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Review Date: 07/10/2009

We've been writing a lot of DC Comics reviews over the past few weeks, so Good King Leonardo has decreed equal time for the following latest Marvel Comics releases:
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USA Comics 70th Anniversary Special #1
Publisher: Marvel Comics
John Arcudi: Writer
Steve Ellis: Artist

 
 

        
     The latest issue in the Marvel Comics ongoing 70th Anniversary tribute to its parent company Timely Comics is USA Comics #1, featuring the Timely Comics Golden Age hero The Destroyer.  The Destroyer has a very interesting historical lineage.  Created in the 1940's by a young Stan Lee, he was actually Lee's best known creation prior to the Fantastic Four in the 1960's, and was the fifth most popular Timely Golden Age hero, behind The Submariner, Human Torch, Captain America and The Angel.

     The Destroyer was American reporter Ken Marlow, who was captured behind enemy lines and imprisoned in a concentration camp.  In a parallel to Captain America's origin story, Marlow was injected with a super-soldier serum by an anti-Nazi fellow scientist prisoner.  Marlow escapes and becomes the costumed hero The Destroyer, fighting the Nazi's on their own turf.

     This new anniversary story is written by John Arcudi with art by Steve Ellis.  The 21-page, high-action adventure is set in 1941 German-occupied Poland and begins with The Destroyer attacking a military train and kidnapping German civilian journalist Emil Hansen.  Hansen is anti-Nazi but is conflicted with standing-up against his own countrymen.  The bulk of the story consists of The Destroyer taking Hansen on a dangerous unknown journey across war-torn Europe, concluding with The Destoryer liberating the concentration camp from which he personally had escaped, thus giving Hansen the knowlege and courage to reveal the truth of The Holocaust to the world.

     I was very pleased to discover that with this latest issue, Marvel continues to provide a very high quality comic in each edition of this 70th Anniversary tribute series.  As with the issues that I've previously reviewed, The Destroyer story successfully blends elements of the Golden Age and modern comic book era.  Writer John Arcudi provides a plot that stays true to the Golden Age details of this superhero, while providing a modern-style narrative that stands on its own feet as an enjoyable, present-day comic book story.  My only constructive criticism is that this story doesn't give the new reader any information on The Destroyer's alter ego, beyond a very brief allusion to a rumor that he's a super-soldier who escaped from a concentration camp.  But this omission is minor, as the basic tale and moral lesson excells and overshadows the lack of such a detail.

     The larger story lesson regarding gaining courage to stand-up for the truth is well-presented and moving both in the story narrative and as presented with Steve Ellis's very effective artwork.  I actually felt that Ellis's interpretation of The Destroyer's costume gave the character a much more efffective heroic visual impact than the Golden Age design, as can be seen in comparison with the art in the second story of the issue, which is a 12-page Destroyer reprint tale from the Winter 1942 issue of All Winners Comics #3.

     So once again, an enthusiastic thumbs-up for the latest issue in this renowned 70th anniversary Timely Comics tribute series.  I highly recommend that you read this issue as well as the previous issues in the series that are still available.

 
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Captain America Reborn #1
Issue Number: 1 (of 5)
Publisher: Marvel
Writer: Ed Brubaker
Artists: Bryan Hitch & Butch Guice
Colors: Paul Mounts
Letters: Joe Caramagna
Cover Artist: Too numerous to mention
Price (USD): $3.99
Release Date: NOW ON SALE
Genre: Super Hero

 
 

          
     Marvel Comics has begun the return of Steve Rodgers as Captain America with the publication of Captain America Reborn #1.  The title is a five-issue mini-series that most likely will bring the deceased Rodgers back into the Marvel Comic Universe fold.  Ed Brubaker, Bryan Hitch and Butch Guice collaborate on this mutli-issue story arc.

     Issue #1 begins the return by summarizing to-date the story of Cap's death, up to Cap's old girlfriend, S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Sharon Carter, informing Hank Pym/The Wasp that she shot Rodgers when she was under the control of The Red Skull.  The plot shifts to Carter, The Vision and The Falcon informing scientist Pym of a scientific possibility of Rodgers still being alive outside of the space/time continuum.  The second half of the issue #1 story gives us two sub-plots.  In the first scenario, the new Captain America/Bucky Barnes and The Black Widow try to obtain the necessary scientific equipment to try and retrieve Rodgers, while the second sub-plot shows us Cap flitting back and forth in time within his time continuum trap.

     It was inevitable that Marvel would fully restore Cap/Rodgers to the Marvel Universe.  Similar to the "Death of Superman" series in the 1990's and the ongoing "Death of Batman" series, there's just no way a comic book publisher is going to permanently delete an A-list hero icon from the profitable publishing world.  As such, for me the quality of these "death of" series is how well-crafted the return of the superhero is presented.  Casual readers and fanboys alike deserve a credible explanation for their heros supposed death and ultimate return, as opposed to the "who shot J.R. Ewing" cop-out.  For those who don't remember, the writers of the 1980's t.v. drama hit "Dallas" copped-out when J.R. was shot by claiming that "it was all a dream"!

     Issue #1 is definitely an enjoyable comic book read, and I recommend continuing to read the 5-issue series to learn the details of how Cap's return plays-out.  However, I do have a mixed reaction at this point to "The Return" details laid-out in issue #1.  While Brubaker presents the idea that Cap is stuck outside of time and there's equipment in existence that can retrieve him, so far it hasn't been rationalized how a guy who got shot and killed by a bullet would be floating "somewhere out there" available for retrieval.  As such, I'm very curious to read the attempt to resolve this contradiction in upcoming issues.

     While so far this "return of" point doesn't make much sense, the issue is enjoyable enough to dive into this tale and see where it takes us.  So my advice is to climb on-board for the ride and see where Marvel takes us as the old Captain America returns.  Then wait awhile and get onboard the next, inevitable train for DC's eventual return of Batman/Bruce Wayne!

 
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Marvel Divas #1
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa: Writer
Tonci Zonjic: Art

 
 

          
     Last week I reviewed issue #1 of the new DC Comics title Gotham Sirens #1, so its only right to give equal time in a quick third review this week to a similar Marvel comic, this week's issue #1 of Marvel Divas.  This is the first issue of a four-issue mini-series starring the Marvel female characters Black Cat, Photon, Hellcat and Firestar.

     The comic is being marketed as a deliberate superhero take-off on the popular t.v. show Sex & The City.  Issue #1 introduces us to the four main characters and gives us a story which emphasizes their friendship bond as they dish about relationships and the daily events of their lives.  The issue ends in a cliffhanger as one of the foursome dramatically announces a major personal medical crisis.

     I'm giving this comic a thumbs-up as it clearly meets the creative team's goal of providing a quality superhero comic spin on the show Sex & The City, but I personally am not a fan of that t.v. show and as such also didn't enjoy the comic book.  This is pure "Chic Lit" in comic book form, as the four main characters dish and bond about soap opera-level stuff in their lives.  There's no traditional comic book plot or activity, here.  So for the average fanboy my advice is to pass on this mini-series, but again, if your entertainment tastes include the t.v. show Sex & The City and/or Chic Lit, by all means read this high quality product within that particular reading genre.

 
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CONTEST WINNER ANNOUNCEMENT !!

Our current contest challenge was for you to submit your favorite comic book writer and tell us why, in your opinion, he or she is tops in the field.  And the contest winner is (drumroll, please)...Colin Solan, who nominates Brian K. Vaughan as Numero Uno Comic Book Scribe.  Colin writes that "I have never once been disappointed in a BKV-penned issue.  He takes great care to study the minutiae of a character and what their reaction would be to a certain situation.  I also love the trivia he slips in, especially in his creator owned books Y The Last Man and Ex Machina. His dialogue is fantastic and he knows how to plot a convincing cliffhanger."

You can't articulate a better argument for a quality writer, so congrats to Colin on winning this contest's $10.00 That's Entertainment gift certificate!

On a personal note, I can't choose one favorite writer of mine among a small group of several favorite comic scribes, but I will give a shout-out to Paul Chadwick, author/creator of the acclaimed comic and character Concrete.  I'm ashamed to say that I never read Concrete until a few weeks ago, when I read a reprint edition of the first 10 stories from back in the mid-1980's.  I was surprised by Chadwick's wonderful and unique writing style, with dialogue that was very poetic and lyrical.  If you're not familiar with Chadwick or his Concrete character, check-out the back issue inventory at That's Entertainment for a wonderful read.

So once again, that's all this week from comic book review territory.  Have a great (and hopefully
rain-free!) comic book reading week, and see you again next week Here In Bongo Congo!

 
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