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Friday, May 17, 2013

Comic Reviews 5/17/13


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.

Title: UBER
Issue Number: 0 ENHANCED
Publisher: Avatar
Creator: Kieron Gillen
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Artist: Caanan White
Inker: Keith Williams
Colors: Digikore Studios
Letters: Kurt Hathaway
Cover Artists: Michael Dipascale & Caanan White
Price (USD): $4.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction
MATURE - Comics on the Edge

I was intrigued by this series when I read some pre-publicity about it. The
premise is that the Germans had developed super soldiers or Ubermensch during
the course of World War II. They were first deployed as Berlin was falling and
in this alternate view of our world that changed the whole course of the war.
There are two levels of Ubermensch. There are only three at the top called
Battleship Ubers - Siegfried, Siegmond, and the female Sieglinde. These are the
very powerful, nearly indestructible bringers of destruction. The lower level
Ubers are the Panzermensch. They have an identical power set but on a lower
scale and there are hundreds of them. This is not another super hero book or one
of those "what if the Germans won WWII" stories. Gillen says it is more about
how humans relate to power. It is a story about weaponized humans and how what
they have become conflicts with their humanity. He has inserted this one
variable at a key point in history and told the story of what that would mean to
those involved on a personal scale and the larger scale of countries at war. In
this zero issue we get to see that key point as event unfold. Berlin is
surround. German forces on the outside have been unable to break through with no
results. Some are convinced the war is over, that this is the end. But others
know it is time to unleash an attack using the Ubermensch. As things are set in
motion we see these desperate times from multiple perspectives - the civilians
trying to just survive, the Germans both the brave and the cowardly, the
Russians and others. One set of sequences is set in the secret Uber research
camp somewhere near the Swiss/Austrian border. Here Professor Metzger conducts
his latest experiments to advance the program in collaboration with the female
Doctor Bergen. It shows us the ruthlessness of the professor in his dedication
to the goal. But it is Freya Bergen who will be on of the key characters further
down the road as revealed in the final scene. So this zero issue is the story
before the story. The Ubermensch make their move and in typical Avatar Comic
fashion it is very gruesome. There are other key characters introduced, among
them are General Sankt the architect of the Uber program and Maria a Soviet
super sniper who seems out of place at first but a likable character. Caanan
White has a really attractive style that brings out the unique character in each
of the players. The finishes and coloring elaborate his strength. This is all
set up for the main story that is to come. It is enough of a tease in a few
areas to show it will be more layered than you might expect. If you can't find a
copy of this issue it will be alright to start with #1, if you can find a copy
of that. This series is selling fast.

Issue Number: 1 (of 2)
Publisher: Big Dog Ink
Writer: Pat Shand
Artist: Carlos Reno
Colors: Kate Finnegan
Letters: HDE
Cover Artist: Carlos Reno & Nei Ruffino
Price (USD): $3.50
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Fantasy

There are several recent comics based on the Oz books by L. Frank Baum. I
decided one of the mini-series offered by Big Dog Ink. What I thought would be
about the famous scarecrow featured in "The Wizard of Oz" turned out to be much
different. There were actually fourteen Oz novels by Baum and many published
after his death. The works are now in the public domain so it is not surprising
to see altered versions or work just based on characters he created. This is an
interesting story in that the lead character does not speak at all. This makes a
bigger challenge for the illustrator because all the communications must be told
with expressions and gestures. Carlos Reno handles the task admirably. His art
is very appealing and the coloring is well above average as well. But in this
regard I see a flaw. She is a female scarecrow who is animated and recently came
down from her perch to explore the land. But, she is depicted as if she were a
flesh and blood girl. We know she is a scarecrow and when she is injured in her
arm indeed she is stuffed with hay. So why does she have skin on the outside?
There is another scarecrow in the story, an evil one, and he is depicted with
straw arms but he also has flesh feet and a human style head covered in flesh.
It just does not make sense.  The story however is a good one. Our heroine
wanders into the nearest town of Denslow. It should be noted that this is a Wild
West setting like the other books from Big Dog in "The Legend of Oz: The Wicked
West" series. She soon learns that scarecrows are shunned here. Women and
children run away and the sheriff soon comes gunning for her. Of course she
leaves dismayed but soon one of the good witches appears to her, to patch her up
and provide words of encouragement, that she has a destiny in this very town. I
mentioned the other scarecrow. He like her somehow became animated and unlike
her he turned against his master. Although it is not explicitly said it is
heavily implied that he took out his master's brain and put it into his own
head, which is why he is able to speak and she cannot. The evil scarecrow has a
devious plan going on. He has kidnapped several townsfolk keeping them in the
cellar of a barn along with other scarecrows. She falls under his control and is
thrown in with the rest. The gist of the plot is that she will have a large part
in their escape and will be befriended by one of the captured boys, the
sheriff's own son. Going forward we will learn how people will now react to this
development and if they will accept or reject our female protagonist. The real
enemy is not scarecrows in general but one in particular. It is an interesting
story made all the more enjoyable by the strong visual characterizations of the
female lead. I wish somehow they had given her a name I could refer to when
talking about her. On the basis of this first part I will be looking for the
second half to see how it ends.

Title: GRIMM
Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Creator: Based on the NBC Television series "Grimm"
Plot: Jim Kouf & David Greenwalt
Script: Marc Gaffen & Kyle McVey
Artist: Jose Malaga
Colors: Thiago Dal Bello
Letters: Marshall Dillon
Cover Artist: Alex Ross
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Horror - TV adaptation

I never really got into the GRIMM television series though it has been growing
in popularity. This comic provides story based on that series and its main
characters. The main character is Nick Burkhart who is a detective. One day he
started seeing people changing into monsters and his dying aunt explained to him
that the family legacy was passing on to Nick. The monsters, called Wesen, are
hidden and appear to normal humans as regular people. Nick is a Grim and it his
family's duty to keep the Wesen in line. But things are more involved than that.
There are three coins of Zakynthos that date back to ancient Greece. The coins
are said to give the holder charismatic power over others and have been
attributed to the success of Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Napoleon
Bonaparte and even Adolph Hitler. There are seven Royal Families who once held
power and want it back. They are seeking the coins and the Wesen Resistance is
trying to stop them and Nick is stuck in the middle. His thought to be dead
mother possessed them, or knows where they are and gets a message to Nick to
find and destroy the coins. So in this story Nick is off to Europe with his
friend Munroe and his partner Hank to find the person who can lead him to his
mother. Along the way they will gain allies and enemies. There are other people
who change into animals or gain animal features. Some are good, some are bad.
And, as we learn by the end of this chapter, there are other Grimm's as well. As
an introduction to the series this issue is constructed well. It introduces the
main characters and fleshes out their personalities. Through flashback and
narration it fills us in on most of what we need to know about the background. I
would like perhaps a text page with more detail to make it clearer. The art is
good with very nice coloring though it is a bit dark. Not bad for a first issue.
I would be interested to see what a fan of the TV show has to say about it.

Title: X
Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Fight or Flight
Publisher: Dark Horse
Writer: Duane Swierczynski
Artist: Eric Nguyen
Colors: Michelle Madsen
Letters: Richard Starkings & Comicraft
Cover Artist: Dave Wilkins
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Anti-Hero
Mature - Comics on the Edge

Dark Horse has been re-introducing its super hero line of characters, first in
the pages of DARK HORSE PRESENTS and then launching new series. The latest is
the mysterious vigilante in a leather body suit with a facemask padlocked to his
collar and only exposing one eye. There is a red "X" painted across his facemask
and hence he is known as X. He is not a Batman style hero. He targets the
baddest of the bad guys, usually sends them a picture of themselves with a red
"X" across their face, and later kills them. As the series kicks off it follows
the events as depicted in DHP. Two bad guys named Duroc and Hereford have
assembled a militia of hired killers to get rid of X once and for all. After X
took care of them the third member of the triumvirate decided to go into hiding
in his state-of-the-art panic room but it did not keep X out. This issue begins
with the aftermath of the initial bloodbath leaving Duroc, Hereford and the
hitman in a bloody pile in a warehouse. The police are just beginning to
investigate when they realize from the red X's who was responsible. Captain
Wilder orders them to dump the bodies and burn the place down but he realizes
too late that someone was watching and overheard it all. It was Leigh Ferguson,
a columnist for the Evening Journal who goes by the title The Last Muckraker.
She now has bits of information about the three gangsters that have been killed.
She does not know who did it so she just dubs him X for now. She will play an
important role as the story in this issue reaches its climax. Another prominent
"businessman" has received the photo with the X over his face and this time he
calls Captain Wilder because he knows what happened to his three friends. The
captain will use this foreknowledge to set up a trap for X but will it work?
This is a vigilante story that pushes to the edge in violent content. Even
though he is a killer you root for X and he somehow manages to overcome obstacle
at every turn. The civilian component added by Leigh adds to the appeal and she
is the narrator as well. The art is decent though the pencils tend to be a bit
rough on some characters' faces. It is an engaging drama that should grab you if
you bother to give it a try.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Image
Creators: Steve Niles & Tony Harris
Writer: Steve Niles
Artist: Tony Harris
Letters: Bill Tortolini
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Crime/Horror
MATURE - Comics on the Edge

Some times a comic is so intricate you need to read it slowly enough to absorb
and think about what you are reading. A telltale sign that you did not is the
second reading.  That is where I found myself on this comic. The first time I
thought it was a jumble of different disconnected scenes and it was not clear to
me where it was going. After the second reading things began to make sense, but
not everything.  The star of part of this drama is none other than the famous
treasury agent Elliot Ness. There are three basic sequences involved in this
story. One starts in Egypt. A client is thanking a man, a mystic of some sort,
for helping him find someone who has been stealing from him. As he exits a
mysterious person enters the tent with glowing red eyes. The mystic flees and
surprisingly starts flying. Now he is pursued by three red-eyed people, also
flying. From the looks of this we are in the middle of some intense power
struggle, and it does not end well for the mystic - but the weird part is when
they are done with him they let him go. I am trying not to reveal too much.
Let's just say he should not be alive at this point. The unexplained thing is
that this guy in Egypt somehow is found on a road in Chicago by Elliot Ness.
Thus we have the second sequence involving how things go from there. Finally the
opening sequence shows Ness at his desk inscribing a single bullet with some
kind of runes. After performing a ritual he inserts it into a gun and fires it
out the window. Where it goes is revealed at the end of the issue. This is not
necessarily in chronological order. In fact there is a clue in the panel style
every time we are in a different location, and perhaps a different time. What it
all means and what comes next baffles me. The individual scenes are clear but
how most of it ties together logically is not. Tony Harris does a great job with
the visuals; there is no complaint on that end. Like many of Niles' stories you
have to stick with it for a while for things to be made clear.

Issue Number: 20
Title Story: Discipline & Punishment - part 1 of 2
Publisher: DC
Writer: Ales Kot
Artist: Patrick Zircher
Colors: Jason Keith
Letters: Jared K. Fletcher
Cover Artist: Jason Pearson
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero/Villain

Once again I am looking back at a NEW 52 title from DC that I don't regularly
read. This time it is SUICIDE SQUAD. It turns out to be a good issue to jump on
and see what is new. The scene is the headquarters of the operation, Belle
Penitentiary in Louisiana. Amanda Waller is in charge of the criminals used for
clandestine operations. Right from the start we see who will be involved as of
now. They are Deadshot, Voltaic, Harley Quinn, The Unknown Soldier, King Shark
and an unknown participant who narrates the introduction and is only revealed to
us in the final panel. This mystery man has dialogue with Waller throughout the
issue as they evaluate the personalities of the team from his point of view.
There is no mission in this episode. Instead it is a study in how the inmates
are controlled and how they are punished if they do not stay in line. It is also
about interactions among the prisoners themselves. For example Voltaic
deliberately pushes the Unknown Soldier's buttons to get a reaction. The Soldier
reacts violently with no interference from the staff to teach Voltaic a lesson.
His fate is not just a beating as we learn later. Deadshot is restrained on a
lab table; his eyes propped open while Waller lectures him from a video screen
above. She reveals to him why he is still alive with a little backfill for new
readers on Deadshot's presumed death not once but twice in the recent past. That
revelation itself is a form of punishment. But more importantly she makes it
known that despite his desire to resign he and all the others will be serving
for a long time. The reason why is a new twist added to the premise of this
book. In another "experiment" a sexy woman is allowed into King Shark's cell and
begins praising him for his physical prowess. It appears to be the beginning of
a seduction but is much more. In Harley's case a man made up like the Joker
comes into her room. This is to get her to react and to gauge her reaction. But
he reveals he is of course not the Joker but was sent to kill her. When he
alters his course from his instructions the outcome is not what was expected. It
is all about Waller assessing this new mystery man based on these test he has
devised. Since there is a second half to this story other prisoners in Belle
Reve may be tested as well. But for now the first half has revealed some
secrets, given us new insight into some on the team, and introduced a new
character to Amanda's operation. It is a very good issue for sampling the tone
and theme of the title apart from action scenes when they are in the field. If
you are curious about the title this is the issue to get.


If you think you know the answer to the trivia question send your guess via
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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
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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:
Who gave Mister Miracle his other name, Scott Free?

Granny Goodness dubbed Mr. Miracle, Scott Free - to mock both his plight and his
planned fate. The winner by the dice is David Lizewski.

In the Milestone series XOMBI David Kim was unable to resurrect his assistant
Kelly Sanborne with his blood's nanomachines. Why not?

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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