Review Date: 03/05/2010

Good King Leonardo has selected for reviews this week two comics from ongoing mini-series as well as one comic from an ongoing monthly series, so let's see how all three are faring:


Justice Society Of America #36
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Bill Willingham: Writer
Jesus Merino: Pencils
Jesse Delperdang: Inks
Allen Passalaqua: Colors

     D.C.'s ongoing Justice Society of America title is up to issue #36 with this month's issue.  The Comic is written by veteran writer Bill Willingham with art by Jesus Merino, Jesse Delperdang and Allen Passalaqua.  Willingham has the current writing duties in follow-up to the iconic, classic early run on the title by renowned scripter Geoff Johns.  I've periodically reviewed issues of this title, which revives a core of the original Golden Age JSA members (the original Green Lantern, Flash, etc.) in combination with a younger generation of new recruits.

     Issue #36 begins a new multi-issue storyline entitled "Fatherland," and explores the theme introduced by Geoff Johns of a periodic threat to the JSA by The Fourth Reich, a team of Nazi supervillains who attack the present day from the future.  This current tale alternates between two connected sub-plots.  The first is set 20 years in the future, and focuses on JSA member Mr. Terrific dictating his memoirs in prison before he is scheduled for execution.  Its clear that in this vision of the future, the JSA are imprisoned in an America conquered by the Fourth Reich villains.  The second storythread illustrates Mr. Terrific's memories regarding the present, detailing the beginning of the villain's attack on the JSA.  By issue's end, a key member of the JSA is dead as the battle between the good and bad guys is set to intensify in the next issue.

     This issue is a strong and interesting kick-off to an unexpected vision of defeat of the JSA by their archvillain rivels.  With its intriguing alternate reality science fiction theme, it will be interesting to see how the JSA will obviously rearrange events so that this timestream doesn't result in the bleak results introduced to the reader regarding the future.  While the story does have a dark element to it, you just know that this reality of utter defeat can't hold-up in the long run, so it should be fun to follow this multi-issue storyarc and see how the foreshadowed negative events are reversed by our heroes. 

     Hats-off also to veteran writer Bill Willingham for giving us a nice blend of action and dialogue, both of which keep the story moving forward at an enjoyable pace.  Its hard to step into the shoes of any writer or artist who had a classic run on a comic book title, but Willingham seems to be more than holding his own in giving us a fresh run on JSA without making us pine for a return to the Geoff Johns days.


The Human Target
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Len Wein: Writer
Bruno Redondo: Pencils
Sergio Sandoval: Inks
Jonny Rench: Colors

      DC Comics has just published issue #1 in a new six-issue espionage/thriller mini-series starring Christopher Chance as The Human Target.  The character was created back in the 1970's by the veteran team of Len Wein and Carmine Infantino, and has resurfaced in various formats over the years.  The new series is scripted by its creator Len Wein with art by Bruno Redondo, Sergio Sandoval and Jonny Rench.

     I'll get right to it to minimize the pain as much as possible: this is the most excrutiatingly bad D-List of a comic book that I've read in years, for three reasons.  Most horrifying is the wooden and extremely old fashioned dialogue.  The narrative reads as if it were written by a very old man, with archaic phrases and slang tossed around that went out of style 40 years ago.  Flaw #2 is an incredibly stupid and unrealistic major plot development that has our hero running all over Europe to help his elderly client, which is just mind-boggingly contrary to the normal logic in any espionage tale.  Throw in lousy art for the third flaw and this story mercifully strikes-out in its first at-bat.

     I suppose that you could look at this comic as being unintentionally so bad that it has a campy humor to it, the way certain movies such as "Attack Of The Killer Tomatoes" or "Showgirls" have scaled the heights to cult popularity from out of the depths of unintentional failure.  If you want to try looking at The Human Target #1 from that angle, more power to you.  But if you're like me, my advice is to run screaming away from the general physical vicinity of this comic book as fast as possible.  The least DC could do for the good DC reader is to change this comic title from "The Human Target" to "Eeeww..." starting with the next issue in this mercifully limited six-issue series.


Black Widow: Deadly Origin #4
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Paul Cornell: Writer
Many Various Artists

     Marvel has just published the concluding issue in a new Black Widow 4-issue mini-series.  The comic is written by Paul Cornell, with a large team of artists taking turns illustrating various sections of the story which reflect alternating timeperiods in the plot.  A first-page narrative brings us up-to-date regarding the plot from the first three issues.  In those issues, Natalia Romanova a.k.a. the Black Widow discovered that her old Russian spy partner and mentor Ivan wasn't dead, but was actually living in a robotic body as the violent head of a secret evil organization.  Ivan uses nanotechnology to infect and kill his opponents.  By the start of issue #4, its up to the Black Widow to confront Ivan and stop him by whatever means.

     This final installment in the story gives us a science fiction setting, as Natalia boards Ivan's giant space battleship in Earth orbit.  There are two goals here, stopping Ivan's reign of terror and finding a technological cure to the killer nanotechnology, which Natalia discovers even she has been infected with.  The two opponent's battle scenes are interspersed with brief flashbacks to key prior events in both of their lives, which accentuate the good versus evil debate that the two conduct as they battle each other on the spaceship.  Without being a detail spoiler, its expected that the Black Widow will win by issue's end, but the details are very interesting and at times surprising.

     I enjoyed this comic book for several reasons.  The science fiction "Black Widow In Space" setting was fun and action-packed, drawing the reader into the atmosphere of the tale with a nice sense of action and space adventure.  Writer Paul Cornell develops the story details as a very successful effort to back-fill some history about the Black Widow's personal past that nicely adds to the background of this Marvel universe character.  I also liked very much the use of various artists to illustrate the many flashback sections of the story; the alternate artistic styles gave a nice impression that each of these recollections has its own separate importance in Natalia's life.

     So a definite thumbs-up recommendation for this comic book, which is enjoyable as a stand-alone story issue and also succeeds in wrapping-up the multi-issue story arc of this mini-series.  The previous three issues in the series are also all still available for your reading enjoyment at That's Entertainment.

Contest Winner Announcement!!!

Our latest contest challenged you to name at least three countries that sent only one competing athlete each to the recently-concluded Vancouver Winter Olympics.  And our winner is Kevin Browne, who names fifteen (15) countries that he identified: Albania, Algeria, Bermuda, Cayman Islands, Columbia, Ethiopia, Ghana, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Mexico, Montenegro, Portugal, Senegal, Chinese Taipei and Tajikistan.  Whew! Add Morocco to the list and that's a lot of countries that at least gave the Olympics the old college try with an athlete.

Nobody answered our No-Prize question, which asked you to identify the age and sport of the oldest athlete to compete in the Vancouver Olympics.  The correct answer is 51-year-old giant slalom skier Prince Hubertus Von Hohenlohe, an athlete/royal prince/pop star from Germany who skies for Mexico, apparently the only Mexican athlete represented in the Games.  The Prince has also recorded eight disco albums under the name "Andy Himalaya."  He has served as the one-man Mexican Olympic ski team since 1981, finishing 38th in the giant slalom at the 1984 Sarajevo Games and finishing 78th this year.  But he did better this year than American superstar Bode Miller, who crashed on the course and didn't finish the giant slalom race. 

New Contest Announcement!!!

We'll go back next week to our regular comic book-themed contest questions.  But here's one last trivia contest for you.  E-mail us at Gordon_A@msn.com and tell the Bongo Congo panel of contest judges what is the largest man-made body of water in the United States and what major construction project resulted in the creation of that water body. 
First prize is a $10.00 gift certificate to That's Entertainment.  In the event that we receive more than one correct answer, the winner will be determined by a roll of the dice.

That's all for now, so try to find something to watch on t.v. now that the 16-day Olympics are over, have a great comic book reading week and see you again next week Here In Bongo Congo!

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