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Friday, May 18, 2012

Comic Reviews 5/18/12


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: Boom! Studios
Creator: Sam Humphries
Writer: Sam Humphries
Artist: Francesco Biagini
Colors: Andrew Crossley
Letters: Ed "Duke" Dukeshire
Cover Artist: Various
Price (USD): $1.00
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction

Here is an explanatory blurb from the text piece. "In HIGHER EARTH we're
introduced to an empire of countless different Earths, across countless
alternate timelines. One dominant planet rules them all: Higher Earth. At the
center of this epic is a revenge plot that concerns Heidi, a girl born in
garbage, and Rex, a soldier gone rogue. Rex and Heidi are two desperate,
dangerous characters that will be forced to traverse the many perilous Earths of
the empire." We are first introduced to Rex as he descends on one such Earth,
call it Garbage Earth. It is the dumping ground for all the other Earths.
Unwanted junk of all types is dumped through a dimensional portal onto this
planet. But some of it is not really junk. He is here to find Heidi but he is
not only a hunter but also someone's prey. Heidi is an inhabitant of this Earth
and collects toys of all types from the stuff being dumped. It is apparent she
has learned how to fight for what she wants. It is clear he knows some of her
history but is surprised to learn she is alone when he finds her. She on the
other hand is fiercely independent and distrusts Rex. So he explains to her that
her world is not the only Earth that the white disk in the sky from which the
stuff getting dumped emits is not a moon. He speaks of other Earths where things
are different, higher Earths. It is then they are attacked by another visitor in
a suit of space armor. They will be forced to form and alliance and Heidi will
have to make a choice if she wants to live. I found the concept interesting and
by the end of the chapter I was truly involved in the plot and where it is
leading. There is enough exposition to understand the two main characters but
enough mystery about why things are happening to intrigue the reader for the
next chapter. Biagini is a clever artist exploring varied layouts and detailed
characters and backgrounds. The finished coloring adds just the right touch. All
this is only a buck so how can you go wrong?

Title: TAKIO
Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Marvel/Icon
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Michael Avon Deming
Colors: Nick Filardi
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Price (USD): $3.95
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

As Bendis explains in his extensive text piece in the back this is not the first
appearance of Taki and Olive, the stars of this comic. A graphic novel came out
last year and after reading this issue you may want to seek it out. The main
point of the comic from the creators of POWERS is to present a super hero comic
for all ages. That does not mean it is just for kids but a comic everyone can
enjoy. So do not be surprised by the "Previously" text inside the front cover.
Taki and Olive are two sisters in a multi-racial, adoptive family. Like many
sisters they drive each other crazy and their over-protective mother makes them
do everything together. In the graphic novel a once-in-a-lifetime accident gave
them both superpowers. We later learn that someone else gained powers as well
but only the two sisters have decided to become the world's only superheroes.
The other girl, Kelly Sue, has become distant from Taki; it may be her father
that was responsible for the accident that changed everything. In fact in the
end we see he knows about them and is working with some unsavory characters to
learn the secrets of how they work. But Taki tries to reach out to Kelly Sue,
even makes a cover story for an earlier incident that makes some of the other
kids suspect that Kelly Sue has powers. Taki is older than Olive and must
constantly watch over her so that she does not give away their secret. The urge
to do the superhero thing is harder to resist for the young girl, even when she
witnesses some schoolyard bullies. This is a fun book, as you would expect from
the all ages designation. It is not done entirely for humor as it does get into
some serious issues. But it is hard not inject the humor of the sibling relation
ship and it comes across as very natural. Bendis puts together a fine script and
his partner turns it into a visual pleasure. Most of the issue introduces us to
the main characters so we are not missing much without the graphic novel. With
that out of the way things are starting to get very interesting. This is a
wonderful comic for everyone. If you know young readers and want to expand their
interest in comics beyond DC and Marvel this is a good choice.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Image
Creator: Jim McCann
Writer: Jim McCann
Artist: Rodin Esquejo & Sonia Oback
Letters: Dave Lanphear
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Supernatural Mystery

The first thing that struck me when I picked this up was that it is an oversized
comic, 48 pages, and is only $2.99. Like HIGHER EARTH I am always happy to see
first issues that give you better than average value for you money. It speaks of
a commitment to get people involved in the work with the confidence they will
come back for more at a regular size and price. Right off the bat I will tell
you that this comic really gives you your three-dollar's worth and more.
Visually it is terrific. Rodin and Sonia compliment each other nicely and
translate the script expertly with changes of perspective; layout and coloring
that just make the work flow nicely from page to page. It may be a bit confusing
at first to keep the characters straight but once you are into it things make
sense from what you see and read. There are three main elements of the plot. The
first involves a twenty-something girl named Elle who is rushed to a hospital
with blunt force head trauma when she was found on a subway platform
unconscious. Her best friend Jo received and incoherent phone call from Elle
before she passed out and soon she and Elle's family are at the hospital waiting
to see how serious her plight is. A lot of the plot ensues in the hospital
between her father, mother and brother as well as her two friends Jo and Dane.
Jo is the suspicious one thinking that this was not an accident and wondering
why anyone would want to hurt Elle. Why indeed?  In other scenes we see a
mysterious person covered by a hoody reporting by phone to someone else about
Elle being roughed up but that the package was delivered. The two are setting
something in motion. We are led to believe that his/her identity is a mystery to
be revealed. We also see this mystery person create another "accident" involving
someone on the way to see Elle in the hospital. So far this all sounds like a
pure mystery tale. But the supernatural aspect is revealed as we look at things
from Elle's perspective. Early on we witness Elle having an out-of-body
experience as she looks at herself in the hospital bed. At first she believes
she is out of her mind, not even able to remember who she is. That is until she
meets another in this astral state welcoming her to the neighborhood. Bobby
explains that hey are in what he calls the Garden. It is a place where souls
like them are stuck in the big sleep, trying to find their bodies or waiting to
move on. Rather than portray their interaction are just a dialogue the creators
make it more interesting by changing the visuals as concepts are bandied about.
So here we have a wandering soul coming to grips with her situation, others in
her life hoping for the best outcome, a mystery about why she was harmed and by
who and other things that will play into it all as things move forward. It is a
multi-layered story that is well crafted and provoking in many ways. This one is
definitely worth grabbing.

Title: TRIO
Issue Number: 1
Title Story: A Day in the Life Death
Publisher: IDW
Creator: John Byrne
Colors: Ronda Pattison
Letters: Robbie Robbins
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

Everyone is familiar with the game of choosing called Rock, Paper, Scissors.
Byrne has taken that simple concept and created a hero team that have
corresponding powers. Rock is much like the Thing from the Fantastic Four. Paper
is mostly two-dimensional and able to stretch her body like Mr. Fantastic.
Scissors can turn his arms into blades appropriately enough. We don't know how
they came to be this way and the names are not of their choosing but of the
press that has seen them in action. They refer to each other as One, Two and
Three. They also have a high tech secret base that few know about. We get a look
at it when Paper is injured and Scissors takes her there in an effort to save
her. They also seem to have private lives. Rock can transform into a normal
human. In fact he must change back, as the longer he maintains his Rock form the
more painful it is to change. His true identity is a secret. He is a teenager,
Colin, who has kept the super hero thing from his family. Scissors is a man
named Ahmed who wears a mask and has a wife or girl friend named Leslie. Only
Paper, Judy, does not hide her face but we have not seen enough to know if it is
what she really looks like or if she can even appear as a normal human. They are
interesting enough from what we have seen so far. We also get the usual
conflicts for a super hero comic. The first is from a group of thugs robbing a
bank with the help of a large robot. As a set up for the next issue we get to
see something happening at sea and the story wraps with a man rising from the
ocean who could be said to be very analogous to the Submariner in looks and
ability. What he calls forth from the ocean's depths will be something our
heroes will have to contend with. Despite characters names this is very
derivative work. How many different super heroes can be created that don't
remind you of one or more just like them?  I was really surprised at the future
villain in the end that will surely have critics saying Byrne is just ripping
off the Fantastic Four and to a degree I agree. Byrne does his usual capable
work with the art but will have to inject something different into this comic if
it is going to grab a lot of fans. Only time will tell.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Avatar
Writer: David Lapham
Artist: Rafael Ortiz
Colors: Digikore Studios
Cover Artist: David Lapham/Rafael Ortiz
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction/Crime Drama
MATURE READERS - Comics on the Edge

Dan is a very interesting character and yes he is pretty much unharmable. But
instead of doing great deeds or making a lot of money he chooses a simpler life
and works to help people for what seems to be less than what he can live on. He
has a friend named Tober who seems to help him find people to help. The first
time we see him at work is in a garage where he is getting beaten up by a bunch
of thugs with bats. He had a simple task, to retrieve a "home video" but somehow
the people that had it thought he was a hired assassin or something. His plan
was to get the recording and if these guys now want to kill him he would play
dead - the whole unharmable thing you know - until they left. The plan did not
work out that way and much later with the client Dan figures out what the real
objective was. That whole sequence served as introductory material to see the
kind of ethics and logic Dan uses and his relationship with Tober as well. The
book actually starts at a murder scene where a woman was cut up brutally. It
soon becomes an open and shut case as the boyfriend is caught with a lot of
evidence pointing at him. But another character, passing through the background
in the middle of the book knows the truth. After Tober was unable to convince
Dan to help her earlier it surprises Dan that she shows up at his door with a
story to tell. She has a compelling story as to why he needs to look into the
murder and an even stronger reason presents itself when Dan opens his apartment
door. What at first seemed a little offbeat for Lapham comes squarely back into
his wheelhouse of murder and mystery in a strong fashion. Ortiz is a good artist
for this work as well. In fact I have found most of the comics from Avatar have
high production values and this one is no exception. This looks to be another
solid story from one of the better writers out there. Give it a look.

Issue Number: 1-SHOT
Publisher: DC/Vertigo
Price (USD): $7.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction
MATURE READERS - Comics on the Edge

Old comic book titles never die; they get to come back when the time is right.
This old DC science fiction staple is back again with an anthology of stories
more suited for an older audience. Like any anthology there are some hits and
misses. Here is a quick recap.

"Verbinsky Doesn't Appreciate It" by Duane Swierczynski & Ramon Bachs
This is a story of a man who was captured by aliens and given a bionic arm. The
narration of his story takes place in bar. The twist on the story is what
happened after he got the arm and why. Several variations are offered and if you
read more into it none or all of them could be true.

"Transmission" by Andy Diggle & David Gianfelice
This is a future story of a time when machines have evolved to be in charge of
things. Human colonies have spread out into the galaxy and this story is largely
a dialogue between a human ambassador on a spaceship run by the machines or
artificial intelligence if you rather. There has been a purging of colonies due
to a contamination that has been spreading but the "disease" is really a
rebellion against the imposed order. The dialogue is actually very compelling
and the true nature of what the ambassador is attempting is the punch line. This
is one of the better stories.

"Asleep To See You" by Ming Doyle
This is a story told entirely in narration is about two female lovers in the
future. One chooses to go to flight school, to travel in space, when it is time
to give the other some space, no pun intended. In this brief tale she tells of
the rigors of the job and often the loneliness of sometimes traveling in stasis.
Over time she realizes what she is looking for was what she left behind. The
ending is a nice finale.

"Here Nor There" by Ann Nocenti & Fred Harper
This is more a mystery from space than in space. It takes place at the bottom of
the ocean as married pair of explorers find a meteor with life attached to. The
story explores the relationship and plays on the famous theory of Scrodinger's
cat. There is a plot involving what to do with the life form and another about
what to do about their relationship.  This one was just ok.

"The Elgort" by Nnedi Okorafor & Michael William Kaluta
This story takes place on another world in a very exotic jungle as only Mike
Kaluta could render it. It centers on the official cataloguer of the jungle,
Ifeoma. Her assistant has finally spotted an Elgort, a rather large beast with a
huge maw. It is not so much vicious as it is dangerous. Her interest in getting
an image of it for the official record changes to concern over the people it is
endangering. It is really not a very deep plot and has more to tell in the

"Breeching" by Steve Orlando & Francesco Trifogli
This involves a societal ritual on a planet where the dominant species are a
form of centaur - half human, half horse. At a given point in their life each
member of the society has to go through a ritual wherein they take a sacred
narcotic drug and through the experience they choose whether to be forerunner or
an occupationist. The story follows a young female and male before and after
this rite. It took me a couple readings to catch the full implication.

"Contact High" by Robert Rodi & Sebastian Fiumara
This story involves love in space. The lead character is gay and think he has
met the love of his life and convinces him to join him in a new space initiative
to clear out all the space junk orbiting Earth. But as time goes on loyalties
shift amongst the three-man crew. The true loyalty will be tested when a major
decision has to be made about something they find in orbit. What at first seemed
like a love story turned into something more with a twist ending

"The Dream Pool" by Kevin McCarthy & Kyle Baker
In the far future the discovery of a moon with an atmosphere sends two different
groups looking to explore and exploit it. What they find is evidence of other
life that once existed here. What they left behind will change the entire
future. The art is different, like something out of MAD MAGAZINE and there is a
good twist ending.

"Alpha Meets Omega" by Mike Allred with colors by Laura Allred
What happens when you die? Mike Allred explores one possibility in the surreal
style he is so good at. In this brief entry he ponders one possibility and the
title is a hint that I was able to figure out before turning to the last page.
The enjoyment of the story is not so much the destination but the journey in
getting there.


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

Kurt said he thought of Omega City but decided on Astro City.  They added his
name to the title to avoid confusion with a cartoon dog of the future.   (Rut,
Roh!) This week's winner is Stu Cathell.

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

At 8 minutes 33 seconds, Don McLean's "AMERICAN PIE"  is the longest song in
length to hit #1 on the Hot 100. The single was split in two parts because the
45 did not have enough room for the whole song on one side. The A-side ran 4:11
and the B-side was 4:31 - you had to flip the record in the middle to hear all
of it. Disc jockeys usually played the album version at full length, which was
to their benefit because it gave them time for a snack, a cigarette or a
bathroom break.

First Publishing did a series of the CLASSICS ILLUSTRATED books.
Who illustrated the first issue of that series?

Here is your no prize question:
What was the first number one single for Elvis Presley?

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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