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Friday, August 17, 2012

Comic Reviews 8/17/12

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David LeBlanc

David LeBlanc was the Editor of the Comic Book Network Electronic Magazine for over ten years. He is a life-long fan of comics and moderated online comic book forums long before the Internet became the place to be. David works part-time at
That's Entertainment, the Eisner-winning comic store in Worcester, MA.


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: Sons of Perdition
Publisher: Valiant
Writer: Fred Van Lente
Artist: Clayton Henry
Colors: Matt Milla
Letters: Dave Lanphear
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

Valiant has added ARCHER & ARMSTRONG to its growing list of revivals of the old Valiant series. Those in the know already are familiar with this popular duo. Armstrong is an Eternal, not in the Marvel sense, but in the sense he has lived a long time. The beginning of this book is the preview run in the other titles last month. It is set in ancient time in Mesopotamia when he and his two brothers Gilad and Ivar are involved in a ritual that Ivar hopes will bring Gilad back to life and Armstrong, whose real name is Aram, wants to stop. The result is a cataclysm that evidently has made Aram, and presumably his brothers and maybe others, into beings who do not die. If that is the case at some point we at least should see Gilad return in his past incarnation as the Eternal Warrior. Next we flash forward to the present and meet Obie Archer who is skilled in a number of martial arts as he passes his final test by defeating all his classmates in the school run by his parents. They are a congressman and his wife who also run a religion based theme park and are members of a secret order called the Dominion. He is now tasked with finding the "Man of Sin" who is not to be named so that Earth can become a paradise. Having been drilled in this cult from an early age Archer accepts the mission and will find his target with the help of glowing talisman called the fulcrum. Of course as you might guess the person he is supposed to destroy is Armstrong. Archer will go looking for him in New York City and the fulcrum will lead him to Armstrong. But as we will learn by the end of the chapter Aram is not the real enemy. This story is a blatant metaphor for the extremes of politics these days. The Archers are the ultra right conservative Christians and the enemies, who need the Fulcrum and other artifacts for their own purposes, are a group calling themselves The One Percent. The story has more than one double cross involved. It seems like Archer is going to get a quick education in the real world and what real evil lurks out there. Aram knows more about these organizations having lived for centuries and fought the sect in its various forms over and over. It appears the two will have to team up for the greater good. While there are a few clichéd characters in the mix here I enjoyed the plot. The characterization of Archer - the innocent sheltered all his life and suddenly exposed to the worst humanity has to offer - is handled well. Contrasting him with the old and wise but not aged Armstrong makes a decent duo moving forward. No doubt Archer will be trying to influence Aram's behavior away from worldly pleasures going forward. The art is stand up from the start. So far Valiant is doing a good job revitalizing these characters. The back of the book has another preview in it. This time it is from issue #5 of X-O MANOWAR wherein we will see the return of another Valiant character, Ninjak. He is not the same as in the past but you will have to read it to see what I mean.

Issue Number: 1
Title Arc: Once a Thief
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: James Asmus
Artist: Clay Mann
Inker: Seth Mann
Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letters: Cory Petit
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

I found this issue to be similar to the first issue of HAWKEYE last week. What I mean is though it does not claim to be the story is about Gambit when he is not an X-Man. The story has Gambit getting back to his roots, in a way. He is attending a formal fundraiser at the home of Borya Cich. Rumors are that Borya bank rolls some of the plans of costumed bad guys and if things go wrong he confiscates their gadgets and other goodies for himself. So Gambit is going to use the cover of the event to find Borya's vault and rob him. I liked the story and its structure. It highlights the charm Remy uses to position himself to where he wants to be both with the bad guys and the ladies. He does strike up a friendship with a female that never really reveals her identity but ends up playing a crucial role in the plot. We also have a script that gets into detail as to the means Remy uses to get to his objective, proving he is indeed a master thief a step above any other. This is not just a super hero story with the hero overcoming the odds by using his powers. From the verbal chess game with Borya to the resourceful methods used to escape detection, every step and possibility is planned for and executed precisely. Of course this is an ongoing story so we are left with a cliffhanger in the end. The art team is competent enough, especially in the layouts that serve the plot well. In all it is an entertaining title that is worth the time and money.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Dark Streets, Snap City
Publisher: Image
Creator: Michael Allred
Writer: Jamie S. Rich
Artist: Mike Norton
Colors: Allen Passalaqua
Letters: Crank!
Cover Artist: Michael & Laura Allred
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

I am not an avid follower of Mike Allred though I have enjoyed some of his work in the past. This series is a spin-off of MADMAN. The Atomics is a super-powered band of heroes that were transformed one day by an alien spore. They are aligned with Frank Einstein, aka Madman. Two of their numbers have gone into space with Madman and the rest are on duty in Snap City where the story begins. Luna is It Girl whose power being able to touch things and take on its properties. She can float on the wind by touching a feather or smash things by touching steel. But lately things have been pretty quiet in Snap city and Luna is bored. The first issue has three elements. The first is a video game, which is not evident at first, that Luna plays with It Girl as the hero. The problem is she has escaped into the game from the boredom of inactivity to the point of addiction. The second element involves a former convict called Skunk who was release from prison when the person he was convicted of killing came back to life. Luna finally goes out on patrol and noticing Skunk going into a pawn shop thinks he is back to his old habits. Her over eagerness is essential to developing this plot. There is more to his story when he is approached by old comrades still on the streets and apparently all using animal-themed powers like Ferret and Hedgehog. They want him to upgrade their outfits but he is trying to change his life. More will come of this later. The third element involves one of the Atomics, Dr. Flem. He wants to use Luna as his assistant so he can run certain experiments on her, as he has in the past on Madman. You just know that somehow this is going to go horribly wrong. And just for a little mystery here and there in the comic there appears a shadow figure that seems to be following It Girl though she is unaware of it. This is how first issue sometimes get structured, leaving a certain amount of plot elements of differing importance that will all be developed as the series progresses. I like Norton's art more than Allred's from the point that it appeals to me personally more. This is a strong first outing and looks to be an interesting series.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Don't Stop Deceiving
Publisher: Aspen
Writer: David Schwatrz
Artist: Micah Gunnell
Colors: David Curiel
Letters: Josh Reed
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

The premise of this series was laid out well in the Zero issue I reviewed earlier. I noted it was similar to another title on the racks AMERICA'S GOT POWERS in that it is about a competition among people with powers with the winner getting to work with the premiere super hero team of the world.  In AGP the main character is a reluctant hero and came upon his powers late and was thrown into the fray by accident. In IDOLIZED the main character, Leslie, has been training and honing her skills for years. When the competition was announced she jumped at the chance to have the opportunity to become a member of the Powered Protectors. That is because all her life she has had an agenda. She wants a shot at the super villain responsible for the death of her family. Even as a preteen she had the power to manipulate energy but when her parents and brother were endangered by the results of a major battle among powered beings on the streets she was not strong enough to save them from being victims of collateral damage. She will use that story to gain sympathy - but as a tale of seeking redemption through a lifetime of hard work and hopeful a shot at qualifying as one of only ten to compete. She will keep quiet that she only really wants revenge. Some of the material in the zero issue indicates that some involved in the Superhero Idol program question her mental stability. This issue only covers her back-story and the audition. How she clinches her spot on the roster is revealing and a bit disturbing. The additional material in the back this time is in the form of two pages from Superpeople Magazine going into the powers and appeal of each of the ten selected contestants, even giving odds on their success with Leslie, aka Joule, ranked fifth with 15 to 1 odds. Actually the last two are mostly obscure by a note laid on top of the page from the leader of the Powered Protectors protesting the very idea of allowing the eventual winner to join the group. So far I like this series and this issue moves it forward nicely. The characterization of Joule is crucial to how she acts in the future and we see so much of her this time it helps a lot. The art is very nice as well, as is usually the case from the Aspen organization. I like that Schwartz is taking time to develop the characters and plot. It will be worth staying to see where it goes from here.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Moonstone
Writer: Eric Esquivel
Artist: Ander Sarabuia
Black & White
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Modern Mythology
Mature - Comics on the Edge

This seemed like an odd title for a comic and the image on the cover is not the usual tall blond Scandinavian character we are used to. Of course the Norse god Thor himself is in the public domain so he can be whatever the creator wants him to be. In this case he looks more like Grunge from GEN 13. The basic mythology is the same as always including the hammer and the All-father Odin. This is a less noble Thor who proclaims early on he is good at two things - lovemaking and murdering. Of course the murdering part refers to enemies of Asgard. After yet another adventure of debauchery Odin has had enough and banishes Thor to Midgard, aka Earth. In this rather twisted tale he ends up befriending a gang of street thugs who are playing at being heroes - so much so that they never take off their masks. When the subject turns to gods and religion the leader, calls himself Death, relates the story of Jesus and how he died for all mankind. This is an unbelievable concept for Thor and he offers himself as a new kind of god, one that will fight for men. The kicker of the story is how Odin reacts when he learns about this. This certainly is an odd book. It probably is more jarring to see Thor portrayed this way, more of a party animal and brawler, which is disconcerting. Still it is a bit comical and the art is exceptionally well done. Sarabia really renders black and white and all the tones better than most. It may not be for everybody but for the low price point it is good entertainment.

Issue Number: 12
Title Story: Every Time I Fall
Publisher: DC
Writer: Gail Simone
Artist: Ardian Syaf
Inker: Vincente Cifuentes
Colors: Ulises Arreola
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Cover Artist: Stanley "Artgerm" Lau
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

I began reading this title when it debuted as one of the New 52 but lost interest after a few issues. I decided to look in again with a little foreknowledge of the ending scene and the fact that Batwoman was crossing over. Like many first time meetings of two heroes somewhere in the comic book manual it says they have to fight each other. And so it happens here. Batgirl is discussing the latest problem in Gotham with Detective McKenna when Batwoman crashes in and Batgirl immediately goes on the offense. When things settle down we learn that the real problem is Knightfall who wants to kill every criminal in the city. Mckenna and Batgirl have been working against that effort but an ally has been kidnapped to force a meeting with Knightfall and Batgirl that evening. So the story becomes more standard super hero team up fare - meet, fight, band together for the common good. Actually it is the details of how this happens that makes it good or bad. Naturally seeing how events led up to this would have helped but the rest of the plot is rather compelling and the ending is a doozy. Those who are really into the title will be biting their nails for a while as the regular continuity takes a break next month for the "zero" issues of the New 52. I think the two characters play well off each other in the very capable hands of Simone. There are no flaws in the artwork either. I did not feel I missed much jumping in on this issue but now I want to know what happens next. Like the others I'll have to wait until October.


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:
On the theme of famous firsts, name the character whose first words uttered in a comic were:
"Are you mad? What have you done? I could see that you two were rehearsing some kind of act -- but this --"

That was Scott Free talking to Oberon and the original Mr. Miracle in Jack Kirby's MISTER MIRACLE #1. No winner this time.

Here was your no prize question:
Chris Klug won the bronze medal at the 2002 Olympic games, and became the first and only transplantee to compete in the Olympics. For what sport did he win his Olympic medal?

Chris Klug is a professional alpine snowboarder. After receiving a liver transplant in 2000, he went on to compete in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and won a bronze medal. This was the first and so far only time a transplantee had competed in the Olympics, either winter or summer.

Crackpot, Frag, Gunther, Jolt and Snapper were all members of what group?

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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