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Review Date: 07/31/2009

We're back from Good King Leonardo's summit meeting with the leaders of our nation down in Washington, DC.  The weather was drier than the usual DC summer humidity. After sitting in the peanut gallery watching first-hand as Congress debated National Healthcare, we're recharged for comic book reading, and Our Good King has decreed that we offer the following three reviews for your pleasure:

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Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?
Publisher: Boom! Studios
Philip K. Dick: Author
Tony Parker: Art

 
 

        
    
  Boom! Studios released last week issue #1 in its eagerly-awaited graphic presentation of science fiction pioneer Philip K. Dick's classic novel "Do Android's Dream Of Electric Sheep?"  For the uninitiated, the novel was an instant classic when originally published in the 1960's and provided the basis for the 1982 Ridley Scott-directed movie starring Harrison Ford retitled as "Blade Runner."  The Boom! Studios series will consist of twelve monthly issues presenting Philip K. Dick's word-for-word complete novel text set to graphic format.

     The "Blade Runner" film was loosely based on the original novel, as director Scott faithfully recreated Dick's futuristic Los Angeles society, utilizing some of the novel's characters within a new action-adventure plot.  Issue #1 of the new comic series faithfully presents the early chapters of the novel.  The main character is Rick Deckard, an L.A. bounty hunter living with his wife Iran in the dystopian society of 2019.  Its a world slowly drowning in a sea of post-war radioactive dust, as most of humanity has relocated to healthier off-world colonies.  The remaining Earth-bound residents do their best to try and maintain an everyday life.  We quickly learn that the nuclear war has killed off almost all of the planet's animal life, leading to an obsession among humans for owning the few remaining animals as household pets.  Social status ranks live pet owners on the high rungs of society while those unable to afford the rare breeds are forced into the role of social posers by owning animatronic versions of live animals.

     The "Blade Runner" movie presented Dick's futuristic society as cinematic background, focusing on Deckard's job as a hitman for the L.A. Police Department as he hunted-down and executed artificial humans who would escape the colonies and try to filter back into Earthbound society.  Both film and book serve as classic literary commentaries on the meaning and value of life, presenting fresh and forceful arguments that humanness and decency cannot be determined based on "natural" versus "artificial" origins.  The impact of Dick's novel is such that Newsweek magazine recently ranked it as one of the top 50 most important novels in its relevance to our rapidly-changing world of 2009.

     I'm very happy to write that if issue #1 of the Boom! Studios graphic series is an indication of the upcoming series, this graphic presentation can rightfully take its place beside the novel and film as both an important and entertaining literary classic.  As a huge Philip K. Dick fan, it would have been enough for me to read a graphic adaptation that provided a respectful presentation of the main highlights of the Dick novel.  Frankly, I'm blown away by the creative team's overall goal and success in issue #1 with presenting the actual narrative of the novel accompanied by graphic art.  Artist Tony Parker does a wondrous job in providing both the perfect style and appropriate scenes for each moment of the unfolding storyline.

     Most importantly, Parker and associates are taking their time, allowing the story to unfold the way Dick created it.  We learn very early in issue #1 that Rick Deckard is an android-killing bounty hunter but this fact is a minor aside, as the beginning of the novel as well as this first issue focuses on immersing us in what day-to-day existence in an average American's life has become in this post-nuclear war society.  The issue #1 scenes in which Deckard and his next-door neighbor both support and one-up each other in their natural-versus-artificial household pet obsession are spellbounding both of their own accord and as a comment on how people try to adapt to rapid and uncontrollable change in society, similar in many ways to how we have to cope with our ever-accelerating social change here in 2009 America.

     While I'm giving this comic an obvious thumbs-up for quality, literary importance and just plain entertainment, its important to emphasize that this is the only comic I've ever come across with the goal of faithfully presenting 100% of the actual narrative of its origin novel being adapted to the graphic form.  For that goal alone, as well as the high quality of the effort out of the gate with issue #1, this Boom! Studios comic book title deserves The Good Comic Reader's respect and attention to this entire series.  With the addition of "Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?" to the monthly comic schedule for the next twelve months, its going to be a great upcoming comic book reading year.

 
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Superman/Batman #62
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Michael Green & Mike Johnson: Writers
Rafael Albuquerque:
Art David Baron: Colors

 
 

          
    I first reviewed the Superman/Batman comic title last year, and decided to revisit it this week with a review of the latest issue #62.  The comic is written by Michael Green and Mike Johnson, with art by Rafael Albuquerque and colors by David Baron. 

     Entitled "Sidekicked," the story has two alternating sub-plots, both of which focus on sidekicks Robin and Supergirl as opposed to the main title characters of Batman and Superman.  The start and finish of the issue focus on the two heroes meeting for lunch in Gotham in their civilian identities as Linda Lang and Tim Drake.  The bulk of the story is a 17-page flashback in which the pair reminisce about their first time working together, responding in place of their mentors to a supervillain prisoner takeover of Gotham's infamous Arkham Asylum.

     I enjoyed this issue very much for a few reasons.  Writers Green and Johnson bring a nice, balanced mix of humor and drama to their storytelling, which combines very effectively with the art team's excellent visuals.  I loved Rafael Albuquerque's expressive emotions on the character's faces, particularly in the various comedic scenes.  I was also appreciative of the artist's ability to portray the creepiness of Arkham Asylum along with the nastiness of the supervillain inmates without going too over-the-top on visual grossness.  While there's crazy villain blood and violence in the Arkham Asylum panels, it doesn't cross into that ultra-bloodbath category that I personally don't enjoy and complain about in some reviews.

     So another thumbs-up for an enjoyable read, with the two younger heroes guest-starring in their mentors's title.  Credit must also be given to D.C. Comics for providing strong consistency in storytelling and artistic style to this title from its first issue several years ago through the current issue #62.  My advice to D.C. Universe fans who aren't already readers of this comic is to get on-board with this very enjoyable issue #62 while at the same time diving into the first 61 issues, either through the reprint volumes of the earliest issues or through the back issue comic bins, all readily available at That's Entertainment.

 
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The Incredible Hulk #600
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Jeph Loeb & Ed McGuinness: Creators
Mark Farmer: Inks

 
 

          
     Marvel Comics has just released the landmark issue #600 of The Incredible Hulk as an oversized multi-story issue for the price of $4.99.  The lead story is from the creative team of Jelp Loeb, Ed McGuiness and Mark Farmer. 

     Entitled "Seeing Red," the story focuses on a confrontation between our old friend the Bruce Banner/Green Hulk and the "Unknown Person"/Red Hulk.  New York reporter Ben Urich assembles staff photographer Peter Parker (a.k.a. Spiderman, of course), She-Hulk and Doc Sampson to infiltrate a secret base in the Southwest desert where they learn that Bruce Banner is being held captive.  Without giving away any of the fun details, this leads to a massive battle involving all of the heroes and civilians mentioned, concluding with some very interesting plot twists for all of the folks involved.

      The second story in this issue is also a Green Hulk vs. Red Hulk tale entitled "A Hulk Of Many Colors," written by Stan Lee and drawn by Rodney Buchemi, while story number three focuses on a character I'm unfamiliar with called Lyra, who appears to be the daughter of Bruce Banner from an alternate reality.  Our fourth and final story is a reprint of issue #1 of 2003's Hulk Grey mini-series by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale.  The anniversary issue concludes with a cover gallery of all 600 Hulk issues and a cute two-page kids cartoon written by Audrey Loeb.

     I definitely recommend this comic book as a special anniversary issue and give credit where its due for Marvel packing a $4.99 comic with so many stories and accompanying anniversary information.  I just have to honestly express my disappointment that Marvel didn't use this Hulk anniversary moment to reveal the unknown identity of the Red Hulk.  There's been a rumor lately that Red Hulk would be identified in this issue, so I personally felt let-down. I feel that Marvel's been milking the anonymity angle for Red Hulk long enough;  it's time to give him an interesting and surprising identity, then just move the storyline forward regarding the consequences of learning who this guy really is.  That said, however, the Loeb/McGuinness story was still entertaining and did further evolve ongoing story issues revolving around our big green and red buddies.

 
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CONTEST WINNER ANNOUNCEMENT !!!

We have two winners of our latest contest, which was to tell us of a comic book title or series which you feel has been overlooked for the honor of being reprinted into softcover or hardcover graphic paperback format.  And the winners are (drumroll, please)...Kevin Browne and Alex Wilcox.

Kevin nominated a classic title run of Legion of Super Heroes from the period between May, 2000 to April, 2001, as created by Dan Abnett, Andy Lanning and Oliver Coipel.  Among his points arguing for a trade volume reprinting, Kevin says that the series was "dark, gritty and full of sci-fi goodness."  He also gives a shout-out to the follow-up "Legion Lost" maxi-series as equally worthy of reprint, citing that "blending tremendous characterization, big-idea sci-fi concepts and the rejuvenation of an ailing franchise, "Legion Lost" remains a testament to how good these characters and the Legion concept can be."

Alex pitched as his nomination a trade paperback reprinting of the Planetary comic book title, created by Warren Ellis and John Cassaday.  Since we're all waiting for that long-delayed final comic issue release from this series, Alex writes that "what better way to bring everyone up to speed than to reprint the series.  It's an incredible story with jaw-dropping art and just riddled with homages to other iconic series.  The timing couldn't be better if they reprinted it on the (hopefully) eve of the release of the last issue!"  Some of the earliest issues in Volume I of the series are out in reprint compilation, but Alex raises a very good point about the remainder of the series and timing it with that extremely overdue last issue.

Congrats to both of our contest winners, who each receive a $10.00 gift certificate to That's Entertainment.

Well that's all for this week's reviews.  Stay tuned for a new contest announcement soon in an upcoming column.
Happy comic book reading, and see you again next week Here In Bongo Congo!

 
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