Evans?

Here is your no prize question:
After Warsaw what city has the largest population of Polish people?

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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