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Friday, August 29, 2014

Comic Reviews 8/29/14


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: House of Heroes
Publisher: DC
Writer: Grant Morrison
Artist: Ivan Reis
Inker: Joe Prado
Colors: Nei Ruffino
Letters: Todd Klein
Price (USD): $4.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

This is a much anticipated comic book from one of comic's favorite creators. It
will consist of two bookends, this being the first, telling a story that
involves the entire DC Multiverse, the fifty two universes as outlined on the
cover border. In fact if you look closely at that trade dress you will note that
several of the numbered Earths are in white, indicating their importance in this
particular issue because characters from those Earths are involved. In between
will be six one-shot issues each taking place on an alternate Earth and drawn by
different artists. It is our first wider introduction to the Multiverse since
the New 52 was launched. Like many of Morrison's work there are layers of story
on top of others and this is no exception. The main plot through it all is about
something that endangers the entire Multiverse - what DC normally calls a
"Crisis". The central character is Nix Uotan, the last of the Monitors. As
Superjudge, Nix Uotan has vowed to protect the Multiverse from his stronghold in
the Orrery, also called the Multiversity. He becomes aware of just such a major
threat through a comic book and along with his talking monkey sidekick, Mr.
Stubbs, he travels to Earth-7 to begin his investigation. He finds a devastated
world with only one super hero left standing, Thunderer. He is barely holding
out against the gigantic egg-shaped being with one eye and bat-like wings
floating above him. It identifies itself as one of the Gentry. It seems like
wiping out all life and turning the laws of physics on end in this place was
planned with one objective - to lure Uotan into making a swap, himself for
Thunderer. Being the kind of hero that he is Uotan agrees to the terms and
instructs Thunderer to go back with Mr. Stubbs and then assemble heroes from all
the remaining Earths and return to save them all. The balance of the book has
Thunderer doing just that. By the middle of the book he has assembled heroes
from various worlds. In one case we get a closer look at the world one comes
from. The Superman of Earth-23 is a black man whose secret identity is President
of the United States. There are a few scenes of him in his normal routine
including a scene with the Justice League of that Earth. And speaking of Justice
League, when Superman arrives in Multiversity he is greeted by Captain Carrot.
We also find Dino-Cop from Earth-41 who looks strangely like the Savage Dragon,
complete with the police uniform. The room is filled with alternate world heroes
- a Flash, a Green lantern, a Wonder Woman (girl really), and even Aquawoman.
Probably the most interesting part of the story is the encounter some of them
have on Earth-8, which is clearly a Marvel Universe analogue with Lord Havok
(Dr. Doom), Behemoth (Hulk - Dr. David Dibble), a Mr. Fantastic and even the 
Retaliators (Avengers). This is most interesting. If you have been reading
AVENGERS and NEW AVENGERS you know that they recently met and alternate Earth
Justice League. But all of this, well not the Marvel characters, was what you
expect in a story exploring the 52 worlds of the Multiverse. The tie-in with the
comic book I mentioned is also one of those multi-layered plot elements that has
to be read and interpreted by the reader. Frankly I am more interested in the
one-shot stories in the upcoming issues that will tell a longer story on one of
the other worlds in each issue. But this is a good framing issue that ends with
a twist that appears to be more about how the other bookend will begin than any
of the intervening one-shots. The art throughout is very fine. This is the kind
of comic you can read more than once and get more out of it each time. It really
lives up to the hype.

Issue Number: 1 (of 4)
Publisher: Valiant
Writer: James Asmus
Story: James Asmus and Fred Van Lente
Artist: Kano
Letters: Dave Sharpe
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero/Humor

If you know these Valiant characters at all you probably think this is a logical
team-up to produce. After all both teams have a similar makeup. One partner is a
party animal while the other partner is more serious about life and their
purpose. But any good team up needs a good purpose and so we begin at some point
in the past, apparently the 1960's. Armstrong at this point is wandering about
the U.S. living the life on the rails with hobos. The key plot element is that a
"King of the Hobos" Toothless Rufus entrusts him with a map of the country
showing where certain hobo treasures are located. If you are familiar with the
hobo legends you know they have their own code of symbols meant communicate
amongst themselves secretly. The map was actually tattooed on another hobo's
rear end and when he died was peeled off to pass down to others. So yeah, it is
called the ass map. Well over time part of it was ripped off and passed from
person to person while Armstrong retained the other half. So that brings us to
the present and the reason why the two Valiant duos will cross paths. The plot
introduces the big agro-business corporation called Mondostano. They are
involved in genetically engineered organisms. They are portrayed as the
stereotypical evil corporation, taking over small farmers who are "caught" with
produce that contains their patented modified genes in them. Like most of the
bad guys in both regular titles their operatives are caricatures and in the case
of the muscle literally larger than life. During one such takeover Jia Storm and
her heavy Mr. Meat come across the missing half of the ass map and she realizes
her superiors will want to see it. One thing leads to another and eventually
Mondostano hires Quantum and Woody, who are now public heroes for hire, to find
what kind of treasure is hidden in each location based on the map and try to
find the other half. The first problem is trying to figure out what all those
strange symbols mean. It won't be long before Archer and Armstrong are on the
same trail with their half of the map.  So the plot is set up to eventually have
these guys cross paths. Much of it is rather silly and even too coincidental to
be believable but for the sake of the comic I let that pass. The fun of this
comic is more in the dialogue and actions of the characters. Both Armstrong and
Woody are constant frustrations to their partners. Half the time both teams are
running away from angry people or getting mixed up with strange villains or
people who appear harmlessly nuts but are really hiding an evil nature. This is
not meant to be taken seriously as a super hero comic. It is all in fun and it
will amuse anyone who gives it a try. As a bonus the "board game" variant cover
to the miniseries are one inter-locking picture of a board game. There are
player tokens and game cards at the back of each issue to cut out so you can
eventually play the world's first board game played on comic book covers - or so
they say. I guess they hope you buy two copies - one to keep and one to cut up.
One copy is sufficient to get your money's worth in my opinion.

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: The Wild Party
Publisher: Image
Creators: Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artist: Sean Phillips
Colors: Elizabeth Breitweiser
Price (USD): $3.50
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Crime Noir
Mature - Comics on the Edge

Fans of Ed Brubaker's crime dramas will not have to be nudged to buy this comic.
If you have never tried one this is a good one to pick up. Brubaker and Phillips
blend together so well that whatever the story is that they are telling comes
across fluidly. Every panel accentuates and moves the plot without just showing
what is already being told. Additionally, Sean Phillips has a clean detailed
style and he uses the coloring and shading to optimum advantage. This drama is
set in Hollywood in the fall of 1948. The main character is Charlie Parish, a
screenwriter with a broken marriage and a small drinking problem. His friend,
Gil Mason, is a washed up writer with a huge drinking problem. Charlie help Gil
stay out of trouble and when he is lucid Gil helps Charlie with his writing. The
crime that is central to the story is the death of up and coming starlet Valeria
Sommers, the co-star of the movie Charlie is working on. It all begins when
Charlie awakens in the bathtub of one of those small bungalows the studio keeps
to stash contract players so they can be near the set. His first thought is,
"How did I get here?" Slowly he begins to remember bits and pieces about the
night before - the wild party, the fight between some studio big shots and a
black celebrity and later walking away from the party - but not much else. He
chalked it up to a drunken blackout. That all changes when he makes it to the
living room and finds Valeria strangled to death on the floor. The rest of the
cast is very interesting. There is the womanizer star, the publicity girl for
the studio and the studio's head of security. Each are inserted into the plot in
the proper place to build the story in the right manner. Charlie realizes he
can't tell anyone where he spent the night and so he lets others discover the
body and break the news. The fact that the death is quickly being portrayed as a
suicide makes him more nervous still. This is a tense drama that gets even more
so by the end of the issue. If you are like me you are already forming theories
by then as to who killed Valeria. Is it one of the five main characters we've
met, even maybe Charlie?  Could it be someone else to be revealed later?  All I
know is this is a top notch thriller from the best in the business. You really
should check it out.

Issue Number: 2
Publisher: Oni Press
Writer: Joshua Hale Fialko
Artist: Gabo
Letters: Crank!
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Fantasy
Mature - Comics on the Edge

Often times I will pick up a comic that is not a first issue to see how well the
creators transition the story for new readers. This series is on its second
issue and the bizarre cover drew me in to it. What I found on the inside was not
what I expected, although it ties directly into the cover illustration. To their
credit Fialkov and the editor give a quick synopsis of the story so far on the
inside cover. The story is about Jude who is having a hard time believing where
he is. He remembers seeing a girl on the bus each day but is afraid to talk to
her. That changed when he gets the courage and as they touch he has a vision of
her tragic past and then the girl disappears in a flash of light. Imagine his
surprise when the man who helps him to his feet is none other than Ernest
Hemingway who tells Jude he is in purgatory, one especially set aside for
suicides. As the second issue begins Hemingway is further explaining that
everyone here died from suicide and the compulsion is still with them. Sure
enough as they walk across a bridge several people are climbing on the rail to
jump over the side. When Jude tries to grab one of them he once again
experiences that persons past - in this case a young boy who could no longer
take the constant bullying at school and ended his life in a leap. When
Hemingway asks Jude how he committed suicide Jude can't remember, in fact he
does not think he did. This is what sets him apart from everyone else in
purgatory. He has no compulsion to commit suicide and is the only one who can
see people's past with a touch. He needs to figure out why he is here and
Hemingway agrees to help. The journey will lead them to experiment with touching
another soul and that leads to an attack from ghost-like monsters that provide
Jude visions of a truly unnatural plane of existence filled with creatures and
scenes you might see in some medieval painting of hell. The other element to
this story is what is going on behind the scenes. There are men in some kind of
control room watching what is going on and they are not pleased. Jude and
Hemingway must be dealt with and soon.  Needless to say we are not told
everything we need to know at this point and the mystery of it all is
delightful. We are seeing it from two points of view but it is still puzzling
that someone controls what goes on in purgatory in this manner - if that is
really where we are. This one issue succeeds in providing the new reader with
enough information to jump on the story and it moves forward with lots of new
ground being covered. Gabo is an excellent illustrator that excels with bringing
to life anything Joshua can thing up with excellent detail and vibrant coloring.
I was pleased with this comic and would recommend you give it a try.

Issue Number: 1
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Writer: Michael Uslan
Artist: Giovanni Timpano
Colors: Marco Lesko
Letters: Simon Bowland
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Pulp Heroes

I am not a big fan of the pulp heroes but I like to sample the titles Dynamite
puts out now and then. This story not only brings together three of these
classic men of mystery - The Shadow, Doc Savage and The Avenger - but also
appears to be the origin story of The Avenger. This story evidently explores the
secret link that The Shadow and Doc Savage have that led to the birth of the
Avenger. It starts in the present as Doc Savage is ready to demonstrate his
latest technological breakthrough in his hideout in the Himalayas. Deep in this
former missile silo he has built a super collider to create a Universal Quantum
Machine that will smash subatomic particles together at the speed of light and
create a time wormhole. While the experiment is a success it is a bit out of
control and the cyclonic vortex begins to extend high into the atmosphere.
Unfortunately a passing jumbo jet is sucked into the event horizon and as you
would expect Doc Savage decides he must save them. In an "only could happen in
the comics" moment he flies up in his P-39 Airacobra so he can jump to the wing
of the bigger plane, get inside and save the day. There is so much wrong with
this entire sequence, according to the laws of physics that you really have to
suspend your disbelief for the sake of the story. Anyway, this is the plot
device that take the story back to 1939 where that time's Doc Savage is being
funded by Richard Benson, the man who will eventually become The Avenger. Back
then Savage is involved with the beginnings of the work on the atomic bomb. The
opening scene has an interesting discussion between Savage, Einstein, Fermi and
none other than HG Wells. Meanwhile Benson and his family are meeting in New
York to journey to Nepal as well. Oh, and Howard Hughes has a part to play in
this drama as well. You can imagine the commotion a jumbo jet from our time
would cause when it suddenly appears in the New York airspace and demands
clearance for landing. It is something right out of the Twilight Zone. Aside
from the action/adventure part of the plot there are also sinister forces at
work setting plans in motion at the same time. They will have profound effects
on Benson and the others as well. This is a pretty involved story with layers of
plot just starting to be set up for further exploration. The main story is
interesting and even comical at times. The art is up to the high quality
standards I have always seen from Dynamite. The Shadow also makes a brief
appearance but for now is mostly, well, in the shadows. I am sure it will all
come together nicely by the end of the arc. It is entertaining reading worth the

Issue Number: 1
Title Story: Gothamazon
Publisher: DC
Creator of Wonder Woman - William Moulton Marston
Writer: Gail Simone
Artists: Ethan Van Sciver and Marcelo Di Chiara
Colors: Brian Miller
Letters: Saida Temofonte
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

DC has started another solo title for its powerhouse female Wonder Woman. I
believe this is a way to have some stories told without being tied down to the
ongoing arcs in the main book. So it seems in this first issue anyway. This is a
$3.99 book so I would expect value for the money. Ethan Van Sciver certainly
delivers on that front on the lead story. I first saw his work when he was doing
a creator owned comic. I remarked then that he should forget about writing his
own comics and just draw. If you ever read CYBERFROG you know what I am talking
about. Many years later he has excelled at both Marvel and DC. He always turns
in detailed dynamic work that is an asset to any comic. Miller's colors are a
perfect fit for his work. With Gail Simone on the story I expected better than
average as well. The basic plot has the Bat-Team unable to take on a team up of
Gotham's baddest villains. Who can possibly handle Joker, The Riddler, Two Face,
Poison Ivy, Man-Bat, Penguin and Mr. Freeze all at once?  Oracle is given the
task to call in a substitute that is not only good enough but also bad enough to
do what it takes. She of course chooses Wonder Woman. Without getting into too
much detail she of course saves the day eventually with a little help from her
amazon sisters, a lucky flip of the coin and a couple of unlikely allies. It is
not a bad story but I did not think there was much to it. In fact the premise
bothered me right from the start. We see the Batmobile roaring down the street
with Robin and Nightwing on motorcycles on either side of it and then a big
explosion. The aftermath of that is why Oracle needs to call in help but it is
never explained what happened to the Bat-guys. The fact that Oracle is involved
means that this is not the NEW 52 continuity, and that is cool. I just felt this
was an average story that needed more punch.

Backup Story: "Defender of Truth" by Amanda Deibert, Cat Staggs and John Rauch
I had the opposite reaction to this short second story. To me the art was
unappealing. The lines and ink are less defined and the color is dull. The story
was more interesting with Diana alerted to an attack on the National Cathedral.
It turns out that Circe was luring her out and plans to put her through the
paces. Circe is not a fair fighter and uses innocents transformed into mythical
centaurs to attack Diana. This is a good back and forth battle until Wonder
Woman finally gets the upper hand. Then just when you think it is over there is
more as Wonder Woman takes the time to teach a few young boys who have been
watching a valuable lesson. As I said, this is the opposite of the first story -
better story, poorer art. I hope all the issues aren't this uneven. Wonder Woman
can be a great lead with the correct writer and artists.


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:
In what Justice League related title did the WONDER TWINS, Zan and Jayna, enter
DC continuity?

It was not SUPER FRIENDS as that was not in continuity but EXTREME JUSTICE #9.
The winner by the dice is David McBarron.

Here was your no prize question:
Which fast food chain has the most stores worldwide with a total of 42,298?

Subway is kind enough to keep a store counter on its website, and they currently
claim 42,298 restaurants in 101 countries. That's a lot of sub sandwiches!
McDonald's, the world's second-biggest fast-food chain, currently counts around
34,700 restaurants worldwide. Subway, which started in 1965 as a sandwich shop
in Bridgeport, Connecticut, doesn't appear to be stopping anytime soon. The Wall
Street Journal reported in March 2011 that the Subway sandwich restaurant chain
pulled ahead of McDonald's Corporation in terms of number of stores open
globally. David McBarron knows his fast food and wins the no prize.

If a girl came up to you saying "I'm Dr. Strange's daughter", you would say "Hi
..." -- which name?

Here is your no prize question:
Who is the only person to receive two Nobel prizes in science in two different

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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