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Friday, July 15, 2011

comic reviews 7/15/11


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: 1 (OF 6)
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Joe Casey
Artist: Nick Dragotta
Colors: Brad Simpson
Letters: Rus Wooton
Cover Artist: Gabriele Dell'otto
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

My first impression on reading this title is that the structure is somewhat chaotic. It starts with the first page narrated by a man in some kind of community center watching events from three months ago as a protest in Manhattan is developing into a riot with Steve Rogers in the middle of it. He reflects on not being able to watch from the sidelines anymore. As far as I can tell he is not in any of the rest of the book. After a couple of pages in a night club where some of the main characters are seen we jump back to Hitler talking to the Red Skull in 1944 as Russia is marching into Poland. He charges him with wiping out a secret eugenics program perhaps in Russia (the meaning is not real clear) and that is the last we see of them. Near the end of the book there are three panels involving characters that also appear nowhere else in the book - an evil entity in another dimension, the ruler of Latveria, and a group of obvious bad guys in costume that I do not recognize. All this disparity will come together at some point no doubt but it does little to interest me at this point. The main plot is a bit clearer. There is a group of teens working secretly to do the right thing without glory. They are the latest version of the Teen Brigade. One among them is Miss America who has flight and strength powers at the very least. They are running a couple of clandestine operations. Another is a guy who calls himself the Ultimate Nullifier. He is agile, trained in combat and has a nifty sidearm that has a special effect on powered people - it takes the powers away temporarily. He is hanging out with an apparent mutant named Ms. X who has lizard like skin and eyes. They are with latest female hot celebrity in a private room apart from the disco when Magneto shows up. He is appalled at Ms. X's behavior and promiscuity and Ultimate Nullifier steps in when Magneto starts to strut his stuff. Meanwhile, Miss America is in a secret underground facility in Groom Lake Nevada retrieving a boy imprisoned there. The team has their own "Deep Throat" feeding them info (maybe that guy in the first page?) The rest of the brigade has his or her own specialties like computer hacking and the like. The mystery prisoner is weak and almost catatonic mumbling lots of things no one gets. Could he be tied to Red Skull or that other dimensional being? The other sub plot follows a team lead by Nighthawk that includes She-Hulk, Krang and another guy I don't recognize going out to tackle a huge monster in the city. There are others involved with giving them assignments and there is a hint they know someone, maybe a former S.H.I.E.L.D. operative, is feeding classified info to a third party (Teen Brigade?) The scenes of the teens are the most coherent and easy to follow. It seems Casey is throwing a lot of information out right away leaving the reader to expect it will pay off later - not my favorite form of scripting. The art is cool enough to at least keep things visually understandable. Next issue promises that Deadshot will appear. As to whether this book is worth hanging around to see how it pays off is anybody's guess.

Issue Number: 1 (of 5)
Publisher: MARVEL
Story Title: Red Skull: Incarnate
Writer: Greg Pak
Artist: Mirko Colak
Colors: Matthew Wilson
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Cover Artist: David Aja
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Villain

If you thought this book was just another WWII or modern day tale of the Red Skull up against Captain America or other heroes you need to look beyond the cover. Like the mini-series by Pak before it, MAGNETO: TESTAMENT, it is about the man as a child. It will explore very early not only the man as he experiences things that will shape his future but also looks closely and accurately at the time period and the facts of history surrounding the character. It begins in Munich in 1923. It is the time of the Weimar Republic when inflation was so bad things doubled in price daily. Two orphan boys see the worst of times with a cruel overseer. Dieter tries to shelter a puppy and his friend Johann tries to help him but they both pay the price when they are found out. The big historical event in this chapter is the Bierhalle Putsch, which marked the beginning of the rise of the Third Reich. It means a lot to the overseer who is delighted that the Republic will fall but to the boys it is too much to understand. By the end of the chapter Johann is hardened in such a way that it will lead him down the path of his destiny. This is a very well scripted story and is visually stunning. It is more a historical novel at this point than one about a future super villain. Pak has taken great care to give the feel of the times that gave rise to such a drastic change in Germany. It is worth reading for that alone.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Creator: Michael Moorcock
Writer: Chris Roberson
Artist: Francesco Biagini
Colors: Stephen Downer
Letters: Travis Lanham
Cover Artist: Various
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Fantasy

If you are not familiar with Elric there is enough introductory and afterword (by Neil Gaiman) information to bring you up to speed. He is the last emperor of the island empire of Melnibone. He is an albino prince who travels to the various worlds of the Multiverse with his soul-stealing sword Storm Bringer in a quest to maintain balance between Law and Chaos. There are other characters from other alternate worlds in Moorcock's works featured in this title with more to come. In this one there is Coram Jhaelen Irsei who is the Prince of the Scarlet Robe returning home after losing everything he loved hoping to die in peace. Instead he finds a changed land and the public stoning of a few people, one whom he recognizes. Another other dimensional character is Dorian Hawkmoon the Duke of Koln who has liberated his country from Beast Lords. His restful family life is about to be disturbed based on something a cat told his daughter. The bulk of the issue follows Elric to yet another world where he finds the balance clearly tipped to Chaos, so much so that it will soon crumble into primordial chaos and he may be trapped in it. The people are no longer living but zombies and all sort of fantastic creatures along with the former humans attack him. All may be lost. The other half of the plot involves a man on our Earth, Eric Beck. He is a game designer who finds himself tormented by dreams of an albino prince with a black sword. His personal life is that of a nerd whose twin brother changed his look and his name and now heads an ultra-ultra-right-wing group called the Law Party calling for all but military overthrow of the government. As Eric's dreams continue he begins to see things in the real world related to what was in his dream and a fateful clash with members of the Law Party introduces another character that may clear up the whole mystery or perhaps deepen it further. It is a very thoughtful comic with lots to absorb. The four plots read well separately though it may seem too much to begin an epic tale. The art is very good with lots of detail and terrific coloring. Long time fans of Elric who are more familiar than I am with Moorcock will have to judge if this is a worthy addition to the lore. On its own I enjoyed it and see a lot of promise in the future.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Part 1 (of 3)
Title Arc: The Methuselah Imperative
Publisher: DC
Writer: Eric Wallace
Artist: Cliff Richards
Colors: Hi-Fi
Letters: Travis Lanham
Cover Artist: Fabrizio Fiorentino
Price (USD): $4.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

This is not one of those one-off stories written for the sake of having an annual to give fans an extra dose of their favorite characters. This is part one of a new story arc that will continue in Titans #37. I suspect the "annual" was scheduled to really get two parts of the story out so that the arc can end in August just before DC relaunches all its titles in September - other wise it would have been a four part story in the regular issues. Having said that, it will be better if you are a regular reader of THE TITANS just to understand how things got to this point. We have Osiris and Isis fighting off and defeating invading armies from Quarac as they get within twenty kilometers of the Kahndaqi palace. Osiris is not content with this and pursues them back to their land in a trail of blood to their own capital. Meanwhile in China the Justice league apparently has the Titans - Deathstroke, Arsenal, Cinder and Chesire - cornered in their jet with the intent of arresting Slade for the murder of Ryan Choi, the boy who took of the mantle of the Atom after Ray Palmer left. Batman (Dick Grayson) has no choice but to let them go when Supergirl reveals they have an atomic bomb on board that Slade will detonate. He and Ray Palmer, Starman, Donna Troy, Jade and Congorilla must let them go. We learn from talk among the Titans that Roy Harper and Chesire have joined Slade's Titans only to kill him. Not having read the title at all I am puzzled what is taking them so long. There are other references to past issues that mean nothing to me but do not take away from the story being told. The two plots mesh as the Titans go to Kahndaq to enlist Osiris into their ranks temporarily. If he helps them fight the Justice League when they show up Slade promises to restore Black Adam to life. That is the set up and it will only be after the epic fight that it is made clear why Slade orchestrated this whole situation. He needs something to take back to their hideout where more characters and an amazing machine is poised for a special task. To be continued...

Not bad as the first part of a longer story and very readable without knowing the whole history of the title. The art is very good and the coloring is exceptional. It appears to be the beginning of the swan son for this title until after the relaunch.

Issue Number: 3 (of 5)
Publisher: DC
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Andy Kubert
Inker: Sandra Hope
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Nick Napolitano
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

We are midway through FLASHPOINT with this issue and things are getting very interesting. In this issue elements from other tie-in issues are brought into the main book. We saw in FLASHPOINT: THE SUPERMAN PROJECT that General Lane was in charge of a secret government project to create a Captain America style super soldier. The results were far beyond the Marvel type hero as the subject gained Superman-like powers. My fellow reviewer Alan Gordon pointed out that the character is the alter ego of Apollo the Superman analogue taken from the Wildstorm Universe. But that story so far has only gone from the early stages of the program some thirty years ago until three years later when a rocket from another planet along with a meteor shower (shades of SMALLVILLE) crashed into Metropolis, not Kansas, killing thousands of people. This issue reveals, before the mini-series reveals it, what happened to the inhabitant of that rocket. How we get there is through Barry Allen's attempt to regain his speed powers and then help Batman and others right this world gone wrong by Reverse Flash's manipulation of the timeline. Barry awoke with full knowledge of how things are supposed to be and realized no one else does (he does not know Booster Gold is also in the know.) So he sought out Batman only to find out that the man behind the mask is Thomas Wayne and he of course never heard of Barry Allen or the Flash. After some convincing Wayne agrees to try to recreate the lightning bolt accident that gave Barry his powers. In the opening scene we see that the first attempt failed and Barry has third degree burns over seventy-five per cent of his body. Meanwhile Cyborg has failed to get a team of powered people together to help stop the war between Aquaman and Wonder Woman. Now he has just learned the government will no longer use him to help fight the war. Also in this chapter Lois Lane finally meets the resistance members that are co-stars of her title and most of them debuted in FLASHPOINT: THE CANTERBURY CRICKET. In that one panel another character from Wildstorm makes his debut. But the best part of the comic is after Batman, Flash and Cyborg join forces and Barry insists that they find that rocket inhabitant being held by the government. Only he knows the potential Superman can be the savior they need. How they find him and what happens afterward is the crux of the plot. I like how in the midst of a globally devastating war the heroes here are not just jumping into the fray but working together toward a more elegant solution. The unexpected turn at the end could pose a problem. With only two issues to go Barry is really no closer to settings things right. It is a really interesting story and the art is really spectacular. I am hooked on the title and can't wait to see what comes next.

Issue Number: 2 (of 3)
Title Story: This Is the World We Made
Publisher: DC
Writer: Rex Ogle
Artist: Eduardo Francisco
Colors: Stefani Renee
Letters: Travis Lanham
Cover Artist: Brett Booth
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

This tie in to FLASHPOINT follows Traci 13 in her attempt to stop her father and H.I.V.E. from enacting their solution to the war in Europe. They have launched a satellite that will devastate both New Themyscira and Atlantis and take with them millions of people. They reason the sacrifice of innocents is worth it to save the world. Since her pleading won't stop him she is off on her own to find a way. She is a mystic and can teleport so the first place she goes is to see her mentor Madame Xanadu. With her dying breath she instructs Traci to take the tarot cards and let them guide her around the world to find the solution. Her journey takes her to Tokyo to find T.O. Morrow, then Brazil where Natasha Irons is fighting Nazis and then Nambia Africa where gorillas reign. Her journey and life might have ended if not for intervention by a green boy who can change shapes. On it goes to Warriors bar to talk with the owner, Antarctica where she runs into Circe, Gotham where she meets a priest with a familiar name. Each step of the journey is supposed to teach her something and each person she meets does indeed impart his or her own wisdom. Will it be enough when she returns to confront the most infamous master of magic in the world, her father? I have mixed feelings about this comic. I like all the supporting characters and seeing the changes to them in the altered timeline. So far Traci has not found the magic bullet that will help her to end the crisis and she is running out of time with only one issue to go. Maybe she is not going to stop the weapon of destruction at all. We will have to wait to see how it ends. The art on this one is way above average so that tips me in the positive side in hoping that the last issue really pays off.


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:
Who was 'The Seventh Super-Hero' to join the Legion of Super Heroes?
Quotes indicate a title, and in this case the story that introduced the subject in question - Sun Boy - in the first incarnation of the Legion. The winner by the dice roll is Steven Berk.

Here was your no prize question:
Who was the only fictional character in Time magazine's list of the 100 most influential people of the 20th century?
The answer is Bart Simpson.

From the Milestone Universe, What was Boogieman's real first name?

Here is your no prize question:
Which athlete has appeared on the cover of Sports Illustrated the most times?

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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