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Friday, June 14, 2013

Comic Reviews 6/14/13

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 or
just want to suck up to the reviewer you are welcome to respond to David
directly by Email at the address above.

Issue Number: 1
Title Arc: Through Open Doors
Publisher: DC/Vertigo
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artist: Brent Eric Anderson
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: John G. Roshell & Jimmy Betancourt
Cover Artist: Alex Ross
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

If you are a fan of ASTRO CITY it has been a long wait since the last issue. If
you have never read any of the previous incarnations this will be a chance for
you to see what the rest of us have enjoyed so much over the years. Kurt Busiek
has created his own world of super heroes and villains with the action centering
on the metropolis of Astro City. Without the burden of previous continuity of
company brand heroes he has explored a number of aspects about powers and the
human condition. This new first issue begins in an unusual way. The narrator of
the story, The Broken Man, is a purple man sitting cross-legged and floating a
few feet above ground. The significance of his name is revealed as a surprise at
the very end. He is actually talking to the reader telling us that we can help
but we must be wary because "it" may be listening. It is the Oubor. It listens
to all kinds of communications - the whole electronic spectrum over the air, the
Internet, everything (hmm sounds like the NSA!) So Broken Man is reaching out to
something it may not be able to detect, the readers.  This is interesting by
itself but it is not the main plot. The big deal is a huge door that has
suddenly appeared floating over the Gaines River just outside Astro City. The
first one to approach it is a new character called American Chibi. She is a
unique looking character with the body of a teen with a head that is about three
times too large for the torso it is on. She is almost like a Manga character
that is out of place in this world.  Well, she can fly and has the prime super
powers that go with it - strength, speed, and invulnerability. When knocking and
rapping gets no response she takes the head on by force approach. She just
bounces off. Soon the main hero of the city, Samaritan, arrives and before long
every major hero joins in the task to no avail. In a major interlude we look in
on a family having a reunion of sorts. Ben Pullam is meeting his daughters for
lunch. They are all successful in their chosen fields. As Broken Man explains
their story it is clear they will play a major part in the story. In his
seemingly paranoid plan they might be good because the Oubor would pay them no
mind - they are under the radar unlike the super heroes. And indeed the trio
decides to go down to the river to see what all the commotion is about. After
all attempts to open the door fail it suddenly opens and an alien that is about
two stories tall steps out to introduce himself and his mission to those
gathered. What he wants and how it will be done is the gist of the introduction
to the story. Busiek does a fine job introducing the characters and setting up
the premise for what is to come. The whole Broken Man narration may be a bit
puzzling, especially when you see the last page. It leaves some questions
unanswered. The art as always is spectacular on this title, beginning with the
Alex Ross cover. Do not think of this book as just another super hero world. It
always gets more into characters and their interactions and motivations. Once
you read the first issue you will be hooked.

Title: KICK ASS 3
Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Marvel/Icon
Creators: Mark Millar & John Romita Jr.
Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: John Romita Jr.
Inker: Tom Palmer
Colors: Dean White
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super hero
Mature Content - violence & language

Speaking of returning series, KICK ASS is back for the final arc of its run. It
finishes up everything set up in KICK ASS 1 and 2 as well as the HIT GIRL
series. The story jumps right into it as we learn that due to her incarceration
Hit Girl has left all of her stuff to Kick Ass - two million dollars in cash,
weapons, vehicles and crime fighting stuff in her secret lair. She also left
something else - detailed plans on how to break her out of prison. She left the
schematics and other information needed to help her escape. Kick Ass and his
team have guard profiles, shift schedules and security footage. She is confident
that if Kick Ass and his team lay low, study and practice they can pull it off.
Well, she makes it all seem logical and simple but a bunch of ordinary people
with no super powers have to have a lot of courage and faith to even give it a
try. After six weeks they realize they are just not ready yet. After six months
it is still a problem. So most of this issue is involved with David and the rest
living a lower profile existence while keeping the hero thing alive. One
particular scene has David brooding at the graves of his parents as his best
friend Marty takes pictures and videos. While Marty remarks it makes him look
like a young Bruce Wayne, David feels it actually does inspire him to where the
costume and do something honorable. Indeed we do get to see the duo go into
action with the touch of humor this series always has had. In a not so humorous
scene some of the Justice Forever team have slacked off and even taken to enjoy
the spoils left behind by Hit Girl creating some tension among the group. This
whole issue is the set up for the status quo so we can get caught up on how
things are now.  The action will begin in earnest next time, as we see from the
final panel. I have always enjoyed this series and the creative team continues
to maintain the level of entertainment it has always had. I am really curious to
see how Millar, Romita and the rest will wrap it all up. Even if you have not
read any of the story before you can get into it really easy with this issue.

Issue Number: 21
Title Story: "After Darkness"
Publisher: IDW
Creator: Gene Roddenberry
Writer: Mike Johnson
Artist: Erfan Fajar
Colors: Stellar Labs
Letters: Chris Mowry
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction/TV-Movie Adaptation

This latest Star Trek series from IDW follows the voyages of the Enterprise with
the same characters and continuity that follows the recent movies. You will
figure that out yourself from the covers that are photos or likenesses of the
current actors playing the parts. Having recently seen the second movie of the
franchise, "Star Trek Into Darkness" I decided to check out where the comic book
series goes immediately after the events of that movie. This issue is
appropriately labeled "After Darkness" on the cover. I won't spoil the main plot
of the movie but some things that happened in it are necessary to know. If you
feel that you do not want to know anything about it yet then skip this review. 
You have been warned. First of all the whole team is back on the Enterprise with
Kirk in command. They have been given the famous five-year-mission and are about
to embark on the first leg of that journey. Some of this issue deals with events
seen only in this comic series prior to the time of the movie and in the mini-
series COUNTDOWN TO DARKNESS. It turns out there was a plot prior to the movie,
masterminded by the same person, who shall not be revealed by me, behind the
major events of the movie. It all involved attempts to start the inevitable war
to come with the Klingons. Some of the details of that earlier plot are reviewed
by Kirk and a certain prisoner serving to bring us new readers up to speed on
this series. The main part of the book takes place as the Enterprise embarks on
the five-year-mission. There has been an addition to the crew, a familiar
character from the movie. Strangely, rather than start out with a strange new
world to explore, the writer has decided to return to a concept long a part of
Star Trek lore - Pon Farr. If anyone truly does not know it is a condition
experienced by Vulcan males every seven years of their adult life during which
their emotions run amok and the become increasingly hostile. Because of his
half-human make up Spock has only now begun to experience it for the first time.
To relieve the hormonal imbalance he must return to Vulcan to participate in a
certain ritual. The only problem is Vulcan was destroyed earlier in this
continuity. But the survivors have come together in a colony on a planet call
New Vulcan. It is not so much the place but the people, or a certain person that
will help Spock. Much of this issue is about the crew and their reactions and
interactions after what has happened to them recently. Almost every one has
their moment including the new crewmember. Spock, McCoy and Uhura are
highlighted mostly. The scene on New Vulcan is played as if it is a big
surprise, which it is for most of the crew if not the informed reader. Still it
is a plot that shows some promise. The heavier part of the issue involves the
sub plots involving the Klingons and the Romulans. In the opening scene of the
book we get a small glimpse of the Klingon's reaction to the action in the movie
that took place on their home world, Qu'nos. Though Kirk may have been trying to
prevent a war his actions in the movie may have made it inevitable. The ending
scene is on Romulus where an unlikely meeting is being held, with a continuity
note to issues 7 & 8 of this series, that may have great bearing on the fate of
Earth and the Klingons. I found this issue interesting in as much it explores
the relations of the characters further and sets up the future based on what has
happened so far. After reading it I felt compelled to go back to the first 20
issues to get the big picture since it seems the groundwork was laid for the
upcoming action in those earlier issues. The art team does a splendid job
rendering the likenesses of the current actors in the series though the rest of
the art is very minimal and could use a lot more background art to dress it up. 
It is easy enough to get into the series with this issue and you may find
yourself seeking out the back issues when you are done.

Issue Number: 19 (Final Issue)
Title Story: It Ends With a kiss
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Jason Latour
Artist: Nic Klein
Letters: Joe Caramagna
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super hero

As much as possible I try to do reviews of new series, landmark issues within a
series and often last issues of a series.  Though I have not been following this
title I decided to review the final issue. Most Marvel fans know that James
"Bucky" Barnes was Captain America's youthful sidekick during WWII. He was
believed killed near the end of the war but in reality was revived by the Soviet
Union's Secret Science Division and brainwashed to be a cold war assassin - the
Winter Soldier. He has since been given his memories back, fought alongside the
good guys, gotten a bionic arm and for now is once again presumed dead so he can
work covertly on secret missions with the Black Widow. To get us up to speed
there is a text page at the start. As the Winter Soldier Bucky had killed a
defecting Soviet scientist and the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent assigned to him. The
scientist's daughter, Tesla, was taken by the Soviets to be trained as an
operative herself. In the present time Tesla has reappeared as the Electric
Ghost to take revenge on the people who ruined her childhood. Bucky caught up
with her on a stolen S.H.I.E.L.D. satellite but he was mortally wounded. Somehow
she had a change of heart, seeing Bucky as yet another victim of government
manipulation, and she not only healed him but also surprised him with a kiss.
The bulk of this issue takes place on that satellite but the visuals tell the
story of what happens in a different reality. She reveals to Bucky that she has
what she calls the Tarasova Tesseract, a bridge across time and space using the
power of cosmic rays. What follows are scenes from her past from her days as a
child being trained as an assassin to other scenes. But they seem to be mixed up
with herself and Bucky often switching identities with people in her life or
even each other. They are scenes of conflict, violence and in each case Tesla
affecting outcomes to her own liking, rather than what really happened. One
crucial scene has them standing outside the cabin hiding her father and the
agent the day Bucky killed them. It brings back memories for both of them -
memories they both have to live with but will she be able to change the course?
Is this an attempt to alter reality or just see it happen in a different way?
The resolution of the dilemma keeps things as they have always been, but at what
cost? In the denouement Bucky is left to ponder what comes next as is the reader
since his story is over for now. It is an interesting story but this part of it
was a bit difficult to follow at first, requiring some re-reading to grasp the
idea correctly. In fact it leaves things unchanged for the time being. Bucky
could still be running around doing his spy thing while everyone thinks he is
dead - it just won't be happening in a regular comic. I did not care for the art
in this comic. The layouts are fine but the characters are all roughly drawn and
it is not visually appealing. I guess it is an ok way to wrap things up but it
is not an outstanding issue.

Issue Number: 15
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Writer: Ande Parks
Artist: Esteve Polls
Colors: Marcelo Pinto
Letters: Simon Bowland
Cover Artist: Francesco Francavilla
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Western Hero

I have sampled this series from time to time and decided to look in on it again.
Chronologically it starts with a scene I had never seen or even though about.
Where does the Lone Ranger get his silver bullets when he runs out? He goes to a
small Texas town and sees an old friend who watches over a safe for which only
the Ranger has the key. As he looks in we see what is inside over his shoulder.
It holds trays of bullets, some silver ingots, stacks of coins and three
personal items - two Texas Ranger badges, those of his father and brother, and a
family photo. Later he and Tonto spend the night at a small house nearby. Near
it we see the grave of Margaret Reid, no doubt his mother. Here he reflects on
his childhood. Indeed, a good portion of this story is about those days that we
see in flashback. The good times were spent at home at night when his mother
would read to him his favorite novel, Ivanhoe. It is a tale of heroes and shaped
his character. When she became too ill to read he would read it to her. After
she passed away his life went on but when he began school for the first time he
was offended that the teacher would read Ivanhoe to the class. He became a
problem student and it was something his father had to help him deal with. This
was an unexpected interlude in an action comic and it is very enjoyable in my
opinion. But this is an action comic and we get into that in the introduction
and the back end of the comic. The Ranger and Tonto are on the trail of a
government agent named Winston Marle. It is not explained why but it is clear
they have something to settle. This will take the two to Missouri to get the
information they seek to find him. It is interesting to see Tonto's reaction to
a bigger city than he is used to and how white people can live in such small
rooms such as they find in their hotel. There is plenty of action in the second
half and it brings the two one step closer to their goal.  This seems to be a
good jump on point for new readers as it begins a new story as well as dips back
into the history of the man who became the Lone Ranger. The art is really
spectaculr thanks to Marcelo Pinto's superb coloring over the strong art of
Esteve Polls. This book is a quality product in every aspect and deserves its
place on the racks.

Issue Number: 21
Title Story: Dark Days Ahead
Publisher: DC
Writer: Robert Venditti
Artist: Billy Tan
Inker: Richard Friend
Colors: Alex Sinclair & Tony Avina
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

Now that Geoff Johns has finish his run on GREEN LANTERN I thought it would be
good to see how the new creative team would follow up. The script structure is
like many I have seen lately. It starts at the end to let us know what is coming
and then goes back to the start and moves forward from there. It is almost as if
he is saying, "here is what is coming up so stay with me while I tell you stuff
less interesting." Anyway, this is a new chapter for Hal Jordan and the corp.
Hal has been summoned to Oa by the Guardians. He has been appointed as the new
leader of the corp while this new group of Guardians is off learning what they
need to know to take over from their predecessors. This will be the new status
quo for now. His first command decision is to release the rings of the fallen
lanterns to rebuild the corp. This plays right into the situation about to
unfold. No sooner are the rings shooting off to their various sectors to find
someone worthy than Oa is attacked by Larfleeze and the Orange Lanterns.
Symbolizing greed Larfleeze believes now is an ideal time while the corp is
weakened to steal all their stuff. The remaining corp is vastly outnumbered but
Hal has hopes that new recruits will arrive soon to bolster their numbers. He
just wasn't counting on the type of beings that arrive, or their attitude. Their
arrival is a bit of a lighthearted moment at a serious time. As we see from the
opening scene things are about to go from bad to really bad. This story is more
along the lines of the standard super hero story that focuses on the here and
now without setting down groundwork for long running epic arcs. Fans of John's
may find it a big change in style but I think it is an ideal way to begin anew
and perhaps draw in new readers who can start with a fresh story and a different
style. There is also an interlude with Hal and Carol discussing their current
status both hero wise and personal that breaks things up a little. I think this
is a good new start and visually the art team does a great job all around.  If
you have stayed away from GREEN LANTERN because of all the multi-book big events
this would be a good time to give it a try.


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 the Saturday Night Live spoof of "Funeral for a Friend", who portrayed Black

That would be Sinbad. David Spade was Aquaman. Chris Farley was Hulk. Tom Davis
was Mr. Fantastic. I believe Dana Carvey and Chris Rock were Batman and Robin.
The winner by the dice is David McBarron.

First words of which character.

"Put away your childish weapons! They are no more than toys to me! I will not
communicate with underlings! Send me the rulers of your primitive world!"

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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