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Friday, March 4, 2011

Comic Reviews 3/4/11

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: 245
Title Story: Chapter 1
Title Arc: Age of X
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Mike Carey
Artist: Clay Mann
Inker: Jay Leisten
Colors: Brian Reber
Letters: Cory Petit
Cover Artist: Lienil Yu & Marte Gracia
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

I was pleased enough with the AGE OF X ALPHA comic that I decided to try the
first chapters in the main plot. That story runs through X-MEN LEGACY and NEW
MUTANTS for three issues of each. Since it is a story of the same characters in
a much different world each book does not concentrate on its core characters but
concentrates on all the characters in a bigger story. We really don't know if
this is our own world somehow altered in the past but in the present we know the
X-Men never existed and mankind has hunted to extinction most of the mutants.
The remaining few have banded together to make a last stand. In AGE OF X ALPHA
we got a peak at the background of some of the characters - events in their
lives in this hostile world. For example, Cyclops is now known as Batista. He
was used as a mutant executioner in Alcatraz until he escaped. Wolverine tried
to stop human scientists from spreading a "cure" for the X gene but had to
absorb the last remaining sample of it into his own system. His healing factor
is now gone so he cannot even pop his claws or it will be fatal. While these are
familiar characters they have different roles in this play. Magneto is the
leader of the group now barricaded in Fortress behind a force field wall that
has to be reinforced daily as the humans manage to penetrate it in one of their
attacks. This opening chapter begins with such an attack. Through it we get to
see who is around to defend their own kind. The field leader is Cannonball.
Among the troops are Namor, Angel, Iceman, Storm, Colossus and other familiar
faces. Rogue is now known as Legacy but she is held in reserve. Her special
talent is used to save the memories of the dying - a duty that has Cannonball
calling her Reaper. We see her called after the battle to gather the memories of
Heather Tucker before she passes away. In a moment of calm after the battle we
get to see the different relationships that have blossomed - Scoot Summers and
Frenzy, Psylocke and Iceman, Storm and Namor. Most of this is introductory to
set the stage and get a good idea of what has developed. The real plot begins as
Legacy is wandering the grounds and witnesses a perimeter breach. As others
arrive to the alarm call the take her down but notice Gambits cards passed right
through her. Yes this is Kitty Pride who mumbles some cryptic words before
Magneto arrives to return her to her to the Brig. She was being held there with
other mutants considered too dangerous or unstable to mix with the rest. Why did
Kitty leave to go outside the barrier? Why was she being held in the first
place? Who else is in the Brig? I found it all very intriguing and good reading.
The character dynamic is different and the dialogue feels right. The art is very
good as well. The first chapter brings you right in and makes you want more.
Stay tuned.

Issue Number: 22
Title Story: Chapter 2
Title Arc: Age of X
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Mike Carey
Artist: Steve Kurth
Inker: Allen Martinez
Colors: Brian Reber
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover Artist: Mico Suayan & Marte Gracia
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

The story continues directly from Part 1 in X-MEN LEGACY. Kitty Pride had
escaped the brig in Fortress, the last stronghold for the world's mutants
against the humans who want them extinct. She used her power to go outside the
barrier and was recaptured when she came back. Rogue, known now as Legacy, or
sometimes as Reaper, witnessed Kitty hiding something before Magneto came to
return her to her cell. Now only Legacy has a clue to what Kitty was up to. But
she holds this information to herself and when Magneto refuses to let her
interrogate Kitty she forms a plan to get to Kitty secretly. The keeper of the
jail is Danger, the android with many bodies, so it has to be a good plan.
Legacy still has the power to absorb other mutant powers by touch so part of the
plan is getting the right power to bypass security. How she does it is clever.
Besides Kitty she will meet two other people there and before the end another
mutant will be on the run. Mike Carey has provided a solid script that has some
mystery and discovery and more mystery as a result. The two other people in the
prison and how Legacy interacts with them are key to what happens next. It is a
thoughtful plot. He also mixes in a few personal moments with other people to
make the other members of the group more real in this new setting. The art in
this book is very appealing. So far AGE OF X is worth the time and money.

Title: IRON MAN 2.0
Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Palmer Addley is Dead
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artists: Barry Kitson, Kano & Carmine Di Giandomenico
Colors: Matt Wilson & Kano
Letters: Joe Caramagna
Cover Artist: Salvador Larroca
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

This new comic is about James Rhodes, AKA War Machine. This oversized first
issue for a buck more includes one of those recaps of past history from James as
a youth through his meeting Tony Stark, his career as War Machine right up to
his part in the Dark Reign conflict and now with the Secret Avengers. This is
good for those of us not up to speed with all things Iron Man and War Machine.
This new story brings us to the present. James has been reassigned to Mackelroy
Army Base. He is working with three intelligence contractors on a case involving
a man named Palmer Addley who was a specialist in just about everything on the
cutting edge of technology. He was in a deep immersion project run out of the
Strategic Technology Office requiring no outside communication, not even
television. Six months ago he committed suicide. About two months later all of
his technology initiatives began to crash. If he built it, or fixed it, or
improved it - it is now offline. Then a week later the same projects pop up
elsewhere working just fine. These are all top secret classified Darpa projects
that somehow have been spirited away and spread out around the world while the
originals have been rendered useless. This tech is being used for the basis of
big time terrorist attacks in other countries and often leaving a message -
"Palmer Addley is dead." So far the team has not been able to figure out how the
tech was stolen or leaked and have exhausted all means including scientific,
cerebro and even mystics to figure out how the information got out of such a
secure facility. So the investigation begins. The story is framed but a
seemingly unrelated sequence in Ann Arbor, Michigan. In the opening a house wife
is being rolled into surgery and she warns the doctor that her ex-husband is not
a good person. She is worried about her children should anything happen to her.
That was six months ago. At the end of the book it is the present and the same
woman receives a package at home. The ending may give you an idea how she might
be tied into the main story. Well, so far I am not getting the meaning behind
the title of the book. Iron Man appears early with James before he begins his
new job but there is no armor involved from that point on, certainly nothing
indicating Rhodey will become Iron Man 2.0. The story though is interesting and
intriguing. I've always enjoyed Barry Kitson's art and it is up to snuff as
always. So far it is a good enough series to hang around and see where it goes.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Image
Creator: Jon Hoeber & Erich Hoeber
Writer: Jon & Erich Hoeber
Artist: Werther Dell'edera
Colors: Arianna Florean
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Mystery
Mature Readers - Comics on the Edge

What would you do if a strange man came to you and told you that you have a
mission? The mission is to kill someone you do not know. Obviously most of us
would think he is crazy and ignore him. This is what happens to Paul Haskell.
After a routine physical he is met in the parking garage by a man named Gabriel
carrying a lantern. That in itself is odd. Gabriel tells him he has a mission
and hands him and envelope. He says there is a war going on between good and
evil and Paul has a part to play. When Paul balks Gabriel gets forceful and
tells him the mission is to kill a man named Neal Cameron. The envelope has his
address and picture. It must be done within 48 Hours. And so the drama begins.
Paul takes the envelope but later discards it. The next day Gabriel approaches
him again with another envelope telling Paul he really has no choice and by the
way you better answer your phone - before it is even ringing. When it does, it
is Paul's doctor telling him to come in immediately based on the blood work that
just came back from the lab. How did Gabriel know he would get a call at that
moment? After a long conversation wherein Gabriel hints Paul could save himself
from cancer, and a strange nightmare that evening, Paul decides to at least
check out the intended victim. This is a story that seems odd at first and as it
goes along you realize there is more to it than you first thought. Clearly there
is something, some group or power - maybe even supernatural, at work behind the
scenes in trying to direct events toward a certain outcome. Not only does
Gabriel seem to know things ahead of time concerning Paul but the possible
reason why Neal Cameron needed to be killed is revealed at the climax of the
issue. Moving forward will Paul continue to be involved or will another person
be given a mission? What if anything is the end game? It is a gripping story
that builds through each page. The art is a bit rough for my tastes but it still
is acceptable. I like this comic.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: My Dreams Always Turn Ugly
Publisher: Avatar
Creator: Garth Ennis
Writer: David Lapham
Artist: Raulo Caceres
Colors: Digicore
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Horror
Mature Readers - Comics on the Edge

One of the most horrific and explicit comics in language, gore and sexual
situations has been the CROSSED series of mini-series. The original created by
Garth Ennis established a world in which most of the population has been
infected by the Crossed disease. The visual indication that one is infected is a
blood-red rash in the form of a cross across the victim's face. As in the
WALKING DEAD the few regular humans remaining are constantly on the run trying
to find a safe haven and avoid the infected. Once infected the victims become
blood thirsty, sex-starved maniacs. They are constantly attacking, and either
raping or killing or eating new victims. This is not for the squeamish. David
Lapham has picked up the ball and is now spinning tales that get away from
normal humans trying to survive. He looks at the situation as it involves people
who have demons of their own. In CROSSED FAMILY VALUES it was a very
dysfunctional family with an authoritarian abusive father. He shows that
sometimes the normal humans are bigger monsters than the infected victims.
CROSSED PYCHOPATH is another such tale. It begins with a dream sequence alluding
to the title of the story. It then goes right into the main story of a small
group of survivors watching a band of Crossed abusing and torturing animals and
then turning on one of their own and laughing all the time. As the four
witnesses sneak away to find another path we drift into another dream sequence -
this time of another Crossed rape scene and the dreamer is revealed to us as he
wakes with a scream. His name is Harold and he has been trapped in a ravine
after breaking a leg trying to escape from the Crossed. The four pull him out
and set his leg but then have a heated argument about whether to burden
themselves with a cripple. One side is on the humanitarian aspect while the
other is based on the best chance of survival. Harold weaves a tale of his own
plight saying it involved a group of survivors he was separated from when he was
injured. Those others are on their way to a safe place where work is being done
for a cure to the virus. He was tracking them trying to catch up and proposes
they all continue on his quest. When he proves some worth by being able to hear
the crossed coming when the others can't they agree to join with Harold. But we
know from his dreams and his thoughts that Harold is far from being normal. As I
said this is not for everyone. While some may reject it as being too far over
the edge visually those visuals accentuate the points being made. The art in the
regard is top notch. If you don't mind the blood and perversion there is a story
being told that is worth reading.

Issue Number: 588 (Final Issue)
Title Story: Month of Mourning
Title Arc: THREE
Publisher: Marvel
Creator: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Nick Dragotta
Colors: Paul Mounts
Letters: Rus Wooton
Cover Artist: Alan Davis, Mark Farmer & Javier Rodriguez
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

This then is the last issue (for now - nudge, nudge, wink, wink) of the
FANTASTIC FOUR. Last time they suffered the tragedy of losing one of their own
in a heroic death to save others. The story is told with no dialogue relying
heavily on Nick Dragotta to interpret the script properly and Mounts to give it
the right tone. It begins where the last issue left off with the Avengers racing
to the Baxter Building to help avert the invasion from the Negative Zone only to
arrive too late. There in front of the portal, now sealed, is Ben hugging the
Richard's kids surrounded by the others. As the story progresses the only text
is a note of the number of days since the event - that is until the very last
panel. (I wonder if Wooton gets paid by the page or the word.) You can guess the
kind of scenes pictured - Ben's look of disbelief as the others arrive, then the
reaction by Sue as she is told, later her withdrawal into a force bubble and so
on. The funeral scene is the typical from above perspective of a room full of
familiar faces, most in costume but others like Peter Parker and Bobby Drake in
civilian clothes. A quick scene shift to Europe reminds us of another character
involved with the family since the beginning. There are some other moments that
are not so touching. Valeria puts up a to do list in front of the Future
Foundation kids classroom only to erase it and replace it with one chilling
item. Ben seems to be having the hardest time coping and attempts by Bruce
Banner and Don Blake to console him end up being hard on everyone. Finally Reed
is as always weighing things that need to be done - not so much in relation to
Johnny's death but for the good of the future. He gets a most unexpected visitor
that may be of help. As I said it takes the art to carry such a story and for
the most part the team does well. Certain panels are more striking than others
but the overall effect is good. I wouldn't want a steady diet of comics without
words but this one suits the mood Hickman wants to set. I guess it is a fitting
end for now, though we know the story continues in FF #1 next month

The backup story is called "Uncles." It is also written by Hickman with art by
Mark Brooks and Paul Mounts. It is spun off from one page of the previous story
on Day 14. Franklin is on the roof of the Baxter Building, still grieving when
Spider-Man swings by to pay a visit. This is a very well scripted tale as
Franklin reveals the trouble he is having with the death of his uncle. Spider-
Man takes him for a hot dog to distract him but later as they sit among the
rooftops he relates to Franklin how he too lost an uncle when he was younger. It
is particularly nice to relate the two events and for Peter to counsel Franklin
about the pain eventually going away and the loving memory staying strong. In a
way I enjoyed this short story much more than the main feature.


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 Valiant Universe terms, Harbingers are people with special powers.
Who was the first Harbinger to appear in a Valiant VH1 comic book?

Someone was close guessing Toyo Harada, knowing that some Harbingers were around
before the namesake title began its run. However, the very first was in the
first VH1 comic and he was Magnus the Robot Fighter. It was eventually revealed
that he was the son of Kris and Torque of the HARBINGERS comic, and a Harbinger
by birth. This one stumped the class - so I win!

Here was your no prize question:

In 1999 BMI listed the "Top 100 Songs of the Century"- the most played songs on
American radio and TV. John Lennon and Paul Simon were the two performers to
record more original recordings on the list than The Drifters, Elton John, Roy
Orbison and this act. Can you name the six-man band whose recordings tied for
the third most songs on the list?

There was an extra clue in the question. "Six Man Band" was a single from the
Association who hit the Top 100 list with "Never My Love", "Windy" and


The Beatles, Elvis, Kiss, and Devo all had cameos in the 4th issue of what
Marvel magazine?

Here is your no prize question:

Who was the first sports person to be on the box cover of the "Breakfast of

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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