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Friday, December 24, 2010

Comic Reviews 12/24/10

My View
David LeBlanc
ComicBkNet@aol.com

David LeBlanc was the Editor of the Comic Book Network Electronic Magazine for
over ten years. He is a life-long fan of comics and moderated online comic book
forums long before the Internet became the place to be. David works part-time at
That's Entertainment, the Eisner-winning comic store in Worcester, MA.


REVIEWS

The comics reviewed are chosen by David not by That's Entertainment management
or staff. The opinions expressed are his alone. If you have an opposing view you
are welcome to respond to David directly by Email at the address above.


Title: TIME BOMB
Issue Number: 3 (of 3)
Publisher: Radical Comics
Writers: Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray
Artist: Paul Gulacy
Colors: Rain Beredo
Letters: John J. Hill
Price (USD): $4.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction





After a secret World War II Nazi bomb is unearthed and explodes the present day
world has only three days before the Omega Bomb wipes out life on the planet. It
was a doomsday weapon that the German elite had planned to set off while the
select where safe in underground bunkers if the war had gone bad. The New World
Order gambled on unproven technology and attempted to send four agents back in
time a few days to stop the explosion. But instead the team ends up in Germany
in the closing hours of the war. Some stories in the past have explored the
premise of going back in time to kill Hitler before his reign of terror. Too bad
these guys ended up after it was all but over. Realizing the only way to stop
the future tragedy now is to destroy the bomb in the past. In the first two
chapters they manage to make their way to Berlin killing lots of Nazis and
freeing some prisoners of war along the way. One of their own has been captured
by the mastermind of the plan, the creator of the time travel technology now
aligned with the Germans. He awaits torture by his captors a mile underground
along with an ally he made recently. The other three are following his homing
signal and looking for a way to get into the ultimate city-bunker to free Ken
and stop the bomb. You can guess that before long they will either succeed or
all be captured and will need an advantage only their future technology can
provide to turn the tide. It just so happens that the "present" they come from
is in our future so the tech is more advanced than now (duh, they traveled back
in time!) It is an action tale that moves along in a quick pace with ups and
downs and the big escape is spectacular. But there is another big surprise at
the end I hadn't counted on. It has a satisfying end with a logical conclusion.
Some may balk at the higher price but I think it is worth it. The series has
very high production value and for me it showcases the great work of Paul Gulacy
and Rain Beredo on the visuals. Individually or as a collected trade this story
is worth it.

Title: MIGHTY SAMSON
Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Jerz She-Devil
Publisher: Dark Horse
Writers: Jim Shooter and J.C. Vaughn
Artist: Patrick Olliffe
Colors: Dan Jackson
Letters: Blambot
Cover Artist: Raymond Swanland, Variant by Olliffe & Jackson
Price (USD): $3.50 (48 pages)
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction


The latest Gold Key character to be revived by Dark Horse is set in a future 500
years after the great nuclear war. The remains of humanity live in tribal
cultures struggling to survive against radiation spawned creatures and each
other. The story centers on the great compound of N'Yark on the remains of
Manhattan. Their leader, Judge Ashur, rallies the tribe against constant
invasion attempts by the hordes from the Jerz tribe. They have paid tribute to
the Jerz Warlord Richter but now he wants double and Ashur fears the next time
they will overtake the settlement. He calls for every able bodied person to help
defend the fortress, even his cowardly son, Zarsk. A betrayal by a Jerz captain
leads to their worst fears and the death of Ashur. But the invasion is stopped
short by the Warlord who takes the slaves he demands and he appoints Zarsk as
the new Judge of N'Yark who is more than willing to acquiesce to future demands.
Soon two events will change things for everyone. Captain Sunder is maimed when a
newborn infant rips off his finger with incredible strength. Before he can get
his revenge Warlord Richter intervenes and the Jerz tribe leaves. Later Sunder
usurps Richter by killing him from an ambush, blaming the N'Yarks for the deed.
Biding his time he will send messengers to his queen to spin the tale his way.
Meanwhile, the baby Samson and his mother Alma have fled the city as outcasts
for the others fear the child will be a burden to the tribe. Fortunately, before
the beasts that roam the wild can capture them, they are taken in by another
tribe that hides underground and preserves the knowledge of the past from
ancient books. And so Samson grows up in safety with his mother to the age of
nineteen. This is all background to set up the key players for the future
stories. Two key events will occur as the young Samson shows his super human
strength. In a tribute to his biblical namesake Shooter has our hero slaying
many invaders with an animal jawbone which will create his legacy as a great
warrior of N'Yark, something the Jerz queen will not tolerate. The final two
characters from the original series, Sharmine and her father Mindor are
introduced as Samson returns triumphant to the tribe of his birth but already
plots are being hatched for his downfall. Shooter and Vaughn have updated the
story with more emphasis on characterization. The art is very polished as
Olliffe and Jackson provide good detail complimenting the script. The glimpse of
the Jerz She-Devil at the end promises she will be a worthy opponent as the
story unfolds. This first issue is a good start that shows promise for an
exciting series.

Backup: "MIGHTY SAMSON" Originally in MIGHTY SAMSON #1, Gold Key July 1964
By Otto Binder and Frank Thorne

As with their other revived series Dark Horse has provided a reprint of the
original series debut from 1964. The basic elements are the same though some of
the details were tweaked for the new story. In the original story Samson's
strength is revealed when he is a toddler after he saves himself and his mother
from a man-eating plant. Instead of being banished he grows to be a young man
and the tribe is first attacked after he is grown. The plot here is not about
the clash of tribes but of Samson himself. After his mother's death he has a
clash with a great beast of the jungle - a liobear with the body of a bear and
head of a lion. He defeats the animal but is badly wounded. In this version he
is taken in by Sharmine and Mindor who are not part of his tribe and nurse him
to health, even providing new clothing made from the skin of the liobear for his
trademark costume. It is these two who are keepers of the ancient knowledge. The
story progresses with the premise that they will play a key role in survival
with their knowledge of what to look for in the ancient ruins of the city.
Samson will be their protector from beast and men who may attack them for the
treasures they find. If found this original story to a fun read and certainly
appropriate for the decade in which it was published. It lasted 32 issues with
some reprints, the last from Whitman Comics. Binder tells a decent story though
it meanders here and there. Thorne does some great stuff and I have followed his
later work in the past. The combination of the two versions in this oversized
volume makes it a bargain for the price.

Title: THE OCCULIST
Issue Number: 1-SHOT
Publisher: Dark Horse
Creator: Mike Richardson
Writers: Mike Richardson & Tim Seeley
Artist: Victor Drujiniu & Jason Gordor
Colors: Andrew Dalhouse
Letters: Nate Piekos
Cover Artist: Steve Morris
Price (USD): $3.50
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Occult
Comics on the Edge

At the end of this one-shot it says, "to be continued", so I guess Mike
Richardson has plans for the characters if they catch on. The story centers on
Rob Bailey, a student at Plymouth State University in Plymouth, NH. He just got
dumped by his girlfriend whom his overly religious mother deems evil. But his
life will soon change at the rare book store where he works. A package has come
for a client and even after the proprietor takes it away before Rob can open it
somehow appears back where Rob is and opens itself or so it seems. During a
vision of ancient warriors and ghosts Rob is told by the book that "the sword"
has chosen him and will answer all his questions. As he comes out of the trance
the book is wrapped on the table as it was before. He doesn't know it but his
life is now changed as he has acquired the sword within him and become the
Occultist. When the clients come for the package his hand begins to glow and
they realize that the boy has the sword. They will stop at nothing to get what
their master needs. Only the sword within him can guide Rob to save him from
these guys who are not what they seem. Their master, the strangely tattooed
Aiden Beck, is in remote contact with them and at the end we get a glimpse of
his magicians, street mages and assassins he calls Hit Mages. They are a
colorful lot that we may get to see in action if the series comes back again.
The protagonist is a bit of a loser and not one I warmed up to immediately. I
like stories about reluctant heroes who rise to the occasion but Rob is more
being forced into things with little desire to do the right thing. He is more
concerned with his own troubles and is still obsessed with his lost love. Still
it lays the groundwork for a promising series in the future. The art is
spectacular with excellent use of color and black in just the right places. I
would pick up a future issue if it is published.

Title: DOC MACABRE
Issue Number: 1
Publisher: IDW
Writer: Steve Niles
Artist: Bernie Wrightson
Colors: Tom Smith
Letters: Neil Uyetake
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Horror
COMICS ON THE EDGE




It seems like every week I browse the racks there is something new from Steve
Niles. What a nice surprise to see this new title illustrated by the great
Bernie Wrightson. The story is about a brilliant young man who is in the
business of aiding people bothered by occult presences. It opens with two men in
a boarded up house beset by zombies that have risen from a nearby graveyard.
Right away we learn Doc Macabre is very much a business man who responds to a
phone call and does not hesitate to ask for payment when he solves the problem.
He is very successful as we see his lush home complete with a robot servant.
Another job comes up as an older couple arrives to hire him to rid their house
of a naked ghost who has suddenly appeared and demands they leave. Leaving
something for the next issue his first attempt is not all that successful. But
who is this wonder kid? We briefly get some information from teachers at MIT
where he was the youngest to ever graduate. But we learn even more from an
interview piece written by a local reporter. He is really Chad Martin in his
late teens. He took the name Doc Macabre because it sounded cool. He has been
shunned and even hated by those his own age and later by those older than him in
college, the latter because he skewed the grading curve. They discuss what most
people believe to be myths - werewolves, vampires, ghosts and zombies - with Doc
emphasizing they are all too real though some of the details are not the same as
the myths. Essentially he is what he wants to be, a monster hunter who has an
uneasy alliance with local officials who are at odds to explain things that only
Doc Macabre can handle. So this is a twist on more traditional horror comics
Niles generally writes. You could say the protagonist is actually a form of
super hero using his intelligence and technology to defeat the forces of evil.
It is less scary and more entertaining than typical horror comics. Wrightson
does his usual great work though at times it reminded me a lot of John Byrne's
style. And speaking of Byrne this issue is backed up by a five-page preview of
the latest version of JOHN BYRNE'S NEXT MEN also on sale right now. As an aside,
I have read that first issue and it is very confusing, even for someone who read
all the older issues of that title long ago. If it is a choice for you I would
start with DOC MACABRE and sample JBNM before buying it.

Title: TWO-STEP
Issue Number: Collected trade paperback (from TWO-STEP 1-3, 2003-2004)
Publisher: Wildstorm/DC
Creator: Warren Ellis
Artist: Amanda Conner
Inker: Jimmy Palmiotti
Colors: Paul Mounts
Letters: Ken Lopez
Price (USD): $19.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Adventure/Comedy
MATURE READERS


He's a Zen gangster. She's a bored camgirl. They don't fight crime. That is the
tagline for this collected series. I was not sure what to expect but the cover
was something different and the creative team is solid so I went ahead. Actually
this is quite interesting to digest. The two main characters are fun to watch.
The camgirl is Rosi Blades. In the not too distant future we have an attractive
young lady with web cams all around for her audience to see not only her
(through a flying webcam always trained on her) but things around her. One lens
of her glasses is a cam. One cam is built into her bra while another looks
backwards from her left shoulder. What is interesting is that Amanda draws each
page with a strip of four small panels showing the perspective of each webcam
whenever she is in the main panels on the page. It is fascinating, even
addicting after a while. So she wanders the streets of London hoping for
interesting things to happen to keep her ratings up and one day runs into Tony
Ling - or rather he runs into her as he is chasing a man who appears to be
carrying a violin case. She runs after them to get the camera footage and before
long they are having an adventure together. He is Tony Ling and he is after the
case because it is going to the leader of the Quarry gang. Tony does not like
him and Tony wants to get him mad. I would tell you what is in the case but it
would spoil a good joke. A couple weeks later Rosi and Tony run into each other
at a Renaissance Fair, which just happens to be where the Quarry gang decides to
go after Tony. There are shoot outs, chases, and one improbable sequence on the
side of a building. There is some language and sexual overtones that fit right
in with the crazy characters. There is even one big lummox who shags cars if you
can believe it. I found it to be hilariously inventive and visually
entertaining. The only drawback is that it collects only 3 issues so to make it
the size of a regular $20 trade they included the script to the first issue
along with the uncolored art. If you like to see how a story goes from script to
pictures it is there for you to analyze. If you just want story for your money
you could consider it padding. I still enjoyed the story as I read it from the
script a second time and found it interesting how the writer helps the artist by
instructing in words what he wants to see on the page. This is a fun book to
read.

Title: GREEN LANTERN/PLASTIC MAN: WEAPONS OF MASS DECEPTION
Issue Number: 1-SHOT
Publisher: DC
Writer: Marv Wolfman
Artist: Brent Anderson
Colors: Hi-Fi
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Price (USD): $4.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero




I picked this one up on a whim as I was curious to see if Marv Wolfman could
make an interesting story that was not ridiculous with these two characters.
Plastic Man is not a favorite of mine because of the way he is often written -
personality wise. I mean it is a great power as shown by Reed Richards and the
late Elongated Man. But Plas is always the jokester, often to the extreme
depending on the writer. So does this particular story redeem him in my eyes?
Not really, though I must admit he is not as silly as I have seen him in the
past. But right off the bat Hal Jordan is thinking that Plastic Man is
thoughtless and frivolous and even in serious situations he only wants to have
fun. That is his shtick and how he is perceived by others. But the setup is that
he stumbles into a much bigger plot while trying to stop thieves in a nuclear
reactor. It turns out they have alien technology and are planning a big meeting.
Green Lantern being the policeman of the Guardians for this sector is naturally
interested in where they came from and what they plan. So he reluctantly joins
forces with Plastic Man as they go undercover in a seedy bar. The trail
eventually leads into space where the battle gets much bigger involving aliens
who look like ducks. This is nothing more than basic super hero plots with
conflict and resolution and the craziness of Plastic Man thrown in for good
measure. It is not bad and the art is decent but I don't really see the need for
a team up book of this size with these two characters. It is just not that
compelling. You may differ if these are favorites of yours.

*****
TRIVIA CONTEST!!!! WIN REAL PRIZES!!!!!

If you think you know the answer to the trivia question send your guess via
Email to me at ComicBkNet@aol.com 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 Jack Kirby conceived characters crossed over with Jason Voorhees, of Friday the 13th fame in a comic book?
The characters were SATAN'S SIX in their own series. The winner by the dice is
Julian Goding.

Here was your no prize question:
From where did French Fries originate?
French fries do not originate from France. They originally came from Belgium.

THIS WEEK'S TRIVIA QUESTION:
In what two major feature films did George Reeves, TV's Superman, have bit
parts?

Here is your no prize question:
Who first uttered the now famous phrase, "Elvis has left the building?"

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.

2 comments:

  1. George Reeves was in many movies, some were uncredited, or erroneously credited. He had a bit part in "With the Wind" the screen credit is incorrect. He was in "From Here to Eternity" Also uncredited "The Fighting 69th" with James Cagney. Rob Crawford robcc7686@gmail.com http://twitter.com/AtomicMouse1950

    ReplyDelete
  2. "Gone with the Wind "I meant.

    ReplyDelete