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STORE NEWS
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Review Date: 01/29/2010

Last week we reviewed two new DC comics and a new Marvel comic, so for this week, Good King Leonardo has decreed that we reverse the trend with reviews of one DC Comic and two new Marvel editions:
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Superman/Batman #68
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Joe Casey: Writer
Ardian Syaf: Pencils
Vicente Cifuentes & David Enebral: Inks
Ulises Arreola: Colors

 

 
 

        
     DC Comics is up to issue #68 with the latest release in the long-running Superman/Batman title.  The issue is written by Joe Casey with art by the team of Ardian Syaf, Vicente Cifuentes, David Enebral and Ulises Arreola.  This is a very popular title that pairs DC's two A-list superheros, often presenting a twin narrative in each issue's story that reveals to the reader how Superman and Batman both perceive the same situation that they're in very differently.

     Issue #68 is entitled "The Big Noise-Part 1: Rumble Face" and kicks-off a new multi-issue story arc.  There are two intertwining story threads, here.  In the first, STAR Labs entreprenuer Anderson Gaines mysteriously disappears while climbing in the Himalayas after encountering a crashed alien spaceship, then mysteriously reappears six months later back in Metropolis.  At the same time, our pair of superheros are investigating the appearance of a Kryptonian spaceship which time-traveled from the past, arriving in Earth orbit with the crew and another onboard alien species dead.  The plot thickens as Batman discovers the possibility of an alien shapeshifting terrorist having infiltrated Earth from the ship, a development that clearly connects to the Anderson Gaines mystery.

     The current creative team for this title is clearly able to deliver the high quality of storytelling that the Superman/Batman title has come to be known for over the past several years.  The art team's work is top notch, with penciller Ardian Syaf's exquisite style reminiscent of the late, great Michael Turner.  A hats-off is also due to writer Joe Casey's skill in very effectively building and slowly interconnecting the multiple mysteries here.  By issue's end, we're hooked into wanting the mystery to be revealed regarding the story behind the time-traveling wrecked ship from Krypton and its connection to the puzzle of Anderson Gaines.  I also very much enjoyed the fresh and unique idea of a Kryptonian ship arriving Earthside from the far past.

      On a final note, a second feature in this issue is a very interesting seven-page "Behind The Scenes" promo for "The First Wave," which I can best describe as DC's attempt to star Batman and Doc Savage, among others, in a reinterpretation of early Golden Age characters, similar to the various Marvel Comics titles that are currently available along this theme (i.e., The Marvels Project, etc.).  The series should be available on the That's Entertainment new issues shelves beginning in March and will be reviewed here as it becomes available.

 
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Dark Avengers #13
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Brian Michael Bendis: Writer
Mike Deodato: Art
Rain Beredo: Colors

 

 

 

 
 

          
     The latest issue of Marvel's very popular Dark Avengers title is on the new issues shelves this past week.  Issue #13 is scripted by veteran writer Brian Michael Bendis with art by the team of Mike Deodato and Rain Beredo.  As I've mentioned in previous reviews of this title, the Dark Avengers are led by pseudo-villain Norman Osborne in his role as The Iron Patriot, and mostly consist of various Marvel Universe villains who are secretly operating in the guise of heroes.  The group also includes the mega-powerful The Sentry, who has been battling insanity throughout this series.

     The plot of this issue focuses on The Sentry/Robert Reynolds, and ties-into Marvel's new "Siege" mega-theme.  The first third of the story gives us a nice summary of The Sentry's mental problems to-date, while the middle third of the storyline fills us in with a backstory revealing his previously unknown origin.  The last third of this issue is action packed, as The Sentry has a relapse into his mental problems and tries to resist killing his wife, Lindy.  Without providing any spoiler details, the issue's conclusion hints that The Sentry might not actually have mental health problems, but instead might be possessed by an ancient malevolent force.

     The creative team gives-us another top-notch entry in this very well-produced ongoing Marvel comic book title.  As always, the art is very attractive and creative.  I particularly liked the art team presenting the flashback origin seqence in basic black-and-white, adding an interesting cinematic flair to the presentation of this story.  I've read a lot of Brian Michael Bendis-scripted comic books over the years, and found that he's at his best when his story explores a philosophical theme, such as good vs. evil, etc.  Here, Bendis shines with an engrossing monologue from The Sentry's wife Lindy, as she debates herself out-loud regarding her feeling that her husband is evil and that she must take drastic measures to stop him, up to and possibly including killing him.  In the hands of a less-skilled writer, such a multi-page monologue would come across as boring or pretentious, but as produced by Bendis, this part of the story scores twice as both entertaining and classic.

     So a definite thumbs-up for the latest installment in this excellent Avengers universe comic title.  As with most well-produced comics of this type, its a fun and high quality read both as a stand-alone issue and in advancing the ongoing storyline of this title.

 
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Marvel Boy: The Uranian #1
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Jeff Parker: Writer
Felix Ruiz: Art
Val Staples: Colors

 

 

 

 
 

          
     Marvel Comics has just published issue #1 in a three-issue mini-series bringing back the Golden Age character Marvel Boy.  Marvel Boy was created by Stan Lee and had a brief 1950-1951 comic book run.  The character was Earth native Robert Grayson, whose scientist father escaped from Nazi Germany by rocketing with his infant son to the planet Uranus, where they lived amongst an unknown human colony on that planet.  Grayson eventually returned to Earth, functioning as a superhero with power derived from energy band bracelets.

     Issue #1 of this new mini-series gives us a new version of Marvel Boy's origin story, recounting the basic origin as summarized above.  Grayson returns to Earth in 1950 and immediately saves the U.S. Navy's Seventh Fleet from a supervillain attack, but is jailed by the military, as they distrust both his origin story and his well intentions.  He escapes from detention and travels to New York City, where a comic book publisher decides to both help him acclimate to American society and to base a new comic book title on his growing crimefighting exploits.  By issue's end, Grayson announces that he is renouncing the name "The Uranian" and is adopting the name Marvel Boy as he prepares for further superhero action.

     This is an intriguing but weirdly-produced comic book that I'm not giving a thumbs-down to, but instead concluding that its a well-intentioned but below-average product.  The artwork is horrific, with a very sketchy style that looks like very early draft pencilling efforts for a story idea.  Way too much of the issue #1 story focuses on Marvel Boy arriving on Earth and grandly announcing to everyone he meets who he is and where he's from.  The entire first half of the issue could have been compressed into three pages, thereby providing us instead with the actual storyplot which is missing from issue #1, rather than just a chain of origin and background explanations detailing Grayson's identity.  A final major misstep is setting the story in the year 1950.  Do the math, Marvel creative team-if Grayson and his father fled Germany for the planet Uranus during the height of the Nazi era, no way is this guy even close to being the adult age that he's portrayed as upon his return to Earth in 1950.

     While all of the above adds-up to a sloppy and disjointed comic book effort, what pulls this issue out of the utter failure bin are two particular story elements.  First, writer Jeff Parker clearly states that Marvel Boy is returning to Earth in a 1950's era in which actual WW II superheros are now passe and few in action.  Its a sly and neat commentary that parallels the actual 1950's comic book industry situation, in which superheros fell out of readership favor, to be eclipsed in popularity for a decade by non-superhero comics.  Secondly, its also creative and fun to read the storyline in which Marvel Boy connects with the comic book publishing industry, which decides to base a comic book on his supposed real world exploits.

     By the end of issue #1, we have no idea what type of plot the next two issues in this mini-series will give us.  But if you can squint your way through the stomach-jarring, sketchy art style and if the creative team highlights the comic book industry side of the story, it might be worth doubling-back and checking-out the next issue or two of this unusual comic book effort.  On a final note, the main story is followed by two reprint stories from the original early 1950's Marvel Boy publication run.

 
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New Contest Announcement!!!

The references in the "Marvel Boy: The Uranian" comic book reviewed above to the 1950's comic book industry situation gave us the idea for this latest comic book contest challenge.  The 1950's were an era in which the general American comic book reading public tired of the WWII-era Golden Age superheroes who dominated 1940's comic books.  While many superheros were still featured in 1950's comics, they were outsold in popularity by non-hero comics, with characters and themes that included romance, westerns, detective mystery and horror.

As such, the Bongo Congo panel of contest judges are interested in what you, the 2010 modern-day reader, like in the way of today's non-superhero characters and titles.  So e-mail us at Gordon_A@msn.com with your contest entry that pitches to us your favorite non-superhero character or characters, along with any non-superhero-themed comic titles that you think we shouldn't be missing.  Let's learn from your entries just how much the non-superhero comic book world has changed (or maybe not!) since that 1950's era.  Remember, our contest winner will receive a $10.00 gift certificate to That's Entertainment,
so e-mail us your entry 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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