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Friday, February 22, 2013

Comic Reviews 2/23/12


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: 1
Title Story: The New Revolution
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Chris Bachalo
Inkers: Tim Townsend, Jaime Mendoza & Al Vey
Colors: Chris Bachalo
Letters: Joe Caramagna
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

There are so many x-books coming and going it is hard to keep track of them all.
But seeing how this one is written by Bendis and I am enjoying THE ALL-NEW X-MEN
I knew I would be getting this one as well. And it certainly starts with a bang.
Agent Maria Hill is entering a S.H.I.E.L.D. holding cell to talk with a man who
just showed up and asked to talk to her. As a visual tease to the reader we do
not see the man's face. He is sitting in a chair with his back to us. The only
distinguishing feature is a baldhead. Which might lead some readers to believe
that this is a certain presumably dead prominent mutant.  We don't get to see if
that is a good guess until the very last page. The crux of this first issue is
the revelation that the face of the mutant revolution, Scott Summers, is not the
same man he was. This visitor is here to reveal some secrets about Cyclops and
his X-Men in the hope that Scott can be stopped before a real revolution begins.
Through some nifty technology we get to see what has gone by recently. In case
you don't know, Scott, Emma, Magneto, Magik and two new young mutants have been
going around the world finding people who are newly turned mutants to save them
from people who still fear the worst about the race. The flash back provided is
a somewhat typical scenario.  A young boy in San Diego suddenly manifests his
mutant ability. The crowd panics, the police show up and that is when Scott and
company show up to "rescue the kid. What they did not count on are the sentinels
that show up out of nowhere. The ensuing battle provides some very enlightening
insight into both Scott and Magneto. So we end up with a few mysteries.  Who
sent the Sentinels?  What has happened to Scott and Magneto?  And why is our
mystery guest giving S.H.I.E.L.D. the lowdown?  Well that last question,
including his identity is revealed at the end.  This looks to be more
interesting than I thought it would be. The element of a trusted mutant working
against the rest is not what I expected but it will provide some interesting
developments. I am not that excited about the art though. It is fine in
composition and layout but the people are out of proportion in places. This is
typically in long shots where we see two female onlookers for example whose legs
twice as long as their torsos, which is anatomically incorrect.  The faces
though are fine and the detail in the scenery and splash pages is superior. I
decided to follow just a few X-books with all this Marvel Now restart; the
Bendis books and X-FACTOR are my picks.

Issue Number: 17
Title Story: The Punchline
Title Arc: Death of the Family
Publisher: DC
Creator: Bob Kane
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo
Inker: Jonathan Glapion
Colors: FCO Plascencia
Letters: Richard Starkings and Jimmy Betancourt
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

Possible Spoilers so beware!

This is the end of the Death of the Family arc and since it involves the Joker
it is aptly named "The Punchline", both as a reference to the character and as
the end of the story. In fact it has more significance than that. But I am
getting ahead of myself. Those who inferred that "Death of the Family" referred
to an actual death of a main character should look back and see that no one
involved ever implied that was the case, though it is a logical assumption. Now
if it was "Death IN the Family" you would have a case, but that was a different
story long ago. Full disclosure - I have not read the rest of the arc, just the
opening chapter but to Snyder's credit this final episode is not heavily
dependent on what has come before to be compelling reading on its face. So here
is what you find as the issue begins. Joker has the whole Bat family tied up in
chairs around a dinner table in the cave. They are all in costume and Bruce is
at the head. Around the table are Robin, Nightwing, Batgirl, Red Hood and Red
Robin but they all have sacks over their head. In front of each of them are
covered plates. Joker is bout to play his end game. And it involves a lot of
theatrics. Next Alfred shows up, not quit himself right now and obviously under
a drug-induced control. Everyone is here now and it is time for the big reveal.
As instructed Alfred lifts offs the sacks and we see that all their heads are
wrapped in blood-soaked bandages. Now all that needs to be done is to uncover
the plates.  Joker is about to play a very cruel joke, but then most of his
jokes are that way. This story sums up the entire arc, the ringer he has put
everyone through, the collateral damage of the innocents that die along the way.
It all was done to psychologically prepare all the players for this one scene.
But of course it is mostly directed at Bruce. And frankly it is not something
new. It is a familiar theme in many Batman stories - Joker and Batman are
opposite sides of the coin, they each exist because of the other. Batman cannot
kill the Joker because of who he is - or at least that is what he tells himself.
Joker would not kill Batman because he needs him. He would rather torment Bruce;
find ways to make him suffer. Everything he has done has lead to this final
scene - his punch line. He even has Bruce's chair rigged so that if he gets up
it will create the sparks that will ignite all the gasoline the others are
soaked in. He plans to terrorize them all by what the uncovered plates will
reveal and then either Bruce will react and set off the fire or Joker will just
drop a match.  That part of it is classic death trap stuff. I won't go into what
happens next, and there is a lot more. I mentioned how Joker is conditioning
them all. One of the things he wants to do is create a permanent effect on them
all. More to the point he wants to separate them from Bruce emotionally. There
is one reveal Bruce makes to Alfred that gets to the heart of Bruce's attitude
about Joker. But the real punch line is not the dinner table scenario but the
aftermath. The implication is that the family has been damaged and it will not
be the same again. Is this the death "of" the family? The ending is somewhat of
a downer and looking back on this on part of a longer story I found the tension
around what might happen next was more enjoyable than the actual point of the
story. It just seemed to be set up as a long multiple book event to get to the
speeches and soul searching of this final episode. I would not say it was
exceptional but it was worth reading. As always the visual presentation is
terrific. So as a one-issue sample this is the one issue you really need to know
what you need to know about the bigger story. And if you are looking for a major
event in the Batman family, maybe even a death, be sure to check out BATMAN INC.
#8 due to hit the racks next Wednesday.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Way of the Outsider
Publisher: DC
Creator: Mike W. Barr & Jim Aparo
Writer: Ann Nocenti
Artist: Alex Sanchez
Colors: Matt Yackey
Letters: Taylor Esposito
Cover Artist: David Finch
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

In advance of the first issue of Justice League of America DC is showcasing one
of its members in her own series. I am not sure if Katana has appeared elsewhere
in the NEW 52 so far and this comic reads like she hasn't. Tatsu Toro is shown
arriving in a secluded section of Japantown in San Francisco. This will provide
her a base of operation and the apartment she rents has a basement area where
she can set up training apparatus for her extracurricular activities. She is the
owner of the Soultaker, a katana sword that carries the souls of those it has
killed, including her late husband, Maseo. She is haunted by his absence, but
even her undying love cannot explain the vivid dreams she has of making love
with their enemy Coil. Part of the reason she came to this area is to seek out a
particular woman - a tattooed girl who bears pictures all over her body as
punishment for her sins. She is exploited by an older woman who charges people
to see even a small portion of the illustrations. Katana is looking for answers
about the sword and its history. The counterpoint to these scenes is the attack
of her enemy in a park later. Earlier we learned that even in civilian clothing
she is armed with more than just the sword, strapped to her back and hidden by
outer garments. Her skill with these various weapons is demonstrated as the
attack begins and she systematically takes out one after the other leaving only
the leader, Coil, to fight. This series is part martial arts and part mystical
culture. The ongoing theme for now is who actually controls the sword - the
wielder or the souls within. Perhaps the sword itself is really in control.  We
are just starting to see a glimpse of Katana and no doubt future issues will go
into more of her past. For now it is merely background for what is happening. We
don't even know why Coil is attacking or why they are enemies. In fact from the
speech he makes he would let us believe he is trying to recruit Katana to join
the Sword Clan.  Only time will tell why he desires this when she only desires
his death. For as much information we are given in this opening chapter the
story is easy to follow. I particularly enjoy the art in style and execution.
This kind of story is really not the kind I seek out or enjoy long term.  It
will be interesting to see how she comes to be a member of the JLA when her
story seems so personal, not that of a crusader for justice or super heroics.
You won't need to read this to follow her participation in that book, but if you
like the character it will certainly provide more depth for you.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Budapest
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Nick Spencer
Artist: Luke Ross
Colors: Matthew Wilson
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Cover Artists: Tomm Coker & Daniel Freedman
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

The latest Marvel title to restart as part of the Marvel Now! Revolution is
SECRET AVENGERS. This is not a reboot or a change of the characters involved as
far as I can tell. The last volume told its story and now here is a new volume.
The thing about this title is that the writers can come up with any number of
characters with a minimal requirement that one or some of them are Avengers and
boom you have another Avengers title. The featured cast in this title is tied
into S.H.I.E.L.D. Hawkeye and Black Widow have been recruited by Agent Coulson.
At the beginning briefing he reveals they need our heroes services but due to
the sensitive nature of the first and upcoming operations they would necessarily
be implanted with certain technology to wipe memories. Well Hawkeye and the
Widow are not the type to readily agree to something like that but when Coulson
reveals certain classified details of the first mission, but not to the reader,
they eagerly agree to join up. There is a keyword that will activate the program
on the embedded chips. This will allow them to participate on missions with no
restriction to information. When it is over their knowledge of it all will be
wiped clean. If they get caught or go rogue, the knowledge will be wiped clean.
Afterward they will not miss the time they spent in the field, they just won't
remember any of it.  So that is the gimmick involved here. Director Hill gives
them their missions and the black Nick Fury (his real name is Marcus and he is
Nick's son) is also involved. Their first mission involves a Hungarian arms
dealer named Andras Bertesy. He also dabbles in human and drug trafficking but
the major threat he poses involves mastery of certain dark arts. Nick has gotten
word that he plans on selling certain darkforce dimension energies to an Al
Qaeda cell and the team needs to stop him. Through the course of the mission we
will see the whole memory chip thing in action. In fact the plot is structured
in a clever way to highlight how well it works before we even know about it. And
the underlying theme is that the two main operatives are the best for the job
but they will work better long term if they do not know certain things that they
do or that are done to them. It remains to be seen if that premise will come
back to bite Hill in the future. I am not as fond of the Marvel espionage type
stories as I am the more traditional super hero story. Slapping the Avenger
label on this one may draw in some Avengers fans initially or for the long term.
To its credit it is well written and illustrated. It is just not something I
want to continue with long term. Your opinion may be otherwise.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: IDW
Writer: Erik Burnham
Artist: Dan Schoening
Colors: Luis Antonio Delgado & Andrew Harmon
Letters: Neil Uyetake
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Humor/Supernatural

IDW has started a new volume in the GHOSTBUSTERS series with a new cast. Well,
they are not exactly all new characters but they are not the original team.  In
a brief recap text we learn that the original four busters have been abducted
and New York is still being plagued by ghosts here and there.  The first one to
vanish was Peter Venkman who has struck up a friendship with FBI Special Agent
Melanie Ortiz while the guys were working on a job in New Mexico. While she is
visiting Peter in New York a ghost with a not too subtle resemblance to Peter
appears and sucks Peter into another dimension with its own ghostly equipment -
as if the tables are turned and ghosts are catching Ghostbusters. Sure enough
one by one the other guys are snatched and dropped into some kind of limbo. When
we jump in time three months we find the Agent Ortiz working with Janine Melnitz
who has been the support staff for the Ghostbusters and Kylie Griffin who is a
mystical researcher and often consultant to the guys. Agent Ortiz has been put
on leave since Peter's abduction and has join the others to try and find the
guys. In the meantime a client has asked for their help with a ghost and so they
reluctantly try their hand at ghost busting. While they are successful they draw
the attention of the mayor and others in city government who begin to ponder
what to do with the girls who were clearly operating without their approval. On
the one hand complaints about rising ghost activity have been mounting putting
pressure on the mayor to do something. One of his staff feels he should recruit
from the ranks of the police and FDNY to form a sanctioned ghostbuster unit. His
other advisor lays out a plan to sanction the girls as city authorized.  The
original equipment is the best available and stored so as to self-destruct if
anyone but the current crew access it. The icing on the cake is his suggestion
that the city will be the one to hold the licenses on merchandise and imagery
connected to the New Ghostbusters.  He also has a plan to recruit an expert on
the kind of tech used by the group since the girls do not have the expertise to
maintain it. This person is Ron Alexander who at one time adopted his own proton
packs with stolen schematics and opened his own paranormal elimination service.
That effort did not go too well and he ended up in a minimum-security prison.
The girls will be presented with a proposition - accept Alexander as their tech
guy as well as a city liaison, cooperate with the city on case priorities and
public appearances or be prosecuted for their recent activities. Meanwhile the
original team has ended up in a limbo dimension. The scenes here are nothing
more than them finding each other, realizing they have no idea where they are or
how to get out, and trying come up with a plan of action.  So this first issue,
as many are, is just the set up to get things going next time.  The New
Ghostbusters will be the city's new team to eliminate paranormal threats pretty
much against their will while they try to find time to figure out how to rescue
the original team. The art is well executed in a unique style that adds a little
bit of a cartoonish look but works. The characters are interesting though the
action this issue is limited. It looks like a fun series though the humor is
mostly subtle than laugh out loud. As a bonus there is a two-page feature that
begins to explain what happens to all the ghosts once they have been caught. At
two pages it will take a while to explain it all but it should peak the interest
of the fans.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Image
Creator: Robert Kirkman
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Charlie Adlard
Gray Tones: Cliff Rathburn
Letters: Rus Wooton
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Horror
Previously published in THE WALKING DEAD #27 & CBLDF LIBERTY ANNUAL

I must tell you up front I am one of those few comic fans that do not read
WALKING DEAD regularly.  I am a fan of the TV show and have read a few issues in
the past.  This special gave me an opportunity to sample it again and compare
comic continuity with what is happening on the TV show. As you will note this
book consists of reprinted material. The first part already appeared in the
CBLDF's Liberty Annual and I briefly reviewed it in the past. That short story
reveals how the Governor originally obtained those fish tanks he uses to hold
severed heads. As he is setting them up in his apartment he is explaining to the
man who is helping him why he is going to have this visible reminder of the
horrors of the world in his home and how he is going to start his collection.
Though brief it highlights his determination and ruthlessness. The second story
is from an issue early on in the series and shows how the TV continuity departed
from the comic story. It starts with Rick, Glenn and Michonne investigating a
helicopter crash. The evidence is clear that someone else made it to the crash
before them and took the victims, or survivors away in at least one vehicle. 
The prospect of finding other survivors is enough for Rick and Michonne to
convince Glenn that rather than return to the prison they should follow the
tracks in an effort to find the other humans, even though they will be traveling
at night. Meanwhile back in the prison the others, including the pregnant Lori,
have come to realize the trio will be late or may not show up until the next
day. As they settle down for the night there are scenes among the various
characters that shows how well or not they have adjusted to their new life here. 
Of course the trail leads to Woodbury and the three will just walk right up to
the front gate and get their first look at life under the Governor - something
they could not have imagined.  While this is called THE GOVERNOR SPECIAL he is
more of a supporting character in this second segment. Since it is a reprint I
believe this story was chosen more to show latecomers to the series, and just
casual fans like myself, the actual first appearance of the character and the
town of Woodbury. In both stories he is more overtly ruthless and frank about
his plans than in the TV show. Regular readers may want this just to have the
opening story in their collection under a series title special rather than as
part of a larger anthology. Whatever the case I found it interesting and I am
sure it will sell very well.


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

Aragorn is the winged steed ridden by Black Knight and Valkyrie. The winner by
the dice roll is Mike Dooley.

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

"The Bodyguard" soundtrack went 17 times platinum in the US and sold 45 million
copies worldwide. It spent 20 non-consecutive weeks at #1 on the Billboard Top
200 and remains the highest-selling soundtrack album of all time. Its lead
single "I Will Always Love You" became the best-selling single by a female
artist in music history.

In the old series, who replaced Sinestro as Green Lantern?

Here is your no prize question:
What did Percy Spencer invent in 1945?

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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