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Thursday, January 27, 2011

Comic Reviews 1/28/11

Issue Number: 500
Title Story: The New Iron Age
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist - Iron Man and Spider-Man: Salvador Larroca & Frank D'Armata
Artist - Ginny Stark: Kano
Artist - Howard Stark II: Nathan Fox & Javier Rodriguez
Artist - Tony Stark & the Mandarin: Carmine Di Giandomenico & Matthew Wilson
Letters: Joe Caramagna
Cover Artist: various
Price (USD): $4.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

As you might guess from the credits this extra-sized anniversary issue has
several stories. But unlike some landmark issues the stories here are all
related together. The different plotlines have different artists that
distinguish them as we shift back and forth among the stories. The first starts
in the present as Peter Parker is riding the subway and who should be on the
same car but Tony Stark. It is clear that Tony no longer knows Peter is Spider-
Man so the conversation is more personal. It is also clear to me I have missed
some things along the way by not reading every Spider-Man and Iron Man comic.
Peter is angry for Tony firing him at some point. Peter now works at a think
tank. Tony explains he had problems with his brain due to Norman Osborn. But
Tony really wants is the memory of a weapon that Peter helped him build. It was
something that occupied his mind when it was not otherwise occupied and with
Peter's help he realizes it is a megadeath weapon and now someone else is trying
to build it. In 2052 Howard Stark II, age 46, is functioning as War Machine as
part of an insurgent group against a tyrannical world ruler. Likewise Ginny
Stark, 22 years old is aligned with the Black Widows fighting for the same
cause. So who is this emperor of the world? It is none other than the Lord
Mandarin. Even more curious is that the Tony Stark, now age 76, is his personal
valet. Mandarin has the weapon that could not be made in our time and plans to
destroy the world with it and there are no Avengers or Iron Man to stop him. But
there are those pesky insurgents and you know that before the end Tony will
somehow eventually save the day. You see it all ties back to the present day
after Spider-Man and Iron Man foil the plans of those who thought they could
build the weapon. But what if someone else - better funded and technically
astute got hold of the plans someday? Peter suggests a way to stop that from
happening and it will come in handy one day. While it seems a bit disjointed at
first it all comes together thanks to Matt Fraction's fine scripting. The
various art styles make a good presentation though I preferred Larocca, D'Armata
and Kano's contributions to the others. For a change it is not just a bunch of
stories to fill up a larger issue. The extra pages have a preview of Iron Man
2.0 as well as a cover gallery of all 500 issues of INVINCIBLE IRON MAN. This
one is a worthy celebration of the longevity of the title.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: IDW
Story & Art: John Byrne
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Shawn Lee
Cover Artist: John Byrne
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction

Since IDW has the Jurassic Park license they are putting out another series
playing off the whole dinosaurs alive today theme. So far this title has no
relation to the original except the dinos themselves, though they do not
actually appear except in shadow until the very last panel in this issue. It
takes place somewhere it the dessert of the American west. A farmer has
discovered about 15 of his cattle horribly mutilated and sends his son into town
to fetch the sheriff. When the two return to the scene they find the same
slaughter but no sign of the father, only half of his mutilated horse. After
taking precautions for the safety of the boy and his mother, Will the sheriff
and his deputy Daniel investigate and see the ominous tracks, which they send
off to experts. Before it is over we will have the FBI involved as well as two
paleontologists. There are also some human victims along the way to keep the
action moving. Byrne manages to work in an old relationship between the sheriff
and the presumed widow for good measure. It is an interesting read as it moves
along although up to this point it is somewhat predictable for those familiar
with the movies. Still it is good fun for readers of all ages who are fans of
the genre. It is a bonus for any of you John Byrne fans who like to see him on
something beside super heroes.

Title: ETHAN?
Issue Number: 1
Publisher: GG Studio
Writer: Alessandro Apreda
Artist: Fabrizio Fiorentino
Colors: Giuseppe Bbox Boccia
Letters: Studio Blue
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction
Mature Readers

It is odd to see a comic with a one-word title ending in a question mark. ETHAN?
Is a story about a man whose name is Ethan Babylon. But as the story starts you
might wonder. He awakens in a strange bed with a beautiful woman but does not
remember how he got there. Ok, so far. When she wakens and says she missed him
and starts calling him Ronnie he really is puzzled. Then a S.W.A.T. team comes
crashing in through the walls and before you know it he is being given a severe
beating before landing in prison as an accused multiple murderer Ronnie
Mossberg. The script really takes us on a ride through the sordid past of Ronnie
Mossberg as his defense attorney narrates the various crimes he has committed.
Ethan of course can only sit and wonder how he got into this other man's body.
It is interesting there is so much contempt for the killer that even his lawyer
and in the end a priest have no regard for their supposed impartial function in
his life but instead kiss him off with insults. Ethan begins to wonder if he was
ever Ethan. His execution takes place half way through the book - but the story
is not over. At the moment of electrocution he has a moment of clarity when he
realizes exactly when he was no longer Ethan. Furthermore, he "awakens" once
again to find himself being scolded by an underage female and since he is in yet
another body he figures she is his daughter. When she plants a firm one on his
kisser he realizes he has "jumped" into a pervert. And this guy has a not so
pretty life either. So what would you do if you suddenly found you were
reincarnated so to speak into someone else's life? I mean starting over as a
baby with no knowledge of your past lives is one thing but actually becoming
someone else? Once I got into this I found it fascinating. Part of that was due
to the art and how Fiorentino portrays the variety of characters involved in the
story. Each scene has a different aspect from perspective to lighting to color
and the people range from ordinary street people, female dancers, high tech
thugs, sexy lawyers and TV hosts, to the fat cop at the end. This is one well-
crafted story in both art and story. You just can't help wonder how and why this
is happening to Ethan and thanks to the nice art you gladly follow along where
it goes. This is the first comic I have seen from GG Studio and I am impressed.

Title: GORE
Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Masks, part 1
Publisher: GG Studio
Writer: Alex Crippa
Translation: Andrea Plazzi & Adam McGovern
Artist: Emilio Laiso
Flats: Domenico Nagliero & Alberto Baldisserotto
Colors: Alessia Nocera
Letters: Studio Blue
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Horror
Mature Readers

The second comic reviewed this week from Italian publisher GG Studio is set
appropriately in Venice in 1880. It is the time of Carnival. A rich banker from
France and his young female companion are cruising the canals in a gondola when
their gondolier is suddenly pulled into the water and devoured. Before the
couple can react something punches its way through the hull and grabs the
banker. The young girl has one chance to swim to safety when a crossbow dart
wounds her attacker. As her would be savior reaches to pull her out of the water
the creature, a demon mermaid, pulls her under and then leaps onto the pier at
her attacker. After a bloody fight the young man prevails and the demon is
killed. The next day the hero is angered by the newspaper report of a shark in
the canal killing the three victims. Then he is approached by a young female,
the sister of the dead young lady. They were captives of the banker who used
them for his pleasure. With no money or papers she seeks only to find out the
truth of her sister's death. This lays the groundwork for the story unfolding.
In another scene we witness the leader of the local constabulary briefing his
men about the atrocities that take place every year during carnival. He warns
that they will unable to prevent most of it but make every effort to cover up
the truth for the bad press it will bring the city. It seems like our young hero
is the only one with the will and the skills to stop some of the slaughter. With
the police on their own agenda he will be essentially fighting on two fronts.
And the one demon we saw at first is only one of many that enter our world
through a portal each year. They are well aware of the man who hunts them and
are looking to turn the tables on him. It is a fast-paced story with lots of
detail given to the art in every panel. There is good use of coloring to
distinguish day from night and the layouts break up the pages in different ways
each time. While I did not like it as much as SETH? It is still a fine first
issue for another publisher trying to make a splash in our market. From the ads
in the back it looks like more titles will soon appear. I hope they do well.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Zenescope Entertainment
Creator: Raven Gregory, Joe Brusha & Ralph Tedesco
Writer: Raven Gregory
Artist: David Miller
Colors: Jason Embury
Letters: Jim Campbell
Cover Artist: Various
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Fantasy/Horror

Once in a while I grab one of the Zenescope GRIMM FAIRY TALES titles for a
diversion from the normal books I read. This one is not part of the ongoing
titles like TALES FROM WONDERLAND and others so I decided to check it out. I
have found all of their comics to have fetching covers featuring scantily clad
females and the interior art is generally very competent with high production
values. This one is no exception in that regard. The story is set at the
Seidwell Rehabilitation Institute. The main character is Britney Waters a
therapist dealing with the patients in individual and group therapy. The group
has a mix of problems. Lydia is addicted to pain killers and blames herself for
her mother's suicide. Brian and Louis are bad boy alcoholics from the upper
class. Tanya has a sex addiction. David has a binge eating disorder. Andrea is a
self-mutilator who brutally murdered her abusive foster parents. Eric is a
catatonic Schizophrenic who never speaks to the group. With a mix like that you
know there will be a lot of weird things going on - like Brian and Louis paying
an orderly for sneaking booze and Lydia trading sex for pills with another. But
the horror of the story comes from a beast, apparently a form of werewolf, which
has mutilated other animals in the woods nearby. The staff is warned to be
careful and the grounds appear safe behind the fences. It is only when the beast
proves they are not a deterrent for him one night that things start to get very
interesting. This issue of necessity is mostly set up spending time to introduce
the characters and their quirks. Britney is apparently the heroine though she
could well become a victim by the end. For what it is this first issue delivers
well and sets things up for a lot more action next time. It is a worthy addition
to the company's offerings.

Issue Number: 4
Publisher: Marvel/Icon
Creators: Mark Millar & Leinil Yu
Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: Leinil Yu
Inkers: Gerry Alanguilan, Jason Paz & Jeff Huet
Colors: Sunny Gho & Javier Tartaglia
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero
Mature Content

Four issues in is a good time to see how this title has developed. Simon Pooni
was a normal kid until Multiple Sclerosis robbed him of his mobility and the
sight in one eye. He now has only one good friend, Chris. One night a monkey in
a space suit visited his room saying he would grant Simon a wish. It turns out
he wished to be his favorite super hero of comic books and five movies,
Superior. In a flash he is transformed to the spitting image of the character as
portrayed in the movies - he looks like the actor. And he has all the major
powers - strength, flight, super hearing, speed and heat vision. So far he has
been afraid to tell his parents, and he can't change back to a boy, so he ran
from home and confided only to Chris. Now he has become the hero he wanted to
be. He has been performing all kinds of problem solving and life saving feats.
This catches the attention of a television reporter who plans to land an
interview, the first exclusive, by putting herself in peril, counting on
Superior to save her. This issue has a lot of scenes that point out the impact
Superior/Simon has had on others. His parents fear he is dead or the prisoner of
some pervert even though he left them a note telling them not to worry. Tad
Scott, the actor who played Superior in the movies, is suddenly out of a job
because the suits fear they will need to clear the name and likeness rights with
the "real" Superior before making another movie. And then there is Rich. It
seems a group of bullies beat him up on the way to basketball practice. When
Simon finds out he has a unique way of dealing with the leader that will put an
end to that stuff. Toward the end Superior decides it is time to step up his
efforts at helping the world and the space monkey shows us a bit more of his
master plan. I really enjoyed this episode. It has a number of plot threads and
characters that will develop as we go along. For now it takes a logical
progression as to how a kid might react to suddenly being the equivalent of
Superman or Captain Marvel. The interview shows us that Simon is pretty mature
for his age, as does the way he handles the bully. Now all we need is major
conflict or tragedy. That is bound to be coming soon. The art is dynamic though
I always ponder why three inkers are needed. It is not too late to catch up with
this new comic. I think it is worth it.


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:
In a monumental change, the comic industry finally raised the price of the
average comic from 10 cents to 12 cents. What was the year?

The answer was the DC December 1961 issues, with 1962 cover dates, are listed as
the first 12-cent comics. The winner by the dice roll is Gary Katzoff.

Here was your no prize question:
What US location has the lowest Zip Code number?
The lowest ZIP code for any of the U.S. States is 01001, which is for Agawam,

What was the name of Kobalt's archenemy?

Here is your no prize question:
Which sports figure first uttered the famous line on national TV, "I'm going to

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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