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Friday, April 20, 2012

Comic Reviews 4/20/12


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
Publisher: Marvel/Icon
Co-plotter: Matthew Vaughn
Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: Dave Gibbons
Colors: Angus McKie
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Spy Thriller

The Service mentioned in the title is not the people who protect the President
of the United States among their other duties. This is about Her Majesty's
Secret Service. In fact the opening scene is much like the start of a James Bond
movie. Movie star Mark Hamill has been kidnapped and is being held by the bad
guys in a chalet in Switzerland. Apparently he is going to be taken to the
Middle East for some unknown reason. We don't find out the details of this plot
though as four well placed headshots take care of the kidnappers on guard. An
MI6 agent has mounted a rescue and soon the two are speeding away on a
snowmobile being chased by more bad guys on skis. As I said, it's like something
out of James Bond. You may have seen this segment as a preview in other Mark
Millar comics but for those who have not I won't spoil the outcome. The only
clue we get is a reference one of the bad guys makes to a Doctor Arnold. Later
as a different agent is having dinner in London we learn that in all six cast or
crew members from STAR WARS, four from DOCTOR WHO, eight from BATTLESTAR
GALACTICA and five from STAR TREK have recently been kidnapped. This agent, Jack
London (heh, heh), is being put on the case. However, his attention for the rest
of the issue will be focused on his nephew. It seems he lives in a flat with his
mother and her abusive boyfriend. The scene we are shown as they entertain
friends clues us in on the fact that this is not a healthy environment for Gary
or his younger brother. We conclude Gary's disdain for his mother's lifestyle is
a major cause of his own delinquent activity. He does not think much about Uncle
Jack either, not knowing he is really a government spy. As the first issue
concludes it appears that things are about to change dramatically for Gary and
just maybe we can get back to the case involving the celebrity kidnappings. This
is a very entertaining first issue. It has some adventure laced with dark humor
and involves both the professional and personal life of a secret agent. The art
is very appealing. McKie does a splendid job coloring Gibbons strong art. The
characters are interesting and the two plots have elements fleshed out enough to
make us want more. Try it and see if you agree.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Teeth, with which to eat
Publisher: Image
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Ryan Bodenheim
Colors: Michael Garland
Letters: Rus Wooton
Price (USD): $3.50
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Crime Drama

This script is well thought out, as you would expect from Jonathan Hickman. It
begins with a home invasion by a masked assailant. Despite high security he
manages to get the drop on the man alone in the house and before long has him
naked and tied to a chair. But this is not about money or revenge. The demand is
for access to the victim's office computer. That serves to introduce us to the
victim relaying the incident to his friend at another firm. It so happens that
friend is on the way to a company meeting with representatives of an Industrial
Espionage organization. It is that meeting that proves most interesting to the
readers. Mr. Miller of Steadfast is not just there to deliver results on their
latest assignment but to warn the company of their own failings. Well Mr. Miller
is told about the home invasion and agrees to talk to the victim, Mr. Dunn,
about it. After some hard negotiations Dunn agrees to hire Steadfast to catch
the people behind his torture, threats to his family and invasion into his
company's sensitive database. But the real kicker is the scene back in Miller's
office later. There is also a short interlude involving Miller's business
partner who is on business in London. That really does not fit with what the
rest of the book is about and adds a lot of mystery to the story. The art is
very interesting with frequent shifts in color overtones depending on the scene.
It is really very unique and adds a special look to the finished product. The
stark cover photo does not begin to hint at what this is about, though teeth do
play an important role in the plot, so in this case do not judge the book by the
cover. The inside is worth reading.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Enter the Mandarin
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Christopher Yost
Artist: Chris Jones
Inker: Victor Olazaba
Colors: Sotocolor
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero/TV Adaptation
All Ages

Cartoon adaptations of comics can be hit or miss for me. One of the one I
enjoyed last year was the first season of AVENGERS EARHT'S MIGHTIEST HEROES on
Disney XD. It maintained the essence of most of the characters with plots that
were as engaging as the comics without being dumbed down for a younger crowd.
This year it is part of the Marvel Universe block on that channel in conjunction
with ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN. By contrast the USM cartoon has a lot of sight gag
asides and has the Peter Parker Spider-Man drafted into S.H.I.E.L.D. and working
with White Tiger, Nova, and teen versions of Luke Cage and Iron Fist. It is fun
entertainment but is not written with the same goal as the AVENGERS segment.
This comic remains true to the cartoon counterpart and features Captain America,
Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, Black Panther, Hawkeye, Ant Man and the Wasp - the last
two I am hoping will eventually make it into the Avengers movie series as the
others have. Like the cartoons these Avengers face threats from major villains
and in this chapter it is the Mandarin who has control of a dragon wrecking
havoc in New York. Thor is off to Asgard in this issue but we know the rest have
enough firepower, strategy and teamwork to prevail in the end. In the back up
story, written by Yost with art by Adam DeKraker and Terry Pallot, Agent Coulson
is briefing Acting Director Maria Hill on the S.H.I.E.L.D. FILES on the
Avengers. This is basically a recap of season one of the cartoon series and hits
all the highlights including stories involving the Leader, a breakout of
hundreds of villains, MODOC, Baron Zemo and the Masters of Evil, Kang, Ultron
and Hydra. While it is not really a story by itself it helps bring new readers
who have not seen the first season up to speed on this version of the Avengers.
One other feature included in this issue is called The Fury Files. This is a
regular feature on the ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN cartoon series and uses images from
the show as adapted by Chris Eliopoulos. It is a run down on the origin, powers
and history of one of Spider-Man's amazing friends. In this case it features the
cartoon version of Iron Fist. This segment has nothing to do with the Avengers
and is included as filler under the MARVEL UNIVERSE banner of the title. As a
whole this comic adaptation hits the ground running. I am hoping the next issue
will have a longer Avengers story now that the recap has been done. This would
be a perfect comic for younger readers who may become interested in the team
with the debut of the movie only a couple of weeks away. Fans of the cartoon
show will not be disappointed.

Title: '68 SCARS
Issue Number: 1 (of 4)
Title Story: So We Sailed Up To the Sun
Publisher: Image
Writer: Mark Kidwell
Artist: Nat Jones
Colors: Jay Fotos
Letters: Jason Arthur
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Zombie/War
Mature Readers - Comics on the Edge

The Viet Nam war was horrific enough. Now imagine if at some point zombies were
introduced into the mix. That is the premise of the first mini-series of this
ongoing title, '68. I decided to sample the second arc of the series wherein the
problem has become worse and surprisingly is not isolated to that war torn
country. In fact the opening scene is set in Chinatown in New York City where
Chuen Ji and Faye are holding up in their market as zombies roam the streets.
Their story serves as bookends to the main event and adds a small bit of humor
to the rather intense plot set in country. At this point a major stronghold of
US forces is at Tan Son Nhat Airport in Saigon. Major Andrew Swan commands the
forces there but the action is mostly focused on two other units. The first
features a helicopter rescue by two crewmen calling themselves the Sioux nation,
due to their Native American Heritage. The lone survivor was down to clubbing
the assaulting zombies when they pluck him to freedom. Due to their low fuel and
lack of ammo they are not able to offer assistance to those under attack in an
outlying bunker at the airport. That incident serves to define the character of
the commanding Major when he is told of the situation. The other subplot take
place on the Mekong Delta as a team on a riverboat is speeding to rescue a seal
team in need of extraction. The straight-laced lieutenant tasked with the rescue
mission is appalled by the hot-dogging of the Navy crew who has unorthodox
methods of eliminating zombies they meet along the way. Their story will
continue as they learn that they are most likely heading into a trap. There is a
strong feel of realism in the script based on just the strictly military aspects
of the stories and the many works in the past on the Viet Nam War. While the
zombie aspect is not just secondary it appears to be just another element of
danger at this point. The significance of the story title becomes evident by the
end of the book. Nat Jones does a great job on the art and even throws in a
small homage to Bernie Wrightson is you look close enough. This title succeeds
as an interesting war story and works in the zombie element so as not to
overwhelm the human story being told. It is no wonder this series is continuing
as a series.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Inside Job
Publisher: DC
Creator: Based on a teleplay by Marly Halpen-Graser
Writers: Marly Halpern-Graser, Paul Crocker & Sefton Hill
Artist: Mike S. Miller
Colors: Gabe Eltaeb
Letters: Travis Lanham
Cover Artist: Dave Wilkins
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero/Video Game Adaptation

I have no idea if this comic has any resemblance to the video game ARKHAM CITY
beyond the basic premise. It is however a very good Batman story. In this
version of Gotham the new mayor, Quincy Sharp, former Arkham Asylum Warden,
closed that institution. In its stead he ordered the construction of Arkham
City, cordoned off from the rest of Gotham as a place to house former inmates of
Arkham and Blackgate Prison. He put Dr. Hugo Strange in charge of running Arkham
City. At this point he has rounded up and incarcerated nearly all of Gotham's
most dangerous felons. The only two major criminals still at large are Cat Woman
and Two Face though we know that his sites are also set on Batman. All of this
information is provided to the reader via a television program being watched by
Selena as she dresses for her nighttime activities. The impetus of the plot
comes from a phone call from Two Face informing Cat Woman that she is about to
go down. Sure enough the authorities come to call and she is nearly caught
except for a timely rescue by a certain caped crusader. It is not that she is
ungrateful but Strange's men have looted her safe and she means to get back her
stuff. The final showdown takes place in Arkham Mansion as both Selena and
Harvey Dent seek the blue prints for the secrets to where Hugo Strange is hiding
the ill gotten gains. There is some good action and a not unexpected outcome. I
enjoyed the plot as it is pretty clear right away what is happening and why. It
moves forward at a steady pace and leaves us with a good break point for the
next chapter. I particularly enjoyed Miller's art, which is clean and sharp
including the brilliant coloring by Eltaeb. You don't have to be a gamer to
enjoy this story and since it is a different continuity it is easy to get into
from the first page. Well done!

Issue Number: 1 (of 6)
Publisher: Image
Script: Jonathan Ross
Story: Jonathan Ross & Bryan Hitch
Artist: Bryan Hitch
Inkers: Andrew Currie & Paul Neary
Colors: Paul Mounts
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

The premise of this series is not a new one. I can think of at least three very
popular series in the past that started under similar circumstances. In this
case there was an event at a point seventeen years in the past in San Francisco.
A large crystal appeared in the sky and eventually landed in Golden Gate Park.
After that it glowed very brightly for a brief time and then went dark as a
stone. What happened next was significant. Every pregnant woman within a five-
mile radius suddenly gave birth. It did not matter how pregnant they were the
babies arrived suddenly, painlessly and successfully. Every single one of those
new babies got a gift, a talent, a power. Moving forward in time we learn from
pieces here and there that the government has taken control of all the powered
teens. There is even mention of "powers" riots in the past. The authorities have
engaged scientists to study the powered children to find out why they were
changed at birth, and even whether it is possible to remove the powers. As a
cover for their action they have built an enormous arena that houses an annual
reality show named, you guessed it, "America's Got Powers." Twenty of the
"stoneheads" as they are referred to in slang, are placed in the arena for a
series of contests. Some are eliminated along the way and a final battle of
power determines the winner and newest member of the world's only sanctioned
super hero group, Power Generation. So far there are four. In the last season
finale the apparent winner, Bobby Watts, suddenly collapsed and died. As we move
to the present we focus in on his twin brother, Tommy, who is the only power
baby that apparently received no powers at all. Since he was born among the rest
he is technically classified in their group but has more freedom. He actually
works in the gift shop in the arena where the newest season, possible the last,
of AGP is about to begin. Behind the scenes it seems some changes have been made
to the games. The unforeseen fatality notwithstanding, they have decided to amp
up the robotic opponents to deadly force levels and are allowing contestants to
cut loose as well. This sound like a recipe for disaster. We learn the head
scientist involved in the project is being pushed out in favor of the military
for being too sympathetic toward the powered kids. The highlight of the story
comes when the games begin and we see the consequences that the loosening of the
rules of engagement. Tommy will become very critical to the plot from this point
on. I really enjoyed this comic right from the start. The art team turns in a
top-notch job in every panel. The explanatory material is handled well from an
Internet styled new story with a comment section following it and a couple of
flashback sequences to set the premise. As the plot moves forward the major
characters are developed well and brought together through a series of events
leading to a dynamic conclusion. All this is jammed into 44 story pages for only
$3! I will definitely be staying with this one to the end.


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:
What Title and issue number marked the first appearance of Captain Universe?

Captain Universe first appeared in THE MICRONAUTS first series, issue #8. Winner
by the dice roll is Christian Mock. I also would like to say hi to his son
Logan. I hope we see you both on FREE COMIC BOOK DAY!

Here was your no prize question:
Who was the first Postmaster General under the United States Constitution?

Trick Question! It was Samuel Osgood! On September 26, 1783, George Washington
appointed Samuel Osgood of Massachusetts as the first Postmaster General under
the Constitution. Benjamin Franklin was appointed Postmaster General, the first
appointed under the Continental Congress, not under the Constitution.

Jennifer Connelly played the romantic lead in THE HULK. She also starred in a
film adaptation of what other comic book?

Here is your no prize question:
How many spikes are there in the Statue of Liberty's crown?

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.

1 comment:

  1. Whoot! I can't win this one, but the Connelly movie referenced above MIGHT just be the best comic book movie EVER!