Review Date: 08/14/2009

Good King Leonardo has announced that our theme for this week is "Teamwork", so here are
reviews of three new comics featuring teamwork among its starring superheros:
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Doom Patrol #1
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Keith Giffen: Writer
Matthew Clark: Penciller
Livesay: Inker
Guy Major: Colors


     D.C. Comics has just published issue #1 in a revival of the Silver Age team known as the Doom Patrol. For the uninitiated, the Doom Patrol was created in 1963 by Arnold Drake as a team of misfits who band-together to try and use their misunderstood powers to help the world. The series had a very unique Silver Age lineage for several reasons. It was very popular as a cross between science fiction and traditional superhero-style comics, and was also infamous for being the first popular comic to have its entire team of main characters killed-off in the final issue of its original run, which ended in 1968. There have also been many debates in fandom over the years regarding whether or not Doom Patrol inspired Marvel to create the X-Men and whether or not Doom Patrol itself was inspired by Marvel's Fantastic Four.

Since the Silver Age, there have been more revivals of Doom Patrol than most people can keep track of. The latest revival of this comic title is written by DC veteran Keith Giffen with art by Matthew Clark, Livesay and Guy Major. Entitled "We Who Are About To Die," the issue #1 storyline starts with a lot of fast action, as the Doom Patrol infiltrates a secret genetics lab in the rogue island nation of Oolong. In a badly-botched battle with lab-spawned monsters, one of the Doom Patrol members is killed, one is stranded on the island and the rest barely escape with their lives. The second half of the story focuses in turn on Patrol members Elasti-Woman, Negative Man, Robot Man and the Chief, as each struggles with the aftermath of the failed mission and the death of their team member. The end of the issue provides an interesting bridge to issue #2 as a failed science experiment threatens the entire world.

Although I was never a regular reader of either the original or follow-up versions of this title, I was always a fan of the title's basic concept. In its day, Doom Patrol represented a uniqueness and edginess outside of the envelope of standard 1960's superhero concepts. There was a very realistic social credibility to creator Drake's concept of superheros as rejects, who banded together to rise above society's stereotypes in order to actually do some good in the world. Its a concept very common in today's comics but groundbreaking at the time and ultimately influential on basic comic book writing in the post-Silver Age decades.

While the issue #1 story structure and details have their own modern-day flair, credit is due to writer Keith Giffen for carrying this Doom Patrol heritage into this latest incarnation. Although the main characters have typical comic book superpowers, Giffen portrays them as very human, as evident in both their mistakes during the Island battle scenes and afterwards as they try to decompress back home and cope with the physical and emotional losses of the first half of the story. The personalities that Giffen writes for Elasti-Woman, Negative Man and Robot Man are so realistic that this title holds-out the possibility for some classic quality storylines, if future issues continue in the direction established here in issue #1.

In additional to the literary quality of the issue #1 story, kudos also need to be given to the high quality artwork. I particularly loved a two-page high action sequence on pages 10 and 11 in which Elasti-Woman uses her giantess powers to save the day. A third and final high-five for this issue has to go out for a back-up, 10-page Metal Men story, entitled "A Day In The Life!" Keith Giffen teams with J.M. Dematteis and Kevin Maguire to revive this Silver Age team with the same mix of disfunction, well-intention and goofy humor that made the Metal Men a Silver Age hit. Veteran fans and newcomers alike will enjoy the addition of "Copper" as a new female member of the team. Without spoiling any details, I'll just say that much credit is due to the creative team for giving "Copper" a completely different personality type from "Platinum" Tina, the previously solo female member of the team. So a definite thumbs-up for this new comic title, which gives us enjoyable revivals of two historic DC superhero teams rolled into one affordable comic book issue.

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All Winners Comics #1
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Karl Kesel: Writer
Steve Uy: Writer


    Marvel's latest issue in its 70th Anniversary tribute series to its original parent company, Timely Comics, Inc., is All Winners Comics #1. This tribute issue to Marvel's original Golden Age title features a team-up of the All Winners Squad, consisting of Captain America, The Human Torch, Submariner, Bucky, Toro, Miss America and The Whizzer. Entitled "Old Soldiers Never Die..." the story is scripted by Karl Kesel with art by Steve Uy.

The story is set in 1946 New York, as the Squad settles into functioning in a Post World War II America. On one level the story focuses on a lot of action, as the All Winners Squad battle two postwar foes, Future Man and Madame Death, with the action culminating in a massive battle with supernatural elements in Times Square. A second sub-plot interweaves this action with the team trying to fit into a postwar world, chafing with each other on the direction the Squad should take in battling for the greater good, as well as making the mundane decisions of how their team will function.

Once again Marvel has given us a very high quality comic tribute to a heroic team from their Golden Age period. I loved the fresh personalities that writer Karl Kesel gives each character, such as Miss America being the psychological glue that holds these guys together as a newly-emerging postwar team, and Jeff Mace's struggle to try and fill the shoes of the original deceased Cap. There's a wonderful and creative ending that I won't spoil by giving away any details, in which the Golden Age Marvel characters are shown to have a direct and major historical connection to Marvel's Silver Age characters who emerge in the 1960's. I enjoyed very much the story element that cements Marvel's two comic book eras togther, and felt that it served as a nice prologue to the upcoming "Marvels Project" mini-series, which focuses at least in part on expanding the connection between the Golden and Silver Age Marvel Universes.

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Cyberforce/Hunter-Killer #1
Publisher: Image Comics
Mark Waid: Writer
Kenneth Rocafort: Art
Sunny Gho: Colors


    In addition to the team comics reviewed above from D.C. and Marvel Comics, I wanted to add a team-oriented comic to this week's reviews from one of the smaller publishers. Image Comics has just published issue #1 of a new team-oriented series entitled Cyberforce/Hunter-Killer. The comic is written by well-known comic scripter Mark Waid with art by Kenneth Rocafort and Sunny Gho.

Waid presents an issue #1 storyline centering on what he calls "Ultra-Sapiens," X-Men style genetic mutants who received their powers when given a genetically-enhanced tattoo that changes their body chemistry. The first several pages of the story give us the background of the creation of these Ultra-Sapiens and introduce us to specific individuals along with their particular powers. The remainder of the story focuses on a battle between two warring factions of Ultra-Sapiens, with a hint at the end of the issue that they will eventually resolve their differences and combine into the Cyberforce of the comic's title. An afterward at the end of the comic explains to the reader that both of these forces had previous comic titles from Image and this team-up is the next evolving step within this comic universe.

My reaction is to give this comic a moderate thumbs-up. The art is beautiful and I liked the fresh approach that Waid takes in creating some new superpowered characters who have interesting and sometimes off-beat abilities. However, these positive elements are weighed-down by a difficulty in figuring-out who's on what side in this two-team storyline. A lot of the characters are very much alike, with the result that its hard to tell who is on which team. The result gives us a confusing mishmash of folks running around and attacking each other.

Hopefully, upcoming issues will either clarify the confusion or it won't matter too much if the entire group teams-up together against some outside foes. So if you're looking for a comic with some fresh and non-traditional characters, its worth giving this new comic title a look and seeing how this new superteam concept evolves beyond issue #1.

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Contest Winner Announcement!!!

Our latest contest was for you to e-mail us naming one of the two astronaut artifacts which were manufactured by a well-known company here in Worcester that are on display in the National Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C.. As we received several correct submittals, by roll of the dice the winner is Stan Hosmer, who identified the astronaut suit on display which was manufactured by the David Clark Company in Worcester. All of our correct entrants identified the space suit. The second correct answer would have been the radio headset console worn by Astronaut Neil Armstrong into which he spoke his famous "One small step for man..." quote when stepping onto the moon's surface. The headset was also manufactured at David Clark Company.

Our No-Prize Question was for you to tell us how many pandas live at The National Zoo in Washington, D.C. Either of two answers would have been acceptable: The National Zoo webpage lists three pandas, but my brother and I definitely counted four pandas when we recently visited the zoo. Our only contest entry was from Dave LeBlanc, who suggested the correct answer is "as many pandas as will fit" into the zoo! I guess you can never have too many pandas, if you're a zookeeper.

Congrats from the judging panel to Stan Hosmer, who wins the $10.00 gift certificate to That's Entertainment. Stay tuned for another contest announcement soon.

Have a great comic book reading week and see you again next week Here In Bongo Congo!


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