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Friday, April 26, 2013

Comic Reviews 4/26/13


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: 19 (WHOLE NUMBER 900!)
Main Title Story: The 900
Publisher: DC
Creator: Bob Kane
Writer: John Layman
Artist: Jason Fabok
Colors: Jeromy Cox
Letters: Jared Fletcher
Cover Artists: Fabok & Cox
Price (USD): $7.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

This issue has been out for a couple weeks and you would not know it from the
cover that it has historical significance, at least amongst comic book
collectors.  Had DC not changed the numbering this would have been the 900th
issue of DETECTIVE COMICS. To celebrate we get an oversized issue - 80 pages for
$8. There is not a lot of filler, mostly story pages and a few pin ups stuck in
there.  The main story takes up almost half the issue. The foldout tease cover
asks the question, "What is the 900?" You might suspect from that there is some
major bad guy group invading the city. But that is not it at all. The 900 refers
to a block in uptown Gotham between 9th and 10th Avenues referred to by the
residents as The 900. This is not one of the seedier parts of the city. It
residents are hard-working family types. But it is this block that has been
targeted for a biological weapon spread through the air. Whoever breathes in
enough of it turns into a Man-Bat. I believe this is the introduction of Man-Bat
in the New 52. The prologue introduces Dr. Kirk Langstrom and his wife Francine.
He feels responsible for this outbreak. He created a formula using chiropteran
DNA to help the hearing-impaired. He was trying to cure deafness. But someone
stole it and is using it to create chaos and destruction. If unchecked it will
spread beyond Gotham and be unstoppable. Batman is already on the case and has
managed to get a blood sample from one of the victims to analyze it to create an
antidote. He also is able to isolate the location of the initial contagion and
an old foe that has been transformed. Meanwhile Kirk and Francine are heading
into the 900 with a plan of their own. Batman's plan is good but will take too
long to synthesize. Langstrom however knows what must be done and will make the
sacrifice to set things right, but at a cost. This is a good story that carries
forward elements of the "Death of the Family" arc with other members of the
Batman family so it could have been the only story in a regular sized issue. It
also reveals in the end who was the planner behind this attack and how it was
carried out. The plot will continue in the next issue. If indeed this is the
first appearance of Man-Bat in the New 52, and I don't keep up with all the
Batman titles, it is an appropriate way to introduce the character. Jason Fabok
is a fabulous artist and the finishes do it justice.

But wait; there's more! Backing it up to celebrate the anniversary are four more

Man-Bat in "Birth of a family" by John Layman, Andy Clarke, Blond and Dave
Sharpe takes Langstrom's story forward from here as well as going back to give
us the background.  So we see how he met his future wife and learn more about
his research into a cure for deafness. The story title has a double meaning that
you will learn when you read this story. The ending was not what I was

Bane in "War Council" by James Tynion IV, Mikel Janin, Dave McCaig, Brad
Anderson & Sal Cipriano takes place in Santa Prisca as Bane is preparing for his
next move. His scientist is testing variations of the venom serum to build an
army of warriors to go back to Gotham. As they discuss the plan Bane reveals his
initial target is not the Batman but others in Gotham. He learned shortly after
his latest defeat about another force that is thwarting his efforts to control
the city. The person who informed him is only seen in shadows but the new enemy
is made very clear. Bane's story will continue in TALON #7.

Mr. Combustible in "Birdwatching" by John Layman, Henrik Jonsson, Sandu Florea,
Juancho and Taylor Esposito takes a look at what is happening in Gotham while
Batman and Gotham PD is busy with the problem at the 900. Mr. Combustible and
others spread out to conduct a series of robberies while the law is diverted
elsewhere. It is all part of a master plan that netted millions of dollars. But
Mr. Combustible is faithful to the Penguin, currently in Blackgate Prison By the
end of the story Penguin will set in motion his own plan of attack.  This is a
good tease of what is to come and will continue later.

Gotham's Finest in "Through a Blue Lens" by John Layman, Jason Masters, Brett
Smith & Carlos Mangual is the final entry in this volume. In this case a group
of police officers are visiting one of their comrades in the hospital. He was
infected at the 900 but has since recovered from the virus. He was wounded by
Batman while he was a Man-Bat. The story title refers to the point of view these
officers have about Batman and his brand of justice. Most are not fans and are
pretty vocal about it. One who hesitates to condemn the vigilante risks becoming
an outcast amongst her fellow officers.  It is brief but gives the opposing
arguments on this topic well.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Image
Creator: Ted McKeever
Cover Artists: Ted McKeever with Dana Moreshead
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Theatre of the bizarre(?)
Black & White
Mature - Comics on the Edge

This one is tough to place in a category. There are elements that would place it
in the supernatural realm but others that are not clear as to whether we are
seeing reality or hallucinations. There are two sub plots. The first is about a
recovering alcoholic named Chomsky. He has been holed up in cheap motel for
about a month though it is not clear if that is his period of sobriety. What
makes us wonder even more is that he begins having a conversation with a dead
cat on the floor. The cat is talking back and even transforming into other
appearances so we wonder if this is some supernatural phenomenon or just Chomsky
imagining things. After an encounter in a small general store he has another
vision of a floating demon, tempting him with liquor. Again is it imagination or
is he literally fighting his demons? The second plot involves a pastor in a
small church talking to the Lord while a young boy watches from the front pew.
They both are rattled when the Jesus on the crucifix on the wall starts to move
and come down from the cross. He is apparently the title character. The pastor's
immediate reaction may not be what you would expect. Chomsky's story is most
interesting and makes you think. The other plot is just a shock and makes you
wonder what will happen next. McKeever's art is wonderful to absorb. In another
form it would not have the same effect. It is an interesting comic that bears
further study as it progresses.

Title: JIRNI
Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Aspen
Creator: J.T. Krul
Writer: J.T. Krul
Artist: Paolo Pantalena
Colors: Brett Smith
Letters: John Reed
Price (USD): $1
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Fantasy

The title of this comic is a play on the word journey and it truly is about the
journey the main character is making. The story is a fantasy with elements of
Arabian myth, in particular the genie in the lamp. The main character is Ara, a
princess of the kingdom of Janna. As a young girl she led a life sheltered from
the bad things in the world. At some point that was all shattered when the
sorcerer Torinthal attacked the kingdom and kidnapped her mother. As we start on
the story Ara is a grown woman and is already on her quest to find her mother.
She happens upon some foul creatures who have attacked a tribe of Ontinae, a
feline race, and are in the process of skinning the leader alive while his
daughter watches helplessly. It is this scene that shows us that Ara is more
than just a pretty princess but can transform into a mighty warrior. Even Ara
does not know what she is and how she does this. It is something else she hopes
to find the answer to on her journey. Only the girl, Nylese survives the battle
and Ara invites her to travel with her. Nylese is also seeking the land of her
people, far to the east. Finally we get to look in on Torinthal as he and his
captive travel on great pachyderm of some sort. They are attacked by a band of
Zankaz robbers and this scene serves to show us the wizard's power - the genie
of his lamp. Ara's mother is resigned to her position as captive but her spirit
is not broken. This introductory chapter is properly priced at only one dollar
as part of Aspen's 10 for 10 promotion. The art is very appealing with vibrant
coloring showing it off well. There is not too much to absorb, a major problem
with many first issues. The plots are basic and there are unresolved questions
setting up the things to come. For the price it is well worth your time.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: IDW
Creators: J. Scott Campbell & Andy Hartnell
Writer: Andy Hartnell
Artists: John Royle, Harvey Tolibao & Stephen Molnar
Inks: Phillip Moy
Colors: Romula Fajardo
Letters: Neil Uyetake
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Adventure

This latest mini-series of the franchise has elements similar to most of the
past ones. Danger Girl is not a person but an organization of adventurers with
three females as lead characters. In this first issue we look in on each one
separately as the plot begins to unfold. Abby Chase is the blond we first see on
a pirated freighter loaded in the Gulf of Aden with priceless antiques. She
apparently stowed away to locate one particular trinket. She has been discovered
and only the rising storm changes her fate allowing her to try a desperate ploy
to escape - but where to? For some reason there is a monkey with an eye patch
along for the ride that may or may not play into the plot. Back in London the
brunette Sydney is called to action as she is in bed with her date. She has kept
her occupation secret from Bryan and he is beginning to suspect she is married.
The phone call was an alert that Abby is missing but as she prepares to answer
the call to arms she finds herself defending herself and Bryan from an intruder
bent on assassination. Meanwhile her sister Soyna is in the Congo having just
tracked down and captured a thief. She too finds herself and her charge in
danger from a band of mercenaries who want her dead. Is this all a plot against
the three?  Is the antique necklace Abby was after the key to the attacks?  Who
is behind it all? Those questions are unanswered for the moment. The fun of this
comic is mostly visual. The plot is not bad but the art carries the day keeping
the action moving. It does not hurt that the main characters are good looking,
very fit females. The dialogue is natural and offered with a sense of wit that
does not try too hard. It is a good mix for what it is. This is a pleasant
diversion from heavier plots and the normal super hero fare.

Issue Number: 5
Title Story: Smells Like Team Spirit
Publisher: Aspen
Creator: David Schwartz
Writer: David Schwartz
Artist: Pasquale Qualano
Colors: David Curiel
Letters: Josh Reed
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

This is one of the better comics using a super hero reality TV show competition
as its premise. In past issues we focused on Joule who has power over
electromagnetic powers and entered the Superhero Idol competition as means to an
end. She seeks revenge on super villain Stasis who killed her parents as she
watched as a young girl.  All her life she developed and honed her skills and
the opportunity to gain a position with the Powered Protectors superhero team
meant she could possibly attain her goal. As we open on this last issue of the
arc Joule has indeed won the competition but her outing with the group has gone
horribly wrong. The entire Powered Protectors team may have been killed and
Stasis is about to launch his final attack to destroy society and topple the
world's governments. At this point her guilt is so overwhelming that she just
wants to disappear in the crowds as a normal human and wait the inevitable
destruction. This is the turning point of the story. Imagine her surprise when
at a random point on the street the former contestants she defeated confront her
about her decision. It is a super hero intervention. They all have reason to
dislike even hate her but they also know that she is the only one among them
that can formulate a plan and lead them. With the Protectors gone someone has to
stop Stasis. A good portion of the story is the back and forth, the pro and con
about trying to do this. But it wouldn't be much of an ending to the arc if they
didn't try. So the rest is the plan and execution. It hits on themes of
sacrifice, redemption and the fallacy of revenge. At this point in the story it
is not hard to believe that former competitors would bond for the common good -
for something that matters more that their individual motives for joining the
earlier competition. This is the only comic from Aspen I read on a regular basis
because I like the characters, the plot and the art. It is a well-done package
and the ending of this story is satisfying. It is left for a possible sequel and
I for one would like to see that happen.

Issue Number: 5
Publisher: Image
Writer: Landry Q. Walker
Artist: Eric Jones
Colors: Michael Drake with Garry Black
Letters: Richard Starkings and Jimmy Betancourt
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

This series began with the world's heroes heading off into space to prevent the
destruction of everything - you know the usual stuff. This left only the teenage
sidekicks to keep the peace, and some of them had plans of their own that were
not altruistic. In this world the president is the former super hero who as a
young man fought the Nazis as the super soldier American Spirit. He is secretly
behind a lot of bad things and has turned the country against the good guy
teens, even executing one of them on live TV. He has Jacky Fearless in cuffs in
his office and will force him to watch as he executes two others in another
sealed room. Meanwhile Jacky's comrades still at large are in the middle of
their own plan to thwart the Spirit's plans but time is running out. Jacky will
make a last stand he may not survive while the others need split second timing
to make their play work. As the action increases we are jumping from scene to
scene almost panel by panel but we may not get the satisfaction of the bad guy
getting his due as his final ploy is a doozy. As an alternate super hero comic
this one is pretty good. It is a bit grittier than the mainstream titles, though
not quite as edgy as the BRAT PACK. Still it has some decent plot elements and
lots of twists along the way. The art is spectacular right down to the final
panels that indicate thinks could change drastically next time. I for one want
to see what happens next.


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:
In CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS who killed these heroes?

The answers are:
SUPERGIRL - The Anti-Monitor
DOVE - One of the Shadow Demons/Living Shadows

The winner by the dice is Erin O'Connor.

Here was your no prize question:
Where was the first US Open in golf held?

The first US Open was held at the Newport Golf and Country Club in Newport, RI.
The thirtieth US Open was held at the Worcester Country Club!

On the death theme: Which god from New Genesis was the first to die on Earth in
the war with Darkseid's minions?

Here is your no prize question:
What is the highest elevation on the Massachusetts Turnpike?

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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