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Friday, January 7, 2011

Comic Reviews 1/6/11


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: 4 (of 4)
Publisher: Marvel/Icon
Creators: Mark Millar & Steve McNiven
Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: Steve McNiven
Colors: Dave McCaig
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Villain/Crime

This is the final issue of Millar's story of a super criminal. Some have likened
it to a story of what if Batman was a bad guy. It has certain parallels in that
the title character appears to be on a vendetta based on what happened to his
parents who in this case were depraved criminals. Nemesis has left a trail of
dead police officers across Asia with thousands of innocents also killed as
collateral damage. That was apparently a warm up to his ultimate target the
Chief of Police of Washington, DC, Blake Morrow. So far he has kidnapped the
president, murdered the entire staff of the Pentagon, kidnapped Morrow's
children forcing him to reveal his darkest secrets and then returned the
children after artificially inseminating the daughter by her own brother. He has
sent Morrow a note stating his intention, "Blake Morrow March 12th at midnight -
flatline still counts." Morrow now has Nemesis' secret identity and is out to
get Nemesis with a major task force before he can carry out his plan. The chief
got information from a police department mole that Nemesis has been
impersonating his own uncle, Howard Anderson. The task force closes in on the
Anderson estate but it is too soon to believe he will be captured that easily.
Sure enough the whole thing is a trap and Morrow finds himself in the hands of
his enemy and learns of a betrayal by one of his own men. To his surprise they
are in the White House and both his wife and the President are they are wearing
bomb vests. The choice he is given is to detonate one or the other. If he
refuses they will both die. It is the climax point in the story and charges
forward from there with deadly result. But is the story over? In the aftermath
we learn the true story behind the man called Nemesis. It is a good twist to a
gripping story that was a fast-paced thriller the whole way. McNiven provided
excellent visuals and McCaig's coloring job was superb. This would make one heck
of a movie and the ending leaves us a chance of a sequel. I thoroughly enjoyed
the whole experience.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Part One
Title Arc: Golden Dawn
Publisher: DC
Creator: Bob Kane
Writer, Artist, Cover: David Finch
Inker: Scott Williams
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Variant Cover Artist: Andy Clarke
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

As part of the whole new direction of the Batman family of books David Finch
gets his own self-contained title featuring Bruce Wayne as the Dark Knight. He
has proven himself to be a good storyteller in both words and pencils and the
finishes by Williams and Sinclair provide a visual delight for the readers. This
first arc involves the disappearance of a woman he used to play with as a child.
Dawn Golden would visit the Waynes with her parents when Bruce was a boy. Over
time he warmed up to her initial sullen and aloof attitude. In narration we
learn he last saw her when she broke his heart in college. Now she has gone
missing, Commissioner Gordon has no solid leads and the case is high visibility
with the press and local politicians. Batman is following his own obsession to
find her or die trying. The trail leads him to Killer Croc. Finch takes his time
showing that confrontation which will be particularly difficult for Batman this
time due to the fact that Croc is taking Venom. It is an interesting insight
into the way Batman plans his moves and carries them out. The trail will lead
him to others and a climax confrontation with another old foe. There is a
subplot involving some street bums that will no doubt play into the main story
down the line. It is an excellent start for this new title and a way for fans to
follow Batman stories told in the classic style without all the Batman Inc. tie-

Issue Number: 1 (of 5)
Publisher: Image/Top Cow
Creator: Joshua Hale Fialkov
Writer: Joshua Hale Fialkov
Artist: Rahsan Ekedal
Letters: Troy Peteri
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Horror - black & white
MATURE: Graphic Content - Comics on the Edge

This is an interesting mix of horror and noir elements. The narrator is Brian
Cohn and right from the beginning we see that this story will be complex because
of Brian's condition. Is he a reliable storyteller? The first several pages jump
back and forth from his childhood, to good times with his wife expecting their
first child, to telling his story to the police, to caring for his father who is
slowly deteriorating in health. We can't be sure because Brian himself is under
therapy and on medication. Later in the story we wonder if he is really seeing
these things or is he hallucinating because he is off his meds. Just before he
passes away the father becomes suddenly lucid and tells Brian he has to go to
the old house and find the box in the crawlspace. He alludes to "bodies" and "so
many dead girls" so Brian naturally wonders what dark secret has been hidden by
his father for so long. With his watch timer constantly reminding him to take
his meds Brian begins exploring the old homestead with a feeling he is being
watched, that he is not alone. The monologue he goes through subtly reminds us
that we are watching a retelling of the story but it may not be entirely
correct. The horrific discovery only opens more questions for Brian and the
reader. After the initial confusion at the start of the story we are taken on a
chilling adventure that draws us deeper into the mind of Brian Cohn. What was
his father involved in so long ago? Is this the evidence of a hidden past or is
there more to the story? Is someone else lurking in the shadows as one scene and
the cover suggest? It is well scripted to get us to this point with so many
questions to answer. The art is such that certain panels bear looking at more
than once to find clues to parts of the plot. Even the ramblings of the elder
Cohn's roommate in the hospital have a bearing on the story. It is a worthy
effort that is sure to get more gripping as we move along.

Issue Number: 1-Shot
Publisher: DC
Price (USD): $7.99 - 100-Pages
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

This "Spectacular" is essentially a reprint of JLA 90-93 from 2004. Those issues covered two self-contained stories reproduced here. Please note the series they are taken from is JLA and not the current run called JUSTICE LEAGUE of AMERICA.

Story: Perchance
Writer: Joe Kelly
Artist: Chris Cross
Inker: Tom Nguyen
Colors: Chris Sotomayor
Letters: Nick Napolitano

The title is from the old saying, "To sleep, perchance to dream." It is
appropriate to the story set in a time shortly after Wonder Woman and Bruce
Wayne had a brief romantic encounter. The opening scene is the set up as Diana
comes to Gotham and helps capture the latest villain of the week. The two dance
around having "the talk" while the captured villain in the background adds some
comic relief. Later at the Watchtower on the moon a passing comment by a
colleague gets Diana thinking - was a simple kiss a shared moment by warriors on
the battlefield or a desperate attempt to reconcile years of pent up emotion?
It's time for an answer. So she visits J'onn J'onzz to use a certain machine he
has developed. It is not a gateway to knowledge or predictor of the future but a
window into the subconscious. In it she will sleep and perhaps find the answers
she seeks. Several scenes pass by - the two as the new Dynamic Duo with Diana as
Batwoman, as warriors together on Paradise Island, dining with her family and
his friends, the rejection by her mother of a most wanted petition, she becoming
more dark in his world of maniacal foes, him growing old as she does not age,
and so on. In the end she emerges from the machine to find Bruce waiting there.
They manage to settle the problem amicably. This is a decent enough story that
explores relationships that occur between comrades and the various turns they
may take. Kelly turns in a good script. While the art is able enough in
structure and composition I did not care for the pencils all that much. For one
thing Chris Cross draws Diana more muscular than needed to accentuate her power.
Still it was not that bad.

Story: Extinction
Writer: Dennis O'Neil
Artist: Tan Eng Huat
Colors: David Baron
Letters: Rob Leigh/Jared Fletcher

This second story is more typical of a JLA story as it involves many of the
characters through most of the story. Involved in the plot are Plastic Man,
Superman, John Stewart, Flash, Wonder Woman and Atom. It starts as Plastic Man
sounds the alarm when a cloud of rocks appears as if out of nowhere and starts
to puncture holes in the Watchtower. Luckily Plas can stretch to plug the holes
until the others arrive. Further investigation indicates that a spaceship ripped
through hyperspace bringing with it the damaging debris. When the gang finally
gains entrance to the ship they discover a spaceman in the form of a monkey,
though he quickly reverts to a humanoid shape based on the JLA's appearance. The
JLA are cautious about accepting the being calling himself Pepaey but agree to
help him locate a species on Earth, one he is tasked to monitor - an ape known
as the silver masked monkey, a nearly extinct species that may only be found in
the Amazon. But when their quest ends in failure Pepaey reveals that according
to his references this species of monkey should have become the dominant life
form on Earth. Next he asks to see more of the planet to see how it actually did
develop and to his horror witnesses the worst of mankind does to itself. This
convinces him that this dominant species wants to kill itself and if so he will
assist. It takes the combined effort of all to thwart his plan and get to a
proper understanding. As I said this is a more typical JLA story but not a very
good one. The characters are often caricatures of themselves and many written
fearing Batman more than the alien. The art is displeasing as well. Though it
carries the story forward as it should the people are often drawn out of
proportion, particularly too tall. The coloring is decent but it can't save the
rest for my tastes.

In summary I grade this one with a just passing grade. Since it is a reprint,
and I have been an avid follower of the JLA in all its incarnation I am not
surprised I do not remember reading these stories before as they are indeed
forgettable - the second more than the first. DC would be better served to issue
a 100-page special with unused inventory stories than recycling mediocre stories
in hopes of selling more high-priced spectaculars.

Title: WHAT IF? 200
Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Marvel
Cover Artist: Lucio Parrillo
Price (USD): $4.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

Celebrating the 200th issue of the title Marvel issued a larger issue with two
stories and a backup on thoughts about the favorites of some creators. There is
also a retrospective by Roy Thomas, a reprinting of all 200 covers and finally a
reprint of the classic #35 - What If Elektra Had Lived?

Story: What If Norman Osborn Won the Siege of Asgard?
Writer: Marc Guggenheim
Artist: Dave Wilkins
Letters: Dave Lanphear

In this story the turning point is identified as the point in the Siege of
Asgard when The Sentry killed Ares thus weakening him just enough to be
eventually defeated and the tide turned. In this alternate version Ares decides
not to be led into war against Asgard and instead tries to attack Osborn only to
be killed much earlier than the Siege by The Sentry. Thus he is more able to
withstand any assault and ultimately help Norman takeover Asgard with its
arsenal. Now Norman can set his sights on the rest of the world. Even his Dark
Reign Cabal cannot withstand Reynolds when he learns of his wife's assassination
by Bullseye. The Cabal falls as most of Earth's heroes did before them and with
Sentry now taking on the persona of the Void he is too powerful even for Dr.
Doom. Does Norman Osborn stand a chance - or for that matter the rest of
mankind? This one ends in disaster, as do many of the alternate realities in the
annals of this title. It is a believable story of what could have happened if
events unfolded differently. The art is decent though somewhat heavy in the
coloring for my taste. I enjoyed it though.

Story: What If I, The Watcher, Killed Galactus?
Writer: Stan Lee
Artist: Dale Eaglesham
Colors: Laura Martin
Letters: Todd Klein

Stan revisits one of his classic stories from FANTASTIC FOUR #48-50. In that
epic Galactus was about to destroy Earth but the FF obtained the Ultimate
Nullifier, which could destroy the Galaxy or even the Universe. Rather than risk
his own demise he set the Silver Surfer free and left, promising never to
return. But what if instead Uatu the Watcher went one step further and killed
Galactus himself? That is the story Stan is now proposing. Sure enough Uatu is
called on the carpet for his crime of interference, which is at the core of his
people's beliefs. The might of the Watchers is demonstrated as they brush aside
the cosmic power of the Silver Surfer and whisk everyone off to the place of
judgment. Stan adds another look at the Watcher society and how Uatu is still
dedicated to their beliefs after the one slip and a certain fate offering no
excuse but admitting his action. But Stan has a neat twist at the end that is
indeed ironic and well done. This was an enjoyable story capably rendered by
Eaglesham with the always-terrific coloring of Laura Martin. It is a worthy
entry for this landmark issue.

The reprint feature is "What If Bullseye Had Not Killed Elektra?" written and
drawn by Frank Miller himself with inks by Terry Austin and colors by Glynis
Wein. The story is told in the rain as Matt Murdock stands over the gravestone
of Elektra. The teller approaches covered by a large trench coat and umbrella
and we can tell it is clearly the Watcher who will tell Murdock about another
world a heartbeat away where Elektra still lives. In that world Bullseye is shot
and killed during his prison break and so never killed Elektra. Since she is
following what would have happened she is commissioned to kill Matt's law
partner but at the last minute decides to let him go. These two events forever
change her future. The Kingpin is outraged she let her prey live and so sets Mr.
Slaughter to the task of killing Elektra to gain all his contracts. Meanwhile
Foggy tells Matt about his brush with deaths leaving Matt no choice but to
attempt to bring her in. With all kinds of assassins after her Elektra has a
fight on her hands as her quarters are compromised. She manages to elude them
all and matt returns to his place without finding her, only to see she has
turned to him as a last hope. How will their story end? You have to read it to
find out. I can see why this is a favorite of both Ed Brubaker and Brian Michael
Bendis. It was unique to have the creator of the original story also do the
alternate reality version and Terry Austin on inks gave Miller's pencils a great
look. It is a fitting end to a truly landmark issue of this fan favorite title.

Issue Number: 2 (of 5)
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Artist: Emma Rios
Colors: Jose Villarrubia
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Cover Artist: Ben Oliver
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Villain

I picked up the first issue of this mini out of curiosity. What could be more
interesting than a follow up to Norman's fall from power? Could anyone live up
to the power of the months-long story that put Osborn in the seat of power to
the point where he nearly took over the country? I was pleasantly surprised to
read that first issue and find a fascinating story unfold that featured Osborn
only in a few panels but gave the promise of another great story in the making.
After his take down by the Avengers Osborn was imprisoned and as we saw last
issue he was transferred to a top-secret privately run supermax prison called
the Special Containment Center. He is in a special wing along with four other
super villains so dangerous that they are locked away for years, even decades.
The first issue gave us some insight into those inmates before Norman is
introduced into the cell he now languishes in. But we also saw that some are
working behind the scenes to free him, even before he arrives. These people wear
tattoos of the Green Goblin, his former persona, and number in the hundreds. One
of them is father Coulmier, a priest who serves in the Special Containment
Center. The story opens as Osborn has his first meeting in the Father's office.
It is an interesting dialogue that gets even more interesting when the guard is
excused so the priest can hear Norm's "confession" - a ruse so that Coulmier can
explain to Norman how the cult is planning to free him. On the outside at Front
Line reporter Norah Winters is supposed to do a news piece on Osborn but he has
suddenly vanished from public confinement. She is pressing every lead to find
out where he is gone. She is about to get a mysterious invitation to a midnight
meeting that may give her some answers - leaving the reader pondering who is
behind this and why. As the cult of the Goblin sets their plan in motion we
start to see the old Osborn start to surface as he and his new allies join
forces. It is a fascinating story with good characterization. While Norman was
not of necessity seen much in the first issue he is given lots of face time in
this one with some sharp scripting setting the tone for things to come.
DeConnick really gets it when it comes to giving the characters the right
dialogue for their circumstance and disposition. Rios has a very appealing style
that is finished well by Jose's coloring. It is a very good read and fitting
follow up to Norman's fall from power. He may not breathe free air again by the
end of it but I am willing to stick with it to see where it goes.


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 the "Origin of the Legion" in 1968 who joined the Legion of Super-Heroes
first after the three founders?
The answer is Triplicate Girl. The winner by the dice roll is Keith Martin.

Here was your no prize question:
From what source did the group Duran Duran get their name?
Duran Duran got their name from a movie called "Barbarella." A mad scientist in
the movie went by the same name. Several got it right and the first was Al
Gordon who earns his spot in the Trivia Hall of Fame with an asterisk because he
is technically not eligible even for a no prize. Christian Mock beat the rest of
the guessers.

Special covers were all the rage in the Eighties. Continuity Comics did a
crossover in its books with different types of special covers each month -
embossed, foil, etc. One they called an "Indestructible" cover. The question
is from what did they make the cover?

Here is your no prize question:
What is the most sold musical instrument in the world?

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.

1 comment:

  1. I am really liking the concept of these "DC COMICS PRESENTS" reprints. I picked up the first "Young Justice" one for my kids (daughter 13, son 7) and they loved it. A few others really appeal to us too....alas my LCS is not interested in getting any of them....