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Friday, September 28, 2012

Comic Reviews 9/29/12


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
Publisher: DC
Cover Artist: Josh Middleton
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Fantasy Adventure

This larger sized monthly includes two features in the sword and sorcery vein.
Story Title: AMETHYST - Homecoming
Story Arc: The Catalyst
Written by Christy Marx, art by Aaron Lopresti with colors by Hi-FI. Letters by Rob Leigh.

This title is part of the Third Wave of New 52 titles and since it is zero month it starts with issue #0 instead of #1.  It is a title with more than one feature, the first being the return of a character from a while back.

Amethyst is a tale of two worlds. It begins on Earth and the new girl in school Amy Winston. Her life has been one of the misfit among others in high school. As she tells it she used to try to fit in but gave up around the sixth grade. The cool kids shun her or make jokes behind her back. The only one she talks too is a rather plain Jane named Beryl. In the plot in the opener Beryl is setting herself up for a fall when she believes a star player for the football team is actually interested in her when he invites her to meet him at night behind the bleachers. It is only Amy's instincts about what his true intentions are that will keep the meeting from being a real tragedy. Amy's home life is not very normal either. She and her mother live in a camper.  Her mother, Grace, has always told her that when she turns seventeen they would return home, to their real home. Meanwhile she has been training Amy in combat with sword and shield for a long time - not your average family activity. What we learn as the scene shifts to another world in another dimension explains the mother's motivation. The scene is Amethyst Tower, the seat of the Amethyst House on Gemworld. Here Lady Mordiel is the monarch and has been ruthlessly hunting down any possible people from the Amethyst bloodline, even those several generations removed. She can test those using a special crystal that indicates any vestige of the family power.  She wants all that power for herself. She knows that her sister, Graciel, will return to Nilaa when her daughter turns seventeen. It is only by eliminating those two members of her family that she will gain the full powers of the Amethyst bloodline. So we come into the story at a crucial point. Graciel has prepared Amy for this day when they will cross over to their home world and connect with allies to take what is rightfully theirs, the Amethyst throne. The added touch of Amy being clueless about her real heritage until just before the passage is made makes her a compelling character. The visuals are handled well, especially by the colorist to keep the two worlds distinct. The plot is laid out along the way as the characters are explained and developed, heading to the big moment of confrontation. In an interesting touch as the battle is joined on Gemworld we get one look back at Earth at the place Amy and Graciel left the crystal they used to make the transdimensional shift behind. A well known DC character happens upon the crystal promising another dimension to the story moving forward - someone you would not expect without reading any online reviews. It is not a bad introduction and promises to be a lot more interesting moving forward.

Story Title: Beowulf
Story Arc: The Perfect Soldier
Written by Tony Bedard with art by Jesus Saiz and Brian Reber. Lettering by Steve Wands

I am not sure if this is a modern retelling of the classic story or just a story set in a post disaster future utilizing names from the original. In either case the story stands by itself and only those well versed in the original work can be critical about how this story relates to it. Basically we have a future world where men are back to living as people did in medieval times, traveling on horseback. The story is narrated by a young boy, Wiglaf, on his first journey from his homeland with a bunch of warriors. They are seeking what most of them believe to be a myth. It is said that Beowulf is the perfect soldier, bred by ancient sorcery and fiercer than any man who ever lived. The leader of the expedition expects they will return to their king with word that Beowulf does not exist. He thinks they are on a fool's journey, to find Beowulf and convince him to return with them to the Danelaw to slay the monster Grendel that has been plaguing them every night. What they find is that Beowulf is indeed not a myth and Wiglaf will be lucky to make it back to his homeland at all. There is a minimal mix of old forgotten technology mixed in with the basic sword and armor method of fighting. The art is well produced with fine detail in penciling and inking. It is a good companion piece to the first story and promises to be a strong action story down the road.

Title: GHOST
Issue Number: 0
Title Story: Resurrection Mary
Publisher: Dark Horse
Reprinting the serialized story from DARK HORSE PRESENTS #13 - #15
Writer: Kelly Sue Deconnick
Artist: Phil Noto
Letters: Richard Starkings and Comicraft
Cover Artist: Jenny Frison
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Supernatural

This title collects the first arc reintroducing GHOST. The story will continue from here in a four-issue mini-series. Resurrection Mary is the name given to a ghost said to haunt Resurrection cemetery in Chicago. The story centers around a former journalist named Vaughn Barnes who has been reduced to moonlight as a cameraman for a cheap paranormal investigation cable show called "Phantom Finders." It opens with him shooting a segment with the show host, Tommy Byers, at the cemetery when to their amazement the curious devise they have hooked up to a generator actually appears to summon the expected ghost. Tommy's reaction is what you would expect - realization that they may have just hit the jackpot. When the effort to recreate the occurrence for the few real journalists they can gather fails their relationship is strained. It is only when Vaughn is alone at his apartment that things really get moving. Replacing the crystal into the box he is once again visited by Mary who hovers but says nothing. She can be solid or ghostly by will. The story will heat up from here. We learn that Tommy purchased the magic box from someone who was not supposed to sell it. Thugs with guns will come looking for it. The two partners are in trouble with the bad guys but what if anything will Mary do? The whole second half of the story serves to better develop the two main characters while they deal with the consequences of their actions. Mary has become their companion though what we learn about her is very little. While there are some interesting even comical moments in this part it seems more to be setting things up for the new series later. Noto does a really fine job in bringing it all to life but the plot leaves us waiting for more by the end. It is a decent first issue that hangs out enough information with the hope you will want to cone back for more.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Rise of the Heroes
Publisher: Red Circle Comics/Archie Comics
Writer: Ian Flynn
Artist: Ben Bates
Inker: Gary Martin
Colors: Matt Herms
Letters: John Workman
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

This comic brings back the Red Circle heroes that have been around of and on since the Golden Age of Comics. Back then the team known as The Mighty Crusaders fought for justice and freedom as the US prepared to enter WWII. That was then and this is now. Long ago the retired heroes founded the small town of Red Circle to start their own families and take a much-deserved rest. Their children and heirs have grown up as normal citizens unaware of their parents' heroic acts. They live in peace but all of that is about to change. As many of the old friend meet at the mayor's house to celebrate the founding of Red Circle there is normal activities - touch football among the young, a toast to the past among the elders. But then someone crashes the party - their old archenemy Brain Emperor. He is bent on destroying them all and just might have the power to do it. As most of the old heroes spring into action the Shield is given the task of getting all the children to safety. There is plenty of action and enough editorial comment to clues us in at least as to who is who among the characters - both their real names and code names. As the Mighty Crusaders put into place a desperate last-ditch move the young members of the families have a lot to process and many questions to be answered. I liked the format and the plot. Rather than dwell on the past Flynn develops the present with a large cast of characters, many of who may not survive to the next issue. The title after all is the NEW Crusaders and one of the alternate covers indicates a new version of the team with much younger heroes mentored by one of the originals. In the meantime the set up is complete and the development of that new team will begin next issue. It is a good first outing in a crowded market. It deserves to at least to be given a chance.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Ghouls Night Out
Publisher: IDW
Creators: Stephan Nilson & Charles Pritchett
Writer: Stephan Nilson
Artist: Ibrahim Moustafa
Colors: Romulo Farjado Jr.
Letters: Charles Pritchett
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Monster Horror/Comedy

I believe this comic had its beginnings as a digital comic first. There is a recap of the story before this one so you can treat this issue as a jumping on point. Scottie Allison and Howie Lynch were loyal animal control specialists in Cleveland until budget cuts eliminated their jobs. So the two opened their own animal capture company called THE POUND. Early on they had a call to get a large dog terrorizing the high school but when the job was done they found that they were living in a city of werewolves and other monsters. To catch us up on the extent of the problem the opening scenes give us a taste. First the Creature from the Black Lagoon is freely walking the city, but is portrayed as a has been drinking from a bottle and bemoaning the attitude of the younger generation about the film. More importantly two business people are having a conversation about what affect the werewolf incident has had on the controlling council of the vampire clan. These two are high up on the chain but how serious the situation has become is soon made very clear. But this is also a comedy. The first we see of our two heroes they are rowing out on a lake to lure the Creature. It seems he has been sighted whenever a sporting event near the lake results in a ball going into the lake. He seems to be stealing the equipment but not hurting anyone. So Howie is going fishing using golf balls as lures. It is comical when you read it. The ensuing mayhem seems to get very dangerous but ends with another classic form of fishing that proves more successful. There is another subplot involving a young family being watched by one of the rebellious vampires for some reason we are not privy to. To add another element to the mix pair of government agents are about to get involved with the boys at THE POUND. Most of this is set up and characterization for what is to come. While it is not laugh out loud funny it is a bit humorous. The world of the underground vampire sect will no doubt draw the two guys into the most dangerous threat of their early career. It is all going somewhere and taking time to get there. The art is clean, detailed and colored expertly making a slick presentation. It is too early to say how this one will play out. It did not grab me as a must have series but it was entertaining all the same.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Aspen
Creators: Michael Turner, David Wohl, Brad Foxhoven & Scott Lobdell
Writer: David Wohl with Scott Lobdell
Artist: Emilio Laiso
Colors: Brett Smith with Stefani Rennee
Letters: Josh Reed
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction

This is one of those comics where it is essential to read the text piece on the inside cover first before reading the comic proper. It is formatted as a blog page called Green Horizons - UFO info U need 2 know. The current entry fills us in about the disappearance of Carla Lee and her 8-year-old daughter Celeste from the town of Hillcrest, CA. Reports of UFO sightings that evening leads many to believe it was an alien abduction. Flash forward years later to Primo Nevada, miles east of Hillcrest and a strange object crashing to the Earth in the desert witnessed only by the producer of a webcast on extraterrestrials. He is convinced this is his big chance to have a close encounter. But the main story takes place back in Hillcrest as Hunter Wilson, a junior at Hillcrest High, is about to have an encounter himself. He is alone at home, his mother being away in Japan on business for a couple of weeks, when there are lights outside that draw his attention and to his amazement a naked girl steps out of their swimming pool speaking a strange language. Finally she says in English, "they are here" and then collapses. The story that evolves from there has Hunter realizing this is Celeste returned to her home ten years later. She has no memory of where she has been but immediately we see she has telekinetic powers. So Hunter will try to help her readjust while figuring out what to do. He enrolls her as a transfer student to the school and since his mom is away her secret is safe for now. The main plot revolves around her mixing in with his friends and how that changes the group dynamic. The day-to-day high school stuff is dealt with for one day until a strange creature crashes into the school roof, clearly looking for Celeste. As a battle ensues, Celeste showing just how powerful she is, there is collateral damage and only advanced alien technology can hope to repair the damage. I think the idea behind it all is a good science fiction plot I found the execution a bit lacking. It is implausible that a strange girl with no paper trail background information at all could just start going to a school and participate in classes and other activities. It is evident Celeste was changed during her years away and is now more than human. Going forward other teenagers will be similarly changed to aid her against the alien menace. We have yet to learn who the bad guys are and why they want Celeste. Do they have a larger plan against humans? I guess we have to wait for more clarification. The interior art is appealing enough but I have a problem with the Michael Turner cover art. He draws this one much like J. Scott Campbell does most women. The legs are way too long in proportion to the torso. Over years this style has become acceptable to the fanboys, appealing for some reason, but it is wrong. I give this one good marks for the effort in the art and plot but a lower grade on the script. It may have more appeal next time. We'll see.

Issue Number: 0
Publisher: DC
Cover Artist: Sook
Price (USD): $5.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

This anthology series features five segments. Four are about not so successful New 52 first wave titles and the other has appeared in this title before. These are special "zero" stories that the cancelled books did not get to in their run. Clearly DC editorial has plans for the characters in the future.

"Origins Matter After Cancellation" with story and art by Keith Geffen and Dan Didio, inks by Scott Koblish, Colors by HI-Fi and letters by Travis Lanham.
First of all the story title is very apt considering the title itself was cancelled. Since this is heavy in Kirby mythology Geffen is a perfect fit to give it the right look. The whole segment consist of a dialogue between Maxwell Lord and Brother Eye, the sentient satellite responsible for the creation of OMAC in an elaborate plan to police the world after taking control of all the computers on the planet. As the two banter in a verbal game of chess the origins of Brother Eye and OMAC are retold in visuals. In relation to the cancelled book it fills in the blanks about what came before and closes that circle. The cryptic "THE END?" as it closes out indicates DC will get back to OMAC soon.

By James Robinson, Tom Derenick, Mike Atiyeh and Dave Sharpe.
This is of course about Michael Holt and it begins on the day he first donned the costume of Mr. Terrific. The super intelligent, financially successful scientist is about to explore the ninth dimension for the first time. We get to learn about some of the reasons for the mask and the technology it contains as well as the T spheres. But even more interesting is his experience on the other side of the portal. It is not only a look into his past but also his future. He gets to see key days in his past and some enlightening things about his future. It is no secret he will end up on a future day on Earth Two but in his relative time this is his first look at a whole different group of heroes he does not know, except for one. He sees Kara, Power Girl, attacking him there for some reason and he witnesses what appears to be his own death. But are these visions of the future fixed or only possibilities?  We will have to be reading EARTH 2 to find out those answers.

"Balance of Power" by Rob Liefeld, Marat Mychaels, Matt Yackey and Dezi Sienty
The current incarnation of Hawk and Dove get an origin appearance here. They are Hank Hall, avatar of war and agent of chaos with Dawn Granger, avatar of peace and agent of order. Their origin is related in visuals during a debate between the celestial characters of the female PEACE, Goddess of Order and War, God of Chaos. These two embodiments of primary forces are depicted in style and their dialogue along the lines you would expect. Meanwhile we see the first Hawk and Dove team, which included Hank's brother Don Hall and how that evolved over time and circumstance to the power of the avatar of order being transferred to Dawn. Meanwhile in the main narration each of these gods state their case as to why they will triumph in the eternal struggle. I am inclined to believe that it is indeed a struggle eternal with neither side ever truly overcoming the other for long. Rather than having a basic story with the human characters fight some villain this story sets the tone for the future stories as we are promised their story will be continued.

"Mother Machine" by Tony Bedard, Carlos Rodriguez, Bit, Guy Major and Carlos M. Mangual

I only sampled the first couple issues of the Blackhawks title when it started. This story takes place five years ago at the time when the newly beginning Justice League was waging a battle with the invading forces from Apokolips. The plot here has the Blackhawks joining in and when one of their own is captured the team as it is at the time will mount a daring rescue against orders. They must face these strange creatures called Parademons to fight there way to the place she is being held. They are in for a big surprise when they find her. This story serves to show the team in its early days while giving us the origin of another character included in the story title, Mother Machine. The art is very good and as short as it is the plot provides a succinct story properly structured. Mother Machine and the Blackhawks will be seen again somewhere.

"Instant Karma" by Tony Bedard, Scott McDaniel, Guy Major and Dave Sharpe

The final entry is the origin story of Boston Brand, Deadman of the New 52. The basics of the familiar story remain intact. Brand is a circus aerialist and daredevil that is shot while performing. Rather than pass over to his reward or punishment his soul is met by a goddess who explains he must go back as a ghost no one can see. He will be able to enter the bodies of any human and take control of that person making them say or do anything. He is supposed to restore his cosmic balance by helping the living do the right things or correct bad things. But in this origin he has his own first mission, which is to find his killer. This is actually a superb script and my favorite story in the book. It has Brand tracking down his killer on his first mission in which he has inhabited a body only to find out this person actually is his killer. His actions and their consequences are skillfully scripted with good visuals supporting it. There is an ironic twist through the story right up to the end.


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:
The DC/MARVEL joint venture AMALGAM Comics had characters from each company meld into one.  Who did LOBO meld with in the June 1997 title?

Lobo and Howard the Duck became Lobo the Duck! The winner by the dice roll is David Mc Barron.

We all know Steve Ditko was the first penciller in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN.
Who was the second?

Here is your no prize question:
When Al Capone would hand out his business cards, what did it say he did for a living?

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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