Review Date: 04/24/2010

Last week we reviewed two new DC titles, so in the spirit of equal time, Good King Leonardo has decreed that this week
we review the launch of two new Marvel Comics Limited Series. So let's see how these two issue #1's stack-up:

- Timestorm 2009-2099 Issue #1
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Brian Reed: Writer
Eric Battle: Penciler
Andrew Hennessy & Vicente Cifuentes: Inkers
Bruno Hang: Colors

Marvel kicks-off issue #1 this week of a new, four-part Spiderman mini-series entitled "Timestorm 2009-2009".  The comic is scripted by Brian Reed, with pencils by Eric Battle, inks by Andrew Hennessy & Vicente Cifuentes and coloring by Bruno Hang.  This series takes place in the 2099 alternate reality Spiderman series that Marvel ran back in the 1990's.  For the uninitiated, the title had a very science fiction cyberpunk feel, a la the movie Bladerunner, with the society of 2099 run by large corporations and superheroes marginalized as part of the past.  Although I never read any of the series back then, I had heard that part of the premise was that the reality of present-day superheroes was twisted and mythologized via a 2099 religion called The Church Of Thor.

     The story in issue #1 of the new mini-series provides us with a time-travel focus.  The all-powerful Alchemax Corporation is messing with the time continuum by sending a Punisher-like 2099 assassin back to our time in order to assassinate as many 2009 superheroes as possible, as such altering the time continuum per the unrevealed goals of the company's chief executive, Tyler Stone.  Unbenownst to Stone, the assassin's weapon when fired actually propels Spiderman into the year 2099, where he is quickly drugged and imprisoned due to that era's illegality of anyone wielding power abilities.  The plot branches into two directions, one in which another imprisoned powerbeing attempts to assist Parker and another in which the assassin propels a second Marvel hero into the future, resulting in a very interesting end-of-issue #1 cliffhanger.  A secondary sub-plot introduces us to 2099 teenager Miguel O'Hara, who in the 1990's "2099" title run came to serve as that era's Spiderman, fighting against Stone.

     This issue worked for me for a few reasons.  First and foremost, writer Brian Reed has scripted a story that successfully creates a very credible science fiction dystopian corporate society, while blending it nicely with the existing Marvel superhero universe.  Secondly, Reed structures the story clear enough for the newcomer to the "2099" Spiderman Universe to enjoy it in its own right and pick-up enough pieces of the "2099" storyline concept to figure-out what its all about without having to do any background research (or asking around to fellow readers more familiar with "2099").  While there is a very detailed narrative of the "2099" universe in the back of the issue, I really didn't need to read it to gain the basic understanding of this alternate take on the world of Spidey.

     I also enjoyed the early pages of the issue in which scripter Reed shows skill at giving Spidey/Parker that joke-cracking sarcasm that has always been one of my favorite aspects of Spiderman's character.  The art team's work is a special treat in this section of the comic, as they manage the rare feat of giving some humorous and very enjoyable facial range to the Spiderman mask itself, particularly in a two-page spread in which it dawns on Spiderman that he's been propelled into a very futuristic time and place.

     So all-in-all, I recommend this kick-off issue as a very strong and entertaining blend of science fiction and superhero story-telling.

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- Electra (Dark Reign) #1
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Zeb Wells: Writer
Clay Mann: Penciler
Mark Pennington: Inks
Matt Hollingsworth: Colors

       Our second new Marvel mini-series for this week is a new Electra title.  This comic is part of the wider "Dark Reign" group of story titles in which Marvel is addressing the aftermath of the Skrull Invasion, whereby the former SHIELD has been replaced by a shadowy national security group run by Norman Osborn.  Issue #1 is written by Zeb Wells with an art team of Clay Mann, Mark Pennington and Matt Hollingsworth.

     Writer Wells begins this new story at the moment of the ending of the big Skrull-Human battle in Central Park, at which point a severely injured Electra is taken into custody by Iron Man and Shield.  Her initial humane medical treatment in a secure SHIELD facility quickly turns to interrogation and torture, as Osborn takes over the agency and wants to break Electra in order to find out why the Skrull singled her out for experimentation while in captivity.  The plotting here is very tense as the story accelerates through bloody confrontations between Electra and her interrogators.  The issue concludes with a nice bridge to the upcoming second part as Electra breaks-out of her confinement and gets set to take-on the entire security force for the containment facility.

     I've always been a fan of Electra and have enjoyed the interpretations on this character by various writers and artists.  Wells creates a very silent and extra-deadly version of Electra here, giving the story an atmosphere where one gets the feeling that perhaps The Skrull's experimentation may have transformed her into someone inhumamely powerful and dangerous.  Electra barely says a few words throughout the issue, conveying as much as words could via a mere look, gesture or just her perceived attitude.  The result is a thriller-type story that reminded me of a superhero version of some episodes of the FOX television series "24".  Definitely a recommended and enjoyable read, and I'm looking forward to seeing where the upcoming issues in this mini-series take Electra as she makes her way through this Dark Reign world.

     So there we have it for this week, two thumbs-ups for the respective first issues of these brand-new Marvel Comics mini-series.  King Leonardo is pleased that we have given equal time in the past two columns to respective pairs of new titles from The Big Two, DC and Marvel.  Happy reading, and see you again next week Here In Bongo Congo!

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Contest Winners!

We had several correct entrees for our current contest to name the current hit t.v. sitcom in which the main characters are big-time comic book fans, along with naming at leat one of the DC heroes regularly referred to on the show and giving us a line or joke from an episode.  While I mentioned that two DC heroes are regularly referred to on the show, some entrants correctly pointed out that four characters are actually talked about:  Flash, Green Lantern, Superman and Batman.

Using my fellow reviewer Dave LeBlanc's roll of the dice to select among many correct entrants, our winner is Ben Mininberg, who correctly identified the show as "The Big Bang Theory," on CBS Monday evenings at 8:00 p.m.  The four main characters are huge comic fanboys, and DC comics are constantly referred to.  None of our entrants gave us a joke from the show, instead referring to various references made to one of the four DC heroes or comic book collecting references.

Although Mike Dooley was ineligible to enter this contest as he won our last competition, he sent a very good observation that "the comic book background for this show is not the superficial "Batman/Superman/Spiderman/X-Men" common knowledge that almost everyone knows."  As an example, our contest winner Ben noted that a recent episode had a character pointing-out that you can't pick-up just any DC book off the store shelf these days without having previously read "Infinite Crisis" or "52."

As a personal observation, I love the comic book humor of the show.  As an example, in a recent episode the character Raj says to his friends "if the Golden Age Green Lantern's weakness is wood and the Modern Green Lantern's weakness is the color yellow, that means I could take them both out with a Number 2 pencil!"

So if you haven't seen the show, my advice is to check it out, you won't be disappointed.  And congratulations to Ben on winning the $10.00 That's Entertainment gift certificate for this contest!

New Contest Announcement!!

Our new challenge for you is to submit to us your favorite television animated cartoon show and pitch to us your explanation for why its your favorite show.  It can be a current show or a previous series that's in re-runs, since so many of our favorite cartoon shows live-on forever in endless re-runs.  So e-mail us at Gordon_A@msn.com and see if you're the winner of the $10.00 That's Entertainment gift certificate!!!


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