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Friday, March 7, 2014

Comic Reviews 3/7/14


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 Arc: The Fall of the Fantastic Four
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: James Robinson
Artist: Leonard Kirk
Inker: Karl Kesel
Colors: Jesus Aburtov
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super hero

This is the latest mainstream title to get restarted with a new first issue.
James Robinson starts off with a provocative story title and posits in the first
few pages that the "Fall of the Fantastic Four" is exactly what will happen. It
begins with Sue Storm writing to Franklin and Val, apparently in a diary, about
what has happened to bring this about. She just touches on where the members are
at right now, rather than what happened. Reed is seemingly incapable of the
scientific genius he is noted for, Ben is imprisoned for murder, Johnny is lost
in self-indulgence and Sue herself feels alone and heartbroken. That little look
is meant to brace us for what is to come. Going back to the beginning it seems
like business as usual. The team is busy trying to take down Fin Fang Foom once
again and this battle sequence shows that they are still a fine-tuned team with
years of experience. Everyone pulls their weight and Reed's master plan is
intricate but flawless. But there is a slight hint at the end that this attack
may be more than it seems. The individual scenes of their personal time do not
seem to indicate anything too out of normal. Reed and Sue struggle with family
life due to the fact that Val is off in Latveria and they are not of one mind
what to do about it. Ben is about to suggest a major change in his relationship
with Alicia and Johnny has a decision to make about his stage career that will
affect his team duties. Most of this is just a day in the life in Marvel's First
Family. But the last few pages set up the event that will signal it as the last
day of true happiness. It is an interesting beginning and Robinson has the
scripting skills to bring things to a boil gradually over time to make it well-
paced. Likewise Leonard Kirk is a master of his art and Kesel's colors really
make his artwork shine. This is a good first issue and a perfect jump on point
for anyone who wants to give Marvel's flagship title another try.

Issue Number: 1
Story Title: Glorious Basterd
Publisher: Image
Writer: Fabrice Sapolsky
Artist: Ariel Olivetti
Bonus Art: Jean Marie Minguez
Letters: The Wolfpack
Price (USD): $3.50
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Crime Drama
MATURE - Comics on the Edge

Right off the bat I must say that this comic really stretches credibility in
plotting. The premise is that Richie Reese was a one-time child star who did a
lot of commercials. Now he is a hit man. Okay, that is not a stretch. But the
opening scene sets up circumstances that just don't follow on logically. He is
on a TV show talking to a doctor, apparently a psychiatrist, as if in therapy.
Anyway, the discussion is about how his fame as a child was like a drug and when
it was gone it left him begging for more. When the doctor asks him how he got
over it Richie says he will show him. He then proceeds to pull out a gun and
shoot the doctor with the cameras rolling. Now the very next page is 24 hours
later with our hit man relaxing at his pool with two bimbos and talking on the
phone with his "agent" - that is the guy who lines up the hits. So, this well-
known celebrity kills someone with lots of witnesses in front of TV cameras and
just walks away and goes home? The point is that his home's location is a secret
and just for laughs it is a famous place. But if you are a hit man you generally
do not kill people in public or at least expose yourself in this way. But that
is what he did and is already on his next case. So the rest of the book shows
how he hunts down his prey. She gives him the slip but he reacquires her at a
night club and he even gets surrounded by the FBI in the parking lot. I guess we
are supposed to be thrilled by the fact that he actually manages to distract the
feds and get the girl into a car and drive away. All along the way during the
issue he has flashbacks to things he experienced as a child as they relate to
his current situation. While he does have some skills he also makes several
mistakes - too many to still be in business, or alive for that matter. In fact
the first issue ends with the result of another mistake, or carelessness. I
can't figure out if this guy is supposed to be a caricature or if Fabrice really
thinks this is a cool character. I didn't like him or hate him. I just don't
enjoy the character or the writing. The art is passable but it doesn't do enough
to save the mediocre story. I would pass on this one if I were you.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Image
Writer: Jonathan Ross
Artist: Ian Churchill
Colors: Arif Prianto with Ian Churchill
Letters: Richard Starkings & Jimmy Betancourt
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Horror
MATURE - Comics on the Edge

If anyone probably deserves to get revenge it is Griffin Franks. He is seventy
two and is about to betrayed by his trophy wife. He has had an up and down
career in Hollywood for decades. He did movies and a couple of TV series. Along
the way one movie in 1975 was called the REVENGER, about a vigilante type anti-
hero. He had his ups and downs until the Revenger returned in a big hit in 2014.
He is finally back in the limelight but it appears it will be short lived. The
studio is reviving Revenger as a franchise but plans to replace the character
with a bastard son in the next picture. Franks has to face the fact they don't
want a senior citizen action hero. But Candy, his current wife has an idea how
he can recapture his youth. A plastic surgeon she knows about south of the
border can make him look 15 to 20 years younger. She finally persuades him but
it is all part of her plan to replace him with her younger lover and gain his
recently renewed fortune while getting around their pre-nuptial agreement. There
is more than just greed motivating her but this is all leading up to a more deep
seated need for revenge as the series progresses. You'll note I list this as a
horror comic. The ultimate plan plays out through the comic as we see the build
up to it in flashback. The special doctor has rather unorthodox methods that
ensure that if Griffin somehow manages to survive he will indeed be a changed
man. The visuals of the process are rather gruesome and Churchill masterfully
blends them into transitions to an earlier time pertinent to the story. The art
is very detailed and brilliantly colored. There is a lot here to take in both in
the script and the art. It has action, horror, sex and strong emotion. If you
like the genre it is very well done.

Issue Number: 1 (of 5)
Publisher: Dark Horse
Creators: Nic Nicola, Tommy Lee Edwards, Noah Smith & Dan McDaid
Writer: Tommy Lee Edwards & Noah Smith
Artist: Dan McDaid
Colors: Melissa Edwards
Letters: John Workman
Cover Artist: Tommy Lee Edwards
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction
MATURE - Comics on the Edge

So, there is a logical explanation for the name of the title. Once you read the
book you will get it. I will give you half of it - the "droid" part stands for
android. The Vandroid takes up most of the second half of the story. The first
half is pretty much how it came to be. The story is about two guys whose
particular talents and fortunes bring them back together to fulfill their life
dreams. Taylor Grey is working on an artificial intelligence project that is
about to have breakthrough when the team realizes the AI is sucking data and
power from everything it is connected to. They eventually shut it down but not
without serious damage to equipment and personnel. While it was a disaster
Taylor still sees the value this can have eventually, especially for military
applications. But his bosses don't see it that way so on his own he contacts an
old friend. Chuck Carducci was at the top of his game in the mid-1970s. He was a
top mechanic and was known across the country for his custom van designs. This
brought his fame and fortune but he fell into the trap many do and indulged in
drugs. When the van craze died his fortunes turned in the other direction. He is
now a has-been eking out a living and trying to shake bad habits. When Taylor
contacts Chuck it will begin the process that will result in the merger of their
talents and the creation of something they dreamed about but also didn't expect.
The story explores the usual aspect of artificial intelligence trying to find
its purpose in the world. There is more to Taylor's plans than we have yet seen.
Is the Vandroid a modern day Frankenstein or something else? It is not a bad
concept though some of the plotting is a little cheesy. The art is adequate for
the job it has to do. There are some shocking moments and once things get
rolling along it gets intriguing. It is not a bad first issue and leaves you
with curiosity about what comes next.

Issue Number: 1-Shot
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Writer: Ed Brisson
Artist: Emilio Laiso
Colors: Michael Garland
Letters: Ed Dukeshire
Cover Artist: Greg Smallwood
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction

With the Robocop movie out Boom has put more titles on the rack to capitalize on
the publicity. This one-shot appealed to me because it explores the idea of how
the technology was developed that resulted in the urban policeman cyborg. The
beta version of Robocop had its beginnings in the war zone in this alternate
world of the not too distant future. The military is already using ED-208s and
Ed-209s in its ongoing conflict in Iran. A team from Omnicorp is there for
support and one event presents them the opportunity to move forward with a plan
they have been working on. The story begins with the death of one soldier,
Joshua Duncan, from a bullet to the head. As Dr. Dennett North explains to
Joshua as he wakens they managed to save him but he is different now. The head
wound left him with some memory loss and as we see most of his body has been
replaced with robotic parts. Omnicorp already has the hope of introducing
cyborgs as law enforcement in the states and this has given them the opportunity
to test out the hardware with a cyborg soldier. They will have to overcome the
objections of the local commander but they have some leverage to use. What they
don't know is what is going on in the mind of Joshua Duncan. He is having
recurring visions of an event involving his squad raiding a house and
terrorizing a family they believe are hiding weapons for their fight against the
Americans. It haunts him that the family was eventually slain, all the time
denying any such activity. This event will play a large part in the plot moving
forward. While the first trial by combat of the new cyborg is successful it also
raises new concerns as the commanding general finds out that this new cyborg was
once one of his privates. We can see both the external conflict between Omnicorp
and the military and the internal conflict within Duncan's mind do not bode well
for the outcome of this story. What I like about this story is the concept of a
prototype trial of the technology. I also like the art as it is clean and
detailed. It supports the plot nicely. And props to my old friend Ed Dukeshire
for continual success with his very professional lettering. The only problem I
have with the story is the beginning. In the original ROBOCOP McMurphy was so
damaged from injuries that parts of him were replaced out of necessity to save
his life and mobility. In this situation we are talking about a single shot to
the head. Why use the near death of this soldier as an excuse to replace
everything except his head? It just stretches credibility a bit too much. The
resolution of the plot is acceptable though and as a whole it is an entertaining
book for anyone who wants to read a self-contained Robocop story.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Dark Horse
Writers: Aaron Warner & Phillip Gelatt
Artist: Brett Weldele
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction
MATURE - Comics on the Edge

The first thing I noticed about this comic book is that artist Brett Weldele has
a style very similar to that of Ty Templeton, one of my favorites. He uses sharp
pencils, minimal details and uses color and shading to provide the atmosphere
required. That part of it is appealing to me. The story at first is a bit
confusing. That is because we find a group of young people aboard some sort of
orbiting spacecraft with no explanation as to who they are or even if they
belong here. What we do see is the group turning against one of their own, oddly
enough the only one of them in a coat and tie. He is apologizing for what has
happened, claiming he did not know it would. To what is he referring?  Is it the
problem with steering the craft or even the fact that they are in space at all? 
We get from bits of dialogue they are all a group of Vitros, whatever that
means. My guess from further reading is they might be genetically enhanced
humans with superior skills and intelligence. Anyway they isolate Hyde in a
locked chamber and get on with the job of assessing their situation, which is
not good. The station is old and running on autopilot but eventually they will
have problems. The life support systems is not adequate to sustain them
indefinitely or for a very long time. Oxygen and food will run out and there is
no way of generating electricity for the long term either. It is through the
process we get the idea that they are trapped here and need to figure out how to
get back to Earth in a craft never designed for that purpose. As one of them
takes control of the situation it is only ten hours into their presence here
when a routine burn of the main thrusters meant to keep the craft in orbit
instead turns it toward a decaying orbit. They will burn up in the atmosphere if
they don't correct this. The first issue of this story concentrates on this
first immediate task and how they draw on the skills of the individuals to try
to save the group. There are of course other concerns here that are only touched
on. Why did they end up in this craft? Why has it been sabotaged and by whom? Is
this an elaborate trap to get rid of them all? Aside from the dialogue there is
narrative comment from the start by one of the group, Herman Toulane. While the
main action is playing out he provides us with a personal commentary on what the
group is all about and how his life circumstances and choices brought him here.
At a critical point in the plot he will become the key player among them to
ensure their survival, even if it is temporary. That fact and its outcome poses
a literary dilemma that I can't reveal as it spoils the plot. These are
interesting characters and as I said I particularly like the art. I think this
one is well worth anyone's time and money.


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 animated TV show are some of the characters in DR. CYBORG patterned after?
In DR. CYBORG the characters are based on JOHNNY QUEST.

What company published PETE THE P.O.'ed POSTAL WORKER?

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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