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Friday, February 18, 2011

Comic Reviews - 2/18/11

Title: STEEL
Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Full Circle
Title Arc: Reign of Doomsday
Publisher: DC
Creator: Louise Simonson & Jon Bogdanove
Writer: Steve Lyons
Artist: Ed Benes
Colors: Blond
Letters: Pat Brosseau
Cover Artist: Alex Garner
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

This is the first part of the story running through various DC titles featuring
the return of Doomsday. John Henry Irons is the first to go up against him and
with the ambiguous ending it could be his last battle. It is really not much of
a plot. It opens with Steel on his knees reaching for his hammer in an obvious
battle area. He calls to mind the time years ago recovering from his first
battle with Doomsday and being told Superman had died. In flashback we get a
brief reminder of the main players in the "Reign of Supermen" saga. Additionally
there is some interface with innocent bystanders and John's niece plays a part
along the way. But most of the book is the battle itself. It goes back and forth
to the end. There is some new information John notices about Doomsday that will
no doubt be expanded on in later chapters of the arc. Overall it is kind of
predictable. The art is not bad though so at least visually it works. But since
we know this is only the start of a longer story there is no mystery as to
Doomsday surviving. But will John? I don't think this story will have much
bearing on the big picture down the road unless some planned plot twist later
makes John more relevant to Doomsday's plan, if he has one.

Issue Number: 1 (of 5)
Title Story: Are You Listening?
Publisher: Image
Writer: Nathan Edmondson
Artist: Tonci Zonjic
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Thriller/Science Fiction?
Mature - Comics on the Edge

This one is a bit strange which is why I had a hard time categorizing the genre.
The opening scene is done a bit different to give us an introduction to the
unique situation of Jon Moore. He is sitting on the deck of a boat in Barcelona,
Spain. The savory characters there with him are upset he has not produced the
information he was hired to get. Jon seems detached from the conversation. In
fact he seems to be talking to himself. Then he strangely pulls a gun and shoots
at one of the men through a bottle of high proof booze, which starts a fire as
he runs and jumps from the boat. Next we see the same scene with an added
character. Jon wasn't talking to himself after all. There is a man in a dark
suit and white tie that only Jon can see. He acts like a guardian angel telling
Jon these guys are going to kill him, shoot through the bottle, duck and jump.
So who or what is this guy? Well look at the title - WHO IS JAKE ELLIS? The how
and the why are not explained. Is Jake a ghost or hallucination or something
else? Jon is now on the run from the Spaniards and from some Americans. We don't
know if he is a spy or a criminal or something else. It is pretty cool how Jake
keeps him one step ahead of disaster time after time. Often the way Jake gets
Jon out of a pinch results in odd situations like running through the streets in
France in his underpants. But there is nothing comical about the main plot. It
is very serious. Jake seems to know exactly what Jon should do and when until
the very end when it seems there may be no way out. This is very entertaining
with lots of straightforward action through the whole book. There is also
mystery and unanswered questions enough to get you to stay with it until the
next issue. The art is decent in style and execution and fits well with the
characters and the overall story. This one is a keeper. Try it and see if you

Title: DEUS EX
Issue Number: 1
Publisher: DC
Writer: Robbie Morrison
Artist: Trevor Hairsine
Colors: Jorge Gonzalez
Letters: Saida Temofonte
Cover Artist: Jim Murray
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction/Action/Adventure - video game adaptation

You've seen me write this before. I am not a video gamer so I approach this kind
of comic as a reader who wants to be entertained by a first issue. The action
begins in Juarez, Mexico in 2027. Our hero is approaching a drug cartel
warehouse and cocaine packaging center where a young girl is being held. The
head of the operation is Alexander Kronstadt an enforcer for the Stolchinaya
Mafia Clan. He has already severed some of Nina Freeman's fingers after her
uncle did not respond to his extortion demands. Kronstadt is more machine than
man in this future of body augmentations. But our hero, Adam Jensen, has been
augmented as well with smart vision enhancement and x-ray vision. He has
cybernetic arms and legs for enhanced speed and strength as well as Rhino Dermal
Armor, which reduces injury from shock, fire and impact. He is the Physical
Security Chief of Sarif Industries the cutting edge biotechnology corporation.
The CEO, David Sarif, sent Adam to rescue his niece rather than give in to the
cartel. Radical anti-augmentation terrorists have attacked Sarif operations and
Sarif is the target of hostile takeover attempts from other rival firms. Sarif
have traced leads to a location in China where they will be sending Adam when
the next attack hits closer to home at a rally for those opposed to
augmentation. I don't know how much of this is drawn from the video game beyond
the obvious powered characters and the type of action taking place. It is a
decent plot and the script manages to fill us in on the characters and the
details of what is happening. We will have to get a lot deeper into it to find
out the ultimate enemy and how wide it casts its web. The art is pretty decent
and very dynamic in the action scenes. So getting back to my reason for reading
this comic I would say it is an entertaining first issue that could develop into
a good action thriller with the right handling.

Issue Number: 1 (of 4)
Title Story: In the House of the Devil
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Sean McKeever
Artist: Filipe Andrade
Colors: Ricardo Teacio
Letters: Dave Lanphear
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

I am not an expert on Onslaught, not wanting to get into the whole thing when it
first began in X-MEN #50. Lucky for me and other readers there is an eight-page
addendum that recaps the first Onslaught saga, HEROES REBORN, and ONSLAUGHT
REBORN. It also lists the various trade paperbacks available to get the whole
story and introduce you to the Secret Avengers, Nomad (Rikki Barnes) and the
Young Allies. In the alternate world that is part of that whole epic Rikki
Barnes was the Bucky to Captain America. In the final battle with Onslaught she
slammed into him with a Fantasticar sending him into the Negative Zone. Rikki
woke not in the Negative Zone but on our world shortly after the death of
Captain America. She eventually fashioned a new hero persona as Nomad and is now
part of a teen group known as the Young Allies. She has been plagued with dreams
lately of her teammate Toro being hurt and other heroes lying in the aftermath
of a battle somewhere in Columbia. She confides in Steve Rogers and he promises
to look into it. When Toro is kidnapped in front of Rikki in a crowded street
she knows her dream has some substance to it. In a convenient twist the Black
Widow has uncovered a clandestine operation by Roxxon involving a weapons grade
development of a rare energy source in Columbia. Steve informs Rikki his team of
Secret Avengers has a mission in Columbia and he will try to find Toro while
there but she can't come along. So naturally she convinces the Young Allies they
have to tail the Avengers to find their friend. That sets the stage for the
adults to find the operation, get attacked and have the kids bust in to lend a
hand. This is just the beginning with you-know-who showing up at the very end. I
did not think this story was anything out of the norm. It recycles an old
villain and uses too convenient plot devices to bring two teams of heroes
together for the sake of a team-up. The art is good enough to carry the plot
though a bit too unique in style to appeal to me personally. You may have a
different opinion.

Issue Number: 0
Title Story: The Void
Publisher: Aspen Comics
Creator: Vince Hernandez
Writer: Vince Hernandez
Artist: Khary Randolph
Colors: Emilio Lopez
Letters: Josh Reed
Price (USD): $1.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Horror

Have I mentioned my natural aversion to "zero" issues - not the concept of the
"story before the story" but the idea that you can use zero as a counting
number? I have? Never mind. Actually this "first" issue is not a bad value. For
$1.99 you get 20 pages. Seven of those pages are illustrated character studies
about some of the players we will be seeing later. For the purpose of giving us
background on the story to come we start with a girl named Sudana who is meeting
with two men in a diner. They call her Druid and we see why when she gives them
a warning about impending doom. She relates to a time long ago when "her kind"
could roam free of prejudice. By the visuals we know it is pre-history, told
only in archaic scriptures. It is a time of strange beasts and lots of magic.
She tells of one among the sorcerers of those times whose magic was a curse. As
he grew in age he feasted on the magic of others. He was deemed too deadly to
live among them so while they still could the Order of the Five, the ruling body
of mages, banished Samsun to the Void. But over the ages he grew in power and
found an ally who had the knowledge but not the power to escape the Void. It was
only a matter of time before Samsun would gain enough power to escape. Sudana
warns the time is near. Her companions resign themselves to the truth of her
words and the inevitable doom of all their kind. As they reveal themselves in
the light the readers get a better idea of what this conversation was really
about. The final three pages introduce us to the other player in the drama, Hank
the Magnificent. The back pages are supposedly drawn from Druid scripture and
tell of some of the inhabitants of the Void. It's creator, the god of futility,
was also the first to be banished by the rest of the order. Lar Ka Rel had
unknown origins and an insatiable appetite for humans and magicals alike.
Finally we meet the Charmer Queen a Gorgon with the power to charm creatures to
do her bidding through sight and sound. She built a vast army before being
banished for life. The object here is to start to create a world in which the
story has its basis. The ancient realm of magic can derive any number of evil
beings that can be brought into the story, primarily from the realm of the Void.
The mostly hidden from human beings with magic in the present are the ones with
knowledge of the danger to come and the magician on the cover page is undefined
to us as of yet. I found the art pretty cool with coloring that brings out the
surreal aspects. It might be worth reading the "real" first issue to see where
this is going and what shape the eventual conflict will take. For the price this
issue is a bargain.

Issue Number: Original Graphic Novel - Advanced Edition
6 X 8 «" 176 pages, black & white
Publisher: First Second Books
Creator: Dave Roman
Gray Color Assists: Craig Arndt, Rosemary Travale and Nassem Hrab
Price (USD): $9.99
Release Date: JUNE 7, 2011
Genre: science fiction/humor
All Ages

Occasionally some friends from my days editing the Comic Book Network Electronic
Magazine will send me an advanced copy of a comic or graphic novel. Usually it
is not four months in advance but I still feel obligated to let the readers know
what I think. Dave Roman has a wonderfully quirky sense of humor. It is somewhat
subtle, sometimes just silly or madcap but often puts a smile on my face. He is
an accomplished cartoonist that knows how to use all the tools available when it
comes to structure, shading and character development. He uses layouts for
maximum effect. This will probably not appeal to hard-core super hero fans as
much as it will to fans that appreciate artistry and scripting designed to
appeal to a wide range of readers. The younger readers should get a big kick out
it both visually and story wise. It takes place in a middle school in a space
station known as Astronaut Academy. It does not appear to be a breeding ground
for space cadets but a school in space with some very different teachers,
students and curricula. The central character is Hakata Soy. He is an ex-
superhero even though he is still a kid. He is the new kid at the school leaving
his past behind if he can. His interactions with the rest have all kinds of
different effects. The book is structured into brief strips of a few pages
featuring one of the students or faculty or other people in Hakata's life. The
friendliest is a girl in his class, Miyumi San. Her first adventure in the book
gives us a look at the kind of quirky stuff to expect. She is going to take a
class in dinosaur driving with some of the others. Her counterpoint is Maribelle
Mellonbelly who is a rich snob. Maribelle challenges Miyumi to a dinosaur race
and though it is her first time driving one she accepts. Then there is Billy Lee
who fancies himself as a ladies man because of his magnificent hair. It is his
best feature until he gets between the rivalry of his two lab partners Miyumi
and Maribelle. And on and on it goes with crazy subjects, some even crazier
teachers and even threads from Hakata's past start showing up here and there.
Through it all there is snappy dialogue that is cute and often purposely-mangled
English to emphasize the situation with a joke. It is all very entertaining.
This will surely appeal to a wide audience when it comes out in June. Look for

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: On what date was the first FREE COMIC BOOK DAY held?
The first one was on May 4, 2002 to coincide with the release of the SPIDERMAN
movie. The winner by the dice is Kevin Browne.

Here was your no prize question: Which is the only US state capitol that does not have a McDonald's within the city limits?
Christian Mock enters the No Prize Hall of Fame for being the first to get the
right answer. The closest McDonald's to Montpelier, VT is in the next town,
Barre, 3 miles from the Vermont capitol.

THIS WEEK'S TRIVIA QUESTION: In 2001 FOX sued Marvel to stop production of what TV show?

Here is your no prize question: 'If you seek a pleasant peninsula, look around you.' is the motto of which state?

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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