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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Comic Reviews 10/16/10


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.

Issue Number: 100
Title Story: Single Combat
Publisher: DC/Vertigo
Creator: Bill Willingham
Writer: Bill Willingham
Artist: Mark Buckingham
Inkers: Steve Leialoha & Andrew Pepoy
Colors: Lee Loughridge
Letters: Todd Klein
Cover Artist: Joao Ruas
Price (USD): $9.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Fantasy

DC is celebrating the hundredth issue of FABLES with a 104-page issue with no ads and tons of extras, some of which have importance to future storylines. The main story involves the combat between Frau Totenkinder, first among the witches of Fabletown and Mister Dark. Dark has forced the evacuation of Fabletown where Fables that can pass for human lived in the heart of the Mundy city known as New York, to set up his Castle Dark from which he will spread his reign over man. The Fables have all fled to The Farm in upstate and await the outcome of the battle. While the girl witch Ozma keeps the inner circle informed of Totenkinder's progress Beauty and the Beast are about to welcome their child into the world. And later as everyone celebrates the new birth, the defeat of an enemy and the engagement of Totenkinder to her man from the homelands it is soon turned to fear as all the Fables must prepare to flee to Flycatcher's kingdom Haven. There is not a clean resolution, or at least one that would be happily ever after, but then most fans of the series would not want it to end now. Both Willingham and Buckingham are exceptional in their craft making the praise this series has received well deserved. Little threads of plots are left there and there to keep the magic going. Some of them are in the additional material provided as a bonus to this landmark issue.

Additional Material:
"Pinocchio's Army" text by Mark Buckingham, Illustrated by Bill Willingham

This short story in text features Pinocchio and his father Geppetto. The boy has remembered something he managed to bring with him from the old kingdom that may change his father's mood. Indeed this is one of those hints of things to come. The switch in roles by the creators works fine as Willingham provides illustration for a mostly text piece.

The Fables Paper Puppet Theater
Concept, script and art by Mark Buckingham, Inks by Dan Green and Colors by Lee Loughridge

If you are really into creating your own Fabletown play you may want to buy a second copy of the book as it includes cut outs of the main characters as well a scenery to build your own theater. The way they are laid out though you would need two extra copies so as not to ruin a complete book.

"The Perils of Thumbelina" by Bill Willingham and Chrissie Zullo

This 3-page story features the residents of Smalltown and the perils they could face in Haven if they are not careful. It has humor and nice art.

Celebrity Burning Questions by Bill Willingham, art by Dave Johnson, Adam Hughes, Kate McElroy, J.H. Williams III and Dave Stewart

Speaking of humor, this section is an illustrated "letters to the Fables" section by some recognizable people from film and television. Each of the four has a guest artist doing the illustrating and are a fun exploration of questions you might have wondered yourself.

"A Thing With Those Mice" by Bill Willingham and Joao Ruas

The second post-duel story also takes place in Haven as the Three Blind Mice wander the land thinking they are heading to the palace to receive rewards for their past heroics. Of course most of this is in their minds as the make assumptions based on what is not happening. It is a funny bit to end the story for now.

Escape to Wolf Manor board game - by Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham

If you already cut up that extra copy you can tear out this two-page board game and have some fun trying to get to Wolf Manor to warn Snow White and Bigby about Mister Dark. There is even more to it online at the Vertigo blog.

Issue Number: 152 pages, TPB, b&w, 5.5in x 8.5in
Publisher: Optic House
Creator: Gerimi Burleigh
Price (USD): $10.95
Release Date: February 2011 - December Previews "Certified Cool"
Genre: Science Fiction - psychological thriller

The promo online goes like this:

Sean Black undergoes surgery, cloning his eyes to restoring his failing vision. After the operation, he "dreams" of a murder, only to discover that it really happened...

...But, the death isn't being reported as a crime. When his curiosity gets the best of him, Sean uncovers a conspiracy and sets off a chain of events that unravel his life.

As it turns out Sean was not dreaming at all. As the story unfolds Sean and his girlfriend, Amanda, meet FBI agent Bryan Grey and Doctor Chantel Wallis who initially treat them as suspects for the amount of information Sean knows about the crime. When the visions recur he notices he is being followed and learns the murders involve the doctor who did his transplant, his assistant and even a reporter who is getting close to the truth. It is a whirlwind adventure filled with paranoia, danger, betrayals and a final revelation that will change his life forever. I found the story gripping from start to finish. Burleigh manages to hold your attention through it all without giving too much away ahead of time. He uses good technique in shading for the vision sequences and the characters for the most part are fleshed out for their part in the story. If you want to preview it you can see the beginning of the story on Look for the solicitation in the latest Previews.

Issue Number: 1 (of 4)
Publisher: Image
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Renzo Podesta
Letters: Shawn Pepasquale
Cover Artist: W. Scott Forbes
Price (USD): $3.99 - Golden Age Format
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction/Fantasy

There is something about famous rock stars dying at the age of twenty-seven. Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Kurt Cobain all died too young. While this comic does not come right out and draw a parallel to those famous icons it does speculate that certain talents can be granted by supernatural forces though as is often the case in such a story there will be a price to pay. Will Garland is the center of the story. He is a super guitarist and front man for a band that hit its high a year ago playing the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Six months later he began to suffer from reflex sympathetic dystrophy in his left hand. That pretty much ended his guitar playing. He could get complex surgery to fix his hand and end the pain, but he would never play the guitar again. It looked like his only other option is a life of drugs to dull the pain. He has been all over the world searching for anyone or anything that may give him hope. Now on his twenty-seventh birthday he is down to his last option. He found Hargrave Swinthe on the Internet and has just enough left to pay for his special treatment. Hargrave explains his treatment is outside traditional science but will give Will back his hand. The device shown to Will is supposed to collect the body's natural energies and provides a healing power in return. Naturally he is not told everything. The procedure involves a machine and nine cats. What is unseen is that the healing is provided by a supernatural being who himself is being deceived by Hargrave. Thus begins Will's journey. Though his hand is healed, as he learns later, he also now has a strange device implanted in his chest. He gets genius levels of creativity by turning the dial but he also has surprising visitors as the chapter ends. I am really impressed by Podesta's art on this book. It is a very unique style that is stretched to all kinds of visuals by the script. The aspects of the players on the supernatural side are constantly changing as if they have no "usual" form. The color and shading change with the mood with just the right amount of touch. This is not a typical story of a man selling his soul for a price. It appears to be much more and I am very curious where it will go from here.

You may have to wait for a second printing or ask for a special order to get this one. The original print run did not meet demand and copies had to be allocated to the comic stores. So far I think it is worth getting a copy to see for yourself.

Publisher: DC
Letters: Travis Lanham
Price (USD): $4.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Mixed

Six stories in this large special touch on various "holiday" themes.

Anthro in "Sometimes the Bear..."
By Joey Cavalieri & Carlo Soriano

Since Anthro and his friends are cavemen the holiday in question here is a tribal tradition called the false hunt carried out by only men on the winter solstice. Anthro joins a fellow tribesman and his son Lart as they head out for the ritual but the boy, Lart, is told to stay behind and protect the women. The two men reach their destination where an old animal skin with paintings on it is the real prize of the ritual. Naturally the boy defies orders and begins to follow them. The story is interesting as they run across a rival tribe and actually use snowmen to scare them away. In a rather comical scene the two men accidentally partake in a winter sport and the boy manages to tangle with a bear. It is a bit whimsical but does play into the holiday spirit if not a traditional one.

Jonah Hex in "Guiding Light"
By Seth Albano, Renato Arlem and Bruno Hanc

This story involves Hex in helping track down the killers of a Rabbi with the help of his son who witnessed the deed. Robbers invaded their camp and stole what little they had killing the father. The boy managed to escape and when he makes it to town father's cousin convinces Hex to go after the murderers for an ample reward. The interesting part of the story is the fact that the robbers never left the area of the murder. They know the boy escaped and can identify them. Every night they see from afar the campfire suddenly relight and are convinced the boy is doing it. It is a miracle of light that keeps them hanging around for seven days, long enough for Jonah and the boy to catch them when they finally return to the scene to bury the father. It is a nice story with excellent art.

Green Lantern in "Holy Day"
By Tony Bedard, Richard and Tanya Horie

The GL in this case is John Stewart who is called to sector 2809 and the planet Hathor by the rookie Green Lantern of that sector. What this new GL has seen on a routine patrol is a planet wide melee with everyone seemingly involved. Stewart's ring confirms that the injuries are merely superficial and they conclude this is not mass hysteria but might be a religious ritual. John draws a parallel to something he witnessed in Manila while in the marines. Further investigation reveals the truth and the "crisis" is resolved. It was a short but interesting and informative tale asking the reader to not judge things by their appearance. Again the art is outstanding.

Superman in "Hero of Heroes"
By Kevin Grevioux, Roberto Castro and Scott Koblish

While this story takes place during a Thanksgiving Day parade it is more about the nature of heroes than the holiday itself. The tradition in Metropolis is for the Daily Planet to give its Hero Award to the hero who embodies the spirit of selfless giving. While the members of the Planet staff speculate among themselves which famous super hero will win this year it is Superman himself who will give the award. In his speech he mentioned those who are looked up to as heroes from celebrities to sports stars and politicians as well as the true heroes in our daily lives like firemen, police, healthcare workers and the military. But the surprise winner is indeed truly deserving of recognition. It is a nice little story if light on the holiday theme itself. I found the art less attractive mostly because of the finishes.

The Spectre in "The Gift"
By Dara Naraghi, Tom Derenick, Norm Rapmund and Chris Beckett

This story takes place in Tehran where the Iranians are preparing to celebrate the Persian New Year on the Vernal Equinox. While the customs are new to him the latest Spectre finds them oddly familiar. The he witnesses street thugs stab a man who is bringing gifts to an orphanage and soon he will use the wrath of vengeance to right a terrible wrong. While it is a typical Spectre story it is fascinating to learn about another tradition half a world away. The art is very capable on this one and the story leads to a good resolution.

The Legion of Super Heroes in "Holiday"
By Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning, Chris Batista, Rich Perrotta and Hi-Fi

The final offering takes place in the 31st century where all the holidays have been rolled into one called simply Holiday. Of course not everyone can celebrate as the case in our own times. The Legion has members on duty to deal with disaster and crime along with the Science Police. But as they respond to what are reported to be a series of alien attacks they find nothing. Eventually the trail leads back to the artificial intelligence at Science Police Control that has been giving out the alerts. It turns out that even machines need a holiday once in a while. It is a cute gimmick that works well for this story. The art team does a bang up job on it as well.

Taken as a whole this is a great comic book for all ages. It is entertaining and education making it a perfect stocking stuffer (or other appropriate holiday gift) for any fan.

Issue Number: 1 (of 4)
Title Story: Part One
Publisher: Slave Labor Graphics
Writer: Serena Valentino
Artist: Foo Swee Chin
Letters: Jef Bambas
Price (USD): $3.50
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Supernatural

This black and white tale is somewhat confusing at first until you realize whom the people are talking about. A young girl of fifteen named Gwen is taking a trip by train across the country with her aunt Bea. Bea says she is not sure why Gwen would want to travel so far to visit an asylum but she is sure that "Annabelle" has her reasons. Gwen's response is that she wishes Bea could "hear" Annabelle but since she can't Gwen will tell the story. After a while it becomes clear that Annabelle is the antique doll in Gwen's lap. She actually speaks to Gwen but only she can hear her. The story involves several previous owners of Annabelle. Each was a young girl who met untimely ends when they did not heed Annabelle's warnings. There was Siren who ended up on display in a carnival, Paige who was wild and reckless and died young, Belle who was beaten by her father because she loved another woman, Snow White who was killed by her stepmother, Dominique who had her baby taken away and turned into a beastly murderer and then Morgan who was accused of Dominique's crimes and was sent to an asylum. Annabelle promised to help Morgan if she could find someone who could hear and help her. And so the plot involves the two companions arriving at a seemingly deserted town except for the proprietress of the hotel Bea made arrangements to stay at. She is fearful of their safety and tries to warn them of the dangers at night, that they best visit the asylum in the day. The main plot really begins hear as they search the seemingly deserted institution for clues to Morgan's whereabouts. The whole thing has a supernatural aura about it and from the tales told in the first half you may expect that strange things will be happening from this point forward. I found this to be a compelling story for its structure and uniqueness. The dialogues with Annabelle add a touch of mystery as well as a tool for relaying the background information needed to understand what is coming at the end. The art has a mix of style with Manga style touches, especially in Gwen. There is a lot more I have not related that happens at the hotel and with its keeper. It is a pretty dense story with lots to absorb though it flows smoothly once you understand the beginning conversation. This one gets thumbs up for story and another for art. Black and white fans won't be disappointed.

Issue Number: 7
Title Story: What Goes Around, Comes Around
Publisher: DC
Writer: Geoff Johns Artist:
Colors: Scott Kolins
Letters: Sal Cipriano
Cover Artist: Francis Manapul Variant: Darwyn Cooke
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

Sometimes the title on the cover, which is actually a trademark, is not the accurate legal title of the comic so I often look in the Indicia to be correct in my reviews. This comic is really THE FLASH but I noticed an odd thing while looking. The cover says issue #7 but the indicia says it is #9 - very odd! Another odd thing is that the title character appears in only three panels, one of those just his boots and he has no dialogue at all. You can guess from the story title and cover that this issue is about George "Digger" Harkness, Captain Boomerang. The issue has two main plots. One that starts and ends the issue has digger breaking into Iron Heights Penitentiary to break someone out. He has always been a part of the Rogues Gallery. Digger died and was recently resurrected by the white light. Now he has questions for the person he seeks. The other plot in contrast is about the past, his past. This is the secret origin of Captain Boomerang. It goes back to his childhood days with an abusive father, a mysterious benefactor and a mother who hides a major secret. At a young age he learns to master the boomerang after receiving one from the mysterious benefactor. When forced to leave home to escape his father he goes to the US where his transformation into Captain Boomerang and later a life of crime takes place. As far a secret origins go this is a pretty good one. It explains his character and earlier motivation. The other plot brings us up to speed, no pun intended, with his current motivation and what may be a big mistake he made as a result. If you like secret origins, by the way, there will be another one in this title is just two weeks. It is good to see THE FLASH back as a regular title with both strong writing and art. The fact that he wasn't around much this time and it is still a good comic says a lot about the creative team.


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 were the first two characters from DC and Marvel to meet?
It was the now classic meeting of Superman and Spider-Man that began it all. The winner this time by the dice roll is Stephen Kostrzewa.

Here was your no prize question: Who was the only 6-star General in US History?
Jimmy Carter ordered George Washington to be promoted posthumously to the position of six-star "General of the Armies of Congress." Carter did this because he believed that the first President of America should also be America's highest military official.

THIS WEEK'S TRIVIA QUESTION: What Jack Kirby conceived characters crossed over with Jason Voorhees, of Friday the 13th fame in a comic book?

Here is your no prize question: From where did French Fries originate?

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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