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Friday, December 30, 2011

Comic Reviews 12-30-11

REVIEWS

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.



Title: MEMORIAL
Issue Number: 1
Publisher: IDW
Writer: Chris Roberson
Artist: Rich Ellis
Colors: Grace Allison
Letters: Robbie Robbins
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Fantasy



This is a most unusual comic to wrap your head around at first. I can't imagine
what it would be like trying to figure it out by beginning at issue 3 or 4. The
reason I say this is that there are two distinct plots here and yes they do
intersect but the mystery is so deep that you only begin to see a bit of it by
the end of this first issue. It begins with the story of Miss M. She is called
that because she showed up at a local hospital with amnesia and total loss of
identity. In simple terms, she does not know who she is or anything that
happened to her prior to walking in through the Emergency entrance. Though a
search of fingerprints, dental records and police reports is made no one can
identify her. The only distinguishing part of her is a necklace with a stylish
"M" on it and so she is dubbed Miss M. Next we see her a year later with a job,
an apartment, and a few friends (we'll overlook the problem with a valid Social
Security Number) and often walks around the city hoping something or someone
will jar her memory. Then one day, down an alley, she spies a little shop that
she is sure was not there before. Going into that shop is the entry into the
other plot of the story. You see we have also been told about another place in
this world, or maybe not really "in" it. There is a pocket reality once known as
the Everglade but now called the Everlands. Here there is an undisputed ruler, a
Queen. We surmise she is displeased from the conversation she is having with
some of her underlings - a marionette without strings, Hook, a man who has so
many robotic parts he is more machine than man, and a human called Seth. The
gist is she needs the key they have failed to find and one of them will pay for
that failure. By now we guess that Miss M, or Em for short, is tied up in all
this and the mysterious shop in the alley will play a part. So on one hand we
have an apparently normal human suffering from memory loss making the best of
her situation and on the other we have a whole cast of odd characters, most of
which appear to look like statues but others appear to be characters from long
forgotten stories - fairies, talking eagles and cats, even aliens and posters
that come to life. Em is a part of it all and the key plays a central role.
Where it will lead is anyone's guess, especially considering where she ends up
as she exits the shop in the alley. This is an intriguing story with a lot of
elements we have only seen glimpses of. The art is spectacular as well. Some
early reviews liken this other comic series that draw on a heavy dose of fantasy
while the characters are in the real world. It has all the makings of a hit
comic. Try it and see.

Title: THE ACTIVITY
Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Fiddler on the Roof
Publisher: Image
Writer: Nathan Edmonson
Artist: Mitch Gerads
Colors: Kyle Latino
Letters: Mitch Gerads
Price (USD): $3.50
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Spy Drama




As I was reading this comic I was immediately reminded of one of my favorite TV
shows no longer airing called THE UNIT. In that show the members were all US
Army soldiers and in an elite squad that is not on the books. Even the family
members have no knowledge of what they do and they know not to ask. They
basically went anywhere in the world to do things that even the CIA could not
do. They even often will clean up a CIA mess. It might be assassination, rescue,
or just manipulating situations to affect a particular outcome. That is
basically what members of The Activity do. They are not all military, though the
operation is run like a finely trained unit. This is more like a hybrid of a
black ops military team and a super-secret national defense intelligence squad.
This first issue is executed nicely beginning in mid-mission as we see the team
adroitly manage to kidnap a person in a Mexican hotel by setting of the
sprinkler systems and channeling the target and his body guards to an area where
the help can be hit with knock out darts. Once they are down it is a simple
matter to get out and rendezvous with the client. That opening serves to show us
how the team works. The rest of the book follows the aftermath, part of which is
dealing with the loss of a member during the mission. We also are introduced to
the latest female recruit, first in flashback and then as she is given a try out
on the next mission. I like the script because the members are distinct and
there is comfortable, believable dialogue between them. There is also
interesting action on the missions as they all work toward the goal like
something out of Mission Impossible. The art is clean and well composed to move
your eye along the page as the story unfolds. I enjoy well told spy stories and
the team concept, when done correctly is even better. This comic deserves your
attention. 

Title: THE TRANSFORMERS: DEATH OF OPTIMUS PRIME
Issue Number: 1-SHOT
Publisher: IDW
Writers: James Roberts & John Barber
Artist: Nick Roche
Colors: Josh Burcham
Letters: Shawn Lee
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction





First, I am not a fan of TRANSFORMERS comics. My exposure to the concept was
from the old TV shows and my kids toys when they were very popular. I did see
the first movie recently but have not bothered with the sequel or the comics. So
when I saw this issue celebrating 125 issues in a one-shot and the title "The
Death of Optimus Prime" on the cover I decided to check out what was going on.
For the rest of you who have not been reading the comics there is a very brief
recap of what just transpired to get us to the point where the story begins.
Apparently Optimus Prime needed to save the Universe by plunging the Creation
Matrix into the heart of Cybertron - the planet where the Autobots came from.
After a searing white light engulfed everything Optimus found himself on the
surface of the planet and the Matrix lay before him broken in two. After reading
this story and seeing the direction the Transformer comic franchise will head
next, I realized that it has always been about a duality. We have the Autobots
and the Decepticons constantly against each other. This story takes place after
the latest of their clashes. Megatron is gone and the Decepticons are captive
but the world is not at peace. Former Cybertronians are coming back to the
planet most of them are not affiliated with either Autobots or Decepticons. 
They are the growing majority and they want their world back. There is a fine
line between preserving the peace and ruling with too much authority. Even among
the ranks of the Autobots there is dissention as to the solution. A segment
wants to set off into space in search of the Knights of Cybertron, ancient and
some say mythic beings, to bring paradise back to their planet. Others want to
stay and rebuild their world while keeping at peace Autobots, Decepticons and
the ever increasing neutral robots. There is some action as things get out of
hand but it is these two conflicting courses of action that will set the stage
for the future. And what of Optimus?  Does he really die in this issue?  You'll
have to read it to find out.  While it sometimes gets involved in past plots and
other characters I found the story easy to follow and well thought out. They are
setting the ground work for the debut of two new ongoing series starting in
January. I found it entertaining and possibly a real good jump on point for
those who have been curious about the Transformers but did not want to start
mid-stream. It is well executed and the art is decent. By all means, check it
out.


Title: THE LAST BATTLE
Issue Number: 1-SHOT
Publisher: Image
Writer: Tito Faraci
Artist: Dan Brereton
Letters: Douglas Sherwood
Price (USD): $7.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Sword & Sandals






I picked this up on whim as I was drawn by the Dan Brereton cover. It looked to
be Roman Empire era battle which is a departure from the normal stuff on the
racks. Sure enough this is the story of a Roman general called Gauis Rodius in
the mid first century BC. He is a retired hero of Caesar's Legions. At least he
was retired until Julius Caesar calls upon him to track down a rebel leader
named Cammius who once swore allegiance to Rome. The twist is that Rodius raised
the barbarian Cammius as his own son. So the first question we have is where
does Rodius' allegiance truly lie? This is fantastic historic fiction set in the
time when soldiers of Rome went off to Gaul and other places often for years at
a time. When they came back they often found, as did Rodius, that things had
changed drastically. Rather than stay apart of what he no longer believed in
Rodius chose to retire. Caesar has other plans for him. The city in Gaul he is
defending may come under siege by a horde of German barbarians lead by Cammius.
Rodius soon assembles a band of four other soldiers to be his strike team. But
in the end, we suspect, it will come down to Rodius and Cammius.  This is very
much a story of loyalty and perceptions. People are manipulated by the state and
by Caesar himself to suit the grand purpose. But it is also a story of deception
and betrayal - some perceived and some very real. It is deception and betrayal
that comes from more than one place. It is well plotted out to takes us through
the current state of affairs, with flashbacks to clarify how some things came to
be. Part of it is the early times when Rodius was raising Cammius. By the end of
the story we find out Rodius has secrets he never told the younger man. There is
plenty of action along the way keep things moving. Brereton has a very distinct
art style and it is particularly well suited for this subject matter. It is nice
when I pick up a comic and think this could be good and then find out it was
better than I expected. This is one such comic.

Title: BATMAN INCORPORATED: LEVIATHAN STRIKES
Issue Number: 1-SHOT
Publisher: DC
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artists: Part 1: Cameron Stewart Part 2: Chris Burnham
Colors: Nathan Fairbairn
Letters: Sal Cipriano
Price (USD): $6.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero





This comic serves as the bridge from the BATMAN INCORPORATED series that ended
as the New 52 debuted to the new BATMAN INCORPORATED comic that will begin in
2012. It may have been planned this way or it may just be the two issues that
got in the way of the New 52 and so were held back and combined to make this one
shot that ends some major plot lines and finally reveals who the major
protagonist, Leviathan, really is. As I mention there are two episodes. Both
Stewart and Burnham do an excellent job and Fairbairn finishes them off with
terrific coloring. This may not be a good jump on point though it ends cleanly
with the anticipation of more to come in the new series. BATMAN INCORPORATED as
a concept brought in all members of the Batman Family, including Dick Grayson
before his current reversion to Nightwing. It also features characters from
around the world that have become part of the organization. But it opens with a
familiar member, Stephanie Brown, working undercover in St. Hadrian's Finishing
School for Girls. It is one crumb on the trail to find out Leviathan's plan. It
involves mind control of some of the subjects and is really a fun segment as she
at first works her way seemingly into a position of favor only to be found out
as the opening scene may imply. The second part begins with the two Batmen, Red
Robin and Robin seemingly captured and in a room with five doors. Their captor
is Dr. Dedalus, once Nazi scientist known as Otto Netz. He warns whoever chooses
a door first saves the others but dooms himself, and naturally Bruce makes the
first choice. He also warns that a Batman Inc. agent will die every five
minutes. Once through the door the story takes some twists back and forth
through time and around the world. As we see some of the events that led up to
this and the fate of some of those agents. It is fast paced and can be a bit
confusing but in the end there is betrayal and resolution leading up to the big
reveal. There is even a hint as to who Leviathan is before you turn the last
page. But that is not the last page. The back matter is an abbreviated history
of Batman Inc. from the beginning announcement by Bruce Wayne to the last issue
prior to this one. I recommend you read this part first before diving in. The
rest is filled with variant cover galleries from the first eight issues. In all
it is a splendid comic with lots of entertainment and closure to fans of the
first series as we await the relaunch in 2012.


Title: FORMIC WARS: SILENT STRIKE
Issue Number: 1 (of 5)
Publisher: Marvel
Creator: Orson Scott Card
Script: Aaron Johnston
Artist: Giancarlo Caracuzzo
Colors: Jim Charlalampidis
Letters: Cory Petit
Cover Artist: Giuseppe Camuncoli, Danny Miki & Jim Charlalampidis
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction



This is the next chapter in the FORMIC WARS saga, the prelude to ENDER'S GAME.
Previously the alien Formics have attacked asteroid miners on their way to
Earth. One miner, Victor Delgado, escaped to warn Earth but was too late. While
Ukko Jukes, CEO of the large space-mining corporation plans to use his resources
against the aliens Victor and a trade official named Imala form their own plan
and have successfully gotten Victor to the Formic mothership without being found
out. His plan is to destroy it from the inside. While Victor is carrying out his
surveillance Jukes has sent a fleet of drones armed with experimental weapons to
attack the same ship. Meanwhile the Formics have begun the invasion in China. In
a scorched earth policy they stripped the land of all biological life as they
intend to use the biomass for fuel. Operating clandestinely in China the Mobile
Operations Force (MOPs) succeeded in destroying a lander and a large biomass
pile but days later Formic reinforcements came down from the mothership and
gassed an estimated forty million people. As we look into the scene victor has a
rough time when one of the drones manages to make it through a barrage of plasma
fire and destroy one of the formic guns. Both Victor on board, and Jukes from
his control center learn much about the ship from this attack and the nature of
the mothership's weapons. Jukes, not knowing Victor is on board, wants to send a
special ops team to destroy the ship from the inside. He plans to use the MOPs
team from China. But the problem is they cannot launch into space from where
they are and have decided on their own to get one of the Formic's gas guns so
the gas can be analyzed in India and a counteragent formulated. These two plots
- one on the battlefield and one in the mothership move forward as the only
hopes mankind has to survive this onslaught. Since this is a five-issue series
there is a lot more that will happen. It remains to be seen if the humans at the
front of both efforts will even survive to the end. While it helps to have read
the previous FORMIC WARS issues the recap in the beginning fills in the major
blanks and gives the reader enough to enjoy this issue. There are heroic
efforts, strange revelations and lots of tense moments in this mostly action
issue. The art is well balanced with good detail and coloring showing off the
contrasts between the humans and the Formics as well as the technology. I would
not hesitate suggesting anyone try this issue to sample FORMIC WARS. You just
might want to read the beginning after you do.

                                    *****
TRIVIA CONTEST!!!!     WIN REAL PRIZES!!!!!


If you think you know the answer to the trivia question send your guess via
Email to me at ComicBkNet@aol.com 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:
In the original Valiant Universe, who killed Prince Albert?

It was not Solar or Archer but the Speakeasy Bims that killed bad boy Albert.
The winner by the dice is Keith Martin.

Here was your no prize question:
What major league baseball team won the first official World Series?

The 1903 World Series was the first modern World Series to be played in Major
League Baseball. It matched the Boston Americans of the American League against
the Pittsburgh Pirates of the National League in a best-of-nine series, with
Boston prevailing five games to three, winning the last four.

THIS WEEK'S TRIVIA QUESTION:
Atlas, Thor, The Ring and Cupid belong to what super hero group?

Here is your no prize question:
What was the first product to have a bar code on it?


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.

2 comments:

  1. Grazie.

    Tito Faraci

    ReplyDelete
  2. Hey! I never knew we could post comments on your reviews! Cool!

    ReplyDelete