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Thursday, December 6, 2012

Comic Reviews 12/7/12


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: Volume 2 - Hard Cover
Publisher: DC
Creator: Siegel & Shuster
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artist: Shane Davis
Inker: Sandra Hope
Colors: Barbara Ciardo
Letters: Rob Leigh
Price (USD): $22.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

This sequel to the number one NEW YORK TIMES best seller pits Superman of this
alternate reality against his first real threat - the Parasite. You need not
have read the first volume to get into this story. It is pretty clear from the
beginning that this is another reality and twenty-something Clark Kent has
established himself in Metropolis. He has already made a splash at the Daily
Planet by bringing in the first exclusive interview with the new hero in town,
Superman. This got him a job as a reporter and has already has not endeared him
to star reporter Lois Lane. She is perturbed a rookie out scooped her and has
dedicated herself to finding out more about this nobody from Smallville. This
subplot runs through the issue and is delightful to us old-timers who recall the
old continuity in which Lois was constantly trying to prove Clark was Superman.
Whether or not she gets anywhere as she digs deeper will be left for you to
discover as you read the book. Although Clark's first story landed him a framed
page on Perry's wall of great stories he is quickly told it is not a pat on the
back but a reminder that great stories are old news. It is not hard to become a
reporter - it is hard to stay a reporter. So Clark is rightfully challenged to
keep bringing in stories that nobody else can. Another sub-plot follows Clark as
he moves into his new apartment and meets a neighbor who will have a major
impact on his life, the very attractive and friendly Lisa LaSalle. The name is
another tip of the hat to the old days when so many of Superman's female friends
and the LL initials. This is a different Clark Kent who stayed pretty much a
loner growing up without a love life to speak about. There is even a flashback
to him getting "the talk" from Pa Kent. In his case it is a warning that he is
very different and may not even be able to have a normal relationship due to the
relative frailty of humans - the whole Man of Steel/Woman of tissue argument.
Lisa is very bold in her approach to Clark and this will challenge him for the
first time. The main story involves the origin of this continuity's Parasite.
There is also a minor plot involving Superman intervening in natural and man-
made calamities around the world. There are some that fear him for this. While
he has always been altruistic in his motives there are those who fear what could
happen if this is not always the case. One sequence in particular has him
confronted by a dictator when he goes to the island nation of Borada to stop the
devastation from a tsunami. The area hit the worse is a stronghold of rebels who
oppose the government of General Samsa and Superman is ordered to leave
immediately. How he eventually handles this situation is cleverly plotted. All
the while Raymond the scientist has been conducting off the book experiments
involving murders of innocents rather than cadavers he claims to be using. His
stumbling accomplice has done some things that might expose this and so he heads
to the lab after hours to erase computer evidence. It is the set up for a
typical villain origin as he runs from the guards who discover his unauthorized
presence and stumble into the chamber that will bombard him with high-energy
neutrinos and transform him into the Parasite. Thus he finds he needs more and
more energy to survive and it is not long before he discovers the biggest power
source on the planet - Superman. What separates this from the typical story is
how Superman eventually defeats Parasite with the help of some Kryptonian
technology. Along the way of course he gets zapped and drained. This is the
first time in his life he has been injured, and actually bleeds. His weakened,
relatively, state plays right into the romance plot. It is the first time he
realizes how vulnerable humans are but it also the first time he may not pose a
threat to a perspective lover. It is an interesting development. Just to round
things out and leave something for the next chapter there are those in the
government pondering the need for have some way to stop Superman should he turn
to the dark side. The actions they take at the end of the volume, and the people
they align with, will give readers anticipation for what comes next. I think you
will enjoy seeing the characters that will be part of that future story.  This
is an excellent follow up to the first volume in every way. Straczynski weaves
several plots, some I have not touched on, into one cohesive story that draws
from old ideas but is totally fresh and entertaining. Shane Davis and Barbara
Ciardo present it all with superb artwork. If you haven't gotten into this
series you are missing a wonderful experience. This would make a great gift for
anyone who ever enjoyed Superman in the past. It is the perfect example of how
the characters can be used to the best advantage.

Title: FF
Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Marvel
Creator: Lee & Kirby
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Michael Allred
Colors: Laura Allred
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

This is the companion book to the other Marvel Now! Title involving Marvel's
first family, THE FANTASTIC FOUR. If you read the first issue of the FANTASTIC
FOUR you know that Reed has convinced the others to go on an extended adventure
with Val and Franklin in space and time. They plan a yearlong journey in their
own relative time and a return only minutes after they leave. Should something
happen in those few minutes, or worse if they are somehow prevented from
returning on schedule the team needs to have someone in place to watch over the
kids of the Future Foundation and confront any dangers they would normally
handle as the Fantastic Four. Reed first turns to Scott Lang, the current Ant
Man. He wants him to head up a replacement team, just in case. Susan approaches
Medusa, who has worked as a member in the past. Ben recruits another past
member, Jennifer Walters, the She-Hulk. Strange as it may seem Johnny is tasked
with finding someone to be The Thing. That's right, and it is girlfriend Darla
Deering who will wear a Thing suit to add muscle to the new team. This idea
strikes me as odd. Why didn't Fraction just use some other established hero for
the fourth member? I guess we will see how this plays out. Fans of the prior FF
series will be glad to see the dozen regulars of the Freedom Foundation will
remain in this book. Through this first chapter they add a bit of levity to the
proceedings as in interlude sequences the each give their point of view about
the Freedom Foundation to Scott. This is all set up to get the ball rolling. It
will be interesting to see what kind of adventures will ensue. Obviously, at
least for the foreseeable future, the new team will be needed when the others do
not come back as scheduled. The scripting is good enough though a bit
melodramatic at times. The Allreds do a capable job as always. I think the next
issue will tell whether or not the premise is good enough to keep the existing
fans interested.

Issue Number: 5
Publisher: Avatar
Writers: Zak Penn & Scott Murphy
Artist: Michael Dipascale
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

I have been following this super hero story from Avatar since the beginning. If
you have not then this is a perfect point to jump on and see what is going on.
The premise is clear enough. The world had one super hero, Zenith, with all the
usual powers of strength, flight and invulnerability. His story is known by
everyone - how a light in the sky turned one humble war hero into something
more. A whole industry has grown around him and a foundation exists to aid him
in doing good for mankind where it is most needed. He deals with the major
problems both natural and man-made. This was the status quo when one out of a
group of fans touring the Foundation collapsed and later began to exhibit the
same powers as Zenith. He was convinced to join the cause if the Foundation
would ensure the well being and financial comfort of his Mother. They will never
have to worry about anything for life and in return he gets to work with his
idol - he becomes a super hero in training, Apex. But Apex is having a hard time
doing all that is required of him. Everything is not always black and white and
he is seeing his hero is not as entirely altruistic as he had imagined. A recent
disagreement they had has made him disillusioned about what they are doing. More
and more he realizes he does not want to be like Zenith. The observers from the
foundation have decided the time is right to read him in on what the real truth
is. His female handler chooses a good time to tell him the whole truth - how
Zenith was really created, how Apex got his powers, all the secrets of the
Zenith Foundation hidden from the public. The big shocker was why Adam was
chosen to become Apex. This series just took a big turn in the plot. Now we will
see how Adam reacts to it all. I can see it going forward in a number of
different ways so the story is not set in stone just yet. I do not want to spoil
the revelations but I will say it adds a new dimension to the plot. As I said
you can jump on with this issue comfortably and enjoy it going forward. I think
the quality of the story and the art will get you hooked and you will stick
around for more. I know I will.

Issue Number: 1 (of 4)
Publisher: Dark Horse
Creator: Peter Lenkov
Writer: Jeremy Barlow
Artist: Tony Parker
Colors: Michelle Madsen
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Cover Artist: Dave Wilkins
Price (USD): $3.50
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Supernatural/Western
Mature - Comics on the Edge

Roy Pulsifer is dead but he doesn't know it yet. He is on his knees in some
western dessert, a saddle by his side and three bullet holes in his chest. This
is how we see him when two men on horseback, one in oriental warrior armor,
approach him and flat out tell him he is dead. They take him on third horse to
an unlikely building amid the desolation and lead him underground to a rather
large building, perhaps an entire city. The people there are dressed in attire
from various periods in history. While Roy thinks he may be in some gateway to
the afterlife it is soon explained to him that he is at the Rest In Peace
Department. The powers that be have noted his work as a US Marshall and want him
to join the cause. They are God's police force. All beings face His judgment
when they die but some seek to avoid damnation and so refuse to move on from the
mortal plane. The RIPD is there to root them out and move them along to their
fate. Failing that they purge them altogether from the world. They have a
proposition for Roy. They want him to join the cause. In particular they need
someone with unorthodox methods to investigate a mining town called Black Pool.
They have noticed a dark presence there and all of their agents they have sent
there have never returned. The hook for Roy is that it is also the last place he
and his former partner went to before they died. Help them and he might find out
why he was killed. That is the set up for the plot and it takes up most of the
issue. But luckily we get bits of two plots in the introductory scene, events
revolving around he and his new partner presumably in the present. This will no
doubt be leading to the main event at the climax of the story as Roy makes a
bold decision to face his fate. The ending of the issue has Roy going out on his
first mission. He and his partner confront an unimaginable evil presence that
could end his new career before it starts. The concept is an interesting one
though I doubt God would need such a police force. For me it is suspension of
disbelief required by those of strong religious beliefs. Other than that it is a
good action story with very nice art and a bit of humor along the way. The mix
of the two genres works well and the added touch of people from other eras among
the RIPD forces is cool. However it plays out it is good reading so far.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Image
Writer: Eric Stephenson
Artist: Nate Bellegarde
Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Letters: Fonografiks
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction
Teen + Comics on the Edge

This opening chapter of the story of World Corp is given in three segments. The
first segment is early in the history of the company and is only one page. With
the following two pages of text it serves to introduce us to the four men
responsible for creating the most successful company ever. They are the greatest
thinkers in the world. Dade Ellis has degrees in Neurobiology, Geophysics and
Architecture. Simon Grimshaw is a Geneticist with other degrees in Math and
Finance. Emerson Strange is a Mechanical Engineer and Computer Scientist. Thomas
Walker is a theoretical Physicist. The text gives us their vital statistics and
more. The second segment jumps forward several years. It is a jarring opening as
some form of humanoid beast is struggling to escape the restraints of two men
trying to stop its rampage. This is an experiment gone wrong. It is work like
this that has fractured the partnership. Walker has already left while Strange
and Ellis argue with Grimshaw about how they have compromised their morals and
ideals for the sake of research and profit. But perhaps the most important
segment is the last. We look in on a unit of World Corp in the present time.
Where they are is not evident until the very last panel. Up until then we know
that they are in some self-contained facility. Everyone is sick and getting
worse. They are able to function mostly though. Everyone is reacting differently
and showing different symptoms. But until they can figure out what they have and
how to fix it they are under quarantine indefinitely. These are the basic facts.
Most of the issue deals with personalities. We are learning the personalities,
not only of the four founders but also of the ill-fated crew. There are a lot of
characters and most of the time is spent giving us bits and pieces of who they
are and how the react to each other. We might infer that what is happening to
this crew is related to the earlier scene at the failed experiment with the
rampaging humanoid. We are only just getting into the main plot and must rely on
our impressions of the characters to judge if the comic is worth another look.
The art is good enough for a mostly talking issue though the few actions panels
work nicely. There is no definitive judgment to be made right now but you might
think differently.

Title: MASKS
Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Writer: Chris Roberson
Artist: Alex Ross
Letters: Simon Bowland
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Crime - Masked Vigilantes

Dynamite is currently publishing a number of classic heroes of long ago. This
new series brings them together into one story. The series will involve the
likes of Zorro, The Spider, The Shadow, Green Hornet and others. Since Zorro was
from a different era it will be interesting to see how he can be worked into the
plot. For now we deal with the others, starting with the Green Hornet and Kato.
They have traveled to New York from Chicago following a lead to information on a
crime boss. As they corner a hood in an alley they meet another masked man, the
Shadow. At this point in time New York is in the hands of powerful criminals and
crooked politicians (when isn't it?) In this case they have their own army, the
Black Legion, and rule with an iron fist making up their own rules. Now the
masked vigilantes who normally work outside the law will actually be working
against the law to protect the citizens. The Shadow appears to be the organizing
force, getting Green Hornet to seek out a particular nightclub. It is there he
reveals his other identity, Lamont Cranston to the shocked Britt Reid. Their
conversation serves to clue in Britt on what is going on in NYC. The criminals,
under the guise of the Justice Party, have gained control of the city. While the
party presents a law and order persona to the public our heroes know the
difference between the law and justice. They see how bad it has become when a
platoon of the Black Legion appear on a street and announce to the people
gathered that the state has levied a new tax and all must pay immediately or go
to jail. Well it will take more than three masked heroes to stop an army.
Luckily the Spider is ready to jump in as well. Well, so far it seems that the
good guys are hopelessly outnumbered. Naturally they will need more than their
blazing guns and fighting skills to overcome this problem. I am curious to see
how it will be done. Fortunately the art is delightful. Alex Ross is as good as
ever at bringing to life these pulp heroes. I think his interpretation of the
characters is worth the price of the comic. Finding the comic with an intriguing
plot makes it even better. I'd say give it a try for now.


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
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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:
In the original Valiant Universe, which character's story began in Topeka,
The answer was Archer of ARCHER & ARMSTRONG. The winner by the dice roll is
Gregory Goding.

Here was the no prize question:
What movie was the first to be distributed carrying the PG-13 rating?

The first film distributed with a PG-13 rating was Red Dawn (1984).

What is the name of Supreme's dog?

Here is your no prize question:
Larry Hagman played the President's interpreter in what 1964 cold war movie?

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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