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Review Date: 12/04/2009

Let's see how three comic books focusing on teams of heroes are doing this week:
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The New Avengers #59
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Brian Michael Bendis: Writer
Stuart Immonen: Pencils
Wade Von Grawbadger: Inks
Dave McCaig: Colors

 
 

        
     Marvel has released this week the latest issue in the ongoing multi-title Avengers saga, in which Norman Osborn has the good guys on the run by leading his secretly-evil Dark Avengers team in his role as the head of H.A.M.M.E.R., the national security force that's succeeded S.H.I.E.L.D.  Writer Brian Michael Bendis heads the creative team producing this title, which parallels the storyline in the Dark Avengers title.

     Bendis explains in a first-page narrative that the Captain America-led good guy Avengers are on the run and hiding-out from Norman and his crew.  Member Luke Cage has heart trouble and has given himself up to Osborn both for treatment and to let his fellow Avengers escape.  The issue #59 storyline centers on The Avengers first planning and then executing Cage's rescue from Osborn and his organization. Realizing that they are greatly outnumbered, the Avengers pull into the operation a large group of additional Marvel heroes who care about Luke Cage, including Ben Grimm/The Thing, Doctor Strange, Daredevil and Valkyrie, among many other familiar characters.  Our two favorite wallcrawlers, Spider-Man and Spider-Woman, devise an elaborate battle strategy to rescue Cage, which succeeds but ends in a very interesting cliff hanger which is sure to set-up another major confrontation between the two sides in the near future.

     I greatly enjoyed reading this issue for three specific reasons.  First, after reading so many prior issues of Dark Avengers, it was a refreshing change of pace to read an Avengers tale that centered on the more traditional characters as opposed to the Osborn-led, darker and completely insane bad-guy Avengers.  Secondly, veteran writer Bendis brings his A-List game to the effort here, giving us classy story dialogue along with the very fresh incorporation into the Avengers world of those non-Avenger Marvel heroes.  Third and hardly least, the artistic team gives us a very high quality story lay-out, with some very impressive two-page full action spreads that are both gorgeous to view and effectively add a lot of fast-paced action to this tale.

     So whether you're an regular devoted reader of the ongoing Dark Avengers storyarc or just looking for an entertaining comic book to read, pick-up a copy of this new comic.  Issue #59 succeeds both as the latest installment of this ongoing story concept and on its own as a very enjoyable and well-crafted stand-alone issue and story.

 
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SWORD #1
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Kieron Gillen: Writer
Steven Sanders: Pencils
Craig Yeung: Inks

 
 

          
    Marvel has just published issue #1 of a new comic book entitled "SWORD," written by Kieron Gillen with art by Steven Sanders and Craig Yeung.  The comic is an interesting blend of traditional science fiction themes with some Marvel Universe superhero characters.

     Issue #1 is entitled "No Time To Breathe," and has the dual purpose of introducing us to the SWORD comic concept along with an introductory storyline.  Apparently SWORD is a secret government organization based in an Earth-orbiting space station which protects Mankind from constant threats from many alien races.  The concept reminded me somewhat of Men In Black if it was based in orbit above Earth.  The story has three sub-plots.  First, we're introduced to half-human, half-alien SWORD leader Abigail Brand, who now has to deal with Norman Osborn trying to interfere with and control her organization.  Secondly, we're introduced to Abigail's support characters, including Hank Pym/The Beast as her boyfriend and Kitty Pride's dragon sidekick Lockheed.  And finally, writer Gillen gives us a plot that emphasizes how hectic things are on the SWORD space station, as Abigail is in constant motion trying to juggle multiple alien threats to mankind.

     After reading this comic I noticed that my fellow reviewer Dave LeBlanc gave this comic a lukewarm review last week and I have to agree.  While I like the idea of wedding some traditional Marvel superhero characters into a more traditional hard science fiction setting, the creative team stumbles out of the gate in issue #1.  Between the Norman Osborn/Dark Avengers political intrigue, sci-fi stuff and Marvel Superhero elements, the story just seems to ricochet all over the place instead of progressing in a standard storyline, giving the impression that several noncompatible comic ideas were mishmashed together into one title.  Its an uncomfortable, jumbled narrative ride that frankly left me kind of carsick when it was over.

     On a positive note, I did like very much the sense of humor that Gillen gave some of the characters and dialogue.  I also enjoyed much more than the feature story an 8-page second tale that focuses on the dilemma of Kitty Pride's disappearance.  So overall, I'm maintaining a steady hand on this comic, giving it a mixed review that's neither thumbs-up or thumbs-down.  Feel free to take a look at this  mediocre-to-average issue; for $3.99 you'll get a very interesting new comic story concept that just hasn't gotten its legs solidly under itself in issue #1.  While hopefully the quality will improve in future issues, if it stays the same it won't be around for very long.

 
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Justice League: Cry For Justice #5
Publisher: D.C. Comics
James Robinson: Writer
Mauro Cascioli & Scott Clark: Art

 
 

          
         The fifth issue is out this past week in DC's seven-issue Justice League: Cry For Justice mini-series.  The title is written by James Robinson with art by Mauro Cascioli and Scott Clark. I had reviewed an earlier issue in this series, which centers on a revised, post-Batman and post-Martian Manhunter Justice League membership featuring such heroes as Supergirl, Starman, Congorilla, The Atom, Freddy Freeman and Batwoman.  Writer Robinson's goal here is to explore the idea that many of our heroes are burnt-out on the concept of working strictly within the criminal justice system and want to pursue justice with the possibility of enacting some potentially harsh vengeance.

     The current issue #5 begins with the Justice Leaguers discussing potential strategy against the villain Prometheus, who apparently has organized supervillains across the country.  The plot focuses on a lot of discussion, brainstorming and arguing among the various Justice Leaguers about strategy regarding this issue as well as their differing philosophies regarding justice and vengeance.  Toward the end of the issue, one of the Justice Leaguers is very badly maimed by an unknown attacker in their Earth-orbiting space staion, leading to a dramatic vow by his fellow Leaguers to avenge the poor guy.

     While this is a much better issue than the previous issue in this mini-series that I previously reviewed, its still not a very good comic book.  My fellow reviewers across comicdom and I are all more or less of the same opinion that writer James Robinson just ain't bringin' it to the script in this series.  Its an interesting concept to have the Justice Leaguers have an ideological difference regarding how far they go in avenging evil, but its not balanced in this mini-series with enough comic book story activity for an enjoyable read.  On a positive note, the art in this mini-series is gorgeous, on a par with well-known artist Alex Ross's oil painting style comic art.  So enjoy the visual quality of this comic but realize that the story isn't up to a standard level of comic book entertainment.

 
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Contest Winner Announcement!!!

The Bongo Congo panel of contest judges has completed review of the entries to our latest contest, in which you were to e-mail us regarding what comic book character any of the good staff at That's Entertainment remind you of.

And the contest winner is (drumroll, please)...Gordon Dupuis, who tells us that "Sorana looks like Neil Gaiman's Death," while "everyone's favorite boss" (Ken, of course) "looks like The Drummer from Planetary."  Interesting submittals, Gordon, particularly regarding the Ken/Drummer comparison; the similarity between the two regarding The Drummer sketch in the Planetary listing in Wikipedia is downright eerie, in Ken's own words!

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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