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Friday, May 30, 2014

Comic Reviews 5/30/14


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: Original Graphic Novel
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Mike Carey
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Colors: Justin Ponsor w/Matt Mills, Jeromy Cox and Guru-Efx
Letters: Cory Petit
Price (USD): $24.99 Hard Cover
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

It is noteworthy and surprising that this book is the first X-Men original
graphic novel since X-MEN: GOD LOVES, MAN KILLS. It just seems odd to me that
there hasn't been a story worthy of this distinct presentation in all that time.
This story follows regular continuity set in THE UNCANNY X-MEN and ALL-NEW X-MEN
shortly after the "Battle of the Atom" storyline. The X-Men have split into two
groups. Half are fugitives led by Cyclops and the rest live at the Jean Grey
School for Higher Learning with Wolverine and Storm as Headmasters. The original
X-Men had travelled from the past to this time and are now stuck with no way
back. After first living at the Jean Grey School they are now living with
Cyclop's group. Recently the young Scott Summers went off into space with the
Starjammers to reconnect with his father. That is where we find ourselves as the
story begins. The title of the book is intriguing as it evokes memories of
another major storyline from the past when the Scarlett Witch uttered three
words, "no more mutants" and impacted the Marvel Universe for a long time. As
you might guess the major plot point of this story is a world in which all of
the humans have disappeared. The opening scene reveals who is behind this major
event and it is someone the X-Men recently fought. He is a part of the Evil
Brotherhood from the future and claims to be the son of Mystique and Wolverine.
He is the shapeshifter Raze. But rather than go through the mechanics of how
this is done the scene shifts to the Jean Grey School as a jumbo jet is falling
out of the sky right at the main building. How the team goes into action and
avoids a disaster is clever and visually exciting. But more importantly this
event is how the group finds out something is wrong. There is no one on board
the flight at all. The psychic Rachel realizes it at first and Cerebra confirms
it. There are no longer any humans, that is to say non-mutants, anywhere on the
planet! To verify this first hand a team teleports to New York City and indeed
they see the results of people suddenly vanished - cars crashed and belongings
left everywhere but not a soul anywhere. The only conclusion is that seven
billion people have been kidnapped or worse. But who could do such a thing and
why? That is the same question Cyclops and his group are pondering as they also
appear in NYC after checking out other major cities on the planet. Naturally
there is distrust between the groups. But even Cyclops or Magneto who both
advocate a strong pro-mutant agenda could not stoop to creating a world with
just mutants on it. When the older Beast detects the presence of a single human
in Southern New Mexico several of the group take off to what most believe could
be a trap. The story moves forward with a rapid pace. Raze has stolen technology
that not only allowed him to bring about the new status quo but also he begins
opening doorways to alternate dimensions. His plan is to repopulate the Earth
with more mutants by bringing those oppressed beings from other Earths to a new
home here where he of course will lead them. But he also realizes the good-guy
mutants will be an impediment to his master plan and so he is building forces to
take them out in the place and time of his choosing. This book includes 108
story pages so there are subplots involved in the larger story. Naturally the
heroes want to get things back to normal if they can. If that is possible there
is the problem of restoring all the people to the places they were when they
vanished but then millions of them would die. Imagine a plane full of people
suddenly back at 35,000 feet but the plane has long since crashed. Multiply that
by thousands and then think of similar scenarios. While Magneto originally comes
down on the side of the X-Men isn't a world populated by only Homo-Superiors
something he would embrace? One important point of view is expressed by the
older Hank McCoy over the tactics they are forced to use at one point as well as
the coda to the story at its end. Except for Mystique the Brotherhood Raze has
assembled are all other Earth counterparts of the mutants of this Earth.
Ironically one in particular will be the key to resolving the story in the end
and that is someone too good to reveal in this review. Carey does a great job
utilizing a large cast of characters. He takes time to showcase the talents of
many of them. Sometime it is integral to the furtherance of the plot and other
times it is just a small part of a large battle. He manages to hold our interest
from page to page with the right amount of pacing all the way. Larroca, Ponsor
et al present a visual masterpiece worthy of the platform that a hard cover
novel can display. The only negative I found with this book is the additional
material included in the back. There are five pages showing the script, finished
pencils and then the final colored page from different parts of the novel. I am
not a fan of this though I realize some people enjoy it. I don't mind the
creator bios either. But then there are six pages of ads for other Marvel
products. Really? Is that necessary in a premium product?  Aside from that the
work is still worth the price and I urge everyone to get it.

Title: MPH
Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Image
Creators: Millar & Fegredo
Writer: Mark Millar
Artist: Duncan Fegredo
Colors & Letters: Peter Doherty
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction

This super speed story is by A-list writer Mark Millar. It has the premise that
there is a drug that will give someone super speed once they take it. It begins
back almost thirty years with the very first person to gain super speed. In his
case he lost control and passed through several states before the MPH wore off
and he stopped. In his case he was interrogated and then locked up by the
military in solitary confinement. It is not apparent that they ever found out
what it was that he took or where he got it. But he reappears at the end of the
issue ready to tell his story. The main part of the story is about what is
happening right now and catalogues the appearance of the second super speedster
and how that came to be. It is the story of a small time player in one of the
drug gangs in Detroit. Roscoe has aspirations to save enough to leave for
California but soon finds himself in prison for fifteen years or more. It is
here he will be introduced to a previously unseen drug called MPH and from that
point on his whole life will change. It is interesting how the two situations
are contrasted. In the first Mr. Springfield could not control his speed. In
Roscoe's case the effect is profoundly different. He is in complete control. In
fact while the drug is in effect it is as if the rest of the world has nearly
stopped in time. He can move around the people who appear frozen in time,
spilled papers suspended in mid-air and so forth. Now if you were a criminal
with no hope for the immediate future in such a situation what would you do? The
set up promises some interesting developments. While we are still in the dark as
to where the drug came from that may be cleared up by the next issue. Will
Roscoe go on a one-man crime spree or take the opportunity to make a fresh start
far away?  I am interested enough to see where it goes. The art is very
enjoyable as well. I usually enjoy Millar's comics and this one is no exception.

Issue Number: 1-SHOT
Title Story: Black Dawn
Publisher: DC
Writer: Peter J. Tomasi
Artist: Scot Eaton
Inkers: Jaime Mendoza & Scott Hanna
Colors: Hi-Fi
Letters: Travis Lanham
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

This book, like several others, came out before the delayed finale of FOREVER
EVIL but it is not necessary to read how it ended to follow this story. During
the chaos of that major event the criminals of Arkham and other major prisons
for super villains were broken out and in Gotham Bane took control of the city
with his army of bad guys of all types. The Talons are part of his alliance. The
situation has gotten to the point where Gotham is isolated and the police are
all but helpless to stop Bane and his minions from doing whatever they want. But
the story is not all about anything goes. In fact Bane is swift to punish those
who decide they can do anything they want to exploit the situation. It is clear
from the start that with the Crime Syndicate finally defeated Batman will return
to his city and Tomasi takes things slowly to introduce the Caped Crusader back
into the mix at the proper time for maximum effect. Without actually showing
Batman until nearly half way through the story we see but and pieces of things
that indicate he is already at work. As the first half gradually builds up to it
the second half is almost entirely the battle between Batman and Bane. Unless DC
was planning a major twist in Batman continuity you can guess how it will end.
Rather than put this story in the continuity of one of the regular titles it
stands alone to wrap up the aftermath, at least the major point, for Gotham
City. There is a lot of action that is ably handled by the art team and the
ending is a satisfying conclusion. There may be stories in other titles dealing
with other heroes and what they return to after the FOREVER EVIL story. This one
actually deserved a one-shot showcase.

Title: V-WARS
Issue Number: 1
Title Story: The Shot Heard Round the World
Publisher: IDW
Writer: Jonathan Maberry
Artist: Alan Robinson
Colors: Jay Fotos
Letters: Robbie Robbins
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Horror

One of the Free Comic Book Day offerings from IDW this year was V-Wars #0. If
this series takes off and becomes a huge hit that free comic will surely become
a collector's item. The events there precede this first issue explaining the
events that led to a world-wide epidemic of vampires. However, this is slightly
different than your normal vampire apocalypse story. The explanation is that
melting Arctic Ice released a long trapped virus. (So I guess Global
Warming/Climate Change is the ultimate villain of the piece!) The difference is
that this virus does not infect people with vampirism. Rather it triggers
dormant genes in some people - junk DNA carried for generations. The story draws
on vampire myths and lore from around the world explaining that not all with the
dormant gene will become vampire ala Dracula. There are variations in the
vampire types and they exhibit different characteristics. Though as the
transformations increase they all seem to exhibit the same insatiable hunger, at
least the violent ones do. The protagonist of the story is Doctor Luther Swann
who is an expert on the subject. While not all the humans who have transformed
are violent there are many humans with the attitude of killing them all and let
God sort it out. It is a parallel to the familiar mutant stories in Marvel
comics. Swann has been embedded with a file strike team in San Diego to research
the phenomenon and provide information to the government. The story in this
first issue opens right after Swann returned home only to find his own daughter
had been infected. It only firmed his resolve to help lessen the conflict
through understanding between humans and the self-named bloods. He has the ear
of the Speaker of the House of the US Congress who is also seeking a peaceful
solution to the conflict that grows daily not only here but around the world.
There are those on both sides of the conflict though that do not want peaceful
coexistence and one such faction will take things to a new level with "The Shot
Heard Round the World as the story title implies. The key element in this first
chapter occurs when Swann is isolated from the strike team by someone who knows
a great deal about what is going on behind the scenes and makes the effort to
warn Swann about it. So this is really a political intrigue story set in the
background of a war that nobody wanted and does not appear to have a solution.
It is not just a battle of the month between vampires and humans with the reader
not sure who the good guys really are. The art is adequate though not as
appealing to me as it could be but it gets the job done. This is more
interesting than I thought it would be. Is it the next WALKING DEAD? Only time
will tell.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Creator: Max Bemis
Writer: Max Bemis
Artist: Ransom Getty
Colors: Chris Blythe
Letters: Ed Dukeshire
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Political Thriller

At first I wasn't sure how to categorize this comic. It opens with a scene
twenty five years from now in a dystopian future. It shows a man in wheel chair
in Los Angeles being attacked and beaten by some local thugs when a Good
Samaritan comes to his rescue only to be set upon by what now passes as the
authorities. The editorial text heavily implies that this was brought about not
by some plot device used in science fiction movies but by the citizens of the
country. With that as the setup we go back to the present time to witness the
events that will lead up to this future police state. It is told from the
perspective of an underground rapper named Reese and a candidate for president
of the United States. The story is going to show us how modern society gradually
devolved into that evil empire. There is some really good dialogue that deals
with politics in general. Reese tends to rap against the system advocating for
radical change to the usual politicians. The two contenders during this election
year seem to be examples of more of the same. Imagine her surprise when one of
them, the younger Sam Duggins, pulls some strings to visit her backstage after a
gig. While it seems he may be courting her endorsement she quickly points out
that while she loathes his opponent, the middle-aged Republican Ken-doll Laramy,
she views Duggins as the opposite side of the same coin. Their meeting is
interrupted by some tragic news about his opponent and when she is later being
interviewed by MTV about that incident Duggins once again appears. It is at this
point that he sounds less of a candidate by urging those who are listening to
not just vote for someone because he or she fits the generalized demographic
they are placed in. There may be a spark of interest between the rapper and the
politician. At this point it seems this could evolve into an unlikely love story
given time and the right circumstances. But it is a deeper story though it is
not yet clear how anything we see in this first issue is the start of major
changes towards that evil empire. As the story closes there is a shocking
revelation from the Republican Laramy that actually may be the catalyst we have
been looking for all along. While the story is interesting and has some things
to say that ring true we are still waiting for the plot to get to the point. The
characters are unique and interact in believable fashion. The art is decent with
very nice use of panel layouts and backgrounds. It is a good effort that could
blossom into a thrilling story if we give it enough time.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: IDW
Creator/Writer: John Raffo
Artist: Nelson Blake II
Colors: Dave McCaig
Letters: Troy Peteri
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction

This is the first comic book story from John Raffo whose credits include THE
RELIC and THE INTERPRETER. It is set on a far off world, the Earth colony
Helios. The main character is Daniel Cray a native of Earth who had been part of
the U.N. peacekeeping force during the rebellion. When those forces left the
planet he missed his ride back and now works as a security guard on tankers
crossing the western dessert. It is that job that will get him thrown into the
middle of a power struggle between a local warlord named Kavanaugh and the
hidden city of Zenzion, a hidden city many to believe to be a myth. It is during
a routine tanker run that Cray and his clients are set upon by androids
attempting to steal their fuel. The battle serves to show us Cray's abilities as
a fighter and swordsman. But an unfortunate result of the battle leaves all but
Cray and one injured companion alone with no means of transportation across the
cruel sands. But rather than meeting their fate the two are swept up by riders
on horses and taken to the hidden city of Zenzion. There he is viewed as a
potential spy for the Warlord Kavanaugh. The leaders of the city know that
Kavanaugh wants their resources and a base near the southern settlements. He is
brought before the council of elders to explain his situation. Whether they
believe he is a spy or not will soon matter little as the compound is about to
be invaded by the actual minions of Kavanaugh there to deliver an ultimatum.
There may be many among the citizens who hate or distrust Cray, but he may be
their only hope. I really liked the art on this story. It is clean and detailed
with terrific coloring. The hero is likable in that he is impelled to do the
right thing despite the forces against him. Even though this conflict is really
none of his concerned he is in the middle of it and will take the right side
because honor demands it. The addition of cyborgs and androids as opponents make
it seem all the more strange that his weapon of choice is the bushido sword of
the Samurai. So far it is an interesting story and you should give it a try.


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:

"The Story of You-Know-Who" was the subtitle of a one-shot about who?

The who in the title was Arseface, from the series PREACHER. The winner by the
dice is Erin O'Conner.

Here was your no prize question:
Who is the only person to win an Academy Award "Oscar" whose first name is

Oscar Hammerstein II won two Oscars for the lyrics of winning songs. In 1941 he
won for "The Last Time I Saw Paris" from Lady Be Good and in 1945 he won again
for "It Might As Well Be Spring" from State Fair.


With the latest X-Men movie just out I decided to go to the source material for
this week's question. DAYS OF FUTURE PAST ran for two issues of THE UNCANNY X-
MEN in 1981. The second half of the story was titled "Mind Out of Time!" - Or
was it? How did the previous issue actually promote the closing chapter of this
now classic story?

Here is your no prize question:

The song "The Power of Love" was nominated for an Oscar for best original song
in which film?

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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