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STORE NEWS
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Review Date: 02/12/2010

Good King Leonardo has decreed that we review this week three titles from Marvel and DC Comics starring
some of our more longer-lasting, veteran superheroes, to see how they're holding-up these days:

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Fantastic Four #575
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Jonathan Hickman: Writer
Dale Eaglesham: Art
Paul Mounts: Colors

 

 

 

 
 

        
     Marvel's long-running Fantastic Four title is up to issue #575 this month.  The current issue features a return of the Fantastic Four's first super-villain adversary, the Moleman.  Marvel has also expanded the FF family over the past few years; in addition to the original foursome of team leader Reed Richards, Sue "Invisible Girl" Richards, Johnny "The Human Torch" Storm and Ben "The Thing" Grimm, the comic title now features Reed and Sue's two pre-teen children, Franklin and Valeria Richards.

     Issue #575 is entitled "Prime Elements 1: The Abandoned City Of The High Evolutionary."  The plot centers upon the FF's old adversary the Moleman returning to the surface world to seek the team's assistance against a threat to his subterraneum kingdom.  It seems that a former mad scientist known as The High Evolutionary had designed a fantastic underground city, now abandoned but recently discovered by the Moleman's "Moloid" sub-human subjects.  The Moloids are rebelling against the Moleman by moving to the empty city, which has technology that transforms them into independent, high intelligence people.  The mechanized city is also scheduled to rise to the surface world in the near future. So its off to the underworld with this new FF/Moleman alliance to check-out the unfolding drama.

     This is an action issue just packed with a wide range of science fiction plot elements that are not seen very often in your standard superhero-oriented comic book tale.  A strong sub-plot focuses on the rebellion of the Moloids against the Moleman, exploring the issue of the value of their freedom versus living under the benevolent dictatorship of the Moleman.  The art is exceptional in this comic book, with very impressive full-page and two-page panoramas visualizing the grandeur of the underground abandoned city.  I was also very impressed with a two-page scene on pages 4 and 5 of the issue, in which the Moleman makes a grand return to the surface world by barreling up from beneath the Baxter Building into the FF headquarters lobby.

     I loved the balanced blend of superhero and science fiction elements in this tale.  My one question is regarding a one-page narrative at the story's end, in which writer Jonathan Hickman updates us on major story activities that continue in the following two weeks after the issue's conclusion on the previous page.  I don't know if this means that this story was a one-shot storyline; if not, why not skip this narrative and spend a good, fun portion of issue #576 giving us a comic book plot/visual of those interesting upcoming two weeks?  Let's hope that the narrative is just a way of advancing this very entertaining tale into another stage in the next issue.

 
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The Flash: Rebirth #5
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Geoff Johns: Writer
Ethan Van Sciver: Art
Brian Miller: Colors

 

 

 
 

          
     Issue #5 is currently available in the 6-issue mini-series heralding the return to the DC universe of Barry Allen, the original Silver Age Flash.  The story is entitled "Mother, May I" and is written by veteran Geoff Johns with art by Ethan Van Sciver and Brian Miller.  I had given a disappointing negative review to the first issue in this series, and as such decided to return to it with the current issue to see if the comic quality has improved.

     The plot in the current issue lays-out an issue-long mega-battle between the evil Reverse Flash from the future (always identified as wearing a yellow Flash costume) versus all of the various Flashes and Kid Flashes, led by Barry Allen.  A parallel sub-plot interweaves Allen's philosophical musings about feeling alone in his role as The Flash, and lamenting the loss early in his life of his mother.  The mega-battle climaxes with the Reverse Flash revealing that in his time-traveling he was Barry's mother's murderer.  The issue ends in a cliffhanger as he time-travels to the past to try and erase Allen's wife Iris from the present.

     While the plot in issue #5 isn't the dysfunctional, scattered mess of issue #1, there's still very little story plot to enjoy.  It's rare for esteemed writer Geoff Johns to trip-up, but everyone's human and I guess he's due for a subpar writing performance.  If the constant action of this issue-long big battle was interesting, that action could have carried the lack of story, here.  But it's not interesting-its really hard to do anything creative with an entire issue's worth of a bunch of Flashes running circles around an evil Flash and being outrun and outclassed by the guy.  My advice would have been to split the story layout 50-50 between action and real progression of a story plot. 

     As a final review comment, there's a very weird segment in the middle of the story in which the Wally West Flash inexplicably, through some unrevealed power, changes the fashion and color of every Flash's uniform that they're wearing in the blink of an eye.  It made no plot sense, and just added to the jarring feel of story action bouncing around for no good reason.  So with an unfortunate but firm thumbs-down, my advice is to skip this subpar mini-series and either check-out some Flash back issues available at That's Entertainment, or wait for whatever D.C. chooses to next publish in the way of a Flash title after this mini-series wraps-up with next month's issue #6.

 
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Justice Society Of America Annual #2
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Keith Giffen & Matthew Sturges: Writers
Tom Derenick: Pencils
Rodney Ramos: Inks
Allen Passalaqua: Colors

 

 
 

          
     DC Comics has issued this past week Annual #2 of its Justice Society of America (JSA) title.  The annual is written by the team of veteran writer Keith Giffen and Matthew Sturges, with art by the team of Tom Derenick, Rodney Ramos and Allen Passalaqua.  Followers of this title know that DC brought the JSA back into its own title a few years ago, beginning with a classic quality run by writer Geoff Johns.  As such, I was interested in reading this issue to see how the title is holding-up quality-wise, now that Johns is no longer writing the series.

     The story is entitled "Walking Papers," and as an Annual is an extra-long, 46-page tale.  We're thrown right into the action from page one, as the JSA All-Stars arrive at a prison for supervillains to quell a riot reportedly started by their incarcertaed former member Magog.  The plot quickly thickens with three interweaving sub-plots.  The main story thread is a mega-battle which escalates as more and more JSA members arrive on the scene.  The second stroyline focuses on Magog working to convince the JSA as they battle him that he's not a bad guy here, but rather in his own stubborn way is trying to counter an evil conspiracy that the prison is merely a camoflauged front for.  A third storythread focuses on tension between the "JSA All-Stars" and the mainstream JSA members, who apparently have split apart from each other in previous JSA issues.

     It wouldn't be fair to review this comic in comparison to the earlier Geoff Johns run of JSA, given the rare classic quality of what Johns produced for the first few years of this title.  As such, reviewed on its own accord, this is a decent and enjoyable comic book.  Writer Giffen's style is more old school, giving us a traditional comic book plot that reminds me of comics from about 20 years ago, with less literate quality than some of today's comic book productions.  There's nothing wrong with that when the effort and quality are o.k.  Here, we have a very detailed and entertaining tale that combines well-presented action with an interesting story.  I liked both the mystery of what the prison was really hiding, as well as the growing tension between the older JSA members and their split-off younger JSA All-Star rivels/allies. So its a definite thumbs-up for this Annual #2 JSA issue, with the $4.99 price worth spending for its extra-length story.

 
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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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