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Friday, January 17, 2014

Comic Reviews 1/17/14


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 4) (Retailer Preview)
Publisher: Image/Joe’s Comics
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artist: Sid Kotian
Colors: Bill Farmer
Letters: Troy Peteri
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: Feb 5, 2014
Genre: Horror

I received a couple of retailer advanced copies this week. This is the first,
the latest offering from J. Michael Straczynski’s company Joe’s Comics. The Al
in the title is Allison Carter. She is a private investigator specializing in
preventing end of the world events. This is a family tradition handed down from
generation to generation through the male heirs. Since she is the only child she
is the first female with the responsibility. It seems these kind of situations
pop up more often than you would expect. She gets the assignments from an
unknown organization called The Committee. They are delivered to her by an ex-
cop who is now a zombie and when she is successful her payment is left at the
same drop, paid in gold pieces. How a zombie gets around the city unnoticed by
others is a stretch. You may have seen the opening scene in a preview prior to
this. It is used to introduce the character and the type of work she does. The
main plot of this first issue involves a man who has gotten his hand on the Book
of Keys. Zombie Mike explains that this guy is not very good at finding the key
he really wants to use, the one that opens the doorway to Hell. So he is using
the keys one by one until he finds it. Once he does it means, you guessed it,
the end of the world. When Allison needs some help she goes to her friend Max
who lives under a bridge just west of Pasadena. Max is a prophet but he is also
quite insane. If she can get him to focus he might give her enough information
to know where to start. The only trouble is when she finally arrives her target
has already used the key to the doorway to dreams and nightmares. No one is
immune to its effects and soon Al is swept into her own worst nightmare. She
will have to figure a way out of it to get back to reality. This is a good first
issue. It has established the premise, introduced the main character and shown
us a lot about her motivations and lifestyle. The supporting characters are
interesting and add a bit of comedy. In fact there is a light touch of humor
throughout the book making it fun to read. It also ends on a sinister note as
Allison is brought to see an important business man in the dead of night only to
confront an even worse nightmare. The black and white art in the preview is good
enough to stand on its own. It highlights the skill of Sid Kotian to provide
detail and excellent composition. An example of the finished color on the cover
is a good indication that the actual product will be just as good. I like the
spirited adventurer with a sense of humor and her own real life problems and
regrets. They add to her character without being overbearing. This looks like a
fun comic that is sure to please. Check it out in the first week of February.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Blue Juice Comics
Creator: Tim Yates
Co-Writer: Lelan Estes
Layout Artist: Adam Miller
Price (USD): $1.99 (First issue $3.99)
Release Date: March 26, 2014
Genre: Fantasy

This second preview is for a comic coming out in March. You can read the
solicitation in the current Previews or go online to
The story is set in a mythical world not unlike our own in the time when pirates
ravaged the sea lanes. It starts with the story of Ariana, a young girl who lost
her parents to the sea and now the man looking after her is leaving her behind
as well. He leaves her a medallion that he claims is a key to something lost. He
is trusting it to her for when he returns. Over the years he has told her tales
of the pirate queen, Anne Bonnie. Those tales were a comfort to her. But we
learn at the beginning that the long dead pirate queen is not revered with all
the town folk. Some hope she will return and rid them of the curse of the
pirates now operating freely off their coast. Others feel the mere mention of
the name is a curse. Ariana may discover which version is correct one day as we
shift to a time when she is much older and has finally found the place to use
that secret key. Whether that is a blessing or a curse remains to be seen. This
is a much shorter preview that the first comic I reviewed. There may be scenes
omitted here and there or this may truly be the first ten pages of the actual
comic. The inference from the cover and other graphics I am getting is that
Ariana will become the new pirate queen. Right now that is speculation. The
setup is good and the sampling of the art is an indication of the talent of the
creator. He has developed this world of his in a few pages and the art really
shine from the pencils right to the finished color. So far it is interesting and
is just good enough to make me want to read the first issue when it comes out. I
suggest you check it out in late March.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Image
Creator: Bob Fingerman
Price (USD): $3.50
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Slice of Life/Semi-Biographical
MATURE – Comics on the Edge

MINIMUM WAGE was a series done in the nineties by cartoonist Bob Fingerman. If
you like what you see in this follow up series you can get the original in a
large collected volume called MAXIMUM MINIMUM WAGE also published by Image. In
fact it was the collected edition that started the ball rolling for Bob to
revisit the series where he left off. I have labelled this semi-biographical
because I am not sure how much Bob has added to actual events in his life. Be
that as it may, if you like stories of things that happen to people in real life
you should enjoy it. At the end of the last series 22-year-old Bob married
Sylvia Fanucci in 1997. As the story picks up in 2000 Bob is now estranged from
Sylvia with the divorce pending. Circumstances have caused him to move back in
with his mom as he works at his craft and earns money drawing comic strips for
porn magazines. This first issue is broken up into a few minor plots. It opens
with Bob and his friends going out clubbing highlighting the awkwardness of the
singles scene for Bob who has been out of it for three years. There is another
segment at his job which is also an enlightening insider’s look of the thoughts
on the future of that industry a decade ago in light of the increasing use of
the internet. The other main segment has Bob finally taking the plunge, after
much prodding from others, into online dating. As you might expect there is
disappointment after disappointment until something finally clicks. Like many
comics of this genre it is not a laugh-out-loud funny although there are some
very comical moments, just as there are in real life. You get the feeling that
the events ring true and the people in Bob’s life are as varied as those in our
own. He has a way with the inner dialogue that make things very readable and
holds your interest. His style is much like that you might see in something out
of Mad Magazine. The people are realistic enough with a slight exaggeration of
the female anatomy from time to time. It is a three color format, black and
white with a third grey tone. It is an excellent example of the genre. If you
are into it you should enjoy this one.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Raison D’Etre
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Nathan Edmondson
Artist: Phil Noto
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Mercenary Hero

Natasha Romanov is an ex-KGB assassin who is now an Avenger and agent of
S.H.I.E.L.D. Like a couple of other popular Marvel series right now this title
attempts to show the rest of her life – what she does on her own time. Natasha
has an agent/lawyer that helps provide her with work for hire. The proceeds of
those jobs are then funneled to a trust that aids worthy causes. It is her way
of atoning for past misdeeds. It is not something she does for maximum profit,
despite the protests from her man Isaiah. She is a fascinating character when
handled right and so far Nathan Edmondson gets it. There are two separate action
sequences in this issue that highlight her brilliance in tactics and efficiency
in combat, both hand to hand and remote. She is also a well-trained spy and uses
the skills of disguise and subterfuge to attain her goal. What makes it more
special for the reader is that those goals are not always spelled out ahead of
time and so as we watch her in action we are thinking one thing while the end
result is entirely not what we expected. It is a good mix of thriller action and
a close look at the real nature of the woman behind it all. Phil Noto’s art is
distinctive. He is constantly shifting the POV perspective while continuing the
flow of the story. The only negative I have is that his coloring is a bit muted.
I prefer things more vibrant but that is a personal issue. This is a very
readable series that relies more on the character than on some global danger
facing a super hero. I liked it and I think you will too.

Issue Number: Alpha
Title Story: Tramp the Dirt Down
Publisher: Marvel
Writers: Andy Lanning & Alan Cowsill
Artist: Rich Elson
Colors: Antonio Fabela
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Cover Artist: Mark Brooks
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

This is an eight-issue mini-series that brings the Marvel UK heroes to the
forefront. The bookends are the Alpha and Omega chapters and in between each
issue highlights a particular character. As the introduction and set up for the
plot this first issue gets things rolling. It seems an old organization defeated
by Britain’s heroes, Mys-Tech, has left behind a lot of artifacts and MI-13 did
not have the manpower to make them all safe. So in stepped the Europe Division
of S.H.I.E.L.D. to form the group to handle it all. Captain Britain has already
been working with them and as the story begins he has brought Pete Wisdom into
the fold as Nick Fury gives them the sit rep. The old Mys-Tech bases are
becoming active. Mys-Tech is basically a cabal dating back to the first century.
They sold their souls to Mephisto for immortality. The bargain had them
dispatching souls to hell over the centuries. Now they want to be free of
Mephisto. They have amassed mystical and alien artifacts and even created super-
powered beings in their attempts to break his hold. Eventually they brokered a
deal to be rid of the pact. All they had to do was sacrifice the entire
population of Great Britain. All of this history including the final battle and
the defection of some of the evil super powered beings to the other side is
background for what is to come. It presumably happened in past Marvel UK comics.
It matters not as the recap is enough to get the gist of things. Now all that
remains is to utilize all the assets of Mi-13 and S.H.I.E.L.D. to stop Mys-Tech
from making the world burn.  I must admit there is a large cast of characters in
this one and most will not be familiar to the casual US comic reader. The main
thread of the plot is clear and the action is frequent. I think if the middle
chapters focus on a few characters at a time it will flow better. The art is up
to snuff though. I give this one an okay for now.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Peter David
Artist: Carmine Di Giandomenico
Colors: Lee Loughridge
Letters: Cory Petit
Cover Artists: Kris Anka & Jared Fletcher
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

I have said in many reviews in the past that X-FACTOR, due to the writing by
Peter David, was the best of the X-books on the racks. For whatever reason that
series ended but Peter David has continued on with an “all-new” cast of
characters so naturally I am on board with it. X-Factor is no longer a mutant
detective agency but a corporate super hero team. Serval Industries is a company
that deals in weapons manufacture, Internet search engines and other things to
pay the bills. But they claim their main business is helping people. That is
where their very own super hero group comes in. They bought the naming rights
for their team from Jamie Madrox and hired Loran Dane, aka Polaris, to fill the
roster. She has researched them thoroughly and is satisfied their intentions are
legitimate. This first issue serves to introduce the main characters at Serval
and recruit the first members for the team. In this first issue those first
recruits will be Gambit and Quicksilver. Later, as you can see from the cover
the other two original members will join as well. You may not recognize them so
I won’t give it away except to say they are former members of the New Mutants.
They will show up later in the series. For now the three core members have their
first assignment – rescue a mutant from a mad doctor who is doing some kind of
research for A.I.M. As in the past the best thing about this book is Peter
David. That is not to say the art is bad. In fact it is quite good. But the
characterization and banter, the subtle sub plots and the thread of humor
throughout makes his scripts a delight to read. A good example of this is the
opening sequence that features a cameo appearance by Wolverine. It serves to set
up the circumstances that lead Remy to Lorna in the first place. It will be
interesting to see how the full team gets together and what kind of situations
Peter will put them in. Even from this first issue you have to wonder if Serval
and its CEO are really that altruistic. It is a doubt that Remy has and will no
doubt be an underlying thread for a long time. However the story winds I will be
there to follow it. I urge you to give it a try and see for yourself.


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 Silver Age Annual from Marvel?

According to Overstreet the first annual was STRANGE TALES ANNUAL #1. MILLIE THE
MODEL came out around the same time but there is controversy over which was
first.  The winner by the dice is Keith Martin.

These are the first lines of what comic book character:

"No! No! Take the fish away! Take them away! They'll kill me!"

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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