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Friday, January 4, 2013

Comic Reviews 1/4/13


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: 700 (Final Issue)
Title Story: Dying Wish: Suicide Run
Publisher: Marvel
Creators: Lee & Ditko
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Humberto Ramos
Inker: Victor Olazaba
Colors: Edgar Delgado
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Cover Artists: Various
Price (USD): $7.99 (104 pages)
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero


If you have not read AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #698 and #699 yet and/or don't want to
know details of the three-issue arc until you have read them all then skip this
AND the next review. It is impossible to comment on some of the themes without
revealing details of what happens here and in AVENGING SPIDER-MAN #15.1 so
consider this your SPOILER ALERT!

Special note: This issue and REVENGING SPIDER-MAN #15.1 have already sold out in
two days after hitting the stands. If you haven't got one or had it reserved you
will have to wait for the end of January for the second printing. That may help
you decide whether or not to read on.

The rest of you already know the main plot twist driving the final issues of
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN as it leads into the new series beginning in January, THE
SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN. In ASM #698 we found out, as did Peter Parker, that Doctor
Octopus had pulled the ultimate switcheroo and transferred Peter's mind into the
soon-to-be-dead body of Doc Ock. Now the mind of Otto Octavius is in the body of
Peter Parker, which of course has all the powers that go along with being
Spider-Man. Not only that but Otto also has all of Peter's memories so he can
effectively take over his life as well as his alter ego. In ASM #699 Peter
realizes he has only a very short time to rectify the situation and can't do it
from an ICU bed in a maximum-security prison. Fortunately for him as part of the
mind swap he has Otto's memories. He knows where all the secret bases are along
with all the high tech equipment he will need for one last desperate ploy. He
knows how to control one of the many spider-bots with his mind to set his plan
in motion. He contracts Scorpion, Hydro-Man and the Trapster to break him out
with the promise of a large payoff once the master plan is complete. And so as
this issue begins we find Peter in the body of Doc Ock with a portable life
support system as the Trapster is attaching the Doctor Octopus arms. Once he has
the mobility he can carry out the rest of his plan and hopefully swap back to
his own body before Otto's body gives out. Meanwhile, Otto as Peter is getting
cozy with MJ, as word comes that Doc Ock has broken out of prison. Otto will put
his own plan in motion to try and manipulate the situation to his favor. It
involves most of the friends and family of Peter Parker. Without revealing what
the full plans of either are suffice it to say it will lead to a final
confrontation and only one will be left alive. The heart of the story is the
power of the heart of Peter Parker. Through a near death experience at one point
we see just how strong the desire to do the right thing is in him. He will not
give up no matter what. Even when the end is inevitable he finds a way to ensure
that the Spider-Man going forward will still be one who knows the responsibility
that comes with great power. Another theme that is touched on in this issue is
the relationship between Peter (Otto) and Mary Jane. He is overwhelmed at how
Peter has botched it with her but now that he is in charge he wants to renew
that relationship in a big way.  The question for the reader becomes this - if
things go well and they end up getting intimate does that constitute rape? 
After all it is really Octavius in Peter's body but MJ thinks it is Peter.
Something to ponder. Overall the scripting is pretty good. The earlier part of
the story has Otto speaking his mind. At times he is even rude, letting his "act
like Peter would act" ruse slip. As we reach the climax, of the story that is,
we need to believe that he will really become a hero - a better Spider-Man than
Peter ever was - a Superior Spider-Man. It is up to you to decide if this issue
convinces you he will be. Probably most fans believe like the death of so many
heroes this one too will eventually be undone. Only time will tell.

Back up features:

"Spider-Dreams" by J.M. DeMatteis, Giuseppe Camuncoli, Sal Bucema & Antonio

This is an excellent story that deals with a man and his great grandson. It
begins "Once upon a time. in the future." It is a story that takes place years
from now. The man is perhaps late middle-aged or older and his great grandson is
almost thirteen. Like many boys his age he is consumed with video games and his
great grandfather sees their relationship changing. To capture Stephen's
attention the old man decides to reveal his biggest secret, that back in the day
he was really the Amazing Spider-Man. I guess we can either believe this is
really the future of Spider-Man or choose to think it is a possible future.
Through the course of the story he explains to Stephen what it was like being a
super hero, working alongside the Avengers and others, facing off against major
villains and of course suffering great tragedies along the way. This could
actually be Peter in his later years having raised a family after giving up the
web suit and living to see his great grandchild in awe over his tales of glory.
The art is very good as well. This is a very appropriate tale to include in this
landmark issue.

"Date Night" by Jen Van Meter and Stephanie Bucema

This is a more whimsical story with a very cartoon-like appearance. Hats off to
Marvel for including female creators in the last issue. Those being the pluses I
will say I did not care for this story though I appreciate the inclusion of
humor in a mostly serious triple-sized issue. In this story Peter is dating
Black Cat and just as their evening begins he is distracted by a giant robot
attacking the city. While he swings off promising a prompt return she decides to
occupy her time on the town as well. The whole idea is that the cops have been
hounding Spidey so she plans to distract them while he is fighting the real
menace. She manages to lead them around town chasing her and through the course
of the night she bumps into other famous couples like Reed and Sue, Ant Man and
Wasp and even Jonah Jameson and a bag of money. It is all whimsical and ends
well as you would expect. Not my cup of tea but still nicely executed.

As a bonus there are some filler pages including a look at some art from the
upcoming SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN series and a gallery of all 700 covers from the
run. Each one is no bigger than a postage stamp but they are all there. And what
better way to end the run of the title than to have Stan "The Man" Lee, who just
turned ninety by the way, answer the inquiries in the letter pages one last
time. You get all this, a triple-sized issue, for the price of a double-sized
special. It is well worth the money. For those of you who have already sworn off
Spider-Man after hearing about the main story I think you should give it a try
anyway. You may be pleasantly surprised.

Issue Number: 15.1
Title Story: Avenging Spider-Man
Publisher: Marvel
Creator: Lee & Ditko
Writer: Chris Yost
Artist: Paco Medina
Inker: Juan Vlasco
Colors: Dave Curiel
Letters: Joe Caramagna
Cover Artist: Paolo Rivera
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

This title is normally a team-up book but with the change that occurred in
AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #700 it is time for one of those POINT ONE issues to bring
this series up to date with the main book.  The events of this issue follow
immediately after AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #700 so beware of SPOILERS! It is the next
day and Otto revels in the fact that he finally beat Spider-Man. In fact, most
of the issue is about Otto's introspection into his entire career. After a two-
page recap of the events in ASM he at first gloats over how his genius was far
superior to Parker's. Part of it involves him getting more used to the powers he
now has. Thinking Peter could have been so much more as Spider-Man he begins to
redesign the costume, the shooters and even the mask with improved lenses. In
another scene it becomes obvious to the readers, but not to Otto that he needs
to work on his relationships to Peter's friends if he does not want to arouse
any suspicions. But then he decides the resources he has been using, those
accessible to Peter, are inadequate and so he goes to one of his secret lairs to
finish his work. It is what happens there that makes him realize that despite
Otto's high opinion of himself Peter Parker beat him time after time. And so, as
at the end of ASM #700, he resolves to be better not only than Spider-Man but
also his former self, better than that old fool Otto Octavius. This is a fitting
transition into the new era about to begin. While this title will remain a
Spider-Man team-up book this interlude adds to the story already told and is a
better introduction to THE SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #1 arriving this month. Even if
you have to wait for a second printing it will be worth reading.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: BOOM!
Creator: Concept by Bryce Carlson
Writer: Paul Jenkins
Artist: Carlos Magno
Colors: Michael Garland
Letters: Ed "The Duke" Dukeshire
Cover Artists: Various
Price (USD): $1.00
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

BOOM! Studios has once again issued a first issue of a new series at a price of
only one dollar. I like the idea and usually avail myself of the opportunity to
try out their new books. Of course I would not buy a comic just because it is
cheap, the concept should be one I am interested in. This one is, though it is
not a new idea. In fact Marvel has just begun their AVENGERS ARENA comic that is
based on the same idea.  In this reality thirty-two heroes and villains of
various powers and abilities have been brought together somewhere as prisoners.
They are under guard by beings apparently made of light and so far are in
control of their every move. The group will be made to fight each other in one
on one match-ups, like a seeded tournament. As the issue begins the first such
match has already taken place. The victor is a young man, Benny Boatright, who
goes by the name of Dragonfly. He is impervious to blunt force trauma and can
fly for exactly one minute when he has to touch something attached to the
ground, even a tall building, or fall helplessly from the sky. Now he has killed
another, something he has never done or wanted to do. This tells us that those
in charge have great power. They remove memories from the combatants prior to
their fight and restore them afterwards as well. Meanwhile all of the others not
only watch the competition but afterwards when the victor is being transported
back and given his memories they see that as well. This serves to give us the
back-story of Firefly in two pages and presumably we will be seeing the history
of other characters in this way as the story progresses. Additionally Benny does
not remember how they made him kill his opponent. There are a lot of characters
to deal with and we meet several in the first issue. Some interact in small
groups and all ponder their fate and what they can do. There is bickering among
some but if it comes to blows the Light Guards can drop the mightiest in an
instant. One individual call The Rat seems to be the most proactive as an
individual and is worth paying attention to. So far it seems The Rat and Firefly
are very important to the story. But with so many characters you never know
which way this will go. The art is very detailed and the layouts are varied from
page to page. This comic is definitely worth a dollar if you are into super
heroes and don't care that they are not Marvel or DC. Based on the first issue I
will be coming back for more.
Title: MARA
Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Image
Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: Ming Doyle
Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction

This is one of those stories set in the future, a possible not too distant
future. It appears the world still has wars and still has large populations that
live in big cities removed from it all. The focus of the story is what occupies
the attention of millions of people across the planet - sports. One sport in
particular that is, ladies volleyball. This is the big sport of the day. The
opening contest in this comic is the much-anticipated match up of the Pan-
Continental Sports League with the winning team getting one billion dollars. But
even bigger than the popularity of the game is the popularity of the star of all
the teams, Mara. At seventeen she is the most popular athlete on the planet. She
is the epitome of the sport as were Pele or Tiger Woods in their day. The world
has compensated for the constant wars, failing economies, and racial divides
with hyper-exaggeration on sports and physical prowess. It has become a national
focus and a multi-trillion dollar sector of the economy. The sport as portrayed
is basically the same though the players all have headsets. We are privy to some
input Mara gets through hers as she proves her worth in the first match. This
story will indeed be about her and some of the downside of celebrity. There are
intimate personal moments with lovers and family all leading up to another match
- this time an exhibition match for charity against a Pacific Rim team. What
happens in the final few pages has led me to classify this as science fiction. I
have mixed feelings about this one. The art is a unique style that appeals to my
taste. The lines and colors give it something I can't describe but I like it. I
get the set up and am curious about what is going on with Mara in those last few
pages. There are also a few panels of an unseen man at the beginning that seems
to have importance although it only shows him prepping himself for a night out
perhaps. I think the next issue will be more interesting and give better focus
on where this is all going. For now it is a decent start.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Veterans of a Foreign War
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Creator: Walter B. Gibson
Writer: Scott Beatty
Artist: Ronan Cliquet
Colors: Mat Lopes
Letters: Rob Steen
Cover Artist: Alex Ross
Price (USD): $4.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Crime Mystery

I occasionally like to read stories in the classic man of mystery style and The
Shadow is certainly classic. For me a self-contained one shot special is the
perfect way to get into the character. The Shadow is Lamont Cranston in his
civilian identity keeping the company of Margo Lane. But at night he seeks out
evildoers as The Shadow. The stories are generally set in the late 1930's as the
world is leading up to a global conflict. One day the two are out shopping in
New York when they bump into a comrade of Lamont's from WWI, Howard Griffin. But
Howard knows Lamont by another name, Kent Allard. Some of the details may have
been explained in other comics but we learn enough here to realize that Kent was
changed by something in his past. He has turned from sin and from his past
identity to take up a new life that includes being a force of justice when all
else fails. He meets evil with twin pistols as the Shadow. The plot in this book
explores the relationship these two men had while in the service. Kent was the
sergeant that taught Howard how to survive, how to kill or be killed in the
trenches of France. Before you know it Howard convinces the couple to join him
for dinner and later to visit his island to ostensibly catch up on what they did
after the war. The man that Kent has become, that is Lamont Cranston, knows what
evil lurks in men's hearts. But he can tell that Howard has no heart. His
suspicions will prove out later on the island when he meets two other former
veterans that have formed a club of sorts and want Lamont to join them. It is a
classic tale of the genre that involves a hint of the supernatural, though never
admitting to it overtly. The art is splendid in its simplicity with fine finish
work. The story has the usual elements of mystery, danger and action. Boom is
doing a fine job bringing this character to life for another generation of comic

Issue Number: 15
Title Story: Chapter One
Title Arc: Throne of Atlantis
Publisher: DC
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: Ivan Reis
Inker: Joe Prado
Colors: Rod Reis
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

This issue begins the story arc that will be crossing over with AQUAMAN. After
reading this first chapter I felt that this is what the Justice League should be
about. We have a threat of major proportions striking several places in the US
and even the League may not be enough to stop it. It begins with a routine
mission for an aircraft carrier in the Atlantic. Before they get to carry out
their test something takes control of several missiles, launches them and
directs their flight to the bottom of the ocean where they detonate, right over
Atlantis. The thing that arouses the Justice League is that the navy soon loses
all contact with the ship. Simultaneously Aquaman and Mera are alerted by all
the animals in the sea swimming away from shore. You can guess where this is
going. The kingdom of Atlantis believes it is under attack and is striking back.
Whatever they are doing it has a major effect on the entire coast and soon
Superman and Wonder Woman will be fighting giant tidal waves striking
Metropolis. It is the first strike of a contingency plan written up when Arthur
was King of Atlantis. This is just the beginning of the war with everyone acting
frantically to minimize the damage and loss of life. The action scenes are on a
large scale with Superman and Wonder Woman performing most of the heroics. There
are also side scenes that add to the set up - Cyborg is the initial contact in
the Watchtower. In a subplot Clark and Diana are getting to know each other
better with dinner out in Smallville. They have an interesting conversation
about the whole secret identity thing that is fun. Elsewhere Aquaman fills in
Batman on what they can expect next.  If you read the Zero issue of AQUAMAN you
know it was a flashback to his origin and ended with him finding Atlantis as the
issue ended. This story will fill us in on what happened after that. The next
chapter will be in his own title so it will center on Aquaman and his
relationship with the people of Atlantis. One of them is mentioned near the end
of this chapter of the story. There is just enough drama to get the ball rolling
here. The most important question is who took control of those missiles and why?
Who stands to gain from Atlantis invading the land dwellers? This is a great set
up and if you like it so far then pick up AQUAMAN #15 already on sale.

Back Up Feature:
"SHAZAM" Chapter 8 by Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, Brad Anderson & Nick Napolitano

The re-introduction of Captain Marvel, who will forever be referred to as SHAZAM
in DC comics, into the New 52 has been running in the back of Justice league for
several months. Billy Batson has been living in a foster home and become friends
with the crippled Freddy. Billy has already gotten the powers of SHAZAM and
likes being an adult, at least in appearance. Freddy knows the man he sees now
is really his friend Billy but neither know the extent of the power he
possesses. They are teenagers though and are scheming of a way to get some of
that beer to try. Their first attempt is interrupted by a bank robbery, which
Shazam ends quickly. Then when they get to a liquor store they find another
holdup in progress. Even after that as they walk along they interrupt a would-be
car thief. It is as if Billy is being drawn to places where he is needed. At
each scene he learns a little more about what he can do. Although he says the
magic word several times he does not change back to a boy, as the readers would
expect. In fact he may not want to change back. He has power, he just learned he
can fly, he has freedom. But where does that leave Freddy? The episode gives us
some things to ponder but not for too long as it ends with a big bang on the
last panel. Billy is going to have his hands full. This is the kind of story
that I would much rather see in larger doses in its own title. I am guessing DC
is not ready to take that plunge. Gary Frank is a perfect artist for this story
and Johns paces it all very deliberately. For the extra dollar on the cover
price this makes it worth it.


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:
Eclipse published a prestige series, which adapted a novel that has been made
into at least 3 movies - one starring Vincent Price and another Charlton Heston. 
Name the Eclipse series.

I AM LEGEND by Richard Matheson (1954) inspired both THE LAST MAN ON EARTH and
THE OMEGA MAN about a plague of vampires caused by a virus. The third movie
featured Will Smith in the title role. The winner this week is Paul Clark.

Writer/artist Jerry Ordway's first name is a diminutive of...?

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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