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STORE NEWS
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Review Date: 12/18/2009

Good King Leonardo has decreed that this week for a change of pace, we review some non-traditional comics
that fall into the alternative story category, so let's see how the following three comic books fare:
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Daytripper
Publisher: D.C. Vertigo Comics
Fabio Moon & Gabriel Ba: Creators
Dave Stewart: Colors

 
 

        
       D.C.'s Vertigo alternative genre comic book line has just published issue #1 of Daytripper, a new title produced by the writer/artist team of Brazilian twin brothers Fabio Moon and Gabriel Ba, with colors by Dave Stewart.   Gabriel Ba is best known for his work on the acclaimed Umbrella Academy comic book series.

     Issue #1's story is entitled "32," a number which refers to the age of the main character, a man named Bras who lives in Sao Paulo, Brazil.  By day, Bras writes obituaries for the local newspaper, while in his off-time he labors on writing his first novel.  We're treated in this story to various issues going on in one day in Bras's life, as he juggles work, deals with his own birthday, gets ready to honor his esteemed writer father at an evening tribute, and juggles his relationship with his girlfriend on his cellphone while she's out of town on business.  We're also introduced to Bras's best friend and his dog.

      While one goal of this issue is to flesh-out these interesting details of Bras's ongoing life, a mystery plot is introduced at the very beginning of the story, as we are flash forwarded to a scene in which Bras, wearing formal eveningwear, is standing in a bar covered in blood, ruminating about the randomness of life.  The "day in the life" details of the story climax at the end in which we return to this scene, which shockingly and unexpectedly concludes with Bras being shot and killed in the bar hold-up scene which was only partially detailed at the story's beginning.

      This is one weird, yet fascinating and well-conceived comic book.  Normally, I would never detail such a story spoiler in a review as I did above, by revealing Bras's death.  Yet in this instance its really not a plot spoiler at all.  While there are no advance details out in the world of comic book marketing about the concept of this new title, it seems to me that the creators aren't going for anything either supernatural or a multi-story arc.  My guess is that this is a new title giving us one-issue story vignettes that wrap-up in one shot.  While individual issues may or may not have any connection to other issues, I think the purpose here is to give us some "every man" or "common man" stories, perhaps with a fantasy or magic realism element, or not.  Bras's death isn't the main point here in issue #1, but rather just the ironic counterpoint to his obit-writing job, in a story commenting on the preciousness and randomness of everyday life.

      Maybe future issues of Daytripper will prove that I'm all wet on this new title's planned concept, but right now we don't know what the creative team is truly up to.  So enjoy the rare mysteriousness of this new comic.  I'm in complete agreement with the issue's front cover quote from Gabriel Ba's Umbrella Academy collaborator Gerard Way, who sums it up best: "beautifully written and utterly gorgeous, Daytripper completely blew me away."

 
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Dante's Inferno #1
Publisher: Wildstorm Productions
Christos Gage: Writer
Diego Latorre: Art

 
 

          
    Wildstorm has just published issue #1 of a Dante's Inferno comic title, written by veteran comic writer (and Worcester native!) Christos Gage, with art by Diego Latorre.  The comic is based on the first section of 14th Century Italian writer Dante Alighieri's classic Divine Comedy epic poem, in which the title character, assisted by the poet Virgil, undertakes an epic journey through the Inferno of the nine circles of medieval hell to rescue his true love Beatrice.

     Issue #1 begins in Florence, Italy in the Middle Ages and establishes the plot details of Dante's emotional betrayal of his love Beatrice and her fall from grace, tricked by Satan into being trapped in the classic medieval version of hell.  Dante decides to enter hell to try and rescue Beatrice.  When Dante meets the spirit of the deceased famed poet Virgil at the gates of hell, he convinces the spirit to assist him in his quest.  Virgil lays down the ground rules regarding where and when he is allowed to assist Dante in his epic quest.  By issue's end, Dante has briefly battled and defeated the mythic beast guarding the entranceway to hell and is poised to begin his quest in next month's issue.

    Its quite a daunting task to translate such a weighty literary tale as this into the graphic artform.  In addition to the story's details and complexity, there's a lot of expectation to live up to, as many literature experts consider Dante's tale to be the greatest literary work ever written in the Italian language.  The creative team of Gage and Latorre get off to a high quality and very respectable start in issue #1, on two key points.  First, Gage's writing skills succeed in giving the reader a plot that successfully adheres to the beginnings of this classic tale while crafting a comfortable, modern-day dialogue that still captures the historical essence of this medieval story for the comic book reader.  Secondly, Latorre's unique artistic style is perfectly suited to the otherwordly nature of this tale.  His abstract visual stylings provide the nightmare fever dream imagery essential to any graphic representation of this dark and enthralling classic tale of hell, morality and redemption.

     So an enthusiastic thumbs-up for this new production of a literary classic.  This creative team is clearly up to the task of taking our hero in upcoming issues through the nine circles of medieval hell in his epic quest to rescue his lost love, in a manner that is faithful to the classic elements of the tale while delivering entertainment to the modern-day comic book reader.

 
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Red Herring
Publisher: Wildstorm Productions
David Tischman & Philip Bond: Writers
David Hahn: Art
Guy Major: Colors

 
 

          
         Wildstorm has also just published issue #5 of a new comic entitled Red Herring, written by David Tischman and Philip Bond, with art by David Hahn and colors by Guy Major.

     Issue #5 is entitled "You'll Get Your Beak Wet,"  and alternates between a few story threads.  In the first thread, a man and a woman are locked in an underground bunker mistakenly believing that aliens are invading the Earth above them; all the while, the pair are secretly being observed by the staff of a corporation called The Capricorn Group.  A second story thread follows two men and a woman breaking into The Capricorn Group headquarters.  While the woman keeps repeating that she's part of the break-in because "I want to get my life back," the two men have obvious differing motives for participating in the break-in.  A third story thread involves political maneuvering among Washington politicians, with inferences to an ongoing political scandel.

     I've referred in the paragraph above to the story details as "story threads" as opposed to "sub-plots," because we have no standard plot here, just slow-moving threads of ideas that haven't been fully presented as either plot action or dialogue that could be comprehended by the reader.  I get a general idea from this issue that there's a corporation that folks don't like, but what the heck is going on here in terms of a story being told is beyond me.  No plot and no understanding, combined with some pretentious poser dialogue combines into a solid thumbs-down from me for this boring and confusing comic book idea.

 
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Contest Winner Announcement!!!

Our latest Bongo Congo contest challenged you to go through The Looking Glass and place yourself in a comic, telling us if you had a gutsy comic book writer friend willing to play along, what comic book title you would like to have yourself written into.  Also, tell us whether your character would be a bad guy or a hero.

Ken at That's Entertainment commented that the store's customer Zvi was actually written into an Archie Comic years ago.  And the winner of our contest is (drumroll, please)...Stu Cathell, who informs us that he has actually been drawn into two comic books, through knowing the artist as opposed to the writer.  Stu tells us that artist Paul Lee included him in Amazing Fantasy #18, the Kurt Busiek mini-series, and also drew him into the D.C. Vertigo line of comics one-shot issue entitled "Dhampire."  Stu adds "I was villainous-do I win?"  That you do Stu, congrats on winning the contest prize of a $10.00 gift certificate to That's Entertainment.

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

 
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