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Friday, April 8, 2011

Comic Reviews 4/8/11

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: IDW
Writer: Eric Powell & Tracy Marsh
Artist: Phil Hester
Inker: Bruce McCorkindale
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Chris Mowry
Cover Artist: Gordon Purcell (That's Entertainment variant)
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Monster

This comic has already been heralded as having one of the best marketing
campaigns ever. Most of the copies available at That's Entertainment show
Godzilla's giant foot crashing down on the roof of our store. In fact 75
different comic book outlets each ordered enough copies to have the same cover
featuring their store being crushed. Add the 4 normal variants and you have a
completist's nightmare. The retailer exclusive covers made sure that this comic
would sell well over 37,000 copies and give local comic book fans a keepsake for
their collection. If you have ever seen a typical Godzilla movie (and who
hasn't?) then the story will be somewhat predictable. It starts with two
innocent kids playing on the beach on an island off Japan. The ground shaking
disrupts their fun and they hear "Skreee-onk" as Godzilla rises from the ocean.
As he wrecks havoc on the population the military sends in the jets and forces
him out to sea even though their missiles seem to have no effect. As he turns
and heads for Tokyo Bay the decision is made to take him out with a nuke. When
the smoke clears he is still standing and can now breathe fire. It doesn't look
good for Tokyo and the world, including the US president, take notice. The story
is a basic plot with many of the human characters reciting the same catch
phrase, " You have to be %$@#ing kidding me!" There is a lot of action with
little dialogue so the art carries the main story forward. It is nice visually
in that aspect and a fun comic even if we never really see a comic book store
getting crushed. It is fun for all ages.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Avatar
Writer: David Lapham
Artist: German Nobile
Cover Artist: Jason Burrows
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Historical Fiction/Horror
MATURE READERS - Comics on the Edge

At the other end of the spectrum from the first review we have a comic that is
definitely not for all ages. While it is not as explicit as some of the
offerings from Avatar it still has lots of violence and depravity. It is what
you would expect in a story about one of the most infamous rulers of ancient
Rome, Gaius Julius Caesar Augustus Germanicus - Caligula. At first he was
beloved by the people until they learned the things a dictator who believes he
is a god could do. The story is narrated by a young man named Junius who
returned from selling olive oil at the market to find Caligula had visited the
olive farm, raped his mother and sister-in-law and beheaded them along with his
uncle and nephew. He then feasted on a stew made from their heads with his men.
Junius learned the full extent of the horror from his dying slave that witnessed
it all. He knows what his father would have done had he still been alive. He was
a Centurion and he would have stormed the city gates in rage. But Junius passes
through the fear and grief and rage to formulate a plan - to kill Caligula. The
rest of the first issue has him burning the remains of the farm and making his
way to Rome where he watches and waits for a way to gain entry to the palace. He
finds a way, though he too must degrade himself to gain entry. The confrontation
takes a rather bizarre and unexpected twist, which truly classifies this comic
as horror. It surprised and intrigued me to wonder what Latham is up to with
this shocking climax. But then that was his purpose and I am more interested to
see what happens next. I found the art a bit unpolished though the fully painted
pages have a great deal of detail and decent coloring. I think it is just the
style used for the character faces that is not appealing. The rest is apt
visually for the subject matter. If you are not turned off by the edgy subject
matter you could find this to your liking.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Image
Creators: Tomm Coker & Daniel Freedman
Writer: Tomm Coker & Daniel Freedman
Artist: Tomm Coker
Colors: Daniel Freedman
Letters: Michael David Thomas
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Horror
MATURE READERS - Comics on the Edge

What if you were in love with someone who had been turned into a vampire? How
far would you go to keep them from acting on their instincts while searching for
a cure? This is the basic premise of the story set in China as John Sargent
hopes to find a way to cure his lover, Mei. We learn this later in the story as
John and Mei are a day away from Hong Kong when we first see them resting near a
cemetery. Others intent on destroying Mei for what she is attack them. In the
battle that ensues we first learn that Mei is a vampire. We also witness a
dialogue between a woman and a fox that foreshadows doom for them all. In Hong
Kong we see how John has managed to sake Mei's bloodlust. While she rests he
finds someone who knows what it will take to end her curse. He must find the
notorious Vampire Shang-Ji. The way the script gets to the point is done with
deliberate care to slowly reveal things at the proper time in the right
sequence. There is an element of mystery and the unknown antagonist will no
doubt be a major challenge for our hero. He may not succeed in the end but the
story can go many ways at this point. The art is a very striking style. Coker
and Freedman not only tell a good story but also present it visually in a
variety of nuances and a terrific two-page black and white splash that adds even
more questions to be answered. I found this thrilling and gripping and recommend
it heartily.

Title: DOLLHOUSE: Epitaphs
Issue Number: 1-Shot
Publisher: Dark Horse
Creator: Based on the TV series created by Joss Whedon
Writer: Jed Whedon & Maurissa Tancharden
Artist: Cliff Richards
Colors: Michelle Madsen
Letters: Nate Piekos
Cover Artist: Phil Noto/Steve Morris
Price (USD): $3.50
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction

Fans of the Joss Whedon TV series that ran for a couple of seasons and ended too
soon will be glad to see this comic and the ongoing series beginning in July.
For those not familiar a brief paragraph explains the premise. In major cities
DOLLHOUSE provided a companionship service for those who could afford it.
Beautiful young men and women opted to have their minds wiped clean and then
computer imprinted with other personalities and skills, sometimes-deadly skills.
These dolls often did more than keep people company as the series explored a
variety of options as well as an effort by some to find and shut down the
operation and a rebellion by some dolls that learned what was going on and
wanted out. As I said the series ended too soon but in a way that leads into
this comic. The secret of how the dolls are imprinted with other personalities
has been compromised and now as the story opens it is being used on a massive
scale to wreak havoc in the world. In the series the subjects have a benign
personality and live in the DOLLHOUSE until they are selected for a mission.
Then they are placed in a special machine that gives them their new persona and
off they go. Someone has managed to modify the process so that it can be used on
anyone through any telephone. The beginning scenes set up the major characters
for such an incident in their lives. A young man who has just learned from his
girlfriend that they are going to have a baby, a man who has an important
meeting in an office building, a young boy doing woodwork with his uncle and
three women having lunch at a sidewalk caf‚ all will have their lives changed
when the phone rings and people become homicidal. This is all happening in Los
Angeles and the players will soon be struggling to survive on their own and then
collectively as more and more people turn the city it a nightmare. There are two
scenes to indicate that someone is working to solve the problem. The young boy's
uncle is the first clue and later we meet a character from the TV series that
will have a major effect on the story when the series begins in July. I enjoyed
the show when it was on and wished it had not taken ended. Now a new twist using
the technology promises a different kind of adventure with some promise. The art
is very good making it a slick package. I think the comic will live up to the
roller coaster ride that the TV show provided. I will be staying tuned for sure.

Issue Number: 1 (of 2)
Publisher: Marvel
Letters: Joe Sabino
Cover Artist: Simone Bianchi & Simone Peruzzi
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

Taking a break from the main story this two-part series looks at the heroes on
the outside of Fortress X and how their lives are different in this strange
version of reality. The first issue looks at the Avengers and Spider-Man.

Story: "Avengers"
Writer: Simon Spurrier
Artist: Khoi Pham
Inker: Tom Palmer
Colors: Sonia Oback

The action takes place three years prior to the siege of Fortress X. This is the
first foray for this team of heroes who have been hunting mutants for years on
their own. Now Captain America leads the Hulk, Iron Man, Sue Storm, Jessica Drew
as Redback and Ghost Rider into the Grand Canyon to round up a group of escaped
mutants. Each has his or her own reason for being in this fight. Hulk feels
persecuted by the mutants, Jessica just wants to kill them, Tony Stark has fused
to his armor and calls himself Steel Corpse making everyone wonder if he is more
machine than man. Sue is a calming force insisting they capture and not kill
their opponents. But one of the group will not survive and the mission fails
giving the others more meaning to their name - Avengers. It is not much of a
story with lots of action and a Cap narrated character study of each member. I
liked the art though it focuses mostly on the characters with little background
detail. Later after they return we learn what happened to the rest of the
Fantastic Four - arrested for harboring mutants. Sue agreed to work to help
control the problem but her family disagreed. Likewise Bruce was working on a
device to sterilize dangerous mutants. Before the experiment could begin one of
the subject mutants set it off prematurely changing Bruce momentarily into a
raging beast. While in that state he killed his colleagues and commanders. He
cannot forgive mutants for that. It may add some meaning later in the main book.
Now the action shifts to right after Fortress X has been established. With the
help of Weapon-S, whom they have on a leash, the Avengers finally locate the
fortress and are given their orders. What happens next may very well splinter
the team.

Story: "Spider-Man"
Writer: Jim McCann
Artist: Paul Davidson
Colors: Antonio Fabela

Spider-Man is in a different situation. He has been classified as a post-mutie
because his blood and DNA was altered giving him super powers (how is that
different from the Hulk?) Anyway he is being hunted and the time has come to
make a hard decision. Mary Jane is pregnant and his main concern is to get her
to safety because they will surely come after the baby. It is a short and
bittersweet tale used to highlight the way this world has changed. It has very
nice art and except for the post-mutie continuity conflict it fits well in the
scheme of things.

Issue Number: 1-Shot
Title Story: Jimmy Olsen's Big Week
Publisher: DC
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: RB Silva with Amilcar Pinna
Inker: Dym, Rob Lean with Pinna
Colors: Dave McCaig
Letters: Rob Leigh
Cover Artist: Amanda Conner
Price (USD): $5.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

This story is in seven parts and covers an entire week. The first several parts
ran as back up features in ACTION COMICS and the entire contents of this double-
sized issue reprints those with the finale. Make no mistake this is a fun story
but it is also jam packed with heroes and villains and tight situations for the
famous photographer. Nick has brought together a lot of elements to style a
story, though rather long, that harkens back to the days when Jimmy had his own
title. One new element is a character seen in comics for the first time -
SMALLVILLE'S Chloe Sullivan as Jimmy's ex-girlfriend. In fact the story begins
with the break-up. The spark has gone for her and he has been in the dumps since
Superman left for his walking tour and spends a lot of time living virtual
adventures with his best pal in a video game. To make matters worse who shows up
when he is at a nightclub with his friends but Chloe on the arm of Lex Luthor's
prot‚g‚ Sebastian Mallory. Chloe is assigned to cover him for her own reporting
job and Mallory is happy to oblige. That is just the first day. From there it
goes into an alien invasion disguised as friendly visitors who want to find a
great place to party and since they get drunk on oxygen the party is pretty much
everywhere. When Jimmy finds out their ultimate goal he finds a unique way to
get them to leave with a little help from Supergirl. Jimmy also has a taste of
what it would be like to be Co-Superman when he meets a female from the fifth
dimension. The sub plot is a fun trip and has an interesting twist. Unlike
Mxyzptlk, Maggie is pretty cool and not mischievous and she helps Jimmy see what
he is missing. By the end of the story it comes back around to Chloe finding out
what Sebastian is planning and Jimmy gallantly, if rather stupidly, coming to
the rescue and foiling the master plan. And just for a nice touch, Superman
shows up at the end as well. It is a fun story as I said and the art is very
good. I have one small nit to pick though. At one point Jimmy is in a space
craft that gets blown up and he is left floating there in space with just an
oxygen mask. I'm sorry, without a pressure suit he would not have lasted long
enough after pressing the remote control that launches another craft from Earth
to rescue him. It is a convenient escape but even for a comic book it is just
not possible. I still enjoyed it though and you will too.


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 TWO things do Tommy Lee Jones, Will Smith and the Three Stooges all have in

Nearly everyone got the fact that they all were in a movie called MEN IN BLACK,
though the Stooge's movie was a long time ago and not based on a comic book.
While other facts may also be true the other connection they have in common, and
it is directly related to the older MEN IN BLACK movie, are Academy Award
nominations. No winner this time.

Here was your no prize question:

Which famous singer set a college record in the high jump and came close to
breaking the U.S. Olympic high jump record of the time?

Johnny Mathis gave up his chance to become a member of the USA Olympic Team.
Instead he went to New York to record his first album in March of 1956 at the
age of 19.


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

Here is your no prize question:

What was the first network television Western series?

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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