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Friday, November 22, 2013

Comic Reviews 11/22/13


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
Publisher: Image
Creator: Chris Dingess
Writer: Chris Dingess
Artist: Matthew Roberts
Colors: Owen Gieni
Letters: Pat Brosseau
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Historical Science Fiction
Mature – Comics on the Edge

This series is an alternate take on the famous Lewis & Clark expedition
exploring the Louisiana Purchase as commissioned by President Jefferson. We get
the gist of the supposed mission as Merriweather Lewis writes in his journal
early on in this chapter. He records that the task of his troop is to destroy
monsters and clear the way for the expansion of the United States. So far their
biggest obstacle is boredom. The expedition is composed of a volunteer army and
mercenaries. Soldiers of fortune and convicts were brought along as expendable
manpower in anticipation of the struggles they would encounter. Just keeping the
seedier element among them occupied is of concern to Lewis. Already they have
had to discipline some for theft and other bad behavior. He fears they may only
be cataloging new species of animals and Indians rather than encounter the
mythological beasts the President is convinced exist. Part of the plot details
the kinds of things you would expect from actual accounts of this historic
mission. The first scene has Clark shooting a new type of heron for Lewis to
sketch and name. But that soon changes when they come across an unnatural
structure on the shores of the river. It is reminiscent of the current St. Louis
Arch towering high above them hundreds of feet high. Clearly this is nothing
anyone has ever scene and is not a natural phenomenon though it is constructed
of trees and wrapped in vegetation – something any known Native Americans could
not have the technology to accomplish. It seems they have found the first
indication that Jefferson may have been right. Even one of the flowers growing
on the arch is nothing anyone has ever scene – looking oddly like a skull in
shape. As the soldiers and conscripts are set around the perimeter to guard
against attack while Lewis begins his analysis we learn that those men who are
not soldiers have already been talking about their fate and purpose on the
mission. Most of them have no families to miss them if they never return. This
structure is their first inclination that there is more to the mission than they
have been told. Some are even talking about escape but that will have to be
dealt with later when they learn the camp is suddenly attacked by… what? I like
the premise of the story and the execution so far is done well. There are good
and bad elements among the men and the problem facing the leaders is whether
they will band together against a common foe or fall into self-preservation
mode. The art is delightful with good characterization and detailed scenery.
When the unexpected antagonist appears everything gets very exciting. It is a
thriller with many elements that kept me interested right to the end. This could
be an unexpected hit once again for Image and I urge you to check it out.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Fantoms
Title Arc: Welcome to Christmasland
Publisher: IDW
Creator: Joe Hill
Writer: Joe Hill
Artist: Charles Paul Wilson III
Colors: Jay Fotos
Letters: Shawn Lee & Robbie Robbins
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Horror
Mature – Comics on the Edge

This comic is a prelude to the new novel by Joe Hill called NOS4A2. Hill is the
co-creator of the comic hit LOCKE & KEY among other comics and novels. It turns
out NOS4A2 is the license plate of the automobile featured in this story and is
also a pneumonic of Nosferatu, the famous vampire of movies long ago. The story
detailed in this first chapter is that of the driver, Charlie Manx, and his
Rolls Royce Wraith. The bookend sequences have him driving through Colorado with
a young girl in the back seat. He is an evil-looking person with sharp yellow
teeth and long fingernails. Even his eye whites are tinted yellow. His demeanor
toward the girl is out of character in that regard as he promises the terrified
child that she will be grinning big when they reach their destination. He
explains he is taking her to Christmasland, a wondrous amusement park she has
dreamed about and if she promises not to cry he will explain about how he knows
her dreams, who he is and the history of Christmasland. The rest of the book
goes back in time to a time when Charlie was a young boy. His single mother
worked as a housemaid with other duties as the town whore working in a local inn
that doubled as a mortuary. The seminal incident in his life came shortly after
he had saved up his meager earnings to by a black sled for himself, a Black
Fantom. At one point while sliding down a hill lined with snowmen he realized
that the barrier between his dreams and reality began to cross. It was shortly
after that he was accosted by a disgruntled customer of his mother who decided
to take it out on him. It was the blurring of dream and reality that allowed him
to escape both that man and his abusive mother and head out to find his fortune.
After fifteen years or so he eventually became a driver for a very rich man in
Kansas. This brought him close to the man’s daughter and eventually they
married. But when the rich old man died after the stock market collapse the Manx
family was reduced to working as farm labor to get by.   This will set up the
circumstances that will lead Manx to invest all he had into a new amusement park
being built called Christmasland. The promise of getting back his investment in
months and then a large income for life was too big a temptation for Manx. He
secretly took out a second mortgage to make the investment and when word came
that the opening day was coming he could not resist buying the Wraith. It was
lightly used but was being offered very cheaply because the previous owner had
killed himself and his children in it and no one wanted such a vehicle.  You can
see where this story may be heading at this point but Hill puts a different
twist to it that is worth following. This is a very dense story for only the
first issue. There is a lot of detail in the background of the main character’s
history that is worthwhile as it adds to the climax of this first chapter as
events unfold. The elements of horror added to the promise of the fulfillment of
childhood dreams is particularly creepy. Charles Wilson has a great style that
fits well with the story while the coloring adds yet another dimension
perfectly. This is a well-done horror, which is what I expected from Mr. Hill.
If you are a fan this one is one of the best you will find.

Title: X-MEN: GOLD
Issue Number: 1-SHOT
Publisher: Marvel
Cover Artist:
Price (USD): $5.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

The X-Men have reached their 50th anniversary and Marvel has responded with an
oversized special featuring X-Men stories by some of the creators that built the
franchise over the years.

The untitled opening story is by Chris Claremont & Bob McLeod with Israel Silva.
It is the centerpiece of the volume done by the writer who took a once-cancelled
title and made it dominant in the comic book marketplace for more than a decade.
McLeod is a classic X-MEN artist and co-created the NEW MUTANTS. Fans of the
Claremont era will enjoy seeing the lineup for this story – Colossus,
Nightcrawler, Storm, Wolverine, Rogue, Kitty Pride, Lilandra, Professor Xavier
and Cyclops who is with Madelyn. The story is narrated by Kitty who alerts the
team about a distress call from a remote industrial site that has since gone
silent. She also detected major explosions. Xavier and Madelyn are moved aboard
the Starjammer with Corsair, Lilandra and Hepzibah as the rest of the team take
the Blackbird to investigate. This is an action-packed adventure that features a
previously unknown type of sentinel that not only tasks the team on the ground
but also the not so safe after all Starjammer. There are some side moments
between Kitty and Rogue and even Lockheed the pet dragon gets in on the act. It
is a fun story and fits well into the history of the team at that time.

“The Sorrow Beneath the Sport” is by Stan Lee & Louise Simonson, art by Walt
Simonson & Bob Wiacek and colored by Andres Mossa. Stan’s story features the
original five X-Men and is plotted and drawn by the couple that brought these
characters back together in the pages of X-FACTOR. It is a simple story about a
little contest among the boys as they race to the danger room. It seems Jean
promised to date the first one to reach the room and so the young mutants are
very enthusiastic about gaining the prize. In a few short pages Stan recaptures
the early excitement of the book and leaves them all with something to think
about at the end.

An untitled prelude to GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1 is by Roy Thomas & Pat Olliffe with
colors by Chris Sotomayor. It is about the first meeting between Banshee and
Sunfire and is written by the second man to ever write the X-Men. The story
takes place in Memphis as both Banshee and Sunfire arrive to do some
sightseeing. They bump into each other exiting the plane and later their cabs
arrive at the same place almost simultaneously. This arouses Sunfire’s suspicion
enough to provoke Sean into letting out a sonic scream. It is a classic set-up
for a conflict of misunderstanding among super heroes who only two days later
will be joining a band of mutants in GIANT-SIZE XMEN.

“Options” is by Len Wein with art by Jorge Molina. Wein, co-creator of
Wolverine, of course wrote GIANT SIZE X-MEN which started the second life for
the title. This story takes place right in the middle of GSXM. It is at a point
in the story when the team is preparing to go to Krakoa to rescue the X-Men.
Cyclops will lead the team that now includes Banshee, Thunderbird, Colossus,
Sunfire, Nightcrawler and Storm. A comment from the professor that they have to
be prepared for anything, including the possibility of having to fight their own
gets Wolverine thinking about just how would he defeat these teammates if he had
to. It is the same theme we have seen Batman consider about the JLA and is fun
reading. I wish I could say the same for the art, which is the weakest of the

“Dreams Brighten” is by Fabian Nicieza with art by Salvador Larroca and color by
David Ocampo. Fabian was the popular X-Men scribe in the 90’s, which included
the famous “X-Cutioner’s Song.” This final entry has decent art but the story is
not as fun. It involves a seemingly ideal scene as Xavier, able to walk, is
addressing a crowd in front of the United Nations with Magneto, Beast and
Wolverine alongside him in civilian garb. It is in the middle of this that
Magnus begins to fall into a death throe and Wolverine apparently is bleeding
out adamantium through his skin. It is Xavier’s doing. I am thoroughly stumped
but it no doubt ties in with the continuity at the time when Nicieza was on the
book. A placard being held among the crowd reads, “Onslaught is coming!” and so
I presume this ties in with that arc. For those not familiar with that story
this seems like an odd inclusion in a volume celebrating the team’s longevity
with mostly upbeat stories.

The end of the book includes previews of AMAZING X-MEN #1 and ALL NEW X-MEN #18
now on sale. As a whole the art is very good, except for the one I noted, and
this issue is a decent tribute to the book that changed the fortunes of Marvel.

Issue Number: 1 (of 4)
Publisher: Dark Horse
Writer: Victor Gischler
Artist: Maurizio Rosenzweig
Inker: Moreno Dinisio
Colors: Moreno Dinisio
Letters: Nate Piekos
Cover Artist: Tim Seeley
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Crime Adventure
Mature – Comics on the Edge

If you like comics that are a bit over the top you would probably go for this
one. Sometimes I like to read comics that are not regular formula super hero,
science fiction, horror, mystery or the usual genres. This one is basically a
comedy around a plot that has four good-looking babes that for various reasons
ended working as sexy clowns in a circus. They have varied backgrounds. Chloe
the blond dream of an acting career that never happened. The buxom redhead Candy
was a hooker who gave it up for a new life. Tina ran away with the circus to
escape an abusive husband and the Asian Aya, well no one really can figure her
out except that she does not like to be touched. They dress very sexy for clowns
and they all can handle themselves in a brawl. They are also not angels taking
to drink and other substances for recreational purposes. So after the characters
are established we get into the main plot. One of the power brokers in the town
the circus is visiting sends a nephew to contact a group working for the circus.
He has heard that this group uses the circus as a cover to work off the books on
criminal endeavors for the right price. The plot twist is that the nephew thinks
the girls are the people he is looking for and offers them fifty thousand
dollars to make a problem go away. So they are put in the situation that their
new friend Wayne wants them to take care of the local drug dealer to prove they
can handle the big job for the big bucks. This is real tempting – a chance to
get away from the circus life. On the other hand the target is also their
personal pot connection. On the third hand the “real” muscle for hire group will
not take likely to the girls horning in on their business. It seems a little
complicated but it is not. The characters are interesting and each have little
quirks that make you smile. The art is decent and definitely done with fan boys
in mind. It is a pleasant diversion worth checking out.

Issue Number: 1 (of 4)
Publisher: BOOM! Studios
Writer: Michael Alan Nelson
Artist: Mariano Navarro
Colors: Gabriel Cassata
Letters: Deron Bennett
Cover Artist: Stephane Roux
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Action/Adventure

One of the staples of the action type comics is black ops groups. This
particular group is in the midst of an operation that involves a plot to set off
a bomb somewhere in Los Angeles. They have learned who might be planning it but
they don’t know where. They have to sneak into a business office to find the
evidence they need and then race to the place where the bomb is and defuse it to
avoid tragedy. The twist on this group is the way they refer to each other. The
man running the operation over their communication devices is only referred to
as dad. Occasionally he mentions that some of the protocols the “children” must
follow came down from the grandparents. Without other information you would
think this is just a convenient set of code names to use. But mixed in with the
action scenes in the present are glimpses of the operatives as children. They
are obviously being trained at a very early age in an extreme fashion. A girl
has to break a code on a computer while holding her breath as the room fills up
with a gas she is told will kill her. A young boy is given two minutes to solve
a puzzle or a puppy will be killed in front of him. We are obviously left to
infer that these operatives where recruited at a very early age and brought up
to work well under extreme pressure. Perhaps they are orphans, hence the title
and the whole code name thing. What they are is very good at what they do. The
clandestine tricks, the skill in battle and escape as well as technical skills
prove to be top notch. Not too much is revealed about the organization or who is
behind it and the story builds to two climaxes and an unexpected cliffhanger.
The art is well composed and moves things along nicely. There is a good mix of
exposition and mystery to keep you interested the whole time. This is a solid
first issue.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: The Day Dawned Twice
Title Arc: Out of the Shadows
Publisher: Image
Creators: Antony Johnston & Christopher Mitten
Writer: Antony Johnston
Artist: Christopher Mitten
Painter: John Rauch
Letters: Thomas Mauer
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Fantasy
Mature – Comics on the Edge

It is often difficult for a new comic based on a world created specifically for
the story to capture a large initial readership. Fantasy comics probably are the
hardest type to accomplish this. They are typically conceived by the creators
with many details about the geography, plot points, and even key characters
slowly revealed over time. The challenge is to immediately engage the readers
with enough characterization in a story that engages their interest enough to
make them want to come back to see the layers peeled off issue after issue. The
trap some writers fall into is being so familiar with the big picture they
forget the reader lacks some of the basic knowledge the writer has. He or she
has to give readers a reason to be interested rather than make them wait several
issues to explain minor things brought up early that are not critical to telling
or spoiling the complete story too soon. Johnston & Mitten are the creators of
the post-apocalyptic series WASTELAND that began in 2006 and is just know
reaching its conclusion. It is clear from the longevity of that comic that
Johnston has a handle on how to build a different universe while telling a
compelling story over time. This story is set in the mythical island realm of
the Kingdom of Fendin. He even includes a map of the nation that identifies all
the major cities and geography of the kingdom. Though it adds little to advance
the story right away it will likely be helpful as he and his characters expose
more of the kingdom to the readers down the road. The main character of the
story is a young girl called Rascal. She is a member of the thieves’ guild and
also a close friend of Prince Arthir. This is a medieval type land where there
are wizards among the guild. While she is not a true wielder of magic she can
cast minor spells. The opening story takes place on the day of an eclipse – the
day it dawns twice.  This is a special day of celebration in the kingdom when
the king and queen appear to the public with the king holding the showing off
the magical staff called the Mordent. It is on this day that Arthir plans to
sneak Rascal into the palace and into the special room where the magical orb
called the Oculus is kept. He will need her magical totem the Mist to get
through the cage it is kept in. But other forces are at work on this day of days
and not only is it missing when they arrive but they discover a murdered servant
indicating evil forces are at work. The plot involves supernatural forces, a
gateway to another dimension and a threat that endangers not just the royal
family but everyone in the kingdom. Having a young girl at the center of the
story emphasizes the overwhelming forces at play and she is a symbol of how
little strength many will have against it. She will need major allies and
perhaps growth in knowledge and courage if she or anyone else can survive. The
art is attractive right from the beginning. It draws you in and then delivers
when the horrific elements of the story are revealed. Johnston succeeds in
giving us a paced plot that gets us involved right away, provides a lot of
action and danger and ends with a splash page cliffhanger that emphasizes the
seriousness of Rascal’s predicament. This is bound to be another long-running
series for Johnston and the time to check it out is now.


If you think you know the answer to the trivia question send your guess via
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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
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will be a $10 credit slip, which will be redeemable for merchandise at regular
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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 is Millie the Model's last name?

Her last name is Collins. The winner by the dice is Gary Katzoff.

What was the occupation of the person who became Concrete?

Here is your no prize question:
What two independent sovereign states have square flags?

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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