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Sunday, October 20, 2013

Comic Reviews 11/20/13


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.

I take a look at six comics this week that are all first issues, sort of.

Issue Number: ONE-SHOT
Publisher: Dark Horse
Creator: Wendy Richard Pini
Writers: Wendy and Richard Pini
Artist: Wendy Pini
Letters: Nate Piekos
Price (USD): $5.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Fantasy
Mature – Comics on the Edge

ELFQUEST first began publishing in 1978, the labor of love of Wendy and Richard
Pini. Their company WaRP Graphics (the letters stand for Wendy and Richard Pini)
rode the success of the black & white boom in the eighties and Elfquest has seen
many ups and downs since then. The latest chapter is being published by Dark
Horse and carries on the legend as it moves forward. The history is too rich to
easily recap what has gone before. Indeed it would be a prodigious task for
anyone to try to collect all the back issues either the originals or various
reprints. This special serves to fill in some of the details for new readers as
well as begin a new chapter going forward. The inside front cover gives a basic
paragraph about the World of Two Moons, the setting for the stories. For
generations the elves sought refuge from a primitive, savage world. They finally
found it in the Palace of the High Ones. In this refuge, disguised from sight of
humans and their enemies, Chief Cutter and his Wolfriders, as the elves are
known to use wolves for transport, avoid the wrath of nature and the ever
expanding human population. As a set up for the ongoing series it is mentioned
that some of the elves began to lose their skills that once aided them in battle
and allowed them to survive. It seems this lack of skill may play a part in
their undoing in an ultimate test of survival. But that is for the upcoming
series. This book serves to introduce not only the elves in the Palace but other
tribes scattered about. It seems there are elves that adapted to live in the
ocean. Some live in the desert underground as well. There are episodes in each
of these locals. This special covers three major events in the lives of the
elves. Two of them involves births and one a death. It begins with a most
unusual birth. The elf leader Cutter is about to become a grandfather for the
first time. His son Ikopek is married to a human, Shuna, and she is giving birth
to their first son. After the birth they announce their intention to part from
the tribe and make a home of their own. Later Cutter’s mate, Leetah, travels on
a magic vessel, made from a piece of the palace piloted by Skywise, along with
Sunstream to witness the birth of her second grandchild by Brill a sea elf.
After they arrive Sunstream is transformed into a water breather so that he may
be with his wife as she gives birth. On the way back Leetah and Skywise make a
detour and bring another back with them to tell a tale of another tribe that had
unpleasant dealings with humans. There are other short stories and remembrances
of things from the past and near the end there is a tragic death that reinforces
the harsh realities of life outside the Palace. The most outstanding feature of
ELFQUEST has always been Wendy Pini’s impeccable art. The dozens of characters
have their own unique look and costume. The action flows nicely from panel to
panel flawlessly. There is a lot of emotion among the characters and the stories
touch on a variety of subjects. The ongoing series will no doubt focus on a
major plot with fewer sidelines as this issue requires. But to get a feel for
the ELFQUEST universe this is a great introduction.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Decapitation Strike
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Creators: Bryan Johnson & Walt Flanagan
Writer: Bryan Johnson
Artist: Walt Flanagan
Inker: Chris Ivy
Colors: Wayne Jansen
Letters: Marshall Dillon
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Horror
Mature – Comics on the Edge

If you have not heard of this comic it was theoretically spawned in a
conversation on the television “reality” show COMIC BOOK MEN produced by Kevin
Smith at his very own comic shop in New Jersey, “Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret
Stash.” The manager of the store Walt Flanagan and employee Bryan Johnson
pitched the comic to Dynamite at the end of the last season and the first issue
is out just as the new season of COMIC BOOK MEN begins. It is very difficult to
describe this comic, let alone its main character. Once you wade through a
jumbled mess of scenes that go back and forth in sequence you get to the origin
of Cryptozoic Man. He is Alan Ostman who was abducted by aliens and transformed
into what appears to be an amalgam of the various cryptids like Bigfoot, Yeti,
Nessy and others. He was apparently given the mission to eventually face and
defeat the villain who is a guy in a pink suit wearing a pig mask, not unlike a
character seen often in DC’s BATMAN comics. It is only after doing the alien’s
bidding that Ostman can return to normal and regain his daughter who went
missing long ago somewhere in the northwest Cascades. As I said this is a
jumbled mess with some of the worse dialogue I have seen in a comic. The art is
actually the best part of the comic. By that I mean it is competent and well
executed for what is called for, some of which is very gory. But that can’t save
bad dialogue and poor plotting. I get a kick out of the TV show for what it is,
sort of a PAWN STARS for geeks but I would not recommend you buy this comic if
you feel the same way. It is just not worth the time or money.

Title: THREE
Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Image
Creators: Kieron Gillen, Ryan Kelly & Jordie Bellaire
Art: Ryan Kelly
Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Historical Fiction
Mature – Comics on the Edge

Kieron explains in the text pages that this comic is going to be about another
side of Sparta most people don’t know about. While the popular image of Sparta
is about the freemen of Greece who fought off the Persians at Thermopylae most
people don’t know it was also a land of slaves, the Helots. They were not only
slaves of the citizens but also of the country. In the opening scene set in
Lakonia we witness how true this is. In an annual ritual the sons of the Spartan
free men hunt and kill Helots as a rite of passage. With this as a set up the
scene shifts to a basin in Eastern Lakonia on a farm where some helots labor for
their masters. The script brings us insight into three of these laborers, a
crippled man named Klaros, a female Damar, and the helot in charge, Terpander.
Even among slaves there is a pecking order but Terpander will be reminded of his
place in the world when a troop of Spartans she shelter and hospitality one
rainy evening. While most of the helots know their place and do the bidding of
the soldiers, no matter how degrading it may be, it is Terpander that
surprisingly speaks when he shouldn’t and they all pay the consequence. Part of
what Terpander talks about is gone into detail in the aforementioned text page.
The Spartans were not alone on the battle field, nor did they carry their own
shields. The helots were there with them carrying their shields for them until
they were needed and many died alongside the soldiers. There are other things
about Spartan culture that are only found in scholarly works and Kieron plans to
bring more of that truth to life in this comic. So far it is not a pretty
picture. The Spartan soldiers are being portrayed in very unfavorable terms. It
is a fascinating subject and is sure to get more interesting along the way.
Kelly’s art grabs you right from the start, especially the facial emotions.
Bellaire’s coloring is a perfect fit for this kind of work. This is a wonderful
work that will prove educational to most of us and entertaining for all.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Clash
Publisher: IDW
Creator: John Byrne
Colors: Leonard O’Grady
Letters: Robbie Robbins
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

There is an old saying I have often used in reviews in the past, “Every comic is
someone’s first comic.” John Byrne would do well to keep that in mind. This is
not a series starting from scratch but a continuation of some characters and
plots from last year’s series TRIO. The stars of that series were called Rock,
Paper and Scissors. They are here as well as more heroes Apex, Cataclysm, Dart,
Javelin and Pylon. The issue begins right in the heat of battle as Cataclysm,
Javelin and Apex take on a beast unaware it is actually their comrade Rock. I
suppose a new reader would not care that some of these characters have been
around before but knowing they were I feel Byrne could have at least given a
brief introductory summary of who they are. Most of the time I find the appeal
of Byrne’s comics is the art. You always know what to expect and in some cases
the faces are very close to other characters in other comics over the years.
Still, he has a dynamic style that works well when the action is the key, and
this book has lots of action. Each of the characters is given time in the
spotlight. Frankly some of the super powers are a bit goofy but it works in the
Byrne universe. And speaking of that the major villain is one from his older
series NEXT MEN. This is non-stop action from beginning to end and despite the
lack of foreknowledge of what led up to these events the plot is easy to follow. 
This is Byrne playing with super heroes of his own making and having fun doing
it. He leaves you with a new threat to the heroes so you know it is not over
yet. It is not heavy drama and that is not a bad thing. I think it is worth
checking out.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Power Couple
Publisher: DC
Creators: Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster/William Moulton Marston
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Tony S. Daniels
Inker: Batt
Colors: Tomeu Morey
Letters: Carlos M. Mangual
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

DC has developed the relationship between its super powered male and female
stars for a while so it was a natural to feature them together in their own
title. This will serve to focus both on their relationship as well as their
ability to function as a team when duty calls. In this case there is an
emergency and scenes of the pair responding run through the issue. There is a
huge storm off the Norwegian coast and the Justice League alerts Superman while
he is with Wonder Woman. This is the major plot of the issue as Superman rushes
into the eye of the storm and is shot right back out by an unseen force leaving
Diana to deal with the collateral damage he causes. By the end of the issue we
see what it was at the center of it all, and it is a doozy! In the sub plots
Clark has a meeting with Cat about the need for the two to break a big story on
their blog. Little does she know that there is scoop sitting right under her
nose if she knows where to look for it. Meanwhile Diana is sparring with Hessia
while discussing the plight of the Amazons and Diana’s feeling about the status
of her relationship with Clark. The two plots merge as she meets Clark for
dinner and they discuss his desire to keep part of their relationship a secret
and her desire to open him up to some of her ways. The scripting is pretty good
in both the dialogue and structure. Tony Daniels is an excellent artist and the
finishes by the rest of the team bring out the best of it. I am not sure this
title will do well on its own but it will certainly draw fans of the other
titles featuring the two main characters so it has got a lot going for it.

Issue Number: 1 (of 6)
Title Story: Batman Death March
Title Arc: Arkham War
Publisher: DC
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Scot Eason
Inkers: Jaime Mendoza, Norm Rapmund & Mick Gray
Colors: Andrew Dalhouse
Letters: Taylor Esposito
Cover Artist: Jason Fabok & Blond
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Villain

After the Villains of Earth 3 took over and defeated the Justice League lots of
other things happened. They released the prisoners from all the major super
villain prisons and recruited many of them into the evil Alfred’s Secret Society
of Super Villains. In Gotham chaos reigns. The Penguin is the mayor and the city
has been divided into sectors controlled by Professor Pyg, Mr. Freeze, Killer
Croc, Clayface, Poison Ivy and others. Scarecrow is his right-hand man. But
there is a new player in town. Bane has returned to Gotham after freeing the
prisoners at Blackgate. There is tension enough among the various sector
villains but some fear a war with Bane is coming. Bane had a specific reason to
take over Blackgate. There is a secret hidden there that will aid him in his
ultimate plan, to take over Gotham. This issue sets the groundwork for the
action to come. It lays out the reality of the new status quo from the
frustration of Gordon to the nearly free hand the villains have to do as they
please. But Bane is a major force to be reckoned with, as on one of the Arkham
villains finds out by the end of the issue.  Stories with so many characters are
sometimes difficult to follow if not presented properly. So far Tomasi has
handled it well by limiting their exposure to key plot points that move things
forward. We may not know motivations or end game plans but the wheels are
starting to spin toward the major conflicts. The art team does a splendid job. I
am particularly impressed with the coloring work of Blond. You do not need a
major hero to have an entertaining story. With such a rich cast of characters to
draw from this promises to be a lot more than interesting.


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:

Where did Tony Stark meet Happy Hogan?

They met at a race track. The winner by the dice is Keith Martin.

Here is your no prize question:

Radar is an acronym. What does RADAR stand for?

Radio Detection And Ranging is the long form of radar.


He was the radio voice of Superman, but he was better known for what quiz show?

Here is your no prize question:

What is the phrase shortened to the common term sonar?

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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