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Sunday, May 13, 2012

Comic Reviews 5/13/12

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: Blades and Open Fields
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Writer: Robert Venditti
Artist: Cary Nord
Inker: Stefano Gaudiano
Colors: Moose Baumann
Letters: Dave Lanphear
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction

They say that the third time is the charm. Valiant is once again a name in comic
book publishing with the debut of this title and the Free Comic Book Day
giveaway that previews this one and other titles that will premiere over the
next several months. My initial reaction to this first issue is that it is very
decompressed opting to get into more detail leading up to the abduction of
barbarian Aric by the aliens. The scene is in Northern Italy in 402 A.D. as the
Romans prove to be too much for the Visigoths defending their homeland. Aric
leads a portion of the troops. When his uncle the king signals the retreat for
now he does not want to comply. As a side note, there is a man on horseback near
the king who bears a striking resemblance to another famous "warrior" in the
Valiant Universe. At every turn the barbarians are turned back and even the
villages where their women and children were waiting have been taken. Many of
those people have been taken prisoner by the Romans, including Aric's mother and
wife. Vowing to rescue his people he leads his men to follow the slave march
heading back to Rome. It is one night on that quest that they come across
something they have never seen before, an alien spaceship they mistake for some
kind of Roman transport. Thinking they have found their objective they attack.
Thus we see the futile attempt fail miserably and the surviving Visigoths taken
prisoner. If this series follows past history eventually the action will be in
present time once Aric has gained the X-O armor and has been in suspended
animation for centuries. For now we see that the X-O armor is very special and
so far the aliens have not found a suitable host for the armor among their
ranks. We also see that abducting humans has not been their only goal in a brief
scene in the Visigoth camp. There is much more to follow and I hope Aric at
least gains the armor by then. The art is pretty slick setting the pace and mood
quite nicely. I definitely think it is worth trying the first several issues to
see if the series can deliver long term.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: What's the 411?
Publisher: DC
Writer: China Mieville
Artist: Mateus Santolouco
Colors: Tanya & Richard Horie
Letters: Steve Wands
Cover Artist: Brian Bolland
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

This is a much darker version of the concept than in past versions. You might
guess this from the cover. But instead of some teenager this time the
protagonist is an out of shape 20-something named Nelson who is recovering from
a heart attack. He smokes, drinks too much, is way overweight and has lost his
wife and his job. His friend Darren is trying to help but someone on this track
has to want help. The plot turns quickly when after a spat Nelson runs to catch
up with Darren only to find some thugs beating on him in an alley. When his
effort to intervene is easily thwarted he reaches for a pay phone (yeah, an
actual pay phone, in an alley!) and in a bright flash he turns into Boy Chimney.
That is the tall skinny fellow with the top hat on the cover. He finds it is
almost like he is trapped in this new persona. Boy Chimney clearly has his own
consciousness and the dialogue he spouts is not coming from Nelson. He can
create great clouds of smoke, parts of which take on the shapes of animals that
attack the bad guys. Through Boy Chimney Nelson not only watches him at work but
also is suddenly aware of other places in the city. Wherever there is smoke he
can see the people and things around it. Eventually he finds a bit of control
over the being they are and manages to save his friend before police arrive.
This is the first scene and in another we see how Nelson figures out not only
that his friend is mixed up with shady characters but that he, Nelson, can do
something about it. Once he figures out what he dialed the first time he plans
to take the battle to the bad guys, but will Boy Chimney appear again or some
other being? I like the premise taken on this new version. Instead of more
standard types of heroes and situations Mieville has taken a more Vertigo-esque
tack. Visually the artists have embraced the characters and transition easily
from normal everyday situations to more surreal characters. It is also
interesting to see that the bad guys have a few unpleasant people with strange
powers on their side as well. Things are heating up rapidly. Like a couple of
the New 52 titles this one could be the sleeper hit of the Second Wave of
titles. I think you might want to grab a first printing while you can.

Issue Number: 1 (of 5)
Publisher: Image
Creator: Raffaele Ienco
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Action/Adventure

Image has some of the most interesting comics these days. A lot of it has to do
with newness. It is not just the same group of characters fighting the other
group of characters in different combinations written by the same group of
writers. This new title is a prime example of what I mean about Image. Here is a
mini-series created, written and drawn by someone I have never heard about. The
protagonist is an Asian female currently in an institution of some sort. Her
name is Song. Right away we see something is not right with Song. Sometimes she
sees things that aren't there, like a large shark swimming in the air down the
hallway. However from her editorial monologue we see she is very rational. She
is confident she can leave any time she wants but is still waiting, trying to
piece together what happened to her. Another thing we see is that her reflexes
are super sharp. Her memories show her to have incredible speed, almost
superhuman. And from other scenes we know there is a man looking for her,
looking to avenge his son. He also knows she is a formidable opponent and anyone
he sends to get her may not survive. The title itself will give you a clue that
this is going to get real bloody. Song is so adept at martial arts she can kill
or disarm several opponents. She even dodges bullets, ala THE MATRIX, such is
her speed - or maybe she can slow time. Either way when it is time to leave the
institution her opponent has found her and sent his assassins. What follows is a
series of fights, shootouts, chases and incredible escapes. It is a fast-paced
drama with a slowly revealing mystery as Song finally remembers what she was
doing before she was committed. She has to kill someone, someone very important.
Not only is Raffaele a good writer but he is also a very accomplished artist.
This is a spectacular comic and I recommend it highly.

Title: EARTH 2
Issue Number: 1
Title Story: The Price of Victory
Publisher: DC
Writer: James Robinson
Artist: Nicola Scott
Inker: Trevor Scott
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Dezi Sienty
Cover Artist:  Ivan Ries, Joe Prado & Rod Reis
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

Special advice - it works better to read this title before you read WORLDS'
FINEST, also on sale right now.

Just when you thought DC had reset everything and got all its heroes on one
Earth again they introduce a new version of Earth 2. In the past continuity,
long ago, Earth 2 was the place that older DC heroes, long out of continuity and
mostly replaced by Silver Age counterparts, lived a dimension apart from this
Earth. It was the home of the Justice Society and other Golden age heroes like
the original Green Lantern, Flash and Superman among others.  Now DC is showing
us another version of Earth 2 with a clean slate of possibilities. Right from
the start we see a world under siege by the minions of Darkseid. The Parademons
have spread destruction across the globe and have been resisted by the armies of
the world and of course its super heroes. Under the leadership of Steppenwolf
the Parademons have erected a series of towers around the world. Each gives off
signals that relay power and instructions to the Parademons. But they do not
work independently. When one is destroyed the transmissions are rolled over to
the next one and others are being planted all the time. The heroes can barely
hold things at a stalemate. When I say heroes there are only five that are
involved here. Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman lead the charge and also
involved are Supergirl and Batman's daughter who is also Robin. This whole
sequence is taking place five years in the past. The opening and closing
narration is being done by a man with a familiar name that will have a major
part in future issues. This is issue is about the five heroes I mentioned
before. They devise a plan and carry it out. Supergirl and Robin are in
supporting roles and at the climax of the war they both are sucked into a boom
tube explosion into another world. Meanwhile the fate of the big three is the
highlight of the story. And to give us an idea what is in store for the
"present" on this alternate Earth there is a scene with that narrator and
another where a young man witnesses a god crashing into the ground with a
warning that the Earth is in peril again and will need a hero. I got into this
story right from the start. Although I knew about the fate of Robin and
Supergirl I was not prepared for the rest of the story. This is a different
Earth. It does not need to have different versions of all the current New 52
heroes. Robinson has the freedom to take it wherever he wants, to build his own
Universe and pantheon. The art on this title is strong in support of that
effort. This is an excellent introduction to this other world and has a lot of

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Rebirth
Publisher: DC
Writer: Paul Levitz
Artists: George Perez/Kevin Maguire
Inkers: Scott Koblish
Colors: Hi-Fi/Rosemary Cheetham
Letters: Carlos M. Mangual
Cover Artist: Perez & Hi-Fi
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

Old comic book titles never die, they come back in different versions. WORLDS'
FINEST of course was originally a Superman Batman team up title. Over the years
it has featured team ups with other members of the Superman and Batman families.
In this latest volume we have Power Girl and the Huntress. What is different in
their New 52 iterations is that they both came to Earth five years ago from
Earth 2. Power Girl was Supergirl on that Earth and Helena was Robin and the
daughter of Bruce Wayne. How they got here is shown in the first issue of EARTH
2, now on sale. But have no fear; it is also recapped in this issue. This is
more or less a New 52 origin issue for these two characters. The two have been
stranded on Earth and will strive to find a way back to Earth 2. Helena long ago
decided to assume a new identity to fight crime, since Robin is already taken.
Kara has become Karen and though she gave up the Supergirl costume is just now
coming around to having a hero identity. By the end of the issue she dons the
new Power Girl costume. Both have been successful in their endeavors and do not
lack money to fund their hero activities. While this issue serves to gives us
the details and the background it also needs to have a new plot and that begins
when an R&D lab Karen has purchased in Tokyo becomes engulfed in flames.
Huntress quickly determines the fire was set leading up to the confrontation
with their foe at the end of the issue. This is a good introductory issue. It
explains who the ladies are, how they got here and their motivations going
forward. Karen has vowed to eventually find a way back to Earth 2 while Helena
is more resigned to living her new life. The script is lively and believable and
the art is clean and dynamic. As long as it does not get bogged down on the
quest to get home it should be a decent addition to the New 52.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Guardian
Publisher: DC
Writer: Bryan Q. Miller
Artist: Pere Perez
Colors: Randy Mayor & Chris Beckett
Letters: Saida Temofonte
Cover Artist: B. Cat Staggs
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

It has been a while since SMALLVILLE had its series finale on TV. Now DC has
decided to carry on the series in comic book form with a Season 11. At the end
of Season 10 Clark finally donned the blue and red suit to work openly as
Superman. He and Lois are engaged and Chloe Sullivan is married to Oliver (Green
Arrow) Queen. The issue begins six months after the cataclysm was averted when
Superman pushed Apokolips out of Earth orbit. This issue is a mix of things
among the various characters. Oliver and Chloe are getting ready to leave
Metropolis. Lex Luther is back in his tower though it seems he does not have the
memories of all the things from the past since his resurrection. The first
Superman scene involves Clark flying into space to help repair a Russian space
platform when something rips gapping holes in it. Since he is now out in the
open he is instantly recognized by the grateful Russians. What happened to cause
this is something Chloe investigates in the closing panel as she and Lois make a
startling discovery. In the world of Lex Luthor it seems General Lane is
involved to some degree though his desire to do something about Superman is not
a fervent as Lex's. Most of the rest is characterization and exposition between
Lois and Clark, Chloe and Oliver and Clark and Oliver. I have a mixed reaction
about the issue. If this were truly based on the TV series it would read more
like and episode that moves things forward. While there is a plot that suggests
what may come in the future it is a minor part of the whole. The art is decent
with no major flaws. However none of the characters bear even a close
resemblance to their TV counterpart, which indicates to me it could be a
question of unwillingness to pay royalties for the use of their true likenesses.
I think this is a mistake. If you want to appeal to fans of the TV show make the
comic characters look the same as their TV versions. So I guess this comic comes
across to me as an average book - not bad but not exciting.


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:
From Milestone's BLOOD SYNDICATE - how far back in time could Flashback travel?

Flashback could go back three seconds. The winner is Gary Katzoff.

Here was your no prize question:
What is the most abundant metal in the Earth's crust?

The most abundant metal on earth's crust is Aluminum, with an abundance (by
weight) of 8.23%.

What other "city" name had Kurt Busiek considered when naming KURT BUSIEK'S

Here is your no prize question:
What is the longest running (play time) song to hit the Hot 100?

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. Thank you! - for the wonderful review of Epic Kill #1 from Image Comics. So glad you enjoyed it!