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STORE NEWS
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Review Date: 09/16/2010

Good King Leonardo has declared it "Retro Week" Here In Bongo Congo, so let's go "Back To The Future" with three new comics, featuring in order the return of a Silver Age DC Comics android, the massive revitalizing of a classic Silver Age DC Comics Superhero storyline and the always welcome return of a particularly-favorite Golden Age Marvel pioneering superhero:

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Red Tornado #1
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Kevin VanHook: Writer
Jose Luis: Pencils
J.P. Mayer: Inks
Guy Major: Colors

 
 

        
     DC Comics has just published issue #1 of a 6-issue mini-series starring Red Tornado.  The Tornado is an android superhero charcater created by Silver Age DC writer Gardner Fox and artist Dick Dillin back in 1968.  He's been a member of the Justice League of America, and has experienced many plot twists and turns, too numerous to list here, in various DC comics over the years. The new mini-series is scripted by Kevin VanHook with art by Jose Luis, J.P. Mayer and Guy Major.

     The issue #1 story is entitled "Family," and addresses the topic of family in two storylines.  In one sub-plot, the reader is introduced to Red Tornado trying to fit into his secret identity as John Smith, husband of Kathy Sutton and father of adopted daughter Traya Sutton.  The majority of the issue is devoted to the second storyline, in which Smith learns that he is one of several "sibling" androids, each of which have a different elemental power.  While a superstrong, evil brother android seeks to find their deactiviated sister android, Red Tornado races against time to reach her first and try to reactivate her, both to reconnect with his android family and to ultimately assist in the coming confrontation with the bad apple sibling.

     I not only enjoyed reading this comic, but was impressed with the creative team's success in adding an interesting personal element to Red Tornado's character.  Red Tornado as published way back in the day felt to me to be presented as a very one-dimensional character with a very robotic personality.  While he's initially presented in this new series as still robotic in behavior while in his John Smith identity, writer VanHook quickly introduces Tornado's very human yearning to have family and reconnect with the commonality of his android siblings.  Ironically, in issue #1 he behaves more human in his android persona than in his John Smith secret identity.

     Also as a final review comment, it should be noted that there's a nice inclusion in this story of Dr. T.O. Morrow, the evil genius scientist who originally created Red Tornado and his siblings.  So a positive thumbs-up recommendation to get onboard and enjoy this issue and the entire six-issue mini-series starring this classic Silver Age D.C. Comics android superhero.

 
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Green Lantern #45 (Blackest Night)
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Geoff Johns: Writer
Doug Mahnke: Pencils
Christian Alamy, Doug Mahnke & Tom Nguyen: Inks
Randy Mayor: Color

 

 
 

          
    In July, DC Comics began its Blackest Night mega-event, featuring a massive crossover series centered in the Green Lantern comic titles and crossing into other DC Universe titles.  The short version of the basic premise is that the "Blackest Night" prophecy is coming into being in the Green Lantern storyline, in which an all-out galactic war erupts that involves the known Green Lantern and Sinestro Corps, along with previously unknown Lantern Corps based upon colors and emotions: red (fury), orange (avarice), blue (hope), star sapphires (love), indigo (compassion) and the aforementioned evil black (death).  The Black Lanterns Corps is also raising previously-dead DC superheros to join them in their cause.

     I've heard a lot of positive buzz from folks reading the series, so let's take a look at the Blackest Night story segment in the current Green Lantern #45.  The story is entitled "Love Hurts," and is presented by veteran writer Geoff Johns with a large team of artists.  This is a very high action issue, alternating between various intense battle sequences amongst the many different corps.  The most detailed sub-plot focuses on a confrontation between rogue Lantern Sinestro and Carol Ferris, Green Lantern Hal Jordan's perennial girlfriend who now fights as a Star Sapphire.  At least a few pages of the issue are devoted to action among each of the various corps, thus moving the galactic war forward a bit for each of the major forces involved.

     The Hal Jordan Green Lantern character is at the very heart of my lifelong love of DC comics, particularly the Silver Age Green Lantern interpretations by Gil Kane and Neal Adams.  As such, I'm very protective of the quality of those takes on the character, and I've shied away from previously reading any issues of the Blackest Night story event; DC's advertising seemed to have a strong horror element to the Black Lantern Corps concept, which isn't my particular cup of tea.  However, I did warm to the concept upon reading the current issue #45.  It is intriguing and very fresh to add the additional color lantern corps to the mix of the Green Lantern universe, each characterized by a particular good or bad emotion.  While I'm still not too crazy about the zombie return of the dead DC superheros, its only one element within a much grander story of intergalactic war and action, and as such doesn't drag the overall storyline into the horror genre.

     My main caution regarding this DC event is that due to the depth and complexity of the massive story outline, in order to enjoy or even just understand what's going on, readers must devote themselves to purchasing and sticking with most, if not all, of the many Blackest Night comics being published.  So just be prepared to devote the required time and budget to becoming a Blackest Night event fan.  However, from what I've seen in both issue #45 and in a primer on the basic Blackest Night concept that was released during Free Comic Book Day last May as "Blackest Night issue #0," in the capable hands of veteran writer Geoff Johns, this massive Blackest Night event will surely exceed in quality the mixed reviews of DC's previous "52" mega-event.

 
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The Torch #1
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Alex Ross & Mike Carey: Writers
Patrick Berkenkotter: Art
Carlos Lopez: Colors

 

 
 

          
         Marvel Comics has published issue #1 of a new eight-issue mini-series entiled "The Torch," featuring the Golden Age Human Torch.  The series is written by Alex Ross and Mike Carey, with art by Patrick Berkenkotter and Carlos Lopez.  This is the latest of many new Marvel titles during the past year that focus on the Golden Age Human Torch.

     The plot of issue #1 centers on Tom Raymond, a.k.a. Toro, who was the Torch's deceased teenaged sidekick and has been brought back to life in 2009 by Bucky Barnes utilizing the Cosmic Cube in a previous Marvel Comics storyline.  Two sub-plots interweave thoughout issue #1.  The first plotline details Toro's struggles to fit-into the world of 2009, with both his mid-20th century friends and his familiar society gone.  Toro resists the attempts of The Vision to help him acclimate and find a worthwhile role in today's society, both as a revived superhero and a human being.  The second storyline introduces the Human Torch's old nemesis The Thinker as hired by A.I.M. to develop a super weapon.  Issue #1 ends in a double cliffhanger of Toro being captured by The Thinker while the mad scientist prepares to exhume and experiment on the Human Torch's buried android body.

     My first reaction to seeing this comic on the That's Entertainment new issues wall was that perhaps Marvel is overdoing the publishing of multiple new interpretations of the Golden Age Human Torch.  As such, I was relieved to find that this latest issue takes the fresh approach of centering on the return of Toro.  Its clear that as the story develops there is a strong potential for a revived Human Torch taking center stage, which in partnership again with Toro would be an exciting storyline to experience.  As such, I'd recommend adding this new mini-series to your comic reading list to see how the potential for these developments actually plays-out.

 
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New Contest Announcement!

The Bongo Congo contest judging panel has yet a new contest challenge for you.  Over the years, there have been many outright pop music songs as well as television or movie music devoted to our favorite comic characters; at times, you just can't get one of those catchy comic book songs out of your head at times.  A few examples include The Archies "Sugar Sugar," the theme to the 1960's "Batman" t.v. show, and all of those campy theme songs to the 1960's Marvel Comics superhero cartoon shows.  One of my personal favorites is that "Superman" song by Five For Fighting from a few years ago that's still regularly played on the radio.

Your new contest assignment is to e-mail us at Gordon_A@msn.com with your entry of your favorite comic character-related pop song or theme song, and tell us why you like it more than all of the other comic book-related musical tributes out there.  The first prize winner will receive a $10.00 gift certificate from That's Entertainment.

That's all for now, so have a great comic book reading week and see you again next week Here In Bongo Congo!

 
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