Search This Blog

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Comic Reviews 2/14/13


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 First-Timers
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Writer: Garth Ennis
Artist: Craig Cermak
Colors: Adriano Lucas
Letters: Rob Steen
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Crime
Mature - Comics on the Edge

This comic is all about an elite squad of police detectives who are the best at
what they do. They are the Major Crimes Unit Red Team. The story is narrated by
one of the members, Detective Mellinger, as he tells it to another cop in the
interrogation room.  Right up front Ennis lets you know that the team has
crossed the line and Mellinger is going to explain it all. He starts out by
calmly stating that eight months ago he and his team decided to kill a suspect.
They plotted it. Some, particularly Mellinger, wrestled with the implications
both legal and moral and then they executed their plan. As a result, the worst
possible thing happened, according to Mellinger.  That is the gist of this first
issue. As the plot goes along you meet the members of the team discussing the
reasons why they need to kill this man. He is one of those bad guys involved in
a lot of things and never close enough to the action to have evidence against
him. The latest thing is a dead cop. Now that he is getting away with killing a
fellow detective the team has had enough. There are some scenes showing the
leader interacting with another team leader in the Captains office. It gives us
perspective on how things work behind the scenes. And of course since Mellinger
is narrating after the fact we get to see the planning and the carrying out of
the deed. At the end of the issue Mellinger reveals why he said, "the worst
possible thing happened." That revelation leads into where the story might go
from here. I really like the classic crime theme and the tight script taking us
step by step to where Ennis wants things to go. You get a good feel for the team
dynamic and solidarity. The art fits well with this tale with a terrific
coloring job that polishes it off. When Ennis gets away from trying to shock you
more than he did the last time and just tell a good story his work is some of
the best. This one is no exception.

Issue Number: 1 (of 4)
Publisher: Image
Writer: Andy Diggle
Artist: Jock
Letters: Clem Robins
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Crime Mystery - Black & White
Mature - Comics on the Edge

Let's start on the art on this one. I really am a fan of black & white comics
when the art is well done. Often it is the best way to depict a mystery or crime
drama setting the mood with shading or perspective or just proper contrast. I
think Jock understands this and excels at making the visuals complement the
dialogue to tell the rest of the story. The story itself is about a young
employee of a comic book store in San Francisco. The adventure of his life will
begin on his way to open the store one September while the boss is away on
vacation. Riding his bike through Golden Gate Park he happens on an abandoned
telephone. It is only later at the store that he explores the phone and finds
disturbing photos of a man shot several times and with a severed left pinky
finger. Clearly this phone was not just thrown away and someone should be
looking for it. You would think our hero Jake Dobson would realize that when it
suddenly rings. He is going to be involved in a plot that takes more than one
unexpected turn along the way. His first thought is to meet the person calling
then maybe the police is a better idea. When the dead man shows up at the
precinct, with that pinky bandaged up, he seems to have logical explanations for
everything. But why did that other guy show up at the comic store earlier with a
gun he clearly was going to use if Jake had not slipped out. The mystery deepens
and Jake will turn to his buddy Steve for consolation and advice. That may be a
fatal mistake when we see the shocking last few pages.  I like comics involving
mysteries because they are a challenge to guess what comes next. If you read
enough of them you get pretty good at it.  For instance I knew the guy who
called the found phone saying he was a cop would not really be a cop. I did not
expect the dead man to show up though. And I certainly did not expect the two
big turns at the end. I have no idea what will happen next but I am hooked. 
This is a terrific comic. If you like the genre, definitely get this one.

Issue Number: 1 (of 5)
Publisher: Image/Top Cow
Writer: Robert Place Napton
Artist: Zid
Letters: Troy Peteri
Price (USD): $1.00
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Myth and Supernatural

Sometimes just the title of a comic can give you a good idea what it is about.
If you combine that with a bit of information on the cover you have further
insight. I looked at this one on the rack and figure it was yet another take on
the Arthurian legend set in modern day - no doubt about some descendant of the
mystic of Camelot. Sure enough the lead character is Simon Ambrose later to be
revealed as the bastard son of Merlin who apparently has lived a very long time.
But so has his arch nemesis, Morgana LeFay. They are the last survivors of a
magical Celtic sect known as Druids. Their conflict is an eternal one of good
versus evil. She is on a quest to destroy mankind while he works for the cause
of peace. Evidently their duel has gone on for ages and has brought them to
modern day New York where Merlin is unable to escape her latest trap and so he
helps his apprentice Gwen (hmmm. why not just come right out and call her
Guinevere?) escape while sending his magical book off to find his heir. Simon is
a brilliant young scientist, the youngest professor at MIT, who has no idea what
he is about to become involved in. Morgana is secure in this time period with
her own corporate identity, but still casting spells using the ancient methods.
She will try to locate Merlin's book and with it finally achieve her ultimate
goal. It will be up to Gwen to convince Simon that magic is real and he needs to
take on the centuries old contest or mankind is doomed.  While the details of
the plot are laid down pretty openly it sort of takes away from any mystery that
could be introduced. I mean it is pretty much the battle Merlin has fought for
ages, it is now our time and he has passed the torch to another to fight the
evil witch. Maybe because this first issue has to set it all up first is the
reason I am not thrilled with this comic. The art is so-so in my opinion. In
fact it reminds me of some of the comics I have read from Radical comics - it is
a painted style with a mix of some pretty decent coloring on the magic effects.
I think the theme here is the man of science being reluctantly drawn into the
world of magic. How he reacts and whether he can be successful will come next. 
I think that second issue will be the one that decides if the series is worth
five issues.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Will Sliney
Colors: Veronica Gandini
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

Marvel has resurrected another old title with a new group of characters
attached. In this case it is the DEFENDERS. As you can see from the cover the
initial members are Valkyrie, the Asgardian Shieldmaiden and Misty Knight, the
private detective with bionic parts. The first issue serves to bring these two
together on a mutual quest. Along for the ride is a civilian, Dr. Annabelle
Riggs who is an archeologist. It begins with Misty working for Annabelle to
retrieve an ancient artifact from smugglers on a ship in the North Atlantic
Ocean. It appears to be a fool's errand since she is a lone stowaway among many
armed crewmen. But our girl is very resourceful. Just when she has gotten the
upper hand others arrive via helicopter, a mysterious Ms. LeFay and her men, who
force Misty to abandon ship with only a small statue while they take the main
prize, a much larger artifact. How she survived the freezing waters and ended up
the next day in Oklahoma at Annabelle's current dig excavating a massive Viking
gravesite is not revealed - a major plot hole in my opinion. The small statue is
still a big prize and when Annabelle manipulates the base it gives off strange
sounds that literally wakes the dead. As Misty begins fighting the dead Vikings
Valkyrie shows up, summoned by the strange sounds. This all leads to Valkyrie
revealing the significance of the events and the danger involve in that large
statue. So the three will be off on an adventure and we are left wondering what
comes next. I have mixed feelings about this comic. I already mentioned the way
Misty managed to escape death in the frigid Atlantic without even an editorial
mention of how she did it. The premise is decent enough to begin the plot but
another scene between Annabelle and Valkyrie seems out of place, maybe even
gratuitous. We shall see. Maybe Annabelle herself will gain some kind of power,
maybe not. Maybe others will join the group, though I have not researched future
solicitations to see if that is the case. The art is decent and I have an
affinity for Misty though I have preferred her depiction in the wonderful series
"HERO FOR HIRE" more appealing. It remains to be seen if this series will take
off. It is always best to give it a few issues before judging its worth.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Company Man
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Christos Gage
Artists: Tomm Coker w/ Mike Mayhew, Mike Deodato, Luke Ross & Valentine De
Colors: Daniel Freedman
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Cover Artist: Coker & Freeman
Price (USD): $4.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

I have not been following the AVENGERS ASSEMBLE title. When I saw this annual
written by Christos Gage I decided to check it out. Thankfully the story here is
not entirely connected to the ongoing story but deals with Vision and his
current place in the Marvel Universe. There is a decent recap on the opening
page that goes over most of the highlights in his past. Created by Ultron he
overcame his villainous origins and eventually joined the Avengers. He fell in
love with Wanda Maximoff and they eventually married and had two children,
Thomas and William but that was later revealed to be a magic induced hoax. The
children were lost, the two parted ways and Wanda went mad. Yada, yada, yada -
the Vision was destroyed and only recently he was reassembled. This story
explores how he is coping with being whole again, wondering about his humanity
and whether he is really whole again. At the start of the story he is not ready
to accept that Tommy and Billy of the Young Avengers contain the souls of his
lost children, revealing to Captain Marvel that he still believes those children
were a lie perpetrated by the Scarlett Witch. The story also touches on the
strained relationship he has with his fellow Avenger, Wanda's brother Pietro.
But this comic can't be about relationships and so the main plot deals with a
former employee of Roxxon who gained incredible power but recently learned he
will eventually die from it. He is now on a vendetta to destroy all of Roxxon
and anyone connected to it. This provides the action sequences involving the
rest of the Avengers with Vision eventually employing a different tactic to stop
the destruction. But before that he is conflicted by the Avengers willingness to
help the man so bent on vengeance when he, their friend and ally, was left
disassembled for so long. The problem is eventually resolved and through it
Vision comes to terms with his internal conflict and even his relationships with
others. It is a well-structured script, as you would expect from our friend Mr.
Gage. The art is good enough though nothing spectacular. It has a very
satisfying ending and is worth buying for its own sake. 

Issue Number: 1-Shot
Publisher: DC
Price (USD): $7.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero Romance

Just in time for Valentine's Day, though not for purposes of a timely review
that will be posted after Valentine's Day, DC has put out this oversized 64-page
anthology of love stories involving characters in the NEW 52 DC Universe.  The
six couples chosen are a good mix of characters and each story has a unique take
on the power of love.

Batman & Catwoman in "Think It Through" by Ann Nocenti, Emanuela Lupacchino and
Jamie Mendoza. This story is supposedly the first meeting of the Caped Crusader
and the feline burglar. Catwoman tells it in retrospect as she ponders the
results of her latest caper. She was working with another man stealing
repossessed goods where they are being stored. Batman interrupts and eventually
he delivers a lecture that she regrets not taking to heart. It is about the
sadness of what might have been.

Aquaman & Mera in "The Lighthouse" by Cecil Castellucci & Inaki Miranda
In this tale Arthur and Mera are preparing the lighthouse against an oncoming
storm. Mera comes across some very old letters that tell the tale of the
daughter of the original keeper of the lighthouse. She fell in love with a
sailor and her father disapproved of the relationship. Alas, she was doomed to
await the return of her lover from the sea. Her story is revealed in love
letters from her and him and the eventual fate of the two is dealt with. It is a
touching story and it brings Arthur and Mera closer together.

Batgirl in "Dreamer" by Ray Fawkes & Julius Gopez
This is a somewhat whimsical tale about a former snitch that was once saved by
Batgirl and now pines for her. When he devises a unique way for her to find him
he confesses his dream of the two of them - something that can never be. In the
end Barbara shows him compassion and lets him down easy, though he still has
hopes that one day she may find it in her to approach him in her secret identity
and strike up a friendship that way. This was an unexpected gem of a story told
with a bit of humor and it has some surprising moments.

Apollo & Midnighter in "Seoul Brothers" by Peter Milligan & Simon Bisley
For those not in the know, the two characters are members of Stormwatch, the
secret organization that protects Earth from major threats. They are also both
gay and in past incarnation have been lovers. After the NEW 52 reboot their
relationship has started again though it is not as advanced as before. The story
take place in South Korea, hence the title, As Apollo is looking for Midnighter
who is on a mission of his own in the area. Now Midnighter is a ruthless version
of Batman and when Apollo tracks him down this is once again made very clear.
This story points out the clear difference in Midnighter's philosophy versus the
Superman altruism of Apollo. Is this a break up or just an airing of the truth
that can be worked around?  It is up to us to decide. I did not care much for
the art in this one but the story was decent.

Nightwing & Ursa Minor in "Another Saturday Night" by Kyle Higgins & Sanford
Greene. I am not a follower of Nightwing so if this is in sync with current
continuity he does not have a current main squeeze. We begin with him basically
getting dumped, that is his alter ego does, over the phone because he has
difficulty keeping dates when duty calls. As this is happening he jumps into an
apparent abduction attempt where a very capable bodyguard that goes by the name
Ursa is defending the victim. She overhears Nightwing's side of the conversation
and after the client is safe they enjoy some Chinese takeout on the rooftop
together and it seems they may be striking up a friendship that could lead to
more. This is the kind of episode that could be included in his regular title
and who knows, maybe Ursa will show up there as well. It is a nice tale with a
bittersweet ending though.

Superman & Wonder Woman in "Truth or Dare" by Andy Diggle, Robson Rocha & Julio
Ferreira. Saving the cover couple for last we find Clark and Diana on a date at
an outdoor restaurant in Tuscany. The conversation turns to family and the
differences between's Clark's secret life with a loving family and Diana's
because she until now (in the NEW 52) never had to hide her identity. Her
"family" of demigods sometimes are not the best of role models. Even her cousin
Eros who suggested the place where they are eating has an ulterior motive as we
see very shortly. But in the end it is Eros who is under a spell and of course
the budding love between Kryptonian and Amazonian perseveres. It is a clever
short story that at least for now keeps the couple together. At the end we are
advised to see further developments in SUPERMAN #19.

But wait, there's more!

This week's DC comics also feature the first installment of Channel 52, a two-
page blurb set as a cable TV newscast with bits and pieces of things going on in
the DC Universe. I imagine it is meant to tease highlights of various comics you
may not be reading. It is fun and clever with nice visual appeal.

Finally as a bonus you get 18 valentines that are on two perforated pages bound
into the center of the comic. Each one features a character with a clever phrase
like Jonah Hex saying, "You put a hex on me" or Shazam saying, "Say the magic
word and I'm yours."  They are all neat and ready to tear out and give to
eighteen of your closest friends. But by the time you read this they would be a
bit belated. Maybe you can just hang onto them until next year. After all, love
is timeless.


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:
Another Comic Book Character's first words question.  Who said:
"But Hank, joining a counter demonstration isn't going to accomplish anything! 
All you're going to do is make trouble."

These were the first words of Don Hall, the Dove half of HAWK & DOVE. The winner
by the dice is Jim Woodruff.

Here was your no prize question:
Among the major cities in the United States which is the windiest city?

Boston takes the honors with an annual average wind speed of 12.4 MPH.

Aragorn is a major character in Tolkien's Lord of the Rings trilogy. The name is
also that of which Marvel character?

Here is your no prize question:
What is the best-selling movie soundtrack of all time?

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment