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Friday, June 28, 2013

Comic Reviews 6/27/13

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Avatar
Creator: Max Brooks
Artist: Raulo Caceres
Colors: Digikore Studios
Letters: Kurt Hathaway
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Horror
MATURE - Comics on the Edge

If the name Max Brooks is not familiar to you he is the best-selling author of
WORLD WAR Z. This excursion into the comic book world has him pitting two
popular genres against each other - vampires and zombies. The story is narrated
by a nameless female vampire whom is currently residing with here friend Laila
somewhere in Malaysia. They are entertaining Anson, another vampire visiting
from Australia. The narration is very effecting in setting the stage for the
reader about vampires in general in this version of the myth. One sequence in
particular talks about the difference they feel about attraction to the opposite
sex. In contrast to some previous vampire tales like Twilight for example, they
do not feel love nor can they have sex but there is another unexplainable
attraction to another sometimes. The humans are referred to as solbreeders. The
narrator's attitude, and by extension other vampires' as well, toward
solbreeders is one of almost contempt. They are constantly referred to as being
below the vampire breed. Another scene gets into detail about the thrill of the
hunt for blood and what type of prey is most preferred. The view of zombies is
even lower. They are referred to as subdead and are considered little more than
a joke. They are slow, clumsy and stupid - hardly considered a threat to them or
the solbreeders. We learn that zombies, like vampires have always existed since
the dawn of man - or at least have flared up periodically. As the three muse
about the latest outbreaks of zombies in Australia Anson reveals he did not have
a chance to see any and would like to. Laila suggests they take the few hour
drive to a local outbreak and they all agree they are anxious to see one in the
flesh, so to speak. Part of the story is how they get there and the interesting
encounter they have with the police and military that has blocked access to the
area. Of course vampires have other ways to get places than driving on roads.
This issue is more about the unnamed vampire's observations and recollections
than any big event. She does get too close to wandering zombies at one point and
makes a rather startling discovery. The promise of this series is that the
zombie problem will escalate to the point of being a real threat to the vampire
food supply. Think about how few humans are around in all those zombie
apocalypse stories and what a problem that would be for vampires. Interesting
premise and that is left for future issues. I like the narrative style and the
intermingling of ideas in an almost stream of consciousness style. The art is
high quality and in typical Avatar fashion spares no blood or gore where
appropriate. This is not gore for gore sake but supports the story being told.
In all it is a strong first issue that is interesting enough to get me back

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Rage Ignition - part 1
Publisher: Black Mask
Creator: Matt Miner
Writer: Matt Miner
Artist: Javier Sanchez Aranda
Colors: Joaquin Pereyra
Letters: Vito Delsante
Price (USD): $3.50
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Vigilante Activism
MATURE - Comics on the Edge

I don't think I have read any comics from Black Mask before but judging from the
two offerings this week they are carving out a niche with product addressing
social awareness and activism. The title in this case refers to animal
liberation from cruel masters. The opening sequence sets the tone as a man
covered head to toe in black, including a facemask, approaches a farm he has
surveiling for months. This is a place where pit bulls are bred and then set
against each other in dogfights for the amusement of the spectators and
gamblers. Now that there is no one around and the remaining animals have safely
been removed our vigilante will meet out his own justice with cans of gasoline
and a remote detonating devise. He leaves a message written on the side of a
trailer, "No more abuse, we're free! - The Dogs" There are actually two main
characters who have very activist attitudes but express them in different ways.
Our vigilante is Damon Guerrero who by day has a menial job as a barrista in
small coffee shop. His main problem there is putting up with the verbal abuse of
a co-worker that is a jerk. The bright spot in his life is his friend Jeanette
who is of like mind when it comes to saving animals. She however is more vocal
publicly. She protests a lot, gets arrested often and tries to keep the abuses
of animals in the public's eye whenever she can. She is well known and an idol
to the activist community. So for now we see two approaches to the problem - one
is civil disobedience and protest, the other is covert illegal activity. It is
not evident but we are left to infer that Jeanette is not aware of Damon's
secret activities. From the illustration on the cover we are lead to believe
that will change. There are a couple of scenes added in that do more to
illustrate Damon's character. While he may not be willing to stand in the front
lines of a protest he does not shrink from confronting actual abuse, even if it
is only a perception. This first chapter does not advance any major plot.
Instead it sets the scene and fleshes out the major characters. So far it has no
counterpoint as to the morality or legality of the characters actions. While I
have no sympathy for the truly immoral people and institutions that are the
targets for retribution based on their actions, the law enforcement people are
portrayed as stereotypical thugs. The art is decent enough though the coloring
could have been done a bit better. I am curious to see where this all goes from
here. Will Miner have the protagonists score a major victory for the cause or
will Damon's actions get him in too deep resulting in an inevitable day of
reckoning?  We'll have to see. If you are a strong advocate of animals rights or
want to learn more about the point of view of those who are there are two
editorials in the back from animal rights activists worth reading. They clearly
want to get information to the public so that abuses stop and that is a good

Issue Number: 9
Title Story: Nativity
Publisher: Marvel
Creators: Stan Lee & Jack Kirby
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Mark Bagley
Inker: Mark Farmer
Colors: Paul Mounts w/Guru eFX
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

At the beginning of this run the Fantastic Four along with the Richard's
children took of for adventures in space and time although Reed has a secret
reason for proposing the trip altogether. As we look in on this latest issue we
find that Ben Grimm ha recently revealed that he may have been responsible for
the accident that scarred Victor Von Doom for life and led him down the path to
becoming Dr. Doom. As the issue begins we are back at State University in the
time when Ben, Reed and Victor all attended. Rather Ben is relating the events
that led up to the time when he snuck into Victor's lab and did some things to
mess up his work in retaliation for a run in they had earlier. Reed is not
convinced that Ben should shoulder that guilt entirely based on what he hears
and so he and Ben will space-time travel to the eventful night of the accident
wearing devices that will allow them to watch unobserved by anyone there. I
would explain how this is possible but Reed does a much better job. When they
arrive they are surprised to see they are not the only observers of this key
point in history. They can see over a dozen different versions of Dr. Doom also
invisibly observing Victor's crucial moment though they cannot detect Reed and
Ben. Reed checks everything thoroughly and assures Ben that his actions have
done nothing to affect the equipment but Ben is not convinced and reveals
himself so he can physically stop Victor from engaging the equipment. This of
course prompts a response from the Doom brigade who in turn all reveal
themselves to stop this sacrilegious interruption of the nativity of Doom. That
is about half the story being told. The remainder explores whether our two
heroes could or should attempt to stop the events as they actually happened in
the past. The introduction of the alternate Doom's is an interesting twist that
not only provides some action but also helps explore the real nature of Victor
Von Doom and whether it was an accident or destiny that made him Dr. Doom. This
is an excellent story told in one issue and highlights the capabilities of
Bagley and Farmer as well. If you haven't tried this comic since the renumbering
this issue is a good place to start.

Issue Number: 8
Publisher: Bongo Comics
Creator: Sergio Aragones
Colors: Tom Luth
Letters: Karen Bates
Price (USD): $3.50
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Humor

Sergio explains why this issue was very late due to an operation he had. Of
course he can't resist throwing a humorous panel of the hospital into a serious
subject. But now he is back on track, at least on a revised bimonthly schedule.
In this title Sergio generally flexes his cartooning muscles. His true strength
is in his art. The characters are just silly looking enough to make you smile
without any words or action. Sometimes the strip comics have no words so the
impact of the punch line depends on the visual. A good example is the opening
bit with a man frustrated at waiting in a long line. He suddenly has a heart
attack and finds himself at the pearly gates - waiting in line. In a longer 8-
page piece titled "The Bank Robbers", this time in color provided by Tom Luth,
Sergio relates the story of two cowboys who pursue a life of crime. They try
robbing a stagecoach with poor results. So they form a larger gang and take on
train robbing but that too has its down side and the gang thing falls apart. 
That is when they realize banks have lots of money but they don't know why.
After their first real success they know they can make it big but they more they
learn about banks the more they think about an even more lucrative way to make
money. It starts off strong, has some funny bits on the way, but fails to
deliver a strong ending. Which goes back to what I started saying. His strength
is the art. There are a few more one-page strips with no dialog and the visuals
deliver in the end every time. The other major section of the book is
autobiographical and covers the annual trips that the "usual gang of idiots"
from Mad Magazine would make to various places in the world. In this segment the
trip will be to Mexico and Sergio was placed in charge of planning the whole
thing. While it is interesting to a degree it is too long for too little laughs.
It is nice he wants to share what he considers one of the best times of his life
but I think it misses the point of the title of the comic, "FUNNIES." Along with
everything else Sergio includes a couple of puzzle pages - one challenges you to
find the differences, the other is to find things that are out of place with
everything else in the panel. His art style, which can crowd a lot of stuff into
one panel, is well suited for this type of game. So about half of the book I
enjoyed and the rest I just soaked in the talent in the artwork without caring
for the story. I think Sergio does best in the short strip comics. In longer
formats he is best paired with a decent writer, as is the case in the Groo
comics. This wasn't a home run but it had some good moments.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Believers
Publisher: IDW
Creator: Chris Carter
Story: Joe Harris & Chris Carter
Writer: Joe Harris
Artist: Michael Walsh
Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Letters: Robbie Robbins
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction/Horror

It has been a while since the X-FILES was a cult favorite of science fiction
fans on TV and then the movies. Like other TV properties these days there is now
a continuation of the series in a new comic dubbed "season 10." Time has passed
and Skully and Mulder have married and relocated to Virginia as Mr. And Mrs.
Anthony Blake, an alias Mulder chose in homage to the Bill Bixby character in a
short-lived TV show called "The Magician." Dana is now a doctor at a local
medical center. Their new life is disturbed one day when now "Deputy Director"
Skinner pays them a visit to warn them about a breach in FBI security. The
network was hacked and there is a good chance whomever did it they may have
accessed data on any and all personnel who've been assigned to the X-Files over
the years. He offers them additional security or even another relocation but
cannot confirm if the culprit accessed anything about Dana's baby. Dana is of
course concerned even though when she gave it up the adoption process was
completely anonymous for everyone's safety. It seems Skinner's fears are well
founded as through the course of this issue both he and Dana are approached by
people in hooded robes that apparently have some powers of mind control. There
is a close call for Skinner but Dana may be in a lot more trouble. This is a
good start with a lot of mystery and a bit of subtle humor. There are parts that
get us used to the new status quo but the main plot moves along with a good pace
to leave us wondering what happens next. In a preview shot of issue #2 we see
that might mean the reappearance of three fan favorite characters from the TV
series. The art in this one is professionally done in all aspects and the
character representations are true to the likenesses of the actors.  With Chris
Carter involved this series promises to deliver what true fans would expect. But
it is still a good drama and mystery that any comic book fan can pick up on
right away.

Issue Number: 2
Publisher: Black Mask
Cover Artist: Riley Rossmo
Price (USD): $3.50 - All Profits past hard costs will be donated to Occupy
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Social Commentary

It is no secret that many involved in the comic book industry have a leaning to
more liberal politics of the left. Those more inclined to express those beliefs
band together to raise funds for things they believe in. This multi-talent
effort is organized by Matt Pizzolo, Aaron Colter and Steve Niles. The creators
contribute work to help raise funds for the Occupy movement. The volume consists
of short traditional comic works, one or two-page illustrations and a couple of
essays. The contributed illustration pages, which are sprinkled about the issue,
are by Molly Crabapple, Anna Wieszcyk, Zoetica, David Mack, Salgood Sam and Matt
Bors. Here is a summary of the rest.

"The one Percent Solution" by Mark Sable, Megan Hutchinson and Thomas Mauer
This short story is about a young man who seemed to be drifting in life. He
never really tried to seek the career he was capable of attaining. He got a
perspective on what life in the business world was like when he met an old
neighbor who had the drive to excel in trading in the markets. This is more an
essay on the moral compromises such a life might entail than anything else.

"New Thumbs" by Si Spurrier, Smudge and Frank Barbiere
This segment done in a terrific black and white style by Smudge compares the
plight of two women in different times. In mostly side-by-side panels we see one
story of a cavewoman who observes the alpha male of the tribe pushing others
around, sometimes rather cruelly. She is really helpless to stop it but one day
she discovers something that will change things forever.  The other girl is a
homeless dweller in the city and she too sees the heartless bullying of
authorities in her daily life. Her attitude of submission changes when she is
able to join many others in a peaceful protest at the Occupy movement. I am not
sure I catch the strong parallels here but I really liked the art.

"Single Family Home" by Matthew Rosenberg
Matthew does a fine solo effort with good lines and colors. It follows a young
couple as they meet, fall in love, get married, buy their first home and
eventually start raising a family. What seems like a typical argument over
whether the father should have bought the daughter a stuffed animal turns out to
be rooted in a deeper concern over their entire future.

"Light" by Matt Viner and Sean Von Gorman
Matt Miner gives a very compelling account of the impact of Hurricane Sandy in
his life and that of his neighbors. He and his wife decided to stay at their
home to weather the storm with their pets but in searching for supplies he
realized to late that he had given his flashlights and extra batteries to the
Occupy movement when they were in need. The point of this story is Matt
expressing his gratitude to members of Occupy Sandy who responded in his hours
of need when the local and federal government was too slow to react.

"Casino Nation, part 2" by Joshua Dysart, Kelly Bruce and Allen Gladfelter
This is an informational illustrated essay that depicts certain movers and
shakers in the business world who moved up the ladder of success "on the backs
of the American people." This time around Joshua fills us in on how Ben
Bernanke, Henry Paulson, Timothy Geitner and Alan Greenspan made their fortunes
and success and how their actions impacted so many negatively.

"Buster Brown At the Barricades, parts 3 & 4" by Alan Moore
This is a text piece that is illustrated with covers and internal art of old
magazines and comics for the most part. In it Alan Moore discusses the evolution
of comics in the United States and the forces affecting that development. This
episode begins in the 1930's and covers the rise of super hero comics and other
genres as well as how their popularity changed up and down through the decades.
Two major themes touched on throughout the piece are the rise of the Comics Code
Authority and the treatment of creators such as Siegel and Shuster by the major
companies. But there is much more and it is all good reading. To my mind this
one contribution is worth the price of the comic.

"How To Be Happy" by Shannon Wheeler
Shannon recalls some observations from visiting Occupy Wall Street in October of
2011. He does this in two separate one-page strips. In the first he compares it
to a carnival atmosphere with interesting characters among the group and
basically a very positive reaction to everything and everybody. In the second he
mentions how he wanted to buy a tee shirt as a memento of the event but a
discussion group he wandered into changes his mind. Wheeler has a nifty cartoon
style. His observations are honest and insightful.

"Pay Attention! Be Astonished! Act!" written by Bill Ayers, art by Ryan
This piece has two elements. The art is not much more than group scenes at
Occupy events - people marching, gathering, camping and otherwise spreading the
word. The text is a call to arms but not the violent type.


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

Lapham's first super hero work was RAI #1, the flipbook of Valiant's MAGNUS #5.

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

The state with the most bookstores per capita was Montana.

Can you name the reporter with the blue beret in BLOOD SYNDICATE?

Here is your no prize question:
Which are the only two states whose names begin with double consonants?

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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