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Friday, July 4, 2014

Comic Reviews 07/04/14


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: A Darkness Surrounds Him
Publisher: Image
Creator: Robert Kirkman
Writer: Robert Kirkman
Artist: Paul Azaceta
Colors: Elizabeth Breitwiser
Letters: Rus Wooton
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Horror
MATURE - Comics on the Edge

The co-creator of THE WALKING DEAD has brought out a much-anticipated new series
this time dealing with demonic possession and exorcism. The print run on this
series is actually selling higher than current issues of WALKING DEAD, which I
am sure is fuelled in part by people speculating on a big payout down the road
since the early issues of the WALKING DEAD demand high prices. Be that as it may
there are plenty of copies available of issue #1 of this series at That's
Entertainment and I encourage to buy it for the story. WALKING DEAD is more
about the people that survive the zombie apocalypse and the things they go
through. The zombies are a back drop though they do provide some real horror but
it is often the human actions that can be more horrible. Now Kirkman looks at is
using possession in much the same fashion though the possibility of these events
actually happening have been documented pretty much through recorded history.
The central character of the piece is Kyle Barnes. It begins at a time in his
life where he is alone having lost family and relationships due to circumstances
revolving around the central theme. When he was a child his own mother was
possessed and went through an exorcism. He was raised by another family but his
sister has tried to keep close ties to Kyle, much to the displeasure of her
husband. He even lost his wife to possession and was branded as a wife beater as
a consequence. So he lives a lonely life shutting out the rest of the world
except for the constant intrusion of his sister trying to get him out of his
shell. All this is about to change when a local boy is possessed and the local
reverend who has some experience in these matters asks for Kyle's help in
driving out the demon. The actual exorcism scenes are reminiscent of those we
saw in the famous movie THE EXORCIST. At the conclusion of this first chapter it
seems like Kyle has found a new goal in his life. I enjoyed this first issue and
plan to stick with it to see how it develops. Kirkman always takes time to build
his characters and their interactions. Both Kyle and the Reverend Anderson are
sympathetic characters at this point. The script takes us through the joining of
these two for a worthy cause and also relates some of the incidents in Kyle's
past. It is a satisfying story up to this point. The art is top notch and when
needed brings out the horror of what is happening to innocent people. You may
choose to view this as unlikely as a zombie story or you may be a believer in
real evil present in the world that needs to be confronted. Either way you can
get into this story and enjoy it.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: The Monster
Publisher: How I Made the World Comics
Creators: Liz Plourde & Randy Michaels
Writer: Liz Plourde
Artist: Randy Michaels
Price (USD): $2.95 - Black & White
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Slice of Life
MATURE - Comics on the Edge

This comic title may sound familiar if you get our weekly newsletter or read
fliers posted in the stores. The creators are/will be doing signings at both
stores this month. The comic has been made possible by a grant from the Xeric
Foundation. The Foundation was established in 1992 by the co-creator of the
TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES, Peter Laird. The fund was set up to support the
work of comic book creators who want to self-publish. Perhaps the nature of
these independent comics trend toward themes and genres that the major
publishers aren't willing to gamble will be a financial success. Now with the
help of Xeric award Plourde and Michaels have gotten their comic on the racks
and it is up to you the discriminating reader to decide if it is worth your
comic dollars. The story is somewhat autobiographical as it follows aspiring
writer Liz Plourde during her sophomore year at the fictional White Mountain
University, which means it is set in New Hampshire. The first impression is
always the cover and in this case it is a simulation of somewhat worn notebook
journal Liz keeps for her own amusement. It is a clever cover that catches your
eye right away and the inside front cover even has a simulated water stain to
add to the effect. This is a first person narrative that involves the daily and
weekly routine in Liz's life and her relation with her best friend Meredith
Parker. She has the typical frustrations of most college students and as the
story begins the latest is her inability to get into a particular poetry class
that fills up to fast for her to get in. But the plot will center round an art
class she is taking to fulfill a requirement for her major. It turns out the
teacher of Introductory Sculpture is a bit eccentric and probably a bit stoned
most of the time. As they get their midterm assignment it is an interesting
challenge for Liz to think out of the box. Her unique approach to the subject
will present her with a challenge seeing how she tends to skip a lot of classes.
She feels like the others are judging her and it is too much pressure. It is
Parker who suggests that since the studio is open 24/7 Liz should work on her
project at night when no one else is around. That will introduce her to another
art student, Carla, who also works alone at night in another part of the
building. The story involves these two main relationships Liz has and the title
involves a dream she has been having which factors into her motivations as well.
As I said this is not the typical comic you will find on the shelf. For the type
of comic it is though it is exceptional in plotting, execution and resolution.
Randy Michaels is a wonderful artist that has a firm grasp of how to tell the
story in black and white to bring out the emphasis that complements the script.
I thoroughly enjoyed this comic and found it worthy of the grant that got it the
exposure it deserves. I hope you will agree.

Issue Number: 32
Title Story: Ulysses
Title Arc: The Men of Tomorrow
Publisher: DC
Creators: Jerry Siegel & Joe Shuster
Writer: Geoff Johns
Artist: John Romita Jr.
Inker: Klaus Janson
Colors: Laura Martin
Letters: Sal Cipriano
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

I decided to sample this latest issue of SUPERMAN for a couple of reasons. First
it is not involved in the ongoing crossover event involving Doomsday so it can
be read on its own merits. Secondly it is the first issue drawn by John Romita
Jr. for DC after two decades or more with Marvel and other works. I say this
because it is a landmark for this fan favorite artist although his is not a
favorite of this fan. I have noted in the past that I find his composition and
layouts to be exceptional but his penciling, especially in the character faces
does not appeal to me all that much. This is a personal observation that others
may disagree on since all art is subjective. With Klaus Janson on inks, Geoff
Johns on the script and Laura Martin on colors DC has put an A-team on one of
its flagship titles. It begins with an origin story involving a secret project
far below Omaha, Nebraska. But this Nebraska is not on the Earth Prime world of
the current NEW 52 Superman. It is another one of those alternate Earths and
occurs twenty-five years ago. The scientists here have accidentally breached
another dimension and the building disaster is likely to destroy the entire
planet. A young couple working on Project Ulysses realizes this could be the end
for them but they may be able to save their son. In a parallel (no pun intended)
situation to Kal El's origin they send their son in a specially designed pod
through a dimensional gate to what they call dimension four. They have theorized
that the energies there could potentially empower their son. This is the set up
for what is to come later as the grown child, Ulysses, makes his appearance at a
crucial point in the present. The bulk of the issue involves Clark in his
current situation with Perry trying to get him to return to the Planet. It
touches on elements of the current continuity like the end of the invasion by
the Crime Syndicate and the elevation of Lex Luthor as a hero that saved the
world. We also spend time with Jimmy and Lois as Geoff uses his supporting
characters to move other plot points forward. But the main event is a major
threat that requires Superman's attention but also will mark the debut of a new
hero on the scene. This is a good jumping on point for this title as the
beginning of a new arc. There is not a lot of reliance on past plots to move
things forward and it has promise for an interesting story in the issues that
follow. I was very pleased with the finished product, even if I am not a big fan
of JRJR.

Issue Number: 3.1
Title Arc: Hulk VS. Iron Man
Publisher: Marvel
Story: Mark Waid & Kieron Gillen
Script: Mark Waid
Artist: Mark Bagley
Inker: Andrew Hennessey
Colors: Jason Kieth
Letters: Cory Petit
Cover Artist: J.G. Jones
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

Sometimes it is difficult to follow Marvel's numbering logic. This is actually a
mini-series that ties in to ORIGINAL SIN. But instead of giving it its own title
and numbering they opted for the "point" numbering of the actual series. This is
going to explore in depth the Original Sin secrets of Bruce Banner and Tony
Stark. The story is of course framed by the event that exposed various secrets
of those in range of the blast. Whatever it was that Hulk saw so enraged him
that he took off immediately. As this issue begins we actually see the beginning
of the ending as Tony catches up with the Hulk in China and the two have a
raging battle. So what was it that set off the Hulk? As Tony narrates the story
that will eventually lead to this point we go back in time to a shared memory
between Tony and Bruce. It was the time they met the day prior to the gamma bomb
explosion that created the Hulk. Bruce was making his presentation to the
military and government officials that will approve the program going forward.
To his credit Bruce is using the research to further more peaceful and humane
uses of gamma radiation but of course General Ross and company are interested
the effectiveness of the bomb. But Tony's addition to the conversation casts
doubt on whether bomb will be all it could be. Even that is not the deep secret.
Again we are seeing things from Tony's point of view. That is not the only
shared memory that resulted from the Watcher's eye bomb. Tony realizes that he
is seeing things Bruce experienced way back then. But he also realizes that
Bruce must have seen things that Tony experienced from the same time period.
There is another big secret that Tony has kept all those years that is behind
the Hulk's rage. This is a fascinating story that will have implications in the
future, if Hulk doesn't kill Iron Man before it is over. The script is masterful
in hitting the high points as it bounces back and forth from the present to the
past. I think we all realize Hulk will not actually kill Iron Man but after this
story is over things will never be the same.

Issue Number: 6
Title Arc: Original Sin
Publisher: Marvel
Creators: Lee & Kirby
Writer: James Robinson
Artist: Leonard Kirk
Inker: Karl Kesel
Colors: Jesus Aburtov & Veronica Gandini
Flashback Sequence: Dean Haspiel & Nolan Woodard
Letters: Clayton Cowles
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

Many of the regular Marvel titles are tying in to ORIGINAL SIN and this is the
beginning of that arc in FANTASTIC FOUR. The FF have been through some hard
times in the first five issues of this latest volume. They have been sued for
the destruction caused by creatures from Franklin Richard's world that escaped
the Baxter building. At the trial the whole litany of collateral damage over the
years was brought to light. They lost the case and as part of the ruling the
children of the Freedom Foundation were taken from the Richard's custody and
brought to an undisclosed S.H.I.E.L.D. location under the care of the original
Human Torch, Jim Hammond. Valeria is in Latveria with Doctor Doom. This is only
the beginning as the results of the Watcher's secrets when they are released
will also affect the team. As Ben decides to take some time by himself the other
three are returning to the Baxter Building to an Avengers welcoming committee.
But they are not there to sympathize but to lockdown the building at the orders
of the government. You can guess how well that will go over. The issue spends
two pages to catch up with the kids of the Freedom Foundation at their new digs
but the main point is the tie in to ORIGINAL SIN. As in the Hulk/Iron Man story
it will set two heroes against each other. We know the Thing was present when
the memory bomb exploded and in this story we find out the memory he gained was
not his own but that of Johnny Storm. What is nifty about this flashback to that
time years ago is the art is handled by Dean Haspiel and Nolan Woodard. It is a
throwback to the Kirby style and makes it all the more fun to read. Needless to
say with Ben remembering what happened in the lab one fatal day as Johnny
experienced it sparks will fly. In the present, before the flashback sequence,
Ben has already accused Johnny of lying all this time. About what? That is why
you have to read it for yourself. So half the issue is following the plots up to
this point while the other half begins conflict between Ben and Johnny. While it
seems the ongoing story is somewhat interrupted I am sure this was plotted to
happen well in advance of the reboot of the numbering as these event have to be.
It is a good enough story and issue to give a try to see if you should be
reading this latest version of Marvel's first family.

Issue Number: 1 (of 6)
Publisher: IDW
Writer: Louise Simonson
Artist: Derek Charm
Letters: Tom B. Long
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero Cartoon Adaptation

I like to sample the All Ages comics from time to time to vary my reading and
see how the younger readers are being served. This title from IDW caught my eye
just because the title is a parody of the major events of the past in both DC
and Marvel comics. But in this case it is a crossover of the comic book versions
of the major stars of the Cartoon Network. This six issue series features
characters from Samurai Jack, Ben 10, Dexter's Laboratory, the Powerpuff Girls
and Ed. Edd n' Eddy. Along the way between the issues will be one-shots starring
Johnny Bravo, Billy & Mandy, Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends, Cow and
Chicken and the Kids Next Door. This first issue is all set up. Aku and his
League of Extraordinary Villains have a master plan to trap the heroes of Earth
by teleporting them to their lair. Eventually they will be used to conquer their
own world. The league is comprised of the villains that have faced our heroes.
As they set their plan in motion they send robots that the heroes have never
faced before to do battle. If the heroes defeat the robot they will prove to be
worthy and will be teleported to the prison tubes awaiting them. Because this is
a set up the plot moves rather quickly from one scene to the next. In each case
the heroes face one or more robots. In each case the heroes perform admirably
using their unique powers and skills but then they are teleported to their
tubes. In a comical turn the villains begin celebrating after successfully
capturing the heroes they wanted. But as their robot servants bring the festive
drinks there is an accident and in the resulting chaos another robot is sent out
randomly and unintentionally. This giant girl robot comes across Ed. Edd and
Eddy who have no special powers or weapons. Out of sheer luck they defeat the
robot and then they too get the teleportation treatment. Well this issue does
what it set out to do. It introduces all the characters and defines the plot
moving forward. There is decent dialogue filled with humor to delight readers of
all ages. The regular fans of these characters from either the cartoons or the
comics are sure to enjoy seeing their favorites in this team up format. Heck it
is a fun comic even if you have never read any of the regular 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:
Who won the Great Cow Race?

The winner was Rose, Grandma Ben, in BONE. The winner by the dice is
Gary Katzoff.

Here was your no prize question:
Who has won both an Oscar and a Nobel Prize?

No, it's not Al Gore. The Oscar for "An Inconvenient Truth" as best documentary
of 2006 was given to its executive producer/ director/ cinematographer Davis
Guggenheim, not to the former U.S. vice president who is listed in the doc's
credits merely as its star.

George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London
School of Economics. He is the only person to have been awarded both a Nobel
Prize in Literature (1925) and an Oscar (1938), for his contributions to
literature and for his work on the film Pygmalion (adaptation of his play of the
same name), respectively. Shaw wanted to refuse his Nobel Prize outright because
he had no desire for public honors, but accepted it at his wife's behest: she
considered it a tribute to Ireland. He did reject the monetary award, requesting
it be used to finance translation of fellow playwright August Strindberg's works
from Swedish to English.

Can you name any one of three DC characters who won Olympic Gold medals
according to the "Guide to the DC Universe"? (within continuity - no imaginary
stories, etc.)

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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