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STORE NEWS
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Review Date: 10/19/2009

Good King Leonardo has decreed that we bring you an eclectic group of reviews this week, with a variety of comics that include a DC issue, a Marvel issue and a long-awaited classic from Wildstorm:
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Planetary #27
Publisher: Wildstorm
Warren Ellis: Writer
John Cassaday: Art
Laura Martin: Colors

 
 

        
         The long-awaited day has finally come this past week, with the arrival on comic book shop shelves of the much-delayed final issue of the acclaimed comic title Planetary.  The series was created about a decade ago by writer Warren Ellis and artist John Cassaday.  For the uninitiated, Planetary features a team of extra-abled folks who label themselves as "Archaeologists Of The Impossible," with the dual purpose of tracking-down the world's secret history and investigating all sorts of unexplainable events.  The four main characters are century-old Elijah Snow, The Drummer, Jakita Wagner and Ambrose Chase.  Snow manipulates temperature, The Drummer has power over information dataflow, Jakita has more traditional superhero strength and Chase has abilities related to manipulating space and time.

     Its hard to pigeon-hole Planetary by trying to find a similar comic title to compare it to.  Amazingly unique and fresh in style and plot content, this extremely entertaining series mixes hidden conspiracies, alternate versions of both our real world history and superhero universes, and traditional pulp fiction settings into a wonderful blend of science fiction settings and tales.  For various personal reasons, the creative team put the comic on-hold for several years, then produced an occasional issue with the promise that this recent issue would wrap it all up.

     The plot of issue #27 is an engrossing mix of elements reminiscent of the X-Files, Lost and the current Fox television series Fringe.  Snow, Drummer and Wagner discover that the presumed-dead Ambrose Chase has actually shielded himself in a space-time bubble, and the clock is rapidly ticking-down to save him before he dies.  The first half of the story is filled with complex and at times a bit dry and confusing physics explanations as the team figures out just what is happening to Chase, while the second part of the issue is an edge-of-your seat thriller as the team races to save him.  Writer Ellis plays the timetravel paradox to the max, loading the story action with alternate versions of the threesome who gather from various future points to witness their present-day selves attempt to save Chase.  The issue concludes with a satisfying ending as well as a perfect final panel which offers the hope and opportunity for Ellis and Cassaday to return with future volumes of Planetary.

     Given Ellis's below-par track record these past few years on some of his other comic series, I held my breath hoping that he regained his mojo with the Planetary wrap-up issue.  I'm thrilled to report that all is still well in the Planetary universe.  Accompanied by Cassaday's wonderful art, Ellis spins a classic Planetary episode.  Our foursome's strong and unique personalities shine through in the excellent dialogue, combined with story plot action that with each page unveils something new and entertainingly unexpected about our team, all of which adds more understanding to the Planetary storyverse. 

     In happy conclusion, two final thumbs-up comments.  To comic fans of all interests, if you haven't already done so, you're missing out on something very special if you don't become a Planetary fan by catching-up with the back issues and trade paperback reprints of the series, all available at That's Entertainment.  And to Warren Ellis and John Cassaday, all is forgiven regarding the frustrating publication delays of this series, with the publication of wonderful issue #27.  Please consider sooner than later reteaming for another volume of this series (on a regular publishing schedule, of course)!

 
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Justice League-Cry For Justice #4
Publisher: D.C. Comics
James Robinson: Writer
Mauro Cascioli: Art

 
 


     Several months ago, I reviewed issue #1 of this seven-issue mini-series, so let's see how its holding-up midway through with the latest issue #4.  The series is written by James Robinson with art by Mauro Cascioli.  This title features an alternate version of The Justice League, led by Green Lantern and Green Arrow, with members Congorilla, Supergirl, The Atom, Batwoman, Freddy Freeman and Starman Mikaal Tomas.  The basic premise is that after the deaths of Batman and Martian Manhunter in Final Crisis, these Justice Leaguers decide to be more proactive in opposing the roots of evil, as opposed to just reacting to crime and bad guys.

      Issue #4 is entitled "The Fix," and seems to be a transition issue at the halfway point of this mini-series, cobbling-together a few pages each of various ongoing sub-plots in the series.  Its hard to follow the plot, given that I haven't read all three of the previous issues, but I enjoyed two particular sub-plots; the beginning of the issue in which the Justice Leaguers dig themselves out from the rubble of an attack and brainstorm how to confront and defeat supervillain Prometheus, along with a second sub-plot in which Congorilla attempts to track down and bring to justice the murderers of his original gorilla tribe.  Non-League hero The Golden Age Flash is featured as contacting heroes around the world, and Green Arrow and The Atom have a nasty confrontation over the relevant issue of how far torture should go in the search for justice.

     I'm giving this comic a qualified thumbs-up review, as average at best.  While Mauro Cascioli's oil painting-style art is excellent, Robinson's writing in this series has been generally criticized to-date, and for good reason.  While his mix of alternate Justice League members is fresh and entertaining, the story sub-plots are too numerous and scattered. There's just too much going-on here for my taste in a limited seven-issue mini-series.  The Golden Age Flash run around the world seemed inexplicable and pushed the other worthy sub-plots out of the way too much.  Robinson would do the reader a much better service if he simplified and expanded the story elements around such revived DC characters as Congorilla and Starman. giving us a better-paced and richer multi-issue story arc.

     I don't recommend skipping this series, as it adds a nice interpretation to the world of The Justice League.  Just realize that this isn't a classic, highest quality series and enjoy it as the solid benchwarmer effort that it is.  Word on the comic book reading street is that the mini-series is a warm-up for Robinson taking-over regular writing duties on the main Justice League title.  Hopefully, he'll use this warm-up period to get the writing bugs out of his current product and give the reader more story focus when he transitions to the main comic.

 
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The Torch #2
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Alex Ross, Jim Krueger & Mike Carey: Writers
Patrick Berkenkotter: Art
Carlos Lopez: Colors

 
 

          
        Issue #2 is on the new comics shelves this week of Marvel's eight-issue mini-series starring the original Golden Age Human Torch.  The mini-series is written by the team of Alex Ross, Jim Krueger and Mike Carey, with art by Patrick Berkenkotter and Carlos Lopez.

     Issue #1 focused last month on the return of the Torch's sidekick Toro as well as his capture by the Torch's old mad scientist nemesis, The Thinker.  The latest issue storyline has The Thinker attempting to reanimate The Torch's artificial human body and brainwash him into a superweapon of evil.  Much of the plot focuses on revealing interesting background facts about the origin of Toro's abilities as well as the technical details of The Torch's articifical design, as The Thinker and his assistant work to understand the technology of both heroes in order to successfully bring The Torch back to life.  By the end of issue #2 The Thinker is successful, bridging the story to the next issue in which Toro will have to confront and deal with the brainwashed revived Torch.

     The creative team has kept-up the high quality of issue #1 with the latest installment of this mini-series.  Its very entertaining to read about the two Golden Age heroes and their archenemy functioning in today's world, with very credible plot details via flashbacks linking their current lives back to their Golden Age origins.  Credit is due to the creative team for nicely combining Golden Age comic characters with a modern-day story setting.  With six issues remaining, there's still plenty of space in this mini-series to evolve the storyline much farther along in the direction that its already sucessfully begun with the first two issues.  So another thumbs-up for this latest Marvel revival of heroes from its Timely Comics Golden Age roots.

 
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New Contest Announcement!!!

Our latest contest is a television-based challenge.  The Bongo Congo panel of contest judges was very impressed with how our Summer television season, as well as our current Fall t.v. line-up, featured so many enjoyable science fiction, fantasy and comic genre-type t.v. series.  So we challenge you this week to e-mail us at Gordon_A@msn.com and submit to us your favorite speculative-type t.v. show and tell us why you think we should all be watching your show.  As an example, I love the new t.v. show "Warehouse 13," which just ended its first season on the SYFY channel.  It has a fresh and interesting take each week on an artifact of science fiction or fantasy which causes havoc when someone uses it the wrong way.

There's a lot of great stuff out there right now, so e-mail us now and tell us what show we shouldn't be missing!  The winner will receive the contest prize of a $10.00 gift certificate to That's Entertainment.

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

 
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