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Review Date: 05/08/2009

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Teen Titans #70
Publisher: DC Comics
Sean McKeever: Writer
Joe Bennett: Pencils
Jack Jadson & Belardino Brabo: Inks
Rod Reis: Colors

 
 

      
      DC's Teen Titans comic book title is up to issue #70 this month, a pretty solid run for any title these days.  In the past year I reviewed DC's other long-running teenage-hero team title, Legion Of Super Heroes, so I thought I'd give Teen Titans a review and see how its currently holding-up.  Issue #70 is Part 3 of an ongoing multi-issue story arc entitled "Deathtrap,"  and is scripted by Sean McKeever with an art team of Joe Bennett, Jack Jadson and Belardino Brabo.

     I was hoping for good things with this title, which I enjoyed very much back during its initial run in the Silver Age, but unfortunately I was disappointed for a few reasons.  The main flaw of issue #70 is the plot, which I honestly can't summarize for you.  The best I can make of it is that some foe sabotaged the Teen Titans aircraft, resulting in an extended crashlanding sequence for the first half of the story, followed by the Titans standing around whining about the crash and bickering with each other for the second half of the issue.  There is a clearer secondary sub-plot in which one Teen Titan stands vigil over another comatose Titan hoping that his friend recovers, but its a very brief and passing storyline within this particular issue.

     You'll notice that I haven't named any of the Titans so far in this review.  That's because very few of them are recognizable characters unless you're a dedicated monthly reader of this comic title.  Combine that fact with McKeever's dialogue style in which speakers rarely mention anyone's name and you've got one confusing group of teen heroes.  Many DC and Marvel team titles give a boilerplate id summary of the group members on page one of an issue.  Here, all we get is the statement "Since the days Robin first appeared, teenaged heroes have gathered together to take on evil and learn from each other as the...Teen Titans."  Note to DC: if you insist on needlessly summarizing the basic bio facts for Superman and Supergirl at the beginning of each issue of their respective comics, the least you can do is tell us who these less familiar folks are in this title.

     In sum, Teen Titans #70 is just down-right rambling and confusing.  Granted, I'm not a regular reader of the title, but even dropping into Part 3 of an ongoing story arc shouldn't lack this level of understanding, of either the storyline or the team's basic membership.  So my advice is to skip this issue and if you're looking for an understandable and enjoyable comic starring a teen ensemble, pick-up a copy The Mighty Avengers-Dark Reign #24 that I reviewed last week, which features The Young Avengers.  At least that issue's writer, Dan Slott, tells us who the characters are and gives us a story that can be understood.

 
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Justice Society Of America #26
Publisher: DC Comics
Geoff Johns: Writer
Dale Eaglesham: Pencils
Nathan Massengill: Inks

 
 

          
     Justice Society Of America #26 is a landmark event, in that its the last issue in this title written by the renowned Geoff Johns.  Johns jumpstarted the return of the Justice Society in this current Volume Three of the title back in 2006.  For the uninitiated, The Justice Society was actually the first superhero team in comics history, created by DC back in 1940.  Johns brought the team back in this current run with the premise that the Golden Age Flash, Green Lantern and Wildcat recreated the team by adding a much younger generation of new heroes to continue the Justice Society tradition.  The result over the past four years has been the issuance of a very well-crafted and popular comic series featuring this combination of old and new generations of superheroes working together and learning from each other's generational perspectives.

     The plot of issue #26 centers around a surprise birthday party for Stargirl, one of the teenaged members of the group.  While it may sound mundane as the focus of a superheroe comic book story, its actually the perfect story structure for Geoff Johns to give us his goodbye to the title that he resurrected so beautifully.  Johns crafts a story that well-balances involvement by all of the Justice Society members and their extended friends and family.  Within the simple context of the party, everyone's personalities are effectively featured.  At times very moving and heartfelt, at times funny and lighthearted, the story is a wonderful tribute to both the Justice Society and the concept of superheroe comics in general.

     It struck me after I finished reading this issue that Johns has produced something very unique with his farewell issue, in that he combines modern-day storytelling with a very old-fashioned warmth and characterization of the Justice Society members that just isn't seen in today's comic books.  Without overanalyzing it all, the combination of these throwback story features with a modern-day situation just left me with a good, satisfying feeling inside, that this is what superhero comic books are supposed to be all about.  This isn't something that comes along every day in today's comic world, so while I also recommend picking-up the two or three graphic compilations of issues #1 through #25 that are available at That's Entertainment, I urge you to read Justice Society of America #26 now, as Johns's goodbye effort also serves as a wonderful introduction to his classic four-year run on this premier comic book superhero team.

     A quick final comment: check-out in the back of this and other DC titles this month the five-page preview for the return of Animal Man, with issue #1 in stores on May 27th, as well as the one-page announcement in the DC Nation column of the upcoming Wednesday Funnies comic, an interesting DC experiment based on the newspaper Sunday Funnies format.

This just in!  Good King Leonardo has proclaimed By Royal Decree that we add some variety this week from our standard superhero comic review fare with the classic literary comic book review below:

 
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Sherlock Holmes #1
Publisher: Dynamite Entertainment
Leah Moore & John Reppion: Writers
Aaron Campbell: Illustration
Tony Avina: Colors

 

 
 

          
    Dynamite Entertainment has just published issue #1 in a new Sherlock Holmes comic book title, as part of the company's new effort to publish comics based upon literary icons.  Rather than just illustrate an existing Sherlock Holmes story from 19th century Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, writers Leah Moore and John Reppion have scripted an original storyline illustrated by Aaron Campbell and Tony Avina.

     The plot focuses on Victorian London private detective Holmes and his investigative sidekick Dr. Watson investigating threats against bedridden London aristocrat Sir Samuel Henry.  The story climaxes with the shooting death of Sir Henry; upon hearing gunfire, his guardians break into his locked bedroom to find Sherlock Holmes himself standing over the dead aristocrat holding a smoking gun while proclaiming his innocence.  This sets-up the multi-story arc in which Holmes will be put on-trial and needs to prove his innocence in the face of this overwhelming "guilty-as-charged" mysterious set of circumstances.

     The comic's creative team do an excellent job of giving us a graphically illustrated murder mystery in the spirit and quality of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's original Holmes stories.  Moore and Reppion recreate the character dialogue of Victorian London perfectly, aided by Campbell and Avina's exquisite illustrations of the era's London urban setting.  This comic book provides top-notch entertainment for two categories of readers: comic book lovers looking for a change of pace from traditional superhero fare and fiction readers looking for some graphic variety from traditional Sherlock Holmes short stories.  For either group of readers, an enthusiastic thumbs-up for issue #1 of what will no doubt prove to be a very intriguing whodunnit murder mystery tale.

 
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Contest Winner Announcement!!!

Our latest contest was for you to submit to us your favorite television cartoon show, explaining why you like the show so much.  And our winner is (drumroll please)...Ray Loughlin III with his submittal for the very popular show Sponge Bob Squarepants.  Ray writes that "I really enjoy this cartoon because it is very funny.  It is a different kind of humor.  You never know what will happen next in the story."  Ray mentions the many enjoyable supporting characters on the show, adding that he thinks that Patrick The Starfish is the funniest character on the show..."he is a starfish and doesn't have a brain.  So he really says and does some really stupid things that keep me laughing."

An excellent choice of a favorite show with a good explanation of why it is his favorite.  So congratulations, Ray, from the Bongo Congo judging panel, and enjoy your $10.00 gift certificate prize to That's Entertainment!

Stay tuned for an upcoming new contest announcement in next week's column. 
Happy comic book reading until then, and see you next week right back Here In Bongo Congo!!!

 
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