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Friday, November 16, 2012

Comic Reviews 11/16/12


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
Publisher: Valiant
Writers: Justin Jordan & Patrick Zircher
Artist: Patrick Zircher
Colors: Brian Reber
Letters: Rob Steen & Dave Lanphear
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

Valiant's latest relaunch of its classic character comics is a fan favorite, 
SHADOWMAN. This is their occult comic involving supernatural characters in a 
struggle between good and evil. It is set in New Orleans and begins in the past 
as Josiah and Helena Boniface face the reality that they will likely never see 
each other again. She is pregnant with their son and he is about to face the 
forces of Master Darque as the current Shadowman. The dead have declared war on 
the living and Shadowman and his allies hope to stop the invasion from the other 
realm. Josiah leaves Helena an amulet advising her to keep their son safe. After 
the events unfold we move forward to the present where the grown Jack Boniface 
is curator of a museum of culture in the city. He wears the Amulet we saw 
earlier and on this day he will learn who his birth parents were, what they were 
accused of doing but not why they vanished some twenty years ago. He lived with 
his mother until he was ten. On the day she gave him the amulet she died in an 
accident leaving Jack to grow up in foster care. This is also the day that the 
forces of evil will return in a gruesome way. The embodiment of this new 
incursion is Mr. Twist, a being so gruesome he is not easy to describe. His 
first act is the slaughter in a most bloody fashion of all the patrons of a 
local bar. He has some sort of plan as the herald of the master ? we presume he 
means Darque. What Jack does after hearing the news about his lost father will 
suddenly turn the attention of Twist and his brethren to him. But the forces of 
good, old allies of Josiah are also aware of a change that will bring about the 
appearance of Shadowman after so many years. This is a good first entry and a 
good introduction to the scope of the series. Shadowman is a being of 
supernatural origins that can wield great power when the light of day is gone. 
Will Jack be able to step up to the call of his legacy?  Will he be able to use 
great power with great responsibility?  Stay tuned to find out. The art is very 
appropriate for this type of comic Zircher and Reber are good choices. The 
detailed line work and proper color tones give it the aura it needs. This is 
essentially an expedition into horror and wee feel it right from the beginning. 
So far Valiant has hit the ground running on all of its new titles and this is 
no exception.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story:  Demons and Genies
Title Arc: Believe
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Greg land
Inker: Jay Leisten
Colors: Guru eFX
Letters: Joe Caramagna
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

Marvel is well into its relaunch of titles with new #1s under the banner of 
Marvel Now! The latest entry is IRON MAN. One thing I have noticed lately with 
Marvel comics is the range of talent in art, or the lack thereof in their 
titles. I guess it is because they push out so many titles that they all can't 
be grade A art. IRON MAN is very appealing to me in that regard. I have always 
favored Greg Land's work and the finishes and color on this title complement it 
very well. For a contrast take a look at AvX CONSEQUENCES #6 as my example of 
just really poor effort. But I digress? This new series starts off fresh without 
a lot of baggage from the last art and we are not dumped into an action scene 
that is explained later. Rather Tony Stark is in a night club in New York enjoy 
downtime flirting with the ladies that are flirting with him and also having 
discussions with Pepper Potts, CEO of Resilient. Meanwhile Maya Hansen is in 
Argentina and desperately sends a phone message before disaster strikes. She is 
the creator of Extremis. The phone cal was sent to trigger another, prerecorded, 
message to Tony and a few select friends. It is a safeguard setup in case anyone 
every got there hands on the Extremis protocols. With it they can genetically 
engineer super beings ? incredibly strong, incredibly fast and able to breath 
fire. Now Tony knows Maya is likely dead and he must track down who has Extremis 
and stop them from using it or selling it. Thus begins this multi-issue arc with 
Iron Man tracking down the agents of A.I.M. who stole Extremis and everyone who 
may have bought it. The second half has most of the action on the first step of 
this mission. In a bit of a humorous, if unbelievable, touch Tony manages to 
sneak into a demonstration for perspective buyers merely by shaving his face 
claiming to himself that shaving is a great disguise when you have the world's 
most famous moustache. Regardless it is not long before Iron Man makes the scene 
and the action begins. I enjoyed this fresh start from start to finish. Gillen 
is a good scripter giving his characters personality while advancing the story. 
This is a good jump on point for those who want to give IRON MAN a try.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Tiny Fighters
Publisher: Boom!
Creators: Matt Gagnon & Felipe Smith
Writer: Ian Brill
Artist: Joshua Covey
Letters: Pat Brosseau
Price (USD): $1.00
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Action/Adventure

Quite often BOOM! Will start a new series with an extra boost, practically 
giving away the first issue for only one dollar. This makes it really easy for 
readers looking for something different. This comic is about a pair of female 
"agents" for hire. The term used in their profession is Freelancers. They have 
an agent and they take various jobs, in a vigilante sort of way, for a price. 
They have expertise in the martial arts learned from an early age at a very 
special orphanage.  As an example the issue begins with them trying to retrieve 
a stolen exotic pet cat. This ends with them chasing the petnapper driving a 
Lamborghini with their Volkswagen. They get the cat but not the leader of the 
gang behind it all. He is Lobo Ramirez, leader of the Mulholland Drivers. Their 
thing is pillaging homes of the wealthy in the LA hills. So they get half their 
fee and a slap in the face when their agent takes on their number one rival 
freelancer, Katherine Rushmore. With the unforeseen help of a new friend they 
get a second chance at Ramirez. Before the issue is over they will have a run in 
with Katherine and pay a visit to their old dojo. The issue ends with a major 
cliffhanger. The pace of this story is just right. There are some brief 
flashbacks at the appropriate time that help to flesh out the history of the 
characters. There is also a more humorous tone to the whole issue. It is not a 
strait comedy but the banter between Cassandra and Valerie lightens things up 
and gives them character. It is just the right touch. There are some serious 
aspects to it all but mostly it is a buddy comic about two girls struggling to 
make a living at what they do best with obstacles popping up everywhere. The art 
is better than I expected, especially when it shifts briefly to greytones in the 
flashback and then again to a more cartoonish style in a short backup story 
showing the girls as orphans in the dojo. That story is a departure from the 
main plot showing what they experience the outside when they decide to run away. 
It is a cute story, again with a touch of humor, in which they learn a valuable 
lesson. It is a fun comic and well worth a buck for what you get.

Issue Number: Vol. 2 #1 (of 3)
Title Story: The Green Fields Beyond
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Writer: Garth Ennis
Artist: Carlos Ezquerra
Inker: Hector Ezquerra
Colors: Tony Avina
Letters: Simon Bowland
Cover Artist: Garry Leach
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: War Comic
Mature Readers

One of my favorite writers of war comics is Garth Ennis. He always provides 
interesting characters with some depth to them and different situations they are 
placed in. This second volume of his BATTLEFIELDS title takes place in Korea. It 
is 1951 as we look in on the British forces in the west of the country in the 
Imjin River sector. In particular the story revolves around a tank crew in Sabre 
Squadron of the 8th King's Royal Irish Hussars. As the story opens a new 
transfer, Trooper Robinson reports to Sergeant Stiles for duty. The sergeant 
fills him in on their position ? strung out over too much territory and the 
Chinese rumored to be amassing across the river. As I said Ennis gives his 
characters some depth. It turns out that Frankie Robinson volunteered to be in 
the sergeant's unit based on advise from his brother. It seems that Stiles saved 
his brother's life during WWII and he told Frankie Stiles would look after him. 
Stiles saved Robbo's life though the older brother lost his legs from his 
injuries. There is a conflict here as Stiles is uncomfortable with the idea that 
the reality of war is lost on the young Robinson. He feels so strongly that 
Frankie's expectations are unrealistic that he appeals to his commander to get 
Robinson transferred out. Ennis spends a lot of time with dialogue between 
Stiles and his captain. They are both veterans of WWII and spend some time 
exchanging war stories and discussing how different it would have been if they 
had the tanks they have today. This is very enlightening for us to get into 
their heads before the events later in the book. The build up to the main plot 
begins as Stiles takes Robinson out on a night patrol. At this point we are not 
sure if he is helping the kid get the lay of the land or is trying to scare him 
into reconsidering his choice in the first place. By the end of the book they 
are separated from their unit and join up with the Gloucester Regiment, as a 
major conflict is about to begin. I really enjoy this comic for the story and 
the pace as I have mentioned. These are real people in bad situations that are 
dedicated to their mission. There is some humor used sparingly and always a 
sense of the seriousness of life on the battlefield. The art is top notch with 
exceptional coloring giving things the proper tone. If there were anything 
negative it would be the tendency to be realistic in the accents making a few 
spots harder to understand ? a minor point. I would pick this comic over some of 
the other war comics with gimmicks as it comes off as more true to life. Try it 
and see if you agree.

Title: STORM DOGS        
Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Image
Creators: David Hine & Doug Braithwaite
Writer: David Hine
Artist: Doug Braithwaite
Colors: Ulises Arreola
Letters: Richard Starkings & Jimmy Betancourt
Price (USD): $3.50
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction

This story is set centuries in the far future. Thousands of planets across 
galaxies are part of the Union of Free Independent States. Intelligent species 
from these worlds have been invited to join if they conform to principals of 
equality, and liberty. Those who do not conform are left to develop in 
isolation. The story takes place on a planet called Amaranth where the culture 
is not yet technologically advanced enough to join the Union. They do a small 
amount of trade in ore with the Union and when they report a series of 
suspicious deaths the Union sends a team to investigate. This opening chapter is 
more about introducing us to the planet and its unique life forms and atmosphere 
as well as the Union team than it is about the main plot. The unique aspect of 
this planet is its rainstorms. The indigenous animals are immune to its effects 
but as we learn through a narration the first settlers found that their dogs 
that ran free when they first got there were driven mad from the rain and ran 
like being chased by devils. Now they say anyone who is crazy enough to go out 
in a storm is called a Storm Dog. When people have to go out in the weather they 
wear protective suits. In recent times murder victims have been found outdoors 
having been disemboweled and worse. The team sent by the Union has culture and 
language expert, a forensic scientist, a special weapons and tactics trooper all 
led by Commander Cassandra Burroughs. They will be operating under strict rules 
of dealing with lesser-developed worlds ? sort of a prime directive. They will 
use lesser technology, including weapons and have no access to the Weave ? their 
version of the Internet, which they access through internal tech under their 
skin. It is all this detail that makes it a believable and interesting 
background to set the story. After the team makes contact with the locals a 
storm approaches so they head indoors. But when a distress call comes in from a 
mining transport stranded on the highway and under attack the team convinces the 
local sheriff they must go out to aid them. Thus we get to see what is attacking 
that vehicle, the results of that attack as well as the effects of the rain on 
one of the crew who escaped the attack but whose protective suit was 
compromised. Things are just beginning to happen in the story and we have yet to 
meet the other indigenous intelligent life on the planet. Part of good science 
fiction is integrating the science-based speculation seamlessly into an 
interesting story, ion this case what appears to be a murder mystery. The script 
handles this well without being heavy handed. The art is detailed and fluid. 
There is a great deal of effort in presenting the alien world and its varied 
species in the best possible manner. This has the makings of a better than 
average story. It is worth a look. 

Publisher: Image
Creators: Jonathan Hickman, Andy Diggle, Ben Templesmith, Howard Chaykin, Sina 
Grace, Steven T. Seagle, Marco Cinello, Joe Keatige, Chynna Clugston-Flores, JG 
Roshell, James Robinson, James Asmus, Takeshi Miyazawa, Richard Starkings, Ian 
Churchill, Chris Roberson, Roger Langridge, Gabriel Ba, Chris Giarrusso, David 
Hine, Doug Braithwaite, Brandon Graham, Jim McCann, Janet Lee, Kieron Gillen, 
Nate Bellegarde, Jordie Bellaire, Terry Moore, Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard
Cover Artists: Gabriel Ba, Rachel Dodson and Chris Giarrusso
Price (USD): $4.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Mixed Anthology
Mature Readers

The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has been around since 1986. This non-profit 
was set up to help finance creators and retailers against prosecution on free 
speech grounds. The LIBERTY ANNUAL is one of the ways the CBLDF raises funds for 
this worthy cause. You can learn more about the organization and how you can 
help at

As I recall past issues of this comic have had stories relating to personal 
freedoms and free speech in particular. But this is not a comic to hammer home 
those themes to change peoples minds if need be ? although that certainly is a 
worthy goal. It is about raising money for legal defense and so the creators and 
others involved do not get paid for their contributions. So the content runs the 
gamut from heavy on the message to just plain good work to help the cause. You 
are looking at sixteen separate short to very short stories in 48 pages with no 
ads that have a variety of styles and messages. Most interesting to me was the 
final entry by Robert Kirkman and Charlie Adlard, which is a six-page chapter in 
the continuing saga THE WALKING DEAD. I do not know if this particular episode 
actually appears in the ongoing series but if it doesn't then fans of that 
series will definitely want to get a copy of this issue. It is set in a Wal-Mart 
where the Governor is shopping for certain supplies with a newcomer named Scott. 
The supplies are small fish tanks and anyone familiar with the comic or TV show 
knows what the Governor keeps in those tanks. He actually explains to Scott why. 
So this is one of those entries not devoted to free speech. It is a perfect 
contribution to the effort from the creator who also happens to be the COO of 
Image Comics. Another entry that ties into a different comic series is "All 
Freedoms Grow" by David Hine and Doug Braithwaite featuring Masika Zenda from 
their new series STORM DOGS reviewed earlier in this blog. I was happy to see it 
because in it Masika, the culture and language expert of the Union team in that 
book, is conducting a rite of passage with some teens that will be citizens of 
the Union of Free Independent States. If you have read STORM DOGS you will want 
to read this part of the story. It is background about this future society 
consisting of thousands of worlds across the galaxies and how dearly that 
society holds personal freedoms. On the lighter side you have Chris Giarruso's 
"Common ComiConversation." In it he is at a convention signing books and 
listening to an avid fan of Mini Marvels go on and on. The punch line comes when 
Chris tries to plug his other work. In "Just As Real As Yours" Jim McCann and 
Janet Lee present a sensible view of family life. In this tidbit an older woman 
with a "traditional" family meets a father and son doing the wash at the local 
laundromat. When she learns that young Liam has two dads the conversation 
becomes very enlightening. It is essentially an essay on what makes a family 
without preaching against people who are against same sex marriage and adoption. 
It is very well done. A more serious entry is called "Last Rights" by James 
Asmus and Takeshi Miyazawa. It explores the question of what would you do if you 
knew it was the last day you had to live. The sun explodes and the world becomes 
aware that all life will be wiped out in a very short time. Some riot and loot, 
as you would expect. But others rise to claim freedoms they have been denied by 
their government ? even to just read certain material. Taking it all in the 
narrator has a unique perspective on it all. This has been just a brief glimpse 
of the variety you will find in this volume. There are many other very worthy 
entries worth your time. If you can afford the extra dollars I urge you to help 
the cause of free speech by donating to CBLDF. Naturally a direct donation will 
go further but if that is too much hassle then at least buy this comic and help 
the cause.


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:
Famous first lines of which character?
"There!  My flying broomstick is finished at last!!"

The GREEN GOBLIN called his glider this in his first appearance. The winner by 
the dice is Erin O'Connor

Who fought the Pinocchio Patrol in their debut issue?

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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