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Friday, October 5, 2012

Comic Reviews 10/5/12

My View                                     
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: 0
Title Story: Underwater
Publisher: DC
Creator: Paul Norris
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artists: Ivan Reiss & Joe Prado
Colors: Rod Reis
Letters: Nick J. Napolitano
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

The last of the New 52 zero issues are out now. First up is AQUAMAN. This is a true origin story and begins not five but six years ago. It is a time when Arthur Curry's dad is on his deathbed and Doctor Stephen Shin has announced that Arthur is from Atlantis. Thomas Curry's last request to his son is that he find his mother and tell her that he loves her and never stopped waiting for her. This day is the turning point in Arthur's life. When he is hounded by the paparazzi to verify that he is Atlantean he declares he is not one of them and does not belong on land, diving into the sea on a quest to find his mother. Much of the first half goes along with the title of the story with Arthur scouring the seven seas in search of Atlantis and learning more about his abilities beyond breathing underwater. A chance encounter leads him to a fishing village in Norway where he finally meets another from Atlantis, Vulko, long-time advisor to the Atlantean Throne. It is Vulko who will enlighten Arthur on the history of his people after his mother returned leaving Arthur with his father. He will learn of her fate and the current situation under the Atlantean Guard ruled by his half brother Orm. The story only takes us to the point when Arthur gets his first glimpse of Atlantis. There is much of his story that is untold going forward, some of which was already revealed in previous issues. This issue fills in more of the beginning in fine style visually by the art team. If you are already a fan of this popular New 52 title you will enjoy it. For others it is a good jump on point to see why this title is selling so well.

Title: TALON
Issue Number: 0
Title Story: The Long Run
Publisher: DC
Plot: James Tynion & Scott Snyder
Writer: James Tynion
Artist: Guillem March
Colors: Tomey Morey
Letters: Sal Cipriano
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

I have felt for a long time that there are too many Batman family titles and yet here is another one. I only sample the main titles on occasion so I am not up on the whole Court of Owls theme lately. Having said that I found this story very accessible even without that knowledge. The protagonist is Calvin Rose, a construction worker when the story begins five years ago. Working on a bridge he sees someone apparently reading to jump off and rushing to stop him he finds the man already dead. This is a trap set by the Court of Owls to capture Calvin and end his life. Before we find out if they are successful we flash back to his childhood. At eight years old he escaped from an abusive father who kept him in a cage and never looked back. He ended up at the famous Haly Circus, home of the Flying Graysons, and the man who befriended him trained him to be a master escape artist. But this place is also a connection to the Court of Owls who is impressed with Calvin. They convince him that theirs is an organization that hunts down evil people to keep Gotham City safe and great. Thus he went into training with them to eventually become their Talon. Through the years as he trained to be their operative he became proficient in combat as well as the technical aspects of covert operations. In his final test he knows he must also be an assassin and that begins an internal conflict between escaping from his past and living as a man who can face himself in the mirror. On his first mission as Talon he faces that choice. This fills us in on why he is a hunted man today and what his future may be like. As I said, the story is new reader friendly. On its own it is a good beginning for a title. New readers should not shy from it because of multiple Batman titles already engrossed in the Court of Owls history. It is a compelling story with good art. Even a non-Batman fan can enjoy it.

Issue Number: 0
Title Story: The Flash
Publisher: DC
Writers: Francis Manapul & Brian Buccellato
Artist: Francis Manapul
Colors: Brian Buccellato & Ian Herring
Letters: Wes Abbott
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

This is another zero issue that goes back five years and looks at the origin of the title character. In the present Barry Allen is not married to Iris West but as we open the story the character is much the same as previous iterations. He works in the crime lab and has dedicated his career to finding the real killer of his mother. His father has been imprisoned for the murder ever since Barry was a child in elementary school. With both his parents gone he was raised by police officer and friend of his mother, Darryl Frye, who became his father figure and role model eventually leading him to a career in law enforcement. The two stories are tied together in a well-scripted plot that shows the lightning strike that transformed him into the fastest man alive. As a result of the accident Barry is hospitalized with severe burns. It is in that recovery mode that Barry dreams in flashback (no pun intended) of the day of the murder. We learn of his parents strained relationship and why his father was the chief suspect. We see him meet Frye who eventually becomes his mentor and advocate. But more than that we see how he learns of his new ability once he is strong enough to leave and how he develops his new persona as The Flash. In a not unintended twist one of his first accomplishments is stopping escaping bank robbers and later we learn the young getaway driver is named Danny West. Speculation on the web is that this is a nod to those who are demanding the return of Wally West in the New 52. Whether or not Danny ties into that remains to be seen. By the end of the issue we come full circle with Barry visiting his father on the anniversary of his mother's death.  We also see a slight change in Barry's resolve along with his new beginning. There is no hint of Zoom being involved in this key moment in the history of the New 52 Flash. That may or may not be revealed later. For now it is a solid origin worthy of reading even if you do not regularly read this title. I have mixed feelings on the art. The "Flash" effects are different now, which for a long time fan is a bit distracting. The penciling is decent and the coloring in the flash back sequences is done in brown tones to good effect. As a whole it is worth the price of admission.

Issue Number: 0
Title Story: Young Bastards
Publisher: DC
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Lee Garbett
Inkers: Cam Smith with Jack Purcell, Scott Hanna & Walden Wong
Colors: Pete Pantazis
Letters: Rob Leigh
Cover Artist: Ryan Sook
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Occult Super Hero

I have not been reading JUSTICE LEAGUE DARK so this is a test to see what the creators have cooked up for the zero issue. Rather than the normal five years ago the story is set in a nebulous "some time ago." This is the story of a young John Constantine who has become firmly placed in the DC New 52 continuity. He appears to be a young adult and has come to New York to further his knowledge of magic, something he has devoted his life to. He wants to learn from the best and the best is Nichols Nolan who goes by the name Nick Necro. He manages to get into the private club where the magic underground gathers. It is here that he meets Necro's girlfriend, Zatanna, as she performs on stage. Spurned at first when he asks to study under Necro a twist of fate has him save Necro and Zatanna from an attack by a member of the Cult of the Cold Flame. They are a group of Black Magic cultists. Zatanna's father thwarted their plans over the years and now they have targeted the couple. The save gives Constantine the entrance into Necro's world and the three become a team until John is fully accepted in their fight against all the nightmares that try to attack humanity. As the story develops we learn that Necro has his own agenda and more and more becomes obsessed with finding the legendary Books of Magic. It is the holy grail of serious magicians but as we see from the resolution of the story seeking it comes at a great cost. Jeff Lemire does a really good job of plotting this story giving his characters ample time to develop as it moves forward. On a side note he has Zatanna smoking in one panel, which to me seemed like a stark departure from the character before the New 52. The art is exceptional though I ponder why they needed four inkers to finish on time. Regardless it is another good story that stands on its own without prior knowledge of past issues. It also lays the groundwork for the coming "War for the Books of Magic" and perhaps a hint that Necro will be seen again, if he already hasn't been. I recommend this book for a taste of what is something different about the New 52.

Issue Number: 0
Title Story: Covalence
Publisher: DC
Creators: Gerry Conway & Al Milgrom
Writer: Joe Harris
Artist: Yildiray Cinar
Inker: Marlo Alquiza
Colors: Hi-Fi
Letters: Travis Lanham
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

When this title first started in the New 52 it involved two high school students, Jason Rusch and Ron Raymond, who were touched by the Firestorm Protocols. Ron, the athlete, could hurtle fire like a nuclear powered rocket while Jason gained the power to transmute matter from one element to another. As separate nuclear powered beings they fought other bad Firestorm beings until those others and our two heroes no longer had their powers. This story is not a step back to an origin. Instead it moves forward with what happens next. Jason and Ron are back to normal high school concerns but it seems what they believed happened to their powers is not entirely true. This story bridges the gap from that new approach of having several people gaining Firestorm powers to the more traditional concept as introduced long ago by Conway and Milgrom. (It is nice to see their creator credits on this character.) The premise of the plot is that the powers have not completely gone away. Rusch is the first to realize that something is not right and Ronnie will get the picture when the prototype nuclear man, Helix - thought to be dead, reappears and attacks. This issue marks the debut of Firestorm in a new configuration. Where the character goes from here is left for another day. This low selling title has been on the cancellation bubble for a while. This may be a way to keep the title or at least the character around for a while. To their credit the art team does a great job, especially Hi-Fi on the coloring. Regardless of the future this issue is a landmark in the history going forward.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: IDW
Original Story: Peter S. Beagle
Adapted by: Peter Gillis
Artist: Eduardo Francisco
Colors: Priscilla Tramontano
Letters: Shawn Lee
Cover Artist: Jenny Frison
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Supernatural

My final review this week is a break from the super hero fare. After reading A FINE AND PRIVATE PLACE I am still not sure where this story is heading. It begins in a butcher shop as a woman is buying a two-pound tube of bologna. Suddenly a raven swoops in and grabs the heavy load flying off to a rather large cemetery landing at a mausoleum set apart from the rest where a man named Jonathan Rebeck has taken up residence. From here on we know this is not the most unusual part of the story. Jonathan and the raven begin to have a conversation. Bits and pieces indicate theirs is a friendship of convenience, at least for Jonathan. The raven does what he does because it is logical for him to do so. Jonathan also mentions how he is lonely and is hoping for more people to come and how those that do come forget soon and easily. Is he referring to visitors or to the recently deceased?  We learn more from his interaction with both. Recently buried Michael Morgan rises from his tomb - that is his ghost does. As the spirit wanders through the cemetery he happens on Jonathan. As the two strike up a conversation Jonathan explains that while the body dies quickly the soul lingers and hangs on to life as long as it can. Later a widow visits her husband's too late for Jonathan to hide and so he engages her in conversation. It is apparent she cannot see Michael so why can Jonathan? What is special about him?  That may be the crux of the story. Theirs is a very different conversation and ends when she leaves. There is plenty in the dialogue I have not revealed. Some is the nature of the newly dead and things that happen during the transition part where Jonathan can converse with them until they finally leave. The mystery is all about him and his story. It is rather odd that he actually lives in the cemetery and can see and talk to the dead. And what about that crow that can talk to him as well?  The story has begun but the truth behind much is still hidden. The art is very good. The way the image of Michael is colored makes it clear that he is a ghost. The real characters have fine definition, as do the backgrounds. This is an intriguing title that will pique your curiosity and make you want more.


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

The question was not who succeeded Ditko in the title, just who was the second to pencil "IN" ASM.  That was Jack Kirby in a back up story in #8, featuring his Fantastic Four! The winner is Stu Cathell.

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

Al Capone's cards said "Furniture Dealer".

What was the first comic title in which Superboy (Kon-el), Robin (Tim Drake), and Impulse (Bart Allen) all worked together?

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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