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STORE NEWS
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Review Date: 02/05/2010

Good King Leonardo has decreed that we review this week the latest issues of four new comic books that also each have a strong historic presence as television shows.  The comics either began as comic books and crossed over into televison, or vice-versa.  So let's start with the latest issue in the popular "Marriage of Archie" mega-event:
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Archie #605
Publisher: Archie Comic Publications, Inc.
Muchael Uslan: Writer
Stan Goldberg: Pencils
Bob Smith: Inks
Glenn Whitmore: Colors

 

 

 
 

        
         Archie #605 is the final installment in the six-issue story arc which explores the "What If?" possibilities of Archie marrying one or the other of his two on-again, off-again girlfriends, Betty and Veronica.  The first three issues detailed a potential Archie-Veronica marriage, while the latest three issues explore the alternative of a post-collegiate Archie marrying perennial blond girlfriend Betty.

     Issue #605 explores the life of newlyweds Archie and Betty in the few years following their issue #604 wedding.  While the couple first moves to New York City for Betty's career opportunities, they quickly move back to their hometown of Riverdale and reconnect with their roots.  Betty teaches English at Riverdale High and Archie is recruited to become the new high school music teacher.  A second interweaving storyline includes the newlyweds having their first two babies, while a third plotline focuses on advancing the lives of many of Archie's Riverdale friends, including Jughead, Midge, Moose and of course, Archie's sidekicks Veronica and Reggie.

     This sixth and final installment in the "What If?" story arc differs greatly from the previous five installments with the depth and detail of the plot.  Each of Archie's two alternate marriage scenarios followed the three-issue process of a dating/engagement issue, a wedding issue and a life-as-newlyweds issue.  However, this final comic book gives us a much richer and more elaborate plot about Betty and Archie adjusting to life as a young married couple.  Unlike the Veronica alternative, this issue also explores how the lives of the rest of the Riverdale gang advance with the years, surprising us with who else pairs-up and gets married amongst the Archie universe characters.

     My reaction to this is that the Betty scenario has much more story heft to it because it makes that much more sense; Archie as married to the more spoiled and self-centered Veronica would result in a more vacant and less fulfilling life.  As such, the Betty scenario that we're treated to in the current issue #605 gives us the alternate to that unfulfilling life, presenting the reader with a richer and happier Betty scenario.  But hey, I've made it clear in my review of the first issue in this series that I'm a big Betty fan over Veronica, so maybe I'm just rationalizing it all.  There's probably a PhD. dissertation topic in all of this for a popular culture grad student, so for now, let's just lighten-up and give the final installment in this entertaining storyline the thumbs-up recommendation that it deserves.

     On a final note, there's already an advertisement in issue #605 for the one-volume graphic reprint compilation of this six-issue series, so feel free to collect all six individual comic book issues or alternatively see the good staff at That's Entertainment about buying the full set reprint volume.

 
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Star Trek: The Next Generation: Ghosts #3
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Zander Cannon: Writer
Javier Aranda: Art
Maerc Rueda: Inks
John Hunt: Colors

 

 
 

          
     Issue #3 is out this past week in one of IDW's Star Trek titles based on "Star Trek: The Next Generation," which was the second show in the multi-show Star Trek television empire.  The title is subtitled "Ghosts" and stars the comic book versions of the television series characters, including Commander Jean Luc Picard, Second-In-Command Ryker, the android Data and Lieutenant Worf.

     While there is no first page narrative to catch us up on the first two issues, its clear at the beginning of issue #3 that the Enterprise crew is caught in the middle of a conflict between two separate nations of the same alien race on a far-off planet.  The less technologically advanced nation has kidnapped Lieutenant Worf and is holding him hostage to their demands against both the other nation and the Enterprise crew.  A second storyline addresses the "Ghosts" title, in which scientists from the more advanced nation who are conducting research on an ore with miraculous properties claim to be seeing ghosts of people who are gone.  Without being a spoiler, by issue's end we recieve a scientific explanation for the phenomena, while we're also left with a cliffhanger in which the "ghost" phenomenon dangerously affects Captain Picard.

      I've reviewed several television show-based comic books in the past two years, including issues of Battlestar Galactica, Angel and Jericho, and a common flaw in each has been a lack of story details which unfortunately does not match the depth of the individual television episodes of each of those very popular shows.  I'm pleased to report that this Star Trek comic book title overcomes that common problem.  In addition to the high quality of the script, the creative team gives us a story presentation on par with the complexity and narrative detail of one of the original "Next Generation" show episodes.  Combine this quality with excellent art that accurately portrays the original show actors, and we've got a very enjoyable comic book, for both comic readers and fans of the old show, alike.

 
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Witchblade #134
Publisher: Image Comics, Inc.
Ron Marz: Writer
Stjepan Sejic: Art

 

 

 

 

 
 

          
      Issue #134 of Witchblade is on the new issues shelves this week.  This long-running comic book title began in 1995 and has maintained a devoted readership to this day.  The main character is Sara Pezzini, a New York City police detective who possesses the Witchblade, a supernatural and sentient artifact of immense power, which Sara wears as armor on her arm and hand.  Supported by her fellow NYPD detective and boyfriend Patrick Gleason, Sara and several support characters deal with criminal and supernatural/superhero situations throughout the Witchblade comic universe.  The comic was also a popular television show back in 2001-2002 starring Yancy Butler as Sara, and is also slated for a 2010 feature movie.

     Issue #134 is entitled "Almost Human" and is part one of a new multi-issue story arc.  Page one gives us a nice background narrative of the Wicthblade comic universe, along with the fact that the female android assassin Aphrodite IV is pursuing a human target in Manhattan.  Most of the issue focuses on Sara and Gleason in their role as NYPD detectives trying to find clues to explain a mysterious rooftop gunfight involving a futuristic airship and the unidentified female figure, who turns out to be the android assassin Aphrodite IV.  The tension builds to a climax as Sara accidentally crosses paths with the robotic assassin in a warehouse, ending in a violent cliffhanger in which the two may have to reluctantly pair-up in the next issue to save their respective lives.

     Similar to the Star Trek comic book reviewed above, the creative team here has jumped the hurdle and given us a storyline nicely structured along the lines of a detailed television episode.  Most of the comic is more of a CSI noir-type detective thriller, as Sara and Gleason operate as standard detectives in trying to unravel the mystery of the futuristic rooftop gun battle.  This standard detective story builds nicely to a four page climax in which the story gets more science fiction-oriented, as Sara activates the Witchblade in her confrontation with Aphrodite IV.

     I also liked very much the whole concept of the Aphrodite line of female android assassins.  The green-haired assassins are portrayed with personalities of equal mix Terminator-like woodiness and some humanness to them, making for a believable sentient robot character.  On a final note, artist Stjepan Sejic's style is perfect for this type of comic book title, giving us both very realistic visuals and almost cinematic facial expressions that connect this comic book strongly to the television series side of this franchise.  I've never read an issue of this title before, but the high quality of issue #134 guarantees that I'll definitely read more of this excellent comic book in the future and I recommend that you do, too!

 
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Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Color Special #1
Publisher: Mirage Publishing, Inc.
Kevin Eastman & Peter Laird: Script & Art
Steve Lavigne: Colors

 

 

 
 

          
     Our fourth extra review for this week is of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Color Special #1.  This issue is a colorization reprint of the original black-and-white TMNT story, colorized by Steve Lavigne and reprinted here as a 25th anniversary tribute honoring the original debut of this iconic comic book and its unique characters.

     Color Special #1 reprises the original 40-page origin story of the four turtles.  There are two interacting sub-plots here.  One is a classic origin story, as the turtle's martial arts mentor, the rat Splinter, recounts to them their origin as tiny fishbowl turtles who grow up to be the world-wide famous Ninja turtles Leonardo, Michaelangelo, Donatello and Raphael.  The second plotline is a detailed Japanese ninja fable, recounting how Splinter's human Japanese warrior master was murdered by a former ninja friend, thus leading to a major action sequence here in issue #1 as Splinter dispatches our four favorite turtles to avenge the fallen warrior by challenging and defeating/killing the murderer.

     I'm ashamed to admit that I've never read a single TMNT comic book story, although I soaked-in enough of the media blitz and television coverage of the Turtles back during the height of their worldwide popularity.  So it was especially enjoyable to experience my first comic book exposure to them through this 25th anniversary tribute reprinting of their very first comic book story.  I loved two things about it.  First, the wonderful and high quality storyline combined with the perfect visual story lay-out reaffirm why the Turtles were such a smash hit right out of the publishing gate from their debut. 

     Secondly, I was very surprised and delighted to learn that the Turtle's origin story is actually a tribute to Jack Kirby and Frank Miller's origin of Marvel's Daredevil superhero.  Without specifically naming Matt Murdock/Daredevil, the origin story clearly shows the irradiated rod that hit Murdock in the head, thereby creating Daredevil, bouncing away and irradiating four tiny turtles and a rat, who ultimately transform into the human-intelligent Splinter and his four turtle disciples. Even the Turtle's mentor's name Splinter is a take-off on Daredevil's ninja mentor Stick. Writers Eastman and Laird reaffirm these tribute facts by ending the anniversary issue with a back page dedication to Jack Kirby and Frank Miller.  Maybe this is all common knowledge to the average Turtles fan, but it was a fun and unexpected surprise origin fact for me.

     So whether you're a novice Turtles reader like me or a veteran fan, don't miss out on the opportunity to add this wonderful colorization and anniversary reprint tribute to your comic book collection.

 
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Ongoing Contest Reminder!!!

Just a quick reminder that you have until Wednesday, February 10 to e-mail us at Gordon_A@msn.com with your entry for our current contest, in which you're telling us about your favorite non-superhero oriented comic book character or comic book title.  So whether its a western, romance, horror, or any other genre in which folks don't fly around wearing capes and using heat vision, drop us an e-mail and tell us what you like to read.  First prize is a $10.00 gift certificate to That's Entertainment.

     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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