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Friday, December 2, 2011

Comic Reviews 12/2/11

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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: 600
Publisher: Marvel
Creators: Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artists: see below
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Cover Artists: Various
Price (USD): $7.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

This the 50th anniversary issue of FANTASTIC FOUR though it got there with a little creative numbering. The title supposedly ended publication with issue #588 after the apparent death of Johnny Storm in the Negative Zone. At that time I reviewed the comic and posited what many were saying. The next comic featuring Marvel's first super hero family was FF #1. We all speculated that Marvel would not pass up the chance to celebrate the 50-year run of its first super hero title with issue #600 this year. So the first 11 issues of FF would count toward the numbering and the next issue would be FANTASTIC FOUR #600. And so it came to pass. The issue is written entirely by Jonathan Hickman and broken into five parts with different artists on each one. It is a double-sized comic, as you would have expected for this very special issue. And despite the doubling of the price has sold out rather quickly. But what next? Well immediately following this issue will be the adventures of kids of the Future Foundation in Latveria in FF #12 and in December FANTASTIC FOUR continues on with issue #601. One thing not hyped very much except in some pictures on the Internet and certainly not in the solicitation or even on the cover of this book is the resolution of the fate of the Human Torch! BEWARE - there are spoilers ahead so read on at your own peril

Part 1: Forever
Steve Epting, Rick Maygar & Paul Mounts

The regular team handles the introductory story recapping the various plot threads that have been brewing in FF and indeed FANTASTIC FOUR for a long time. Spider-Man has joined the team renamed as the Future Foundation to help Shepard in the future. A bunch of alternate universe Reed Richards had been carrying out their own plans. The last one has captured Doctor Doom and taken him to Latveria to confront Nathaniel Richards and current ruler Kristoff. The Anti-Priest of the Cult of the Negative Zone is planning to open the Negative Zone to release Annihilus and his minions into our universe. Ronan the accuser has resurrected the Kree Supreme Intelligence who has ordered the Kree armada to burn the Earth, leaving nothing alive. Meanwhile the FF and their friends (pretty much all of them including the Avengers and lots of other super heroes) have assembled to meet the threat. This is an all out battle as the Kree attack. Ronan learns of the reason behind Supremor's attack - not what Ronan expected. The kids in the Baxter Building have designed a plan to relocate the top three floors of the building to the surface of the moon! As the plan proceeds Spider-Man heads back to safeguard the children and finds the Cult's creatures getting ready to breech the doorway to the Negative Zone. And that leads into part two

Part 2: Whatever Happened To Johnny Storm?
Carmine Di Giandomenico & Andy Troy

I did mention spoilers before so this is your last chance.  Things happen differently in the Negative Zone. It seems that since we never saw a body we where right in assuming Johnny Storm was not dead. Well, right and wrong. During his time there he has been killed and resurrected many times. He and other captives of Annihilus are forced to fight in an arena and if they die they are restored to fight again. It is a long story with lots of new characters and strong characterization of the strength of Johnny to overcome. It also reveals how the breech of the Zone door was planned with the help of another character on our side of the door aiding the Anti-priest. It ends at the same point in time as the door to the Negative zone opens - as seen from the other side.

Part 3: The Black Queen
Ming Doyle & Jordie Bellaire

This interlude follows the Inhumans, in particular Black Bolt and his wife Medusa. Previous issues have shown Black Bolt has other wives but this segment reveals the very special bond between the two Inhumans. In it they discuss the situation, their relationship and the decision Black Bolt has made.

Part 4: The Arc
Leinil Francis Yu, Gerry Alanguilan & Javier Tartaglia

This is a short piece that involves a meeting in space between Reed, Sue and Galactus. The Herald of Galactus has given a devise to Reed and summoned the pair to meet with Galactus on the moon. Without revealing details I can say the devise is very important as Galactus explains his origins and what is currently wrong with the universe. Heavy stuff - to be continued later.

Part 5: Remember
Farel Dalrymple & Jose Villarruba

This is the story of the day the world's most powerful mutant decided to stop being a boy and became the world's greatest hero - maybe. It is about Franklin and Leech at playtime pretending to be a dynamic duo in the universe Franklin created and kept hidden in his closet. Intrigued?  So was I. What at first some kind of comic relief to the rest of the book turned out to be a very serious story with dire consequences for the future.

I must say this issue is worth the cover price. It has no filler and is jam-packed with evolving plots, lots of action, a few surprises and promises of even more terrific stories in the issues to come. It is a very fitting celebration and puts a renewed stamp on this being the "World's Greatest Comic Magazine!"

Issue Number: 2 & 3
Publisher: Radical Comics
Creators: Michael Schwarz & John Schwarz
Writer: David Lapham
Artist: Leonardo Manco
Colors: Kinsun Loh, Jerry Choo & Sansan Sawe
Letters: Todd Klein
Cover Artists: #2-Alex Maleev #3-Leonardo Manco & Kinsun Loh
Price (USD): $3.50 each
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Crime Drama
MATURE - Comics on the Edge

I am catching up with this title so decided to cover two issues at once. Captain Frank Lincoln, a long veteran and hero of the SFPD is being forced into retirement just as the trail of a violent vigilante leads back to San Francisco. His replacement is Lt. Jack Cassidy, a younger man whom the politicians feel will be easier to control and help the mayor's favorability. The complacent attitude of one of Frank's men as two suspected Russian Mafiya members burned in a car crash has soured public opinion of the department. Now it appears Frank's final case will be worked in conjunction with his replacement tracking down his own brother. These two cops are leery of each other as Frank feels Cassidy is nothing more than a shill for the mayor. Cassidy does not know if he can trust Frank when it is revealed that the vigilante responsible is none other than Frank's estranged brother, Henry. In the opening of the second issue Frank has caught up with his brother and means to stop his quest for justice. Cassidy is close behind despite Frank's efforts to keep him out of the loop. This second chapter takes a closer look at Henry. We see he is a very resourceful and formidable opponent. If this were a movie he would be the anti-hero you know will never give up and keep coming back again and again. We also flash back to 1975 to the incident that split the brothers forever - another vigilante act that despite ridding the city of some despicable characters split the brothers forever leaving Henry a fugitive with an imprint of his brother's SFPD shield burned into his chest. The deep secret of those events they have both had to deal with. Now that Henry has returned to finish the work began then it is up to Frank to stop him, but can he? The third issue gets into a very clever plot by Henry to get at his next victim. Surprisingly it begins with him turning himself in to the police. There is more interaction between the brothers and revelations of things in the past and then it quickly gets into the action that is non-stop until the end. While there are moments of pause throughout these issues it is really an action comic with a few twists and turns along the way. The art is well structured with varying layouts and a dark tone suiting the subject. The details of why Henry is on this course of action are best left for you to discover on your own. I like the characters and recommend this comic to all who enjoy well-written crime drama.

Publisher: Marvel
Creators: Mark Millar & Leinil Yu
Writer: Mark Millar
Artists: Over 60 top comic book creators including Leinil Yu, Dave Gibbons, John Romita Jr., Frank Quitely, Olivier Coipel, Paul Cornell and over 50 more top comic book creators. For a complete list see back cover.
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

This comic was created at the KAPOW! 2011 convention in April. It set two Guinness World Records - the fastest production of a comic book: 11 hours 19 minutes and 38 seconds as well as the most contributors to a comic book. All the creators' services were donated, and a portion of all proceeds from the sale will be donated to Yorkhill Children's Foundation in Scotland -

I picked up this comic first because it is Superior after all. The first six issue of that comic have been a fun time as I had expected it would be. Millar and Yu are doing a great job. This story is not part of the action as it tells a stand alone story of a day in the life of the hero created by the wish of a crippled boy and granted by a space monkey with plans of his own. (Read SUPERIOR for more details.) It starts with a mother making what she feels is a foolish request out loud. Somehow they have lost their little boy's toy duck. As the husband goes out to retrace their steps she asks Superior, because she figures he has super hearing and will hear her, to find it for them. The book then turns to the current situation our hero is dealing with and continues on as he catches bad guys and stops various disasters such as a plane crash, tidal wave and even an asteroid bombardment. The plot returns to the missing duck at the end to wrap it up nicely. Fans of the regular series may not enjoy this comic, as it does not deal with some of the major issues involving the hero here. It is not meant to do that. Instead it is designed to be a story that could be broken into small segments and thus drawn and compiled by the large number of creators involved. It is like the 24-hour comic on crack and indeed they got it done in less than half that time. I find it fun to see the variety of styles from page to page, even panel to panel. It also was done to raise money so why not give it a try if you are so inclined.

Publisher: Apostle Arts, LLC
Creator: Adapted from the Gospels of Jesus according to Matthew & Luke
Artist: Billy Tucci
Colors: Paul Mounts
Letters: Bill Tortolini
Cover Artist: Billy Tucci & Mark Sparacio
Price (USD): $5.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Bible Adaptation
This book is available for bulk purchase to give away, resell or use as a fundraiser. Visit for more details.

I believe this is the first Christmas related comic book on the racks this year. It tells the story of Christ from the visitation of Gabriel to Mary through the flight into Egypt and everything between. This surely was a labor of love for all concerned as attested to by Tucci in his comments at the end. The art is stunning. Paul Mounts is a perfect match for Tucci's art. The two have created a fantastic retelling of the first Christmas and all the events around it. We relive Mary's shame at the scolding by her father for her condition and then the faith of Joseph strengthened by the knowledge imparted to him by an angel. It is all there - the birth in the manger, the shepherds who come to worship and so on. One very special aspect of this interpretation is the three wise men. In fact the very first page shows the three in their far off land studying the night sky and noting a very strange conjunction involving Jupiter, Venus and Regulus. They recognize it as a sign as foretold in the scriptures and prepare for the journey to meet the King of Kings. Of course we know the story also has a villain and King Herod intercepts the Magi and asks them to send word to him when they have found the newborn king. I won't spoil the ending for those who really do not have a clue how it ends. But getting back to the celestial phenomenon, Tucci incorporated the theory of one Rick Larson who researched the Star of Bethlehem, also the title of his DVD using the scriptures and Kepler's laws of planetary motion. It is an interesting addition to the story, which the reader can take a pro or con stand depending on their own faith in science or miracles. But it does not take away from the big picture and the fabulous finished product in my opinion. This is a perfect gift for anyone at this time of year that believes in the story of Christ. I have noted that organizations can order this in bulk as well. It is worth keeping in any comic collection if you can't bear to give it away.

Issue Number: 1 (of 5)
Title Story: Sword of Justice
Publisher: DC
Writer: Aaron Williams
Artists: Joseph Lacroix & Dave Stewart
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Sword & Sorcery
Mature - Comics on the Edge

This is a story of a time long ago in a land of wars against barbarians and giants. Jacob's father was the constable of Staalbreak. In such a world enemies often keep the peace by a marriage of convenience between members of each group. So it was with Jacob's parents. His mother was from the barbarians and for years that was enough. Now as an older man Jacob is on a quest. An old seer in the marketplace draws his attention. The mystic is telling the tale of the destruction of Mount Arreat and the creation of their world, called Sanctuary. It is a tale of a great war between angels and demons and how the destruction of the mountain saved Sanctuary from a great evil. Now Jacob is told to venture out to find his destiny under the mountain. But he is also a hunted man. Why is partially revealed in the second half when we flashback to a time when he was still a boy and Staalbreak was once again at war with the barbarians. It has some tense moments as Jacob and his friend defy the wishes of the constable and venture out to join the men of their kin in battle. It ends with a tragedy in his family and a decision from which there is no turning back. The art is very stylish with detail that evokes the feeling of how things would be in such a world. The characters are intense in their actions and beliefs. It is a bit involved at first but by the end the bigger picture reveals itself. I think it will get better and better as it goes on.

Title: KICK ASS 2
Issue Number: 5
Title Story: Death by Cosplay
Publisher: Marvel
Creators: Mark Millar & John Romita Jr.
Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: John Romita Jr.
Inker: Tom Palmer
Colors: Dean White
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Variant Cover Artist: Bryan Hitch & Paul Mounts
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero
MATURE - Extreme violence and language

I have loved this series partly because it is outrageous and partly because the lead character is the classic hero who keeps get beaten down but always comes back in the end. We are up to issue five of the second series and Millar has gotten even more blatant with the offensive language and violence. After the first series Hit-Girl has gone straight living with her father's former partner and not doing the vigilante thing anymore. Dave has teamed up with a bunch of other urban vigilantes that were inspired by his exploits as Kick-Ass. They have indeed made a difference against some major bad guys but now the former Red Mist has been planning his revenge on Kick-Ass and with his vast wealth has assembled a team of mercenaries and gangsters. His new name is not even usable in a g-rated review - lets just call him MF. They have killed one of Kick-Ass' group even killed innocents mercilessly for the street cred but his sites are still on David. Last issue the city police were tipped that Dave Lizewski is really Kick-Ass but when they found the suit David's father claimed he was Kick-Ass and was taken in for questioning. This has really bothered Dave and during his visit to the jail he promises never to be Kick-Ass again. Right after that things go really bad. Knowing MF is still after him David is staying with friends and not going to school either. When he receives a video on his phone his whole life changes. This is the turning point of the story. The events in the rest of the chapter will push David to the edge of despair and push Hit-Girl into action, as suggested on the cover. There is the usual amount of senseless violence and more than one tragic moment. This book is not for kiddies and many comic fans may not care for this brand of story. But for what it is Millar hits the mark. These are great characters and the plot weaves and turns deliciously from moments of humor to times of grief and then stress and life-threatening danger. He keeps it moving at a fast pace and leaves you wanting more. It is not for everyone but I enjoy it.


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 publisher forced Defiant to change the title to WARRIORS OF PLASM?

Marvel made them change the title PLASM, because of the similarity to Marvel's UK's PLASMERS series. The winner by the dice roll is Erin O'Connor.

Here was your no prize question:
Who performed on the first CD for commercial release in the United States?

Quite fittingly, the first CD made in the United States for commercial release was Bruce Springsteen's 1984 album, "Born in the U.S.A." But it wasn't the first commercially available CD ever. That title belongs to Billy Joel's "52nd Street," which was released on CD in Japan in 1982.

Famous first words of which character?
"So it has happened at last! I must be true to my vow."

Here is your no prize question:
What website created the term "Cyber Monday" during the 2005 holiday season?

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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