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Friday, June 21, 2013

Comic Reviews 6/21/13


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
Title Story: The Leap
Publisher: DC
Creator: Siegel & Shuster
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Jim Lee
Inker: Scott Williams
Colors: Alex Sinclair
Letters: Sal Cipriano
Price (USD): $4.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

DC deemed it necessary to put out another Superman title and they put two fan
favorites on the task. Scott Snyder, who has a ton of new stuff on the racks
right now (see THE WAKE under the Vertigo line for one, and the next review
below for another) does the writing chores and DC co-publisher (as if he didn't
have enough to do already) Jim Lee handles the art. I am still trying to figure
out the significance of the "Unchained" part of the title. I can say it is a
compelling script that takes you on several paths each with a bit of mystery,
ends with a big splash and even has an epilogue that ties in with the beginning
in an unexpected way and ends with yet another mystery. There are lots of
elements pulled together in a very tight fashion so you do feel everything is
the way it should be rather than a bunch of disjointed scenes. It starts in 1945
in the skies over Nagasaki. Now, right off I noticed the date is too early
(Roosevelt was still alive at this date) to be "that" day but this is a DC New
52 book so maybe this is a different version of WWII. It certainly seems like it
when you see what a little boy sees with his binoculars. This event ties
directly into the end of this chapter, as well as peripherally to part of the
epilog. When we move to the present Superman has his hands full with the latest
crisis. Currently he is demolishing a secret space station built by the US,
Russians and Japanese. It was supposed to be revealed later as a stepping-stone
to space exploration but it has suddenly started a fast plunge to Earth. The
thing is it is the eighth object to fall from orbit this day making it seems
very suspicious. In this part of the story DC treats us to a special insert page
that unfolds to four times the size of a normal page with a single illustration
on either side. So the basic plot is his attempt to save the astronauts on board
while not letting the debris do major damage when it hits. He also has to figure
out who or what is behind it all. There are some interesting scenes with Jimmy
and Lois involved that explores the whole dynamic between them all. And before
the end we get to see one of the best-kept secrets of the US military and how it
ties in to it all.

"Epilogue" by Scott Snyder with art by Dustin Nguyen, Scott Williams & John
Kalisz is a bit of a tie in to the beginning with the prop of those binoculars
figuring prominently. The rest of it is the beginning of a new mystery as
fishermen off the coast of British Columbia catch more than they bargained for.

I really enjoy Snyder's plot structure and character development. He has started
and interesting story with a really strong possibility of major implications for
our hero. Lee turns in some fine work with the able inking of Scott Williams and
superb coloring of Alex Sinclair finishing it very nicely. This team has the
potential of being the stand out Superman title based on the first issue.

Issue Number: 21
Title Story: Secret City
Title Arc: Zero Year
Publisher: DC
Creator: Bob Kane
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Greg Capullo
Inker: Danny Miki
Colors: FCO Plascencia
Letters: Nick Napolitano
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

I mentioned above that Scott Snyder has a number of books out right now. Not
only is he writing DC's major new Superman series but he is also beginning the
next big Batman story of the NEW 52, Zero Year. One thing DC did when it began
the NEW 52 reboot was to start the books of some of the major characters five
years after their debut to the world. This affords the writers the opportunity
to at some future time explore the origins of the characters as they wish them
to be in this new continuity. In this case we go back six years. Though Bruce
has been back from his worldly travels only six weeks the world believes he is
dead. He has begun his work as Gotham's protector but in a very clandestine
manner. We only see him once in a rudimentary costume with no cape astride a
motorcycle. The only person to see him like this is a young boy he rescues from
a street gang. But the major protagonist is the Red Hood and his gang. That is
the set up for this story. At this time the Hood is the major crime boss and has
a large organization mostly of ordinary citizens he has black mailed or strong-
armed to do his bidding. His inner circle is the true muscle but no one has ever
seen him without the red hood. Bruce has kept his cover living in the Crime
Alley area and going out mostly undercover in disguises. This is illustrated
quite nicely in the opening action sequence against the Red Hood and his gang.
The other element to this beginning story is Bruce's Uncle Philip Kane. His
appearance at the front door as Bruce is leaving means that he too knows Bruce
is not dead. His initial purpose is to show Bruce what he has done as caretaker
for Wayne Industries, since Bruce was declared legally dead. Philip wants Bruce
to come out in the open and take over but Bruce is adamant that he has other
plans. This really puts a damper on Philip's plans and his chief advisor,
someone everyone will recognize easily, has a unique solution. As part of this
look back at the beginnings of Batman Snyder takes us back even further to Bruce
as a child as he interacts with his father and then heads down a path to a
fateful meeting with his destiny. Snyder has started this arc in a good way. He
has emphasized Bruce's early passion for fighting the good fight but has taken a
new approach as to how he starts. The various elements make it a whole new story
that will only broaden as it unfolds. The art is stunning and the coloring is
spectacular as well. If you really want to know all about the NEW 52 Batman you
have to follow this story.

Back up story - "Where the Hell Did He Learn to Drive?!" by Scott Snyder & James
Tynion IV with art by Rafael Albuquerque, Dave McCaig and Taylor Esposito. This
addition helps fill in some of the past while Bruce was traveling the world.
This one is set in Rio de Janeiro where Bruce has been spending the last six
weeks with a wanted thief Don Miguel as part of his learning experience. It is a
brief story but shows Bruce's thoroughness in learning all he can, any technique
or trick of the trade that may become useful some day. As a bonus it also
presents him a challenge to his ethics and ends with a lesson learned by all. It
is good but the art is a sharp contrast to that on the main story making it less
visually appealing.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Whatever Gets You Through the Night
Publisher: Dark Horse
Writers: Gerard Way & Shaun Simon
Artist: Becky Cloonan
Colors: Dan Jackson
Letters: Nate Piekos
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction
MATURE - Comics on the Edge

This is one of the stories of a dystopian future. Civilization has devolved. In
this portion of it, in the desert somewhere, the center of the population is
around Battery City run by the Better Living Industries. They control the
population with a drug called Plus, a major source of income. It is particularly
effective on the android part of the population; the prominent ones in this part
of the story are prostitutes. The rebels who work against them consider BLI the
Evil Empire. The conflict between them ended in a bloody battle that ended in
the death of the group of heroes among the rebels known as the Killjoys. They
were the inspiration of the movement. At that time they had a little girl,
around six years old, under their protection. She was something special and with
the Killjoys gone her story became legendary. She is only identified as "the
girl" so far in the story, which takes place some twelve years later. The girl
has survived on her own with only a cat as her companion. As the story opens we
see her emerging from a body bag where she spent the night. The BLI issues these
bags to its operatives to fill with Killjoys and other civilians of the desert
deemed unworthy to be brought under BLI's control as Draculoids or Scarecrows.
Once such an undesirable is found and dispatched there bodies are put in the
bags and left in the desert for collection later. The girl used one for shelter
and now heads off to find food for her and the cat. She finds much more at the
abandoned motel that has been converted into a general store of sorts. It is
here she will be discovered by a group of rebels who recognize her and take her
with them. It is in the ensuing sequences that we witness the attack of the BLI
Draculoids emphasizing the seriousness of the situation they all now face. The
girl gets to see first hand how life among the rebels is these days. In other
scenes we see the androids of the slums eking out a living on the streets,
making just enough from the Scarecrows who patronize them to get their next fix
of Plus. At BLI headquarters a major plan is put into action. The rebels are
about to lose their latest home they call the Nest and maybe their lives as
well. This is not my favorite genre. It seems to me more often than not that the
writers tend to reveal very little up front though they hint at many things.
They know their created world intimately and things happen logically to what
they know but the reader is at a loss sometimes. The significance of "the girl"
may be nothing more than a point of reference for the reader or she may really
have some significance to the plot or the rebel movement. Right now she wants
nothing to do with any of it. I really enjoyed the art as Cloonan mixes up the
panels and progression of action filing it all with really nice details. The
coloring matches the mood perfectly and highlights the proper details. It is
clearly a labor of love so I give it a qualified recommendation, as it deserves
more chapters for a true judgment.

Issue Number: 1 (of 3)
Publisher: Dark Horse
Creators: Steve Niles & Matt Santoro
Writer: Steve Niles
Artist: Dave Wachter
Letters: Nate Piekos
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Religious Mythology
Black & White

It is obvious from the title that the key feature of this comic is the Jewish
legend of the Golem, a giant of clay on the side of the righteous. This is not
the first time I have seen a story using the legend in conjunction with the
oppressed Jews during WWII. It begins with a young man among the fighting forces
in heavy combat with the Nazis. As he hangs back to cover his comrades retreat
he recalls a day years ago when as a child of fifteen the situation was
escalating in the area near his small village in Europe. Noah recalls the day
when all the able bodied men in the village left to defend their homesteads. His
father was among them. This left only the women, children and older men like his
grandfather to remain and wait. Soon news on the radio came of the Allied
invasion giving some measure of hope. As days turned to weeks he awaited his
father's return. But something happened that would have major impact on the
village. An Allied fighter plane crashed nearby and the pilot survived the crash
but needed help. The grandfather know that the smoke from the crash could draw
the enemy to the area ending their fragile security, particularly if they are
found harboring the pilot. This is a conflict between the wisdom of age and the
necessity of facing of reality. When the grandfather finally admits to himself
the eventual course of the war he decides it is time to impart the secrets of
the family handed down for generations to his grandson Noah. The Golem does not
appear in this first issue because the story has only begun. We know from the
ending that the next issue will have more for us in that regard. Niles has taken
his time to explore the characters, especially the hopes and fears of those left
behind in time of war. But it is not all about that. The opening sequence delves
into the reality on the front lines and gives a hint of what is ahead for Noah,
though you only realize it after you have read the whole issue. It is a well-
written script. Wachter's does a terrific job in black and white, which is
particularly suited for this story. This is a decent mini-series worth looking
into, as it will appeal to fans of various types of comics.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: IDW
Creator: Joe Hill
Writer: Jason Ciaramelia
Artist: Vic Malhotra
Letters: Robbie Robbins
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Mystery
MATURE - Comics on the Edge

This comic based on the novella explores a couple of themes in the first issue.
The main character is Mallory Grennan a recently discharged veteran of the Iraq
War and it begins with her confession to herself about the things she had done
in the Abu Ghraib prison. She was involved in some of the now-famous atrocities
but was never identified by the authorities as participating in the worst of it.
In flashback we see her involvement in demeaning and later water boarding
prisoners for information. These type of activities have gotten much press
coverage over the years so there use here is believable. The fact Mallory was
involved will play in to the mystery that begins after she is back in civilian
life. She has to cope with leaving those sins behind and going back to a simpler
life in a mundane job - tending bar frequented by older veterans. She has to
constantly fend off her boss's advances, as she did before she went into the
service. She has no respect for him and as the story unfolds we see why. He is
married but is constantly trying to get her to warm up to him. When one of the
patrons passes out in the parking lot he shows his lack of morals extends to
even robbing from drunks. When he pushes Mallory too far that night she pushes
back hard and leaves him with a bloody nose.  This is part of the set up for
what is to come. The next day she finds a blank envelope with the rest of her
mail. It contains a single sheet of paper with a thumbprint in the middle of it.
This is not a copy or an image but a real thumbprint. So the mystery begins. Who
sent it and why?  Was it her angry boss?  Is it related to her time in the
military? She feels like she has seen it before but can't remember where. When
another envelope appears after she returns from a run the mystery deepens. As I
started this book I was turned off at first by the incidents in Iraq. It is not
something that needs to be forgotten or forgiven but it needs to have relevance
to the story being told. So far it seems that it will. Initially the relevance
is in Mallory's frame of mind and her attitude about herself. It may well play a
larger role in the plot but that remains to be seen. The comic explores more
than one dark subject and the art is appropriately shaded in darker tones. The
layouts and pencil work is compelling making this a polished work. I am a fan of
comics based on Joe Hill's work and this one looks interesting enough to follow.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: The Rule of One-Thirds
Publisher: IDW
Creator: James O'Barr
Writer: James O'Barr
Artist: Antoine Dode
Letters: Shawn Lee
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Horror
MATURE - Comics on the Edge

James O'Barr recently return to the concepts he created long ago in the original
CROW series. I saw this first issue of the latest mini-series of the group and
decided to check it out. The protagonist is an overweight, balding retired
police detective. His life has fallen to pieces since his retirement in 1978.
But as we see from the flashbacks it began five years before that and was
heading to ruin already at that time. His wife was constantly complaining about
the amount of time he spent on the job away from her and their two daughters.
More than that when they are together they do not communicate and when she
forces him he relates a particularly gruesome case he worked on. As we go deeper
we see he is haunted by one particular case involving a little girl, maybe 9
years old at best, found brutalized, raped and left for dead in the woods. It
was likely his obsession with that case that led to the breakup of his marriage.
But why of all the times he has seen as bad or worse victims did this one affect
him so deeply?  Could it be the fact that after the coroner explains the
injuries of this victim Francis see the girl turn to him and call his name? That
was 1973, he retired in 1978 and this is now presumably the present. The case
still haunts him, and as we see in the opening and closing scenes, so does the
ghost of the murdered girl. O'Barr has a distinct style to his art that is
perfectly tailored to the black and white medium. The characters have good
detail no matter what their expression is. I like the flow of the story so far.
Why we realize this is eventually a story about seeking justice for the dead it
begins with a character study of a very human cop who has failed in many ways.
His story is not going to end as a lonely man estranged from his family
constantly promising himself he will become a better man. We get the feeling
that things are about to happen that will change all that. It is an excellent
comic. Don't let your experience with the movie determine that this comic will
be more of the same. It definitely is not.


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:
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!"

These are the first words spoken by Kang the Conqueror. The winner by the dice
is Mauricio Carvalho.

What was David Lapham's first (unaccredited) super hero work?

Here is your no prize question:
According to Publishers Weekly which state had the most book stores per capita
as of 2012?

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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