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Friday, August 24, 2012

comic reviews 8/24/12


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 (of 4)
Title Story: Damntown
Publisher: DC
Creator: Moore & Gibbons
Writer: Brian Azzarello
Artist: Lee Bermejo
Colors: Barbara Ciardo
Letters: Rob Leigh
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero
Mature - Comics on the Edge

The latest entry in the BEFORE WATCHMEN series takes a closer look at Rorschach. In this issue it is 1977. Rorschach has already begun his quest for vigilante justice. This episode follows him as he tracks down the source of street drugs. There is another plot that leads the issue involving the murders of females who are left naked in alleys with phrases carved into their body with a scalpel. The killer has been dubbed the Bard by the media. There are only a couple of scenes involving the latest victim but no doubt at some point Rorschach will be involved. For now he has decided to target a local pusher and use his rather convincing methods to get information on the source of the drugs. In this case he may be letting his enthusiasm get the best of him when he finally finds what he is looking for. But he chapter is more than just this. There are a couple of themes that spring to the forefront by the time the chapter is finished. One is made clear to us by the narration in the form of entries into Rorschach's journal. Through these we learn more about his tortured childhood. His mother is not a model parent, bringing a different man home each night and subjecting him to the cold outside to the point of frostbite. He clearly hates her and has found his own way to lash out at the abuse and depravity in the world around him. We also see his single-minded dedication to this cause when we see his reaction to a brutal beating he received at the hands of some street thugs. Azzarello has given us a lot of insight into the man and what drives him.  The artwork is spectacular and painfully graphic in some scenes. It fits well with the story being told. I have not been disappointed with any of the titles in this series and this one keeps that standard. As always the latest chapter of The Curse of the Crimson Corsair by Len Wein & John Higgins gets two pages in the back. For a change this episode has less action and more introspection by the central character involved. It will not mean as much unless you have been following the whole story in the other titles.

Issue Number: 2
Publisher: Image
Writer: Time Seeley
Artist: Mike Norton
Colors: Mark Englert
Letters: Crank!
Cover Artist: Jenny Frison
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Horror
Mature - Comics on the Edge

I was impressed enough with the first issue of this series to look into the second chapter. We first saw that in the town of Wausau, Wisconsin a strange phenomenon has been taking place. Some people that have died, by natural causes or by mayhem, have come back to life, but not like the zombie undead do. They are called Revivers by the locals and it has forced authorities to quarantine the area and call in the CDC until they can figure out what is going on. In that effort the opening scene this time has the local coroner about to do an autopsy for the first time on a Reviver. She died the first time from a heart attack but when she was revived she was bent on murder and was stopped by the sister of a local deputy who stabbed her with a scythe. Even with her skullcap removed the old lady won't stay dead long. But the central part of the story revolves around the deputy, Dana Cypress, and her killer sister Martha. Dana has learned Martha herself is a Reviver but neither has told their dad the Sheriff. Dana was put on the task force to aid the CDC rep but this business with her sister has rattled her quite a bit. Her father is even more rattled. He knows Martha saved her sister but is furious that Martha was at the crime scene though Dana was just giving her a ride when she got the call. Martha is really screwed up by everything, including her father's treatment of her sister and will defy him once again for what seems to be more self-destructive behavior. That seems to run in the family, as Dana finds her own way of coping with things that could get her in trouble as well. We are slowly seeing the scope of the problem here, both in major scenes of confrontation and little bits that are not clarified. There is a mysterious alien looking creature scene only in the first chapter and in this one a man and his dog are spooked by noises outside their cabin. Almost disjointed from everything else is another scene in which an amateur exorcist has his own unique way of "curing" an apparently possessed teenager. What this has to do with anything else is not revealed. This is clearly a horror story that is taking its time getting to the big reveal. That is not a bad thing. The characters are being developed giving us a better appreciation for their reactions as time goes on. So far the art has been excellent in every aspect. I think this book will gain more readers as word of mouth spreads. Check it out while you can.

Issue Number: 101
Title Arc: Something to Fear, part 5
Publisher: Image
Creator: Robert Kirkman
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Charlie Adlard
Gray Tones & Cover Colors: Cliff Rathburn
Letters: Rus Wooton
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Horror
Mature - Comics On the Edge

WALKING DEAD is wildly popular and has already reached the milestone 100 issues with back issues of the early issues fetching high prices and trade paperbacks flying off the shelves. I'll admit I am a big fan of the TV show but have not been reading the comics so I decided to pick up the latest issue to see how things are going. First I will say this is not a comic you can just jump into at any point. It is structured to go smoothly from issue to issue without bogging down reviewing what has gone before. After 100 issues a lot has gone before. There is a brief recap informing us that Rick and his group were heading for the hilltop when they were attacked by someone named Negan whose Saviors killed one of Rick's group in retribution leaving them afterwards to continue to round up supplies. The death of the comrade hit everyone hard, especially Maggie who blames Rick. Rick's son Carl has had to grow up fast in this world as is evident from his reaction. Aside from this immediate aftermath there are other scenes, first at a place they have visited before and later when they arrive at their home. The main thing I take away from this chapter on its own is that the survivors in Rick' group have not only the dead to worry about but also other groups of survivors. But that has been one of the themes from the beginning. There are reunions in this chapter - some are happy and some are filled with recriminations. It is part five of an arc titles Something to Fear. The ending indicates it is not over yet but the good guys may have just got an upper hand. I can appreciate the need to tell the story in larger arcs and will have to consider getting the trades to see the bigger scope of things. Adlard does a fine job aided by Cliff's gray tones. It is easy to see in just one issue how people can get hooked on the series.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Dark Waters Rising
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Writer: Jim Zub
Artist: Andrew Huerta
Colors: Ross Campbell
Letters: Marshall Dillon
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Fantasy/Role Playing Game Adaptation

Pathfinder is a role playing game from Paizo Publishing. It apparently incorporates the usual types - Elves, sorcerers, wizards, goblins, human warriors and the like. The action is centered on a Varisian coastal town called Sandpoint. The main characters are Seoni, a female human sorcerer, the human fighter Valeros and the rogue female elf Merisiel. On the way to Sandpoint they are attacked in broad daylight by a band of goblins, a very strange occurrence. When they see strange markings on the goblins they decide to take one of the bodies to the wizard adventurer Ezren for his guidance. They of course get into a barroom brawl along the way and Ezren later shows concerns for the activity of the local goblins becoming more often and brasher than normal. He decides their best course of action is to follow a band to see their patterns and where they gather. What they find is shocking and the impetuous Valeros may spoil the mission before it even gets started. This seems to be a typical sword and sorcery tale and not much more. The characters are interesting enough and the action keeps moving at a good pace. The artwork is very accomplished including some spectacular coloring work. As a bonus many pages in the back are devoted to character sketches and run downs of their motivations and abilities. There is also information on the town and its environs. Fans of the game will no doubt enjoy all this data and role players who are curious may find it enough to give the game a try. For what it is it is a good effort.

Issue Number: 12
Title Story: When Dinosaurs Walked the Earth
Title Arc: Kid Flash
Publisher: DC
Writer: Fabian Nicieza
Artist: Jorge Jimenez
Colors: Guy Major
Letters: Dezi Sienty
Cover Artist: Ryan Sook
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

This DC anthology series focuses on the multitude of characters that usually do not have their own titles. The last arc was about Vandal Savage and his daughter. This one focuses on one of the Teen Titans, Bart Allen, the Kid Flash. The issue starts out with Bart narrating a brief recap of recent events. The Titans have escaped from Mystery Island and were teleported to New York City. The other information we need to know is that three dino-teens got teleported with them and therein lies the story for this story arc. He first tracks down a pterodactyl girl known as Dac who claims she and her friends, Teryx and Steg, are seeking adventure. Bart has the obligatory fight scene with Teryx when he believes Bart is attacking her. But there is the problem with the third dino-teen Steg, who is ripping up Chinatown when he finds lizards in terrariums in a local store. It turns out not only is he a genius but also a dino-supremacist who is bent on creating a world where dinosaurs are the dominant species. He has formulated a potion that can change existing reptiles into larger counterparts and will threaten to do even more to the human population. So the premise is set for mayhem and will not end in this issue. As it turns out the story is merely a prelude to a continuing story that follows in TEEN TITANS #12. So this issue is more of a tease to get people who are interested in Bart to hopefully get hooked into crossing over to the main title to see what happens next. That is not a bad thing but I would have preferred a stand-alone story. The art is decent with some dynamic coloring that finishes it nicely. Now that you now the deal you can decide if it is worth your time.

Issue Number: 1-Shot
Publisher: IDW
Creator: Gene Roddenberry
Cover Artist: Travis Charest
Price (USD): $7.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction/TV Adaptation

This latest 100-page spectacular from IDW features two collected stories from STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION and STAR TREK: VOYAGER comics. Thos who regularly read those titles may not need to buy it but those who enjoy the occasional return to those popular TV series will enjoy it. One hundred pages for eight bucks is a good value. Here are my thoughts on each story.

Story: Star Trek: The Next Generation - Embrace the Wolf
Writer: Christopher Golden & Tom Sniegoski
Artist: Dave Hoover
Inker: Troy Hubbs, Jason Martin & Christy Stack
Colors: Jeremy Cox
Letters: Naghmeh Zand

This story finds Captain Picard and the crew of the Enterprise approaching the normally peaceful planet of Enoch-7. Things have changed dramatically lately as the planet has experienced worldwide violence leading up to atomic explosions as they just reach orbit. When they find the president of the planet in safe hiding he explains they suspect some kind of contagious insanity. After the first known murder several months ago it seems more and more people exhibited fear and paranoia, a phenomenon that escalated rapidly from one person to another. Soon brother killed brother and when it reached members of the defense ministry eventually war and destruction ensued. The away team cannot detect any kind of biological or chemical reason for this. That is because it is cause by an ethereal entity that hitches a ride back to the Enterprise in Dr. Crusher and sets about to continue its method of operation on the Enterprise. When Troi discovers the truth she learns the name of the entity is Redjac. Data is then able to relate information from the data files. Redjac has been known to exist for centuries with his earliest activity being that of Jack the Ripper on Earth. It was believed that he was destroyed when the crew of the original Enterprise beamed it into space dispersing him harmlessly in the void. Apparently he has found away to coalesce his atoms and now is slowly taking over control of the Enterprise and its crew. This is a classic theme in the Star Trek canon and the story is about how this particular crew fights him without harming fellow crewmembers. The key scenes are in the holodeck where he has transformed it London at the time of Jack the Ripper and then transports crew members into the deck to stalk and kill. Naturally the outcome is never in doubt. This is a decent tale and Mr. Golden turns out a decent script. The art team does a very good job in capturing the likeness of all the familiar characters right down to the varied complexion colorings. I enjoyed this story very much.

Story: Star Trek: Voyager - False Colors
Writer: Nathan Archer
Artist: Jeffrey Moy
Background Assists: Philip Moy
Inks: W.C. Carani
Colors: Wildstorm FX
Letters: Ryan Cline

This story highlights Seven of Nine and her connection to the Borg. The Enterprise encounters a debris field, which they stop to investigate. It appears to be a cut up starship. When they examine a large piece it appears it was destroyed by the Borg, though there is no evidence that the Borg is anywhere near this area. When they eventually determine that something about the wreckage is Borg it is too late. They are caught in a tractor beam from a ship that has Borg qualities but is like nothing they have ever seen. The plan becomes one of insertion of an away team that will be disguised as Borg until they determine what they are facing. As it turns out the mystery ship is only half Borg. Seven is able to interface with the ship but not entirely. There are a group of scavengers that present a danger to the Enterprise making this challenge unique. This story is a bit longer than it needs to be in my opinion. While it is a good enough plot it is stretched to fill the pages required. The art is fine though not as true to the actually TV characters as the first story. Still it is enjoyable enough and fits the volume well.


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Last week's trivia question:
Crackpot, Frag, Gunther, Jolt and Snapper were all members of what group?
The answer is the Blasters. The winner by the dice is Scott Mercier.

From the Silver Age - Who recovered the Cosmic Cube after the Red Skull dropped it in the ocean?

Here is your no prize question:
What fast-food franchise got its start in a Shell gas station in 1930?

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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