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Friday, September 9, 2011

comic reviews 9/9/11

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
Title Story: Justice League
Publisher: DC
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Jim Lee
Inker: Scott Williams
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Patrick Brosseau
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

The start of the post-Flashpoint DC Universe with all new #1 issues of their
ongoing comics began with this title, JUSTICE LEAGUE. DC chose super stars Geoff
Johns and Jim Lee to usher their premier super hero team into the future. But
the story starts five years in the past. The renumbering will hopefully capture
newcomers to comics and bring back lapsed readers with the chance of jumping on
with a new beginning. And so this title begins with the new forming of the
Justice League and a first look at some characters that will star in their own
comics later this month. Rather than throw us into a story mid-plot featuring a
dozen or so characters, or even the seven on the cover, John's shows us how this
"new" Batman first met the Green Lantern (Hal Jordan). Rather than compress the
entire founding of the League into one issue he is taking his time so we get to
know the characters better and see how they play off each other. It may be
different in the present but in this setting the super heroes are not as well
known and the public and the government distrust those that are. The beginning
of the issue starts with Batman chasing down an alien being while both are being
pursued by Gotham Police. Batman is doing the right thing even if the cops don't
like it. Green Lantern steps in as the GL of this space sector investigating the
sighting and arrives in the nick of time to save Batman from the beast. As they
chase down the alien we get some great dialogue - Batman wondering at Green
Lantern's power and GL wondering at the fact that Batman has no powers. Still
Bats gains some credit by disarming Hal without him realizing it. As they
discover a clue to what the alien was up to - I won't spoil just what the alien
is as that would reveal who the first enemy the League will face - they decide
to seek out that other alien hanging around Metropolis. So a third future member
will make the scene in a terrific finale to the chapter. Also included in this
issue is a sequence featuring Vic Stone in his high school days before becoming
Cyborg. That will come later but now we learn more about the strained
relationship he has with his dad. This lays the groundwork for his story to be
told later. One last thing of note, if you have not been reading about it
online, this issue also marks the second appearance of a mystery woman who first
appeared in FLASHPOINT #5 in a two-page splash as Flash raced to set the world
right. She talked about the combination of three Universes and in the art we see
they are the DC, Vertigo and Wildstorm Universes. Who she is and how she figures
into the new DCU is a mystery. If you look close in the football scene she is
sitting in the bleachers with a purple hooded cloak on. She will show up in some
of the other books this month similarly in the background - observing or
something else? JUSTICE LEAGUE is off to a good start though current avid DC
fans have had mixed reactions. I like the slow pace and the characterization so
far and Jim Lee does a great job with a lot of action in most of the book. This
is the best-selling book of the year so get one and see what the commotion is
all about.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Superman Versus the City of Tomorrow
Publisher: DC
Creator: Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Rags Morales
Inker: Rick Bryant
Colors: Brad Anderson
Letters: Patrick Brosseau
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

This is the title that started it all back in the 30's. The action here takes
place in Metropolis today as Superman makes an appearance to expose a powerful
businessman who has been using bribes, illegal labor and lax safety standards to
profit his company. It is not the powerful bad guy we are used to seeing the man
of steel take care of but it serves to show this reimagined Superman with a
different attitude. As in JUSTICE LEAGUE, the cops know little about him and
make feeble attempts to capture him. Speaking of big bad guys, there are two
featured in this opening issue - Lex Luthor and General Lane who are in league
with each other. Frankly, I am disappointed that these same characters are the
antagonists of the first issue. I would have preferred someone more original or
at least not as overused. Since they are operating in a remade universe here
these two can be introduced this way without a lot of the baggage from past
continuity. So for the rest of the issue we have the army with Lex technology
going after Superman as part of a deal Lex made to hand him over to Lane this
day. Along the way Superman saves innocents and checks in at his apartment and
has conversations on the phone with Jimmy and Lois. They are tailing an ex-
enforcer for the guy Superman just exposed and soon they will be right in the
middle of the next conflict. It ends with a bang as Luthor apparently keeps his
promise. I like the new look for now with Superman wearing jeans and work boots
to go with his signature shirt and cape. He has been on the job for six months
and is still a mystery to many. The relationships with the familiar supporting
characters are just developing. In all it is a good point for new readers as
well as those returning to see what the fuss is about. The art is also top notch
and we get a full-length story with no filler. Thumbs up on this one. And yes,
the mystery woman appears in this comic too on page 32 in the bottom panel in
the subway car.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Shattered
Publisher: DC
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Ardian Syaf
Inker: Vicente Cifuentes
Colors: Ulises Arreola
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Cover Artist: Adam Hughes
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

The story begins with a man dressed in black carrying a list of names. One is
already crossed off and we witness the purpose of the list when the next name is
crossed off. We also see the name at the bottom of the list - Barbara Gordon. In
this restarted title Barbara is once again Batgirl. She is back doing the thing
she does so well after recovering from the years in a wheel chair. They have not
taken away the crippling shot by the Joker in this continuity but Simone has her
recovered and back fighting crime. There are two scenes of her in action. The
first serves to show us how she is handling her return to costumed crime
fighting. The second shows her first meeting with the mystery hit man from the
opening scene. Along the way we see her move into her own apartment with a
roommate who works nights. It is not in the best neighborhood but she chose it
for location to suit her own nighttime pursuits. We see she still dreams of the
day she was crippled and it also still affects her response in a very dangerous
situation. Gail is a good writer that gives her characters dimension from the
leads to the supporting cast and antagonists. This story sets the stage for the
new Barbara and then leads us into the heart of her first hurdle to overcome as
Batgirl. It is a gripping story with superb art. This was an anticipated fan
favorite before it even hit the stands. It is worth a look. Oh, the DC mystery
woman appears on page 27 on the bottom panel in the window reflection.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: The Dark Side
Publisher: DC
Creator: Jim Lee and Brandon Choi
Writer: Paul Cornell
Artist: Miguel Sepulveda
Colors: Allen Passalaqua
Letters: Rob Leigh
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

Now that the Wildstorm characters are integrated into the main DC Universe this
title was on my list to be sure to get. I have not followed every incarnation of
the team but have enjoyed all of the previous versions I have read. Hard core
fans of the Ellis STORMWATCH make not like this one very much - the edge is not
there. The characters are not even entirely unique. Most notably, two
characters, Apollo and Midnighter are pretty close analogues of Superman and
Batman in powers at least. In the former Wildstorm incarnation they are also
lovers so it remains to be seen if that will again be true. The scenario is that
Stormwatch is a group of very powerful people that operate out of a massive ship
in hyperspace, what they formerly called the Bleed. The super heroes of Earth
are unaware of their existence, as they have been protecting the Earth from
alien threats for years (in this version). Currently Angie, the Engineer, is
monitoring something - a giant horn that will also appear in SUPERMAN #1. The
team is off in two directions. In Moscow Jack Hawksmoor, the Projectionist and
J'onn J'onzz are attempting to recruit Apollo. Meanwhile Harry Tanner is on the
moon where the ground is forming golem beings that are attacking him. As he
explores further we see the intelligence behind it all proclaiming itself the
first response to the sounding of the horn. In that meeting we see glimpses of
the history of Stormwatch and perhaps a secret or two. Finally Jenny Quantum,
Spirit of the Twenty-First Century and Adam go off to the Himalayas looking for
that horn it seems. There are a few things going on that lay the groundwork for
the plot to develop. It is cool to see the Martian Manhunter involved in this
group and he even gives a logical explanation during this chapter. The art is ok
but nothing special, except for the Martian Manhunter transformation. Topping it
off is the appearance of Midnighter, also not yet a member, in spectacular
fashion. Promotional material for this title hinted that it is a linchpin book
for this DC Universe. Just why necessarily remains a secret for now so the title
may be under-ordered initially. You might want to jump on while you can. And
yes, the mystery lady is on page 22 in the alley in the first panel!

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Warning from the Red
Title Arc: The Hunt
Publisher: DC
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Travel Foreman
Inker: Travel Foreman & Dan Green
Colors: Lovern Kindzierski
Letters: Jared K. Fletcher
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

Ok, right up front - the DC mystery woman is on page 18 in the bottom panel.
This is sort of like a Where's Waldo. Buddy Baker has been a super hero, an
actor and an animal rights activist. Through all this he is a family man and
that is where this story starts. While he ponders if a recent magazine interview
showed his true nature his daughter Maxine bugs him to get a pet dog and the
wife opines that he was happier when he did the super hero thing. When son Buddy
runs in to tell of a hostage situation at a hospital he can't resist taking to
the air again as Animal Man. The next sequence serves to show us the versatility
of his power as he manages to diffuse the situation. But it also illustrates
something new and foreboding. In fact the basic underlying plot is a foreboding
both in a very graphic dream that Buddy has right up to the final scene where
little Maxine exhibits a connection to the red herself. The art in this book is
very different. In places it is stark, almost flat. In others it is super
detailed with sharp contrasts of color and gray. Something very strange is going
on with Buddy and his family. The story so far gives a hint that this is more
involved than we suspect. It certainly is not a standard hero book. I think this
will gain a following and grow as we get deeper into it. Sometimes you have to
sample a book before making a commitment. This one deserves your time.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Rafa Sandoval
Inker: Jordi Tarragona
Colors: Brad Anderson
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Cover Artist: Kaare Andrews
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

This title features Hawkeye who is tasked this time with heading up an operation
in Bangkok, The Southeast Asian Republic or SEAR. The city is in the midst of
civil war as rebels are gaining sections of the city and the Sear government
wants the US team on standby to help repel them. What our hero doesn't know but
will soon find out is that the SEAR government has been secretly working on a
two-pronged program. The first part was to spread a virus they developed around
the world that would inhibit the x-gene for all time - that means no new
mutants. The other part was to develop a serum that would give their own
soldiers super powers and thus make them the strongest power in the world. This
Entire plot is fleshed out in flashbacks behind the scenes and the first
revelation of the new super humans, dubbed The People, is in an attack on the
S.H.I.E.L.D. base in Bangkok. Since this is the Ultimate Universe anything goes.
No more mutants could play out in stories and other titles in the future. We
will have to see. But for now it is fun to watch Clint go into action reminding
us he is a deadly aim with anything, not just an arrow. The art keeps up the
pace in fine fashion and excellent detail. It is a good beginning.

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:
By what name is Martin A. Bursten better known?

This was a bit of a trick question. He was better known, incorrectly, as Jack
Kirby based on a mistaken assumption when he got writing credits on a political
comic book drawn by Joe Simon. The Winner by the dice is Stu Cathell.

Here was your no prize question:
Consider the United States "Major League" sports of NFL football, NBA
Basketball, NHL hockey and MLB baseball and tell me what two days of the year are there no scheduled games?

First fact - Major League sports do not take holidays off.

Second fact - most of the year more than one sport, sometimes three, have
scheduled games.

Third fact - the only time when only one sport is "in season" is in the summer
when only MLB baseball is played.

The answer was evident when the baseball All Star Game was played. They ALWAYS
take off the day before and the day after.

Stu Cathell was the first to get it right for the no prize.

The term "Rising Spirit" is said to be the explanation/translation of which
comic book logo?

Here is your no prize question:
Who fist coined the word, NERD?

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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