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  COMIC REVIEWS FOR THE MONTH OF: NOVEMBER 2005
  PUNISHER VS BULLSEYE #1 (OF 5)
Writer: Daniel Way  Artist: Steve Dillon
Review By: Larry "Bocepheus" Evans
Publisher: Marvel Comics  Shipped On: 112305
MSRP: $2.99 each (15% OFF during it's 1st Week of release only at Alternate Reality!)
MARVEL'S SYNOPSIS:
"THE MAN'S GOT STYLE" Alphonse Patrillo's a rare breed: a mob boss looked down the barrel of the Punisher's rifle, and lived to tell about it. Ever since that day, he's taken pains - great pains - to stay under the Punisher's radar while he schemed his revenge. Now Uncle Fonzie has got a plan: he's going to fight fire with fire. Who do you hire to take out a relentless psychopath like the Punisher? An even more relentless psychopath. And this guy, well, let's just say he never misses. Wall-to-wall action by the creative team behind BULLSEYE'S GREATEST HITS and SUPREME POWER: NIGHTHAWK: Daniel Way and Steve Dillon.
BO'S REVIEW:
Okay let’s get this out of the way first. There is no way possible for the Punisher to be able to hold that big ass gun he is holding on his shoulder on the cover. His shoulder would be crushed and he would die just shooting it but it is an impressive visual. The limited series is written by up and comer Way and what the book is about is fairly obvious. Regular Punisher writer Garth Ennis has stated that he can’t do ‘funny’ Punisher stories but Way has made no such claim. The thug behind the commission of Bullseye is the only survivor of a 1981 typical night for Frank Castle. Frank decided to go to a bachelor party held for the Patrillo family and our sometime narrator survived due to making like John Travolta and having an accident. His dumb luck kept him alive but also changed him in a way that is pretty damn funny. Punisher only appear in a flashback sequence but he doesn’t need to because Way needs time to set things up. He introduces Bullseye at the end in a dramatic fashion and ends with the elite assassin talking directly to the reader which isn’t a new thing but comes off as pretty cool here. The art is by one of my favorites, Steve Dillon and he is born for a book like this. Dillon has made a wonderful career for himself drawing comics but focusing on non-superhero titles. Way suggests here that if Ennis ever decided to leave the regular Punisher title (which he says will happen only in the case of death) he could step in and keep the music going.
  JACK CROSS #4
Writer: Warren Ellis  Artist: Gary Erskine
Review By: Larry "Bocepheus" Evans
Publisher: DC Comics  Shipped On: 112305
MSRP: $2.50 each (15% OFF during it's 1st Week of release only at Alternate Reality!)
DC'S SYNOPSIS:
Concluding a 4-part story with a showdown in San Francisco! Jack's confrontation with a cell that has pirated a weapon of mass destruction beyond imagining comes to a head at a California demonstration!
BO'S REVIEW:
The initial Cross arc ends this week with more blood and self mutilation. We begin with a plane ride to San Francisco where the terrorist plan is to take place. During the ride Ellis gives us Jack’s worldview on Homeland Security and some will be offended by what is said but others will agree wholeheartedly. In the hands of some the mass of conversation would be boring but I found it easy to hang onto every word. He does a quick transition into action that has Jack shooting everything that looks like a threat and carrying on ‘Terminator’ like to accomplish his goals. Erskine’s action scenes are cinematic in nature and at times Ellis just shuts up and lets him tell the story. There is a reveal at the end that you will never see coming before a sequence showing Jack’s cutting ritual as he faces us and announces who the latest cross is for. I find this book thrilling. It’s not preachy and has the talent of reading like a film and a novel by Robert Ludlum at the same time. Jack (or John when he is not working) is a man who kills without hesitation but punishes himself for it by mutilating himself. We saw in this opening arc that he turns his personality on and off depending on the needs of the moment. Sales will never be spectacular but should be steady enough to keep the book going for at least two years.
  YOUNG AVENGERS #9
Writer: Allan Heinberg  Artist: Jim Cheung
Review By: Larry "Bocepheus" Evans
Publisher: Marvel Comics  Shipped On: 112305
MSRP: $2.99 each (15% OFF during it's 1st Week of release only at Alternate Reality!)
MARVEL'S SYNOPSIS:
The Young Avengers begin their official apprenticeship to the New Avengers, but when Captain America discovers the truth about Patriot's secret origin -- and when Asgardian reveals the truth about his own origin -- the team's entire future is called into question. Introducing a new storyline, a new beginning, and a new member of the team, YOUNG AVENGERS #9 provides a perfect jumping-on point for new readers.
BO'S REVIEW:
The arc ‘Family Matters’ begins here and it deals with the fallout from the last issue where we learned that Patriot doesn’t have any superpowers and was using a mutant based steroid to give himself enhanced abilities. The group has been disbanded (due to Captain America and Iron Man pushing the issue) and here we see how things have been since last time we saw them. Heinberg shows us that the members are chafing at not being able to help people in a series of one page updates before having them meet up and air their frustration. The quiet moments here work to perfection before Heinberg and Cheung introduce the action portion of our program with the introduction of the Fantastic Four villain the Super Skrull. He is there to take Hulkling ‘home’ and even though the team is disbanded they fight to protect their teammate. As the pages turn furiously we see that Hulkling’s parentage is more complicated than he or we can believe before things crash and burn, leaving us wanting for more. It takes a while for a new writer to learn how to blend drama and action in a satisfying way but with Heinberg’s TV experience he is able to shock and amaze us every time. When the book was announced Marvel promised a shock every issue and at this point they have not lied to us. People were quick to label this a Titans ripoff but this book compares to the Titans in the same way that Absolut vodka compares to crap that comes with a screw top. Both books deal with a team of young superheroes and that’s where the comparison ends. And as always, the art is spectacular.
  BLACK HARVEST #1 (OF 6)
Writer/Artist:  Josh Howard
Review By: Larry "Bocepheus" Evans
Publisher: Devil's Due Comics Shipped On: 111605
MSRP: $3.25 each (15% OFF during it's 1st Week of release only at Alternate Reality!)
DEVILS DUE'S SYNOPSIS:
In the small town of Jericho, Texas, a yearly phenomenon known as the Jericho Lights brings tourists and UFO enthusiasts from miles around. Although the true cause of the strange dancing lights remains a mystery, they've become a deeply rooted part of Jericho's history. On the eve of this year's light show, something else returns to Jericho - 19-year-old Zaya Vahn, who mysteriously vanished from the small town nearly 3 years ago. Heavily traumatized, it appears that Zaya may be keeping a few secrets which could blow open a sinister conspiracy stretching all the way back to the founding of Jericho.
BO'S REVIEW:
Howard has carved off a nice niche for himself as the creator of Dead @17 and here he tells us another story involving the tattooed female on the cover. The book is based in West Texas and begins outside a crappy road side gas station/diner where a Fox Mulder type stops for directions. He’s a reporter for a blog and is there to investigate a strange phenomenon called the Jericho lights. After some snappily sarcastic exchanges with a waitress he hits the road as well as the woman we see on the cover. Her name is Zaya Vahn and she seems to have been missing for the last three years. She has repent carved into her skin and her body temperature seems to be extremely adjustable. This being a small town story of course there is more going on that is being let on. Howard lays everything out without rushing through things and introduces a number of points that should hook a few readers. His art style is different. It isn’t manga inspired (but does suggest it) and looks like a more clean version of the work of Phil Hester. I would assume that the 17 readers will gravitate to this book and perhaps fans of science fiction and horror. Massive sales are not likely here and the weird price probably will scare off more than a few folks. Devil’s Due seems to be trying very hard not to be labeled as that company that only does GI Joe but EIC Josh Blaylock has yet to find a title that would have fans of Joe read anything else from the company.
  THING #1
Writer:  Dan Slott  Artist: Andrea DiVito
Review By: Larry "Bocepheus" Evans
Publisher: Marvel Comics  Shipped On: 111605
MSRP: $2.99 each (15% OFF during it's 1st Week of release only at Alternate Reality!)
MARVEL'S SYNOPSIS:
It's the ever lovin' blue-eyed THING, back in his own ongoing series! Join Ben Grimm and his pals as they clobber their way through the Marvel U! And, spinning out of events from FANTASTIC FOUR, the idol of millions is now worth billions! So will big bucks make a Rockefeller out of this Rocky fella? Will Ben trade in Yancy St. for Park Ave? Tune in and see, True Believer! Special appearances by: Goliath (Bill Foster), Warbird, Wonder Man, and Peter Parker.
BO'S REVIEW:
As recent events in the Fantastic Four have shown Ben Grimm is stinking rich. The FF may be bankrupt but Reed Richards put Ben’s share of profits in a private account and now things are either going to be really good for ‘the idol of millions’ or are going to suck huge. Dan Slott is doing such a wonderful job with She-Hulk Marvel decided to let him do the same with Ben and from what we see in this first issue it could work. The last time the Thing had his own book he shared it with many of his friends but here his dealing with his money will be the focus. Slott shows us various parts of the Marvel Universe and their feelings about what is happening to Ben which really gives us a sense of the familial nature of the character. We get references to the weekly poker game (at his posh apartment instead of the Baxter Building), learn just how much all the stuff Ben uses as a FF member costs and get reacquainted with a character that has of late been seen a different way in the MAX Universe. We get a hint that the major threat introduced at the end of the issue isn’t really much of one but Slott includes so much fun in the book that we don’t care. Former Crossgen penciller DiVito does a wonderful job here with the art. I can’t say that I believe this title will sell major numbers but I do believe the title will develop a cult following amongst fans and the folks at the Marvel offices.
  BOOKS OF DOOM #1 (OF 6)
Writer:  Ed Brubaker  Artist:  Pablo Raimondi
Review By: Larry "Bocepheus" Evans
Publisher: Marvel Comics  Shipped On: 111605
MSRP: $2.99 each (15% OFF during it's 1st Week of release only at Alternate Reality!)
MARVEL'S SYNOPSIS:
Five-time Eisner-Nominated Best Writer Ed Brubaker turns his shadowy vision to Marvel's greatest villain, Victor Von Doom. With the phenomenal art team of Pablo Raimondi and Mark Farmer, you will witness Doom's life from his earliest moments to the day he took the throne of Latveria. A dark and revealing examination of how an innocent boy grows up to be a tyrant, a new twist on an old legend -- the Books of Doom is a sweeping epic of tragedy, madness, and destiny, and unlike any other Marvel Comic you will buy this year!
In this debut issue, turning his back on childhood love, young Victor develops an obsession with the dark arts that stole his beautiful mother from him. But it's his experiments with science that attract the interest of global powers and bring his Gypsy tribe into direct conflict with the despotic rulers of Latveria.
BO'S REVIEW:
If there is ever a more interesting character in comics’ it is Victor Von Doom, foe to the Fantastic Four and most of the Marvel Universe. Encased in a suit of armor with a mask covering his scarred face (and the extent of his scarring is itself the subject of controversy), he is beloved by the citizens of his native Latveria and feared by the rest of the world. We have always known part of his history although when we first met him he was the overbearing classmate of Reed Richards but here Ed Brubaker will fill in what we have never known. He uses the wonderful technique of having Doom tell his own story in what seems to be a documentary about his life. So it seems that Victor is talking to us while recreating his past as well as appearing in the places that the actions that formed him took place. In this first issue we see the childhood of Vic and get more layers of what his relationship was with his mother, father, clan and with the love of his life, Valeria. His younger years suggest much of the behavioral traits he is known for were always parts of his personality. Brubaker shows why he became interested in the mystic arts and foreshadow that he has always been encased in armor, real or spiritual. We leave off with him accepting a scholarship to America where in his own words ‘I would lose everything’. It is an extremely effective tale that gives us a greater understanding of a character that believes he is doing the right thing even though it is quite apparent that he is massively far from doing that.
  BATMAN AND THE MONSTER MEN #1 (OF 6)
Writer/Artist:  Matt Wagner
Review By: Larry "Bocepheus" Evans
Publisher: DC Comics  Shipped On: 111605
MSRP: $2.99 each (15% OFF during it's 1st Week of release only at Alternate Reality!)
DC' SYNOPSIS:
Matt Wagner takes the Dark Knight through his sophomore season in this 6-issue miniseries! Batman has spent his first year fighting organized crime - but nothing thus far in his early career as the Caped Crusader has prepared him for the new menace facing Gotham: super-powered villains! This is the first of two planned Wagner miniseries featuring Batman, each under the heading "Dark Moon Rising."
BO'S REVIEW:
This was originally going to be a twelve issue limited series called Batman: Bad Moon Rising but circumstances made Wagner turn it into two separate but connected limited series taking place during the early years of Batman. The limited series will serve as a reintroduction of Julie Madison, one of Bruce Wayne’s old girlfriends as well as serving as a proper introduction to Professor Hugo Strange, a villain reintroduced during the Englehart/Rogers era of Detective. The Batman here isn’t as assured as we are used to and his effect on Gotham is developing onto a genuine fear by the criminal element. Strange has interesting theories on making mankind better and here we see hints of what he is working on as Wagner parallels his development with Batman. There are several interesting segments here with Wagner effectively adding to the Batman legend without the issue being a dissertation. As has been the custom with Batman tales since Frank Miller decided to tell the story of ‘Batman; Year One’ the book uses multiple narrators to show different perspectives. This helps in relating to them, rather than Batman because with Bats we have a sense of history but not with others. Wagner uses this to get us into their heads and by doing so makes the reader more comfortable turning the pages. He also includes small moments that remind us of the first Batman film and segments of the Chris Nolan/David Goyer version. As always Wagner’s art is quite effective
  MICHAEL CHABON PRESENTS ADV O/T ESCAPIST #8
Writers: Brian K. Vaughan/Harvey Pekar/Andi Watson/Paul Hornschemeier/Jeff Parker
Artist:  Philip Bond/Dean Haspiel/Watson/Hornschemeier/Parker
Review By: Larry "Bocepheus" Evans
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics  Shipped On: 110905
MSRP: $8.95 each (15% OFF during it's 1st Week of release only at Alternate Reality!)
DARK HORSE'S SYNOPSIS:
From off the streets of Cleveland comes fan-favorite writer Brian K. Vaughan (Y: The Last Man, Ex Machina, Runaways) and critically acclaimed artists Philip Bond (Vinarama, Vertigo Pop) and Eduardo Barreto (Mr. Machine Gunl) to kick off the anthology's first multi-part story! Meet Maxwell Roth and Case Weaver, latter-day versions of Joe Kavalier and Sam Clay, as they set out to make the Master of Elusion a sensation once again in "The Escapists"! Next, on his way home from an extended stay at a Cleveland hospital, our man Harvey Pekar encounters...The Escapist?! The team-up you thought you'd never see, illustrated by Dean Haspiel (The Quitter). Also in this issue, award-winning creator Andi Watson (Skeleton Key, Geisha) and Eisner Award nominated Jeff Parker (The Interman)!
BO'S REVIEW:
This issue marks the beginning of a regular feature in the quarterly shipping Dark Horse anthology based on the Pulitzer Prize winning novel by Michael Chabon. Vaughan and Vinarama’s Bond start things off with ‘the Escapists’, a tale involving the discovery of a father’s hobby by a little boy after his death that leads to that boy deciding to own a comic company. We see here his life growing up, meeting his best friend and creative partner (as was the case with the fictional creators of the Escapist) and the artist who will become the love of his life if things work out right. It’s a cheerful story that gives us a sense of comics’ history and a sense of wonder about how comics are made. Pekar and Haspiel reteam on a story that catches us up on Harvey’s life as he tells it to his bus seat mate, the Escapist. It’s hard to say that a Harvey Pekar tale is enjoyable but this one is. Watson’s contribution is a WW 2 tale that is peripherally connected to the Escapist but is more of a traditional war story involving soldiers waiting for the war to come to them. Hornschemeier contributes a one page collection of small moments that pay off rather effectively considering the amount of space it has. Parker’s tale is a jazzy tale involving the Escapist at a magic festival that is incredibly busy but effective. It’s like he threw the kitchen sink out then decided to write a story about what he saw lying on the floor. There isn’t a bad story here but the winner is the first one.
  DECIMATION HOUSE OF M THE DAY AFTER
Writer:  Chris Claremont  Artists:  Andy Green/Aaron Lopresti
Review By: Larry "Bocepheus" Evans
Publisher: Marvel Comics  Shipped On: 110905
MSRP: $3.99 each (15% OFF during it's 1st Week of release only at Alternate Reality!)
MARVEL'S SYNOPSIS:
It was the worst day in X-Men history. Now it's the day after. The House of M is over, but the effects will be felt for the rest of their lives. How do the X-Men pick up the pieces in a world that has completely changed? This special one-shot is the world's first real glimpse into the entire Marvel Universe, post-House of M. It also gives a special preview of the titles that come out of that event, such as New Excalibur, X-Factor, Generation M, and a few we can't name here! We said the world was changed. You've been warned!
BO'S REVIEW:
The immediate after effects of House of M #8 are seen here in this one shot from Claremont/Green. Everything starts in Atlantic City where we see one of the mutants that has lost his powers and it is not a pretty sight. From there we shoot off to Mutant Town where the effects are just as drastic because no one has an idea what is happening and Claremont uses that sequence to show us a terrorist act in Paris that suggests that things are going to get much worse. We see from that and the following pages how many mutants are affected (and in some cases who) before setting up a new organization that will play an important part in the next few years at Marvel as far as the world of mutants is concerned. Claremont also uses this one shot to introduce new titles such as Peter David’s X-Factor, the limited series Son of M and his own New Excalibur. He also touches on something that will resonate thru New Avengers and the X-titles-the fact that some remember what happened and some do not. Scott Summers and Emma Frost know and major tension can be created in future stories simply by having that info slip out when necessary. The issue ends with an Aaron Lopresti sequence that begins with Logan and Colossus saving some mutants running for sanctuary and being surprised with the arrival of the newest employees of the government-the Sentinels. If you want to know what happens next then you have to pick up the next issue of X-Men. For everything else don’t worry Marvel has a lot of things to introduce you to in the next few months. The tone of this book veers from tense to tragic to informative and Claremont has been doing this long enough to keep the plates spinning long enough to force us to turn the page and see what happens next.
  DMZ #1
Writers:  Brian Wood  Artists:  Brian Wood/Riccardo Burchielli
Review By: Larry "Bocepheus" Evans
Publisher: DC/Vertigo Comics  Shipped On: 110905
MSRP: $2.99 each (15% OFF during it's 1st Week of release only at Alternate Reality!)
DC/VERTIGO'S SYNOPSIS:
 From Indie comics icon Brian Wood (Demo, Channel Zero, GLOBAL FREQUENCY) and up-and-coming Italian artist Riccardo Burchielli (John Doe) comes DMZ, a new monthly series about the ultimate embedded war journalist trapped in a most unlikely war zone: the streets of New York City. In the near future, America's worst nightmare has come true. With military adventurism overseas bogging down the Army and National Guard, the U.S. government mistakenly neglects the very real threat of anti-establishment militias scattered across the 50 states. Like a sleeping giant, Middle America rises up and violently pushes it way to the shining seas, coming to a standstill at the line in the sand - Manhattan or, as the world now knows it, the DMZ. Matty Roth, a naďve young man and aspiring photojournalist, lands a dream gig following a veteran war journalist into the heart of the DMZ. Things soon go terribly wrong and Matty finds himself lost and alone in a world he's only seen on television....
BO'S REVIEW:
Vertigo lets Brian Wood into the family with the debut of DMZ. For those who don’t know the term stands got demilitarized zone but as we see here that isn’t necessarily the case. In the reality set here there has been a war going on for the last four years against the United States of America and the Free States who have decided to leave the union. An award winning journalist has been commissioned to enter the zone and see how the residents are coping and he is going to be aided by young intern Matthew Roth. Roth is there to take pictures and stay out of the way but he didn’t know that so Wood uses him as our eyes. He is whisked onto a helicopter and flown into Manhattan, a place where many bad things have and will happen thru the course of this series. Things go to hell in a hand basket pretty quickly once they land and suddenly Roth is the only one standing after it is all said and done. He encounters one of the residents of the bombed out city and she tells Roth and us just what is going on around him. We see what has happened to the city and to what lengths both sides are willing to go to and have gotten to. Roth learns those lengths and by the end of the issue makes a decision that will lead him and whatever audience this book comes up with for a while. This is hard hitting stuff that could make some readers pass for lighter fare but the ones that stick around will get a quality book. As is his custom Wood does the layouts for his projects and Burchielli fills in the frames of what he lays out. The art is similar to the stylings of Jock, the British artist on another Vertigo book, the Losers.
  NEW EXCALIBUR #1
Writers:  Chris Claremont  Artist:  Michael Ryan
Review By: Larry "Bocepheus" Evans
Publisher: Marvel Comics  Shipped On: 110905
MSRP: $2.99 each (15% OFF during it's 1st Week of release only at Alternate Reality!)
MARVEL' SYNOPSIS:
Excalibur is back, just the way you like them! From the ashes of House of M a new Excalibur team is formed to combat the aftereffects of this cataclysmic event! Witness the birth of Captain Britain's new team forming, as a sinister force already tries to tear them apart! Starring Dazzler, Juggernaut, Nocturne and Pete Wisdom!! Guest-starring the Uncanny X-Men!
BO'S REVIEW:
Picking up from a thread in the also shipping Decimation one shot we begin this series with the aftermath of a concert by Dazzler in a venue that seems somewhere off the beaten track of stardom. On her way home the thread and she intersect on a London street where we get a fight with someone who looks a lot like Archangel but with an outfit that we have never seen before. The fight continues and we are introduced to other dark versions of the X-Men before things just shatter before Dazzler’s eyes. Answers to what just happened aren’t forthcoming because we move on to Captain Britain who is looking for answers for what happened to Otherworld and his wife Meggan after the Scarlet Witch spoke the words that created a ‘chaos wave’ that changed the lives of hundreds of thousands of mutants. As he and a few of his friends discuss the events of the moment Pete Wisdom is reintroduced to bring us back to the Dazzler part of the story. She isn’t dead but pretty close to it so we follow the attempts to save her as we get hints that something is going on with Nocturne, Nightcrawler’s daughter from another reality. Those hints lead to a dramatic ending revealing a much different and walking version of someone presumed missing. We don’t get a fully formed team here yet but the threads are laid out in a perfect fashion. Claremont is his usual self here but the star of the issue is Michael Ryan. Ryan has been at Marvel for a while as one of the many penciller's on Cable and on a countless number of guest shots but has never had a chance to make an impact on a major title. This assignment could make a few more fans take notice.
  VICTORIA'S SECRET SERVICE #00
Writers:  Darren Davis/Terrance Greip  Artist:  Nadir Balan
Review By: Larry "Bocepheus" Evans
Publisher: Alias Comics  Shipped On: 110205
MSRP: .75˘ each (15% OFF during it's 1st Week of release only at Alternate Reality!)
ALIAS' SYNOPSIS:
Back in the 19th Century, a secret group of ladies in waiting were created to protect Queen Victoria at all costs. These highly trained operatives became Victoria's Secret Service. Flash forward 150 years and set in a restricted area inside the Ministry of Defense, only a select few have access to "the Compound." Inside is a high-tech institution specializing in training England's most elite soldiers. Subject to only the director and the Crown, these soldiers do not exist. Their missions - relieving any threat associated to the Crown, whether it means going under cover at the meetings of the Houses, or foiling a terrorist's plan - are what the VSS lives for, literally. Should the day come when they can no longer perform their duties, they will be terminated as swiftly as they once did to others!
BO'S REVIEW:
This introductory issue from the Alias folks steals much from Danger Girl to very little effect. The concept is laid out with the title and the story we get here is ridiculously derivative. We start the issue with our heroine’s sitting around waiting for a mission and whiling the time away playing with action figures (which you know the creators hope this book will create a need for) until a mission is dramatically announced. Things move snappily along as if we were watching a hoped for movie and little time is devoted to tell us who the girls are. We do get an idea who we will be seeing in future issues and have solo dossier pages after the story but the lack or originality doesn’t interest me in picking up future issues. The art is decent and Balan constantly reminds us that the ladies are full breasted so as to distract us from the lack of development in the story department. If you are a fan of Danger Girl and want to see tales like this on a more regular basis than J. Scott Campbell can get to us then this book should fill the void. If not, just wait for the real thing or pick up some Modesty Blaise reprints and have at it.

All Books/Characters pictured herein are © Copyright 2005 by their respective owners. No rights given or implied by Alternate Reality, Incorporated.

Reviews © 2009 Alternate Reality, Inc.

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