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Sunday, November 14, 2010

Comic Reviews 11/14/10

Issue Number: 1 (of 2)
Title Story: Perfect Game
Publisher: Marvel - Marvel Knights
Writer: Charlie Huston
Artist: Shawn Martinborough
Colors: Lee Loughride
Letters: Jeff Eckleberry
Cover Artist: Tim Bradstreet
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Crime Drama
Parental Advisory

One of the nice things about long established characters in a shared comic book
universe is that they inspire creators to come up with unique stories dealing
with aspects of the character that may have not been touched on. These stories
do not necessarily have to be within a given continuity to be enjoyable on their
own. Sometimes they fall flat and are just another one-shot or mini-series that
attracts fans of the character or are must haves for completist collectors. And
sometimes they are really good stories that can be enjoyed by anyone who takes a
chance on it. This book is one of the latter, in my opinion. Bullseye is of
course the consummate assassin who is a master of perfection with any kind of
projectile weapon though he will also get his hands dirty close up as with the
infamous murder of Elektra. This series is in two parts with the first part
being all set up for the next issue. A man sitting in a room full of baseball
memorabilia, clearly an avid collector narrates it. The ultimate story will be
about Bullseye's assignment to go after a professional pitcher. But this issue
is all about the build up. Our narrator explains a lot about Bullseye. His
ability is highlighted - a single deadly shot form two miles away, a poison dart
in the ear of an otherwise invulnerable mutant, and a playing card flipped
though a narrowly opened bathroom window into the jugular of a drug lord. We
learn that Bullseye has many fans who keep track of his statistics - how he does
it, where, when, time of year and even the weather conditions. With all that
going on there are others who will make book on his activity - picking a likely
target, whether he will get the job and if he does how will he do it. It is all
fascinating, including the fact that he goes through an agent. People contact
him with a target and an amount and the agent presents them to Bullseye to pick
the one he will accept. It is not always about the money or whom the target may
be that makes him choose a job. Sometimes it is a new challenge. Thus we get
around to the baseball player. I found this story to be exceptionally well
executed. The scripting is really on the mark. The art is decent with mostly
muted coloring for effect. This is not just out there to get fans of the
character. This is a good comic to read.

Issue Number: 5
Title Story: Tick Times Two
Publisher: New England Comics Press
Creator: Ben Edlund
Writer: Benito Cereno
Artist: Les McClaine
Price (USD): $4.95
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero Parody

The Tick is a character that has been around for a long time. I remember his
first incarnation and actually seeking out those rare Special Edition issues at
stores run by the publishers, New England Comics. He has had his ups and downs
in popularity like the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have. Though he did not have
a feature movie he did get a TV series. Recently NEC revived publications so I
decided to pick up an issue and see what the Tick was up to these days. I lucked
out, as this is a two-part crossover between the modern day Tick and his Golden
Age counterpart. Wait, what? There was a Golden Age Tick? One of things I had
missed was a three-issue series called THE TICK'S GOLDEN AGE COMIC that spoofed
many genres of the Golden Age including superhero, war comics, horror comics
jungle and adventure. If that peaks your interest it is now available from the
publisher in a collected edition. For those not in the know the Tick was a man
who was bitten by a chemically doused, magically incanted, radioactive wood
tick. This gave him powers of almost total uncrushability, in the Golden Age. If
you are more familiar with the modern Tick you know he calls it nigh
invulnerability. The story opens in the Golden age as Tick and his fellow heroes
are fighting his archenemy the Terror and his allies The Evileers, The Furor
(Hitler analog) and The Ill Duke (Mussolini analog). At the climax of the battle
The Terror zaps Tick with his new ray cannon sending Tick into the far future.
Next we flash forward to the present where the current Tick and the same group
of heroes in modern form are also battling The Terror, now an old man. His
allies are Mr. Tragedy the sad clown, Multiple Santa, The Fuzzy Person and Tuun-
La. By now Terror has realized that sending his enemies into the future was a
mistake as he might have to fight them again so he modified the ray to send them
into the past. Sure enough, he zaps the Tick and he vanishes. We can see what is
coming as the Golden Age Tick appears in his place while our Tick shows up in
the past where the Golden Age Tick recently left. The whole thing is a real
hoot. The strength of the comic is in the clumsiness and awkward dialogue of
these likable characters and the over the top parody of the villains. Benito
writes some great dialogue for each one of them and the situation becomes rather
comical as it explores the culture clash experienced by the displaced Ticks and
his comrades. But this is a two-part story and the ending jumbles things up even
more. Les McClaine does a great job on the art and uses very vibrant coloring.
The glossy paper stock is just right for this type of comic making it worth the
money for the product delivered. I recommend it to fans of comics of all ages.

Issue Number: 2 (of 3)
Publisher: Marvel - Marvel Knights
Creators: Nick Bertozzi, Jeffrey Brown, Farel Dalrymple, David Heatley, Gilbert
Hernandez, Jamie Hernandez, Paul Hornschemeier, Paul Maybury, Tony Millionaire,
Sheldon Vella, Jon Vermilyea
Cover Artist: Jamie Hernandez with Laura Allred
Price (USD): $4.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero Parody Anthology
Parental Advisory

If you like spoofs of Marvel characters then this one is for you. I did not
sample the first issue but I found this one to be a comical, though not in a
laugh out loud way. The inside cover has a short piece called "Let Loose the
Watcherdogs of War" featuring two young Watchers, Phillip and Tony. Rather than
go to the Baxter building to spy on the Thing they spend the day walking a
relative's dogs. It is rather silly. Gilbert Hernandez and Jim Campbell offer an
Iron Man story called "Old-School Rules". In it Tony teams up with Toro to help
locate his old partner, the Original Human Torch. Tony is a fan boy of the
Golden Age Team and is written very comically. Their foe is the Leader. In "Love
and the Space Phantom" the alien Shapeshifter is so enamored of Earth's female
heroines that he tries to crash a beach party in disguise. But he chooses the
wrong females to imitate so it does not work out. "Indecision" by Jeffrey Brown
Cyclops tries to get relationship advise from fellow X-Men. Later as they battle
a Sentinel there is a rather comical discussion as to which attack plan to use.
There is a very surreal episode called "Ghost Badge" which appears to take Ghost
Rider to a further level riding a police cruiser but it is not very clear. The
Spider-Man story has Peter constantly explaining to family, friends and co-
workers why he constantly has bruises, cuts and scratches with white lies to
cover his identity. Maybury does a pretty good job with that concept. Paul
Hornschemeier offers a bit more serious Colossus story as we find him in battle
with a doppelganger that wants to kill him and take his place. The catch is if
Piotr actually destroys the robot it will explode into an acid bath that will
dissolve even Piotr's armor. There is Thor as a weakling since he lost his
hammer and the comical villain that has it. Wolverine teams up with Power Pack
in a story by Heatly that is more a moral play than funny though Wolverine is
way out of character in it. Most of the offerings have technically good art in a
variety of styles. The Iron Man story is perfect in execution down to the
coloring reflecting the early Marvel style. The last story about Modok versus
Ant Man is boldly colored and over the top in detail. Some might consider it
gross at the end. In most anthologies with this many stories there are some
good, some bad and some ugly. This one is no different. Overall it is worth

Issue Number: 1-SHOT
Publisher: DC
Creator: Bob Kane
Writer/Art: Howard Chaykin
Colors: Jesus Aburto
Letters: John J. Hill
Cover Artist: Howard Chaykin
Price (USD): $4.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

Once in a while a one-shot is a fun diversion from the normal long-arc
continuity stories. This one features the Bruce Wayne Batman and the now
reformed Catwoman. There are two plots that are seemingly unrelated but come
together in the end. In one the nemesis for our two lead characters is the
Cavalier who dresses as a Musketeer era swashbuckler complete with sword. Each
has a run in initially with Mortimer Blake in his Cavalier guise but fail to nab
him. Batman obviously pursues him because he is a criminal and recently in the
past Batman exposed Cavalier's identity. Catwoman knew who he was long before
Bruce exposed him and clashed with him for cutting into her former business as a
burglar. Now she is on the right side of the law and just would have him
apprehended. The other plot involves embezzlement at Wayne Industries. A group
of three employees pulled off a major theft of the pension funds and are
separately fleeing the country. The news has been made public and a private
forensic audit of the firm's finances is being conducted. The Bat and The Cat
team up to catch the offenders in the various places they have gone. Meanwhile
Cavalier is getting bolder. Having lost his wealth when he was exposed he is
desperate to make a score. He eludes both our heroes when they team up to foil
his next move. They still have to find the third embezzler who betrayed the
other two and the mastermind behind it all. But the immediate concern is the
examination of the books. Bruce is concerned they may find out too much leading
them to his secret identity. I found this part of the plot to be very
implausible. Bruce would never leave a trail like that. But it is convenient for
the story as Catwoman proposes they actually sneak into the accounting office to
steal the evidence. When they do they find the information needed to round up
the last man as well as the kingpin of the plot. Aside from the flaw in the plot
it is an enjoyable story. The scripting makes for good reading with light-
hearted moments as well as the examination of whether a hero should cross the
line to protect his identity. Chaykin's art is always decent and Aburto's
coloring accents the strength of his detailed work. It is a pleasant diversion
but not a must read for the hard-core fans.

Issue Number: 16
Title Story: Black Mass
Publisher: DC
Creator: Bob Kane
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Cameron Stewart, Chris Burnham & Frazer Irving
Colors: Alex Sinclair & Frazer Irving
Letters: Patrick Brosseau
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

If you have been reading this series you already know that at the end of the
last issue with Dick and Damian fighting impossible odds Bruce Wayne reappeared
as Batman. The cover to this issue is not a gimmick. Bruce is back. How he
managed to return to the present without creating destruction via Darkseid's
Omega Effect is not explained here but in the final chapter of the Return of
Bruce Wayne, released this week. His presence in this title serves to help wrap
up the current arc involving Doctor Hurt, 99 Friends and Professor Pyg. There
are multiple threats first in the mansion as they battle Hurt's minions, with
Dick getting a deadly head blow. This leaves father and son to deal with
rescuing Alfred somewhere in the Batcave, capturing Hurt and stopping an atomic
bomb on a train in Gotham. Oh yeah, Pyg is also running amok in the streets with
his own plans. With Dick down for the count it is up to Damian to find and
defuse the bomb while Bruce heads below to confront Hurt and find Alfred. Three
of Pyg's people are the first barrier but an unforeseen accomplice who will also
play into the fate of Hurt later takes them out. The big bang of the issue
though is in the final pages as Bruce makes a major revelation to the world,
which I will not spoil here. It is the setup for what is to come in the Batman
books going forward. I really enjoyed this issue. It is action packed with good
dialogue and resolution. The art and coloring is exceptional throughout. This is
a significant chapter in the saga of Batman that should not be missed.

Issue Number: 1
Title Arc: Smallville Attacks!
Publisher: DC
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Pier Gallo
Colors: Jamie Grant
Letters: John J. Hill
Cover Artist: Rafael Albuquerque
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

Conner Kent gets a new #1 issue in this relaunch of a title that has had several
runs over the years. The first time was the subject of our trivia contest
recently. Now we have Conner settled in to life in Smallville and a bit more at
ease with his origins of being a clone of not only Superman but also Lex Luthor.
But not entirely. This first issue introduces a supporting cast some may not be
familiar with. Obviously he is living with Ma Kent and Krypto is there as well.
At school he is uncomfortable talking to Lori Luthor, Lex's niece. Is it that
they are genetically related and that bothers him? She seems like a nice gal who
wants to be friends but he is not really receptive. Then there is the resident
brainy kid, Simon Valentine, who strikes me as a young Lex analog with a bit of
Pete Ross thrown in by what he knows about Conner. There is also an old guy
hanging out in town whittling a strange figurine that strikes up a conversation
with Conner. He is a mystery with some subtle clues to a future plot perhaps.
Also showing up in this issue is the Phantom Stranger with words of warning for
our young hero. But the action part of the story involves Parasite who shows up
and Conner has to defeat so he won't next go after Superman. The plot involves
an ingenious use of his tactile kinesis that I did not see coming. And to leave
us hanging for next time some strange things start happening with the plant life
as a well-known DC character appears at the end claiming to be too late to save
Smallville. There is a lot packed into this issue making it a satisfying first
issue. A one-page preview of things to come peaked my interest as well. The art
is done well with good layout and composition and detailed pencils and coloring.
I give this one thumbs up.


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:
What was Steve Niles' first published comic work?
The answer is "Fly in My Eye" from Arcane/Eclipse Comics, 1988. The winner by
the dice is Kevin Browne.

Here was your no prize question:
There are only two words in the English language, which show the five vowels in
reverse alphabetical order. Can you name one?
These are: duoliteral, and subcontinental. If you don't include "y" in with the
vowels, the word "uncomplimentary" also falls into this category.

Who is Carolyn Kelly?

Here is your no prize question:
What is the longest word in the English language with no one letter to appear

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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