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Sunday, August 25, 2013

Comic Reviews 8/23/13

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 you
are welcome to respond to David directly by Email at the address above.

Issue Number: Graphic Novel
Publisher: Zenescope Entertainment
Creator/Writer: Jeffrey Kaufman
Pencils: Kevin West
Inks: Mark McKenna, Bob Wiacek, Jack Purcell & Kevin Yates
Colors: Tom Chu & Pete Pantazis
Letters: John Hunt
Cover Artist: Jeff Kaufman, Dave Stewart & Stan Johnson
Variant Cover: Bill Tucci & Felix Serrano
Price (USD): $9.99 - 104 pages
Release Date: September 2013
Genre: Adventure

I received an advance copy of this book having reviewed Kaufman's previous
graphic novel WHORE. This one has a more personal connection to the author and
is dedicated to his seven-year old son Jacob Connor Kaufman as well as the
people who are there for him, help him, treat him with love and kindness and who
laugh with him, not at him. Jacob is Autistic. One of the main characters in
this story, Connor Jacobs, is also autistic, but he has a remarkable gift. This
is Jeff's effort to deal with the subject in one of his works not in a preachy
way but to bring awareness to the condition and its effects beyond the issues it
presents. It begins as a woman with angel wings tattooed on her shoulders and
back awakens topless in a dumpster with no memories of who she is. This presents
immediate problems for her as some local street thugs see an opportunity for
fun. She remarkably and instinctively dispatches the first two with little
effort but when the odds become overwhelming a savior appears in the form of the
young man named Connor who finishes off the remainder of the gang. He says his
name is Five and it is only when he calls her Angel that she finds out about the
tattoos. He convinces her that they need to depend on each other and since he
seems to know her she follows his lead. We begin to get the idea about Connor's
condition when he reacts quickly when she tries to touch him. We are not left in
the dark about their relationship too long as the scene shifts to a secret
military base outside of New York City. The top brass in charge are concerned
that Three and Five, Angel and Connor, have gone AWOL. The project was set up
with 200 children taken from childbirth and trained as perfect killers their
entire life until their numbers were down to ten. Connor came into the program
later in life as a toddler who broke into the compound and quickly exhibited a
remarkable ability to mimic any physical movement or ability he watches. His
gift is called Eidetic Kinesthesia - perfect physical memory. The men in charge
figure out that Five broke him out with her and they are dangerous to the
program. They conclude she must be killed before she reveals what she knows.
They first turn to Jacob Mars, the freelance operative who was the title
character I the previous mentioned graphic novel WHORE. When he turns them down
for obvious reasons they decide to handle it internally by sending their top
student, One, after the pair. This is a fascinating story on a number of levels.
One is the most intelligent of the group and he shows it in the planning and
execution of his mission. Though initial efforts fail he eventually brings
things to a conclusion in a most unorthodox manner. But the crux of the story
follows the two as they stay on the run trying to blend in with normal people
while learning about themselves. It is a good partnership with Angel prodding
Connor to open up more to her and others and Connor ever vigilant and one step
ahead of those after them. As we read their dialogue and their internal thoughts
we realize they are both very dangerous and yet compassionate. Connor has
interesting thoughts that belie his outward near silence. He talks in few words
and brief phrases constantly. In the end there are a couple of major secrets
revealed that finish the story in a most satisfying manner.  The further I read
the more enraptured I became with the story. The pacing is excellent and the
characterization is the key to everything that happens. There is lots of action
mixed with some tender moments as the two interact closely with a young woman
and her younger sister who befriend them. It is a wonderful story that is
satisfying and well worth the cost. The art is a perfect compliment to the
outstanding script. Everyone involved puts in a stellar effort right down to the
inks and colors. I highly recommend you get this GN when it is released. You
won't be sorry.

Title: T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS
Issue Number: 1
Title Story: The Taking of Field Station 123
Title Arc: The Judgment Tower
Publisher: IDW
Creators: Wally Wood & Len Brown
Writer: Phil Hester
Artist: Andrea Di Vito
Colors: Rom Fajardo
Letters: Chris Mowry & Shawn Lee
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

The latest version of Wally Wood's T.H.U.N.D.E.R. AGENTS begins with a startling
picture - Iron Maiden holding Nomad's severed head above her declaring the
Thunder agents are dead. Those who are familiar with the series know that
Nomad's spirit can move to a new android body whenever he is fatally injured but
it is still an interesting visual. For those not familiar the agents are powered
operatives for a global agency that combats huge threats that conventional
forces cannot fight. In most cases the agents are normal humans that have been
enhanced by special technology. In some cases the long-term effects of their
gifts will also kill them. This new series begins right off with an ongoing
conflict with one of their major villains, Iron Maiden. She has somehow captured
a top-secret base in Kashmir, a base only the director and a few others know
about due to its extreme importance. Now Iron Maiden has the base closed off
with a force field and has possibly killed the Thunder speed agent, Lightning.
Due to the secret nature of the location and what the director was having done
there it is urgent they retake it at all costs. Since Nomad is the only current
agent outside the facility the decision is made to activate another agent using
the Thunderbelt. The belt gives the user extreme density, strength and
durability but so far the trained candidates available have not been able to
tolerate the effects more than a few seconds. So the plan is to find a suitable
physical specimen first and then train him or her to be an agent. This then is
our introduction to the man who will become Dynamo, Len Brown. He was a rising
star in the minor league hokey ranks when he washed out. He has an unlimited
threshold for pain and the agent who knows him goes out to recruit him. Through
the course of the episode we find Len working as an enforcer for a loan shark
but as we get to know him we learn he is not a bad man, he is just doing what he
needs to do to survive. The question is will he tolerate the effects of the belt
and be trained quickly enough to stop Iron Maiden's plan? This is a good way to
start things off. By concentrating on one major character in depth we learn a
lot about the man who will become Dynamo and a little bit about the Thunder
agency. As the first chapter ends we are still not positive that Len Brown will
survive his first mission. The art is fairly decent with good layouts and facial
characterization. Whether you are an old fan or just interested in a new super
hero series this comic should fill the bill.

Issue Number: 1 (of 6)
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Jonathan Hickman
Artist: Jim Cheung
Inker: Mark Morales w/John Livesay, David Meikis & Jim Cheung
Colors: Justin Ponsor
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos with Joe Caramagna
Cover Artist: Various
Price (USD): $4.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

Marvel's next big event begins here and is heavily connected to AVENGERS and NEW
AVENGERS and tie-in stories in three other titles. In fact my first impression
is that those who have not been keeping up with those two series may seem a
little lost at points as they read this first part of the story. The scenes skip
around quite a bit from Earth to the far reaches of space. The cast is very
extensive as the chart up front reveals. We have the Illuminati, members of the
X-Men, about twenty Avengers, the Inhumans, The Space Knights, the immortal
Builders of the Universe, Abigail Brand of SWORD, a bunch of Skrulls and the big
bad guy, Thanos. Whew! Among the current Avengers Captain Universe plays a key
role as she moves instantly among certain scenes. But it is Thanos and his
minions that are more interesting. One in particular is the Outrider. He travels
through space to Earth and invisible to most he moves unseen tapping into
familiar minds searching for something Thanos wants. In another scene on the
planet Galador, the famous Space Knights (less the most famous among them ROM)
defend their planet against the inevitable conquest by the Builders. When
Captain Universe teleports from Galador to the Peak, SWORD'S orbiting base, the
Avengers are called in as well and soon it becomes clear that the Builders are
on a path of destruction that is pointed right at Earth. It is decided to take
the fight directly to them or the world will face extinction. But with most of
the world's heroes heading off into space, who is left to help Iron Man put up a
last stand if they fail? The more immediate threat will be Thanos and his Black
Order when they learn that the Avengers have left Earth. It is mostly set up for
what is to come. I may have overstated the need to have been following the two
main Avenger books, as there is enough information in this chapter to get you
by. Expect the Inhumans to play a big part in the section of the story set on
Earth. The art is detailed and vibrantly colored giving it a superb visually
quality. This event is sure to be a big seller and will of course lead into
something even bigger when it is done.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: IDW
Creator/Writer: Gary Gerani
Artist: Herb Trimpe
Paintings: Earl Norem
Finishes: George Freeman
Letters: Ron Muns
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction

This story starts off with an interesting concept at the core of the story.
Super scientist Elias Thorne is about to unveil something that will change the
course of history, by looking back at it. He invented the Timescan procedure
that when shot from a space platform has already revealed the far past
development of the moon giving scientists a wealth of information about the moon
and its origins. Now he proposes to train the beam on Earth to learn secrets of
its prehistoric past. What could possibly go wrong? His chief opponent is
another famous scientist, his ex-wife Helen Chambers. She warns of the dire
effects this could have on our planet but right now the UN is backing Thorne. A
demonstration is set to take place with all the dignitaries and press aboard the
space station to witness it. Helen is also along for the ride but she plans one
last desperate attempt to stop the demonstration, even if she has to use some
dirty tactics. As part of the plot we learn that Thorne, aside from being the
smartest man alive, has a high ESP quotient and with electronic amplification
can do some light telekinesis. This may or may not be a factor in the strange
dreams he has been having and the events that occur after the demonstration is
postponed. It becomes apparent that a major problem has occurred and the Earth
will get the demonstration whether they want it or not. After the first few
pages we can see what is going to happen once the beam is used on Earth. Whether
it is intentional, by accident, or the result of some sinister force matters
little. We know it will happen and the dinosaurs will be rampaging. The rest of
the story will explain the how, the why and possible the solution if that is how
it is supposed to end. It has the feel of an old fashioned B movie science
fiction movie and is not bad for the genre. On the down side I was not entirely
thrilled with the art. I think Trimpe does a great job as far as his
contribution goes but the paints and finishes take away from the effort in many
places and are even distracting at times. Overall it is a fun comic so far. As
long as we don't get bogged down in relationship melodrama it should be a decent
book to follow.
Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Dark Horse
Writer: Brian Reed
Artist: Marco Castiello
Colors: Michael Atiyer
Letters: Michael Heisler
Cover Artist: John Liberto
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction - Video Game Adaptation
Based on characters from HALO by Microsoft Corporation

I am not sure if there have been Halo comics before this series but it seems
like there has been. Right from the start I fell I should know more than I do as
a new reader. Perhaps those who are totally immersed in the Halo game and
everything connected with it will not feel the same. The main military
organization involved in this story set in the far future is the United Nations
Space Command. It begins at the Highcom facility in Australia. The soldier in a
wheel chair talking to the assembled top brass relates the story of the
Spartans, both those of ancient Greece and the UNSC. He tells us how Doctor
Catherine Halsey created her own Spartans by taking children from their families
and enlisted them into a life of servitude to the UNSC, much like the young
citizens of Sparta. As much as the methods were distasteful to all present had
it not been for those children and what they became humanity might not have
survived. It is at this point I am wondering what I have already missed. But now
the Spartans are missing in action and threats are beginning to arise both on
Earth and on the colonies in space. He declares that the time has come for more
Spartans - so he made some. This is an interesting prelude for the why of the
story and a very brief and cursory recap of what might have gone before. But the
main story is set in the present. There is an extensive action sequence that
begins three months earlier as a troop of Orbital Drop Shock Troopers begins a
mission on another planet. The outpost on this place is being overrun and the
Admiral in charge is attempting to get the AI device from the facility off
planet and out of enemy hands. There is a lot of high tech battle stuff against
an alien force of much large beings with the shock troops coming in the nick of
time to turn the tide. For a comic book action sequence it is well laid out and
executed and I imagine it would be a lot of fun to play it out in a video game.
This battle has particular significance to one shock trooper who will play a
part in the new Spartans spoke of earlier. The parts individually are easy
enough to follow but I felt it fell short in providing enough information to
build interest in what is to come. The art is very good so that is not a
problem. I might be interested in sampling it again but not enthused at this
point. Your experience may differ.

Issue Number: 0 - Originally serialized in DARK HORSE PRESENTS #18-20
Publisher: Dark Horse
Creators: Peter Hogan & Steve Parkhouse
Writer: Peter Hogan
Artist: Steve Parkhouse
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction

I am glad to see a follow up series to the first RESIDENT ALIEN mini-series. I
found Peter Hogan's first story interesting and fun to read. It is basically
murder mystery with an ET as the protagonist. If you do not read the
introductory text on the inside cover you might not realize that the alien that
humans are completely at ease with having around is actually disguised as a
human from their point of view. Harry was stranded on Earth when he crashed and
is waiting for a rescue from his own race. He has powers of empathy and can mask
his appearance to most people so that they see him as another human. We the
reader see his true alien form. He has been surviving among the humans by taking
the position as temporary town doctor in a small town in the Northwest. At the
end of the last series Harry was accidentally wounded by his nurse, Asta. As we
begin this series he is recuperating. To make due the town has hired another
younger man to fill in on a trial basis but his bedside manner with the staff
and patients is not the best. Meanwhile the military is all but ready to write
off the sighting of his crash as a hoax when new evidence emerges that prompts
them to investigate further. In a comical aside there is a fun interlude showing
Harry shortly after he arrived haggling with a used car salesman over a broken
down car. It shows some insight into his thinking and ingenuity and adds a nice
touch of humor. Like the first mini-series this second one will revolve around a
local death, as the title suggests. Will Harry find it is more than a simple
suicide? That remains to be seen. Is Harry staying here too long risking being
eventually found out by the government?  Perhaps.  I plan to stick around and
see what develops. This is a fun series with solid characterization and promises
some plot twists like the last time. The art is a good as any out there. If you
already read this part of the story in DHP you will know what I mean. I suggest
the rest of you try it out and see whether or not you will be compelled to stay
with it when issue #1 comes out.


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 the first (and only) word spoken by DMZ during Milestone's initial run?
During the WORLDS COLLIDE crossover with the DC Universe DMZ uttered his only
word, "DAMN".

Here was your no prize question:
In what US city was the first jail sentence for speeding handed out?

In Newport, RI Judge Darius Baker sentenced an offender for going 15 MPH in

Let's go back to original Legion of Super Heroes continuity - what planet was
Sun Boy from?

Here is your no prize question:
After the US which country has the most McDonald's outlets?

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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