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Friday, September 30, 2011

comic reviews 9/30/11

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: 1
Publisher: Image
Writer: Jay Faerber
Artist: Simone Guglielmini
Colors: Ron Riley
Letters: Charles Pritchett
Cover Artist: Tom Coker & Daniel Freedman
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Crime Drama

With all the new DC #1 issues this month some other comics may be overlooked I
decided to squeeze a couple in this week for your consideration. This crime
drama is about a hit man who has near death experience. What he sees convinces
him to change his life. He sees all the people he killed in his life, a lot of
them, and he is told it is not to late to change his fate. And so, after
recovering from his wounds his first task is to find out if the job he was on
when he was shot is still open. The target was a witness under federal
protection. When his contact/agent Max tells him another hit man has already
been hired to take his place he sets out to stop the hit and save the girl. This
will be his first good deed toward balancing the scales of his life. This is a
solid story with an interesting supporting cast. Markham is the protagonist and
narrator of the story. His good friend Sutton is a vet and it is her he turns to
when he is wounded. The story gets a little complicated when another character
figures out what he is trying to do and begins steps to stop him. This is not
just about a change of heart. Markham is a professional and will still kill left
no other choice, he is just not going to do it for money anymore. It looks like
he will have a whole other problem soon. The art is well suited for the script.
It is all set in the Seattle area and Guglielmini does a good job with the
setting and the various characters. This is a fun comic to read as Faerber has a
mystery writer style with good pacing. He also affords the reader some insight
into his major influence, Robert B. Parker, in the text piece in the back. It is
a solid first issue.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Last Daughter of Krypton
Publisher: DC
Writers: Michael Green & Mike Johnson
Artist: Mahmud Asrar
Inker: Dan Green with Asrar
Colors: Dave McCaig
Letters: John J. Hill
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

I lost count as to who has more origin stories - Supergirl or Superboy. No
matter, with a new start to the DC Universe the writers are taking the
opportunity to start from scratch and re-introduce Kara as she crashes to Earth
somewhere in the Midwest US. But this time her "craft" has such velocity that it
travels through the planet and emerges in Siberia. The entire first issue
involves her first encounter with people of Earth - they just happen to be
Russians in huge body armor suits. It also is her first experience with super
powers as the sun rises and her Kryptonian physiology starts kicking in. The
language barrier is a big problem and the results could have been disastrous if
not for the intervention of someone else who also speaks Kryptonian. The obvious
difference in Supergirl is the costume. The skirt is gone and the cape and "S"
are different. But more importantly her attitude is different as well. This will
be coming to the forefront no doubt when she gets to talk with her cousin next
issue. The advanced material on this subject indicates that will be a big part
of this new Supergirl. For now we just met her and I am looking forward to
seeing if this new direction will make the character more interesting than in
the past. The art is, well, super with the final splash setting us up for the
next issue. It may be worth trying for a while to see what develops.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Knife Trick
Publisher: DC
Creator: Bob Kane
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo
Inker: Jonathan Glapion
Colors: FCO Plascencia
Letters: Richard Starkings & Jimmy Betancourt
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

This is an interesting script for the debut of the new #1 issue. Batman narrates
on a theme carried in the Gotham Gazette in their Saturday editions. It poses a
phrase for the readers to complete in three words or less, "Gotham is .". He
explains this has been a feature for years and as he opines on the variety of
answers posed over the years the visual is of Batman opposing a group of
villains including Killer Croc, Two Face, Mr. Freeze and a few others, all of
whom have been the answer at some point in time. It is devise that is done well
and leads into the real plot - a massive break out from Arkham Asylum.
Incredibly the action sequence has Joker joining the fray on the side of Batman
but all is not what it seems. The middle sequence has a family gathering of all
the troops - Bruce, Dick, Tim and Damian - all dressed up for a fund raising
event. It is cool to see them all together like this. But as always Bruce is
called away to investigate a murder scene and the shocking revelation he finds
provides another answer to the opening dialogue, Gotham is a mystery! The
mystery is a pretty good one and serves a good segue to the next issue. The art
in this issue has a more classic design of the Batman in costume. And the
villains all are given distinct and recognizable interpretations. The layouts
are mixed nicely and the inking and coloring is superb. There are some
interesting dialogues among the Bat family; particularly between Bruce and Dick
but the others have their fair share of dialogue if not action. It is a solid
story worth following.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: . And Most of the Costumes Stay On.
Publisher: DC
Writer: Judd Winick
Artist: Guillem March
Colors: Tomeu Morey
Letters: Sal Cipriano
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Villain

If you following critical comic discussions on the Internet you will know that
this comic, along with RED HOOD AND THE OUTLAWS, has stirred up a lot of
discussion on the direction DC is taking with some of its female characters.
This comic unashamedly plays up the sexy nature of Catwoman starting right from
the ample cleavage and arching back shown on the cover. Page after page plays to
the adolescent fantasies of the male fan boys. The first page has Selena in full
bra shot putting on her costume in a hurry to leave her apartment. Three goons
in skull masks finally breakdown the door and she only has time to grab her
kittens and exit out the window. She never fully got her costume on so we see
one of the twins is still hanging out as she exits. Soon after she sees her
apartment explode. This is a set up for some things to come and an encounter at
the end of the issue. But getting back to the sex - she next takes an undercover
job as a bartender at a Russian mob orgy of sorts to learn about something worth
stealing. For personal reasons she follows one mobster into the men's room and
again we get to see her underwear as she uses her charms to get close. The final
scene is the one that has everyone talking. As she crashes at a penthouse -
squatting really while the owners are away, who shows up but Batman. I don't
really want to say too much about what happens but you might be able to infer
the rest from the story title. The scenes go right to the detail of the current
relation between Selena and the Caped crusader. So, as far as the story goes it
is for the most part interesting with the new danger of someone hunting her
down, an action sequence where she has the upper hand on some bad people and the
ending which by itself helps define the character in this new reboot version.
The art on the other hand, which is exceptionally well done, is interpreted by
many as pandering to the male audience in one of the few titles featuring a
strong female lead. Some would even say it takes away from the controlled
character of Batman as portrayed in his own titles. I have always seen CATWOMAN
as a bad girl comic and you should expect her to behave and be drawn that way.
She is not a role model like Wonder Woman after all. I guess it is up to the
individual reader to decide if this is the kind of book they like. I think it
will be a hit.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: The Visitation
Publisher: DC
Creator: William Moulton Marston
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Cliff Chiang
Colors: Matthew Wilson
Letters: Jared K. Fletcher
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

Speaking of Wonder Woman, this title is in sharp contrast, at least in the
visual depictions of the female lead, from the CATWOMAN comic. Wonder Woman does
not even appear until half way through the issue. Granted she is naked in bed
but we only have a tasteful indication that that is the case with no gratuitous
visual stimulation as she dons her costume. This one is all about character and
plot from start to finish. It does involve the gods so familiar in the past with
this title. In contrast, this book highlights one of the other things people
have been noticing about these new DC comics - a lot of them are using more
graphic violence than we were used to. In two separate scenes a horse is
beheaded and Wonder Woman hurls a sword that severs an opponents arm.
Interesting that a book with a woman strutting around in her underwear is rated
Teen+ while an issue like this with gory violence is a milder Teen rated. But I
digress. The story is solid. Agents of the gods are after a woman who is saved
from immediate death by the intervention of Hermes. She is put in the care of
Diana but they soon find themselves back at the danger location through a quirk
of magic. The bookend sequence is on the roof of the tallest building in
Singapore as another god consults three females who are taken in by his money
and power. He will use them to find out what Zeus is planning and it does
involve the girl with Diana. The story is structured well, has plot development
with some mystery and revelation and shows Diana in the role she is meant to
play - taking up arms to do what is right. The shock at the end is realistic and
will interest the reader enough to come back for more. The art compliments the
story very well. This is a fitting first issue for the premier female character
in the DC Universe.

Issue Number: 1
Title Arc: Book One of A Song of Ice and Fire
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Creator: George R.R. Martin
Writer: Daniel Abraham
Artist: Tommy Patterson
Colors: Ivan Nunes
Letters: Marshall Dillon
Cover Artist: Alex Ross - Variant by Mike S. Miller
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Fantasy/Novel adaptation

I have no prior exposure to this story either with the novels or the HBO series.
So I am approaching this one as a comic book reader looking at a new comic.
Those who know the characters and the story will likely react differently.
Knowing who is who and what will happen makes a big difference when reading a
comic adaptation. Some things in the condensed form of a comic book are left out
or left for later. For the record I did read the WILD CARDS comic series and
enjoyed them. The story takes place in a land with a medieval technology level.
There are kings and a feudal system but there are also forms of magic and
mythical beasts. Our first introduction is a party hunting for a band of Wilding
raiders. The three have a mix of experience on excursions such as this outside
the wilderness. Gared has the most experience while Will about four years and
Ser was on his first. Will had seen a camp and now he and Ser dismount to look
on it by foot. The raiders are no longer there and after Will climbs a tree to
look for signs of another camp Ser Waymar is attacked from all sides by what
appear to be ice people, maybe ghosts - I don't know because this is one of
those details not spelled out explicitly. Whatever they are he is no match for
them. This is just one scene of many that serves to show us the kind of world we
are watching. In another we witness a public execution of a deserter by the Lord
of Winterfell, Eddard Stark. It serves to educate us and Eddard's youngest son
on the justice the Lord must carry out as his duty to the king. As the family
and their entourage ride back they encounter an animal that has died leaving her
newborn behind. This is clearly an omen as each of the five children of the Lord
is given a cub to raise. The bastard son takes none but finds a sixth, and
albino cub that he takes in. Later there is much drama at their castle as they
learn of the death of a relative and an impending visit by the king. And
elsewhere a brother and sister argue over the fact that she is to be given in
marriage to a man she has never met. The two have a back-story that is mostly
revealed in flashback to help us out. There is a lot here to digest - a lot of
characters and situations that are only beginning to unfold. It is as if the
adaptors try to get as much in as possible so as not to make the series overlong
in total. It appears in several issues it will all gel more and make more sense.
The art is certainly fantastic enough to please any reader. This issue has some
interesting developments but more than one issue is needed to judge the overall
quality of the series.

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:
"Bah! Everywhere it is the same! I live in a world too small for me!"

What character said that in his first time in a comic book?
Many knew it was Ben Grimm, the Thing, from FANTASTIC FOUR #1. But the dice
chose Scott Devarney.

Here was your no prize question:
James Naismith invented what popular game in 1891?

James A. Naismith invented the sport of basketball in 1891 and is often credited
with introducing the first football helmet. He wrote the original basketball
rulebook, founded the University of Kansas basketball program, and lived to see
basketball adopted as an official event at the 1936 Summer Olympics in Berlin.
David Mc Barron is our no prize winner this time.

The Chief first gathered his team in what magazine?

Here is your no prize question:
What is the world's biggest single structure made from living organisms?

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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