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Friday, January 25, 2013

Comic Reviews 1/26/13


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
Title Story: The Big Up
Publisher: IDW
Creator: John Byrne
Colors: Leonard O'Grady
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction

This is the story of Eddie Wallace, Marilyn Jones and Jack Cagney, the crew of
the space freighter Carol Ann. It is later in the 21st Century and space travel
among the planets has become more common and commercial. Eddie is new to deep
space travel and Marilyn affectionately refers to him as a sprout. His first
trip as a navigator is supposed to take them to Mars but Captain Cagney has a
surprise as they buckle in to leave the space station. They have been tasked
instead to Europa, the moon of Jupiter, and that will be an eight-month trip.
They are supposed to pick up biologic and geologic samples from the base there.
The only trouble is they are not expected when they get there. They have no
record of any such request sent from their base and so the mystery begins. By
space law the base is required to provide fuel and provisions anyway for their
return trip. Captain Cagney and Doctor Munoz, the boss at this station have
problems with who will owe whom what when the snafu is figured out. For now the
crew of the Carol Ann are guests of the station until the fuel can be
synthesized in a few days. Eddie is getting a quick education on the unique
circumstances of traveling and living in space. I like this story for the way
Byrne presents a lot of the detail of what deep space travel will entail. As in
the movie 2001 A SPACE ODYSSEY much of the transit time is spent in sleep. He
even gets into minor things about walking along the rim of the orbiting space
station, living in a hard space suit while on ship and the realities of life on
a station so far from any possible rescue if anything goes wrong. He explores a
casual sexual encounter, another reality of the loneliness of isolation. To
spice the plot there is also a strange occurrence at the end that may or may not
be tied to the bogus assignment they are on. In all it is an enjoyable story so
far. Byrne's art is always recognizable to me. He often uses the same faces for
characters from his other works. In this case Captain Cagney looks very
familiar. I think this is a worthwhile space opera so far and could develop into
something very interesting.

Issue Number: 1
Title Arc: Savage
Publisher: Marvel
Writer/Artist: Frank Cho
Colors: Jason Keith
Letters: Cory Petit
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

The "Savage" in this title evidently refers to the Savage Land and not
necessarily Logan's sometimes berserker personality. Yea, the story is set in
the Savage land and involves Shanna. In the opening she is accompanying a
S.H.I.E.L.D. geological survey to map out the far western parts of the Savage
Land. When they get to an island referred to the Forbidden Island some kind of
dampening field disabled their craft and forced it down. Eight months later
Wolverine shows up by literally falling out of the sky. We are given no
explanation for his sudden appearance and even he is surprised he is there. So
we have another mystery to solve. Naturally he eventually catches up with Shanna
after the obligatory run in and run through of a dinosaur. But it is no accident
he found her because he found one of the crew who had been captured by the
natives earlier. It will be up to the two of them to find whatever is protecting
this island from technology so they can call for a rescue team before the
natives and the animals overcome them. This is not a real deep comic. It is a
romp that lets Wolverine let loose against deadly threats as only he can. It is
an excuse to mix Logan with vicious savages, rampaging beasts and a scantily
clad female as only Frank Cho can draw. The art is probably more outstanding
than the plot in this one. Still, I can appreciate it for what it is on that

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Antarctic Press
Creator: Joe R. Lansdale
Writers: Joe R. Lansdale & Keith Lansdale
Artist: Brian Denham
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Horror
Mature - Comics on the Edge

The secret to plotting a good horror story is not to give away too much too
soon. The Lansdales understand this and so they serve up their story with the
proper pacing. The opening scene hints at something terrorizing a young couple
in a secluded cabin somewhere in the Wild West. But then the scene shifts to the
other key player in the drama. A preacher rides into a small town called Wood
Tick and finds a young man in stocks being tormented by some kids. The local
lawman explains that the man, Norville, is a halfwit who has been running on
about his wife running of with a "haint." The preacher befriends the man and
rescues him from his plight. Later when they are alone he begins his tale of how
he came to the area. He found the abandoned cabin and made it his home. Close by
was an abandoned well that had been filled with rocks. After tiring of walking
to the creek daily for water he started removing a few rocks each day. As time
went by he met a girl in Wood Tick and soon they were living together in the
cabin and living off the land. But after Norville got all of the rocks out of
the well strange things started happening. As of yet we have not seen what might
have come out of that well that so scared Norville and Sissy or even if it is
true that it took Sissy away as Norville claimed. The tension is properly slow
in building. The black and white art of Mr. Denham is a perfect match for this
type of story. He sets the mood while only revealing shadows and fear in faces.
The story itself has a good narrative and adding the visuals compliments it
without taking away. It is this kind of comic that demonstrates the proper way
to immerse the reader in the experience without resorting to gratuitous violence
for shock value. It is above average and worth your time.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: The Hunted
Publisher: DC
Writer: Keith Giffen
Artist: Tom Raney
Colors: Andrew Dalhouse
Letters: Dezi Sienty
Cover Artist: Howard Porter
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

This book is a spin of from the Green Lantern books as it deals with characters
introduced there. Not being a regular reader of any of those titles I approached
this comic as I would any first issue to see if it can stand alone without
needing a lot of information on what has gone before. The main story is set in
the Tenebrian Dominion, wherever that is. The mass media there is something
called the Glimmernet, sort of an interplanetary audio-visual platform. The main
attraction on the Glimmernet is called The Hunted. In this audience
participation reality programming individuals are denoted as the Hunted if they
pose a threat to the Dominion - traitors, criminals and the like. Some are even
released from prison with a one-day head start before being exposed as targets.
After the grace period anything goes. Anyone can go on the hunt to find the prey
and kill them or be killed. If they succeed each Hunted has a bounty. The more
dangerous the Hunted the bigger the bounty. As the story begins the latest named
Hunted is Jediah Caul, former Green Lantern. The thing you need to know about
him is that his ring is now embedded in the front of his chest. How it got there
is one of those things that must have happened in another title's continuity but
it is not explained here. We start at the moment on Tolerance, a planet on the
outer fringe of the Dominion, when he is first recognized and has to run for his
life from the mob hoping to collect the bounty. And they would have captured him
if not for the sudden intervention of a girl named Ember. Evidently Caul
recognizes her from the Glimmernet but her background remains a mystery to us.
There is a hint that she is connected to some kind of underground organization. 
The scene shifts to two runners who happen across each other. She is Pamiera, a
former commander in the 47th Overkill Battalion who is presumed MIA. He is Ric
Starr formerly of the Space Rangers and has just stumbled into her hiding place.
They are both on the run from some heavily armed military types. We also get a
look behind the scenes at the people involved in running the show The Hunted and
what they may have planned next. So this opening chapter has three plots most of
which just touch the surface of what is to come. I think this is not a good
approach in a first issue, as it does not provide a solid hook for the next
issue, though one plot ends in a cliffhanger. The dialogue is Giffen's strong
point and it carries the story with clever humor and essential information going
forward. Raney and Dalhouse do a great job on the art. I would say this is a
better than average issue. Having the Hunted game as a plot devise is not
original so what Giffen does with the characters will make or break this series.

Back up story: "Nine Tenths of the Law" by Keith Giffen, Scott Kolins, John
Kalisz and Dave Sharpe

Most of the $3.99 New 52 titles have a back up feature to justify the price. In
this case the feature is about Larfleeze, the Orange Lantern of Avarice. Most of
this story is purposely comical. Larfleeze has decided that he needs to write a
book as a testament to his greatness. He has a scribe, Stargrave whom he
kidnapped from his former employer, doing the writing chores and the main part
of the dialogue is the scribe making snide remarks, some of which go right over
Larfleeze's head. We get into the beginning of the narration giving us a handy
recap of his origins, his greed driving him to own all things, how he came to
own the Orange Lantern and his dealings with the Guardians. This is handy for
new readers going forward. The lead in to the next chapter has the news
broadcast about a supposed Orange Lantern in a border skirmish on the outskirts
of the Vega system. But Larfleeze is the only Orange Lantern so he sets out in
rage to depose this imposter. Before the chapter is over we find out why this is
happening though not who is responsible. I actually like the structure of this
plot better than the opening piece. Because it is shorter we need to get right
to the driving force behind the story, and we do. We also have essential
information about the main character for unfamiliar readers. Like the first
feature the art supports the story and Giffen provides the two main characters
with personality and humorous conflict.  Based on the first issue I would
continue for a while to see how things develop.

Issue Number: 1 (of 6)
Publisher: DC
Creators/Writers: F.J. DeSanto & Todd Farmer
Artist: Frederico Dallocchio
Letters: Travis Lanham
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction

In this possible future the US developed a covert Homeland Security organization
comprised of military personnel that have been surgically altered to serve as
super soldiers to protect against domestic threats. They had grafted with robot
parts, they are cyborgs. They were also undercover as normal citizens in
ordinary lives. This was called the Insurgence Program. But the dramatic
physical and mental side effects lead to some of the Insurgents becoming enemies
of the US and fomenting acts of terror themselves. To counter this the program
outsourced teams of hunters to track and kill these defective soldiers while
manipulating the publicity in an effort to keep it all clandestine, however the
public had already gotten wind of the program and a strong anti-insurgence
protest organization sprang up. In 2018, when the last insurgent was killed by a
Hunter named John Ravane, the president announced hours later that the program
had been shut down. This however did not stop the anti-insurgent leader from
assassinating the president even as he spoke. Now twenty years later his
eventual successor has made the US the dominant global power through scientific
initiatives leading to major advances in nano-technology. The US in 2028 is in
an era of industrial revolution, peace, prosperity and safety. That is all about
to change. The main protagonist of the story is John Ravane. He had retired
after his last mission and disappeared to run a bar and raise his daughter. When
a woman in New York single-handedly disarms and kills five would be bank robbers
she is met by police as she leaves the bank holding the robbers weapons. They
open fire and she not only survives to escape but also kills several policemen
in the process. It is clear she is an Insurgent - a sleeper agent like the first
group had been. It seems the new president had not only revived the program
using state of the art nano-technology but also the same problem of rogue
Insurgents has recurred. Will he make the same choice as his predecessor and
have the sleeper agents hunted down and killed?  Will John Ravane return to be
their go-to guy for the job? Is there something more behind the Insurgents going
rogue that is yet to be revealed? The implications laid down in this issue, and
perhaps by the cover itself, is that there is an organized movement of
Insurgents involved. Since this is a mini-series the plot is more
straightforward. The first issue takes a fair amount of time filling us in on
what has happened in the time before the setting of the current story. Now we
are fully prepared to see what comes next and what other secrets are to be
revealed. The art is good enough though I found the coloring a little off on the
flesh tones. It is an interesting story that so far has held my interest.

Issue Number: 16 (final issue)
Title Story: Last Stand
Publisher: DC
Writer: Tom Defalco
Artist: Andres Guinaldo
Inker: Mark Irwin
Colors: Brad Anderson
Letters: Travis Lanham
Cover Artists: Tyler Kirkham, Batt & Wes Hartman
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

I started reading this title when it first started because I am a long time
Legion fan but after a few issues I lost interest. Now that the title is ending
I decided to see how it ends, or if it actually does. One of the problems with
doing this, particularly with DC titles, is that there is no recap to get new
readers up to speed. It opens in the present with a man named Captain Adym, a
member of the 31st century Science Police's covert branch called Echo, is being
aided by a bad guy named Harvest. Evidently he was pulled out of a bad situation
and now is given a time bubble to go back to where the Legion and their allies
are fighting a pitched battle with space barbarians in the dessert of Arizona.
Adym now has the means to set off a singularity bomb destroying all life within
a hundred thousand miles. Among the combatants are Superboy who was under
Harvest's mind control and is fighting on the wrong side, Fairchild is with him
and there are various bad guys from the old Wildstorm Universe brought into DC
continuity in the pages of TEEN TITANS, RAVAGERS, SUPERBOY and this title. The
plot in this title has crossed into some of those others so it adds to the
confusion of knowing everything that came before this battle. In one sense the
story wraps with an end of this battle without the bomb going off. It also deals
with the fates of Gates and Wildfire who up until now had been missing in
action. But the issue does not end with the Lost Legionnaires returning to their
time. This leaves an opening for more of the story intended to be told in this
title to appear elsewhere in a special or annual or other title like DC UNIVERSE
PRESENTS. They even sign off with, "Long live the Legion" and the editorial
"Never the end!"  I prefer to see these characters back with the rest of the
Legion sooner rather than later. I can't fault the art team for the work here.
It is very nice work on an issue featuring multiple characters and lots of
action. I wouldn't recommend you pick it up out of curiosity and perhaps regular
readers will be satisfied with it, knowing more than I did when I read it. I am
sure these particular Legionnaires with surface soon enough for those fans.


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
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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:

What is Mike Maxwell's other identity?

Mike is also B'wana Beast. The winner by the dice roll is Michael Tiu.

Here is softball - What were the names of Peter Parker's (Spider-Man) parents?

Here is a no prize question:
What do the letters AOL stand for?

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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