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STORE NEWS
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Review Date: 11/06/2009

Now that we've finished our October run-up to Halloween with a bunch of creepy comic reviews, let's cleanse the old comic reading palate with a fresh slate of new, more traditional mighty Marvel Comics issues:
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Nomad #2
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Sean McKeever: Writer
David Baldeon: Art
Chris Sotomayar: Colors

 

 
 

        
     Marvel has just released issue #2 in a four-issue mini-series of Nomad.  Subtitled "Girl Without A World," the series stars Ricki Barnes, the alternate reality female Bucky from the "Heroes Reborn" series of Captain America.  The mini-series is written by Sean McKeever with art by David Baldeon and Chris Sotomayar.  The premise of this mini-series is that Barnes has been transported from her original alternate reality to the mainstream Marvel Universe.  Now trapped in our world, she's barred from meeting the new Captain America by The Black Widow, and must find a way on her own to settle into her dual role as a high school kid and a superhero.

     Issue #2 continues the dual sub-plot storyline from the first issue.  On the one hand, Barnes is investigating the strange power that a boy at her high school has to control the other student's behavior.  On the superhero front, Barnes begins to wear the Nomad uniform that someone has anonymously provided to her, thus trying to find a new costumed hero niche for herself in her new reality.  While in issue #1 Barnes met and confronted The Black Widow, here in issue #2 she meets and befriends The Falcon, explaining her true situation to him as they become potential allies.

     I hadn't read any of the previous Captain America titles that featured this alternate version of Cap's sidekick, and was intrigued to see how this character would be presented.  I wasn't disappointed, either with the structure of the character or the mini-series storyline.  As a long-time Captain America fan, I've always found the various fictional takes on sidekick Bucky Barnes to be presented as steeped in tragedy and melancholy.  So its fun and fresh to have a different Bucky for a change, in the guise of a high school girl who has a much lighter and more positive outlook and personality.

     The mystery of the anonymous benefactor who provides Barnes with her new Nomad identity is also intriguing and entertaining.  My guess at this point in the story is that the benefactor is new Captain America Bucky Barnes himself, who's deliberately keeping his distance right now, in order to give Ricki a chance to establish her own life and personal/professional identities.  I could be wrong, but it would be a nice story development if the series creators take us in that direction.  Irregardless, this is a very enjoyable and high quality addition to the many developments ongoing as of late in the Captain America story universe, so a very positive thumbs-up for all comic readers to follow this four-issue mini-series.

 
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Punisher: Dark Reign-The List #1
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Rick Remender: Writer
John Romita Jr.: Penciler
Klaus Janson: Inks
Dean White: Colors

 

 

 
 

          
         Last week, I reviewed The X-Men issue in Marvel's "The List" series of one-shot comics, in which Dark Reign's head bad guy Norman Osborne is working his way down a hit list of good guys that he's seeking revenge on.  This week, we're taking a look at the Punisher issue in the series.  The comic book is written by Rick Remender with art by John Romita, Jr., Klaus Janson and Dean White.

     For readers not familiar with Punisher, the issue begins with a useful one-page narrative explaining how Frank Castle became the character after his family was killed, and now is locked in a struggle with Osborne.  He's assisted by Henry, a New York street kid who's a high tech computer hacker and skateboarder.  The plot of this comic is basic blood 'n bullets, as Osborne locates Punisher and brings down an all-out assault by his H.A.M.M.E.R. agency.  About halfway through the issue, the assault turns into a one-on-one bloodfest between Punisher and the Dark Reign Avengers member Daken, who functions in the Dark Avengers disguised as his father Wolverine.  I won't provide a spoiler for the story ending, other than to say that it concludes in a scattering of Frankenstein-like loose body parts and bridges nicely to the upcoming issue #11 in the monthly Punisher title.

     There's not much plot or dialogue here, because the nature of this particular moment in Punisher's comic book existence is more blood and explosion-oriented, anyway.  That said, the creative team gives us a very credible and well-produced product of the blood 'n guts comic book genre.  Its always a pleasure to view any action comic penciled by the veteran John Romita Jr., and he comes through again here in cinematic style.  While the last few pages of the issue illustrate the aformentioned sliced body parts in more detail than I personally needed, in Romita's hands the approach didn't turn the gross-out meter up high enough to turn me away.  Again, without spoiling the story plot, I also liked the fact that "The List" series is shaping-up to be a balanced war, in which both Osborne and his opponents will each be credited with a fair balance of defeats and victories that equally influence the life and death outcome of this struggle for the future of the Marvel Universe.

     So although I started this column by stating that we've moved-on from Halloween-appropriate comics, I guess we've unintentionally stumbled-back a week into bloody holiday-appropriate fare.  But that's o.k., because the Punisher issue in "The List" series is worthy of another recommended thumbs-up for this ongoing comic book series.

 
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Marvel Holiday Spectacular
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Various Writers & Artists

 

 

 
 

          
         Marvel Comics has jumped into the end-of-the-year holiday season this week with the release of a magazine-sized Marvel Holiday Spectacular.  The 8'' x 11" magazine includes 14 stories from various creative teams with a mix of Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa-oriented storylines.   While the issue costs $9.99, its an incredible bargain considering the 14-story, 104-page length of this publication.

     The stories vary quite a bit in length from just a page or two, to fairly long.  My favorite short tale is "Franklin Richards In Turkey Trouble," by Chris Eliopoulos and Marc Sumerak.  The five-page story actually has a Thanksgiving theme, in which genius boy Franklin visits an alternate reality in which he and his family are all sentient turkeys.  The cute tale works on both adult and child reading levels, and in a funny and harmless way is actually a tribute to the classic Twilight Zone t.v. series episode "To Serve Man."  Most of the other stories star The X-Men in either new stories or a few holiday story reprints from 1993 and 1994.  The story list is rounded-out with a pair of holiday-themed Spiderman story reprints.

     I'm very impressed with both the value and variety put into this special holiday feature.  The amount of story material in this $9.99 issue equals the equivalent of anywhere from four to six standard-sized comics these days.  A lot of effort also went into providing little holiday touches that kids and adults would all enjoy, such as a four-page illustrated article on the history of Santa Claus and a two-page Hank Pym holiday gift guide.  Its not too early in the holiday season to pick-up this economical and entertaining oversized Marvel holiday comic magazine; you'll be reading your way through this stocking stuffer for a nice long time.

 
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New Contest Announcement!!!

     The alternate Bucky theme of the Nomad #2 comic book reviewed above got the Bongo Congo panel of contest judges thinking about the old "What If?" Marvel Comics series, in which Marvel posed alternate reality situations for its superheros that differed from their standard Marvel Universe history.  As such, Good King Leonardo challenges you in our new contest to e-mail us at Gordon_A@msn.com with your very own "What If?" submittal, telling us what comic book character or characters you'd like to see in a new "What If?" situation, and also telling us a bit of what the alternate reality story would be about. 

     Maybe you'd like to see the introduction of a blue hulk (me hulk, me teach advanced physics at local state college), or a story in which a woman rocketed to Earth as a baby from Krypton, thus leading to a Superwoman instead of a Superman.  You get the general idea.  Even though "What If?" was a Marvel comic, you're not limited to the Marvel Universe.  Feel free to submit any comic book figure, superhero or otherwise (maybe you'd like to see Archie marry Josie instead or Betty or Veronica!).  First prize is a $10.00 gift certificate to That's Entertainment, so e-mail us now!

     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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