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Friday, March 2, 2012

Comic Reviews 3/2/12


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: 6
Title Story: The Balance
Publisher: DC
Writer: Paul Cornell
The Demon was created by Jack Kirby
Artists: Diogenes Neves & Robson Rocha
Inker: Oclair Albert with Rocha and Neves
Colors: Marcelo Maiolo
Letters: Jared K. Fletcher
Cover Artist: Michael Choi
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero/Supernatural

Time to look at a couple more of the DC New 52 for the first time. Rather than
look at the debut issues I am sampling the current offerings to see how well
they read jumping in at this point. First up is DEMON KNIGHTS, taking its name
from the Jack Kirby character the Demon, Etrigan. It appears the Demon Knights
are a group of warriors involved in the supernatural for the most part. There is
of course the Demon with the other main character being Madam Xanadu. Along with
them are the Amazon warrior Exoristos, the horsewoman unnamed in this chapter
and a female Valkyrie referred to as Shining Knight who rides a winged horse
called Vanguard. For some reason they are defending a walled cities the locals
refer to as Camelot. This is clearly set in medieval times and the leader of the
defenders is a Saracen. Each has a part to play. Exeristos jumps over the wall
to meet a huge rhino-like beast charging to breach the gate. The opposing army
are mostly armored raptors which she faces alone as her allies rain arrows down
on them. Meanwhile the horsewoman has left the encampment and gathered a herd of
wild horses to make her way to another city to seek help. Shining Knight is
preparing the army in Camelot to fight if the walls are breached and Demon is
protecting Xanadu who knows she needs more power to aid in the fight but to gain
it she would have to perform a human sacrifice. The enemy is led by none other
than Vandal Savage who not only has the lizard horde but also dragons at his
disposal. How all this got to this point is a mystery to the new reader, which
is my criticism of this title. Many comics have a brief standing blurb about the
main characters starring in the title so we at least know who they are. Aside
from Demon and Xanadu the new reader does not know if anyone else is a regular
or even their names. A brief recap to set the scene would also be a help in
understanding the story. On the plus side the art is detailed and colorful
providing good visuals. This chapter reads well and provides lots of action,
valor, and hints at plots within plots. So I would give this an average grade
but would suggest starting at the first issue to get the full picture.

Issue Number: 6
Title Story: Open Graves
Publisher: DC
Creator: Gardner Fox
Plot: Tony Salvador Daniel & James Bonny
Script: James Bonny
Artist: Philip Tan
Colors: Sunny Gho
Letters: Travis Lanham
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

The other New 52 I chose stars a character with a long convoluted history in the
DC Universe. I imagine he has a new back-story for the reboot and they have
added the sobriquet "Savage" to his title. I am not sure if that is to indicate
his fighting style or appearance. I will say it fits his new look as his armor
and weapons are a lot more angled and bladed than in the past. Again we are left
with no explanation about the story up to this point. Hawkman does narrate a
little bit in the opening that lets us know that he is in New York and the dead
have begun walking the streets and attacked him in his loft. He was given
ancient book to translate and it speaks of a relic known as the Mortis Orb,
something that could unleash Hell on Earth. As he investigates the shop where
the book came from he is set upon by Jim Craddock, the Gentleman Ghost. He wants
Hawkman to find the Orb for his own purposes for it possesses the key to eternal
life. There is something about Hawkman's nth metal that will lead him to the Orb
and so the story revolves around Hawkman's quest for his own reasons. Along the
way he will find where and why the Orb was hidden. He will also learn that the
power of the Orb will unleash many of the dead to rise and if used for Gentleman
Ghost's plan will sap the life force of many of the living. This is unlike most
Hawkman stories I have read in the past. I did not find myself compelled all
that much by the plot nor the harsher appearance of the winged warrior. While
the art is finely executed it is not enough for me. Maybe I am just more
enamored of past incarnations of the main character but this story is just
derivative stuff. I probably won't be staying with this one.

Issue Number: 1 (of 5)
Title Story: Pathfinder
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Jen Van Meter
Artist: Roger Robinson
Colors: Fabio D'Auria
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Cover Artist: John Tyler Christopher
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

I did go back to the first issue of this mini series, which is just wrapping up
now. While the title would suggest a series showcasing various Avengers it is
actually a short series featuring Clint Barton, Hawkeye. After helping a citizen
escape from an assailant in a high tech armored suit the seemingly ungrateful
victim shuns further contact. Later the man shows up at Avenger's mansion to
enlist Hawkeye's help in finding his sister who disappeared six months ago and
is somehow connected to the attack earlier. The man hands Hawkeye a disk he says
has some details and asks to meet at a hotel later. When Hawkeye arrives he
finds the man with an arrow in his back, perhaps used to try and frame Hawkeye
for the murder or a signal to stay out of it. The plot has him track down the
killer, meet a mysterious ally and get drawn into finding the missing girl to
avenge her brother. The trail leads to a modeling agency and the disk provides
details on a now defunct research institute working on prenatal nutrition. The
leader was killed in a fire, his assistant is missing and everyone else involved
is either dead or missing as well. Someone is trying to cover up whatever was
going on and anyone connected with the study, including the missing girl, is in
danger. This is a good beginning plot as it involves a deepening mystery, some
super heroics and showcases Clint as being more than a top archer. A new player
is introduced in the last panel to keep the action going next time. I did not
care for the art all that much in this story. The coloring is very dark close up
art is off a bit though the flow and layout is good.

There is also a back up story featuring AVENGERS ACADEMY shortly after they
moved into their new headquarters on the west coast. It is written by Jim McCann
with art by Clayton Henry and Chris Sotomayor. It is very brief but it features
Hank Pym taking two of the students, Finesse and Striker, on a mission to his
former lab in Death Valley. It seems Doctor Myron Maclain, presumed inventor of
Adamantium, apparently has surfaced at Hank's old lab and the three are going to
investigate, if they can make it there in one piece. The story is very short but
captures the essence of the characters as depicted in their own series. It
remains to be seen how the story develops as a backup to this title. It may draw
in fans of that series. Taken together they make an interesting comic book, if
only for five issues.

Issue Number: 4 (of 6)
Publisher: Marvel
Story: Chris Yost, Cullen Bunn & Matt Fraction
Script: Chris Yost
Artist: Scot Eaton
Inker: Andrew Hennessy
Colors: Paul Mounts
Letters: Joe Sabino
Cover Artist: Carlo Pagulayan, Jason Paz and Guru eFX
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

I read the first issue of this mini-series and have read some buzz on the
Internet that the lead character, Staff Sergeant Marcus Johnson, is expected to
be a key player in the Marvel Universe. I have also read speculation that he is
directly related to a major character and those rumors are confirmed on the last
panel of this issue. The basic plot is that some unknown agency had Johnson's
mother killed to draw him back from active duty. They want to abduct him and
have contracted a number of mercenaries including Taskmaster, Deadpool and the
Serpent Society to carry out the task. The word is out he is wanted dead or
alive, though the reward will be more if alive. Marcus was in S.H.I.E.L.D.
custody but is now out looking for his own answers aided by his squad mate and
Army Ranger "Cheese." S.H.I.E.L.D. is also trying to regain Johnson so he is on
the run from both the good guys and the bad guys. As the opening scene reveals
this all has to do with his blood, in more ways than one apparently, as doctors
revive a dying patient while a man in black confers with the head doctor
revealing the man is aging rapidly and needs the "blood" within a week. Most of
this issue is a slugfest with all the bad guys going after Marcus and fighting
off each other as well. Everyone wants the reward and Marcus wants Taskmaster
who may have some answers he seeks. As he manages to escape and actually
confront Taskmaster he only gets a single word before being interrupted by a
mask man who warns him to go away and hide, leave it all alone. It is this
mystery person who in the end will reveal a startling fact about Marcus' past.
This was an easy story to get back into thanks to the recap at the beginning.
The script takes it purposely through battle scenes and confrontations to get to
a dramatic climax. The art supports that purpose well and is very appealing. The
lead character has some mystery to him that is slowly being revealed. Why his
blood is so important is just now being explained, though not yet how it came to
be that way. It remains to be seen just how important Marcus Johnson will be in
the future. This could be a key character that will make this story sought after
long after it is over.

Issue Number: 1 (of 4)
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Brian Reed
Artist: Felix Ruiz
Colors: Val Staples
Letters: Jeff Eckleberry
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction/Video Game adaptation
Parental Guidance - 17+

I decided to look in on this series once again as it begins a new 4-issue arc.
It is set in the 26th century. Prior to this story the humans have spread out
into the galaxy establishing 800 colonies after the development of hyperspace
travel. As time went on an insurrection developed among the colonies and Dr.
Catherine Halsey developed a new breed of super-soldier. Children were put
through grueling training and experimental enhancements to become the elite
fighting force known as Spartan-II. But this is not just about civil war. An
alien alliance known as Covenant started a war by obliterating millions on a
peaceful farming world. When the Covenant invaded Sigma Octanus IV in search of
an ancient artifact the Spartans retaliated, eradicated the invaders with a
super bomb and retrieved the artifact. They then retreated to their base on the
planet Reach, unknowingly being followed by an enemy probe.  The main plot as
the story opens is about one of the heroes of Sigma Octanus IV, Captain John
Keyes. He is back at Reach ad is informed about his next command. But before he
begins he must go through upgrades to his Spartan enhancements and pass a field
test. The changes involve the addition of improved shields developed from
captured Covenant technology and the addition of an AI interface to aid him in
becoming an even greater super soldier. The plot serves to get us familiar with
the AI dubbed Cortana and how much she adds to John's ability. The test is for
keeps, literally he must kill if he has to in order to reach the objective and
he may be killed along the way. It highlights the seriousness of the need for
this upgrade to succeed. What also emphasizes that fact is the subplot involving
the first encounter in space with the new Covenant force looking for Reach. This
is a decent space opera that relies on the action and technology to move things
forward. Along the way there are other bits that add to the characterization and
the ending shows the desperation and dedication of the human forces. I am not
sure how much this reflects action in the video game but on its own it is
worthwhile science fiction. I liked the art, which is brilliantly enhanced by
the solid coloring job of Val Staples. You might want to jump on at this point
to see if you agree.

Issue Number: 6
Title Arc: On Your Own - part 1
Publisher: Dark Horse
Creator: Joss Whedon
Writer: Andrew Chambliss
Artist: Georges Jeanty
Inker: Karl Story
Colors: Michelle Madsen
Letters: Richard Starkings & Jimmy Betancourt
Cover Artist: Phil Noto
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Horror

I never really got into the BUFFY TV series though I know it was very popular.
It has continued its popularity in the comics with new "seasons" and continues
to be one of the top selling independent comics on the racks. I picked up this
issue to see if it is accessible to a new reader with little knowledge. The
answer is yes. I guess most people know Buffy kills vampires (duh) and those in
her profession are known as Slayers. There is a text piece up front that informs
us that Harmony established peace among vampires and humans with the end of
magic on Earth. However, there now exists a new breed called zompires, mindless
vampires who ignore the peace and seek blood. Buffy is helping the SFPD fight
the zompires along with her friend on the force Detective Dowling. That is basic
background along with information about other characters that have little impact
on the story this issue. This story is more about Buffy's personal life. She
recently learned she is pregnant but does not know who the father is. She
believes it may have happened when she was in a drunken state, girl can't hold
her liquor, so there are a few candidates. That is really not her concern
though. She does not know if she can or should raise a child considering her
profession. So she turns to her friend Robin the son of a Slayer named Nikki.
Meanwhile Detective Dowling is having a ride-along with Angel, the vampire, and
they have some interesting discussions about vampires and about Buffy. It is
Nikki's story in flashback that indicates to Buffy what her life might be like
if she keeps the baby. By the end she meets with Spike to ask a big favor in
support of her future. While there is a little bit of action in this issue it is
all in the flashbacks. This is a good thing as it reinforces Nikki's story and
how she handled her upcoming blessed event without taking away from the personal
relationships that highlight the main plot. The art is decent with the character
faces clearly defined and well finished. As an entree into this long running
comic I found this to be an exceptional issue I would recommend to anyone.


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:
In the history of the Justice League of America whom was the first non-founding
member to be recruited?

Green Arrow joined in Justice League of America #4. The winner by the dice is
Jason Pavao.

Here is your no prize question:
Which rock song holds the record for the most sheet music copies ever sold?

The answer is "Stairway To Heaven" by Led Zeppelin

SPIDER-MAN was hyping lots of products in 2002.  One of the TV ads he was in was
for Cingular Wireless, wherein he web-slings around the country to the tune of a
heavy rock beat. The question is what is the name of the song or the group that
performs the music?

Hint: It is an original song from the same decade Spidey began.

Here is your no prize question:
Which NFL team had the first cheerleading squad?

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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