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Sunday, August 14, 2011

comic reviews 8/14/11

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: 4 (OF 6)
Title Story: Spider-Man
Title Arc: Spider-Man No More
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Sara Pichelli
Colors: Justin Ponsor
Letters: Cory Petit & Layton Cowles
Cover Artist: Mark Bagley, Andy Lanning & Justin Ponsor
Variant Cover: Marko Djurdjevic
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

This is the issue that has gotten the pre-release hype and news coverage. If you
have been living under a rock or don't want to know about the new Ultimate
Spider-Man read no further! While the first three issues have been concentrating
on reactions by various characters on the death of Spider-man, now revealed to
have been Peter Parker, this beginning of the second half of the series shifts
instead to other plots that will impact the Ultimate Universe when the books
relaunch in September. Thus it gives more meaning to the label "Fallout" than
just reaction to the death of a hero. The most time is taken up with someone
dressed in a Spider-Man costume stopping a thug named Kangaroo from beating up a
low life that owes him money. It is a typical fight scene in which the new
Spidey prevails. It is landmark in that it is his first appearance. However if
you read closely you will observe a few things. His name is not mentioned though
it is has been revealed in the press releases. He is indeed black and it is not
evident from the one panel we see his face that he is also half Hispanic.
Finally the common reaction from the crowd is that the costume is in bad taste -
with only one person wondering how Spider-Man could be alive. I also notice what
could be a major change, at least for the time being - there is no evidence that
he has web shooters. He actually climbs a building when he leaves the scene and
does not shoot webs during the fight. I think the creative team did a good job
on the story and am interested enough to stay with it and also get the new title
when it debuts.

Back up stories:
"Reed Richards" by Jonathan Hickman, Salvador Larroca & Frank D'Armata

Last time we saw Reed was at the end of the ULTIMATE DOOM as he was set adrift
in the Negative Zone, his face disfigured by Johnny Storm. This bit picks up
where we left him and shows us how he escapes death and a little bit of what he
is planning. Stay tuned for future developments.

"Valerie Cooper" by Nick Spencer & Clayton Crain

This to me is the most interesting tidbit of a plot development for the future.
The scene is in a caf‚ of sorts where a foreign affairs correspondent, Brett, is
having coffee with Valerie Cooper aide to Captain America. She informs Val of
the secrets she has learned from a dying mutant in Vancouver who has the ability
to relay his memories telepathically. Brett has since lucked into some
government records that were classified but through clerical error the
classification has lapse. What she knows and will now become public information
is likely to start riots across the country. So much is at stake that Valerie
makes an excuse to leave only to warn Steve Rogers and others about what is
going to happen. I am not going to tell you what it is but it is something that
faithful readers of the Ultimate comics have known for some time. The revelation
will indeed cause a big stir when it comes out. I can't wait.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Abstract Studios
Creator: Terry Moore
Back Cover Art: Fabio Moon
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Crime/Supernatural
Mature - Comics on the Edge

I could not pass up the newest title from Terry Moore. His STRANGERS IN PARADISE
and ECHO are great reading that illustrate not only his ability as a premier
black and white artist but also his imaginative cross-genre story telling. From
romance, crime and mystery to science fiction he keeps you enthralled with
strong characterization masterfully illustrated. The story is about a young girl
who was obviously murdered by strangulation. The opening scene follows a walk in
the woods coming to what appears to be a dried riverbed. As we watch a hand then
legs start to appear out of the ground. By the time Rachel is out of her shallow
grave we realize she is not normal anymore - her eyes are the giveaway. She
manages to hitch a ride home and in cleaning up notices the abrasion ring around
her neck. We see her remembering a dark figure strangling her. In flashback she
recalls trying to convince her friend Jet to go out on Tuesday. In an attempt to
find out what happened "last night" she seeks her friend and learns from others
that it is now Friday not Wednesday. There are a few other interesting
characters and the first one you see is left up to you to figure out, I have my
own ideas. So an apparent dead girl has "come back to life" - maybe. There is
just enough in this first issue to get you interested. Don't miss a chance to
get in on it from the beginning.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Image Comics
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Rob Liefeld
Inker: Rob Liefeld & Adelso Corona
Colors: Hi-Fi Design
Letters: Rus Wooton
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction

As much as I am not a fan of Liefeld's art I decided to try this comic for the
story written by Robert Kirkman. Liefeld did not surprise me with his typical
overly muscular men with straight-line angular jaws. What is up with the guns he
always draws? Every rifle and pistol has to have oval stocks and barrels. Anyway
it is his thing so that is what you get. The story is interesting enough. It
starts with two freedom fighters in the future sneaking in to the Citadel of the
Infinite. Bowen and Case have been fighting against Imperius, the dictator of
this era. Everyone is dressed in metallic suits with armor padding but they are
invisible through the use of high tech scramblers. But as they enter Imperius is
waiting for them. They have been at war for almost a decade and Bowen means to
end it now. Imperius of course claims he has saved this world while Bowen claims
he is mad with power - shaping the world he wants through the use of a time
machine. That is the key to the whole story. Bowen wants to unravel it all by
stealing the machine and going back to set things right. At the end Bowen
disappears in a flash to come back to our present. He has travel back eighteen
years to recruit Case and his younger self in his plan to save the future. They
will have some knowledge of what will come but in the current present they can
only assume The Infinite and their leader Imperius are already in this time
beginning to work their plans. Well, it is a basic story with a couple of twists
of time travel and the main character working with his younger self. I am not
impressed enough to stay with it long but you may think differently.

Issue Number: 1 (OF 4)
Title Story: The Tenth Apprentice
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: G. Willow Wilson
Artist: David Lopez
Inker: Alvaro Lopez
Colors: Nathan Fairbairn
Letters: Jared K. Fletcher
Cover Artist: Amanda Conner & Paul Mounts
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: Now on Sale
Genre: Fantasy

This is the latest 4-issue mini-series in Marvels re-imagining of the Crossgen
Universe. G. Willow Wilson is not telling the same story but taking the
characters and some of the elements and telling a different one. In this case
Giselle and Genevieve are orphans in the impoverished slums of Hyperion. They
spend their days doing the laundry and whenever they can they sneak into the
library of their tyrannical mistress to study the magical skills only available
to the aristocracy. When they are finally discovered they have no choice but to
escape their slavery and try to make it on their own. Thanks to an old friend
they soon find harbor in the palace of the High Artisan, the man who trains the
new apprentices in the mystic arts. It won't be long until they are on the paths
destined for them with the fate of the planet in the balance. I really like the
pacing on this story. The girls have a great rapport that see saws back and
forth in a love hate kind of way but not that strong. Genevieve is the dreamer
with high hopes while Giselle is more practical and bold. They stand by each
other through the hardest times but when their lives change drastically will
their loyalty hold? It is scripted well and the art team does a great job
including the Fairbairn's spectacular coloring. This is a good change of pace
mini-series you should put on your must read list.

Issue Number: 1
Story Title: Punisher: One
Back up story: Interview, Ref: #110401-C
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Greg Rucka
Artist: Marco Checchetto
Colors: Matt Hollingworth
Letters: Joe Caramagna
Cover Artist: Brian Hitch, Paul Neary & Paul Mounts
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Anti-Hero
Parental Advisory

Well, he's not really a hero now, is he? I am not sure how many first issues THE
PUNISHER has had but here is another one. I think Checchetto and Hollingworth
have done a great job on the art on this comic. It is appropriately dark and
moody when need be and very detailed throughout. The colors are outstanding and
the layouts imaginative. The back up story is a dialogue between Detective
Robert Seever and Officer Walter Bolt with the art having no captions. The
opening scene is a small wedding that ends in tragedy as a group of armed men
enter the hall. Strangely on of these men is shot from behind at the door and
then they all start firing. The police arrive to find twenty-seven dead and
nineteen wounded. Detectives Bolt and Clemons are the investigators. They
conclude the wedding party may not have been the targets and follow a lead on
one of he weapons left behind. We also learn that Detective Bolt soon is fed
information at a dead drop from the Punisher. Later, as the gang known as the
Exchange celebrates their victory, the Punisher crashes the party, with expected
results. It no doubt has meaning to the future of the plot when something he
does seems out of character. The INTERVIEW back up story takes place in the past
when Bolt was still an officer working surveillance with his partner Officer
Moffat as part of a drug task force. They are watching a meet in the Cloisters
between a known dealer and maybe his suppliers. When it becomes evident this is
not going to be amicable meeting Bolt realizes there could be collateral damage
to civilians if the opposing thugs draw down. At that point the Punisher takes
control of the situation with only Officer Bolt and the civilians surviving the
shoot out. The interviewer leads Bolt into accepting the fact he was the hero.
As far as they know it was Bolt, not Castle that slew the mobsters with his
partner getting off some shots before being killed. The pictures tell us how it
really went down and provide a clue as to how Bolt came to work with the
Punisher in the lead story. The two together make for good reading with strong
visuals. This is a great first issue without any baggage from past continuity.

Title: KULT
Issue Number: 1 (of 4)
Publisher: Dark Horse
Writer: Jeremy Barlow
Artist: Iwan Nazif
Colors: Michael Atiyeh
Letters: Michael Heisler
Cover Artist: Jake Murray
Price (USD): $3.50
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Horror/Supernatural
Mature - Comics on the Edge

Strangely enough this comic also begins with a wedding reception that is
interrupted when a man grabs the bride's arm, turns into a grotesque demon and
then asks her is she is the one. That is only a snippet alluding to a similar
scene much later in the story. The main character is a probation officer named
Tomas Zenk who is not particularly happy with his life but hangs on to his job
in the city for the sake of his daughter who lives with his ex-wife. We get a
few scenes of how rocky the relations and his effectiveness as a part-time
father is becoming, explaining his attitude. But all that will change this day
as he too has an encounter with a demon who transform from the form of one of
his parolees who has missed his check-in. References are made to the great
machine turning and the demon repeats the same phrase he did to the bride and
claiming Tomas is blasphemous in his personal deification. Luckily for Tomas he
escapes the apartment and is rescued by a trio, one of who is clearly not a
human being. As they use a spectacular device to make a getaway in the subway
they give us the startling revelation that Tomas is supposed to take god's
place! That is a lot to absorb in one issue. This is one of those stories that
will tell us that humanity is not what it seems and there are things we have not
been told for the sake of our sanity. If Tomas is the chosen he will have a
major jolt next issue. This kind of story is difficult to ease into. A lot of
detail must necessarily be revealed slowly as the plot moves forward. The art is
really first class and so far the plot can be followed even though not
everything has been made clear. There are many questions left unanswered and
there is sure to be lots of action moving forward. If you are a fan of the genre
this is worth checking out.

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:
According to Gene Colan, what comic company was the FIRST to produce a comic
direct from pencils - his of course?

Eclipse first produced RAGAMUFFINS from Colan's pencils. Greg Goding won the
toss this week.

Her was your no prize question
Which Italian city is the birthplace of the modern pizza?

Pizza is believed to have evolved from early Egyptian flat bread. However,
Naples, Italy, is considered the birthplace of the modern pizza. Pizza was
brought to the United States by Italian immigrants and made popular by soldiers
returning from Italy after World War II (1939-45). Between 1945 and 1960,
pizzerias began sprouting up all over the United States. Greg Goding earns the
no prize this week.

Name the tile from 1997-1999 wherein the main character gained new super powers by dying.

Here is your no prize question:
What country's current flag consists of a single solid color?

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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