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Friday, March 25, 2011

Comic Reviews - 3/25/11


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.

Several revivals of old series this week

Title: RUSE
Issue Number: 1
Title Story: The Victorian Guide to Murder
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Mirco Pierfederici
Cover Artists: Butch Guice, Mike Perkins & Laura Martin
Price (USD): $2.99 (cover price) on sale for $1
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Mystery

Crossgen Comics was a wonderful line with high production values and interesting
concepts while it lasted. Unfortunately it failed as a company and when the
rights were sold Disney bought them. Now that Disney also owns Marvel some of
those concepts are being revived under the Marvel brand. First out was SIGIL and
now we have this book, which was one of my favorites, partly because it is
written by Mark Waid who returns for the relaunch. RUSE is set in the city of
Partington in Victorian England. The world's greatest detective, Simon Archard,
has been called to the scene of what appears to be the murder of Archduke
Ehrlich. After just a few minutes he declares that despite the stabbed and
beheaded body lying on the floor indicating murder the Archduke actually
committed suicide! The family and servants gathered are aghast at such a
proclamation. Like Sherlock Holmes, Archard points to certain clues indicating
the veracity of his decision and soon reveals the mutilation of the body was
done to cover the shame the family would face if the truth got out. When the
truth is revealed the party guilty of the attempted cover up flees the scene and
Archard and his partner, Emma, give chase and the issue is resolved. This
sequence of events is not the main plot. It is a setup to introduce new readers
to the skill of the sleuth and the dynamic between Emma and Archard. He treats
her like an assistant thought she clearly is a valued asset. But the Archduke's
demise does leave another clue to follow up - why did he commit suicide? The
evidence leads to a seedy part of town where our intrepid heroes will find
themselves in a precarious situation. I like this series for the mystery
elements and for the relationship between Simon and Emma. The dialogues they
have are humorous without distracting from the serious plot. The art is just
okay in my opinion. While it is competent in structure the coloring takes away
or at the least fails to enhance things to a better finished product. Still it
is not bad enough to turn me away. I still love the characters and the plot so I
will be staying with it. Since That's Entertainment is offering this first issue
for only a buck you should give it a try.

Title: XOMBI
Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Prison of Industry
Title Arc: The Ninth Stronghold
Publisher: DC
Creator: Dwayne McDuffie for Milestone Media
Writer: John Rozum
Artist: Frazer Irving
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

Another revived series this week comes from the old Milestone line published by
DC. The lead character is David Kim a resident of Dakota. His body is filled
with nanomachines that have made him virtually immortal. When he was first
infected those tiny machines repaired his body at the sacrifice of his dear
friend Kelly, who they used as raw material in the process. Now he is younger
looking and not only does he heal quickly from any wound but he has become a
sort of weirdness magnet. To illustrate the point the opening scenes relate how
weird it can get. Animals in paintings in a museum jump from one canvas to
another, a handful of change begins talking to the holder, at a screening of
Nosferatu in a Michigan movie house has not one scene with the vampire in it -
he is in the back of the room biting one of the patrons. A friend of David's
realizes what is happening and sends David to a secret prison in Dakota run by
the church to be sure a certain prisoner does not escape. Also on the way are
Nun of the Above and Catholic Girl. Yeah some of the characters have whimsical
names - one sister that can shrink down to very small size is called Nun the
Less. This is a good skill as it seems the prison itself was shrunk to the size
of a large table top and Nun the Less can access the rooms to see what is
happening. It turns out the prisoner they are tasked with securing was a man who
got infected by a copy of the book "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" and was himself
turned into a much more malevolent version of the monster. Trying to complete
their mission gets very difficult as strange things begin happening. Maybe it's
that weirdness magnet thing. The strange situations and characters remind me of
some of the weirder stories from Grant Morrison. It is totally unpredictable and
has bits of humor beyond just the kooky character names. Rozum makes the effort
not to turn David into just another variety of super hero. He is instead a guy
who has been dealt a strange hand and tries to do the right thing in some very
odd circumstances. The art is stylish with a good interpretation of what the
script calls for and moody coloring as fits the scene. This is not an ordinary
comic but it is truly worth sampling.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Resurrection
Publisher: Atlas Comics
Writer: Brendan Deneen & Jim Krueger
Artist: Dean Zachary
Colors: Mai
Letters: Richard Emms
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

The other revival comic this week is PHOENIX from Atlas Comics. I have never
read any of those old Atlas versions of this character so I have no
preconceptions about the new title. It is a most odd opening in which a man is
strapped down to a table thinking of how everything - family, friends, home -
has been taken from him. But the one thing they have not taken is his life -
though they keep trying. Indeed as the scene pans back we see two me trying to
kill him with their devices. It appears to be an alien abduction from the looks
of the bad guys. However, instead of killing Ed they have somehow transformed
him into something else. He manages a burst of energy that stuns his captors and
he races to find an exit. What he finds is the rest of the people from his town
all apparently dead on tables like he was strapped to. All dead except his
friend Max. When the aliens arrive with more firepower he is blasted through a
hole in the wall and sure enough he is now falling toward Earth from space. Now
if this happened to you how would you explain it? Who would believe you? Just
the part about surviving reentry and crashing to Earth is bad enough but the
whole I was abducted by aliens and they kept killing me but I wouldn't die bit
would soon get you locked up in a padded room. That will be the problem Ed faces
at first anyway. He has to find someone to believe him and then find a way to
get back to save his friend on the ship. What I liked was the linear fashion of
the story. Even though we are brought in to it in the middle of a tense scene we
do not need to know what came before. We need to know what the narrative tells
us along the way and by the time it ends with a cliffhanger we have a good
feeling for what is happening, if not why. Other characters are briefly
introduced but how they have related to Ed in the past is not made clear yet.
The things we can expect in the future is an explanation of just what the aliens
are trying to do, maybe why Ed got so invulnerable and what if anything else can
he do. What I did not like was the art. It reminded me of many self-published
first efforts I used to get for review when I edited the Emag years ago. Not
that there wasn't an occasional gem in those but too many lacked backgrounds, or
consistent perspective, or decent coloring and things like that. Mike Grell is
the Editor in Chief of Atlas and I am surprised that he let out artwork that
wasn't more polished than this. But maybe that is me. It could be appealing to
someone else. So I give the one a low C grade. It could develop into an
interesting story but it is moving too slow and the art is a turn off for me.

Issue Number: 3 (of 3)
Publisher: Radical Comics
Creator: Antoine Fuqua & Wesley Snipes
Writer: Peter Milligan
Artist: Leonardo Manco
Paints: Kinsun Loh, Jerry Choo & Sansan Saw
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Cover Artist: Tae Young Choi
Price (USD): $4.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction
Mature Readers

This issue is the wrap up of the series that brings a lot of elements together
in a most unsuspected way. The title alludes to the fact that on this world the
most dangerous place to be is outside after dark. The discontented citizens are
rioting everywhere. To bring hope back to the people the military brought
together an eclectic team of specialists and criminals to search for the one
person that may bring harmony to the world: a woman known as Angel. Along the
way two team members are killed but the team finally reached their goal only to
have Angel refuse to return with them to Solar City. But is the mission really
to bring her back or to find and kill her? That is how the opening begins. A
faction in the team feels the whole Angel as redeemer is wrong and the cult
around her is dangerous. Others think they should kidnap her and take her back
against her will. In a bloody scene the decision of what to do is made and they
head back with Angel in tow. Along the way they stop for another they met on the
way, a very old being that has the form of a baby. He is also able to read minds
and Angel wants him along. He is very instrumental in scenes to come. Angels
return to the population is hailed as a second coming and we begin to see what
she is really about. I never expected this series to take the turn it did at the
end. There are betrayals and power plays that come out of nowhere. The story
plays into that old adage - be careful what you wish for. The slow beginning in
the first issue makes this last issue even more thrilling. The art carries it
well with the paint finishes highlighting contrasts between the players and the
dark world they inhabit. This is the type of story that grows on you and ends
with a major splash. I enjoyed it immensely.


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:
Which DC villain was the first encountered by The Sovereign Seven?
The first DCU villain in Sovereign 7 was Darkseid. The winner this week is Tom

Here was your no prize question:
Who was the first female athlete to pose nude for Sports Illustrated? (Not a
"swim suit issue" even!)

In 2002 Jenny Williams did a tasteful pose on the beach, with her arms and fists
covering her topless chest. The picture stirred some controversy, but she was
not nude as she had a bottom on. The answer goes back to 1972 when Cathy Rigby
posed with her back to the camera doing the splits on a balance beam, with no
clothes on.

Why did SAVAGE DRAGON have two alternate versions of issue 13, released 8 months

Here is your no prize question:
Which U.S. domestic airline was the first to serve alcohol in flight?

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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