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Thursday, February 3, 2011

Comics Reviews 2/4/11

Issue Number: 587
Title Story: The Last Stand
Publisher: Marvel
Creators: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Steve Epting
Inks: Rick Maygar, Mike Perkins and Steve Epting
Letters: Rus Wooton
Cover Artist: Alan Davis, Rick Farmer & Javier Rodriguez
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

I don't have to tell you this is one of the most hyped issues to come out
recently. If you somehow missed the details and don't want to know the outcome
then skip this review. The comic went on sale a day early and was shipped sealed
in a polybag with the familiar FF symbol 4 in a circle replaced by a 3. The bag
was to keep the secret as long as possible but then Marvel did a press release
the night before so that a lot of news outlets, and people on Marvel's mailing
list, knew before one bag was opened. What Marvel did not tell everyone is that
some of the copies are autographed by the writer Jonathan Hickman and were
randomly inserted in the shipment. You just don't know if you got one until you
open it.

At the end of the last issue each one of the Fantastic Four were in life
threatening situations. Sue Richards was with Namor at a supposed peace meeting
in the Gulf of Thailand with the reportedly homicidal Tribes of Old Atlantis. To
her shock the Sub-Mariner assassinated King Ui-Uhar in an unprovoked manner and
now all out war is a real threat. Reed Richards is on Nu-World with the Castles.
Galactus is starting to consume the artificial planet and Reed and friends are
on the surface hoping to save as many of the inhabitants as possible. Meanwhile
back in the Baxter Building the Cult of the Other Side of Zero has breached the
portal to the Negative Zone unleashing a horde of Annihilus' insectoid soldiers
upon Johnny, a temporarily depowered Ben and the kids of the Future Foundation.
In the minor plots Sue manages to rise to the occasion and to her surprise gains
a title. Reed and friends manage to escape Nu-World in the nick of time. But on
Earth things are not looking good. Luckily for the group they have some very
smart kids who have figured out the way to seal the portal. Unluckily someone
has to do it from the other side. If you read this far I do not feel bad telling
you that since Ben is not the Thing Johnny gets the drop on him and forces him
back through the portal sealing it and his own doom. With this heroic act he can
only hope to take as many of the soldiers down as possible before they finish
him. Ironically, Ben turns back into the Thing only minutes after being locked
out of the portal. The last scene is Ben on the floor holding Franklin and Val
as they begin to mourn their loss. That's it. The story is scripted well having
all the elements posing real threats to keep us guessing. In fact I thought that
Ben was going to be the victim only because he was no longer the Thing. The art
is really nice as it has been all along. The colors really stand out at key
moments. You can see everyone wanted to make this issue special. As for the
future it is the topic of much discussion on the Internet. Next month issue #588
will be the last issue of FANTASTIC FOUR. Then in March a new comic will debut
titled simply FF #1. Since no information has been let out on it we can presume
it will feature the remaining characters as their new dynamic evolves. The best
guess beyond that, one I agree with, is that FF will continue for a year and
then at the appropriate issue it will revert to being THE FANTASTIC FOUR once
again and go back to the original numbering with issue #600. Whether or not
Johnny Storm will return then or later is anyone's guess.

Title: SHAZAM!
Issue Number: 1
Title Story: United We Stand
Publisher: DC
Writer: Eric Wallace
Artist: Cliff Richards
Colors: Hi-Fi
Letters: Swands
Cover Artist: Cliff Chiang
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

The story begins in the apartment of Billy and Mary Batson the former Captain
Marvel and Miss Marvel. Freddy Freeman, the current wielder of the power of the
gods as Shazam, visits them. It is their first meeting since the events in CRY
FOR JUSTICE. The siblings are upset at his long absence and Mary in particular
is angry he is not helping them regain their powers. Apparently she has planned
to do something about it as suddenly Blaze, the daughter of the Wizard, appears
in their midst and knocks out Freddy. A flashback reveals that Blaze had
approached Mary with a promise of restoring their powers if Mary would kill
Freddy. Now it seems that Mary went along with the plan but in reality she clued
in Freddy who is feigning unconsciousness and with one magic word turns the
tables on Blaze. Mary had realized Blaze actually wanted the powers for herself
and so planned with Freddy to take care of Blaze. This is of course only the
first few pages and a big battle ensues. Freddy seems to be holding his own but
when Blaze uses a supernatural weapon against him it is up to the powerless
Batsons to come to his aid. It is a typical hero defeats villainess story but it
is not over yet. To be continued in Titans #32. I enjoyed the story though in
retrospect it would not be missed if you only read Titans. The art is very good
with lots of detail and excellent coloring. So for what it is I would recommend

Issue Number: 1-Shot
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Mike Carey
Artist: Framing Sequences - Mirco Pierfederici
Artist: BASILISK - Gabriel Hernandez Walta
Artist: CANNONBALL AND HUSK - Carlo Barberi, Walden Wong & Antonio Fabela
Artist: MAGNETO - Paul Davidson & Brian Reber
Letters: Joe Caramagna
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

The next multi-part arc that will run through X-MEN: LEGACY and NEW MUTANTS for
three months is called the AGE OF X. It is set in a world where the X-Men never
existed and mutantkind has been hunted to extinction. The remaining mutants band
together to make their last stand in Fortress X. The story is purposely
structured to just dump the reader into the status quo with no explanation as to
how this came to be. Is it an alternate reality, a retro change due to some
mystical force, or something else? The creators promise to unravel the
explanation as the main story unfolds. The core characters have some compelling
back stories that do not fit into the main plot but will be helpful to regular
readers of those books in understanding their motivation in this strange
situation. So they devised this introduction (there is no AGE OF X BETA) to help
those readers and perhaps intrigue others to jump on to those titles for this
arc. You will note that different artists handle the characters highlighted in
this book. The framing sequences take place in Fortress X as the group prepares
for the assault as members discuss the key characters.

Basilisk is Scott Summers with a different costume but the same powers. He is a
captive of Arcade in Alcatraz. They have removed his eyelids and fitted him with
a special mask controlled remotely by Arcade. The restrained Scott can only
protest as Arcade activates the lens that operates his blast at inmate mutants
on death row. His story details how he escaped to join with the band of mutants
today. The story of Cannonball and his sister Husk has them attacking a convoy
of the Human Coalition. They had been going after families carrying the x-gene
but not mutants themselves. And so the siblings are trying to rescue their
family before the platoon of Exonims following the convoy can arrive. What they
find hardens them even more. Doctor Rao, who is not a mutant, is the resident
medic and tells the story of how she was involved in developing the x-gene cure
but turned to their cause when it was planned to be used as a weapon of mass
eradication. Fortuitously at that moment Wolverine crashes in to destroy the
cure before it can be used but as Rao points out it really can't be destroyed by
dilution or even with acid or burning. Something will remain from which others
can reconstitute the formula. With forces closing in she suggests Wolverine has
the solution - he can metabolize it all with his healing factor. How that turns
out is the crux of his story. Finally we look at Magneto who was presumably
destroyed by the coalition. As a band of mutants are barricaded in the Chrysler
Building in New York they ponder their fate, with some thinking of surrender.
But then Magneto manages to get past the barricade with some help from a friend
and even in a weakened state he proves he is still far stronger than the
coalition thought. I found this prequel to be a good read and enjoyed a
different take on the constant struggle of the mutants in the Marvel Universe.
This one is much more violent with both sides killing for the cause. The
artistic contributions to the issue are all pretty good. If you are going to
read the main story anyway this is probably a must read. If you are undecided
about yet another event I suggest you pick this one-shot before you decide.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Dark Horse
Writer: Haden Blackman
Artist: Rick Leonardi
Inker: Daniel Green
Colors: Wes Dzioba
Letters: Michael Heisler
Cover Artist: Tsuneo Sanda
Price (USD): $3.50
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction

This series follows Darth Vader sometime after the events of Episode III and
nineteen years before the Battle of Yavin. Strangely enough it opens with a
conversation between Anakin and Padme as they discuss their unborn child, not
knowing it will be twins. It is really a memory we are witnessing as Vader is
getting a tune-up of his cyborg parts. It lends us insight into his state of
mind about what he has given up. It is early on in his service to the Emperor
and we are purposely given a scene showing his subservience to his master. Vader
is given the task to find a star destroyer that has gone missing in the so-
called Ghost Nebula. He is to find it personally and is told its commander is
the son of Moff Tarkin. Moff did not choose Vader as he thinks he is too
distracted with hunting Jedi. So to ensure success he has picked a trusted
captain to accompany him with two battalions on the mission. This slap to
Vader's ego would have different consequences if the story were in later years.
Now he obeys the Emperor and suffers the tag along. It is an interesting start
as the quest takes them to planet Atoa. Much of the second half is a battle
scene with the locals and it finishes with the arrival of an interesting new
character. I am not a follower of all the Star Wars comics but the setting of
this story meant I could get into it and understand the characters from a period
not to far removed from the movies. I found it decent enough, with a bit too
much filler battle pages. The art is decent and supports the plot as it changes.
If you don't want to read the ongoing titles from Dark Horse due to
unfamiliarity of the characters and their continuity you might want try this

Issue Number: 1 (of 4)
Publisher: Image/Top Cow
Writer: Troy Hickman
Artist: Sid Kotian
Colors: Bill Farmer
Letters: Troy Peteri
Cover Artist: Erik Jones
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Suburban Hero

This is a most peculiar comic. First, it is the winner of one of those Pilot
Season contests. I never read the one-shot entry of this title so I can't judge
it as being worthy of the mini-series against the competition. But as I read it
I wondered how bad where the other titles that this one was the best? I found it
had strength in the art as the script calls on Kotian and Farmer to at times
vary styles to portray a pager or two of a comic the main character is reading.
In fact the comic within the comic part is the best part of this title. Each
comic is a different genre and has some slick jokes inserted in the dialogue
that are very clever. The main character is a young lady who secretly prowls her
neighborhood by night wearing a domino mask and a hoodie. She has no powers or
weapons, except a roll of quarters. The story is told in the first person
narrative and right from the start you wonder is this girl for real or are we
not in on the joke that she is slightly off her rocker? Every night she walks
her patrol, ducking from the cops as if she were some infamous vigilante working
outside the law. All she does is observe her neighbors and take notes. That is
not normal for someone her age. But then the seeds of a deeper plot are planted.
Her ex-boyfriend is suddenly missing. At her weekly scrabble game with her mom
she learns of a time in the past when several people went missing, right before
her dad left them. Finally at the end she gets an Email that may change
everything for her. As I said I did not know what to make of the character and
did not think it was going anywhere until later in the issue. I think the second
issue will be a lot more plot development than the first. If not it may not be
worth hanging in there.

Issue Number: 1-Shot
Title Story: The Lady and the Spider
Publisher: Moonstone
Writers: Nancy Holder & Joe Gentile
Artist: E.M. Geist
Cover Artist: Stephen Bryant
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Pulp Fiction

This is not a typical comic book. It is more like an old pulp novel in that it
is mostly text with a black and white illustration on each page. I was really
taken by those Geist illustrations. He is very detailed in background and facial
expressions and uses grays and shadow well. The story takes place in Hollywood
amongst the movie moguls of the time. This is of course a tale of classic pulp
heroes so we are back in the early nineteen thirties. Our leading lady is Ellen
Patrick, AKA Domino Lady. She is a friend with Lulu Chandler, wife of a major
movie producer Aston Chandler. Aston is off to confront a rival for stealing his
leading man, who is secretly Aston's lover, for his next picture. When an
earthquake hits Ellen races off to be sure Aston is okay. What she finds is the
studio in flames and everyone running for their lives. She does manage to find
Aston but he reveals that the fire started when an actress suddenly burst into
flames! The other half of our team-up is Richard Wentworth who fights crime with
his dual 45's as The Spider. He reads of the fire and seeing a similarity in an
older case hops the train from New York to the coast. He knows of a famous
Chicago gangster, Patrick O'Shaunessy, who invented a drug that when ingested
turned its victims into zombies just prior to them bursting into flames. The
fire at Silver Screen Studios leads him to investigate Astor's rival for any mob
connection. While doing that he meets Domino Lady doing her own detective work.
She is looking for a stolen ring that could reveal Aston's gay affair and ruin
him. The two agree to work together as even more fires at various studios break
out. It soon begins to look like mob rivalry as studios under the "protection"
of rivals to the O'Shaunessy mob are the only targets. The story picks up speed
and races to one of those thrilling conclusions with the heroes in peril up to
the last minute. It is well scripted and of course the art makes it work well.
You may think $3.99 is a lot to pay for a black and white comic that is not even
a true comic but only a story with pictures. For the entertainment value this
issue delivers.


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: What was the name of Kobalt's archenemy?
The Milestone hero's rival was Milton St. Cloud. The winner by the dice roll is
Rebecca Bechan.

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

Rebecca swept the trivia by being the first to get our no prize question as
well. The week before Super Bowl XXI in 1987, New York Giants quarterback, Phil
Simms was approached by Disney reps and asked if his team won the Super Bowl if
he'd say, "I'm going to Disney World!" while they had a camera on him.
At first Phil Simms declined but the Disney reps persisted and on January 25,
1987 after his New York Giants defeated the Denver Broncos, 39-20, Phil Simms
became the first person to utter the words "I'm Going to Disneyworld!"

THIS WEEK'S TRIVIA QUESTION: From A to Z: AA and Zharan Pel are/were members of what team? Here is your no prize question: Where was the first enclosed downtown mall in the US located?

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. Hey, thanks very much for the review! Yeah, I know Twilight Guardian is an unusual book, and frankly it's probably not for everyone (though I won't complain if everyone buys it!). I hope you'll check out the subsequent issues, though, as you might find something there you'll enjoy (and if you're of a mind to read the Pilot Season one-shot, it can be read online here:

    Anyway, thanks again for the mention!