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Friday, March 9, 2012

Comic Reviews 3/9/12


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: 89
Publisher: Image
Creator: Robert Kirkman & Cory Walker
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Ryan Ottley
Inker: Cliff Rathburn
Colors: John Rauch
Letters: Rus Wooton
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

Although this series is up to #89 the cover declares this is the first issue in
a bold new direction so I figured it was worth looking at. As a newcomer there
is no helpful recap up front but as you read it you will find the plot is easy
enough to follow. This is a somewhat typical super hero universe with lots of
good guys and bad guys of varying types. Invincible is one of those heroes but
for now he is sidelined with something called the Scourge virus. He is currently
in a secret base on the dark side of the moon belonging to his sworn enemies. I
am not sure how deep that goes since they are so willing to cure him. They are
pledged to help Mark recover and coexist in peace lest they arouse the attention
of the Coalition, which would exterminate not only these enemies of Invincible
but likely the Earth as well. This is not an action issue. It deals with
people's reactions to Mark's plight and how each is dealing with it. One of the
more interesting beings is Dinosaurus who is a sentient reptile with high
intelligence, an ally of Mark's. He will go to the moon base and try to persuade
the people in charge he can help. We also see how some teammates react, mostly
with sadness and fear. There is one other named Zandale who is called
Bulletproof. He is the Black character featured on the cover. It is not giving
anything away because of that cover to tell you that he volunteers to stand in
for Mark as Invincible when an emergency arises. There is a plot element however
that reveals itself late in the story. During the testing done on our hero one
technician makes a startling discovery that is worth killing for by another
character. It is an interesting development that should prove critical in the
future. I found this issue to be mostly accessible and interesting. The artwork
is very accomplished with strong coloring adding a good finish. This should be a
good jump on point for new readers. You can decide for yourself if this "new
direction" (a new Black Invincible?) is bold or something that echoes
developments in a comic from one of the big two.

Publisher: IDW
Writer: Larry Hama
Artists: Ron Frenz, Ron Wagner & Herb Trimpe
Inker: Sal Buscema
Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letters: Shawn Lee
Price (USD): $7.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Military Adventure

Long ago I had a special affection for annuals. In most cases you got more for
your money whether it included reprints of classics stories or self-contained
all-new material. Then they became events of their own often tying in with one
or more annuals of other titles, which diluted their appeal to me. Not being a
reader of the G.I. Joe comics I decided to sample this annual to see how IDW
handles the concept. First off it is a self-contained story for twice the price
of a normal comic with more than twice the pages. That I judge to be the right
thing to do. The story begins with a man called Ted Bergendorf, a drill press
operator in Ohio. That is he was until he got laid off. That whole day was one
of frustration and by the end of it he makes a decision to control his own
destiny. You see he is a sleeper agent for Cobra, the international bad guys
that the Joe's fight all the time. When Ted snapped he decided to activate
himself on a mission of his own making, beginning with building a fertilizer
bomb - a very big one. He then proceeds to gather member of his Crimson Guard
cell to plan the operation. But, he has drawn the attention of the Cobra
Commander with this illicit operation and he sends Zartan the mission to stop
Ted and his group, now considered rogue. But the G.I. Joes have been monitoring
Zartan and so they will be drawn into the whole conflict at some point. Oh,
Zartan is a master of disguise and can even make himself invisible to electronic
surveillance as well as masquerade as anybody else. This brings all the elements
to where most of the action will occur - an amusement park in St. Joseph,
Missouri. Poor Ted has both the good guys and the bad guys after him if they can
stop fighting each other long enough. While this is a believable plot for this
type of comic I found the execution of it somewhat lacking. By the end Ted is
more of a parody of a stereotype than a mastermind we are suppose to believe can
pull off a major terrorist incident. Some of the scene transitions are not
smooth either. At one point there is an opportunity to show the courage of one
of the Joes in saving a teammate but instead of highlighting that feat it is
handled in a matter of fact manner in a single panel after it happens. This is a
long running series, which means it has a solid fan base that will enjoy this
more than I did. Your own opinion may lie somewhere in between.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Queen of the Black Coast
Publisher: Dark Horse
Creator: Robert E. Howard
Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: Becky Cloonan
Colors: Dave Stewart
Letters: Richard Starkings
Cover Artist: Massimo Carnevale
Price (USD): $3.50
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Sword & Sorcery

Dark Horse has been running Conan books for a while, since 2003, so it may seem
strange to see this as issue #1. The indicia indicates it is actually the 88th
comic of the series. The text piece in the back explains the big picture behind
the CONAN THE BARBARIAN title is to present the original stories in
chronological order with some new stories mixed in to fill in the spaces where
there are gaps in his history. They have now reached the time when is a more
worldly man in his twenties. This arc is one of the most requested to be adapted
by the fans. It opens with Conan speeding through a seacoast town on a stolen
horse barely escaping capture by the local constabulary by leaping on to a
departing merchant vessel. After some tense moments he strikes up a friendship
with the captain by explaining how he came to this situation. That story is one
of the abuses of power of the authorities against our hero after he witnessed a
murder in a tavern and foolishly stayed to finish his drink. But thankful for
the provided asylum Conan pledges his sword in defense of the ship if need be.
It may be needed as the captain explains the biggest danger in some of the
waters they will be traveling - Belit, captain of the Tigress, and known as the
Queen of the Black Coast. She is a woman who knows no mercy or empathy. She
drives her crew with such authority none would dare disobey her. Her piracy has
destroyed many but Conan is mesmerized by the description, as if she was a
goddess he had dreamed of in his youth. This issue is the set up for what is to
come as indeed the ship comes upon the Tigress at the close of the issue. Those
last few pages are mostly without dialogue and are worth studying to figure how
much is real or dream or even maybe a spell. The next issue is sure to start out
with a lot of excitement. I really liked the way this story is handled. In some
places there is editorial narrative that sets the mood as we learn the lore and
gather an insight into Conan's thoughts and feelings. The art is splendid in its
simplicity with superb coloring. It does not matter if you have read any of the
prior volumes; this is indeed a good jump on point.

Issue Number: 100
Title Story: The Darkness
Title Arc: Total Darkness
Publisher: Image
Creators: Marc Silvestri, Garth Ennis & David Wohl
Writer: Phil Hester
Artists: Romano Molenaar, Leandro Oliveira & Jose Luis
Inkers: Joe Weems, Rick Basaldua, Ryan Winn & Alisson Rodrigues
Colors: Felix Serrano & Bill Farmer
Letters: Troy Peteri
Price (USD): $4.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Horror/Crime
Mature Readers - extreme violence

Here is another oversized issue just out marking the 100th issue. It appears to
be a big team effort with lots of contributors. The extra pages include a
preview of the next issue with a new team, text pieces from some of the
creators, and an art gallery from a contest for aspiring artists using the
Darkness as the subject. The main story is the end of an arc that has Mafia hit
man Jackie Estacado traveling to the home dimension of the Darkness to confront
the very source of his power. For those not in the know Jackie came to this
blessing, or curse, when he turned 21. He can access this dimension and bring
forth the demons who live in it to do his bidding - usually violent murder.
After struggling with the implications of this power for years Jackie received a
Sun dagger forged by the Angelus and he used it to make the transit to the
Darkness himself. At first he though he was fighting the Darkness itself but
then he experiencing a very unique transit to yet another place where he finally
meets the one he seeks. This is really a very interesting confrontation that
goes on for pages. It is as if he was having a conversation with the devil, and
he may well be. The Darkness weaves a tale to convince Jackie that long ago he
faced the same quest as wielder of the Darkness only to become what he came to
destroy. Is it true or a lie to save itself? It is a fascinating discourse that
ends in the ultimate battle with a satisfying ending. There is also a framing
sequence outside of the story related by a shepherd of sorts who is telling this
tale while guiding other servants of the darkness to a final judgment and even
he does not know what awaits them. It is all very well scripted and beautifully
rendered. Once it is over you may wonder what will be next and that is revealed
in the preview to the next issue. I won't spoil any of that. I have not always
found this title to my liking but this one was a notch above the rest and a
worthy tribute to this long-running series.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: DC
Cover Artist: Dustin Nguyen
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero/Cartoon adaptation

This comic is adapted from the television cartoon and is restarting with new
numbering and an added feature.

Batman Beyond
Title Story: 10,000 Clowns
Writer: Adam Beechen
Artist: Norm Breyfogle
Colors: Andrew Elder
Letters: Saida Temofonte

Set in the distant future Bruce Wayne has retired from his role as Batman but
young Terry McGinnis stumbled on his secrets and now fights crime in Neo-Gotham
as the new Batman. In this first issue Bruce and Terry are facing an influx of
Joker gangs from other cities, even other states. Meanwhile their female friend
who is in on Terry as Batman has gotten close to a notorious criminal computer
hacking group and must decide whether to go undercover without telling Bruce and
Terry. We also get a glimpse of Terry's personal life as he tries to persuade
his ex-girlfriend to make up. And another familiar member of the Batman family,
Barbara Gordon is now the police commissioner. This is a good mix of super hero
action, personal relationships and behind it all is the mystery of just who is
organizing all the Joker gangs. We at least get to see the mystery leader in the
last panel. Thing are going to get interesting.

Justice League Beyond
Title Story: Snake in the Grass
Title Arc: Konstriction
Writers: Derek Fridolfs & Dustin Nguyen
Artist: Dustin Nguyen
Inker: Derek Fridolfs
Colors: Randy Mayor
Letters: Saida Temofonte
The second feature is the future Justice league, which Batman has recently
joined. We have Warhawk - a half-breed Thanagarian, Kai-Ro - the Green Lantern
of our sector, Barda - exiled from New Genesis, Aqua Girl and Superman. Their
first adventure with Batman takes place in Neo-Gotham where a dangerous drug has
been developed giving people animal likeness and power. It has become an
underground illegal racket and there is a power struggle between the Joker gang
and a militant group known as the Animal Kingdom to control the distribution. As
the two forces clash on the streets the Justice League arrives to break things
up. But they will have a much bigger mission as they are called away to their
satellite headquarters. This is a fun story with some interesting new characters
in the mix. The main plot will involve another member that appears to be a new
version of the Atom. And all the while Terry is struggling with his duties as
Batman being trumped by the call of the Justice League. It is not high drama but
it is a fun story sure to please all fans.

Issue Number: 6
Title Story: Part Six
Title Arc: The Beginning
Publisher: DC
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Jim Lee
Inkers: Scott Williams with Sandra Hope, Batt and Mark Irwin
Colors: Alex Sinclair with Tony Avina
Letters: Patrick Brosseau
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

The first arc of this New 52 title wraps up in this issue. Seven familiar heroes
have come together for the first time as one by one they are forced to face a
threat to all of Earth - the forces of Darkseid. This is the all out battle
issue as Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Aquaman, Flash and Cyborg are engaged in
heated battle with Darkseid himself Batman is on a mission to rescue Superman
from the torture he is being subjected to on Apokolips. These two conflicts take
up most of the issue and Cyborg appears to be the key to eventual victory. The
final scenes are more fun as the seven super heroes are introduced to the world
as heroes. There is some funny banter among the group as some claim this was a
one-time thing and others insist they must stay a team so as to be more accepted
as individuals among the citizens. Flash delivers the punch line as he declares
to the president what the name of their group should be called. While I did not
find this particular episode as engaging as those leading up to it, it is still
a tidy wrap up to the first story and the true beginning of the relationship as
a group. Of course there is always another major threat waiting in the wings. As
this story takes place in the past there is more to tell about the evolution of
the group dynamic in the coming months and it will be interesting to see how
more heroes join the group as hinted at in the epilogue. But wait, there is
more! You may have forgotten or maybe wondered what DC was going to do with that
mystery woman in purple that appeared in cameo shots in every one of the New 52
debut issues. Wonder no more as the back up feature begins to reveal the story
of Pandora. So far she has been an observer and her story here begins with here
looking on as a man is found dead in the street. To give us some insight as to
who she is the rest is mostly a dialogue between Pandora and another famous DC
character that appears to her - the Phantom Stranger. He reminds her that people
like they are told by the Circle of Eternity that they must observe what they
have sown but are forbidden from getting involved. In the conversation we learn
a little about the reforming of the Universe at the end of Flashpoint and
Pandora's role in that event. There are other mysteries and secrets discussed
that you will want to read about. It seems these two don't agree on their role.
Pandora states her mission at the end and it involves a third mystical being she
must find and imprison. She will do so without Phantom Stranger's help but she
has plans on who will help her. There is much more to her story that I have not
revealed and even more coming in the future. This will be a key element of the
new DC Universe so you won't want to miss this issue of JUSTICE LEAGUE to see
its 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:
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.

The theme to the commercial is by the madman from Detroit, Ted Nugent. "Journey
To The Center Of The Mind", by the Amboy Dukes, was a hit in 1968. The winner
this time is Kevin Browne.

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

The Baltimore Colts (now the Indianapolis Colts) was the first NFL team to have
an organized cheerleading squad. It was the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders who
gained the spotlight with their revealing outfits and sophisticated dance moves,
which debuted in the 1972-1973 season.

In what title did Marvel's Celestials first appear?

Here is your no prize question:
Which is the tallest waterfall in the world?

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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