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Friday, November 8, 2013

Comic Reviews 11/8/13


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 (of 6)
Title Story: Chapter One
Publisher: DC/Vertigo
Creators: Neil Gaiman, Sam Kieth & Mike Dringenberg
Writer: Neil Gaiman
Artist: J.H. Williams III
Colors: Dave Stewart
Letters: Todd Klein
Cover Artists: J.H. Williams III/Dave McKean
Price (USD): $4.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Supernatural Fantasy
Mature Readers – Comics on the Edge

It has been a long time since I have read PRELUDES AND NOCTURNES, the opening
arc of Neil Gaiman’s epic SANDMAN series.  So much has been said about that
series. It is held up as one of the greatest comic stories of all times with
good reason. It was constructed in rich and deliberate fashion to lead the
reader on a wondrous journey from beginning to end. I wondered how Gaiman could
add to that experience so long after it finished. It has been suggested that
this mini-series is like a gift to the legions of fans of the original. That
does not mean that curious new readers will not enjoy this new comic. It just
means those more familiar with the entire breadth of the original will enjoy it
even more. It does not begin with any central plot. Rather it wanders through
various scenes and realities between the world, other worlds and the dreaming.
The opening scene may even seem odd at first as it is set on a faraway world
with three sentient life forms and it focuses on the intelligent plants and one
in particular. The end of that scene is perhaps a hint of what is to come at the
finish of this chapter. As I said there are changes of scenes and some old
familiar faces appear in them. One of those is the Corinthian who is setting a
plan in motion but it will be interrupted when he is unceremoniously transported
to Dream’s London office in the early 1900s. This series is set prior to the
events in PRELUDES AND NOCTURNES so it is a prelude to the main SANDMAN body of
work, hence the title Overture. We see two other members of the Endless, Destiny
and Death. She has come to her brother for advice and alludes to the opening
scene on that planet far away. We also see interactions between Dream and those
who serve him from his office manager to his librarian. The dialogue serves to
add some characterization and plot points to ponder as Dream is compelled to
journey half a universe away where he will meet the beings at the heart of the
major plot to come. JH Williams III is a good choice to carry the art chores on
this story. There are many changes of scene, each with its own distinct style.
It is amazing how Williams can vary things so much and do each one equally well.
From an alien planet to scenes in black and white with the panels drawn into the
individual teeth of the Corinthian in a two-page spread. The closing major scene
is a double fold out with multiple characters and it is splendid. Williams does
more than compliment the words. He also tells the story through the layout,
depictions and art choices. Those who may have feared a return to this series
after so many years would not live up to the legend can rest those fears. It is
hard to find anything wrong with this book.

Issue Number: 0.1
Title Story: Vision
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Joshua Hale Fialkov
Artists: Mico Suayan, Mirco Pierfederici and Leonard Kirk
Colors: Nolan Woodard
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Cover Artist: Michael Komarck
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

Perhaps the seminal event of the Ultimate Universe is about to take place. The
set up was put in motion in the Marvel 616 Universe as the abuse of time travel
fractured space and time allowing Galactus to pass from the normal Marvel
Universe to the Ultimate Universe. The first interaction with creatures of this
other universe occurred in the mini-series HUNGER and now the main event will
run in the restarted Ultimate titles, X-MEN, SPIDER-MAN AND ULTIMATES. In fact
the subtitle of CATACLYSM is “The Ultimates Last Stand.” Galactus has not
reached Earth yet but he is on the way. This prelude issue is the story of his
encounter with the Ultimate version of The Vision. In the Ultimate Universe the
Vision is a female sentient robot who was created to warn the world of
apocalyptic threats, specifically the world-devouring drone swarm called Gah Lak
Tus. That swarm was previously defeated but as we saw in HUNGER not completely
destroyed. It brief return appearance was enough to set off a reaction inside
Vision and she and her lover Sam Wilson, aka the Falcon, head off to the Bahamas
where Tony Stark and Sue Richards are examining the ashen remains of the Gah Lak
Tus swarm. But it is Vision who is able to interface with the microscopic
remains of sentience and that alerts her to the main threat approaching Earth,
Galactus! Through the mind contact she learns of the history of Galactus in
Universe 616 and the terrible power he holds. If he is not stopped it could mean
the end of the Ultimate Universe. That is the setup of the plot. This story
deals with her confrontation with the situation. Just as importantly it explores
the concept of artificial intelligence. Do androids Dream? Can they feel
emotions? Can they truly love another? Is there a difference between choosing a
course of action because it is the only logical thing to do and doing it because
one is selfless and brave? Rather just give us a “prelude” point one story prior
to the main event Fialkov tells a deeper story with strong characterizations and
meaning. You may not need to read this to follow the events in CATACLYSM but I
highly recommend it as a self-contained story worth reading.

Issue Number: 1 (of 6)
Title Story: Issues of Trust
Publisher: DC
Writer: Sterling Gates
Artists: Philip Tan, Neil Edwards & Javier Pina
Inkers: Jason Paz, Jay Leisten & Javier Pina
Colors: Nathan Eyring, Romulo Fajardo Jr. & Hi-Fi
Letters: Dezi Sienty
Cover Artists: Brett Booth, Mark Irwin & Andrew Dalhouse
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

When the NEW 52 began we first met Steve Trevor as a liaison between the Justice
League and the government. More recently he has been working with Amanda Waller
in ARGUS and helped put together and lead the team that is the Justice League of
America. But the story of how he got mixed in with super heroes goes back six
years ago and it involves Wonder Woman. This comic actually details the first
meeting between Steve Trevor and Wonder Woman. Preserving the old canon he is
flying a search and rescue mission in a jet when the plane is struck by
lightning and he crash lands on Paradise Island. She saves him by pulling him
from the wreckage. This is the first detailing of the incident in the NEW 52 and
it plays on the story title as do other events further in the issue. The
Steve/Diana plot moves forward elsewhere in the issue as the two have become
close. It also reveals how and why ARGUS was formed. But this is primarily a
tie-in to FOREVER EVIL and soon we are back in the present as Steve wakens at
ARGUS headquarters having survived the clash between the Justice Leagues and the
Crime Syndicate when Zatanna teleported him away. Now he is dealing with other
issues – the explosion around Dr. Light’s body that destroyed a building leaving
some still buried in the rubble and the compromising of the identities of every
ARGUS agent around the world. Most of those agents have been hunted down and
killed by the Society of Evil. Steve is torn between helping out at HQ and
hunting down the Secret Society to help the Leagues. But his priorities are
changed when communications are partially restored and he learns of a major
threat at the White House.  Too bad he is going to miss the big event back at
ARGUS HQ shortly after he leaves. Sterling Gates has given us a fast-paced story
that really shines a bright light on Steve Trevor and the mission of ARGUS. It
exists not only to deal with the super human allies of the government but also
to be America’s second line of defense should the heroes fail. Well that has
happened in FOREVER EVIL but ARGUS is devastated. Can Trevor still make a
difference somehow?  Perhaps that is the basis of the mini-series. I was
surprised that there are three artists and three inkers but the do a pretty
decent job keeping things interesting visually. I have a feeling this series
will have more importance to the event going on than some of the other off shoot
series. Especially when you consider the final splash page cliff hanger.  I
suggest you might want to get this one if not some of the others.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: With Mercy for the Greedy
Title Arc: The Arms of the Octopus
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Mike Costa
Artist: Michael Dialynas
Colors: Rachelle Rosenberg
Letters: Cory Petit
Cover Artist: Alexander Lozano
Price (USD): $4.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

team-up with the major characters of those three titles and surprisingly it is a
very entertaining crossover. It began as the time-displaced X-Men, minus Angel
who has gone off with the older Cyclops’ X-Men, are relaxing in New York City,
if that is possible, when they are attacked by a gamma-irradiated young Doctor
Octopus. This draws the attention of the Superior Spider-man whom we all know is
actually Otto Octavius in the body of Peter Parker. Together they defeated the
young Doc Oc. Since they need an expert in Gamma Rays they call in Bruce Banner
to help and then are attacked by the Abomination. After defeating him as well
they discover both are actually robots built by Hank McCoy’s former professor,
Dr. Jude. As the second chapter ended Dr. Jude managed to explode the helicopter
carrying the X-Men and Spider-Man. Meanwhile Hank McCoy has been back at Jude’s
lab with a young student of Jude’s trying to figure out what his end game is.
During the course of the story they all discover that Jude is generating gamma
rays and can use it to give himself super-human strength or create explosions by
super heating the air around him. Spider-man and the X-Men need to track him
down and contain him until Banner and McCoy can figure out a way to counter his
powers and capture Jude. As I said this is surprisingly entertaining. The
teaming of Banner and McCoy makes perfect sense and actually provides some
humorous moments as at one point Banner is so wrapped up in solving Jude’s
journal he does not even realize he is walking around naked having just
transformed back from being the Hulk. The other surprise is the attitude of
Otto/Spider-Man. In most of his stories he has had the superior attitude and
snarkiness of Dr. Octopus but in this story he takes on the role of mentor to
the very inexperienced X-Men and is even complimentary to them as he recognizes
there ability and innate intelligence. There is even a touching moment between
the young Scott and Dr. Banner when Scott seeks the answer to a logical
question. If there is a flaw here it is the art. It is not as polished as the
other two chapters of the story. Dialynas has a more ragged line style that is
less appealing but still carries the story forward with good execution of all
the basics otherwise. This whole series is a worthwhile effort and a fun story.
You can actually read this part without losing much of the plot. If you are a
Superior Spider-Man fan you may be put off by the seeming change in his attitude
but I wouldn’t let that stop you from getting this comic.

Issue Number: One-Shot
Title Story: Thor: Crown of Fools
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Bryan J.L. Glass
Artist: Andrea DiVito
Colors: Laura Villari
Letters: Joe Sabino
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Mythical Super Hero

As usual when one of their movies is about to debut Marvel puts out extra comics
featuring the movie characters. In this case it is Thor. The lead story is about
a quest about to be undertaken by the Lady Sif and the Warriors three. An
unnatural flocking of birds is occurring in Asgard and the innocent are in need
of protection by our heroes. As the birds start to leave Lady Sif urges the
others to join her in following them to the source of their enchantment. Thor at
first forbids the quest but since Odin has not ruled on it he cannot stop them
and so reluctantly joins them. They meet other enchanted animals along the way
that also attack and eventually arrive at a castle in a newly opened crevasse, a
fortress with no record of existing. It turns out the magic taking place not
only effects animals but also people as one by one the companions see visions of
their heart’s desire and turn on Thor who is not swayed so easily. But in the
end even he is tempted by a vision. It turns out there is another in the castle
who is using an ancient object of magical power. To save the day Thor will have
to resist the spell and somehow free his companions from its grip.  This is an
adequate story. It is not bad for new readers who may have a new interest in the
character after seeing the latest movie. It is not great drama and wraps up
nicely in the end. Likewise the art is adequate, the characters are well defined
and the coloring is sharp but the script does not call for much background as
most of the action takes place in an empty castle. Fans looking for more depth
of story and art will be disappointed.

Back up story: “Whatever Happened to Balder the Brave?” by Walt Simonson, John
Workman Jr. and Christie Scheele with remastered coloring by Steve Oliff. This
is a reprint from an old THOR issue that is not credited. It is from the Jim
Shooter era at Marvel during Simonson’s run on the title. Further research
reveals it to be the first appearance of Malekith the Dark Elf in Thor #344 in
1984. This story was chosen because it is Malekith who plays a big role in THOR
– THE DARK WORLD, now showing at a theater near you. I find it odd that this
back up story is not highlighted on the cover of the comic to draw more
potential readers to it. The basic plot occurs at a time when Balder has passed
from the realm and is living in Nornkeep, the fortress of the Norn Queen,
Karnilla. Odin has discovered a dark secret and summons Balder from his self-
imposed exile to carry a message to none other than Loki, the person responsible
for Balder’s death. So dire is the message Odin believes even Loki will believe
Balder, known for his honesty. There is danger afoot that will affect the nine
realms and Balder will have to brave many dangers if he even wants to reach
Loki. But he has been changed since his death and has vowed never to harm
another having foresworn all violence. If he can get through many perils while
keeping this pledge he will find the very danger foretold by Odin right at the
side of Loki, the Dark Elf Malekith. The story plays out and has a few surprises
before a tragic ending. But this is an issue of Thor and so the sub plot in this
case has Thor at a time when he has taken a new human identity as construction
worker Sigurd Jarlsun. He has been keeping company with Melodi, whom is actually
Lorelei in a human guise. This is one of those issues where the lead character
spends less time in his own comic that the other characters. It is interesting
to take a look back to this comic from nearly thirty years ago. The main story
holds up well but the Thor subplot will may be confusing to new readers and of
course that plot is only three pages because it continued in the next issue in
1984. Still Simonson did a good job with the title and this inclusion makes the
comic worth the price.

Issue Number: 3
Publisher: Image
Cover Artist: Alice Duke
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Anthology

This unusual comic has a lot going for it. It is the third annual anthology
collecting and showcasing new work from top industry professionals, favorite
independent comic creators and the winners of the Thought Bubble Comic Art
Competition from 2012 held at the Leeds Comic Art Festival, the United Kingdom’s
largest comic book convention. The contributing artists donated their
submissions free of charge and all profits from the sale go to Barnado
Children’s Charity. The Arts Council of England, Image Comics, Travelling Man
and Comicraft put it all together in a double-sized format, similar to a tabloid
newspaper in size. You get thirty two separate comic creations in this large
format for only $3.99 and the money made goes to a worthy cause. That in itself
is worthy of you time and money. That many entries are too numerous to review or
even list but in this volume you will find work from Jeffrey Brown, Richard
Starkings, Carlos Ezquerra, Fabio Moon, Gabriel Ba and many more. The opening
strip is a Judge Dredd/Elephantmen crossover written by Richard Starkings with
art by Boo Cook. It has Judge Dredd and Judge Anderson chasing after Hip Flask
who for some reason is himself dressed as a Judge with full uniform and
motorcycle. The puzzle is the characters exist a century apart so what is going
on? One of the cleverest comics I have ever read is “One Night in Comicopolis”
by Cameron Stewart. It follows a lady dressed in black and a wide-brimmed hat
who crosses the border carrying a “caption box” and is chased. The clever part
is that the dialogue and editorial comments are all related to the comic craft
and its conventional fundamentals. For example as she crosses the border the
visual has her stepping across from one panel to the other and her “variant
cover” worked perfectly. But soon a “thought bubble” chases after her. At one
point a character looking very much like Andy Capp sees the thought bubble
passing by and exclaims, “Hey, what’s the big idea?” while our heroine tries to
slow down the bubble by literally throwing “insults” at it. In the end it is the
caption box she has been carrying that will change everything. This is a fun
strip, well-constructed and perfectly executed. The two page “Rain Falling Like
Hammers” by Oliver Redding and Lee Barnett is a tale of an impending world
ending event and the reaction of one couple as it approaches. The art is
different but attractive to me and the ending is dramatic. The one page entry by
Nicholas Gurewitch is one explanation as to what caused the continental drift –
it is worth a chuckle. The first place winner in the 18+ category is called
“Believe in Yourself” by David Parkinson. It is the story of a small girl
attempting to shoot a basketball while the big and tall older boys continue
laughing at her. In a clever twist she uses their words, literally, to enable
herself to perform beyond all expectations. It is clever and the art is
spectacular. As I said, there is too much here to review in depth. Just the ones
I have mentioned make it worth your time and money. I guarantee you won’t be
disappointed with this comic.


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

"E-MAIL" was the letter section of "E-MAN" (First comics). The winner by the
dice is Mike Dooley.

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

In 1620 the Plymouth Colony established the first water supply system in New

In the original Valiant Universe the last line of the UNITY SAGA refers to what
other familiar work of fiction?

Here is your no prize question:
What does the word MODEM stand for?

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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