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Friday, April 12, 2013

Comic Reviews 4/13/13


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 (of 4)
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Creator/Writer: Max Bemis
Artist: Jorge Coelho
Colors: Felipe Sobreiro
Letters: Steve Wands
Cover Artists: Frazer Irving & W. Scott Forbes
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Slice of Life
Mature - Comics on the Edge

This is the story of an artist with bipolar disorder. The basic description is
that someone so afflicted has a body chemistry that is out of whack. It can be
controlled with certain meds. If you don't take your meds, or do too many drugs
or even lose too much sleep you will become delusional and manic. Tim discovered
he was bipolar when he woke up in the hospital after he had sat down in the
street with just a shirt on, no underwear, and got hit by a car. Two years later
he has recovered from the injuries and is stable with his meds and is the
darling of the hipster crowd at a local art gallery. His best friend Adam is the
angel on his shoulder helping him along. He knows that Tim does not really fit
in with most of the people in the crowd. Even his girlfriend Alexis is not
really emotionally into him but rather is using him as arm candy because he is
popular. Adam can also see that Tim would rather be with Lily, a more down to
Earth person but is too shy to approach her, or cut things off with Alexis. It
seems that his popularity stems from his affliction. Before his hospital stay,
while in the throes of bipolarity, his artistic expressions of his own psyche
became the rage. His former fine art work was getting him nowhere. So Alexis
clamped on to him and his agent promoted his work to both their benefit. But Tim
is at a crossroads and now that he has his illness under control his work has
lost its edge. It all comes to a head when one evening Alexis admits that his
new work kinda sucks. Seeking solace on his own he runs into Lilly who more or
less opens the door for something more if he wants it. When he fails to make a
move and she leaves he realizes he is a fool. He rationalizes that if he went
off his meds he would be more masculine and confident. This is the point of
decision and unfortunately he cannot resist. He begins the downward spiral with
lots of whiskey and in the days that follow he flushes his meds and goes back to
the old patterns that nearly killed him the first time. This is an interesting
look at something very few people have had to cope with in their lives. The
writing style is compelling as we see things mostly from Tim's point of view.
Adam is the grounding force in his life but as with anyone with an addiction Tim
has to come to his own realization about the destructive path he is on. The art
is decent as well. This is a very good comic for those who venture beyond the
normal super hero and adventure type stories. It is worth the price.

Issue Number: 1 (of 4)
Publisher: Valiant Entertainment
Story: Joshua Dysart & Duane Swierczynski
Writer: Joshua Dysart
Artists: Clayton Henry, Clayton Crain & Mico Suayan
Colors: Brian Reber
Letters: Dave Lanphear
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

If you have not been reading any of the Valiant comics this might be a good
place to start. Both HARBINGER and BLOODSHOT have been going on for about a year
with separate story lines that are about to cross paths. This crossover event is
designed so that you can read just the four issues of the mini-series and get
the full effect. If you also pick up the individual ongoing titles you will get
more about those characters but those titles are not essential to follow the
main event. After reading this first issue I am guessing that you will want to
see the rest of the action as it plays out in HARBINGER and BLOODSHOT. In a
nutshell we have the Project Rising Spirit that has been finding children with
latent potential for powers and taking them to research facilities to activate
their psiot powers and use them as a private army for clandestine operations.
They created Bloodshot who has Nanobots in his blood that will repair any
injuries he incurs. He is a super soldier that is nearly indestructible. He has
been manipulated by PRS into rounding up psiot children believing he is rescuing
them from the bad guys. He has been fed false memories over and over to keep him
in line. He recently freed himself from their control and is now on a mission to
rescue the psiot children from these research facilities. On the other side of
the coin we have Peter Stanchek who possesses immense telepathic and telekinetic
abilities. He at first used these abilities recklessly and often medicated
himself to silence the voices in his head. Toyo Harada, a survivor of the
Hiroshima bombing, has similar abilities and is possibly the most powerful man
on Earth. He recruited Peter with the promise of helping control and focus his
abilities. Harada's Harbinger Foundation is the front for an organization that
is building its own private army of psiots to help shape the world to Harada's
vision. Peter eventually rejected Harbinger and has formed his own team of
renegades that includes the super strong and durable Torque, the pyrotelekinetic
Flamingo, Zephyr who can fly and the normal human Kris Hathaway who is brilliant
and resourceful. Collectively they have decided to keep psiot children out of
Harada's influence. This opening chapter of the event starts with the story of a
group of psiot warriors under the thrall of Project Rising star. They are all
barely teenagers and are forced to go on a mission in China to clean up a mess
PRS created. That flashback gives us the introduction to this group of kids and
the conditions under which they are controlled. As we get to present day we see
that both Peter's Renegades and Bloodshot want to free this group and that
sequence will lead to partial success and logical paths into what happens next
in each of the ongoing titles. I have been reading the entire Valiant offering
from the beginning and this comic highlights how well the Valiant Universe has
been planned out to get to this point. There are interesting characters both new
and old in this story. But the writing is such that you can pick up this issue
and follow along easily. The art is always pleasing in Valiant comics and this
is no exception. It is worth your time to give Valiant a try by starting here.
As a bonus there is a backup preview of their newest title coming in July -
QUANTUM AND WOODY. They are often referred to as the world's worst superhero
team. The preview is just a taste of what to expect as two normal guys become
empowered by accident, but only if they are in close proximity to each other. It
is one of the fan favorites of the old Valiant comics and I am hoping the new
creative team will do it justice.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Marvel
Creator: Dedicated to Jim Starlin
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Simone Bianchi
Colors: Simone Peruzzi
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Villain

Marvel has big plans for Thanos the Destroyer in the near future and this comic
begins by looking at how he became to be what he is. His story begins at birth
on Titan, the largest moon of Saturn. His father is essentially the king of the
planet and Thanos is his son. In fact the story begins at his birth. The Titans
are normal looking humanoids but at birth it is clear that some genetic mutation
has given this baby a much different appearance with purple skin and devilish
eyes. His mother rears in horror at her first glimpse of him and her impulse is
to kill him before he can start to live. Thus Thanos will live a life that is
different from any other. His mother is institutionalized, he is treated with
respect by other kids because of his father's stature and he tries hard to fit
in despite his appearance. The other children are willing to accept him as he is
but one girl knows that he is more than just a mutation with purple skin. She
has plans that begin to play out later on. There is an event that will shape the
future for Thanos. What begins as a field trip to some caves will end in tragedy
but will also become a life-changing event when it is used by that female to set
Thanos on a certain path. It is clear that Jason Aaron is taking his time to
develop the character that will become one of the most feared in the Marvel
Universe. Each phase of his life, the visits to his hospitalized mother, the
uncaring father, and the incident in the caves will all contribute to what he
will become. It is a good start that drags you in so that you want to know what
happens next. Everyone involved puts in a good effort to make this book shine.
For Marvel fans that would like a stand-alone story about a major character this
is the perfect start.

Issue Number: 1 (of 4)
Title Story: American Dreams
Publisher: Dark Horse
Writers: Neil Druckmann & Faith Erin Hicks
Artist: Faith Erin Hicks
Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letters: Clem Robins
Cover Artist: Julian Totino Tedesco
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Survival action thriller/Video Game prequel
Mature - Comics on the Edge

Some time in the near future a parasitic fungal outbreak wiped out the majority
of the Earth's population. This story takes place nineteen years later in Boston
in one of the last remaining quarantine zones. It is the story of Ellie who is
being transferred to the military prep school as is required of all orphaned
thirteen year olds. That is the only information presented about this comic,
other than it is based on the game from Sony and developed by Naughty Dog
Studios that will be in stores June 14. So the story here is another one of
those post-catastrophe tales. As you might expect that kids have to grow up
quick in such a world and even in the confines of a military complex it is a
game of survival of the fittest. Ellie surely has seen horrors in her life and
they continue today. The survivors live in a martial law state where people on
the street are subject to inspection for infection. As Ellie witnesses one such
incident from the bus taking her to her new home there is swift action if indeed
someone is infected. There is also noticeable graffiti around town proclaiming
"The Fireflies Will Save Us". This vigilante group is mentioned elsewhere in the
story but we get the feeling they are hunted by the military. But the first
issue is mostly Ellie's introduction to life at the new school. It is almost
clich‚ that being a smaller person the male bullies start to pick on her looking
to take anything they want from her meager possessions. To her credit she stands
up to the alpha male of the group but is clearly outmatched. It is then that an
older girl, Riley steps in and trounces the bully. In her first day Ellie will
learn a little more about what is expected of her, the horror that occurs when
the military clash with the Fireflies and the necessity to not trust anyone. As
the first issue closes she seizes an opportunity to follow the path she would
rather be on. We get the feeling she will be getting into some deep trouble
before long.  This comic is not too bad reading even if it is derivative work.
The art is compelling and after a while you feel compassion for Elle. I found
her a strong lead character that may surprise us later. The other players are
appropriate as well, particularly Riley with whom Ellie forms a bond. This is
the kind of comic that will enhance the experience of the gamers who plan to get
the game as well as provide entertainment for us comic fans who like tales of
this type.  Try it and see what you think.

Issue Number: 19
Title Story: Kill Machine (part 3)
Publisher: DC
Writer: Jeff Lemire
Artist: Andrea Sorrentino
Colors: Marcelo Maiolo
Letters: Rob Leigh
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

Back to another of the New 52 titles to see how things have progressed. This
month DC is using foldout covers on all the issues that are supposed to give you
a surprise when folded open. That theoretically will compel you to buy that
issue if you normally don't.  In this case the fold out promises the shocking
truth about the death of Green Arrow's father. Since this issue is part three of
a larger arc it could be just serendipity that the plot point happens in this
particular month. One thing I noticed after reading this issue is that the first
two pages spoil the aftermath of the end of the issue. Those two pages are in
the present in Arizona. Oliver is following the trail of arrows and calling out
for someone named Magus. So three weeks after the events of the main story he is
alive and able to function at near normal levels. After you read the main story
you will see that the ending is either overly dramatic or like most super heroes
(even non-powered ones) Oliver has incredible healing powers. The main plot has
Green Arrow in a conflict with another Archer named Komodo. Ollie believes
Komodo has killed his two friends Jax and Naomi, though we know Naomi at least
is being held elsewhere by Komodo's daughter. The conflict across the rooftops
has drawn the attention of the police who are following it in helicopters. It is
clear as things progress that Komodo is far more skilled at archery than Oliver.
At one point when he has gotten the better of Oliver we get the revelation
promised on the cover as Oliver learns the truth about how his father died.
Again, we know from the opening sequence that Oliver survives eventually but he
takes a lot of injuries along the way. Meanwhile we are still perplexed about
how the Magnus character, mentioned by Komodo at one point, fits into the big
picture.  I really fault DC for how they structure most of their comics.  They
are all written in longer arcs (with a few exceptions) with collected trades in
mind. That is not the problem by itself. But if you want to draw in new readers,
especially by using a gimmick on all the books for one month, it would behoove
the editors to provide a brief recap at the beginning. The pace of the story and
the art depicting it are good, I just felt at a loss when done having missed
some crucial bits of information.

Issue Number: 9
Title Story: Speechless
Title Arc: Wish You Were Here
Publisher: Image
Writer: Jim McCann
Artists: Rodin Esquejo and Dan McDaid
Colors: Arif Prianto
Letters: Dave Lanphear
Cover Artist: Rodin Esquejo
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Mystery/Drama/Supernatural

If you write or read enough comic book reviews you will eventually come across a
phrase like "COMICS ARE THE MARRIAGE OF STORY AND ART." Some might misinterpret
that as "dialogue" and art but dialogue, characters speaking, is really not
essential in all cases. The essence of the statement then is the writer tells
the story in text - dialogue, directions for the artist as how to show the
action, colors to use, even specific things to draw in each panel. Some writers
are more detailed than others depending on the artist they are working with. The
flip side is that the artist takes the script and everything outlined in it and
makes the visual representation of the story. Really good artists know enough
not to draw obvious things that are said overtly in the dialogue or explained in
editorial text to be added later. They instead show visuals that complement what
the writer is saying. The end result, hopefully, is a melding of two
interpretations of the same ideas. Getting back to my original thought - the
text on the page is not always essential in telling the story. And so it is the
case with this issue of MIND THE GAP. There is an introductory page that
explains how a man wearing a hoodie attacked Elle Petterssen one day on a subway
platform. She was on the way to work at the Vineyard Theater where she left the
affluent life of her family to be with her best friend Jo and her boyfriend
Dane. Elle is in a coma but her spirit seems to inhabit a limbo like region
where souls go to wait before they have passed on. Unlike the others Elle can
enter the bodies of others near death, a fact that Jo has figured out and is
working with Elle through her communications through third parties to solve the
mystery of her attack.  We also are told that the man in the hood is working
behind the scenes for Elle's mother to frame Dane for the crime and has even
recruited Dane's estranged father Lonnie to help him. That is all a recap on
that first page to bring new readers up to speed. After an editorial comment
from the creator on the next page we get into the story - told entirely without
dialogue. The only thing close to it is a close up of some text messages in a
few panels, and a brief recording is played but no one talks and there are no
thought balloons or editorial comments at all. Rodin Esquejo does the framing
pages 1-3 and 24 with color by Arif Prianto. Dan McDaid does the rest in mostly
black and white with a third blue tone. The two styles are a great contrast. The
story being told here is what the hooded man is told to do to Lonnie before he
becomes a problem. Visually we see him enter Lonnie's apartment and contaminate
certain items Lonnie is likely to touch or ingest and his own allergic reaction
will take care of the rest. But we also follow Jo who has decided to look for
something in Lonnie's apartment. She will stay too long and be forced to hide
under the bed when Lonnie gets home. The rest of the issue is really a lesson in
how to properly do sequential art. I won't reveal what happens next but it does
advance the story to the point where Jo has a very important piece of
information now and the promo for the next issue is that the Hoodie's identity
will be revealed.  I am presuming revealed only to us readers, or maybe to Elle
who is in a coma anyway so what's the harm?  We'll see. This series has been a
good thriller from the start. There have been strong characters developed, a few
surprises and a supernatural twist that often takes a back seat, as in this
issue, to the what is going on in the real world. It is an excellent comic and
this particular issue is a stand out.  Check it out and see.


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 Superman/Batman team-up book is coming out soon. Let's go back to the
original Batman team-up book for this week's question. Who was the first hero to
team up with BATMAN in BRAVE and the BOLD?

It was Green Lantern in B&B #59. The winner this time is Steven Berk.

Here was your no prize question:
What is the only college to host a major sporting event at a national Hall of
Fame location?

Salve Regina College in Newport, RI hosts a tennis tournament at the Tennis Hall
of Fame.

Famous LAST words of which character?

"I love you so much for what you are.  For how . . .good you are..."
Here is your no prize question:

Rhode Island's oldest Catholic Church, St. Mary's in Newport, was the scene of
what famous event?

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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