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STORE NEWS
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Review Date: 12/23/2009

Good King Leonardo says Happy Holidays to all of our friends and customers at That's Entertainment, and by
Royal Decree declares that we end the year with the following three comic book reviews:

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Ghostbusters: Displaced Aggression #4
IDW Publishing
Scott Lobdell: Writer
Ilias Kyriazis: Art

 
 

        
IDW has just published issue #4 in a new Ghostbusters title, with story by Scott Lobdell and art by Ilias Kyriazis.  If you're of a certain fanboy age, then you're very familiar with the mega-hit 1984 Ghostbusters movie, which starred Bill Murray, Dan Ackroyd, Harold Ramis and Sigourney Weaver, among many others.  The comedy concept featured a team of four guys (Venkman, Spengler, Ray and Winston) who ran a ghost and demon-busting business in New York City along the general concept of a small pest control business, with all types of fun ectoplasmic gadgets used to conduct ghost control in place of the standard pest control devices.  The "Ghostbusters" movie theme song, composed and sung by Lionel Ritchie, became a huge pop hit and the phrase "I ain't afraid of no ghost!" became a permanent American pop culture fixture.

     The plot of issue #4 begins with our four heroes in the thick of a confrontation with the mega-demon Koza 'Rai, who has set-up a hellish basecamp in Central Park in his attempt to turn all of mankind into slaves for his demonic hordes, as revenge for the Ghostbusters having slain his demonic son Gozer the Gozerian, who starred in the 1984 movie.  The ghostbusting boys are assisted by the mysterious time-traveling Rachel, who while not revealing her background and true identity, is apparently a huge fan and wannabe female ghostbuster.  The storyline is tightly detailed and action-oriented, building to a very dramatic and successful conclusion of the four-issue plot, culminating is a well-timed shout-out of the famous phrase "Who ya gonna call? Ghostbusters!".

     I loved this comic book for several reasons.  First and foremost, the creative team had the sense and skill to avoid a carbon copy of the movie, regarding both character development and storyline.  The four main characters only vaguely resemble their movie star counterparts, thereby allowing them to stand on their own eight collective feet as fresh and enjoyable comic book characters.  Secondly, writer Scott Lobdell gives us a plot that perfectly balances fresh story elements with the familiar concept and wise-cracking sayings of the Ghostbusters story franchise.  The story is chock full of standard cheesy sayings from the movie (i.e., "if my calculations are right...it's been an honor, gentlemen...these readings are off the charts...) grafted with new and fun effect into the new storyline.  Third, hats-off to the creative team for breathing fresh creative life into the Ghostbuster franchise with the addition of the character Rachel, who adds both a needed female element and just plain freshness to the title's concept.  There's a very unexpected and dramatic surprise turn to Rachel at story's end, which can be interpreted many ways; without being a spoiler, I think that Rachel could be creatively continued in this series as a wonderful addition to the Ghostbusters comic book universe.

     I can't tell whether issue #4 is the conclusion of a 4-issue limited mini-series or just the end of the first story arc of an ongoing title, but I truly hope it's the latter, as this high quality title deserves to continue and we fans deserve more of this fun Ghostbuster comic book run.  Issue #4 also includes a very funny eight-page second story starring the Ghostbuster's office secretary Janine in a time-traveling spoof.  Much lighter in comic tone and artistic style than the main story, it provides a very enjoyable contrast of both story tone and art to the 22-page main story.

 
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World's Finest #2
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Sterling Gates: Writer
Ramon F. Bachs: Pencils
Rodney Ramos: Inks

 
 

     Issue #2 is out this week in DC's four-issue World's Finest mini-series.  The original World's Finest was a mainstay title in the DC inventory from early in the Golden Age through 1986, featuring a team-up between Batman and Superman.  Golden Age issues also featured Robin as a third partner in the team.  The new mini-series is written by Sterling Gates with art by Ramon F. Bachs and Rodney Ramos.

My fellow reviewer Dave LeBlanc reviewed last month's issue #1, which starred Red Robin and Nightwing in a confrontation with The Penguin.

     The issue #2 story continues the multi-issue plot by shifting the story focus over to The Guardian and Damian Wayne as Robin.  Current DC fans know that this particular Robin is the son of Bruce Wayne and Talia Al Ghul, daughter of Batman's well-known nemesis Ras Al Ghul.  The main plot features the two heroes tracking some hi-tech equipment stolen from WayneTech and inadvertently stumbling upon a plot being hatched by Gotham supervillains Mr. Freeze and The Parasite.  A sub-plot woven throughout the tale addresses The Guardian trying to control and mentor the young Robin's bratty and lone wolf behavior.  While the two heroes save the day and Gotham as well, there's a creative surprise at the end of issue #2 which connects the upcoming issue #3 storyline to another famous Batman supervillain foe.

     While I give this comic book a solid thumbs-up recommendation for two reasons, I also have two minor criticisms.  Regarding the positive items, writer Sterling Gates and the art team succeed in giving us a very high quality story in this limited series, nicely mixing intriguing narrative and dialogue with fun action.  Secondly, I like the approach of featuring different DC heroes and villains in each issue of this series, while connecting each issue's feature players through the multi-issue story plot.  It's a format that's working very nicely for DC in the current Brave & Bold comic title, and translates well into this mini-series.

     My two criticisms are minor and are more a reflection of my personal taste rather than the quality of this comic book.  First, as I've mentioned in previous reviews, I just can't stand the bratty personality of the Damian Wayne Robin, with his permanent smirk and snarky attitude.  However, I will concede that he has his place both within this story and the general DC Universe, but I can't resist commenting how the character just rubs me the wrong way.  Secondly, I feel that the history of the long-lived World's Finest title for both DC and comicdom in general deserves more than to be thrown back into the market for a brief four-issue miniseries.  Given the quality shown so far in this mini-series, both fans and the legacy of the title would be better served by continuing this mini-series as a permanent monthly title.  Let's hope that sales might support that wish, so do your part and buy a copy of this excellent comic book title!

 
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Action Comics #884
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Greg Rucka & Eric Trautmann: Writers
Pere Perez: Pencils
Javier Mena: Colors

 
 

              The latest issue #884 of DC's long-running Action Comics title is on the new issues shelf this week at That's Entertainment.  The story is entitled "Divine Spark" and is part two in a multi-issue story arc written by veteran writer Greg Rucka along with Eric Trautmann, with art by Pere Perez and Javier Mena.

     The intricate and detailed storyline stars Lois Land along with Kryptonian superheroes Nightwing and Flamebird in three interconnected sub-plots.  Lois Lane stars in two storythreads; in one, she struggles to get a story out to the world revealing a conspiracy by her Army General father to discredit the Kryptonians, while in the second storyline she confronts her father regarding his hate against the Kryptonians.  These items are interweaved with the efforts of Flamebird and an unnamed scientist villain to save the life of Nightwing, who's fighting for his life in a hospital.  The plot features an interesting cat-and-mouse struggle between hero and villain, as they negotiate and make trade-offs in their uneasy alliance to save Nightwing's life.

     This is an enjoyable issue in the current Action Comics multiple-issue story arc.  The veteran writing team knows how to deliver a very detailed story that lives-up to the expectations that DC fans have for this flagship historic comic book title.  It was easy to enjoy this issue as a stand alone story without needing to read the previous issue in the story arc.  I also enjoyed the strong personalities of the two female lead characters.  Lois Lane is the clear heroic figure here, stepping out of the "Superman's Girlfriend" shadow to shine on her own as a solo and strong main character, while Flamebird shows signs of evolving her persona in the same direction.

      As a final note, the issue includes a second 8-page story starring Captain Atom, as the sixth installment in a multi-issue Captain Atom storyline.  Nothing special to the story, but worth reading in follow-up to the strong main feature story.  So a positive thumbs-up recommendation for our final 2009 Bongo Congo comic book review before we hit the 2010 New Year.

 
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   That's it for this week.  Good King Leonardo and his short subjects all want to wish you a very Happy Holiday Season
and thank you all for reading this past year's comic book reviews as well as entering (and winning!) our contests. 

We're taking next week off to celebrate the New Year, so have a very happy New Year and see you again in two weeks back here In Bongo Congo!

 
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