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Friday, November 1, 2013

Comic Reviews 11/1/13


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: Before the Living End
Publisher: Image
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Steve Epting
Colors: Elizabeth Breitweiser
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Price (USD): $3.50
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Spy Thriller
Mature – Comics on the Edge

The title character of this book is Velvet Templeton. She is the secretary to
the director of a British intelligence agency, ARC-7. We learn from the
narrative right from the start that she also had intimate relations with a
number of the top operatives, each of which though he was the only one. That
seems incidental to the main plot at first. The time of the story is 1973. It
seems one of their best men, X-14, was gunned down in the street after
accomplishing his latest mission. Since he is the best the director is confident
he was not followed but that his killer was waiting for him – someone
compromised the mission. When the evidence points to a retired agent Velvet is
not buying it. She is sure he is being set up as the fall guy. It is only when
it is too late that she realizes that Frank Lancaster is not the only one being
set up. This comic has a number of things going for it. The strong female lead
is a multi-faceted character at the top of her game and better reasoning than
some of the higher paid people in the agency. We see by the end of the first
issue that she is more talented than we first thought and very resourceful. The
plot by Brubaker is as tight and compelling as you would expect from one of the
masters of the craft. Epting’s art is spot on with excellent use of layouts and
perspective. Each panel is painlessly composed for the right effect and the
coloring matches perfectly. This is a great thriller that leads up to a
thrilling cliffhanger climax making you want more.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Image
Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Artist: Emma Rios
Colors: Jordie Bellaire
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Price (USD): $3.50
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Western/Horror
Mature – Comics on the Edge

Image first issues have been getting a lot of press these days and many of them
have gone on to be collector’s items as the series become hits. If you follow
the pre-press on the Internet you know that PRETTY DEADLY and VELVET which hit
the racks the same week were both examples being touted as the next two great
hits from Image. Be that as it may I cannot heap the praise on this title as I
did on VELVET. In fact the post-press coverage has been very mixed. The few
critics I have read either love it or hate it. One comic shop owner went so far
as to rip up a copy in his store to emphasize to some regular customers his
displeasure with the comic. While I wouldn’t go that far I find I could not
really get into it myself. Like others I did not find the art very appealing.
Looking at it closely it is clear a lot of effort went into it but effort and
quality are two different things. Since art can be subjective you may not agree
but I found it often does not advance the story by trying to be too stylish. At
other times it is too busy and often muddled. The main action in this first
issue centers around two characters who give a performance of sorts on the town
gallows in the center of an Old West town. The man is apparently blind with a
bandage around his eyes and the young girl is in costume as a vulture, complete
with feathered cloak and a beak. The story they tell involves a girl married to
a prideful man who used her as a jewel to flash before other men but soon feared
he would lose her and so built a stone tower to hide her away. She became
despondent and begged death to come and take her, but death fell in love and
before the girl died she birthed his child. She was raised as a reaper of
vengeance and her name was Ginny. As the performance ends those who were
entertained offer money for their efforts. From there the plot goes in several
directions. The two are attacked on the outskirts of town and manage to flee to
the home of a friend. But there is more that happens in town as a tall woman
dressed in black comes looking for something and the trail will lead her to the
duo as well. There is no clear explanation who she is though the implication she
is the “Ginny” of the poem. It seems to me that these plot points, and some
others are thrown in here and there and then abandoned for another scene that
adds more mystery. By the end I was thoroughly confused as to where the focus of
the plot was as more characters are added, adversaries are suddenly allies, and
nothing is really clear about any of it. This may very well be a best seller
based on hype or maybe it is just my taste that won’t have me coming back for
more.  We’ll see.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: The Threads of Time
Publisher: IDW
Creator: Genndy Tartakovsky
Writer: Jim Zub
Artist: Andy Suriano
Letters: Shawn Lee
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Cartoon Adaptation
All Ages

Here is another comic adapted from an animated series on the Cartoon Network. I
am not familiar with the source material but fortunately there is an
introductory recap of the set up on the inside cover. Jack is a Samurai with a
magic sword. He opposed the shape-shifting master of darkness, Aku, who was
trying to unleash unspeakable evil. Before Jack could end the bout Aku sent Jack
through a portal into the future, where Aku’s power rules. Now Jack struggles to
find a way back to his own time so he can undo the future. I like the premise
for its simplicity. It allows the writer to come up with any scenario imaginable
and sets up a light at the end of the tunnel for the protagonist – get home and
all this bad stuff will never happen. For this first issue Jack is in a dessert
land seeking the aid of a seer. There is hope here as the seer tells him of the
Threads of Time. The gods marked time with the rope until Aku stole it to learn
the secrets of time travel. When he was done he shredded the rope so no one else
could do the same. What Aku does not know is that fibers were left behind still
containing time travelling magic. If Jack can find the fibers he can rewind time
and his place in time. With that the major plot for the series is set. The first
issue will have our hero stumble into an underground arena where he must fight
the six warriors of the spider being Dreezun in order to get the first fiber.
This is a fun book. The characters are purposely exaggerated for effect and have
funny names like Headclaw the Stabbist and Arcus the Clubifier. The visuals are
an important part of the overall effect of the story and this style fits
perfectly. This is the kind of comic that appeals to young kids and old people

Issue Number: ONE-SHOT
Publisher: Marvel
Cover Artist: Skottie Young
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Comedy
All Ages

I always enjoy comic books that make fun of the mainstream comics. This one
starts right on the cover implying that the kid versions of Marvel heroes have
been overdone. Sure enough in the opening bit Skottie Young, the writer and
artist is faced with his characters who now want a cut of the profits and so he
ponders what other ways he can make money off of Marvel concepts. The book is a
series of short stories and the premise is also a parody of MARVEL NOW, hence
the title MARVEL NOW WHAT?! Elliott Kalan and Jacob Chabot Have Apocalypse
introduce the evolution of Marvel from infinite X-men books to infinite Avengers
books to resurrecting old characters. Then he gets into some all new characters
for Marvel NOWER like Red Cable, Thing Jr. and Spider Storm. In “The Puppet’s
Master” Otto Octavius has opted for a life in entertainment using his metal arms
to manipulate puppets as Doctor Octopuppet. When he competes on a television
talent show he finds he is better suited for another occupation. There is
section after section of silliness. Cenac and Kalan investigate the real story
behind Xavier Academy. Lucas Hazlett and Jacob Chabot show a different side as
Xavier hires a couple to help the mutants learn how to function as a team but
Brenda and Brandon don’t realize that the students have real super powers as
they try to teach them how to pretend to read minds or fly. One of the better
segments is by Sara Schaefer and Steve Lieber. In “Cap-Fished” a lonely Captain
America has been corresponding online with a swimsuit model but it turns out to
be the Red Skull’s latest plot to catch him unaware. It is hard to fight a super
villain when you are heartbroken. Even funnier is “Ladies Who Brunch” by Sara
Benincasa, John Devore and Tania Del Rio. This one has She-Hulk, Sue Storm and
The Wasp enjoying brunch when Doctor Doom enters the place. He just wants to
eat, they think he is there to do evil and before you know it there is battling.
My favorite is “Intervention” by Scott Apsit and Declan Shalvey.  Uatu believes
he has been summoned by Reed Richards but when he arrives he finds all the other
Watchers waiting. This is a Watcher intervention to help Uatu toe the line and
stop messing around with humanity – sort of an anti-intervention intervention.
And the punch line is even better. Well, it is not laugh-aloud funny but most of
it is clever and made me smile. But here is a disclaimer – chances are my sense
of humor is probably way different than yours – ask anybody. Still, I think
everyone can have a good time with this comic, especially if you are a Marvel

Issue Number: 37
Title Story: Part 9
Title Arc: Battle of the Atom
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Giuseppe Camuncoli
Inker: Andrew Currie
Colors: Matt Milla
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Cover Artist: Ed McGuinness & Marte Garcia
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

The Battle of the Atom crossover event in X-Men books is drawing to a close. In
fact the last chapter is on the racks as you read this. This is the penultimate
issue that draws together various players for the final chapter. That is a tall
order since there are six different groups of X-men involved. You have the
original X-Men brought forward into the present by the present day Beast hoping
to influence them to change their course in lives when they go back. We also
have the X-Men led by Wolverine, the X-Men led by Cyclops and the X-Men led by
Kitty Pride – all of which are current day mutants and have comic books of their
own. Things got complicated when a group of X-Men from the future appeared
demanding the original X-Men go back to the past and Wolverine and some of the
others agreed. But this new group turned out to be a future version of the
Brotherhood of Evil. Illyana travelled to their future and brought back, you
guessed it, ANOTHER group who claim to be the real X-Men of the future. But the
Brotherhood group has managed to take over the Jean Grey School and capture the
original X-Men. They successfully fought off the combined forces of Cyclops’ X-
Men and the real future X-Men. The Brotherhood’s mission was apparently to
forcibly send the originals back to their own time but when they tried to do
just that the time device would not send them back. Someone or something is
preventing this from happening seemingly rendering the whole point of the Battle
of the Atom moot and guaranteeing that the ALL NEW X-MEN title will continue on
for the near future! With more forces arriving to oppose them the Brotherhood
mutants make an escape in a Blackbird with the original X-Men still captive.
They have one last play to make and it is going to be at a place where things
all started – Cape Citadel where the X-Men first fought Magneto. The story is
not exclusively X-Men as we also look in on Dazzler who has become a mutant
liaison to SHIELD. They have been alerted about the security breach at Cape
Citadel and are approaching the scene in a helicarrier. The point of this
chapter, as I said, is to bring all the players together for one final
confrontation that begins and leaves us on the brink of something big coming in
the last chapter of the story. The interesting thing about this whole mess is
seeing current people meeting future selves. Some from the future are surprises
to not only the regular X-Men but the reader as well. Some of these guys are
grown up versions that have turned evil. Some are descendants and are either
good or bad. It makes for interesting meetings and conversations. Some deaths
have already occurred and I believe more will come. But will any of the current
day X-Men die? That is the unanswered question. I found myself liking this event
more than I thought I would and look forward to reading BATTLE OF THE ATOM #2 to
see how it ends. Like many of these Marvel events certain things happen to set
up a new status quo for some of the characters involved. The art has been as
good as it can be all along. Hopefully the ending will not disappoint.

Issue Number: 24
Title Story: Tiny Evils
Title Arc: Blight
Publisher: DC
Writer: J.M. Dematteis
Artist: Mikel Janine
Colors: Jeromy Cox
Letters: Rob Leigh
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

I picked up this issue to see what is in store for DC’s supernatural heroes. I
do not read it on a regular basis but this tie-in to Forever Evil begins the
threads of another event in the supernatural books involving a new adversary
called Blight. It begins with John Constantine waking up in the House of Mystery
surrounded by mouse-sized little monsters or demons all dressed exactly like
him, some are even smoking cigarettes. As his head clears he begins to realize
what has gone before. He was involved in the Trinity War and Pandora’s Box
proved to be a gateway for the Crime Syndicate to enter this world. He thought
he could control the box but it turned out just the opposite. He remembers the
Crime Syndicate taking out the three Justice Leagues just before he was blasted
by a green light. Now he is alone in the House of Mystery and haunted by demons
he assumes are being spawned by his own psyche. The other thing he realizes is
that he cannot sense any of his teammates. They are not here or anywhere else in
the world. He is most concerned about Zatanna and is despondent that just maybe
after all these years evil has finally won. Well the story does not end with him
hopelessly moping around as either the House, or some other force transitions
him to a series of scenes, seemingly in places around the world but with a book
based on magic characters and the supernatural you never know what you are
looking at. As he sees people in different scenes, for example a couple eating
dinner, clearly at odds with each other but not speaking, he notices a mist of
some sort hanging over the woman. With each scene – people ignoring a homeless
person, a man drowning his sorrows at a bar, school boys taunting a smaller kid
– the mist appears above them and grows bigger, with two widening blank white
eyes and a sharp toothed grin. DeMatteis is setting up the growth of an entity
that feeds on little evils and grows stronger as little evils multiply. Maybe
the devil is a projection of our own sins? It is an interesting concept that
will be built upon in the aforementioned arc. There is another player (perhaps)
involved later back at the House of Mystery. It is hard to tell at first if she
will be good or bad for John but she is someone he is familiar with. What
appears to be happening is the gathering of a new team and just maybe that is
what John needs to find the old one. Part of the reason I am not fond of these
kind of characters is that often times what you see is not what is real or you
just can’t tell real from imagined or magic from an outside force. It will all
make sense at some point but in the meantime there is a lot of speculation by
both the main character and the reader. This is not what grabs me, but that is
not to say it is poorly written or executed. Mikel Janine provides some of the
best art I have seen considering the demands of the script. The final splash
page is outstanding. I leave it to fans of the genre to decide if this is worth
following month to month.


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 other comic cover did THE SIMPSONS COMICS #1 pay homage to?

THE SIMPSONS covered FANTASTIC FOUR #1, which is the most "homage" comic cover
in the world -- unless that's ACTION #1. The winner this week is Jeff Campbell.

If you wrote "E-MAIL" on your envelope in the 1980's, you were writing to the
letter section of which comic book series?

Here is your no prize question:
Where was the first water supply system developed in New England?

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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