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Review Date: 11/28/2008

The Good Animal Citizens of Bongo Congo have petitioned King Leonardo to direct me to review a comic more relevant to their jungle nation.  As such, the King has once again proclaimed it to be Super Heroine Week, and declares that we begin with the following jungle review:
 

Jungle Girl-Season 2 #1
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Frank Cho: Plot and Cover
Doug Murray: Script
Adriano Batista: Interior Art
Frank Martin: Colors
Zachary Matheny: Letters
Genre: Adventure/Thriller

       Dynamite Entertainment has just published issue #1 of the second season of Jungle Girl.  Created by Frank Cho, the issue is written by Cho and Doug Murray, with a Cho cover and interior art by Adriano Batista.
      Jana The Jungle Girl lives in an unnamed jungle typical of many comic world settings, in that while the setting is 2008, its populated by a wide assortment of dinosaurs, prehistoric giant mammals and cavemen.  In the Season One storyline, Jana meets a crashlanded plane of modern world adventurers and helps them cope with finding themselves in this science fictional setting.
     As I mentioned a few weeks ago in my Hulk #7 review, I'm a huge Frank Cho fan, and was drawn to this comic when I saw it on the That's Entertainment new issues wall because of the excellent work Cho produced a few years ago in drawing and writing his interpretation of Sheena, the classic icon of jungle girl comics.
     This Season Two premiere issue of Jungle Girl begins with Jana, her friend Togg the caveman and Mike, one of the stranded outworlders, witnessing the distanced jungle crash of a space shuttle.  The rest of the issue focuses on the various jungle dangers that the trio face as they attempt a hike of several days to the shuttle crash site.
     This comic is extremely well-drawn, but there's not much of a plot, here.  After page one portrays the trio witnessing the far-off shuttle crash, Cho and his creative team just give us 21 pages of three types of scenes: the trio carefully trekking through the dangerous jungle, the trio alternating between battling jungle beasts and quietly avoiding jungle beasts, and the two guys drooling at Jana when she unwittingly and repeatedly strikes a pose in her barely there, hand-made leopard string bikini.
     On the one hand, this comic should rate a thumbs-down given that the plot is as thin as Jana's bikini.  But on the other hand, that's exactly what jungle girl-type comics are supposed to be: really light-on-story comics that highlight the art and scenery, whether its the magnificent jungle animals, breathtaking natural vistas or the stereotypical cheesecake girl.  Its not fair to compare it to one of Cho's Sheena issues, because he was really building his interpretation of the most established Jungle Girl-type character of Sheena, that had decades to develop into the premiere, stand-alone icon of the jungle genre with a higher-than-average character and substance.
     As such, a thumb, or actually "paws-up" from our assembled Bongo Congo citizens for this issue as an entertaining, albeit typical issue of this type of adventure/thriller comic book.


She-Hulk #34
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Peter David: Writer
Vincenzo Cucca: Penciler
Vincenzo Acunzo: Inker
Barbara Ciardo: Colorist
Dave Sharpe: Letterer
Genre: Superhero

     The current run of Marvel's She-Hulk is at issue #34.  I was a faithful reader of this comic in its first Eisner award-winning year, and looked forward to revisiting it this week to see how its been holding-up.
     Lawyer Jennifer Walters has the ability to transform into She-Hulk due to a blood transfusion from her cousin (guess who!) Bruce Banner, the Hulk.  After bouncing around the Marvel Universe for over 25 years, Marvel began a new She-Hulk storyline that's now up to the current issue #34.
     The first 12 issues put a fresh and humorous face on the She-Hulk franchise, centering on Jennifer's legal work in the Superhuman Law Division of a New York law firm.  It was an extremely fresh and funny spin on comic plotting; picture one of the law firm-based television dramas with both good and evil superheros as clients and you have an accurate idea of how the storyline was structured.
     As issue #34 shows, a lot has changed for Jennifer in a few years.  She's no longer a practicing lawyer, instead partnering as a bounty hunter with a female Skrull partner named Jazinda.  In this issue, Jennifer assembles Jazinda, Valkyrie, Thundra and Invisible Girl Sue Storm into a team known as the Lady Liberators.  The plot centers on the team planning and beginning a mission to the third world country of Marinmer to force that country's dictator to release withheld earthquake disaster aid to his suffering subjects.
     Initially, I was very disappointed that the superhero law firm world is now history in this comic, and I was apprehensive that the comic might have taken a turn for the worse.  Luckily, I was happy to find that the quality writing that made She-Hulk a premiere hit three years ago is still front and center here.  Writer Peter David maintains the same successful balancing act of equal parts comedy and timely drama.  The comedy in this issue works well in providing both Valkyrie and Thundra, two starchy and overly-serious characters, with a goofy side to their personalities.  The serious plot thread addresses the too-real problem in our world of oppressive regimes sometimes withholding disaster relief from their own populace.  Its clear that the fictional "Marinmer" is based on last year's real situation of the military regime of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, withholding international disaster aid from its own population after a devastating earthquake.
     The basic plotline here is not brand new; many comics over the years have given us stories of superheros frustrated by world political and social problems to the point of trying to break through the bureaucratic system and take matters into their own powerful hands.  The quality of this particular effort at this theme is good enough that I for one want to stick around and see how it plays out.  My fellow reviewer Dave LeBlanc tells me that Marvel is scheduled to end this current run of She-Hulk at #36, so this is basically a three-issue storyline.  My recommendation is to definitely read issues #34 through #36, then enjoy the previous issues in the graphic compilation volumes that are currently available.
 
     So an enthusiastic paws-up from the assembled citizens of Bongo Congo for both of this week's Superheroine issues.  See you

CONTEST WINNER ANNOUNCEMENT!

This week's Bongo Congo contest judges (King Leonardo, True Blue Odie and the King's Cousin Itchy) have finished reviewing the few entries received for favorite comic issue of the 1990's.

First, a well-deserved Honorable Mention to my fellow reviewer Dave LeBlanc, who provided the following eloquent remembrance of one of his favorite 1990's comic issues, Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross's groundbreaking Marvels #1:

 

This took a lot of thought. The basic problem is there are too many comics in a ten year period to remember them all or pick a best. After scanning a few sources to jog my memory I came upon one I thought fit the bill. It is MARVELS #1.

I remember this series and still have it in my collection. At the time there was so much about it that just blew me away. It had high production values - the painted cover with the clear plastic overlay made it stand out from everything else. The story from the point of view of the everyman Phil Sheldon was so refreshing at the time. He gave us the perspective we might have if we actually saw heroes flying around. It introduced me to Kurt Busiek who right from the start show an immense knowledge of the history of the Marvel Universe and great respect for it. Likewise Alex Ross began his triumphant rise in prominence with this series. It really reads well, looks well and remains a key series in the careers of two creators still producing quality work today. This came out in a time when we did not has as much advanced information about upcoming comics. Just the impact of that first cover made you want to pick it up, even if you were not a big Marvel fan, which I was not. Once you did, you were hooked.
 
David L. LeBlanc

 

And now on to our winner, who is (Royal Drumroll, please)...Andy Tarascio, who submitted his favorite 1990's Fantastic Four issue, which he describes as follows: "Galactus was eating everything in sight and never satisfied.  At the end, he activates the ultimate nullifier to save everyone.  There was an alien woman who could take over bodies.  There was Thor versus Gladiator."

Lots of classic Fantastic Four action jam-packed into that issue.  Since Andy couldn't recall the exact issue number, the Royal Judging Committee hereby offers a half-prize of a $5.00 That's Entertainment gift certificate to anyone who identifies the exact issue number no later than next Friday, December 5.

And don't forget, you have one more week to submit an entry to our week-old ongoing contest, your favorite work of comic genre fiction, anything from a novel to a short story!

 
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