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Friday, March 23, 2012

Comic Reviews 3/23/12


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: 1
Title Story: Of the World and Its Becoming
Publisher: Avatar
Creator: Garth Ennis
Writer: Garth Ennis
Artist: Jacen Burrows
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Horror
Mature Readers - Comics on the Edge

CROSSED began as a miniseries about an Apocalyptic future after the world was
ravaged by a mystery disease that changed those infected into degenerate
homicidal maniacs. If you weren't infected initially you faced death in a very
brutal manner by those who were. If you made contact with the fluids of those
infected then you very soon turned into one of the crossed yourself. Fortunately
for the survivors someone infected is easily identified by a rash across their
entire face in the shape of a cross. It is very much like a zombie plague except
that the crossed are not dead and can be killed by normal means. The other
difference is that the crossed are so warped they will often dismember, rape or
kill their own for the fun of it. The initial series was popular enough to spawn
a series of mini-series written and drawn by other well-known comic creators.
Garth Ennis has returned to his creation to launch the first arc of an ongoing
series. This story follows a band of nine survivors in England. There is one
pregnant female whose boyfriend died before she and her brother joined the
group. It is a mixed group of men with various backgrounds. Among them is one
soldier whose face is bandaged extensively. He claims to be Prince Harry, heir
to the British throne and there may be some credence to his claim. One of them
is a paramedic. The others come from different backgrounds and experience. Now
they have the common goal of survival. Like most stories set in this world it is
about survival. They often travel at night, away from main roads seeking
abandoned towns where they can scavenge for food and supplies. The narrator is
Ian. His story is told in flashback. It is a typical tragedy about he and his
girlfriend Penny trying to escape the madness only to have her perish at one
point. Now he is on autopilot - not really driven to survive but not willing to
give up. Though he is not a fighter the others respect his intelligence and
judgment. The opening chapter serves to introduce us to this group and their
interaction. We learn who is strong, and who is weak. There is one encounter
with three of the crossed that has to be dealt with carefully so as not to
attract a larger group close by. One of the group devises a very clever method
of handling the situation that works surprisingly well and is a small transition
of sorts for Ian. It is good not to get into the massive violence too early so
we get to know the players. Often these stories are more about the character or
lack thereof of the survivors than just bloody survival scenes or tragic
failure. It remains to be seen how this band of survivors will measure up. As
always the art is top notch. Casual readers who are sampling CROSSED for the
first time should be warned there is extreme violence coming, though there is
some in this issue and no doubt explicit sexually depravity will also appear at
some point. Those not bothered by such things may find the underlying story
worth their time.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Oni Press
Creator: Brian Churilla
Letters: Ed Brisson
Alternate Cover Artist: J.H. Williams III
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Mystery/Spy Thriller

I was drawn to this comic by the title without any knowledge of the structure of
the plot. Younger readers may have no knowledge of who DB Cooper was but others
will at least be aware of a bit of his claim to fame. In November of 1971 a man
using the name DB Cooper hijacked a Seattle-bound flight with a bomb. At Seattle
he demanded two parachutes and $200,000. After he got what he wanted he had the
plane take off and he jumped from the plane with the cash over the Washington
wilderness and has never been found. We have never been told definitively who he
really was either. The opening pages give a quick recap of these events to set
the stage. But when you turn the page you find the story has taken a twist into
a strange world with no real explanation. We see DB in what must be a fantasy
world, or alternate dimension or maybe a dream world. There is strange
vegetation with plants with eyeballs on the ends of appendages. Other places
have white-pupil eyes on faces embedded in the ground. DB is in a suit and has a
samurai sword strapped to his back and is accompanied by a talking teddy bear.
There are hints in the dialogue between the two that this is things here do not
follow normal physics - for example DB never runs out of cigarettes. They travel
along and eventually encounter a beast DB must fight. This scene is immediately
contrasted by a scene in the Kremlin where a man is being served a meal in his
office. Strangely things that DB does where he is begin to effect what happens
here. In fact that is the point of his being there. You will see by the end that
DB Cooper is supposedly a federal agent. The ending pages show his interaction
with another agent and a doctor and that begins to explain what that other
strange world is all about. How this ties in to him hijacking a plane will have
to wait for later. I must admit this is very confusing until the very end. The
explanations are just beginning. It is like the writer wanted to set up
something so improbable that it could not have a rational explanation so he
could later lead us to what is really going on.  The art is appealing and shows
a range of ability from strong character delineation to things beyond
imagination. Churilla is very skilled in his craft. It remains to be seen if his
writing will pay off down the road.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Run
Publisher: DC/Vertigo
Creator: Paul Cornell & Ryan Kelly
Writer: Paul Cornell
Artist: Ryan Kelly
Colors: Giulia Brusco
Letters: Sal Cipriano
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction
Mature - Comics on the Edge

This is another comic I have not read about ahead of time. The cover and title
indicate it has something to do with UFOs so I decided to see what is up. The
main character is Arcadia Alvarado, the divorced female Hispanic governor of a
New Mexico. She is at a turning point in her career - about to announce her
candidacy for President. She has different types surrounding her campaign. There
is the loyal confidant and chief of staff Harry, the aggressive security chief
and long-time family employee Fausto, and the campaign strategist, Chloe, who
wants Arcadia her to use her alcoholic ex-husband for political gain at the
expense of his reputation. There is a subplot involving a young Harvard
professor who is being suspended because of his recent book claiming that UFOs
are real. We see in this part of the story that he has beyond normal reasons for
sticking with this belief. The UFO theme does have a lot to do with Arcadia and
her ex as well as we can surmise from the opening scene and an interlude later.
She will make a shocking revelation to Harry and Chloe after her declaration
speech. The main plot is handled nicely as we get to see the various aspects of
Arcadia's life - personal, political and supernormal. The subplot has a very
different twist to it that can be interpreted different ways so I won't reveal
what it is. It is pretty clear aliens are involved in this story and the
implication is that the major players are going to get to the truth eventually.
It is easy reading and the art is very good in support. I would recommend this
comic to anyone looking for good writing with a science fiction theme.

Issue Number: 1 (of 2)
Publisher: Moonstone
Writer: Earl Mac Rauch
Artist: David Daza
Colors: Patrick J Williams
Letters: Bernie Lee
Cover Artists: Paul Gulacy/Bill Wiist
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction

The best thing I can say about this comic is that it has decent coloring. The
pencil and ink work is good and plays more to the close ups than to detail in
long shots - but it is still fine. The plot and script on the other hand left me
flat. This comic is of course based on an old cult classic movie for those of
you unaware. Buckaroo Banzai is sort of a Doc Savage type hero, though he is not
overly muscular or tan. He is a brilliant scientist and has his own troupe known
as the Hong Kong Cavaliers. You can catch up to their exploits in a previous
Moonstone publication BUCKAROO BANZAI: THE PREQUEL, which covers events prior to
the movie. Maybe it will help before reading this one. There is no introductory
text or even editorial help along the way to explain who all these people are
and what they do. You get the gist after a while but it is really not well
scripted. The Cavaliers are playing in a telethon in Vegas to raise money to
fight against juvenile herpes. As the story starts they have raised over
$150million. While I don't doubt this is a worthy cause it just comes across as
comical because the characters play it up as being as bad as AIDS or something.
Out of the blue a man runs up to the stage and tosses a flier for a local strip
joint sending Buckaroo and the gang off to The Foxxx Hole where they find robot
bouncers, dancers that they somehow know are illegal female clones and a fat
scummy club manager with ties to their arch enemies the World Crime League. By
the end of the book they are off to a secret location in the dessert to shut
down the headquarters. This comic tries to be too much. It has science fiction
elements but is not heavy on the science. The language is peppered with sexual
innuendo and salty language that is toned down by substituting words in phrases
like "holy spit" but then later someone uses the actual words. The f-bomb is
even used a few times as well. So why try to be cute about it elsewhere? The
action is sometimes forced just to have the heroes mix it up with the bad guys.
I just did not find it compelling at all and won't bother to read the conclusion
next issue.

Title: SAGA
Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Image
Writer: Brian K. Vaughn
Artist: Fiona Staples
Letters: Fonografiks
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction
Mature - nudity & sexual situations

This space opera involves different cultures on faraway worlds. The background
of the galactic culture is a war that has been going on a long time. It was a
war between the inhabitants of Landfall and its moon Wreath. No one remembers
when the two cultures ever got along. As the war grew both sides realized they
were heading for mutual destruction and so the combat was outsourced to other
planets. This is recapped further into the book. As it opens we meet the two
main characters on the cover. Alana is from Landfall and was drafted into
service and became a less than perfect soldier. She was eventually posted to the
planet Cleave where the opposing forces are fighting over the gunpowder fields.
She was a guard at the detention center there where she met Marko, a soldier
from Wreath, who surrendered after a battle as a conscientious objector. Less
than a day later the two went missing. You should also know, as shown on the
cover, the people from Landfall have small wings, like a bat's, and the people
from Wreath have ram-like horns.  As the story opens Alana is giving birth, as
indeed these two have become lovers and even married in the Wreath tradition.
But they are on the run and there is barely time to cut the chord before the
Wreath soldiers come knocking. As they barely escape we switch scenes to
Landfall where we learn Of different forces on both there and Wreath have found
out about the two and their offspring and have vested interests in finding them
before their story gets out. There are issues about what such a pairing
implicates, though in the past offspring from forced mating did not survive
long. There is even a prophecy concerning Marko that is disturbing. The basic
plot elements are now put forth very clearly making the story compelling as it
moves forward. Vaughan has also added other elements to the alien nature of the
races involved. There variation of the nature of the wings and the horns, large
beasts used for battle, even apparent humans with televisions for heads (or are
the robots with human bodies?) Fiona Staples does her job very nicely with a
unique style and varied coloring as fits the situations. This is more than a
tale of two fugitives from war trying to preserve their new family. The added
intrigue will take the story to interesting places. This first issue lives up to
the hype.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Mark Bagley
Inker: Danny Miki
Colors: Paul Mounts
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

It seems like there is an unwritten rule out there. If there is a new movie
based on a comic book than that comic book has to come out with a new #1 issue.
And so, as if there are not enough AVENGERS titles already, Marvel is starting
another one. If you take a close look at the cover you will notice that the
lineup is exactly the same as the characters slated for the movie THE AVENGERS,
which premiers the first weekend in May, just in time for FREE COMIC BOOK DAY.
This team will hopefully will be user friendly to new readers drawn in by the
movie and will not be heavily tied plot-wise to the other titles. With a strong
team of Bendis and Bagley with the rest being strong finishers the regular fans
will also enjoy having another title of their favorite hero team. But it starts
not with the heroes but the villains they will face - a new band of criminals
calling themselves Zodiac. The movie core team members are not the only ones to
appear in this first issue. As we shift to the opening of a brand new Avengers
Tower in New York most of the Avengers and New Avengers are present for the
festivities. No doubt that same tower with the name STARK at the top will also
be in the movie. The action takes place elsewhere. The first to meet with a
member of Zodiac is the Hulk - the real one, you know Bruce Banner - the
southwestern dessert. Then Hawkeye and the Widow are on a mission in Latveria
when another shows up because he wants what they just took. The plot centers
around the members of Zodiac seeking a special source of power and it seems the
Avengers have inadvertently gotten in the way. The first half is introductory
the second is almost all action and it ends too quickly. My criticism for Marvel
is that if the intention is to draw new readers make this a regular size comic
for $2.99 or instead of the AVX preview in the back give them more story pages
for their money.


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 what title did Barbara Gordon first appear as Oracle?

Oracle first appeared in Suicide Squad (written by Ostrander/Yale). The winner
by the dice is Gary Katzoff.

Here was your no prize question:
What candy bar was named after its inventor's family horse?

Originally introduced to the public in 1930 by Franklin and Ethel Mars, the
Snickers bar was named after their family horse. When that horse died they named
a candy bar after it. The original Snickers bars were sold for a nickel. Based
on studies, it is the best selling candy of all time with yearly worldwide sales
at $2 billion. Gregory Goding gets the no prize.

In "The Adventures of Superman" TV series, when a mobster encased himself in an
impenetrable cube to wait out a statute of limitations, what new power did
Superman try for the first time?

Here is your no prize question:
What did George Nissen invent?

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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