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Review Date: 09/04/2009
    
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The Shield #1 (One-Shot)
Publisher: D.C. Comics
J. Michael Straczynski: Writer
Scott McDaniel: Penciller
Andy Owens: Inker
Tom Chu: Colorist

 

 

 
 

    
In follow-up to last week's review of DC's one-shot comic book "The Web," we kick-off this week's reviews with another comic in DC's new "The Red Circle" series.  The Red Circle line of superheros are characters that were originally published by Archie Comics back in the 1970's and 1980's, and are being revived by DC.  The Shield #1 is written by J. Michael Straczynski with art by Scott McDaniel, Andy Owens and Tom Chu.

     This issue is an updated and revised origin story for this character.  The story begins with Army Lieutenant Joseph Higgins being severely wounded in Afghanistan.  His life is saved by Army doctors who use a new nanotechnology to adhere a specially-designed suit to his skin, thus saving his life and giving him superpowers as The Shield.  Three interweaving subplots in this issue give us the basic origin story facts, show The Shield in field action assisting soldiers in the war effort, and introduce Higgins's father as a mysterious military researcher who is presumed dead but is actually behind the resurgence of The Red Circle characters being reintroduced into the universe of new DC comics.

     I wasn't too impressed with the origin story part of the comic and the basic premise of The Shield as a superhero; the character felt like a rehashed duplicate of certain elements of Marvel's Captain America.  As such, I could see why this hero's comic presence back in its Archie Comics publication days ultimately faded from the comic book scene.  Yet as the issue #1 story unfolded, I was very impressed with the updating of the character's story by the new creative team.

     Similar to writer Straczynski's clever updating of "The Web" with a strong internet connection, here he gives modern-day relevancy to The Shield by placing him smack in the middle of our real world quandry of the Middle East war situation.  There's an interesting story element in which a military general ponders augmenting the army by creating more Shield soldiers with the goal of bullying the rest of the world into doing whatever he wants.  The mysterious Dr. Higgins as The Shield's presumed dead father is also a creative touch that could lead to some very interesting storylines.  So an overall thumbs-up for this new DC restructuring of an old-line Archie Comics hero.  Both The Shield and The Web characters will continue beyond these two one-shot comics in a new continuing DC "The Red Circle" title.

 
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Exiles #5
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Jeff Parker: Writer
Casey Jones: Pencils
Karl Kesel: Inks
Anthony Washington: Colors

 

 
 

          
         This is the latest of several Exiles titles from Marvel Comics.  Judd Winick created Exiles back in 2001, based upon the concept of taking several Marvel characters out of their normal timestreams and having them visit alternate realities as a team, attempting to set right timeline anomolies.  While the original 100-issue series was very popular, this latest Exiles title hasn't sold as well and is scheduled to wrap-up with a special double-sized issue #6.  I had never read an issue of Exiles before, and as such wanted to give the latest issue a read and see if its worth checking-out this current mini-series.

     Issue #5 is entitled "The Humans Are Dead" and is written by Jeff Parker with art by Casey Jones, Karl Kesel and Anthony Washington.  The title is very accurate, as the Exiles visit an alternate reality where the X-Men's Cerebro mutant-detecting machine has evolved into an artificial intelligence with an evil personality which has wiped-out mankind.  Our Exiles team of The Scarlett Witch, Beast, Forge, Polaris, Black Panther and Blink interact with the alternate reality's version of The Vision and a few other robots to battle Cerebro.  There's a strategy in this plot to restore humans to life, but I won't be a spoiler with any details.  The team's efforts do come to a conclusion by issue's end, and the team heads-off to another alternate reality for their upcoming issue #6 finale.

     After reading this comic, I can understand why it hasn't caught-on with a wider range of comic fandom.  There's a clunkiness to the story combined with quite a bit of very wooden dialogue, giving the impression that it might have been written for little kids.  The artwork and story details are also more reminiscent of one of the old Saturday morning superhero cartoon shows, as opposed to a comic book.  Its not a lousy comic, just one that's produced with a very simplistic and old-fashioned narrative and accompanying artwork, resulting in a slightly below-average comic book.  As such, if you're a very dedicated Marvel Universe fan and just want to add variety to your collection of alternate reality comics, then pick-up this issue and mini-series.  Otherwise, skip this issue and pick-up one of the more high-quality new Marvel titles, such as the Marvels Project comic reviewed here last week.

 
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Wednesday Comics #7
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Various Writers & Artists

 

 

 
 

          
         My fellow reviewer Dave LeBlanc and I split the reviews of the various features back in issue #1 of Wednesday Comics, so we're trading spots and each reviewing the other half of the Wednesday Comics features out this week in issue #7.  The very popular Wednesday Comics is a 16-page newspaper published weekly for 12 weeks, providing one-page serial stories of various DC characters and teams.  My assignment for issue #7 is to read and review the Batman, Metamorpho, Deadman, Superman, Green Lantern, Supergirl, Sgt. Rock and Metal Men story sheets, as follows.

     Of the eight stories reviewed this week, I found the latest one-page installments of the Metamorpho, Supergirl and Deadman features to be of the highest quality.  The Metamorpho tale is written weekly by renowned comic writer and novelist Neil Gaimen and drawn by artist Mike Allred.  Gaimen brings a wonderful element of very campy humor to the tale, frankly making this one of the funniest comic stories that I've read in a long time.  I've enjoyed the Supergirl story more than any of the Wednesday Comics tales since issue #1. Writer Jimmy Palimiotti and artist Amanda Conner present poor Supergirl as trying to both control and figure-out why superdog Krypto and supercat Streaky are running around and wreaking superhavoc, like any puppy and kitten with too much energy.  The Deadman tale is impressive for the very unique page layout that energizes the story as formatted by the creative team of Bullock, Heuck, Fletcher & Stewart.

     While not as strong as the above three stories, I did enjoy the Batman, Green Lantern, Sgt. Rock and Metal Man sheets, both as stand-alone episodes and as continuations in their respective multi-weekly storylines.  It's fun to read a new Sgt. Rock tale written by renowned Sgt. Rock veteran Joe Kubert in collaboration with his son, artist Adam Kubert.  The Superman tale hasn't impressed me much since it began in issue #1, and unfortunately the latest installment feels the same to me.  There seems to be less story substance in the Superman tale compared to the other Wednesday Comics features, combined with a very mundane plotline.

     So as with issue #1, a thumbs-up for The Good D.C. Reader to stick with this weekly broadsheet as it heads toward its twelve-week completion.  On a final note, it struck me that the inevitable compilation reprint, in either hardcover or softcover, should look fantastic as an over-sized coffeetable book, so keep an eye out for the eventual re-publishing of the twelve issues, hopefully sooner than later once the initial 12-issue series is completed.

 
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Contest Winner Announcement!!!

     Our latest contest was for you to tell us what ongoing new issue comic title you'd urge your fellow readers not to miss-out on.  And our Bongo Congo contest winner is (drumroll, please)...Kevin Browne with his entry of the Green Lantern-based Blackest Night ongoing series in D.C. Comics.  Kevin writes "I gotta go with Blackest Night on this one.  I hadn't read a D.C. comic in almost a year (I was burnt-out on Final Crisis), but Blackest Night totally fired me up for DC again...great writing, great art, great comic." 

     Glad to see that this storyline brought you back into the DC fold, Kevin.  We haven't reviewed a Blackest Night story yet, but with so much good news out in fandom regarding this story series, we'll make it a point to bring you a Bongo Congo review of a Blackest Night issue in the near future.  So congrats to Kevin for winning the contest prize of a $10.00 gift certificate to That's Entertainment.

     Stay tuned for a new contest announcement next week.  For now, have a very happy comic book reading week, and see you next week Here In Bongo Congo!

 
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