Search This Blog

Friday, June 7, 2013

Comic Reviews 6/7/13


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.

This week we have new series, and ending series and some annuals.

Title: X-MEN
Issue Number: 1
Title Arc: Primer
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Brian Wood
Artist: Olivier Coipel
Inkers: Mark Morales & Olivier Coipel
Colors: Laura Martin
Letters: Joe Caramagna
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

Once again Marvel is re-launching X-MEN with a new number one. The catch this
time appears to be an all female team - Storm, Phoenix, Psylocke, Jubilee, Rogue
and Kitty Pride. We'll see if that holds up. Fortunately for new readers you
don't need to know too much about anything from previous volumes or other x-
titles to get into this story. It is explained right from the start that the
antagonist for this story is an ancient sentient bacteria, I am talking millions
of years. At the time there were two - a male and a female. The female, Arkea,
was forced out of Earth to find her place in the cosmos. The male, Sublime,
managed to evolve into human form on Earth. This is the only point where
knowledge of past continuity appearances would help. He evidently has clashed
with the X-Men in the past but will play a far different role in this story. The
plot revolves around Jubilee who is returning from Europe with a baby she
rescued from an Orphanage after a terrorist bombing of some sort in Bulgaria.
But as she travels to the airport and then on the plane she believes, as we
already know, that a man is following her. Once stateside she is sure of it,
enough to call the Jean Grey School to alert Ororo that she is coming home and
may need their help. Here is where the story diverges. Ororo, Kitty and Rogue
head out to meet her train in transit while the man makes his own way to the
school to voluntarily surrender. He is indeed Sublime and he is here to warn the
X-Men about his sister. Where he has evolved to possess men she followed an
alien evolution and has tremendous power over all kinds of technology. He fears
she may have no limit and is back on Earth for revenge against the entire
planet. The inherent distrust of a compliant former foe makes Psylocke and
Phoenix hard to convince, though Phoenix knows he is being truthful. Little does
anyone realize that Arkea's entry into their midst will be from a direction the
least suspect. The warning may be too late. It is a good plot and includes an
action sequence on the train to liven things up - though it is not Sublime that
is responsible for the conflict. Looking back all the clues are presented to the
reader from early on. Brian Wood does a good job getting to the final
cliffhanger in a direct fashion with only a minor diversion for a possible
future plot thread. The art is good, as you would expect on a flagship title,
including the always-dependable coloring of Laura Martin. In all it is a solid
first issue as it appeals to long time fans as well as readers who want to get
into the X-Men again. If they can keep this title separate from the eventual
crossover events that happen so often with the x-books it will be worth staying
for the ride.

Issue Number: 190 (final issue)
Title Story: The Final Hour
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Jeff Parker
Artist: Neil Edwards
Inker: Terry Pallot
Colors: Sotocolor
Letters: Joe Caramagna
Cover Artist: Joe Quinones
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

You will note this is the final issue and in case you missed it this title used
to be THUNDERBOLTS. It has lasted longer than first anticipated - having the
word "Avengers" in the title didn't hurt. No doubt there will be another
"Avengers" title at some point to keep up the title count, but I digress. I
reviewed an issue of the series no too long ago and decided to see how it wraps
up. It turns out the entire time it has had the DARK AVENGERS name on it has
been one big story arc taking place in another dimension or more aptly another
slice of time. When it started the Dark Avengers were being transferred to the
Raft Prison with USAgent as their warden the group was thrust into an alternate
timeline where New York City is divided into factions controlled by versions of
the Earth's real timeline heroes. An evil Tony Stark, a militaristic despot, and
his weak-willed assistant, Hank Pym, had captured Trick Shot, Al Apaic, USAgent
and Toxie Doxie but she managed to free the group. Moonstone and Skaar ended up
in the clutches of Dr. Strange and forced to provoke war with Warlord Grimm. In
this mix it appears Moonstone was killed and this version of Reed Richards
discovered a plot by A.I.M. working secretly in all the chaos to destroy this
timeline's stability. Meanwhile Ragnarok, a cyber-clone of Thor, was captured by
Stark to be used in his war against Strange. As this final issue begins Ragnarok
has been freed and Namor is beginning to flood the city with the help of his
mate, Sue Storm. So it seems everyone is fighting everyone else and the Dark
Avengers are caught in the middle. While Namor and Sue battle Stark and his
minions the others are busy fighting the Warlord Grimm. After some success Reed
reveals the real threat to all. This sliver of time, as he calls it, has been
manipulated by A.I.M. repeatedly to gain technology for their own use in real
time. But now that sliver is about to dissolve completely. Reed is resigned to
the fact that this is an alternate timeline and should not exist. Now it is up
to the Dark Avengers to find a way back to their own time or they will vanish
with this false reality. So it becomes a race to not get killed by opposing
forces while finding the way home, if they can.  Though it is the final issue of
the arc it is not that hard to follow what is happening. It is an action-packed
story that finds you rooting for people who in their own timeline are not the
good guys. I found it entertaining and it also has a satisfying ending. All the
creators put out a good effort. I would recommend this issue even though there
won't be any more in the near future.

Issue Number: 1 (of 10)
Title Story: Part One
Publisher: DC/Vertigo
Creators: Scott Snyder & Sean Murphy
Writer: Scott Snyder
Artist: Sean Murphy
Colors: Matt Hollingsworth
Letters: Jared K. Fletcher
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction
MATURE - Comics on the Edge

This comic has a very interesting structure. It has three parts set in three
different time periods. It begins with four pages set 200 years in the future.
You may have seen a promo of these pages in other Vertigo books. It shows a girl
on a form of hang glider over a city that is apparently under about ten feet of
water. She has a dolphin companion in the water and they are near the end of a
quest when something unexpected happens. The comic ends with one page set in a
cave 100,000 years ago. A cave man is drawing on the wall while several others
are busy closing up the opening with large boulders. The nature of the drawings
and something else that this storyteller digs up seem pertinent to the main
story but you will have to judge for yourself.  The main story is indeed set in
the present. The main character is Dr. Lee Archer who is a cetologist - an
expert in whale songs, dolphins and so on. As the story begins an agent
approaches her from the Department of Homeland Security who has a proposition
for her. He plays a recording made near Prudhoe, Alaska. DHS is conducting a
study near where it was recorded and he wants Lee to join it. At first she is
not interested and even the enticement of getting her re-instated with NOAA can
persuade her. But he finally has something to offer she can't resist. The base
is more than she expected and the others are a strange mix and apparently they
have been told different reasons for being there. There is something very
secretive about the mission they have not been told. But before the episode ends
part of that mystery will be revealed. How does it tie in with the past and the
future? That remains to be seen. This story has begun on a good pace. Most of
the time we are learning about Lee Archer, her history and concerns. As the
other characters are introduced we note some interaction with one in particular.
The DHS agent is devious but in a clever way. There is nothing really sinister
about him; he is just good at getting things done by manipulating the situation.
Snyder manages to start of with a peaceful situation, adds some mystery and
minor personal conflict and by the end drops a bomb. There is much more to tell
over nine more issues and this is a good start. The art is exceptional with a
good blend of panel layouts and nice coloring. I would recommend you give it a
try because I think it will become very interesting.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Once Upon a Midnight Dreary
Publisher: DC
Writer: Gregg Hurwitz
Artist: Szymon Kudranski
Colors: John Kalisz
Letters: Dezi Sienty
Cover Artist: Alex Maleev
Price (USD): $4.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

I have enjoyed the issues of BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT I have read and this annual
is no exception. Part of the reason is that the series consists of self-
contained stories that do not rely on large arcs or crossover events. So I knew
going in that the annual would at least be accessible story-wise. What I found
was one of those unique stories that barely has the title character in it.
Indeed this story features three of Batman's notorious adversaries - The
Penguin, The Mad Hatter and The Scarecrow. It happens on a Halloween evening at
the Arkham Detention Facility for Youth. The Mad Hatter has gotten a simple note
promising an intriguing business proposition with instructions to come alone and
it is signed Oswald. Well, as he wanders around dredging up bad memories he
begins to get mad at Penguin for not showing up but Oswald walks in and scolds
him for being mad when it was the Hatter who sent Oswald a note to meet him.
Just when they figure out someone has played them the flash of lighting reveals
the Scarecrow down the hall, but he too has a note from the other two asking for
a meet. What is interesting about the story is not so much who sent the notes or
why but it is about the individuals and how they react individually and
together. It is a character study of each one and the bad memories and fears
that made them what they are. Collectively their fears feed on each other and
provide some interesting, even humorous moments. They don't know why they are
here or what the end game is but they are sure Batman is behind it all. Is he? 
It really does not matter, that is the point of it all. It is very clever and
well executed. The art is spectacular in its simplicity and dynamic use of shade
and coloring. Even the epilogue, which lightens up the otherwise dark tone, is
perfect. I highly recommend this one.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Black Ice
Publisher: DC
Writer: Ann Nocenti
Artists: Christian Duce with Aaron Lopestri & John Livesay
Colors: Andrew Dalhouse with Matt Yackey
Letters: Taylor Esposito
Cover Artist: Emanuela Lupacchino
Price (USD): $4.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

The second DC Annual this week is not so self-contained. I have not been
following Catwoman in her monthly series and from the ending of this issue it
appears that the story will continue there. This is the beginning of "The
Penguin Gang War." There are several characters involved. There have been three
killings in the area known as the Badlands of Gotham. Catwoman was tipped off
that the latest was going to happen but she arrived too late. There is a local
group that is headed up by a man named Rat-Tail who is also a bit late on the
scene. He wants her help in stopping whomever is moving in on the rackets in the
Badlands but she has problems of her own. The Penguin is behind it all and he is
out to get her. Not only is she not giving him kickbacks from her heists but she
also stole the Cobblepot Heirlooms. So he is having his tech guy perfect guided
drones that will home in on her silhouette no matter where she is in the city.
But Catwoman has a mole in his organization and is planning a way to thwart his
attack and turn it back on him.  Meanwhile the detectives investigating the vice
in the Badlands are now teamed with Harvey Bullock due to the murders involved.
One of the detectives is convinced Catwoman is the perpetrator and she won't
rest until Catwoman is brought to justice. The investigation brings in some
other facts, one of which is the ice cream truck making the rounds selling what
is called Black Ice. It is all part of the big picture, which by this point is
getting a little jumbled. By the end the evidence on the murders does not point
to Catwoman but the female detective does not care. Bullock uncovers some
interesting facts about Black Ice and takes it right to the mayor and Catwoman
and Penguin have a drawn out first battle in the war that is just beginning. I
think the best part of this comic is the art. It is clean and detailed with very
good coloring. If your are going to have a well built female lead who spends
most of her time in tight-fitting body suits she better be drawn sexy. This art
team gets all of it right in top-notch fashion. I am not as impressed with
Nocenti's script. I liked elements of the plot and how it is executed but had a
hard time with the dialogue. Parts of it seemed to be trying to hard to the
point of stereotyping people into caricatures. Rat-Tail, who is supposedly a bad
ass tough guy says stuff like, "a two-time loser with a rap sheet like route
66." I mean, who talks like that in the hood? Detective Keyes is the other
character that is over the top. Maybe I am just not interested in gang war type
stories like this one. So yes on the art and not so much on the script.  You can
judge for yourself.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: DC
Creator: Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster
Cover Artist: Chris Samnee & Matthew Wilson
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

This new anthology does for Superman what THE DARK KNIGHT does for Batman. It
provides a platform for a variety of creators to tell self-contained stories
about the hero. In this debut issue there are three such stories.

"Violent Minds" is written by Jeff Parker with art by Chris Samnee and Matthew
Wilson. Superman comes to the rescue as a man with telekinetic abilities is
going berserk in the streets of Metropolis tossing cars and people around
everywhere. When he can't talk the guy down he finds the direct approach is
equally difficult. This power is very strong and Superman has to find a way to
stop him. It is a real slugfest without anyone making contact. Superman is
hampered by the need to minimize collateral damage. Even though this is a one-
time story it still leaves room for speculation about who is behind it all and
what comes next. The script is good reading and the art team handles multiple
action sequences well. It is a good intro for the series.

"Fortress" is presented by Jeff Lemire with colors by Jose Villarubia.

This story does not feature Superman. Instead it deals with the perception of
the hero through the eyes of two boys. Like many of us in our youth they are
playing good guy versus bad guy. This time around one gets to be Superman and
their role-playing begins in play fort that is transformed into the fortress of
solitude. From there we get a stream of consciousness play with the villain
changing from Brainiac to Bizarro to Luthor and others when the two boys can't
agree on which villain is good to use this time. Eventually they come to
agreement and have a great time until it is time to eat. There are a touching
couple of panels at the end that wraps it up nicely. This is a pleasant
diversion and would probably only find a place in an oversized annual if it were
not for this series. On the other hand I am not a fan of Lemire's art. While it
is technically professional in execution it is not appealing to me visually. 
Good story though.

"Bizarro's Worst Day" is written by Justin Jordan with art by Riley Rossmo. The
final entry brings Bizarro to the city with his opposite approach to everything.
He says he will hurt when he actually helps and so on. Of course when he says he
will hurt in his mind this is a good thing - not evil just good. Superman goes
through the usual attempt to appeal to logic, which never works with Bizarro.
Fighting him is a bust as well since they are equally matched. Only by finally
realizing how to communicate to the clone's twisted logic will he be able to
trick him into doing something that will keep him far away from anyone else.
Sometimes these stories can give you a headache trying to understand that what
is being said is actually the opposite of what is meant. Jordan handles it very
well and gives us a decent story in a short space with strong support from the
art team. It is a good finish to a fine first issue.


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 comic book ran the original serialized origin of THE INHUMANS?

Many people though it was AMAZING ADVENTURES which began in 1970 but much
earlier in the mid 60's the origins were serialized in the pages of THOR. The
winner by the dice is Gary Katzoff.


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

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.

No comments:

Post a Comment