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Friday, June 3, 2011

Comics Reviews 6/3/11

My View
David LeBlanc

David LeBlanc was the Editor of the Comic Book Network Electronic Magazine for over ten years. He is a life-long fan of comics and moderated online comic book forums long before the Internet became the place to be. David works part-time at
That's Entertainment, the Eisner-winning comic store in Worcester, MA.


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: 0
Title Story: Outward Bound
Publisher: Dynamite
Creator: Jack Kirby
Story: Busiek & Ross
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Alex Ross & Jackson Herbert
Colors: Vinicius Andrade
Letters: Simon Bowland
Cover Artist: Alex Ross
Price (USD): $1.00
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

This is an interesting project based on the works of the late Jack Kirby. What Busiek and Ross are doing is taking some lesser-known characters and mostly unused sketches and character designs of the King to craft a new Earth. The catalyst for the plot is the launching of the Pioneer 10 spacecraft in 1972. In reality it had a plaque of two very basic human beings as a way of identifying who sent this vehicle on its one-way voyage. For this story the plaque instead has a more richly drawn image of a super heroic male and female because the artist (tip of the hat to Jack) thought the best way to show who we are is to show our idealism. This is what some extraterrestrial life form would see. This "zero issue" lays the ground work for the main plot as the two protagonists a young boy named Kirby and his female friend Bobbi gaze at the stars and wonder the things Pioneer has seen and what strange phenomenon it is now approaching that its sensors cannot comprehend. Is it a cosmic anomaly, a gateway, or something else that suddenly appeared in its path where there should be nothing? The point of the Pioneer being the focus of the genesis of the plot is that it was a message sent out to ask in basic terms - is anyone out there? The question will be answered in the first issue but a glimpse of the numerous civilizations Pioneer passed through is shown as a teaser. Kirby originally asked this question relating to Pioneer 10: "Who will come a-knocking - the trader or the tiger?" If you like the imaginative characters Jack always seemed to have up his sleeve I think you will like this preview issue because it is packed with some background information on some of the characters that will appear from early concept sketches to finished art. So far we have not gotten heavy into the plot. We have just enough to get us interested. And for only a buck it is worth checking out.

Issue Number: 0.1
Publisher: Marvel
Writers: Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente
Artist: Ben Oliver w/ Dan Green
Colors: Frank Martin
Letters: Simon Bowland
Cover Artist: Phil Jimenez & Frank D'Armata
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

One basic truth in comics that everyone one knows is that no one stays dead (well hardly - very few exceptions). This latest volume of ALPHA FLIGHT opens with a sentence telling us that during the Chaos War (one of those events I mostly sat out) some of the world's mightiest heroes were brought back from the dead. Some of those were former members of the Canadian super hero team Alpha Flight. So Guardian, Vindicator, Sasquatch, Shaman, Snowbird, Northstar, Aurora and Marrina are back together. If you've never read the earlier series of their exploits it won't matter too much as this is a fresh start. As we tune in various members get the call to respond to Department H. Most are doing routine things is their civilian identities. Aurora and Sasquatch are the first to respond to a scene at a hydroelectric plant where a terrorist in an Adamantium armored body is shutting down the power. At another location Guardian and Northstar have to face the mind controlling pheromone powers of another who is using the power outage for another attack to discredit a popular political party. The plot is about some basic bad guys with a plan getting thwarted by the good guys. Along the way some team dynamics, angst and romance are thrown in. The artwork is decent but nothing super. As a single issue it accomplishes telling a story with lead ins to future plots. It is just not all that compelling reading like another run of the mill super hero team book.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Writer: Vince Moore
Artist: Cezar Razek
Colors: Salvatore Aiala
Letters: Bill Tortolini
Cover Artist: Darick Robertson
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction

This comic is actually a sequel to the hit movie from 1990 starring Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sharon Stone based on a short story by Philip K. Dick. In that movie a construction worker named Douglas Quaid visited Rekall for a vacation of the mind. But this triggers his true memory as he learns he is actually a freedom fighter from Mars that has been relocated to Earth. As the movie plays out Quaid is successful in conquering the corrupt Mars based mining company thereby restoring some order to the planet. As the issue begins indeed Cohaagen, the administrator of the mines is dead but those loyal to him fight on against the rebels. Quad and the girl of his dreams Melina escape their attack to meet with their rebel friends in Venusville. It seems that the various rebel faction are in disarray as the central leader was also killed. It is up to Quaid to reach out to the military forces to end the fighting if he can. Also introduced this issue are the replacement Administrators - the son and daughter of the deceased Cohaagen. And it seems there is a warning beginning to be headed by some mysterious character in the wings - the Martians are coming! There is a lot of dialogue in the first issue but it actually serves to set the plot and tone for the series. You really don't need prior knowledge of the movie to understand what is going on here. It is good enough visually and it could lead into something more than just a sequel if handled correctly. I would give it a few issues to see what develops.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story:
Title Arc:
Publisher: Avatar
Creator: Garth Ennis
Writer: David Lapham
Artist: Gianluca Pagliarani
Inker: Chris Dreier
Colors: Digikore Studios
Price (USD): $8.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Horror
Mature - Comics on the Edge

If you are not already a fan of the CROSSED series of series this offering may not change your mind. Certainly at this high price point the casual reader might not be curious enough to give it a try. Garth Ennis created a world where a mysterious plague hit the world and the majority of humanity turned into homicidal maniacs known as the Crossed for the distinctive rash the disease creates on their faces. As in other similar stories the small remainder of uninfected humans struggle for survival as the contact with any fluid from the Crossed infects normal humans. The story in this book revolves around one of the last surviving human doctors trapped in a New York skyscraper. A S.W.A.T. veteran, Lt. Hunt MacAvoy, assembled a team to go on a suicide mission to rescue the doctor in a city of millions of Crossed. While previous mini-series delves into the personalities and dynamics of survivors on the run this one focuses on a strike forces purposely charging into the madness. Since Lapham has written other Crossed stories he gives us the same sense of motivation for the characters - some are out for revenge, others are looking for redemption. We know at the start that this may be a hopeless mission with a slim chance of success. Like other Crossed stories it has lots of violence and depravity. Unlike the others this one is done in 3D. Strangely enough I found the 3D had less of a repulsive effect. The 3D lessens the impact of the color while emphasizing 3D for 3D sake often with guts spilling out of the page. The characters are interesting with most of them acting heroically and often selflessly for the sake of the mission. Even the actions of the Crossed take different turns due to the setting being in a major city. I think it is a good story in relation to the rest of the series and fans of the Crossed books will certainly enjoy it. The rest of you will have to judge for yourselves.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: DC/Vertigo
Cover Artists: Paul Pope w/Lovern Kindzierski
Variant - Mark Buckingham w/Lee Loughridge
Price (USD): $7.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Anthology/science fiction
Mature - Comics on the Edge

If ever there was an apt title for a comic this is it. Back in the day the original STRANGE ADVENTURES was more mainstream science fiction with some now familiar space heroes thrown in. This book is a collection of 9 short stories that are mostly science fiction. As I say with most anthologies there is good, bad and sometimes ugly stories.

CASE 21 is by Selwyn Hinds and Denys Cowens
This one is set in New Brooklyn in 2119 where the privileged live high above the streets. Commerce is controlled by the government and wealth is determined by tattoos that indicate your "market connect" and status value. Without a market connect there is no way to buy anything. On the lower levels - ground level - the M.A. Squad patrols to find citizens without tats to take away, never to be seen again. Jin was born on the upper levels but his family lost its market value and when the M.A.'s came for them he hid and joined the dissidents. Now he works secretly on the lower level helping remove tats for those who wish to hide their origins. It is a complex system and the plot revolves around a female client who wants her tat removed. The outcome of that transaction and what Jin is really up to is the gist of the plot. This is one of the better stories and Cowyn's art is familiar to me so I enjoyed it.

THE WHITE ROOM is by Talia Hershewe and Juan Bobillo
In another possible future people use a devise called the White Room to escape into their dreams. It is like a drug to many. The protagonist compares it to opium but it is more like a drug that loves you back. Sensations are over stimulated and people you see become people you want them to be. People don't fall in love anymore. They fall in love with the white room. She has a disturbing experience this time and by the climax of the story you wonder what and who are real and who is the dreamer. It is not a bad premise though difficult to follow at times and the art did nothing for me.

PARTNERS is by Peter Milligan and Sylvain Savoia
The art on this one is much more appealing as we meet two friends camping. We learn they have been in the wild and scrounging for food for three years. Aaron and Daniel are friends and have known each other for a long time. But the premise of the story is that one is real and one is an imaginary friend. We do not know which is which. Then one day Aaron told Daniel he has heard of a way to make the imaginary friend real. But if they go through this process how will they know it worked? They fear if they return to civilization the unreal person will not be seen by others and will cease to exist. This is a thinking story with no clear answer. I like it a lot.

ALL THE PRETTY PONIES is by Lauren Beukes and Inaki Miranda
This story takes place in Sao Paulo in the year 2017. People use a devise called MindRide to feel the experiences of others in their mind. There is a catalog of "Ponies" to ride from professional athletes to cops to exotic dancers to deep-sea explorers. You sit with the device on your head in the comfort of your home and ride the pony of your choice. Of course there are dangers such as overstimutaling and getting stuck in your pony or trying illegal hardware. But the players in this drama are unknowingly part of another danger and a darker secret about the MindRide system, as they will learn in the end. Another interesting premise that is well plotted and drawn.

This is one of the stranger ones when it comes to the art. In fact the style reminds me of Mike Allred. Ace Arin is a deep space explorer. On one mission he encounter four aliens of different species and planets. When they all fired at him at once with replicating rays a very strange thing happened. The four aliens all merged into his body. All four consciousnesses merged and body parts of each became the new body so Arin has the arm of one, the arm of another, the leg of a third and the leg of the fourth. He/they became an adventurer/hero like many others. There is homage in the form of a collage of other famous space heroes of comics to include Adam Strange, Star Man, Captain Comet and others. But what of the original man? While he is still a part of the consciousness he is no longer in control and can never go home. How this affects him and his possible future is explored. Not a bad story that has more to do with Arin's mind than any exploits or adventures. The art is also very detailed in layout, which adds to the overall feel of the plot.

REFUSE is by Ross Campbell
This apparently about one of those people you have heard about called hoarders. Selena is trying to get back her son but the social services workers won't let her unless she ends her obsessive hoarding and cleans up her apartment to prove she is "normal". Fair enough premise with very good artwork. But for me the story falls apart as we get deeper into her efforts to change her life. She gets injured in the clutter she is trying to clean up and her wound starts to grow into startling proportions. The finale is bizarre and is does not make sense. This is one I would classify as the "ugly" if not for the art.

This story is narrated in flashback by an odd looking little man with slits for eyes and almost claw like hands and sharp teeth. He explains he started as a lab experiment being constantly subjected to experiments in his infancy. He learned about the world from the newspapers used to line his cage. Soon he was caged with a mate and since his captors did not know of his hidden intelligence he devised a plan and carried out their escape. Their life on the out side and his ultimate fate are the gist of this one. While I felt this had promise at the start the story fell flat by the end with an unsatisfying ending. The art held up well though.

A "TRUE TALE" FROM SAUCER COUNTRY is by Paul Cornell and Goran Sudzuka
This one is about a man named George Adamski. In 1952 he encounter an alien claiming to be from Venus. He became a celebrity in the alien contact community and wrote books and made lectures. His story did not end with one encounter but he had continual contact and even went for rides in UFOs. But what did he really see or is it all a hoax? That is the idea here and it sort of sets things up and lets us ponder it. Okay for the art and execution but not really satisfying.

SPACEMAN is by Brian Azzarello and Eduardo Risso
The last story gets top billing with a splash on the cover. It is called the first chapter in a series from the team that gave you 100 BULLETS. I found it very hard to follow mainly because Azzarello has the main characters talking n a future dialect with unfamiliar expressions. It is apparently a dissident future though not without technology. The art is unusual as it shifts from detailed close up work and more undetailed long shots. But as we get into the heart of the plot we learn a secret NASA project had for years been gene engineering future astronauts with expanded bone mass and flesh density to withstand long journeys in zero gravity. It is not clear that we are hearing and seeing two such subjects at the start of the story. In fact they are not in space but on Earth both trying to salvage a fallen satellite. How it ends and how this could lead into a series is a mystery for another time.

So this is a mixed bag with 80 pages for $8. IF you like stimulating ideas out of the ordinary it is worth the price.

Issue Number: 6 (of 6)
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Adam Kubert
Inker: Mark Roslan
Colors: Justin Ponsor
Letters: Rob Steen
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

I reviewed the first couple issue of this series and found them an interesting twist on the relationship between Peter and Logan. When I saw the final issue out I decided to se how it wraps up. The two heroes got caught in a series of random time jumps together. They have been in caveman times and fought robots and even a living planet. As revealed in the introductory panel this issue it was orchestrated by a thug named the Czar to boost the ratings of an intergalactic reality TV show run by Mojo. It is not clear if previous issues included the latest exploit Peter is narrating or it is a writer's device to add an adventure by telling the details in flashback. It starts with Peter telling how Wolverine had been possessed by the Phoenix force and was intent on destroying all existence. Their current situation has them stuck in the old West with Peter settling down with the girl of his dreams, Sara Bailey. Logan lives among the Native Americans as a chief and the two seem resigned to their fate, as the indications are that this may be their last time jump. But there is another group that will impact their lives and they are called the Minutemen. They are a police force for the time stream. Their sudden appearance to set things right with the time stream Will shatter Peter's hope for a peaceful life in the distant past. I like the way the script ties up all the loose end with logical conclusions. Jason Aaron does a good job setting things right though there are lasting results. The art is very good as well. I think this one is worth looking back at the middle issues to get the full impact but the last issue reads like a story all on its own.


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:
Where was Stan Lee's boss when he got the idea that Marvel needed to do a superhero team comic book?
The answer is on the golf course with the head of DC Comics. The winner by the dice is Stu Cathell.

Here was your no prize question:
Which planet has the longest day, from sunrise to sunrise?
Venus! A day, from sunrise to sunrise on Venus is equal to 243 days on Earth.

Which comic book superhero did Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels describe as a "Jew?"

Here is your no prized question:
What was the first zoo in the United States?

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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