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STORE NEWS
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Review Date: 09/25/2009
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Red Robin #4
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Chris Yost: Writer
Ramon Bachs: Pencils
Guy Major: Inks

 
 

        
    
     D.C. has just published issue #4 of the Red Robin comic title within the multi-titled ongoing Batman: Reborn storyline.  For the uninitiated, while former Robin/Nightwing Dick Grayson is filling-in for the presumed dead/presumed missing Bruce Wayne Batman, Tim Drake has taken-up the Red Robin mantle.  Issue #4 is written by Chris Yost, with art by Ramon Bachs and Guy Major.

     Entitled "The Grail," the story is the concluding segment of a multi-issue story arc, in which Tim Drake/Red Robin is hoping that Bruce Wayne is somehow still alive.  Drake's worldwide search takes him to Iraq as he backtracks a mysterious desert artifact with the Batman logo on it through Baghdad into the desert.  The issue #4 storyline gives us two subplots.  In the main plot, Drake pursues his clues deep into the Iraqi desert with the assistance of Batman nemesis Ra's al Ghul, of all people, who assigns three of his assassins to assist Tim.  A less detailed storyline gives us a confrontation earlier in the story timeline back in Gotham between Batman/Grayson and Red Robin, as Grayson tries to convince Drake that Bruce Wayne may really be dead.

     I've found just about every issue that I've read of the various Batman: Reborn comic titles to be entertaining, and this one is no exception.  Chris Yost gives the issue a high quality script, nicely balancing story action with both the mystery of the desert sleuthing and the bigger overall question posed in the Batman: Reborn series like the unacknowledged elephant in the room: is Batman really dead or not?  While I've previously mentioned in this column that we all know the day is approaching where Bruce Wayne will miraculously return, that knowledge doesn't necessarily have to take anything away from the comic book-reading journey of reaching that point.

         So my advice is to keep reading as much of the extensive array of Batman: Reborn comics as you can while the series continues.  If you have to limit your spending on the series, I would highly recommend including the current issue #4 as well as the rest of the Red Robin title issues in your purchase pile.

 
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Superman/Batman #63
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Michael Green & Mike Johnson: Writers
Rafael Albuquerque: Art
David Baron: Colors

 
 

          
    Issue #63 of Superman/Batman is written by Michael Green and Mike Johnson, with art by Rafael Albuquerque and David Baron.  Subtitled "Night & Day," its a very apocalyptic story in which DC's old super-genius gorilla villain Grodd has conquered the world.  With Superman driven offworld by Grodd's worldwide Kryptonite mist, Batman is the only person left on the planet able to resist Grodd's mind control abilities.  After spending years as a one-man underground resistance corps, Batman is captured and comes face-to-face in a final confrontation with Grodd.

     This is such a lousy comic book that I'm about to break my rule and actually give you the spoiler: surprise, surprise, the whole plot is a computer simulation that Batman is viewing in the Batcave, and we're not all mindless zombies under the control of a people-eating gorilla genius!  Keeping this review as brief as possible, I'll just say that the creative team hugely fails in two ways: first, giving us an incredibly dumb and implausible story that's an embarrassment to the comic book genre, and secondly, taking the ultimate cop-out route and wrapping-up said stupidness by revealing at the very end that its all not part of the reality of the comic book title in question.  Its a rip-off of the reader for the publisher to let the writers take the easy way out when giving us a failure of a story to begin with.

     So while I'm a huge fan of the Superman/Batman comic book title, and there's always been a place in my heart for that usually campy gorilla villain Grodd (although he's disappointingly less campy and more just plain monkey poop-throwing repulsive in this issue), when it comes to the current issue #63, for only the second time in all of my reviews, my recommendation is that comic book shops nationwide need to burn this comic before it infects the good comics available in their shop inventory.

 
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Daring Mystery Comics #1
Publisher: Marvel Comics
David Liss: Writer
Jason Armstrong: Artist
Val Staples: Colors

 
 

          
         One of the latest issues in Marvel's ongoing 70th Anniversary Tribute to its founding company Timely Comics is Daring Mystery Comics #1.  The issue features the Golden Age hero The Phantom Reporter in a new story written by David Liss with art by Jason Armstrong and Val Staples.  The comic also includes a Phantom Reporter reprint story from the April, 1940 issue of Daring Mystery Comics #3.

     The Phantom Reporter is newspaper reporter Richard Jones, an ex-athlete who dons a formal suit, cape and purple facemask to fight crime as The Phantom Reporter.  He was a very minor Timely Comics Golden Age character, actually appearing only once, in the aforementioned Daring Mystery Comics issue #3.  In 2007, he enjoyed an unexpected popular revival in "The Twelve," Marvel's planned 12-issue series featuring twelve very obscure 1940's Timely superhero characters.  The excellent series went into publication limbo after its first 8 issues, as creator J. Michael Straczynski had other project commitments that to-date have prevented him from completing the final four issues of the series.

     In this latest issue, writer David Liss gives us a new 22-page Phantom Reporter story that is a sidebar companion to "The Twelve."  As in that mini-series, Richard Jones is trying to adjust to living in our modern era after awakening from a decades-long cryogenic slumber that began in the last days of World War II.  This new story is mostly a flashback, as Jones recounts his costumed hero origin to a current-day newspaper reporter who is writing a feature piece on his experiences.  The flashback plot is a detective noir-style story set in 1939 New York City.  Rookie reporter Jones investigates a murder mystery involving two of his childhood friends; as the danger escalates, he decides to protect himself behind a mask, which frees him to function more as a crimefighting hero rather than as a reporter, enabling him to ultimately solve the murder mystery.  The tale ends in a present-day epilogue with a twist that includes a nice science fiction element.

     While the artwork is a bit primitive and sketchy, I enjoyed very much the story itself.  Writer Liss is an obvious fan of 1940's detective noir thrillers, and nicely presents here a graphic tale that incorporates that genre's Golden Age urban atmosphere, mid-20th century story characters and classic murder mystery twists and turns, all packaged together as a nice addition to the limited story inventory of The Phantom Reporter.  I also liked the idea of this story as a sidebar to "The Twelve" series, as we all wait for the day that Marvel hopefully gives us the final four issues of that quality series.  So until then, for your fix of Marvel's Golden Age hero benchwarmers, catch-up on issues #1 through #8 of "The Twelve" available at That's Entertainment, and keep reading this and other 70th Anniversary Marvel Anniversary new issues.

 
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Contest Winner Announcement!!!

Our latest contest was for you to tell us your favorite piece of music dedicated to a comic-related character, whether its an actual song or theme music to a show.  My fellow reviewer Dave LeBlanc mentioned the catchy theme from the t.v. show "The Greatest American Hero," which is also a new comic book series.  Dave also told us of a wonderful song by Don McLean called "Superman's Ghost," dedicated to Superman actor George Reeves.  Ken at That's Entertainment brought to our attention two little-known superhero songs, "The Ballad Of The Hulk" by Jerry Jeff Walker and "The Fantastic Four" by John Phillips.

Regarding eligible entrees, our winner is (drumroll, please)...Nancy Shields for her entry of the Might Mouse theme song.  Nancy writes "how can you resist 'here he comes to save the day'!"  A good observation, Nancy.  The song reference also conjures up memories of the late comedian Andy Kaufman's unforgettable version of the song in an early episode of "Saturday Night Live."  So congratilations to Nancy, who wins the $10.00 gift certificate to That's Entertainment.

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

 
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