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STORE NEWS
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Review Date: 08/27/2009

As anticipated by comic fandom for months now, this is the big week that Archie Comics begins its well-publicized "Marriage of Archie"
storyarc, so let's kick-off our Bongo Congo reviews with a look at this landmark issue, followed by reviews of two new D.C. Comics:
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Archie #600
Publisher: Archie Comics
Michael Uslan: Writer
Stan Goldberg: Pencils
Bob Smith: Inks
Glenn Whitmore: Colors

 

 
 

        
     Following on the heels of several Marvel Comics titles having reached the landmark issue #600 level this past year, this week the well-known Archie title also reaches the historic issue #600 plateau.  The comic kicks-off the well-publicized six-issue marriage of Archie story arc, in which our hero finally proposes to Veronica.  The story is written by Michael Usland, with pencils by Archie veteran artist Stan Goldberg, inks by Bob Smith and colors by Glenn Whitmore.

     With "The Gang From Riverdale High" finally graduating, the story begins with Archie wondering where they will all be a few years down the line.  He takes a walk "in the wrong direction down Memory Lane," and its suddenly a few years from now in Town, with the gang all post-college graduates.  Without giving away any story spoiler details, the basic issue #600 storyline quickly gives us Archie proposing to Veronica, leading to lots of pre-wedding planning and various reactions from the large cast of Archie Comics supporting characters.  Quite a bit of the plot naturally focuses on the reaction of Betty to the news of being kicked-out of the decades-long shuffling by Archie between Betty and Veronica.

     While the Archie Comic titles are an established piece of comic book-based Americana, you can't expect to ask for any high quality comic-telling; no matter the fact that the characters are teens or young adults, this is essentially a comic written for and at an eight-year-old's comic-reading level.  As such, the story has an odd combination of advancing the characters into a new young adult world, while still portraying them as acting like little kids.  Its kind of weird the way Archie proposes to Veronica, she says yes and a minute later leaves Archie to go on an extended ocean cruise with her father, the wealthy Mr. Lodge.

     But hey, its that old school, nostalgic world of Archie Comics.  So I say go for it, just kick back and regress back to childhood comic book reading for the next six issues of this title, just to see where this new direction in Archie's comic universe takes us.  I'm personally very curious to see if this turns out to all be a "what-if" plot direction, or alternately whether the publisher will take a stab at actually evolving the characters beyond the high school years.  My gut says that all will revert back to the high school reality beyond these six issues, but either way, its fun following along to learn the details.

 
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Batgirl #1
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Bryan Q. Miller: Writer
Lee Garbett: Penciller
Trevor Scott: Inker
Guy Major: Colorist

 

 
 

          
         As part of the ongoing multi-title "Batman: Reborn" series, D.C. Comics has just published issue #1 of a new Batgirl title.  The story is entitled "Batgirl Rising: Point Of New Origin" and is part one of a multi-issue story arc scripted by Bryan Q. Miller with art by the team of Lee Garbett, Trevor Scott and Guy Major.  This new title features Stephanie Brown as the sixth and latest heroine to don the Batgirl cowl.

     This premiere story centers on Stephanie attempting to change the direction of her life away from being Batgirl and more toward functioning as a typical college student.  The plot focuses on Stephanie essentially trying to get into the college student lifestyle but failing as she is constantly pulled-back into donning the Batgirl costume and getting into the thick of action and crimefighting.  Secondary characters are introduced who no doubt will be featured on a regular basis in this title, including Batman and Robin (naturally!), Stephanie's physician mother and disabled former Teen Titan Wendy Harris.  By the end of issue #1, Stephanie's attempt to balance her two separate identities starts to unravel as she is confronted by the former numero uno Batgirl Barbara Gordon, setting the stage for an interesting-looking head-butting session between the two at the start of issue #2 over Stephanie taking-up the Batgirl mantle.

     I enjoyed this new Batgirl take on several counts.  It was fun to see a new character step into the role, and I liked very much the creative team's blending of original Batgirl Barbara Gordon into a strong interaction with novice Stephanie Brown.  There's a nice blend of humor and drama in writer Miller's script, with the humor accentuated by the emotion and range of facial expressions brought to Stephanie's character by this excellent art team.  If you're a fan of various Batman Family comic interpretations, this is a nice new addition to the range of Batman universe storylines, and if you're just a casual Batman world reader, also a thumbs-up to give this comic an enjoyable read.

 
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The Web #1 (One-Shot)
Publisher: D.C. Comics
J. Michael Straczynski: Writer
Roger Robinson: Penciller
Hilary Barta: Inker
Guy Major: Colorist

 

 
 

          
        As many D.C. Comics fans know, last year D.C. purchased the publication rights to The Red Circle line of superhero characters who were published back in the 1970's and 1980's by Archie Comics.  DC is introducing several of these characters in one-shot comic editions, including this week's issue #1 of "The Web."  The comic is written by veteran comic scribe J. Michael Straczynski with art by Roger Robinson, Hilary Barta and Guy Major. 

     The original Web character was criminology professor John Raymond, who became a costumed crimefighter in response to his love of mystery stories and in reaction to the criminal leanings of his brother Tom.  The new DC version recasts John Raymond as a wealthy, Bruce Wayne-style playboy.  Raymond secretly spends a portion of his wealth to create a technological suit that gives him standard superhero powers.  He takes the name "The Web" from his concept of creating a webpage and publicly soliciting for everyday Americans to e-mail his webpage for help with their personal situations.

     Writer Straczynski gives us two interweaving sub-plots in this kick-off issue.  Along one storyline unfolds the basic origin facts of The Web, while the second plot thread gives us a more soap opera theme, of John Raymond clashing with members of his extended wealthy family.  The story evolves as Raymond attempts to save his kidnapped social activist brother David in his role as The Web while keeping his superhero identity secret from his family and his foes.

     I had a very positive reaction to this comic book for three reasons.  First, I enjoyed very much the detailed family dynamic of the story.  Writer Straczynski builds an interesting storyline about John Raymond and his brother following seemingly alternate lifepaths, while in his secret guise as The Web, John actually is very much in line with his brother's philosophy of helping people for the greater good.  Secondly, I got a kick out of updating an old-school superhero called "The Web" by revamping him to rely upon The Worldwide Web for both his name and his method of connecting with the folks that he helps.  And third, John Raymond's similarities to Bruce Wayne (i.e., wealthy playboy secretly doing good without real superpowers) resulted in this comic feeling to me as if it was a reinterpretation of Batman, and fit nicely in the world of various caped crusader interpretations.

     The last page of the comic announces that this one-shot issue's story will continue next week in "The Red Circle: The Shield #1," so I not only recommend this one-shot but suggest that its definitely worth checking-out the upcoming adventures of The Web in the monthly Red Circle line of DC Comics, as they become available.

 
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Ongoing Contest Reminder!!!

Just a quick reminder that you have until next Wednesday, September 2 to e-mail us at Gordon_A@msn.com with your contest entry, telling us what your favorite comic title is these days among new issue comics that you would recommend for folks not to miss-out on.  The winner will receive a $10.00 gift certificate to That's Entertainment.

So looking back on our three reviews for this week, we can see an interesting connection among the three titles, from a classic Archie comic to an Archie Publications superhero with a Batman-like personality to an actual Batman family heroine.

Enjoy all of your comic book reading and see you next week Here In Bongo Congo!

 
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