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Thursday, July 28, 2011

comic reviews 7/28/11

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: 2 (of 6)
Publisher: Image Comics for Benaroya Publishing
Creator: Michael Benaroya & Owen Wiseman
Writer: Owen Wiseman
Artist: Nam Kim
Inker: Matthew Dalton
Colors: Sakti Yuwono
Letters: Josh Aitken
Cover Artist: Jo Chen
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: Now On Sale
Genre: Samurai Adventure

Benaroya has several books being published by Image. This week I review three of

SAMURAI'S blood follows three sole survivors of the Sanjo Clan. There families
were killed and their homes burned after a betrayal. They have sworn vengeance
against the men responsible, Lord Gakushi and his retainer, Araku. Rather than
try to invade the castle in stealth they decide to retreat to the city and bide
their time. Soon a path reveals itself where the younger will engage a local in
combat to the death. A local promoter of organized fights notices him and soon
the two men are taken in for that purpose. The girl, a sister to one a lover of
the other, has been taken away by force by another clan they were powerless to
stop. As the younger Samurai rises in recognition another man approaches them
with an even better deal and they accept. It all leads up to their first attempt
on the life of Araku and finally locating the female, Mayuko. I like the
structure of this narrative. While most of the dialogue and editorial comment
leads us through what is going on there is a second editorial dialogue that is
more detached from the story directly. It speaks of the way of the Samurai, his
virtues and disciplines. It is cleverly worded so as to illuminate what is
happening with the characters. The art has good composition and finishes. If
there is a fault I found is that the main characters are not clearly identified
by name for a long time, not even talking to each other. This could have been
handled in the introductory text easily. Also the trademark information in the
indicia mistakenly is from a different comic. These are minor and the story and
art are strong enough to make this an interesting and entertaining comic.

Issue Number: 3 (of 5)
Publisher: Image Comics for Benaroya Publishing
Creator: Michael Benaroya & Jeff Cahn
Writer: Jeff Cahn
Artist: Salvador Navarro & Mark Texeira
Colors: Ifansyah Noor
Letters: Josh Aitken
Cover Artist: Mark Texeira
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction

How many comics can there be about secret government agencies trying to create a
super soldier? This one is in the middle of the story as one subject, Greg, has
escaped the Red Spike base after a failed attempt to activate his Phase II
system. His teammate Matty is worried the same dysfunctional behavior may be a
manifestation of the Red Spike system but the leader assures him Greg's problems
were psychological. Now Matt has to find him and bring him back. The Red Spike
gives them supernormal strength and agility. When they square off against each
other, coming next issue, there will be major collateral damage. But this issue
explores their backgrounds in a series of flashbacks. This transition chapter
helps us understand how the guys came to this point in their lives. It also
sheds more light on the Red Spike organization. Everything is not entirely above
board here as we see in one particularly gruesome scene. We also find out a
secret that Greg knows about but Matt refuses to believe when Greg tells him. I
thought this issue might be too hard to follow having skipped #2 but that is not
the case. Even a new reader can follow the plot though the government guys in
power are still a bit mysterious. The visuals are pretty good and the plot is
getting to the point where the visuals will be front and center. So far it has
been a worthwhile title.

Issue Number: 1 (of 6)
Publisher: Image Comics for Benaroya Publishing
Creator: Michael Benaroya
Writer: David Baxter & Dave Elliott
Artist: Javier Aranda
Finishes: Garry Leach
Colors: Jessica Kholinne
Cover Artist: Tomm Coker
Price (USD): $1.00
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction

Image is offering up this new title with a low price first issue. It is a story
that takes place in the not so unrealistic future as the US Government collapses
after a massive recession. The infrastructure is destroyed as cities and states
struggle to keep what resources they have for themselves. One of those few
surviving cities, shutting itself off from the others, is New San Diego. The
combination of the top scientists who rebuilt it and the Navy Seals who
protected it is the major reason it has survived on its own for over sixty
years. Now the next generation and descendants (not ancestors as wrongly stated
in the introductory text) of those Seals now protect the city as the Marksmen.
As part of their survival strategy one of the Marksmen, Drake, has been sent to
retrieve data from an installation in Apache Junction, AZ. He is interrupted at
a crucial point by scavenging survivors who live off the land, often resorting
to cannibalism. Though he puts up a good fight he is vastly outnumbered and is
only saved by the timely arrival of a group that have come from Texas in search
of New San Diego. It turns out their leader, Joe Percival, left NSD thirty years
ago. He was one who helped build new San Diego but left in disagreement about
its isolationist policy. He found Lonestar, Texas more open and freethinking.
But it is a different society run by the charismatic Duke who uses the religious
power of Deacon Glenn to convince the populous that the technology driven New
San Diego is evil while their petroleum based lifestyle is righteous. So Joe
left with his family to go back to New San Diego to warn them that Duke and his
Rangers are on the way to steal their technology to fulfill Duke's dream of
reuniting the country in his vision. The plot moves along at a quick pace with
lots of interesting characters and a good background story. It serves as a
decent introduction to what is to come. There is one secret yet to be revealed
to Duke and the rest about Joe that adds a bit of drama to the mix. The art is
up to the task with a few gruesome scenes that give it a harder edge. As far as
post disaster stories goes it is not that much out of the ordinary but it held
my attention and has promise for what is to come.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story:
Writer: Mark Waid
Artist: Paolo Rivera
Inker: Joe Rivera
Colors: Javier Rodriguez
Letters: Joe Caramagna
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

Daredevil is back in his own title with a shiny new #1 issue. Many may know that
Matt Murdock has been through a lot in the past several years and Mark Waid is
taking the Man Without Fear back to a more traditional role. All the baggage is
not lost however and one key element played on in this opening chapter is the
fact that Daredevil's secret identity was exposed a while back. Matt has worked
hard to dispel that information but many people still believe he is actually
Daredevil. It comes up from reporters, the people on the street and even in
court where he is back practicing law with Foggy Nelson. In the latter part of
this issue he is representing a Muslim shop owner who is suing a police officer
for unprovoked brutality and racial motivation. The defense attorney skillfully
keeps the focus on Matt and his adversarial relationship with the police as a
costumed vigilante. Matt is not at his best this time around and finally the
judge halts the trial and suggests the Muslim find a new lawyer. After an
unexpected meeting on a rooftop with the new Assistant DA Matt has a change of
mind about referring his client to another lawyer. The real surprise is what
happens next when Matt is alone and is apparently attacked by someone you would
not expect. The introductory scenes serve to add some action to this issue as
Daredevil intervenes in a kidnapping at the wedding of the daughter of a
notorious gangster. The foe is a villain called the Spot who has the unique
ability to create small portals through which he can teleport through space. The
action sequence is cleverly orchestrated and after saving the day Daredevil does
something that results in front page pictures and more press hounding when he
appears later at the courthouse as Matt Murdock. The art is laid out in superb
fashion and finished quite well. As a first issue this is a good jumping on
point for new and old fans that want to see Daredevil in action without it being
some long event arc. Waid has succeeded in bringing the character back to a more
traditional role. I think this title will be worth getting into.

Back up story by Mark Waid, Marcos Martin & Muntsa Vicente

This additional story is a nice break from the action story serving to give us a
more personal look at the relation between Matt and Foggy. It starts as Matt
grabs Foggy away from his cheese curl snacks to walk among the streets.
Ostensibly he is trying to get his friend away from a sedentary lifestyle and
bad eating habits. Along the way they discuss things about Daredevil and really
get to the point of Matt's new outlook on his life and purpose. It is a superb
little story that makes this first issue even more delightful.

Issue Number: ONE-SHOT
Title Story: Son of Grodd
Publisher: DC
Writer: Cary Bates
Artist: Benito Gallego
Inker: Sal Buscema
Colors: Kevin Colden
Letters: Dezi Sienty
Price (USD): $4.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

Since DC is leading up to the establishment of a new start with all number one
issues in September they are prefacing it with a look back at the characters as
they have been interpreted in the last three decades of the 20th century. Each
book in the RETROACTIVE series features a major DC character in a new story done
by the classic creators of each decade telling a new story in the style of that
time period. Additionally, they provide a reprint of a story about that
character from the decade in question. So you get two full-length stories for
five bucks, which seems reasonable especially for those of us who were avid DC
fans in the 70's, 80's and 90's. I chose the Flash issue to review this week for
no particular reason. The lead story has an interesting premise with a couple of
major plot points. In the style of the time Bates starts off with an unusual and
unlikely scenario and then moves on to explain what is going on and why later in
the story. In this case we see Iris Allen posing for a picture with Gorilla
Grodd, a reviled foe of the Flash, and a young boy that as the story title
proclaims is the son of Grodd. They even refer to Iris as the boy's mom. How can
this be? As I said this is the plot devise to catch your attention at the start
so you will want to know the details. But before we get into that we look in on
Flash as he gets some bad news from Solovar, the intelligent super ape in the
hidden Gorilla City in Africa. Solovar informs Barry that his super speed powers
over time have adversely affected his reproductive system and it seems it will
be irreversible. As part of the conversation Barry vows to not keep this from
Iris as they no longer keep secrets. That puts her actions into context as she
is helping to raise Grodd's son in his secret fortress in Central City without
Barry's knowledge. Eventually, as we would expect, we learn it is all an
elaborate pot by Grodd who is using mind control over Iris so she will be the
cloned son's mother figure. He plans to have a magazine article published
exposing her role and at the same time exposing Barry Allen as the Flash. He
wants to fracture their relationship and ruin his secret identity in this bold
action. There is more detail to the scheme as the plot moves forward. There is
an unexpected flaw in his plan and of course in the end it is resolved in good
fashion. I enjoyed the story for both the story and the art which both do a good
job in accomplishing the look and feel of the stories of that time.

Back up classic tale from the '70s in FLASH #210:
"Race To the End of Time"
by Martin Pasko, J.L. Garcia Lopez with Dan Adkins and Jerry Serpe

This reprint story truly highlights the flavor of comics of the 70's. It
features a team up of sorts of the Flash with Superman. Like the first story the
initial splash page is the set up. It has the Flash in the far future knocked
out by Zoom and Superman flying by realizing if he does not save Flash the Earth
will be destroyed but if Flash succeeds in his time travel mission then Superman
will cease to exist. How can this be and how can both disasters be prevented? As
the story unfolds we learn that two alien races have been warring for eons. The
Zelkot and the Volkir descended from common ancestors. Far back in Earth's
prehistory they lived here but at some point a war split the race into two
factions and they left the planet going their separate ways and eventually
became two separate races. This story has these ancient astronauts as the
ancestor races for life throughout the universe. The Volkir lived on Krypton for
a time and succeeded with their technology in stopping internal forces that
would have blown the planet apart long before it became Krypton. As time passed
the two races met in space and resumed their war. The Zelkots, tiring of the war
that they all had forgotten the cause of, decided to send a traveler back to the
time on Earth when it started to stop it from happening. The Zelkot is charged
with destroying Earth before the war ever started. So Flash obviously wants to
stop that from happening. But if he does then the Volkir will never reach
Krypton and the planet will explode long before Superman was born. The two
heroes are in a big dilemma and how they solve it is the gist of the story. On a
side note I marveled at the "science" used to explain the whole time travel
basis of the story. We all know Flash can travel through time under his own
power and in this story so can Supermen. He supposedly can fly in very fast
circles - counter-clockwise to go to the future and clock-wise to go into the
past. I never remember that being the case. The other thing is that time is
declared as being a big circle and since the Zelkot agent can only go forward in
time he must travel to the end of time and break through the "cosmic curtain" to
arrive at the beginning of time and move forward to the correct time for his
mission. It is all rather silly but then comics after all are about the willing
suspension of disbelief. If you take it all with that attitude you will enjoy
this blast form the past.

Issue Number: #1
Publisher: IDW
Writer: Tom Waltz
Artist: Xermanico
Colors: Luis Antonio Delgado and Studio C10
Letters: Chris Mowry
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Action/Adventure/Time Travel
Mature Readers - Comics on the Edge

There have been a number of comics lately based on video games and when I saw
this title I had to see how it is handled. I am not sure if this is an actual
adaptation or representation of the action in a Duke Nukem video game or just a
story built upon the character. Either way it matters little. I approach the
comic as a reader who will judge the product as it is presented on the page to
see if it is worthy of my time as well as that of my readers. Toward the end of
the war the Nazis were on the verge of defeat and were desperate. They joined
forces with strange creatures called Vril-Ya. They were ancient beings -
superior beings of alien descent who lived in a hollow in the Earth. The Vril-Ya
helped the Nazis build saucer craft as an advanced weapon that would help them
win the war, thereby advancing their own plan to shape Earth to their own image.
The Nazi's used slave labor of captured soldiers and citizens to do the work.
Now in our time one of the survivor workers, originally with the French
Resistance, approaches Duke Nukem with that story of long ago claiming he came
back in time to help them foil this plan. Her mission is to get the time machine
built and convince Duke to fulfill his destiny. Not a bad plot with the typical
time paradox thrown in - how can she have the detailed plans with her to build
the machine that she only was able to get because the machine was used to come
back to her past? That is not too troubling for me. However, this Duke Nukem
character is not all that appealing. He is vain and hedonistic. While he may be
a hero and always is on the right side of the fight he is just not an appealing
character. This will probably appeal to younger fan boys who see him with babes
hanging all over him and catering to his whims, especially in bed. Fans of
violent shot-em-up video games will also delight in the action and the gruesome
versions of the Vril-Ya Duke gets to slaughter. For me it is not all that
appealing. There is some strong and suggestive language so I would not suggest
this for the pre-teens. The video game, DUKE NUKEM FOREVER, in stores now is
rated Mature for ages 17+ so it is not surprising the comic is not squeaky
clean. It is up to you to decide if this is worth your time. I'll pass.


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 uttered this in her debut appearance?

No way am I going out with Martin Ingelhart!

That would be Cassie Starkweather of ROUTE 666. No winner this time.

Here was your no prize question:
What is the only breed of dog mentioned in the Old Testament?

The King James version of the Bible, published in 1611, makes mention of the
greyhound breed in Proverbs 30:31.

Whose first published comic work appeared in Nightmare #20? (published
by Skywald in August of 1974 - it was a B&W horror mag)

Here is your no prize question:
What is the world's fastest racquet sport?

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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