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Thursday, August 25, 2011

comic reviews 8/26/11

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: 507
Title Story: Fog of War
Title Arc: Fear Itself
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Colors: Frank D'Armata
Letters: Joe Caramagna
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

As FEAR ITSELF is getting closer to the end I decided to look in on Iron Man to
see how his part may be crucial to the resolution. While fighting the Grey
Gargoyle in Paris Tony incurred damage to his repulsor implant and had to fly
home for life-saving repairs. Pepper Potts, who is now the armored hero Rescue,
flew in to take his place only to be met with the heavily armored Hammer mech
corps. Tony has now gone to Asgard to petition Odin to let him build weapons
that can tilt the balance in the war. As a sacrifice to Odin, Tony drank an
entire bottle of liquor thereby giving up his years of sobriety and self-
discipline. Odin granted his request and Tony is now working in the forges of
Svartalfheim with the dwarves that work the forges. The idea is to infuse the
armor with Uru blessed by Odin giving Tony a fighting chance. But it is only
well into the process when Tony finds out the next price to pay. While this is
going on he mingles, drinks and fights with the dwarves not knowing that one of
them is a secret agent for the forces of the Serpent who are planning their own
construct with Tony's unwitting help. Meanwhile Pepper has her hands full
fending off Natasha Hammer and her crew as well as the Grey Gargoyle. The two
plots are easy enough to follow even this late in the story. It certainly is a
landmark event in the life of Tony Stark. I guess is one of those "nothing will
ever be the same" moments Marvel likes to brag about. It will be more
interesting when the dust clears after FEAR ITSELF concludes to see what kind of
man Tony has become and whether he can recover from it. The story continues into
FEAR ITSELF #6 and based on this issue it will be worth following.

Issue Number: 3 (of 3)
Title Story: Streets of Fire
Title Arc: Flashpoint
Publisher: DC
Writer: Adam Glass
Artist: Rodney Buchemi
Inker: Jose Marzan Jr.
Colors: Artur Fujita
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Cover Artist: Miguel Sepulveda & Jose Villarrubia
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

This mini-series is pretty much self-contained. It is set in the world of
FLASHPOINT but the events as they wrap up this issue have little to do with the
worldwide conflict or its resolution. Having said that, this is a very good
story that has more than expected entertainment value and a really nifty
conclusion. The Queens Row Penitentiary is an undersea prison for hard-core
villains that only surfaces when new prisoners are being interred. The first two
issues follow Heatwave who becomes a prisoner after a failed attempt to takeover
the Firestorm powers. He is now devoted to destroying the premier hero of this
altered timeline, Cyborg. To do that, he devised an elaborate plan with the help
of the not entirely altruistic Plastic Man. They and others succeed in taking
over the prison and as this issue opens Heatwave is flying on a collision course
with Detroit, Cyborg's base of operations. The thought of killing thousands of
innocents is too much for Plastic Man but Heatwave was prepared for this to
happen as well. In the end it will be Cyborg versus Heatwave in a final fight.
The action is non-stop and the art is perfect for the story. I mentioned a nifty
ending and it is too good to give away. As I said it has no bearing on the main
story of the FLASHPOINT war or the aftermath. However, it is a fun story that
deserves to be read from the start for maximum impact of the ending. I enjoyed
it a lot.

Issue Number: 3 (of 3)
Title Story: Men from Space
Title Arc: Flashpoint
Publisher: DC
Writer: James Robinson
Artist: Javi Fernandez
Colors: The Hories
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Cover Artist: Kevin Nowlan
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

Unlike LEGION OF DOOM this title dos have some bearing and intersections with
the main event. This is because the title character is very unique, created
specifically for FLASHPOINT and will no doubt play into the resolution of the
main plot in some manner. In fact, I would not be a bit surprised if the
Outsider surfaced at some point in the new DC Universe, as he is a great
character. He is by no means a hero. He is very intelligent, nearly
indestructible with rock like skin and he is ruthless in his actions to get what
he wants. He is not above sacrificing his own minions or destroying those who
get in his way. He is in pursuit of another new character that has the power to
generate unlimited power - something Outsider wants for his own use. He has
stayed out of the main battle, turning down Cyborg's request to help stop the
war. He profits from dealing with both sides but has recently found out someone
on one-side wants him dead. As such they have used the Martian Manhunter in this
last chapter of the series. In this world The Outsider had managed to capture
J'onn after he was initially teleported to Earth. He eventually sold the Martian
to the Russians and began developing uses for Dr. Erdell's technology. This
chapter is mostly flashback to those events and J'onn's experiences and eventual
escape. At the end of issue #2 the two meet again in Kahndaq in the castle of
the deceased Black Adam. J'onn relates how he and Black Adam escaped from the
Russians and how the Martian turned on and defeated Black Adam in a unique way.
J'onn reveals that one side of the war hired him to kill the Outsider and the
fight is on. The second half is all actions with one combatant victorious. Like
Legion of Doom the end play of the Outsider is very unique and wraps up the
series rather nicely. However the story of the Outsider will conclude in
FLASHPOINT #5. If you like the main book and want to get the full impact of this
character in the main story I suggest you read this series. It is well worth it.

Issue Number: 1-shot
Title Story: Wonder Girls
Publisher: DC
Creator: William Moulton Marston
Writer: William Messner-Loebs
Artist: Lee Moder
Inker: Dan Green
Colors: Chris Beckett
Letters: Dezi Sienty
Cover Artist: Lee Moder & Wes Hartman
Price (USD): $4.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

The DC RETROACTIVE series of one-shots have reached the nineties so I decided to
sample the Wonder Woman title. The lead story is set in a time when Diana was
off in space for months and returned to find that her homeland has vanished and
her position as ambassador to Patriarchs' World has been eliminated. She is now
staying with her friend Etta who has asked her to help mentor her sister's girls
club. Two of the girls are Etta's nieces. They and their three friends are
absorbed in music, shopping and fashion magazines. They dream of becoming
fashion models while leading the lives of poor little rich girls. When one asks
Diana what she did as a young girl it inspires Diana to show the girls that
there is much to learn about the world and themselves outside of the pop
culture. She soon has them running, shooting hoops in an unconventional fashion
and even diving for treasure in a lake. That part is rather comical when the
girls learn what the treasure is. As they get more into it Diana may be enjoying
more than they are but then a chance encounter with other girls on their own
proves to the girls the value of the training they have been enduring the last
few weeks. And the finale is even better when they are all put to the test in a
real-life crisis. It is a pleasant story with a bit of humor as we see the clash
of cultures and how everyone, even Diana adapts to the other. I liked the art in
that every character is unique and the finishes enhance that aspect. It is nice
to read a story that is more about self-discovery than beating up bad guys for a

Back up story: "A Sudden Deadly Leap" from WONDER WOMAN vol.3 #66, 1992
By William Messner-Loebs, Paris Cullins, Robert Campanella, Matt Hollingsworth
and John Costanza

This reprints relays how Diana is called to help rescued a stranded cosmonaut in
space. Other heroes that could do the job easier are not available. The man who
recruited her can send her into orbit in a rocket sled captured from Darkseid's
minions. The plot involves apparent betrayal for unknown motives and by the end
Diana and the lady cosmonaut are stranded far off in space working on a way to
find their way back to Earth. This may well have been the beginning of the space
journey alluded to above - I don't know for sure. It is only the beginning so if
it piques your interest you will have to search the back issues for more. It is
good as far as it goes though the art is not that appealing to me, especially
when Diana is in her normal costume. She appears way too muscular than normal -
but that's just me.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Combustible
Publisher: Oni Press
Writer: Joe Harris
Artist: Brett Weldele
Letters: Douglas E. Sherwood
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction

The third issue of this series is supposed to be out this week and I decided to
look at the first issue again. It first surfaced as ONI's Free Comic Book Day
offering and then was published again in July. The opening event takes place in
a mall food court. A rather large man has ordered multiple burgers, fries and
drinks. The young man serving him suddenly asks pointed questions about his
health, sleeping habits and urination. It is as if he needs to know these
things, or knows something about this man already. It is not much later that the
man burst into a ball of light and leaves only a pile of ash where he was
sitting. Well the boy named Melvin later meets with his friend Kenny and we see
they anticipated this and even had hacked into the security cameras in an
attempt to tape it. But what happened and why? That is the gist of this series.
We see in flashback that when Melvin was much younger his father was also a
victim of spontaneous combustion on Melvin's birthday. Is Melvin trying to solve
the problem or is he a part of it? In the second half he gets involved with a
freelance reporter looking into the mall event and we learn he is indeed
predicting and tracking potential victims of spontaneous combustion. The first
issue ends with a bang, literally. It is an interesting subject and the story is
plotted with enough mystery to make it enjoyable. Brett's art is very compelling
and reminds me of Ben Templesmith. This is a good alternate to the super hero
stuff I am more prone to read.

Issue Number: 224
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Emanuela Lupacchino
Inker: Guillermo Ortega
Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letters: Cory Petit
Cover Artist: David Yardin
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

I have maintained that X-FACTOR is the best of the X/Mutant books in the Marvel
lineup. The majority of the credit goes to Peter David who consistently provides
engaging stories and characters that continue to grow and change as time goes
on. His plots are involved enough to provide threads for future stories while
moving forward the current plot in a pace that takes the story where it has to
go and always leaving me waiting for the next chapter. He also performs well
when he is forced to tie in with some ongoing event as mandated by the powers
that be by keeping the focus on his own characters and the current plot while
making such tie-ins meaningful and not just a gimmick for crossover sales. The
thing I like the best is his dialogue that always manages to insert the right
amount of humor when appropriate. The team has been through a lot but when the
chips are down they manage to pull together. This issue is a climax of the birth
of Rahne's child arc. In the past we have learned that the father is a mythical
god and that various mythical creatures have been attacking the group to get to
Rahne. She took off with Jack Russell (not the terrier but the Werewolf by
Night) to upstate New York to draw the danger away from X-Factor. When Cerberus
attacked them they were separated and a boy identifying himself as Agamemnon,
actually the person who sent Cerberus, took her in to a cabin. Now She is being
held in enchanted chains in a mystical circle while he awaits the birth. He
reveals that he is the half brother of Hela who is after the child as well. The
first child born of a mutant and a god will be a powerful weapon in a war to
come and both siblings want to own it. So this issue is all about the efforts of
X-Factor to find and rescue Rahne, the actual birth of the child, and the
aftermath of those events. It is suspenseful and full of action. The ending is
not what you might expect but it resolves the issue for now so that Peter can
move on to the next issue. Then again I could be wrong and the next issue could
be more about the same mythical conflict - you never know with this title. The
tease for next time is that it will be a point-one issue, 224.1! That should be
a good issue for those of you who have hesitated to give this title a try.


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:
Which "friendly rival" of Bruce Wayne pledged $75,000 during Super-Thon Three,
the annual Justice League Super-Thon?
The answer is Anthony Stark, who requested that the contribution go to the Heart
Fund. Source: Super Friends, vol. 2, no. 5 (June, 1977). We had no winner this
week so the prize will carry forward to the next question.

Here was your no prize question:
Which was the last US state to outlaw flogging as a punishment?
The answer is Delaware.

The prize this week will be will be EDGAR ALLAN POE'S TALES OF MYSTERY: GRAPHIC CLASSICS

In which comic, name and number, did Batman investigate the supposed death of
Paul McCartney?

Here is your no prize question:
For which branch of the armed services did Hillary Clinton once apply?

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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