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Friday, October 1, 2010

Comic Reviews 10/01/10

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Top Cow/Image
Creator: William Harms
Writer: William Harms
Artist: Jerry Lando
Inker: Jay Leisten
Colors: Brian Buccellato
Letters: Troy Peteri
Cover Artist: Rafael Albuquerque
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Crime Drama
Mature - not recommended for children

This is the first of another series of Pilot Season one-shots. Over five weeks
Top Cow will issue comics by different creators and let the readers decide
whether any of them warrant continuing in a mini-series. First up is this action
comic about a group of ruthless ex-special forces soldiers pulling off a series
of amazing robberies with precision timing. They target small towns to minimize
the amount of police they may encounter. In this opening issue we see how it
works. They enter a bank, shoot most of the employees and bystanders then tell
the lone clerk to call the police getting them to send every available man to
the scene. As five cruisers converge on the scene snipers are ready to pick them
off and finish the job with a rocket launcher aimed at the cars. Once the cops
are dealt with they proceed to other targets in town on a 39-minute schedule
regardless of where they are. Meanwhile a federal agent is visiting inmate John
Clayton in Leavenworth Prison. Clayton was the former commander of the marines
turned robbers. They were all framed over an incident with a group of security
contractors in Iraq. The others broke out to begin their crime spree. Now the
agent wants Clayton to help bring them down. The set up is good and full of
action. This is a good "pilot" for a series as it introduces the key characters;
their background and the methods used tying it in to the title. The art is good
and supports the action well. It is everything a first issue should be and I
would follow it if it continues into a series.

Issue Number: 1-SHOT
Title Story: Listening To Ghosts
Publisher: DC
Writer: Matthew Sturges
Artist: Phil Winslade
Colors: Lovern Kindzierski
Letters: Rob Leigh
Cover Artist: Geof Darrow
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: War Comic

Continuing their month-long series of war comic one-shots DC came out with an
issue of THE HAUNTED TANK. Not too long ago DC published a HAUNTED TANK mini-
series updating the premise to modern times. The original series was set in WWII
and this comic stays with that time frame. Jeb Stuart commands a small M3
armored vehicle called the Stuart, attached to a tank battalion. He is a direct
descendant of J.E.B. Stuart, a renowned Civil War confederate general. The ghost
of the rebel appears to Jeb and guides him in tough situations of combat. An
example is shown in the opening as the big tanks confront German Tiger tanks the
M3 goes on a lower road as the ghost directs Jeb to do. He sees his shot
undermining the ground under the Tiger leaving the underbelly ripe for the kill
shot for the American tank confronting it. The scene shifts a few months forward
as the M3 is looking into the disappearance of that same American tank while
patrolling Burbuy in Belgium. They find the disabled tank tilted in a pile of
rubble, its crew and commander, Billy Sherman, dead inside. But soon they have
other troubles. As snipers in a tower force them to retreat behind a building
they see two Tiger tanks advancing from the other side. They have no way out.
When Jeb notices the angle at whish the disabled tank is facing he embarks on a
bold strategy. Before it's over the intervention of another ghost of a famous
Civil War general will help save the day. If you like combat stories this one is
pretty good. It has all the feel of the original series and keeps a rapid pace
with believable characters. It even affords us some insight into the ghost world
inhabited by General Stuart and others fallen in battle. The art is very
detailed with appropriate coloring as the setting warrants. This is another
worthy addition to the war story one-shots.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: First Blood
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Creator: Patricia Briggs
Writer: Patricia Briggs w/David Lawrence
Artist: Amelia Woo
Letters: Zach Matheny
Cover Artist: Brett Booth
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Supernatural

I believe this is the second Mercy Thompson series from Dynamite. The first
dealt with Mercy Thompson settling in to work as a mechanic in a small garage in
Kennewick, Washington. She is a Walker, a werecoyote and has an alliance of
sorts with the local Alpha werewolf, Adam Hauptman. The story centers on a young
boy looking for work at the garage. He is clearly a runaway and through her
magical senses Mercy can also tell that he is a newly turned werewolf. Against
her instincts she takes him in hoping to perhaps guide him through the confusing
and uncontrolled initial stages of being newly turned to the werewolf life.
Later she will approach Adam about taking him in. So in this world there seems
to be good and bad werewolves. We meet a bad one as two men, apparently
connected with the Walla Walla Fae Reservation show up seeking the boy, Mac. The
reservation is more a concentration camp for captured magical beings. While one
of the men claims to want to help cure Mac the other reveals himself as a
werewolf as the moon begins to rise. It is up to Mercy to intervene in her
coyote form against a much stronger wolf. Though the story is not in
chronological format it does read coherently and makes sense to the new reader.
There is good exposition in editorial boxes to get us up to speed along the way.
And clearly there is a much larger plot that begins to reveal itself as the
series unfolds. The art is better than average making this a good package and an
entertaining comic.

Issue Number: 2
Title Story: Revenge! Of the Filler Bunny
Publisher: Slave Labor Graphics
Creator: Jhonen Vasquez
Price (USD): $2.25
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Humor
Mature - Comics on the Edge

Ever pick up a comic because it just looks so odd you can't resist? I saw the
cover of this comic and wondered what kind of weirdness Vasquez created inside.
Jhonen Vasquez is the creator of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, Squee and Filler
Bunny as well as the man behind Invader Zim. It was not until after I read it
that I realized this was a ninth printing of a comic that was published several
years ago. Fillerbunny is a pink bunny genetically engineered to be unceasingly
entertaining. He is made to undergo all sorts of painful procedures and sadistic
experiments. If Fillerbunny dies, he is revived. This second issue starts with
just such a revival. As he wakens Filler Bunny has one thought - time for
revenge. This is a bizzare little comic to say the least. In the first sequence
some off screen, unheard person is telling Filler Bunny to let a monkey climb up
his butt. Then Jhonen shifts to a page of himself working on the comic - not
even half over and out of ideas. A few pages more of meaningless self
interspection lead back to the title charcter. Through the rest he gets his eyes
plucked out, goes through death and revival a couple of times and finally gets
rid of that butt monkey in a method you would expect. Frankly it is all
nonsense, which I guess is the point. It is so screwy that you will go nuts
trying to figure out a deeper meaning, which is not there. Vasquez is a clever,
evil person.

Issue Number: 2
Publisher: IDW
Creator: Harlan Ellison
Writer: Harlan Ellison
Artist: Alan Robinson
Colors: Kote Carvajal
Letters: Chris Mowry
Cover Artist: John K. Snyder III & Jason Wright
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction

I liked the first issue of this comic adapted from a larger story that Ellison
had proposed for a TV series. Devon lived in the puritanical community of
Cypress corners. His questioning nature got him into trouble when he defied the
elders. He would not disavow his love for Rachel who is promised to another.
When he discovered the Elder Micah actual programming the god machine, a
technical device that gives the community its guidance he realizes it is the
elders who are manipulating the community. There is no divine guidance. Now they
are hunting him for their own survival and at the end of the last issue he
discovered a large metal hole in the ground. We know that this community is more
than it seems and in this chapter Ellison reveals the true picture of the world
that Cypress Corners is just a small part of. Devon narrowly escapes capture and
in the process falls into the hole. Falling for a long time he is sure he will
die when he hits only to discover that he is not really falling. In fact he is
in the free fall of weightlessness. The tubes and corridors go on and on until
he emerges through another portal and we see he is in a spacecraft. By the end
of the chapter he will have found a place to look out of the craft and realize
for himself that his community is one of dozens of pods attached to the enormous
ship. What is the nature of the other pods and will he ever find his way back?
Will he want to? This is an excellent transition issue getting the lead
character and the reader to the point of realization. What follows next will be
exploration with hundreds of possibilities. If the series takes off it could go
on and on, as was the theory behind the TV series. The story this time is mostly
visual. The only dialogue is among the Elders searching for Devon. It appears to
me that they have no clue about being in a pod on a spaceship; satisfied with
the power they have in their own domain. The art is the storyteller this time
with strong layouts to convey the journey and wonder of the lost young man. This
is a great beginning and I look forward to what comes next.

Issue Number: 4
Publisher: Wildstorm/DC
Cover Artist: Diego Latorre
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction

The first FRINGE mini-series involved characters from the TV show and served as prequels to that program. This comic however has nothing to do with it directly. Instead it is stories, some which involve fringe science, and others are more like strange tales in traditional comic book fashion. This month we have one of each type.

Story: PLAN B
Writers: Matthew Pitts & Alex Katsnelson
Artist: Julius Gopez
Colors: Carrie Strachan
Letters: Wes Abbott

This is a story about Nina, a woman of means who has had a robotic arm attached
to her body recently. As the story opens her doctor is paying her a visit to
share some startling news. She learned long ago that she was unable to get
pregnant but it seems a side effect of the arm is a change of her genetic makeup
and now she is pregnant. Her life changes in the next four months as she eagerly
plans to have the baby she always wanted. But when complications arise the
doctor discovers more. Her body is changing so much that the baby's DNA cannot
adapt. If she tries to carry it to term it will kill them both. The only chance
to save the baby may be to remove the robot arm. But there is someone who has a
vested interest in that not happening. The story is pretty good in the way it is
developed and how it ends. There is an element of the fantastic involved in how
the situation is resolved. The last page has a clever reveal to the observing
reader. The downside is the art. While it is detailed and colored well the
pencils in a lot of places are rough. It is more of a distraction then anything

Writer: Danielle DiSpaltro
Artist: Fiona Staples
Letters: Wes Abbott

The second story is more like an episode out of TWILIGHT ZONE. Lily is preparing
for a surprise anniversary trip with her husband when a nock on the door reveals
an old man trying to sell insurance. She tries to get rid of him but he is
persistent warning her about the cost of not buying it. After she gets rid of
him that cost becomes readily apparent. By the time her husband returns she has
aged decades. She is so different now he does not realize it is his wife and
throws her out. Her only choice now is to find the old man if she can. This is a
well-paced story with a good twist in the end. The layouts and even the facial
expressions are designed and executed for maximum effect. The two stories
together make for a decent comic.


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Last week's trivia question:
Whose alter ego was Dr. Tiffany Evans?
From the Milestone Universe, it was Technique.
The winner by the dice this time is Stu Cathell.

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After Warsaw what city has the largest population of Polish people?
Fellow scribe Alan Gordon got this one. It's Chicago.

But, he's a MARVEL hero. Who is he?

Here is your no prize question:
What is the smallest sovereign entity in the world?

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