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Friday, March 21, 2014

Comic Reviews 3/21/14


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
Title Story: Descent
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Dennis Hopeless
Artist: Kev Walker
Colors: Jean-Francois Beaulieu
Letters: Joe Caramagna
Cover Artist: Francesco Mattina
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

If you were a fan of AVENGERS ARENA you will want to get this comic. In that
series Arcade kidnapped 16 super-powered teens from around the world and trapped
them in an underground arena for a month. The idea was to force them to fight in
a death match until only one was left standing. That didn't really work out as
he planned it though indeed some of the teens met their death in the ordeal. A
group of the teens that survived promised each other that they would not reveal
to the public what went on in Murder World but Arcade had other plans. He
disappeared when the teens were liberated and three months later began streaming
videos on the internet of the battles that went on. Now a group of the survivors
have to deal with the events they endured being exposed. So far 2.5 billion
people have viewed the videos on YouTube. This title begins with the various
teens coping with the publicity and the aftermath in their own way. The opening
scene shows Hazmat, no longer needing to wear a protective suit, dealing with a
particularly obnoxious boy mouthing off about how she was the worst one of the
group in the videos. She has tried to blend in as a normal teen for the first
time in her life but he pushes her too far when she overhears the trash talk.
The whole conversation among the other teens begins with a conversation about
Chase who has decided to cash in on the unexpected celebrity status by giving
interviews on TV, against the pact they had formed. This first issue deals with
Hazmat, Chase, Nico, Deathlocket, Cammi, Anachronism and Bloodstone as they come
together eventually for a common cause. Deathlocket has been at a S.H.I.E.L.D.
base getting an arm replacement but it seems her nanites have taken control and
turned it into a weapon. Cammi has been with her mom in Anchorage, Alaska for
the first time in two years. Her mother thought her dead all that time but the
revelation she was alive brought her hope that her daughter would come home and
live with her. Cammi has other plans right now. The farthest gone of the group
is Bloodstone. He is on a vendetta against Arcade seeking out his known
addresses and blowing them up, hoping to eventually get the evil mastermind.
Aiden, Anachronism, is his friend and has summoned the rest to Bloodstone's
house to reveal to them what he has been up to. His last transmission was the
supposed home of Baron Zemo's Masters of Evil. Aiden fears the worst and wants
the others to help him find Bloodstone. This series follows logically from the
events in AVENGERS ARENA. Each one of the characters have been coping with
various stages of PTSD and more than one want revenge on Arcade. But they will
all come together to help their own and so the main plot begins. This is a
different kind of super hero story and is multi-layered as was the previous
series. There is good characterization and the art is fantastic. You do not have
to worry about jumping on at this point. The cover hints that one of these teens
will become a villain, adding another plot element to ponder. They are really
not Avengers but that never stopped Marvel from using the title to generate
interest. It is definitely worth a try.

Issue Number: 1
Title Arc: Higher, Further, Faster, More.
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Kelly Sue DeConnick
Artist: David Lopez
Colors: Lee Loughridge
Letters: Joe Caramagna
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

When this series was restarted the last time I gave it a try but was not that
enthused with the direction it was going. Now Marvel has given Captain Marvel a
new first issue and I decided to see what warranted the change. Some of the
supporting characters and plot are new to me jumping on at this point but that
is not a problem in following the story. It begins with Carol leading a team of
adventurers on a far off planet. They are seeking out something at a market on
this planet and are also being hunted by the Spartax Secret Police. It seems at
first that we have joined the story in mid-plot but after the splash we go back
six weeks to see how it all began. Carol is actually living in a secret home in
the crown of the Statue of Liberty. As we look in on her she is baby-sitting the
daughter of her friend Tracy. She is also in a relationship with James Rhodes,
aka War Machine. They have just intercepted a capsule plummeting to Earth and to
their surprise there is an alien female in it. Later Iron Man comes to see Carol
to update on the girl's status and reveal he has a plan to keep an Avengers
presence in outer space. The first task would be to find out where the rest of
this particular species have settled after the destruction of their planet by
the Builders. This is a not so subtle attempt to get Carol to take on the first
shift, recognizing that she needs a little time away from Earth. Before she can
accept she will have to have a heart-to-heart with Rhodey about their
relationship, where it is at and where it is heading. I found this story
refreshing and enjoyable. The supporting cast is varied and the element of the
love interest is handled well. But it seems she will be leaving all that behind
for the time being as evidenced by the opening scene so far away. There is not
much revealed in the outer space plot yet, but that will follow rapidly. The
Captain Marvel character has a pleasant personality and Kelly Sue inserts a
little humor in just the right places. The art is top notch as well. For a first
issue it hits all the right buttons. I suggest it is worth your time.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Writer: Fred Van Lente
Artist: Cory Smith
Colors: Mauricio Wallace
Letters: Marshall Dillon
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction - Super Hero

Dynamite is bringing back the Gold Key characters it has the rights to with a
new debut each month. Last month was the TUROK series and this month it is
MAGNUS ROBOT FIGHTER. In the next two months they will issue SOLAR MAN OF THE
ATOM and DOCTOR SPEKTOR. Rather than do new stories of the characters as they
have been depicted in the past they are retooling them as all new series. I was
not that impressed with TUROK but I still am curious about the rest and so
picked up this title to check it out. Russell Magnus is a social studies teacher
and martial arts coach in the elementary school in a small town somewhere in the
Northwest. He has a wife who is expecting their child. He loves his life here
but has doubts about his place in the world - as if no one else is aware of life
outside this happy town. The other thing we notice is that there are an
abundance of robots around, to aid in all kinds of tasks. The common thread
seems to be the AI that is ever present on video screens who acts as town
administrator and a personal mentor to Magnus. This is the new version of 1A,
rather than the old versions that always depicted him as a robot. This idyllic
life will suddenly come to a halt as the town is attacked by Pol-Progs
announcing that 1A has violated the Third Code of Humanities. We infer that this
indeed was a hidden civilization but the authorities of the North Am Synod have
finally discovered it. Before we can witness what fate awaits 1A and Magnus'
wife Moira the scene shifts as Magnus is transported, teleported perhaps, to a
cell of sorts in a large city. 1A's parting words are that robots and humans can
live together in harmony, as they did in Maury's Peak, but Magnus will have to
fight for it, once he saves himself. This is the set up for the series in the
first half of the book. The second half has our hero in more familiar garb
wandering the city trying to decide what to do next while taking in the wonders
of a metropolis far advanced in technology than what he is accustomed to. He is
a wanted man here, not just another citizen as in past series. And wait until
you get a look at the current version of Leeja! This one starts off a lot better
than TUROK in my opinion. Though it is retooled quite a bit it is still setting
the groundwork for why Magnus is indeed a robot hunter. It will be interesting
to see where things go from here. A strong contributor to the overall story is
the art. The opening scenes in Maury's Peak are purposely colored in two tone.
It is only the story as it takes place in the North Am city that is fully
colored. Looking back it gives me the feeling that we have not seen the full
truth about the quiet little town. Perhaps it was all a sham to begin with. It
is an interesting start and a much better handling of the character who has been
around for a long time. I am curious to see where it goes from here.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Dark Horse
Writer: Steve Niles
Artist: Damien Worm
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Horror
Mature - Comics on the Edge

The subtitle of this comic is "The Secret History of Jack the Ripper and
Frankenstein's Monster" so you know right up front who the main players will be.
In fact Jack does not appear in the first issue until the very last panel. This
issue focuses on Frankenstein's monster. It tells of his fate after the death of
his wife and his creator. He should have died too at the end but he didn't. So
he wandered in the frozen north seeking his purpose or place in the world. A
series of events guide him on his path. First as he neared civilization he
happened on a Russian sailor who attacked him and forfeited his life and his
jacket for the effort. The monster happened on the Norwegian ship waiting for
the Russian and was taken on as laborer by its captain. Once the ship was loaded
the monster spent his time below deck and it was not until they made port that
the captain revealed his ultimate plan for the monster's services. The captain
had surmised that the monster had killed the Russian and coerced it to get rid
of a man in this port that owed the captain money. It is this act and the
aftermath that will eventually set the monster out on his own once again and
eventually have a fateful meeting with Jack the Ripper. I am thinking the plot
will get a bit more interesting in the next issue. This first issue is mostly
the set up for the series so we can understand the state of mind of
Frankenstein's monster. We are left to ponder what kind of relationship it will
have with a killer. Will Jack sympathize with him or maybe try to use him as
well?  We don't know at this point. The art is painted and is very dark. It is
meant to set a mood but I think gives up some clarity in the process. Still it
is an interesting concept that could be growing into a better story. It will
take more issues to see if that happens.

Issue Number: 1-SHOT
Originally published in DARK HORSE PRESENTS #26-#29
Publisher: Dark Horse
Writer: Steve Niles
Artist: Menton3
Letters: Nate Piekos
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Horror
MATURE - Comics on the Edge

I am a regular reader of DARK HORSE PRESENTS. It is a decent anthology that has
more good material than bad month after month. I find that some of the
serialized stories read better once they are collected and this is the case with
NOSFERATU WARS. Like MONSTER & MADMAN this is another Steve Niles horror story
with fully painted art, this time by Menton3, an usual name for an artist.
He/she/it (I can't be sure) does a better job with giving the story the right
mood without sacrificing the right amount of detail. This is a story of a pair
of vampires and takes place during the time of the Black Death in Europe. With
so many focused on the plague and the feared supernatural causes of that they
have had free reign to feed without detection. However, this story is about how
these female and male vampires made a couple of decisions on a whim that will
seriously impact their status quo. The first occurs when they seek directions
from a doctor they meet about a castle where they hope to find their next
victims. As they leave the local priest has the doctor seized and burned at the
stake for consorting with demons. Still focused on their mission it is only the
screams of the burning doctor that makes Moira plead to Tarquin that they pay a
visit to the hypocritical clergyman. This will draw the attention of other
vampires who do not want to raise the visibility of their kind in this way.
Later at the castle they carry out their plan but this time it is Tarquin who
alters their course on a whim, that will delay their departure just enough to
forever change their destiny. At first you think this is the gist of the story,
that putting their bloodlust aside for moralistic or romantic notions will be
their ultimate undoing. However, the last few pages prove that Niles had yet
another much unexpected fate in mind. Seriously, there is no way you can guess
how this story will end even if you think you have read every possible vampire
story. This is one of Niles better stories that does indeed read better as a
collected one-shot. He even leaves enough at the end to possibly return to these
characters again. This one is worth it for fans of the genre.

Issue Number: 1-SHOT
Publisher: Dark Horse
Writer: Evan Dorkin
Artist: Jill Thompson
Letters: Jason Arthur
Price (USD): $3.50
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Fantasy
Mature - Comics on the Edge

I was unaware that there are other stories of these characters prior to this
one-shot. After reading this issue I am tempted to seek out BEASTS OF BURDEN:
ANIMAL RITES the graphic novel that precedes this issue. It is set in the sleepy
town of Burden Hill that harbors dark and sinister secrets. The heroes are a
bunch of dogs and one cat who are dedicated to protecting the town from the
forces of evil. The story is told from the animal's perspective who all
communicate with each other as if human, like the terrific comic currently out
ROVER RED CHARLIE. After some introductory exposition we get right into the main
plot. The gang has gotten wind of a creature of some sort terrorizing the area
and set up a plan to trap it. It involves one of them acting as bait to get the
creature to show itself. Rex is the one who acts as the lure and when the
creature attacks he leads it on a predetermined path through the woods. As the
chase continues others take over for him, each one taking their turn so no one
tires too much until they spring the trap. It turns out that this particular
beast is known as a Windslither, a semi-spectral demon not seen in this area
before. It presence will actually aid the rats and crows who are allied together
under someone call The Master we have yet to see. While the heroes spread the
word that the town is free from this particular threat there is danger on the
horizon, presumably coming in a future chapter of the story. This comic has
everything it needs to be very entertaining. The impeccable artwork of Jill
Thompson is a pleasure to see. The story has likable characters set in a story
that has adventure, mystery, horror and humor on every page. Seek it out on the
racks. You won't be disappointed.


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:
Here is one about a character that recently made his debut in NEW 52. The
question is in what comic did Alexander Luthor ORIGINALLY make his first

Alexander made his NEW 52 debut in FOREVER EVIL #6 but the character, the son of
Lex Luthor, made his first appearance in DC COMICS PRESENTS ANNUAL #1 in 1982.
The winner by the dice is Jim Woodruff.

John Jakes is a western and Civil War novels writer. Michael Moorcock is a
fantasy writer. James Cawthorn is a comic book artist. What comic book character
do they have in common?

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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