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STORE NEWS
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Review Date: 03/26/2010

Good King Leonardo has decreed that we go retro this week, kicking-off our reviews with two new comics that are set in the the
1920's and 1930's pulp fiction era,
while our final review this week features a "back to the Silver Age" familiar comic book format:

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The Green Hornet-Year One #1
Publisher: Dynamite Comics
Matt Wagner: Writer
Aaron Campbell: Pencils
Francesco Francavilla: Colors

 
 

        
     Dynamite Comics has just begun the release of several different Green Hornet comic book titles.  This particular title focuses on the 1930's origin story of The Green Hornet and his chauffeur sidekick Kato.  Its written by veteran comic book writer Matt Wagner with art by Aaron Campbell and Francesco Francavilla.

     Issue #1 is structured very similar to DC's popular Batman-Year One limited series of several years ago.  The story explores the origins of The Green Hornet and Kato via two interweaving plotlines.  The 1930's storyline presents their first night out and about on patrol in Chicago as heroes, as they encounter organized crime street thugs terrorizing two union workers.  After defeating the bad guys, the Hornet and Karo realize that the rescued workers are afraid of the oddly-costumed heroes; as such, they decide to use that to their advantage, and repesent themselves to Chicago organized crime as new criminal rivals, as opposed to being do-gooders.

    The second storyline alternates between the 1920's childhoods of Matt Reid/The Green Hornet and Kato.  Through Matt, we meet his father, crusading Chicago newspaper publisher Daniel Reid, whose courage in standing-up to organized crime in Chicago instills in the boy the life lessons which will transform him as an adult into a crimefighting hero.  These flashbacks are balanced with the 1920's childhood origin of Kato.  We follow Kato through his own set of learned life lessons from his own father, who passes-on to the boy the samurai virtues of service and duty.  By the end of issue #1, both characters are young men leaving home for the first time, embarking on their separate life journeys which in future issues will bring them together.

     This is a very high quality effort that gives the reader a wonderful new presentation of the origin story of these two Golden Age pulp fiction characters.  I particularly enjoyed the equal balance in this series in the storytelling of both Reid/The Hornet and Kato.  Its interesting to have such a new and detailed origin tale of Kato, with the effort elevating him in this particular title from the ranks of sidekick to more of an equal partner with the Hornet.  Hats-off also to the excellent art in this issue, as well as the creative team doing a great job in alternating the 1930's crimefighting storyline in balance with the two separate childhood origin tales.

 
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American Vampire #1
Publisher: DC Vertigo Comics
Scott Snyder & Stephen King: Writers
Rafael Albuquerque: Art
Dave McCaig: Colors

 
 

              
     DC's Vertigo Comics imprint has just published issue #1 in a new comic book entitled American Vampire.  The issue includes two related stories, the first one written by Scott Snyder and the second story written by well-known writer Stephen King.  Both tales are drawn by the art team of Rafael Albuquerque and Dave McCaig.  The promo for this new series states that the comic is an attempt to present a fresh take on the vampire genre, promoting a new type of "American Vampire" that is both uniquely shaped by the American historical experience as well having varied powers and abilities that differ between various American vampire individuals.

     Our first tale in this issue is written by Scott Snyder.  Entitled "Big Break," its set in 1920's silent screen-era Hollywood and centers upon Pearl, a young actress who's trying to break into show business by serving as an extra on a big budget silent movie epic.  Pearl is concerned about a shady cowboy-styled character who's hanging around her apartment complex.  Ignoring a cryptic warning from the mysterious cowboy, Pearl attends an upscale Hollywood party.  Without being a spoiler, Pearl runs afoul of the Hollywood vampire community at the event, with it being implied at the dramatic ending to this first issue installment that Pearl is on her way to becoming a vampire herself.

     The second story is penned by Stephen King.  Entitled "Bad Blood," its set in 1880 Colorado and gives us a prelude tale starring the mysterious cowboy who's hanging around 1920's Hollywood in the previous story.  It seems our cowboy is the bloodthirsty leader of a bankrobbing gang.  He's captured by lawmen and while being transported by train, plays a cat-and-mouse intellectual game with his captors.  When his gang derails the train, the rescue takes an unexpected vampiric twist, leading to the prisoner also beginning his journey into the world of being an American Vampire.

     This issue is a very entertaining new approach to the often-visited world of comic book vampires.  With Stephen King attached to the project, I expected more of a bloody gorefest along the line of standard horror tales.  Instead, Snyder, King and the artistic team give us a wonderful historical series that is strong on mainstream historic fiction with a more subtle blend of the vampire fantastic mixed into the effort.  It was just as much fun to absorb the 1920's Hollywood and 1880's western fictional elements of these two tales as it was to read the vampire side of the stories.  I also enjoyed the interconnection between the two stories by using the mysterious cowboy as a vampire bridge between the two separate eras of American history.  If issue #1 is an indication, this series has the potential to be a classic series that manages to successfully mix several genres of fiction into one extremely entertaining new comic book title.

 
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Justice League: Rise And Fall Special #1 (One-Shot)
Publisher: D.C. Comics
J.T. Krul: Writer
Diogenes Neves, Mike Mayhew & Fabrizio Fiorentino: Pencils
Mike Mayhew, Vicente Cifuentes & Ruy Jose: Inks

 

 

 
 

          
     DC Comics has just published a one-shot comic book entitled Justice League: Rise And Fall Special #1.  The comic stars Oliver North/Green Arrow and serves as a story transition between the recently-concluded Cry For Justice/Justice League mini-series and continuation of this multi-issue story arc starting in the upcoming Green Arrow #31.  The one-shot issue is scripted by J.T. Krul with a very large team of artists as listed above.

     The first several pages of this issue summarize the concluding events of the Cry For Justice mini-series, centering around Green Arrow having killed supervillain Prometheus after the villain maimed his son Red Arrow and destroyed Star City, killing thousands of civilians including Green Arrow's granddaughter.  A dual storyline proceeds from there, as the Justice League members simultaneously try to help the recovery effort in the City, while at the same time discovering Prometheus's murder and confronting Green Arrow about it.  The issue ends in a cliffhanger that will continue in Green Arrow #31, as Ollie/Arrow ditches the Justice League in pursuit of The Electrocutioner, who collaborated with Prometheus in the leveling of Star City.

     I reviewed two issues of the previous Cry For Justice mini-series and didn't like either one, feeling that the many various story sub-plots were very scattered and confusing.  Writer J.T. Krul avoids that problem with this one-shot story transition, focusing on the issue of Green Arrow going rogue and avenging his family through murder, contrary to the Justice League code of law enforcement.  The detailed dialogue in this issue between Green Arrow and the other Justice Leaguers was very believable and sets-up the conflict very well between the characters, as this story continues in upcoming issues of the Green Arrow comic book title.  I also liked very much the details of the sub-plot regarding the disaster to Star City, including a three-page memorial service narrative at the end of the story; the details and structure of this sub-plot gave the story meaning and relevance to both the events of 9/11 and the recent earthquake devastation in Haiti.  So a thumbs-up for this worthy transition story segment in the ongoing Justice League saga.

 
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Superman 80-Page Giant #1
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Various Writers & Artists

 

 

 

 
 

          
     DC Comics has just published issue #1 of Superman 80-Page Giant, formatted on the old Silver Age strategy of annually publishing one higher-priced 80-page Giant issue of each title.  Of course, back then the price increase for the oversized issue was a whopping 25 cents, while this new issue is priced at $5.99!  The issue features a total of seven (7) Superman-themed stories scripted and penned by various writers and artists.  Its unclear whether this comic book is a one-shot, annual or new monthly series.

     This issue has a very unique creative theme, in that the stories don't present standard Superman story plots.  Instead, the tales either star average folks who are affected in the story by Superman's actions, or alternately the tales star Clark Kent at various times in his life.  Of the seven stories, two particularly stood-out as my personal favorites.  "Patience-Centered Care" is a light comedy starring Clark Kent and Lois Lane, produced by the creative team of Kathryn Immonen and Tonci Zonjic.  The story seems very simple as a funny take on Lois having a bad cold with Clark bumbling-about to care for her, but also has an effective and touching element about the strength of their relationship. 

      The second personal favorite story stand-out is "Why Metropolis?," in which four bank robbers are driving in a getaway car and explaining why each of them prefers doing crimes in Metropolis versus other well-known DC universe cities.  Its a very funny take on how various DC superheros treat common criminals, with a surprise Superman-oriented ending.  Irregardless of my personal favoritism, all seven stories are stand-outs in that they offer the reader an entertaining plot combined with an often touching moral or positive life lesson.  So a thumbs-up for DC giving us a thought-provoking series of stories in this giant-sized issue.  My only complaint is that $5.99 price; even though we get 80 pages of stories in this comic book, it just seems to be an overly expensive threshold that we're crossing here, at six bucks a pop.

 
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Contest Winner Announcement!!!

Our latest contest was for you to tell us who your favorite comic book sidekick is, and why this person is your favorite second banana.  And our winner is (drumroll, please)...Mike Dooley, with his entry of Andrew Blodgett "Monk" Mayfair, one of Doc Savage's sidekicks.  Mike writes that Monk is "definitely the toughest Doc aide, so ugly that he's actually attractive to females.  A world renowned chemist, his bantering relationship with Ham Brooks is iconic, an idea used throughout heroic stories, most famous being the Spock/McCoy relationship.  Provides the stories with a humorous element, while continuing with the action."  A good choice, Mike, of a sidekick who in many ways served as a model for future comic sidekicks.

     That's all for now, so as always, have a great comic book reading week and see you again next week Here In Bongo Congo!

 
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