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Friday, March 15, 2013

Comic Reviews 3/15/13

My View                                     
David LeBlanc

David LeBlanc was the Editor of the Comic Book Network Electronic Magazine for
over ten years. He is a life-long fan of comics and moderated online comic book
forums long before the Internet became the place to be. David works part-time at
THAT'S ENTERTAINMENT, the Eisner-winning comic store in Worcester, MA.


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 (of 10)
Title Story: Book One
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Bryan Hitch
Inker: Paul Neary
Colors: Paul Mounts
Letters: Cory Petit
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

This is the kick off of the next Marvel event that will run for ten issues and
tie in to a few other titles. They even provide a recap of what has gone before
at the start. "Hank Pym of the Avengers created the artificial intelligence
known as Ultron. It hates humanity.and it has returned." That is all you need to
know presumably as the issue drops you right into the middle of a reshaped
Manhattan - half destroyed rubble of what it was and half enormous structures
that are futuristic techno-buildings. The opening page says only "New York City,
Today." That begs the question, if this is "today" when did all this stuff
happen? We are left to ponder that assuming we will be filled in on the detail
in a later issue. I am guessing some sort of time travel related work is at
play, but that is just a guess. The story is presented in two parts. Most of the
issue is Hawkeye on a mission to rescue Spider-Man who is being held in one of
the few standing apartment buildings by the Owl, Hammerhead and a bunch of
thugs. They evidently have an arrangement with "the big guy", presumably Ultron,
that if they turn over any heroes they will get a free pass. It is the same old
story - the good guys are looking at the long-term big picture, the salvation of
humanity, while the bad guys are looking short time for their own needs. This is
a pretty gruesome kick off with lots of violence, first among the humans, which
catches the attention of the Ultron patrolling robots. It does not end well for
some.  The second part shows us the heroes in their hiding place trying to hold
it together while they come up with a plan. This small group includes Luke Cage,
She Hulk, Tony Stark, Emma Frost, Sue Storm, Wolverine, Captain America and a
few others still in the shadows. They are in makeshift quarters in the sewers
and have to take extreme precautions that none of their own has been infected in
any way that will lead Ultron to them. This issue highlights the attitudes at
this point. Again we do not know how things got from normal to this situation or
how long that took.  Some are overly cautious; some like Hawkeye will not give
up their values no matter what the risk. And one, a big surprise, seems totally
despondent. Some are overly cautious about compromising their situation, others
are mad that the brains among them have not come up with better defenses or an
attack plan. This really sets the mood for what will be coming in the future.
Another thing I noticed, Peter no longer has his mask so I guess everyone knows
who Spider-man is. I think the structure of the plot in this fashion works well
for this story. It gets us right to the heart of the problem without a lot of
details so we can appreciate the seriousness of the situation. The art is
terrific and with some parts having no dialogue at all it is important to be
visually dynamic to move the plot. I also like that Hawkeye is a stand out
character risking it all to save his friends while doing anything he has to do
to that end. There is a lot of story yet to tell and I am definitely going to
see it through.

Issue Number: 5
Title Arc: Trashed
Publisher: Image
Creators: Joe Harris & Martin Morazzo
Writer: Joe Harris
Artist: Martin Morazzo
Colors: Tiza Studio
Letters: Doug E. Sherwood
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction

This ongoing series has an interesting premise. Half way between North America
and Asia there is a new continent made of trash, mostly plastic, discarded over
years by humanity into the Pacific Ocean. The currents have brought all this
together into a landmass that Chas Worthington, heir to a great oil fortune, has
decided to claim and dub New Texas. Over the first few issues we learned that
Chas faked his own death to fly under the radar while exploring his new country.
While exploring the place he found he is not alone. He is being stalked by
hostile tribesmen from some nearby island who also worship a great sea monster
lurking around and under the Gyre as their god Yalafath. Recently a plane
crashed on the Great Pacific Garbage Patch and Chas is traveling with the female
pilot to escape the monster and the natives. Her motives are not entirely clear
but that may change quickly. Just to mix things up the place is under satellite
surveillance by the military that have Chas' friend and partner in protective
custody. As this latest chapter opens we find see that the female pilot, Zoe, is
working with a band of thugs who fashion themselves modern day pirates. Her
purpose was to find something stuck on the Patch - a Soviet satellite filled
with nuclear arms that was lost days after it was launched years ago. Zoe was
tasked with finding it and the pirates will cash in when they sell it. Presently
they have Chas bound and hanging from his feet. They consider Chas unnecessary
but Zoe warns them he is more valuable as a ransom hostage since he comes from
wealth. Is she just being ruthless or has she taken a liking to Chas and would
rather not see him killed? But Chas has something up his sleeve, or rather in
his belt pouch. Research he funded developed a device he calls HERO. It is
capable of turning hydrocarbons like plastic into any state he wishes. It is
part of his grand plan for the tons of plastic on the Patch. By the end of this
issue there is mutiny in the ranks, the natives reveal themselves to be more
than they seem and the US military make their move. This is a fast paced
adventure with lots going on and plenty of mystery along the way. Harris puts a
lot of sarcastic humor in his script making it all the more enjoyable. Marazzo
is a very good artist. The amount of detail in nearly every panel is amazing,
considering the "ground" is all bottles and cans. Things get more interesting
each issue and it is not too late to catch up on this title while its popularity
is growing.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Oni Press
Writer: Cullen Bunn
Artist: Joelle Jones
Colors: Nick Filardi
Letters: Ed Brisson
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Mythology/Supernatural

I am not a big fan of this type of fiction but I like to sample first issues in
general and have not read much from Oni Press for a long time. The setting is
somewhere in Northern Europe in 580 A.D. (kudos to Bunn for not using the more
politically correct C.E. designation) Rikard and his father Kirk are running
back to their stockade village after an unsuccessful mission to kill the witch
Groa. They are pursued by her men and their demon dogs but must make a stand at
the gates of the village, lest the enemy gain entrance. It seems to be over when
the bad guys retreat. We see that life in this camp is less than idyllic. In
fact Kirk blames their troubles with Groa and her minions on Rikard's woman
Bera. This belief is reinforced when the spirits of their slain enemies rise
from their bodies and animate skeletons of other dead to renew the attack in a
more supernatural way. Yes these night creatures truly do seek Bera and it is
only after tragedy strikes that Kirk learns the truth about Bera and the meaning
of a vision Rikard had earlier that day. This story turned out to be more
interesting than I thought it would be. There is strong element of the
supernatural involved here that is too key to the plot to give away. It moves
forward at a good pace and provides a couple of surprises as it reaches the end
of the first issue. The art team is very competent with good panel placement
being very noticeable. In several places the art carries the story forward on
its own. The coloring is strong enough to not distract and adds nicely in scenes
involving a certain ghost. As I said, it is better than I expected and is worth
checking out.

Issue Number: 10
Title Story: Some Things You Can Change, Some You Can't.
Publisher: DC
Writer: Paul Levitz
Artist: Kevin Maguire
Colors: Rosemary Cheetham
Letters: Carlos M. Mangual
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

I picked another of the New 52 that I have not been following to see what is
going on now.  WORLD'S FINEST was a second wave book so it is only up to #10. I
also chose it because it has a peripheral connection to the Batman family and
deals with the recent death of Robin. In case you don't know this title involves
a different dynamic duo, Huntress and Power Girl. They are both from Earth 2, a
terrific comic so far, and were transported to our Earth in a climactic event on
that Earth that apparently saw the deaths of Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.
Helena and Kara are making their way on this Earth as a team while hoping
eventually to return to their own. The other key fact is that Huntress is Helena
Wayne, the daughter of Earth 2 Batman, Bruce Wayne. She was his Robin on that
world. Elsewhere in New 52 comics we know that Kara had been seeing Michael Holt
aka Mr. Terrific. As we open this issue Power Girl is on a one-woman hunt for
against various facilities owned by Holt Industries. She somehow sparked a
thunderstorm that damaged one lab and is about to set off an earthquake in
another facility in Silicon Valley. Though we are not brought up to speed as to
why this is going on her monologue mentions raiders who came to her island and
that are somehow connected to Holt. After she does her thing and returns to
Starr island Helena has already left for LA to use her detective skills at Holt
HQ to find out if or why the long-missing Michael Holt could have targeted these
two. While snooping she is attacked by T-Spheres and manages to elude them but
before she can resume her mission Kara phones with the news to return
immediately. Yes it is news about Damian, whom she calls her not-quite brother.
By the end of the issue we return to Holt Headquarters to pick up the aftermath
of Helena's break in but the pause in the middle is particularly well done.
Helena visits Damian grave to ponder if this is her fate, to have everyone she
loves taken from her. The end of the scene is the most interesting as she deals
with possibly facing Batman, her not-father. It is handled well. This is not a
bad issue to follow considering it is a section in the middle of an ongoing arc.
Enough is said to understand why the ladies have been placed at odds with Mr.
Terrific. We know he is actually a hero so on the basis on just this issue we
take it he is not directly involved in any criminal activity. It might be worth
staying for a few issues to see how it plays out. Levitz, who by the way
actually first created the Huntress, provides a decent script with some touching
moments while Maguire is a great choice as artist on this title. If you haven't
sampled this title you might want to try this issue.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: First Hand - Stays in Vegas
Publisher: Image
Creators: Jim McCann & Janet Lee
Writer: Jim McCann
Artist: Janet Lee
Colors: Chris Sotomayor
Letters: Dave Lanphear
Price (USD): $3.50
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction

When I glanced at this comic on the rack I first thought the title was LOST
WAGES, which brought back memories of a Steely Dan tune. I always though that
was an apt label for the infamous sin city of the desert. Far in the future the
space station gambling Mecca is known as Lost Vegas. It is really not important
to know the details of how big it is, it is vast, or where it is. We glean from
the story that all the high rollers come here for their pleasures. But the story
is more about the staff as they are all prisoners from various worlds and
cultures. In particular this is the story of one of them who is a human, Roland.
He had the misfortune to try and cheat at poker with faker chips, did not fool
his mark and was only rescued from a severe beating by the sudden interference
of two men who show up to assume his debt and take him with them to Lost Vegas.
Now he is working for the man to pay off his debt like the rest of the servants.
But he has learned over the last five years that with the company taking 95% of
his wages for his room and board he will never be able to pay it down. So the
alternative is to try to an escape. That is the essence of this story.  On this
casino in space all of the various alien's in the same situation as Roland wear
special collars at the start of their shift. These collars transform their image
to humans to present uniform appearances to all the races that show up here to
gamble. His master plan involve a few others, most notably a tech genius who can
modify the collars and an alien who has a unique way of connecting the
conspiracy telepathically, even in the confines of their cells. The basic plan
is to be out on the floor during the shift and at the right moment have the
collar shift Roland's appearance to that of a customer rather than a member of
the staff. Then it will only mean somehow getting a ship to leave on. It is an
interesting set up and the dry run in this first issue serves to familiarize us
with the characters and the setting. This will not be a simple prison escape
adventure as McCann spends time on elements here and there that are sure to play
into the action later. Lee is doing a fine job on the art and Sotomayor does a
real nice coloring job. The only irritation I had was the narrative text, which
is done, in brown lettering on a light brown background. In dimmer light it
becomes hard to read for these old eyes, but that is just me. I enjoyed this
comic. The combination of science fiction, gambling and a prison break works in
this title. You might want to see if you agree.

Publisher: Zenescope Entertainment
Cover Artist: Alfredo Reyes & Ylenia Dinapoli
Price (USD): $6.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Fantasy/Horror

Probably the most eye-catching series of titles on the racks are from Zenescope,
at least to your average male comic fan. They usually feature covers with
alluring females showing a lot of cleavage and sometimes more. This annual-sized
volume collects stories from four of Zenescope's titles, either ongoing or soon
to come, with a bonus story that is a prequel to the upcoming UNLEASHED event.
Here is a brief look at what to expect.

"Jack and the Beanstalk" is by Joe Tyler, Ralph Tedesco, Chris Moreno and
Melanie Olsen. This most closely follows the Grimm Fairy Tales formula by taking
a well-known story and retelling it in modern times while tying it in to a story
in the book held by Sela, Guardian of the Nexus. In this case Jim is a small
time dealer who needs to hit it big so he and his wife and child can escape the
city to a better life. Looking for that last big score he goes to see his
source, Manny, but instead finds Sela who shows him where his greed is leading
him as revealed in her book. His life parallels that of Jack of beanstalk fame.
We all know the usual version how jack sold the cow for beans and then found
they were magical when the stalk grew into the clouds. All the elements are
there. He climbs and steals the gold, the singing harp and the goose from the
giant. When he is followed down at the end he has to cut down the stalk. The
question is will the ending of this version convince Jim to change his ways?

This is done by Joe Brusham, Ralph Tedesco, Dan Wickline, Gus Vasquezand Jim
Reddington. The story introduces the title character in the port of Al Jahra in
the Persian Gulf during the Islamic Golden Age. He suddenly shows up as one
ship's captain is about to whip a clumsy servant on his deck. It turns out the
captain has a magic gem which he uses to control male and female alike for his
own purposes. They cannot even revolt at his cruelty. Sinbad has really gotten
himself into a bad situation but since this is the "zero" issue story we know he
will get out of it. This is not a bad story and does what it sets out to do,
introduce the character and his crew for future adventures.

By Raven Gregory, Al Rio, Thomas Mason & Artmonkeys
This is a very brief look at Alice as a grown woman back in the real world. She
is a wife and a mother and she just tried to kill herself by slitting her wrists
while in the bath. It is indeed brief as it only gets to the point where she is
in therapy after the incident and the doctor recommends something to help her
recovery. The final panel is a bit of a payoff and perhaps a foreboding of what
the title says - a return to Wonderland.

By Joe Brusha, Jean-Paul Deshong, Jason Embury and Jim Campbell
This appears to be a prequel zero issue to GFT's retelling of Peter Pan. It
involves Wendy looking after John and Michael on her own with no parents. For
now there is no hint of what is to come. The only conversation that may have
bearing is the story of their great uncle who was one of the survivors of the
Titanic tragedy but disappeared at age 18, never to be seen again. Hmm. One
other element is that of another family whose son went missing after his bedtime
and the only thing out of place in his room is a pile of shiny dust. This story
also provides a short scene involving a man with a hook as well as our first
glimpse of Neverland and how Wendy may have attracted someone's interest. It is
clearly not meant to be Peter Pan chapter and verse. Like the rest of
Zenescope's stories there will be twists and additions with only the basic
elements staying the same.

"A Shadow Falls" by Raven Gregory, Pat Shand, Francesco DiPastena, Ben Sawyer &
Jim Campbell
This is only a hint of what the event crossover will entail. The narrator is an
odd-looking guy not wroth describing. He mentions a few characters from the
Grimm Universe of books, like Sela, Venus, Belinda, Robyn and even some of the
Greek gods. The actual story scene involves Cindy who as the Dark One's assassin
is tasked by him to summon the Dark Horde by opening a rift in the Nexus. It is
shortly after she does that the narrator appears with some revelations for both
Cindy and the reader. The art in this prequel is the most overtly sexual in the
whole issue, except for the bathtub scene noted above, with lots of cleavage
about to burst out and a couple of up skirt shots. If you are into that you are
probably reading Zenescope comics anyway. If not be aware that is what they do.


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:
A more recent quote, "Wow. That ain't nice at all. I think an apology of some
sort is due." Who uttered those words as his first dialogue in a comic book?

It was Miles Morales as the new Ultimate Spider-Man in ULTIMATE FALLOUT #4. The
winner by the dice is Erin O'Connor.

Here was your no prize question:
What was the first major Oscar contest to end in an exact tie?

It's a tie!" Ingrid Bergman exclaimed upon opening the Best Actress envelope.
The award went to both Katharine Hepburn, for her turn as Eleanor of Aquitaine
in The Lion in Winter, and Barbara Streisand, for her debut performance in Funny
Girl. Both Streisand and Hepburn received 3,030 votes each; it was the first
exact tie in a principal Oscar category.

In 1991, the first issue of BONE appeared, X-MEN began with a new #1 - setting
an all time sales record - and one of the first modern comic books to appear in
the former Soviet Union was a Russian version of WHICH character?

Here is your no prize question:
What unique circumstance in Major League Baseball occurred at Ebbets Field on
August 15, 1926?

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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