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Friday, September 14, 2012

Comic Reviews 9/14/12


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: 0
Title Story: A Stranger Among Us
Publisher: DC
Writer: Dan Didio
Artist: Brent Anderson
Inker: Scott Hanna
Colors: Jeromy Cox
Letters: Travis Lanham
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

After a year of the New 52 DC has released this title which has some of the scenes in the Free Comic Book Day comic. Key to that segment where three people who had been summoned by the Council of Wizards, seven unidentified magicks and mages who pass judgment on those who they have deemed to have upset the cosmic order.  These three, two men and a woman are the greatest of sinners - the Trinity of Sin. One we saw in cameo in every one of the first issues of the New 52, the mysterious female in the purple robe. One man is not yet identified and this story is about the third - the man who will become the Phantom Stranger. This is his origin story and for me it was a surprising take on the character. The sinner, who is actually never called by name in the story, is Judas Iscariot. He is banished by the Council back to the Field of Blood. Those who know their Bible now it is the land bought with the coins Judas was paid to betray Jesus. Those coins are now bound to him in a necklace. His penance from this day forward will be to walk the Earth until the debt for his sin is paid. He is given the robe we are all familiar with and it has a history as well. There is a big gap in time between then and the current time. It is a long time for anyone to ponder how it is he will atone for his sins and the time has come for him to influence a man of this time and begin his own path to redemption. Who that man is and what he becomes is another surprise I was not expecting. The Phantom Stranger has been around for a long time, appearing only rarely at some of the darkest times, usually in some big event story. This new take on who he is and what his mission entails is interesting. It turns out the silver coins are more than just decorative. They will each be an accounting for another step on his eternal quest. I don't really care that Didio made him Judas. The same story could have been told with a generic sinner with a similar effect. The art is very well suited for the tone of the story. The question is can they move forward with compelling stories? I think it is off to a good start. DC has promoted this title as integral to the entire New 52 Universe. They are setting the groundwork for events soon to come that will have major effects. Start here if you want to be in on it.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Writers: Leah Moore & John Reppion
Artist: Aneke
Colors: Ivan Nunes
Letters: Simon Bowland
Cover Artist: J. Scott Campbell
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Fantasy

The independent publishers have come on strong in the last several years giving us great alternatives to the mainstream DC and Marvel comics. Dynamite has produced a few of those entertaining comics and with this one they could have a big hit. As you can see from the cover it stars three female characters, four if you count the fairy twittering around. It is set in a land of fairy tales and magic characters. The opening panels are masterfully laid out with interesting visual transitions from one panel to the next. In fact that is the pace Aneke keeps up with pauses throughout the entire book. Ivan Nunes supplements the work with some terrific coloring. The three major players are unique. One of them is clearly a mermaid. Another has long, red braided hair. She is apparently homeless and trying to stay unnoticed in the crowd but somehow manages to cause a stir more than once. She is rescued from an angry mob by the mermaid, herself in disguise among the masses. The red head has mysterious tattoos on her arms and a loss of memory as to who she is and how she got them. There is a gem of a mystery here that could be reveled if the two new comrades make it out alive. In other scenes we see two other famous characters, both queens either of which may or may not be the third damsel. One is the queen Rapunzel who with her blind king awaits the arrival of another royal couple. The other is Queen Talia, Sleeping Beauty of lore accompanied by her husband King Aurore. The two in have an encounter of sorts in the streets of Caumont as they approached the castle. The queen has a brief flash of memory when she spots the red head in the crowd. There is also intrigue in the royal court once the royal cousins are gathered when a spy is revealed. Another mystery concerns the existence of a rather eclectic group of fantasy characters watching it all through some form of magic crystal. There is a lot jammed into this first chapter but it all has something that makes you want to know more - including the cliffhanging ending suggesting an early end to one of the characters. Oh, and that fairy on the cover? It may be a unique character or symbolic of the importance fairies play in the overall story - I don't know yet. This story stands on its own. Like FABLES, it takes a few familiar characters but weaves new tales. This one definitely deserves your attention.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: What Men Must Know a Boy Must Learn
Publisher: Cryptozoic Entertainment
Creators: Jerry Holkins and Mike Krahulik
Writer: Ben McCool
Artist: Robb Mommaerts
Inker: Mike Norton
Colors: Rainer Petter
Letters: Tom Long
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Fantasy

This comic is the first book done in conjunction with the gaming company Penny Arcade. I am not familiar with any of their products but I am here to read a new comic and judge it for its merits. After reading it I have mixed thoughts. It is about a group of kids who live in a forest village. They are in a program designed to develop them into guardians of the village, the Lookouts. It is like a scouting program complete with badges to earn. A man with an eye patch, Samson, mentors the five boys. The scenes in this chapter have them anxious for combat but guided by their master and the Elder to learn the lessons they need along the way. For purposes of the introduction we begin in the forest on the road leading to a neighboring village, Yarrow. About a third of the book concerns a family traveling by night trying to get home when to their home they are unexpectedly confronted by a sphinx blocking the way. As is often the case the only way to gain passage is to answer a riddle or suffer dire consequences. This then will be the Lookout's first mission. They must determine why the road to Yarrow is blocked and where did this sphinx come from. But Samson knows how dangerous this can be so he has devised a practice run of sorts. On the one hand it is a clever plot up to a point. The sphinx is interesting and the riddle he posed has me stumped. The scouting theme allows the creators to introduce unique badges as seen in the text piece in the back. However, the overall tone of the story, despite bits of juvenile humor here and there, is rather dark. It is a bit creepy that kids, some are clearly preteen, are going to engage trolls and perhaps face off with a sphinx. The dangers seem to me to be a bit extreme for such young people, even with an adult supervising. It is as if the creators want to have this be more like a cartoon series were the very young can prevail over any odds because they are the heroes of the story. The art itself is also dark but provides good definition of the characters. I think the premise has potential but is just beyond the point where I am willing to suspend my disbelief for the sake of the story. You may feel otherwise.

Issue Number: 0
Title Story: Beginnings
Publisher: DC
Writer: Paul Levitz
Artist: Kevin Maguire with Wes Craig
Colors: Rosemary Cheetham
Letters: Carlos M. Mangual
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

We learned earlier that in the New 52 Power Girl and the Huntress were actually from Earth 2 and are now stranded in the New 52 universe. They were fighting alongside Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman against the forces of Apokolips when they were yanked from their home world. This zero issue goes back to Earth 2 to a time before that when Huntress, daughter of Batman and Catwoman, was Robin and Power Girl was Superman's secret weapon, Supergirl. The story begins with Robin's solo debut under the watchful eye of her mother. She acquits herself well but the fact they did this without Bruce's consent is the cause of some friction. Meanwhile Superman is still training Kara off in Micronesia pushing her to be not just good but perfect. The impact of the main story is about the changes about to occur in both these young girls lives. While training at home Helena gets the emergency signal and heads off wondering what could be so bad that Batman and Catwoman could not handle it. She finds her injured parents outside a building on fire. Batman can barely walk but explains what Catwoman thought was a trafficking ring turned out to be something more. Defying him she rushes into the building. Batman, realizing this is too much for Robin to handle signals Superman but he is off the grid and it will be Supergirl that will respond. Thus we have the first meeting between the two and the beginning of their friendship on a day that will also mark a tragic loss. This is the kind of story I expect from a zero issue. It steps back in time to reveal beginnings and explains some things we may have wondered about. Levitz handles that task deftly and Maguire and company bring it all together in fine fashion. It lays some of the groundwork for both this title and the comic that is set in this world, EARTH 2. It also stands alone as a good story at a reasonable price. This issue accomplishes the task admirably.

Issue Number: 0
Title Story: The New Normal
Publisher: DC
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Doug Mahnke
Inkers: Christian Alamy, Keith Champagne & Mark Irwin
Colors: Tony Alvina & Alex Sinclair
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

Geoff Johns has taken a different approach for the zero issue of GREEN LANTERN. Rather than go back in time and tell some secrets about Hal Jordan years ago he has set this zero issue in the present in order to introduce a new Green Lantern. We have seen this was going to happen in solicitations for future issues and preview art. This issue marks the origin of the next Green Lantern of Earth. If you are wondering how there could be another Green Lantern of Earth you will have to read the GREEN LANTERN ANNUAL #1 to answer that question. This story follows in parallel and immediately after the events in that comic. The only thing left hanging from the annual is what happened to Hal and Sinestro? We get a brief one-page hint at the end of this issue. This issue is about Simon Baz. He is an Arab American and automotive engineer in Michigan. His life has been not easy. Just a boy when the events of September 11, 2001 occurred he has had to live with the distrust and sometimes hatred of others all his life. While he is not a terrorist he does not have a clean record. He has been arrested for illegal street racing and has also had to help his widowed sister and her children. His life is about to get much more complicated as the scene shifts to the present and we see him in a van racing away from the police. When he notices a bomb in the back set on a timer he races to the factory where he used to work, knowing it has been empty for four months. Long story short he is arrested as a suspected terrorist and taken off to some undisclosed location for questioning. Now lets be clear, he is a thief. He purposely stole the vehicle to try and raise cash to help his sister. By the end of the issue he is chosen by a Green Lantern ring and that drastically alters his future. His identity is not a secret to the feds who held him or to Amanda Waller who is informed of the escape with the help of the ring. How or if they will use that information remains to be seen. This is an interesting development in the GL family. Is he truly the best candidate the ring could find or is it possibly defective? Will he join the Justice League now that Hal has resigned? While it does tie in to the annual and the beginning of the Rise of the Third Army event it stands alone as an origin story introducing more ethnic diversity to the DC pantheon of heroes. The art is as good as it gets as it really brings out key points of the plot in dynamic fashion. If you are choosing from among the zero issues this one should be close to the top.

Issue Number: 0
Title Story: Make It Right
Publisher: DC
Writer: Judd Winick
Artist: Freddie Williams II
Inker: Rob Hunter
Colors: Richard & Tanya Horie
Letters: Rob Leigh
Cover Artist: Ivan Reis, Joe Prado & Hi-Fi
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

Here is another New 52 zero issue that goes back in time to see origins of the main character - in this case Oliver Queen. He is a brash young adult who has liberal views on the ecology and the harmful effects his father's company has on the environment. The story opens with him in the midst of throwing a party on an oilrig platform somewhere in the Pacific Ocean. This character seems to be all about partying and women. While his best friend has been teaching him archery he is not very good at it, especially when he is drunk. He has been dating a girl for four weeks, probably a new record for him. At nineteen he has already failed in four jobs his father set up for him. He is supposed to be doing clerical work on the rig as a punishment but has turned it into a vacation with partying friends, some of which have questionable connections. That will get him into to trouble as the arriving helicopters supposedly bringing more booze actually bring terrorists led by a cyborg-looking guy named Iron Eagle. Since this issue is the origin events on the rig will lead to Ollie being stranded on that island and of course learning to become a great archer in order to survive. While the issue does not dwell on that experience very long the later scenes indicate his whole attitude about his purpose in life has changed. This issue also introduces Roy Harper as a tech wizard and a hacker. The issue closes with the first meeting between him and Ollie. This is actually a decent story laying out the background with a twist from the old origin. It is more about the changes in Ollie's life than about a super hero. In fact we only see Green Arrow in costume in the last panel. The story instead gives us the motivation behind Oliver's mission. The art is pretty good with a lot of detail in the line work and terrific coloring. I would say it is a worthy retelling of the beginning of Green Arrow.


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:
Who was the first MAD artist to draw DAREDEVIL?

Instinct told a lot of people that the artist beginning with issue #5, Wally Wood, would be the answer. But, the second DD artist, Joe Orlando, started on issue #2 and he had worked on MAD as well as many other EC publications in the past. The winner this time is Gary Katzoff.

Here was your no prize question:
Who was the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?

Aretha Franklin is the "Queen of Soul" and the first woman inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. She was inducted on January 3, 1987. David McBarron earns a spot in the no prize trivia hall of fame for getting it first.

SABRE, a graphic novel published by ECLIPSE in October of 1978, is credited by Overstreet with being the first graphic novel for the direct sale market. America's First Graphic Novel Publisher is claimed by another company two years earlier.  Can you name the book and publisher?

Here is your no prize question:
They account for more than 25 percent of all the mammals on the earth. What are they?

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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