Review Date: 08/24/2009

We're having our first real heatwave of the summer this week, so what better way to kick-off our latest reviews than with a comic featuring the original
Age Human Torch, followed by a cool reintroduction of a DC classic and a third food-oriented new comic title to cleanse your comic reading palate:

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The Marvels Project
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Ed Brubaker: Writer
Steve Epting:Art
Dave Stewart: Colors


          Marvel has just released issue #1 of a new 8-issue mini-series entitled "The Marvels Project", by creators Ed Brubaker and Steve Epting, with colors by Dave Stewart.  The comic is crafted to fit into the universe of the two well-known previous "Marvels" limited edition series, and nicely complements the on-going tribute series that Marvel is producing in honor of the 70th Anniversary of its founding as Timely Publications.

    The plot of issue #1 combines the basic well-known origin facts of several Golden Age Marvel Universe heros with a fresh perspective on the details.  The story narrator is Dr. Thomas Halloway, a New York surgeon who will eventually become The Angel, who for the uninitated, was the fourth most popular Golden Age Marvel superhero, after Captain America, The Human Torch and The Submariner.  Two subplots alternate throughout the issue.  The first tale is in a sense The Angel's origin story; while Halloway is a civilian doctor throughout the issue, his interaction with the time-traveling Two-Gun Kid lays the groundwork for his transforming into The Angel in upcoming issues of this series.  The second storyline gives us early separate experiences of The Submariner, Human Torch and Sgt. Fury in dealing with the early stages of the gathering storm of World War II.

     This is a noteworthy key mini-series in the Golden Age Marvel legacy for several reasons.  The fresh perspective and new historical details on the very early origins of Marvel's Golden Age characters is both entertaining and long overdue.  While the two previous Marvels limited series were excellent, both focused only on Silver Age hero origins, leaving a significant gap in this style of comic book history story-telling.  Brubaker also deserves credit for adding the intriguing element of the timetraveling Two-Gun Kid to the storyline.  I won't spoil that story element with any details in this review, other than expressing my personal hope that the Two Gun Kid's presence might provide a significant link between the Golden and Silver Age Marvel worlds in upcoming issues, that's hinted at toward the beginning of issue #1.

     I was also relieved to find that Brubaker presents the serious historical tone of the mini-series without getting too overbearing.  While I loved the two Silver Age-focused Marvels series, both had an overserious, creepy apocalypic tone to their storylines, with the narrator giving the reader the feel that the world was ending with the arrival of the superhumans.  The creative team avoids that element here, just giving us a straight-up history lesson on the start of the superheros with a lot of neat, new facts about these well-known folks, keeping it all very fresh and entertaining.  So an enthusiastic thumbs-up for the kick-off issue for this new "history of Marvel" series.

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  -   Adventure Comics #504
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Geoff Johns: Writer
Francis Manapul: Artist
Brian Buccellato: Colorist

     DC Comics has just revived publication of Adventure Comics, one of the oldest and most prestigious titles in the comic book industry, listing the first new issue as number #504 in a continuation of the original numbering lineage.  Veteran writer Geoff Johns scripts the issue with art by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato.  The main story stars modern-day Superboy Conner Kent, while a back-up story features The Legion Of Super-Heroes.

     The feature story establishes Conner Kent back in Smallville, as he moves-in with Ma Kent and our favorite super-pup Krypto back on the family farm.  Superboy/Conner is a teenager restlessly searching for his roots, and trying to come to terms with the fact that he's a clone with the combined DNA of both Superman and Lex Luthor.  The storyline sounds pretty basic as Conner just tries to settle-in at high school, get to know folks and try to help the Smallville residents in his Superboy role.  But in gifted writer Geoff Johns's hands, these story themes are presented very movingly with touching emotional impact.

     While there is also a sub-plot regarding a Swamp Thing-like creature hovering around the edge of the story, the story mostly focuses on Conner's efforts to both settle-into his new life and come to terms with his dual good/evil heritage.  Again, credit is due to Johns for also weaving Superman himself and Krypto into the tale.  I'm a sucker for Krypto stories, which are few and far between these days, and just loved the flying pup's starring role in this story alongside the other main characters.

     Story number two is an eight-page tale entitled "Long Live The Legion," also scripted by Johns with art by Clayton Henry and colors by Brian Reber.  In an interesting cross-connection with his recently-completed stint on the Justice Society of America (JSA) title, Johns features JSA member Starman as central to the story, focusing on Starman struggling with his schizophrenia while spending time in Smallville.  It will be interesting to see how Starman and his affliction interact in the next issue with the Legion elements of the plot that begin to evolve on the final page of the tale.

     So all in all, a very sincere and happy welcome back for this much-missed flagship DC title.  DC has published an excellent first effort with the re-introduction of Superboy and The Legion of Super-Heroes in this story run, with the highest quality writing and artwork that the good DC reader could ask for.

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Chew #3
Publisher: Image Comics
John Layman: Writer
Rob Guillory: Art


    And now for something completely different, as our old friends at Monty Python used to say.  While perusing the new issues shelves at That's Entertainment last week, I was drawn (no comic art pun intended!) to this very unique new comic title from Image Publishing.  The comic is the creation of writer John Layman and artist Rob Guillory.

     The protagonist in Chew is Tony Chu (pun intended, I assume!), a newly-hired agent of the Food & Drug Administration (FDA).  The title "agent" is presented literally here, as Tony and his fellow FDA employees operate as gun-toting, CSI-style crime fighters and enforcers of truth, justice and the general protection of our food supply health codes and restaurant sanitary standards.  Issue #3 is entitled "Taster's Choice" and is the mid-story in a five-issue story arc.  Without giving away key story plot details, the issue packs into a day in the life of Tony Chu a delightful stew with equal portions of unrequited love, crime, mystery, overpowering restaurant reviews and high-paced action all in the name of protecting of America's gastronomic standards.

     To say that I loved this comic is an understatement.  Think "The Food Network Meets CSI" and you get the general approach of this new title.  The concept of presenting a Federal ATF crimefighting-style team charged with addressing FDA food issues is not only fresh and original, but hilarious in the skilled hands of the comic's two creators.  After reading one issue of Chew, you'll never be satisfied watching CSI or one of its multiple imitators again unless the plot involves culinary intrigue!  So definitely swing by That's Entertainment and grab an issue or two of Chew to take home and "digest" (ouch!).

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New Contest Announcement!!!

     This heatwave is making everyone lazy, and that includes the Bongo Congo panel of contest judges.  The King's Cousin, Prince Itchy, has suggested that we keep it simple this time out so we can all conserve our thinking cap energy until a cool front comes through the region.  As such, your contest assignment is very simple.  E-mail us at Gordon_A@msn.com with your submittal of your favorite comic that you've been reading lately, naming the comic and also explaining to us why you enjoy this comic above and beyond all else that's on your current reading list.

     Since there's no right or wrong answer here, all entries will be eligible for a roll-of-the-dice selection for the contest prize of a $10.00 gift certificate to That's Entertainment.  So get that entry in to Gordon_A@msn.com and tell the rest of fandom what you think is the best of the best in current comic book reading.

     That's all for this week, so stay cool and see you again next week Here In Bongo Congo!


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