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Friday, July 25, 2014

Comic Reviews 7/26/14


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: Part One
Publisher: Tor/Seven Seas
Creator: Larry Niven
Adapted by: Robert Mandell
Artist: Sean Lam
Toning: Ludwig Sacramento
Letters: Cassandra Wedeking
Cover Artist: Stephen Youll
Price (USD): $15.99 - paperback
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction

On occasion I receive an advance copy of a graphic novel for review. I was
fortunate enough to get this book in the mail recently. In my younger days I
read a lot of science fiction novels but unfortunately RING WORLD was not one of
them. So I am looking at this as a new graphic novel to be judged as it is, not
as an adaptation from another medium. The story is set in the year 2850.
Adventurer Louis Wu has explored all over known space and is rich and famous. He
has lived a long life and thanks to anti-aging boosterspice is in perfect health
and looking like someone in his twenties. But he is bored. So it is perfect
timing for the two-headed alien of the Puppeteer race called Nessus to offer him
a chance to lead a crew on a mission beyond known space. Imagine a planet
orbiting around a sun but instead of it being a sphere it was actually a ring,
shaped like a wedding band. The entire ring is a million miles across and
encircles the sun in the middle. This was not a natural occurrence - it was
manufactured that way. Although he doesn't know it at first that is what his
team will be exploring. Nessus is very particular in choosing the crew. They
soon add a fearsome catlike warrior Kzin who is known as Speaker-to-Animals and
the lovely earthling Teela because she was genetically bred for good luck.
It seems like an unlikely assemblage of characters for such an important
mission. In fact the book begins with the history of these three races -
earthlings, Kzin and Puppeteers detailing the wars in the past between humans
and Kzin and how the intervention of another alien species turned the tied for
the earthlings. It is interesting reading and helps provide the background of
the current status of relations in the known space civilizations. But the key
fact is that Nessus and the Puppeteers are far advanced technologically than the
others and yet they are willing to share things for the first time for the sake
of the mission. Slowly but surely we begin to realize why it is so vital they
find out more about the ring world. Since this is only the first volume a lot of
it is taken up with everyone getting acquainted and getting to the place where
the ring world is located. When the ship is forced to crash land the adventure
really begins. I really enjoyed this book finding it hard to put down once I got
started. It is easy to see why Niven won both the Hugo and Nebula awards for the
novel. The science fiction elements are fascinating from the use of hyper drive
to effect the history of whole civilizations to the beyond imagination
engineering feat of building a world that spans an entire solar system. The
dynamic among the characters is good and it ranges from adversarial to comedic
and everywhere in between. The artist Sean Lam Makes efficient use of the space
by using very few gutters if any at all between the panels. He takes pain to
bring out emotion in the characters' expressions as well. This is not the normal
house style you may be used to from the mainstream comic books but it is every
bit as professional. It is easy to see that there is much more story ahead and
once you read this volume you will be waiting for the next.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Prelude
Publisher: DC
Based on the comic book and video game INFINITE CRISIS
Writer: Dan Abnett
Layouts: Carl Potts
Artist: Larry Stroman
Inker: Trevor Scott
Colors: Alejandro Sanchez Rodriguez
Letters: Wes Abbott
Cover Artist: Gene Ha
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

Like INJUSTICE GODS AMONG US this series is based on a video game and I believe
first appeared in digital format before the release of this print edition. Those
of us very familiar with the original CRISIS ON INFINITE EARTHS will notice the
parallels to that story in this one. But the original Crisis is not entirely
dismissed. The issue begins with a brief recap of that crisis complete with the
defeat of the Anti-Monitor and the death of the old continuity Supergirl. But it
then quickly establishes that this story is set in the new multiverse where
instead of an infinite number of universes (I always thought this was a silly
idea since the word universe encompasses all that exists. How can there be more
than one if one is everything? But I digress...) there are now 52. As a side note
the classic representation of the multitude of Earths lined up in a row includes
a cube Earth, presumably Bizzaro Earth. So basically we have a story set in the
current DC continuity though it will not impact any of the mainstream book like
the first Crisis did. In DC lingo it is an imaginary story as is INJUSTICE GODS. 
The main character is the last of the Monitors, Nix Uotan, who alone among them
survived the Infinite Crisis. His monologue sets the stage for us. The crisis
has passed but a new one is upon us. Some unknown menace has begun an assault on
the multiverse. Nix must recruit protectors from all fifty two universes -
humans and metahumans, heroes and villains alike. The cataclysm has already
begun on Earth-48 and it is there that Nix recruited Harbinger. She carries an
orb designed by the Monitor as she jumps from universe to universe. The enemy is
seeking to obtain certain artifacts in each universe to build a weapon to
further their cause. It is Harbinger's first assignment to get those artifacts
or destroy them first. Her interaction with heroes and villains to be recruited
will begin on Earth-19, also called the gaslight world. It is here she will
first run into a Catwoman or at least the version there. But the story really
takes off a few weeks later as she appears in Gotham on what we know as Earth
Prime and meets our Batman. She will have to convince him of the impending
disaster before the adversary arrives to gain the very important artifact Batman
is trying to keep her from stealing. This is a pretty good set up for the series
as it tells us all the background and then jumps right into the mission to
summons the army to fight the enemy. It is interesting to see what convinces
Batman to join. The last few pages shed some light on the nature of the enemy,
or at least one of its minions, and a major tragedy also strikes before it is
over. The last splash page indicates who the next recruits will be. Since this
does not have to conform to current continuity too much and encompasses the 52
universe there is a wide range of possibilities for Abnett to explore and an
infinite number (no pun intended) of characters to use. He has started off
strong on the story and the art team does an admirable job illustrating the
characters and actions. This has always been my favorite type of story as long
as the writing and art make the imaginary (or What If?) premise interesting to
read. This book succeeds on all fronts. This is a good title to get into.

Issue Number: 1
Title Arc: Blinded by the Light
Publisher: DC
Writer: Will Pfeifer
Artist: Kenneth Rocafore
Colors: Dan Brown
Letters: John J. Hill
Price (USD): $2.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

Once again Teen Titans get a new number one. This time around the lineup
includes Red Robin, Wonder Girl, Beast Boy, Raven and Bunker. Since this is
closer to a classic line up of the title I decided to give it a look. My first
overall impression is that they are a close-knit team that works well under the
able leadership of Tim Drake. This is demonstrated right from the start as we,
along with the residents of Manhattan, learn that a bus full of school children
from a girl's prep school has been hijacked and is heading down Broadway. The
leader is a mysterious female disguised in a hoodie and wearing a gas mask of
sorts. Her muscle all wear paramilitary garb complete with goggles. In here
broadcast into all media in the area she rails against Starr Labs and some of
the secret things they are doing in their secret labs. It could all be a
diversion from something else but with a busload of teens at risk Red Robin sets
his team in motion. Each step of the way he utilizes their talents as the
problem evolves beginning with Wonder Girl landing on the roof of the bus to
more closely monitor the situation, Garth infiltrating at the right time as does
Raven. When the situation takes a turn for the worse the team acts like a fine
tuned instrument with Bunker providing the finishing touch.  This story is done
mostly for the action and indeed, except for Bunker, there is very little
emotional drama among the team. It presents a worthy adversary and does not rely
on past storylines requiring familiarity for the reader to draw on. The art is
good enough though the facial lines are little rough for me. And the only other
thing that has me scratching my head is the way Raven looks. Not having followed
the Teen Titans for a long time I am sure I missed some major changes in her
life. Still it is a very readable story, interesting plot and so far it has me
wanting to know what comes next. You might want to try this version to see if
you agree.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Robin Furth
Artist: Jason Masters
Colors: James Campbell & Vero Gandini
Letters: Cory Petit
Cover Artist: Jason Latour
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

The latest in the series of 10th anniversary issues from Marvel features the X-
Men. These are set in the year 2061 where magically, like most comic book
characters, the heroes of today have not aged all that much. For the purpose of
the story Scott Summers has been elected President of the United States. You
might wonder how that could have happened given his status as a fugitive in the
present and killer of Professor X. The opening text explains that his band of
mutant revolutionaries saved the state of New York by destroying a black hole
growing at Brookhaven National Laboratory and became national heroes. The X-Men
were reunited and on the wave of pro-mutant sentiment and an expanded agenda to
fight for the rights of all people excluded from power Scott was swept into the
White House. But there are still major forces trying to divide the nation in the
form of the Hellfire Club, the Sapien League, the Purifiers and the Eugenics
Society. One other bit of information we are told as the story starts is that
Scott has finally married Emma Frost, the new First Lady now. It is Inauguration
day and you can imagine the odd mix of people celebrating together that include
mutants and Avengers and even a reformed Sebastian Shaw. But outside is a
different story as anti-mutant protesters are beginning to get violent. This get
extremely dire at about 2:00 AM as a threat emerges that results in Emma's
disappearance, the protestors storming the fences, and even Scott getting shot.
The second half of the book is heavy on typical X-Men plots as Scott is healed
but no one else remembers Emma ever existing. With everyone willing to go along
with Scott's premise that someone has altered reality the mutants jump into
action to find the problem. But can they do it before things get even worse? I
was kind of getting into the whole thing as it evolved but then the big reveal
came and they lost me. I won't spoil it but for me it was not a satisfying
explanation or ending. That is not to say that it does not have a happy ending,
at least for the main characters. But how they got there is just plain dumb in
my opinion. Come to think of it the beginning is kind of weak also. I was
willing to accept the eventual acceptance of Scott as a hero for the sake of the
story to see where it went. However it was not necessary to make him president
to tell this particular story and still have it end the same way. If this is
typical of Robin Furth's take on iconic super heroes she should stick to what
she knows better - Stephen King novels and other fantasy of her own creation.
Having said that, Jason Masters et al do a fine job on the art but for me the
story distracts from their effort in an overall impression. You might not be as
disappointed as I was with this one and I would like to hear from anyone with a
different impression.

Issue Number: 1-SHOT
Publisher: DC
Creator: Paul Dini & Bruce Timm
Writers: Amanda Conner & Jimmy Palmiotti
Artists: Paul Pope, Javier Garron, Damion Scott & Robert Campanella, Amanda
Conner, John Timms, Marco Failla, Dave Johnson & Stephane Roux
Colors: Lovern Kindierski, Paul Mounts, Brett Smith & Dave McCaig
Letters: John J. Hill
Cover Artists: Amanda Conner & Paul Mounts
Price (USD): $4.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Comic Super Villain

You have to be a die-hard fan of any comic character to be willing to shell out
five bucks for a "special" one shot. Harley is a hot commodity these days so I
am not surprised this appeared on the eve of Comic-Con this year. After reading
it I found it had a number of things going for it. First and foremost is the art
starting with the two-page cover highlighting the enormous talent of Amanda
Conner. With so many different artists involved there is something to appeal to
everyone. For example the first page is by Paul Pope, the least favorite of
mine. But then you get a double-page spread by Javier Garron that is filled with
all kinds of neat references to DC books and characters. Of course a lot of that
is due to the demands of the script but he puts it together so well. Anyway,
there are a lot of moments that really give the various contributors a chance to
shine. Amanda's contribution on the inside of the issue consist of a black and
white comic that Harely herself created. It is a three-page story of her own
hero, Hurl Girl, who can up-chuck her way out of any situation. It is pretty
funny on its own and adds to the plot. The premise of the story is that Harely
has managed to take a trip to San Diego with her friends who have a booth in the
show. Aside from taking in the show and doing some shopping of her own Harley
hopes to get to show her work to some publishers, get it printed and of course
become rich and famous. But this is Harley Quinn so you know there will be a lot
of mayhem, misdirected anger and lots of destruction along the way. As the story
moves from day to day there are more and more things that go wrong with plenty
of humor along the way. One of the best bits comes near the end as Harley gets
to meet her biggest heroes, Bruce Timm and Paul Dini, making her almost faint in
the excitement. Of course in real life these are the guys that created Harley
Quinn as a character in the first place. It is all a lot of fun and the quick
pace is non-stop from beginning to end. As far as forty-page comics go this one
is worth the price. That is not to say that everyone enjoys this kind of comic.
But those that do and anyone who likes a fun diversion from their usual reading
will not be disappointed.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Image
Creators: Ryan Burton & John Bivens
Writer: Ryan Burton
Artist: John Bivens
Price (USD): $3.50
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Science Fiction
MATURE - Comics on the Edge

Sometimes you start reading a comic book there is very little to help you
understand certain aspects of the book. It may be the lack of dialogue or
editorial comments so you have to rely on the visuals to get most of your
information. That was the case for me with this comic. There are odd looking
creatures, possibly from another planet or on another planet. The character
narrating has horns so I presume he is not human. He speaks of a woman who is
out there that will come back. As we cut from him it seems like we are in more,
relatively speaking, familiar territory. It seems to be a prehistoric jungle. Is
this Earth? There are dinosaurs and apparently the woman he spoke of is there.
She is a fierce hunter with weapons fashioned from bone. She takes down animals
many times her size. Then we cut to yet another scene. Is this Earth in some
future time? Two men are in a high tower talking about the obscene magic they
used to create "her". Do they refer to the girl in the jungle? They talk about
the "engine" they put in her to send her back in time apparently to kill the
thing that made this world they are in and save them.  Through a lot of painful
dialogue we get the gist of the problem and why one of the men so agonizes over
what has transpired. But by this time I have just about lost interest. I like
the art though. Knowing one person did it all points to a polished talent from
the composition to the coloring. Bivens is working with the script provided and
translates the parts with no dialogue beautifully. It is the rest of the story,
the words that are not coherent enough as a whole. I think by the end I
understand part of it but the alien "world" if that is what it was in the
beginning is still a mystery as is the real challenge that was set up for the
female character. The very end shows her in yet another location - apparently
the engine reset and sent her elsewhere. But is this the right place? Is she
even alive? I will say it is definitely Earth this time by but now I really
don't care. Maybe you will get the big picture better than I did. I'll take a


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 four costumed characters helped Swamp Thing in his quest in the afterlife
to rescue Abby who had been sent to Hell by Arcane?

The answer was: The Demon Etrigan, The Spectre, Deadman and The Phantom
Stranger. The winner by the dice is Mauricio Carvalho.

What company made the toy that was the basis of ROM, SPACE KNIGHT?

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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