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Friday, April 15, 2011

Comic Reviews 4/15/11

Issue Number: Preview Issue
Publisher: Radical Comics
Creators & Writers: Adam Freeman & Marc Bernardin
Artist: Andrew Jones
Price (USD): FREE
Genre: Fantasy

There aren’t that many FREE COMIC BOOK DAY issues I get to see before the event
but Radical was nice enough to send me this one for my opinion on it. It is a
preview of an upcoming illustrated novel to be published in December. This will
be Radical’s first title in this format – pages of prose alongside full-color
illustrations. For the purpose of the free comic they have taken excerpts from
various chapters along with the corresponding illustrated pages to give us an
idea of what to expect from the finished product. The basic plot follows Jake, a
ten-year-old boy with a chronic habit of daydreaming. In class, at home, in the
car and elsewhere his mind is always picturing other things and characters as
opposed to the mundane reality around him. Unfortunately it does not go
unnoticed and he has been the object of ridicule by his classmates. Then one
night he dreams he saved his neighbor’s kid from a monster and the next day the
kid thanks him. As time goes on Jake learns that he is his generation’s
“Dreaming” (hence the title). He is the chosen one who can enter other people’s
dreams and save their souls from the evil creature known as Nocturnus. Jake must
learn to master his talent in the Dreaming World and keep Nocturnus from putting
the Waking World to sleep forever. The comic relies on the very strong visuals
to convey things we have already pictured in our minds from the text. On that
score this is a spectacular product. Andrew Jones is a fabulous artist who
clearly puts a lot of effort in to lots of detail. Given that most of the
imagery is from the Dream World there are some very surrealistic panels that
really impressed me by the fine line work and painstaking coloring. The script
has a flowing quality that captures you right away and pulls you into Jake’s
fantasy even before you see the illustration of it. There are a couple of scenes
where he has a dialogue. First with Robot who explains the concept of the Waking
and the Dreaming separated by Etherland, the pathway Jake can follow to pass
between the two. Later Jake has an interesting conversation with his much
smarter sister after he has entered one of her dreams. It is delightful banter
and also gives some insight into their family history. As Jake explained what he
can do and what Robot, the toy here who is alive in the Dream World, related to
him his sister analyzes it all and adds an easier explanation to Jake, and we
the readers. Naturally we are only given a taste of what the whole thing is
like. The parts that depict dangerous situations in the Dream World are chilling
in both word and picture. This looks like a fantastic book I can’t wait to see
in its finished form. It will appeal to teens and older alike. The art alone
will be worth it. But for now how can you pass up a FREE preview? Look for it on
FREE COMIC BOOK DAY and see if you like it as much as I do.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Image
Creator: Nate Simpson
Pinup pages by: Brandon Graham, Ben Templesmith & Justin “Moritat” Norman
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction

This is one spectacular comic book. First of all it is nothing but comic from
front to back except for one ad on the inside back cover. All of it is story
pages except for the three full-page pinups of the main character. It is all
done by one person who is incredibly talented. Nate is a fine artist in every aspect from imaginative creations to the fine line work to the right-on
coloring. This guy does it all really well. His passion for his work is evident
in every panel. Then we get to the story itself. It is very cleverly laid out to
steer you down one path only to shock you into reality later. The first visuals
are of a land of fantasy with strange creature of enormous size being ridden by
warriors in strange yet familiar armor. Atop an even larger beast, the size of
those pachyderms in The Return of the King, is a small hut with two people of
privilege, perhaps royalty. This has a somewhat Asian look in style. They are in
the middle of a large military escort going back to their home by nightfall.
Watching them are two others, a female and a male who has elven ears. They plan
to attack the scores of soldiers and get to that lager beast and its riders.
Amazingly they do very well downing one opponent after another until their luck
runs out. So we go for half the book in this fantasy world with a huge battle
scene featuring two lightly armed rebels making mincemeat out of an army like it
is some sort of video game until we find out – it is. The female is Dana and she
and her friend have been submerged in a virtual reality. Once this is revealed a
little bit of the dialogue right before the fight becomes clearer. But like in
the movie INCEPTION there is another layer still where the real Dana lives with
her mother and younger sister. Dana delivers Mexican food for cash while trying
to break into the creative field of her talent. It is amazing how much
information is conveyed in so few pages. The real world seems to be a crowded
metropolis in the not too distant future. There are subtle difference in Dana’s
appearance between reality, the shared common world of the gamers and the
virtual reality of the game itself. Even in the game the detail down to dialogue
and subplot among the royals and the soldiers is impressive. Nate Simpson hit
this one out of the park. You won’t go wrong spending three bucks on this comic
– if you can find a copy. You will probably have to ask for one to be ordered or
wait for the second printing. It sold out almost instantly. It is worth waiting
for more to show up.

Issue Number: 1 (of 7)
Title Story: The Serpent
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Stuart Immonen
Colors: Laura Martin
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

This is Marvel’s next big event and of course there will be all kinds of side
tie-in comics. For now the main book starts with a rather depressing scenario
near Ground Zero in New York as an angry mob starts a riot in protest at the
mosque proposed to be built there. As the cops try to keep the protest under
control it does not take much to start a fight which boils into a full riot.
Steve Rogers and Sharon are in the midst of it and feeling helpless to stop so
many from such foolish behavior. Then we see the other side of the story as Sin,
daughter of the Red Skull, approaches the fortress in Antarctica held by the
last remains of Hitler’s Thule Society. They have been guarding the prize inside
waiting for the Fuhrer to claim it ever since WWII. He is not coming but Sin is.
The Hammer of Skadi will transform her. Only the worthy one can wield this
weapon and she is the one. It is just the beginning as she goes on the wake her
“father”. The reference is not about the Red Skull. For when she touches the
hammer she is transformed. It is like Don Blake turning into Thor but Blake is
not the son of Odin. The father in this case has a score to settle but first
will bring a handful more of those “worthy” to Earth to strike fear into the
population of the world. Meanwhile the Avengers are assembled in Manhattan after
the riot is over and deign discussing going to Braxton, OK where the Dark Reign
of Norman Osborn ended after Asgard was destroyed. Tony Stark has proposed to
rebuild it thereby employing 5000 people and giving a boost to the local
economy. But nobody asked Odin if this was okay and he has some different ideas.
While we are waiting around for the “worthy” to make their presence known this
plot carries the book by bringing about yet another confrontation between Thor
and Odin with the Watcher thrown in for good measure. It is all just groundwork
and setup for what is to come. While the art is top notch as you would expect it
to be for a major event I was underwhelmed by the story so far. Fraction seemed
to lay it on too thick about the conflict between people and the world in
general being a less than friendly place. I enjoyed the scenes with Sin more
than I did those featuring the heroes. I guess I will have to wait and see if it
lives up to the hype.

Title: HERC
Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Gods of Brooklyn
Publisher: Marvel
Writers: Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente
Artist: Neil Edwards
Inker: Scott Hanna
Colors: Jesus Aburtov
Letters: Simon Bowland
Cover Artist: Carlo Pagulayan
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

If you have not been following the various INCREDIBLE HERCULES books that have
been out or his involvement in the recent CHAOS WAR I am with you because
neither have I. But don’t worry the story is very easy to follow and a good
jumping on point in his story. If you really want to know what came before
Marvel has provided one of those nifty recaps of his career from early
appearances in the Marvel Universe through the CHAOS WAR. At the end of that
“event”, also something I did not read, Hercules lost his immortality and his
superhuman abilities. Now all he has is his massive physical strength and an
arsenal of mystical weapons as he starts a new life alone in Brooklyn. It begins
with a stereotypical subway ride in which a group of thugs with skulls painted
on their faces are about to attack a female rider. The only other passenger in
this car is a man cover all over in a hooded poncho. Sure enough it is Herc. As
the gang known as Warhawks make their move against him our hero makes short work
of it armed with the Sword of Peleus that can cut through anything, the Shield
of Persius that is unbreakable and is adorned with the face of Medusa that can
turn men to stone, and the Arrows of Heracles that can cleave all armor. With
the maiden now safe he slips away unnoticed wearing the Helm of Hades that makes
the wearer invisible. While healing from a wound he has a vision of impending
chaos as fear envelopes the land – no doubt playing into the future plot.
Finally he finds a place to stay when he runs off some thugs trying to pressure
the owner of a Greek restaurant into selling to Fisk. He welcomes him to stay
and he befriends the daughter only to discover a Warhawk tattoo on her arm. This
will lead him to their latest worship site where he meets an unexpected foe and
perhaps a mortal death. Despite references to things involving Ares and his
plots I found the story easy to follow. The first part introduces us to his
limitations and his arsenal of weapons. The art is very good and the villain at
the end keeps the story grounded in the world of Marvel characters that inhabit
New York. I think it is a good starting point for new readers that show some

Issue Number: 5
Title Story: No Exit
Title Arc: Reign of Doomsday
Publisher: DC
Writer: James Robinson
Artist: Miguel Sepulveda
Colors: Jose Villarrubia
Letters: John J. Hill
Price (USD): $4.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

This is part five of the Reign of Doomsday and follows right after JLA #55. In
that issue Doomsday attack Supergirl, now in her dark persona, and the Alpha-
Lantern Boodikka in space where New Krypton used to be. Dick Batman Grayson is
there in a ship and calls the JLA Watchtower bringing Starman into the fight as
Saint Walker of the Blue Lanterns shows up. After Batman, Supergirl and the
wounded Boodikka are teleported to the Watchtower hoping for a respite to aid
their friend Doomsday crashes in and his real prey was revealed – the Cyborg
Superman whose essence was hidden within the shell of the Alpha Lantern. The
annual opens with Cyborg Superman and Doomsday going at it with lots of
collateral damage as Starman and Saint Walker are stranded on the outside unable
to get in. Kara has been getting weak but once Dick gets her to sick bay she
starts to improve. Of course he deduced what was causing this and later why she
is in the black and silver outfit. The secondary plot is the battle raging
around the tower. The main plot is Batman’s efforts to get to a certain part of
the station while avoiding the two combatants so as to cure Supergirl
permanently and stop the fight. Meanwhile Kara is going through a series of
tests through holographic versions of Dr. Midnite and Dr. Fate. It all get
pretty intense as Doomsday makes a transformation and Dick reaches his goal. If
you have read other parts of the Reign of Doomsday you might be able to guess
how it ends – and the story is continued next in SUPERBOY #6 and ends in the
landmark ACTION COMICS #900. Even though it is part of a larger story I found it
good reading on its own. The characterization of Dick and Kara made their parts
interesting and the addition of the virtual doctors was neat. I did find
Henshaw’s (Cyborg Superman) narrative a bit whacky, but then he is not all there
upstairs anyway. In all it was an enjoyable issue.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: High Stakes
Publisher: Aspen
Creator/Writer: Vince Hernandez
Artist: Khary Randolph
Colors: Emilio Lopez
Letters: Josh Reed
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Supernatural Mystery

I took a look at the zero issue last month and decided it was worth getting a
look at the first issue (which is really second but don’t get me started.) The
story centers on a Vegas magician, Hank, whose stage show is Charismagic. His
big finale is to talk to the audience with a few showgirls in the background and
then in a flash he disappears only to reappear in the back row. This night an
old colleague named Hector is in the audience. Later Hank tracks him down and he
warns Hank of the coming of Samsun, an ancient evil druid that will shatter the
fabric of our reality when he does. The zero issue gave us more detail about
Samsun and others in the drama. There is a female who knows of Samsun’s coming
and we see her in snips this issue as she races to Vegas. But Samsun is not
emerging there but a half a world away. The big event occurs right at the climax
of the next Charismagic finale. What occurs is a shocker to Hank. The female may
have a hard time finding Hank but I have a feeling his pet cat will be helping
him fill in the blanks in the meantime. Though there was an issue before the
main plot that follows Hank is pretty clear to understand. The background of
Samsun from the zero issue is not needed to follow the plot though the female on
the move is more interesting if you did read that earlier issue. The book is
very decent visually as well. There is just enough here to get you interested
and what may seem as a major event at the release of Samsun it is only a
foreshadow of much bigger things to come. How Hank plays into that action will
be fun to learn.


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:
Grant Gardner was the true identity of what Golden Age super-hero?

Grant Gardner was a new alter ego for Captain America in the 1944 Republic
serials. Lots of correct responses but only one winner – Paul Clark.

Here was your no prize question:
What was the first network television Western series?

On June 24, 1949, Hopalong Cassidy became the first network Western television

Which 21st Century hero's alter ego is Ramon Raymond?

Here is your no prize question:
What actor holds the record for playing the same character in the most feature

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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