REVIEWS 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. Title: SHADOWMAN 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. Title: IRON MAN 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. Title: FREELANCERS 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. Title: BATTLEFIELDS 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. Title: THE CBLDF PRESENTS LIBERTY ANNUAL 2012 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 www.cbldf.org 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. ***** TRIVIA CONTEST!!!! WIN REAL PRIZES!!!!! If you think you know the answer to the trivia question send your guess via Email to me at ComicBkNet@aol.com 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 THIS WEEK'S TRIVIA QUESTION: 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.
Friday, November 16, 2012
Comic Reviews 11/16/12
Posted by Paul Howley's Story at 12:47 PM