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Friday, May 9, 2014

Comic Reviews 5/9/14

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
Publisher: Image
Writer: J. Michael Straczynski
Artist: Sid Kotian
Colors: Bill Farmer
Letters: Troy Peteri
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Supernatural/fantasy

This is the latest in the series of JOE'S Comics from J. Michael Straczynski. It
takes place in the Dreamscape which in this imagination is more than just the
subconscious constructs of individuals. There is a hierarchy of individuals in
the Dreamscape categorized by their functions. There are the Dream Police
officers, Architects, Changelings, Nightmares, Echoes and Wisps. The focus of
the series is on the Dream Police and in this case one particular officer, Lt.
Joe Thursday. If that sounds vaguely familiar you just have to read a few panels
to know he is modelled after Joe Friday of Dragnet and JMS admits the series is
influenced by the hard-nosed detective as well as other sixties cop shows like
Adam 12, Burke's Law, Mannix and Honey West. His partner is Frank Stafford and
they help keep the Dreamscape a place where people come expecting a good time be
that reliving their past, imagining their future or just escaping reality. There
are rules here to make sure dreamers have a good time and when those rules are
broken, either by dreamers or the regular citizens of the Dreamscape, Joe and
Frank go into action. When someone is about to have a dream the architects get
busy constructing the scene for it to happen. If the dream goes awry it is up to
Frank and Joe to set things straight. For example in one dream a man is seeking
guilt-easement but the Changeling assigned to represent his cat is feigning
death after the man accidently dropped a couch he was moving. This is against
the rules for a Changeling who essentially rewriting the story to suit his own
whim. Frank of course knows this and convinces the kitty that he will either be
demoted to a Wisp, a fate that lasts a thousand years, or if it gets worse the
Nightmares will show up. The Nightmares are interesting as they are depicted as
men in black suits with a cane and a top hat. Their faces are partially covered
in a white mask. The worst that can happen to a dreamer or errant Dreamscape
denizen is for a Nightmare to remove his mask. Part of the issue explains the
various things that go on here - how dreams work and how the detectives perceive
the people in it. In dual panels we see things as dreamers see it and in the
next as the detectives see it. Even the diner where they eat is constantly
changing which has a random vista generator. One minute they may be eating steak
and eggs but as various dreamers wander in and out they may eating Chinese, or
Mexican or even some exotic alien cuisine. The featured plot for the first issue
involves one of their toughest situations to deal with - a vivid dreamer. He
realizes he is having a dream, therefore he can't be hurt and decides he can do
anything he wants, like start shooting people. Now a dream death is not for real
but the trauma to the dreamer may be so frightening it may cause a heart attack
in the real world. You get the drift. While the Dream police cannot be killed
they still feel the pain if injured and are under strict rules as to how to
handle things. This situation gets so out of hand it naturally brings out the
Nightmares. There is a lot of ground covered in this first issue though there
are still other aspects of this world to be explored - not the least of which is
the drastic transformation of Joe's partner Frank at the end of the issue -
something that apparently Joe does not even notice. This is one of the better
comics from JOE'S COMICS in my opinion. It has some interesting concepts, fun
dialogue and humor and a touch of mystery to keep us baffled. The artwork
supports the story very well. I found to be very entertaining and want to see
more of it.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Here Was a Man
Publisher: Image
Creators: Aaron & Latour
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Jason Latour
Colors: Rico Renzi
Letters: Jared K. Fletcher
Price (USD): $3.50
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Action/Adventure
MATURE - Comics on the Edge

I often pick up first issues from the mature readers section of the racks
because in most cases they explore themes you won't see in the mainstream comics
that are just variations on a theme themselves. Often they are too violent or
use language not used in comics meant for the general public, or at least pre-
teens. This comic is about Earl Tubb who is returning to his boyhood home
decades after he left. His father passed away some forty years before and his
uncle had been living in the family house until he recently was put in a home to
live out his final days. Earl was not one to stay in the small Alabama town or
even come back to visit. He has moved on with his life. His daddy was a famous
figure in the town. He was the local sheriff who gained some notoriety when he
fought off a bunch of local gangsters with a keepsake autographed baseball bat.
That was long ago and now Earl has finally come back to clean out the old
homestead and put to bed the last vestige of his ties to a place he no longer
cares about. But as you might guess early on it may not be so easy to do that.
Even just having a meal at the local BBQ joint becomes a hassle as an old
classmate, Dusty, recognizes Earl and after some polite conversation advises
Earl to get out of the county as fast as he can. It seems the town has its own
form of justice now. Everyone answers to the Boss and the actual law is
ineffective. When Earl gets caught up with Dusty's problems by being in the
wrong place at the wrong time he may have a hard time cutting ties with the town
as fast as he expected. While the story uses the stereotype of the backward town
run by strongmen and half-witted henchmen it still comes across as a decent
story. The focus is more on Earl, his remembrances of the past and his
determination to finish things he set out to do. He is portrayed as a good guy
that can't stand by when something bad is happening and that will get him into a
lot of trouble. Jason Latour does a great job depicting the action and the mood
in every scene. This was a surprise to me as I was not expecting something
deeper than the title suggested. You might want to check it out.

Issue Number: 0
Publisher: DC
Writers: Brian Azzarello, Jeff Lemire, Dan Jurgens & Keith Giffen
Artists: Ethan Van Sciver, Patrick Zircher, Aaron Lopestri, Art Thibert, Dan
Jurgens, Mark Irwin, Jesus Merino & Dan Green
Colors: Hi-Fi
Letters: Carlos Mangual
Cover Artist: Ryan Sook
Price (USD): FREE!
Release Date: FREE COMIC BOOK DAY - May 3
Genre: Super Hero

This free comic is the precursor to the weekly NEW 52 series beginning this
week. Since there are multiple writers and artists for the series they are all
credited. You may still be able to pick up a copy left over from Free Comic Book
Day if you missed it. The FUTURES END story will take place five years into the
future but the set up for the series is thirty five years in the future. This is
the time in which Terry McGinnis is the active Batman under the guidance of a
much older Bruce Wayne. This series will be the official introduction of Batman
Beyond into the NEW 52 continuity, although the start of the story does not
correlate with the ongoing BATMAN BEYOND UNIVERSE continuity from the comics. It
is a very bleak future with all of mankind on the run from Brother Eye. Even the
hope that the world's super heroes can put an end to it is fading fast. As you
will see on page after page most of the heroes have already been "assimilated".
Brother Eye plans to wipe out all humans but in a counter-intuitive strategy we
see the heroes he has already defeated are now part machine - they have robotic
lower bodies for the most part. There is a lot of conflict and failure in this
fight page after page of it. One by one the heroes are falling - either being
evaporated or falling down babbling ones and zeros as they are assimilated.
While the main force attacks a certain installation to disable Brother Eye's
satellite communications Bruce and Terry need enough time to power up a time
travel device. The plan is to go back before Brother Eye was ever created and
stop it from happening. If this sounds familiar it is. It is not the first plot
in comics with a horrific future can only be fixed by a time traveler. But can
Terry fix it? What will it take?  There is a major glitch in the plan as this
prequel ends that changes the whole plan. But don't worry, if you miss this
issue the first issue will catch you up on the problem real quick. The fun part
is that this is a weekly series so there will be a lot of stuff happening in it
over the next year. This will effect a lot of characters over that time. What is
most interesting is that the story takes place five years from now so it will
also introduce things that are about to happen in current time and show how
those things impacted people five years from now. I really like these kinds of
stories and the array of talent on it ensures a quality product. If you can't
find a copy of this zero issue be sure to pick up #1 this week.

Issue Number:  1 (Cyan)
Publisher: DC/Vertigo
Cover Artist: Jared K. Fletcher
Price (USD): $7.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Anthology
MATURE - Comics on the Edge

This new anthology from Vertigo will come out every three months. The unifying
theme is CMYK standing for the four colors that are the building blocks for all
comics - Cyan, Magenta, Yellow and Black. Each issue will feature one of those
colors on the cover and as a jump-off point for the stories within. It could be
a mood, a plot point, an emotion, a coloring point and so on. It is up to the
creators how they use it. As I have said in the past I find most anthologies
have some good, some bad and some ugly within the pages. Here are my impressions
of this first volume of the series that uses cyan/blue as its theme.

The opening piece is "Serial Artist" by Shaun Simon with art by Tony Akins and
colors by Andrew Dalhouse. This is one of the better stories in the volume. It
involves Mike who inherited the family business, a funeral home. Business has
not been good enough to meet the expenses and he and his girlfriend Liz agreed
on a plan to add to the bottom line. Liz is the one who finds aging people who
are near their end and helps hasten it along. But Liz is an artist at heart and
begins committing murder and staging the corpses in artistic statement. This
will begin a downward spiral that will end their relationship if not their
freedom. The use of blue in this case is very clever. It is a well-thought out
plot and has strong support from the art team.

In a more humorous sci-fi piece Joe Keating and Ken Garing present "918" in
mostly blue hues and backgrounds. The story is set on a space station that
consists of various pods connected to the main structure. Each pod has a unique
number assigned. Alix is one of the denizens here and admits to a friendly alien
at the bar that his life has been a mess of drug abuse and failed relationships.
His new friend promises him the trip of his life. All Alix has to do is swallow
a blue capsule and then go to a room, number 918. The pill will make him want to
do freaky stuff and he will find a lot of it in that room. But he never actually
says the number, it is written on a piece of paper. The twist of the story is
what happens to Alix when he mistakenly goes to room 816. It is a clever bit and
is visually nice.

One of the better drawn and colored stories is "So Blue" by Amy Chu with art by
Alitha Martinez and colors by Tom Chu. It explores the world of music
celebrities. Aging six-time Grammy winner Ava is attending the relocated opening
of the Motown Museum sometime in the future. But most of the attention at the
event is being drawn to rising star Milly. The whole plot revolves around Ava's
resentment over her fading popularity. The thing that finally makes her snap is
the announcement that Milly will be doing a cover of Ava's classic song, "So
Blue." It doesn't take long to manipulate things that set her plan in motion. By
the end you can see it coming but it is clever and fun to read.

The other story I liked more than the rest is "Madame Bluebeard" by Robert Rodi
with art by Javi Fernandez and Jose Villarrubia. The art on this one is a bit
crude in the line-work though the composition is decent. The story is one
reminiscent of old horror comics, at least in how it ends. The basic plot
follows rising movie star Milano Tanner. At this point in time it is a career
killer to be a homosexual and Milano's agent advises him so. Milano's lover has
a solution - he needs a beard, a hot female that will act in public as his love
interest to throw the media off the scent. And so the arrangements are made for
him to be seen with Celeste Azzurro. At first it seems she does it not only for
the money but to bathe in the publicity. But in the end we find her true reason.
The final scene will have you flipping back to the beginning as it brings the
true perspective to the dialogue that starts the whole story.

There are other stories that range from mildly interesting to somewhat
disappointing. "Blue Sundae" involves an ice cream truck driver that captures a
monster in his vehicle and does not know what to do next. There is an attempt at
a twist ending that I found a flop. More of flop is Fabio Moon's piece at the
end of the volume. It is about two men who apparently make high-end vases for
art shows. The gallery is sold so they have to shut down their business and
figure out what to do next. The End. HUH? There are three more piece along
science fictions themes that are properly written but lack a major punch I feel.
Still I feel the book is a worthy effort and there is enough good material to
justify the price. Your opinion may vary.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Lucky to Be Alive
Publisher: Marvel
Creators: Lee and Ditko
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Humberto Ramos
Inker: Victor Olazaba
Colors: Edgar Delgado
Cover Artist: Ramos + variants
Price (USD): $5.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

This comic is probably the most anticipated issue this week. Fans who have
turned away from reading Spider-Man titles ever since Doctor Octopus took over
Peter's body are coming back now. However, if you hoped to see how or why Peter
finally came back from the dead and got his own body back you missed it. That
happened in SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN #30 and Peter first swung back into action in
the series finale, issue #31. You may have to settle for a second printing of
those issues if you want to read the actual transition. This new beginning, at
least of the title, starts with a brief flashback to the lab incident that
started web-head's career. However, Slott has added a future plot point. Before
the spider that bit Peter dies it also bites a female in the crowd on her foot.
It is just something to set up a future story. The main point of this issue is
to get Peter back into action and have him begin to realize some of the problems
he will face due to Otto's actions over the months he was in control. It begins
with Spider-Man back to his own self fighting off a group of bad guys called the
Menagerie. During the course of the battle one of the villains, Gypsy Moth, uses
her power to shred Peter's costume. He manages to land a knockout punch but is
left au natural except for his face mask. This is key to a plot point later in
the book. Among the things Peter is facing is the mess to his reputation. On the
plus side he now has a degree and his own corporation. To the delight of many,
including his aunt May, he has a presser to announce Parker Industries has
severed all ties to Spider-Man. On the down side he will have to correct some
flaws in Otto's robot designs to make them commercially viable in order to save
the company. Slott tries to touch a lot of bases here, especially for new
readers. J. Jonah Jameson has left the office of mayor in disgrace. The public
in general is beginning to change their attitude about Spider-Man as he is back
to his old wise-cracking self. Even the employees of Parker Industries notice a
change in their boss. But the toughest problem is about to rear its head in the
form of Otto-as-Peter's girlfriend, Anna Maria Marconi. She is about to lay a
bombshell on Peter. The main story is twenty two pages but there is also a lot
of filler for those extra two bucks. Dan Slott and Christo Gage provide two
short pieces centering on supporting villains to set up plots for the future.
Electro tries to regain former glory and finds that all is still not right with
his powers. This will end with a vow to get back at Spider-Man (Otto was in
charge) for those experiments he did on Electro. In a similar story Felicia
Hardy, AKA the Black Cat, had a run in with Octo-Spider. He of course viewed her
as a minor criminal and just knocked her out and left her webbed up for the
police. Now Felicia feels betrayed by her friend and former lover and she too
vows revenge. There is a cute cartoon-style three-pager on how Spider-Man's
powers and gadgets work written by Joe Caramagna and drawn nicely by Chris
Eliopoulos. Up to this point the comic would have been a bargain at $4.99. But
there is more. The powers that be decided to promo other Spider-Man related
titles in this issue as well so we get a brief look at the new series starring
Spider-Man 2099 by Peter David, Will Sliney and Antonio Fabela. Another segment
follows Peter as he attempts to catch up on what is happening with the Kaine,
the Scarlett Spider. The brief story explains to non-readers what has been up
with Kaine and directs us to follow him in THE NEW WARRIORS. Finally Dan Slott
and Ramon Perez give us a preview into their companion mini-series "Learning to
Crawl" that begins in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 1.1 It will be the secret history of
Spider-Man beginning from the start in untold stories happening in the first few
months after Peter was bitten. But wait... there's more! Marvel also included the
entire first issue of INHUMAN in the back of this book. Frankly it is obvious
why they would but I prefer such gimmicks not be used to clutter up an unrelated
title. Other than that, this is a must have issue for true fans of Spider-Man.
It is also an expensive "first" issue for anyone who is drawn into the comics
from the new AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2 movie that purely by coincidence just debited
this past weekend.

Title: RAI
Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Welcome to New Japan
Publisher: Valiant
Writer: Matt Kindt
Artist: Clayton Crain
Letters: Dave Lanphear
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

Valiant is continuing its re-launch of old titles this month with RAI set in
Japan twenty centuries in the future. Similar to the old series Japan is now an
island in the air above the surface of the Earth. All activity is run by an
artificial intelligence known as Father. Father runs everything. Keeps the food
growing, makes new jobs, and even tells people who and when they are allowed to
have babies. Crime is not entirely eradicated but there has not been a murder in
Japan in over a thousand years - that is until now. The story begins as the
perpetrators are about to dispose of the body and are interrupted by a local
constable. Their use of illegal weapons is the catalyst and the lead that will
lead Father's champion, Rai, to the forces behind it all. This is not and
idyllic society though it is mostly peaceful. There is an underground resistance
known as Raddies and they hate Father, and Rai and anything run by electricity.
But are they capable of murder? The trail will lead Rai to the supplier of
weapons, a mythical hero known as Spylocke. That confrontation will result in
more questions than answers. In fact Spylocke warns RAI that his unquestioned
faith in Father will lead to terrible things. As a counter-point to the intense
action we are introduced to an ordinary citizen to see things from her
perspective. Lula narrates some of the story and explains a lot of the
background we need to understand this society. Whether she will have a bigger
role in the plot remains to be seen. I have mixed feelings about this comic. The
art takes a while to get used to as you do not see that many mainstream comics
done in full-painted format. A lot of it is very dark but the detail and
progression of action is very good. I think this will grow on you more after a
couple of issues.


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 do "T. O." stand for in evil's professor T. O. Morrow name?

It stands for Thomas Oscar.

Here was your no prize question:
How many answers are possible with the Magic 8 Ball?

The Magic 8 Ball is a toy used for fortune-telling or seeking advice,
manufactured by Mattel. The Magic 8 Ball is a hollow plastic sphere resembling
an oversized, black and white 8-ball. The 3D shape inside the Magic 8 Ball is
called an icosahedron--a 20-sided shape (essentially a D-20 die). Therefore,
there are 20 potential answer options every time you shake the ball.

Which Avenger was the first originally created for a TV cartoon?

Here is your no prize question:
What is the fastest growing plant on the Earth?

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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