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STORE NEWS
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Review Date: 05/01/2009
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Detective Comics #853
Publisher: DC Comics
Neil Gaiman: Writer
Andy Kubert: Pencils
Scott Williams: Inks
Alex Sinclair: Colors

 
 

      
    This week's issue #853 of Detective Comics is part 2 of a story entitled "Whatever Happened To The Caped Crusader?"  Part 1 was published a few months ago in Batman #686.  The tale is scripted by Neil Gaiman with art by Andy Kubert, Scott Williams and Alex Sinclair.

      As part of the ongoing "death of or missing" Batman theme throughout the DC Universe at the moment, renowned writer Neil Gaiman provides us with a very metaphorical, fever dream-like tale that serves as an homage to the overall history and concept of The Batman in general.  The plot centers on a funeral wake for Batman, in which the historical cast of friends and foes attend and take turns offering eulogies to The Caped Crusader. 

     Gaiman brings two very creative and entertaining fantasy spins to the storyline.  First, he provides Batman himself as the unseen story narrator, witnessing his own funeral along with a mysterious unidentified woman, while continually wondering aloud whether or not he is actually dead. Secondly, the reality of Batman himself changes from page to page, as each speaker gives an entirely different and contradictory explanation of the circumstances of Batman's supposed death.  Even the costume of the Batman lying in wake changes in each eulogy scene, reflecting one of the many Batman fashions presented by DC over the decades of our hero's career.

     Both my fellow reviewer Dave LeBlanc, who reviewed part 1 in Batman #686, and I give enthusiastic recommendations to this creative addition to the Batman legacy.  Creators Gaiman and Kubert don't mean the tale to be taken literally as a real-world episode in the life of Batman.  The shifting Batman artistic representations and alternating explanations of his death are simply a very effective tribute to Batman as variously represented in each era of the overall history of our hero's publication.

     I was particularly moved by the second half of the issue, in which Gaiman and Kubert reveal the identity of Narrator-Batman's anonymous companion, who then assists him in wrapping-up this tale in a very literary and symbolic conclusion.  To avoid any spoiler details, I'll just comment that the conclusion dovetails very nicely with the concept of DC giving the Batman some time off for the forseeable future as The Battle For The Cowl plays-out for a year or two, after which the cycle of The Batman will begin anew with the return that we all know is inevitably coming after this current absence-of-Batman period concludes.

     Whether you are a casual fan or a hard-core Batman devotee like myself, pick-up a copy of this issue (along with part 1, of course!) and enjoy the high quality of the renowned creative team's gracious tribute to one of the premier characters in all of comicdom.

 
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The Mighty Avengers (Dark Reign) #24
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Dan Slott: Writer
Rafa Sandoval: Penciler
Roger Bonet Martinez: Inker
John Rauch: Colorist

 
 

          
     I've written a handful of reviews over the past several months on comic issues published under various Marvel titles within the current Dark Reign story universe, in which Norman Osborn is running a shady version of SHIELD called HAMMER, while leading a new team of heroes secretly reconstituted from villains.  As such, for the sake of variety, this will most likely be my final review of this multi-title storyline for at least awhile.

     This current issue of The Mighty Avengers offers two sub-plots to the unfolding Dark Reign saga.  The first consists of Osborne holding an administrative meeting with the other five behind-the-scene villains who secretly plot with him regarding the various Dark Reign activities.  Writer Dan Slott is one of my favorite Marvel storytellers, and gives us here an interesting verbal sparring amongst the secret six villains, as on the surface they have a conversation about cooperating togther while beneath the dialogue they jockey to outmaneuver the group to each one's personal advantage.

     The more action-oriented second sub-plot focuses on The Young Avengers, as they come together and start to function as a working team to address scenarios around the world.  They are initially dogged by old-school Avenger Quicksilver as he tries to find his missing sister The Scarlett Witch, ultimately resulting in Quicksilver joining the group.

     This is an enjoyable comic to read, both as a stand-alone comic book and as an addition to the ongoing Dark Reign series.  As I mentioned above, Dan Slott is as good as it gets in scripting a strong Marvel superhero tale, having proved himself so well, to me at least, in the first year of the She-Hulk title run from a few years ago.  I enjoyed very much learning a bit about The Young Avengers, whom I'm not very familiar with.  It will be interesting to see how they handle teaming-up with the volatile Quicksilver as the story progresses in upcoming issues. 

     On a final note, keep an eye out for a very intriguing sudden development on the very last page of the issue pertaining to Norman Osborn; the story reveals an unexpected side of Osborn, likely to have major repercussions for the overall Dark Reign storyline both in this title and all of the others in the Dark Reign series.

 
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The Amazing Spider-Man #592
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Mark Waid: Writer
Mike McKone: Pencils
Andy Lanning: Inks
Jeremy Cox: Colors

 
 

          
      It caught my eye as I browsed this past week through the new issues wall at That's Entertainment that Marvel is actually publishing The Amazing Spider-Man three times per month, for a total of 36 issues annually.  As such, I decided to check-out the storyline in this heavily-produced title.  Issue #592 is scripted by Mark Waid, known among other projects for writing DC's Kingdom Come as well as BOOM! Studios new Irredeemable comic title, which I reviewed in this column a few weeks ago.  Mike McCone, Andy Lanning and Jeremy Cox are the artistic team for this issue.

     This story centers on the well-known antagonism between Spiderman/Peter Parker and former Daily Bugle editor J. Jonah Jameson.  Jameson has recently been elected as Mayor of New York (yeech!!!) and continues in his new role with his always bizarre fixation on besmirching our hero and trying to prevent him from carrying-out his usual webslinging around town.  There's also a sub-plot here regarding the relationship between Jameson and his elderly father, J. Jonah Sr., who's apparently recently returned to The Big Apple and horror-of-horrors for J.J. Jr., turns out to be a huge Spiderman fan!

     One of my favorite elements of Spiderman has always been the brand of humor that is often woven into stories in this comic line.  Issue #592 hits a homerun out of the park on that note.  This is one extremely funny comic book, in three respects: Spidey/Parker's usual snappy and humorous dialogue and personality, the Jameson/Spidey interactions and a very funny cliffhanger of an ending which I won't even begin to describe for fear of giving any of it away.

     While so many of the popular comic titles these days are of high quality and enjoyable, its also a fact that many of them happen to be very dark and serious, such as DC's The Battle For The Cowl titles and Marvel's Dark Reign series.  Its not a criticism of these excellent comic products to desire a little balance with some lighter and more humorous fare.  Happily, Marvel is providing us at the moment with that needed spike-of-sugar in the latest issue of Spider-Man.  Give it a read and I guarantee that you'll have more than one enjoyable laugh that you won't regret!

 
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Ongoing Contest Reminder!!!

Just a reminder that our latest contest is still open.  E-mail us at Gordon_A@msn.com with your entry-submit to us your favorite cartoon/animated television series and pitch to us why you like it so much.  It can be a current show or one that lives forever in endless and happy re-runs.  The contest entry deadline is next Wednesday, May 6, so enter now for the prize of a $10.00 That's Entertainment gift certificate.

     On behalf of Good King Leonardo and his many kingdom subjects, happy reading and see you again next week Here In Bongo Congo!

 
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