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STORE NEWS
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Review Date: 04/23/2010

There's lots of good stuff on the That's Entertainment new issues shelves right now, so Good King Leonardo has decreed that this week we review four new comic books, including two from D.C. Comics, a Marvel Comics newcomer and a cult favorite from Image Comics:
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  Doc Savage #1
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Paul Malmont: Writer
Howard Porter: Penciller
Art Thibert: Inker
Brian Miller: Colors
 
 

    D.C. has just published Doc Savage #1 as part of its new multi-title series entitled First Wave, which focuses on the Golden Age roots of such iconic DC heroes as Batman, The Blackhawks and Black Canary in combination with the Golden Age pulp fiction adventurer Doc Savage.  The new series is scripted by Paul Malmont with art by Howard Porter, Art Thibert and Brian Miller.  I gave a positive review a few months ago to a one-shot comic featuring Doc Savage and a young, inexperienced Batman that previewed this new DC universe series, so let's see how this first issue in the actual First Wave run gets out of the gate.

     Issue #1 features two stories.  The lead tale is entitled "The Lord Of Lightning: Darkness Falls" and stars Doc Savage and his team of well-known friends and colleagues, including sidekicks Monk, Ham, Rennie and Johnny.  The action literally explodes off of the page from the beginning, as an unknown adversary attacks Doc and crew with massive lightning blasts targeted at the various Doc Savage-owned faciltiies and hide-outs.  This action plot interweaves three storylines.  The first is basic action/adventure, as Doc dramatically rescues two young boys trapped in a lightning-blasted skyscraper.  The second storythread introduces each member of Doc's adventure team by featuring how they individually fare in the various lightning attacks.  And the third storyline features Doc and friends coming together to try and figure-out who their attacker might be, just as the assembled team takes a direct lightning attack as a dramatic bridge to next month's issue. 

     The back-up story in this issue stars Justice, Inc., and is scripted by Jason Starr with art by Scott Hampton and Daniel Vozzo.  The series is based on a popular 1930's pulp action novel starring millionaire adventurer Richard Henry Benson.  The novel was the basis for a brief 1970's comic book series drawn by Jack Kirby.  Benson and his sidekicks are presented as a team of Doc Savage-like folks who have all suffered trauma and now work to help New York City residents in need.  This story introduces the reader to the team members and begins a multi-issue storyline in which the team races against time to rescue one of their own kidnapped members.

     I enjoyed issue #1 of this new series for several reasons.  First and foremost, the creative team succeeded in updating the traditional 1930's atmosphere of Doc Savage into a 21st century setting without losing the art deco flavor of the Doc Savage story universe.  This blend of Golden Age adventurer functioning in a modern setting is both very believable and entertaining.  Issue #1 also succeeds in featuring all of Doc's colorful teammates in a balanced manner that acquaints the new reader with everyone, at the same time quickly reconnecting veteran Doc Savage fans with the whole crew.  Third, the initial first story arc of this title gets off to an interesting start here, as we're presented with an all-out assault on our heroes along with an intriguing mystery as to who is behind it all.  The back-up story that stars Justice, Inc. is a worthwhile second feature for this title.  I particularly enjoyed writer Jason Starr connecting Justice, Inc. to the Doc Savage universe, with the line that Justice, Inc. is there to help "whoever the cops won't help out or Doc Savage won't take on."

     So a well-deserved thumbs-up for this first step into DC's new First Wave universe.  It should be fun to read this series and see how the creators blend these pulp fiction icons with our well-known DC superstars, including Batman as a young rookie just starting down the superhero pathway.

 
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  Batgirl #9
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Bryan Q. Miller: Writer
Lee Garbett: Pencils
Jonathan Glapion & Richard Friend: Inks
Guy Major: Colors

 

 
 

     DC's latest Batgirl title is up to issue #9 this past week.  This new series is written by Bryan Q. Miller with a large art team as listed above.  As I've mentioned in reviews of previous issues, this series stars Gotham City college student Stephanie Brown as a new novice Batgirl who's mentored by the original Batgirl/Barbara Gordon, a.k.a. The Oracle.  The series often includes the theme of Batgirl struggling to gain acceptance from the more established Gotham City heroes, including the Dick Grayson Batman, Red Robin and that little psycho son-of-Bruce-Wayne who's the latest traditional Robin character.

     Issue #9 features part 1 of a new four-issue story arc entitled "Batgirl Rising-The Flood."  The story proceeds along several narrative lines, all under the backdrop of an endless Gotham rainstorm.  The first part of the story is action adventure, as Batgirl confronts and disarms a hostage-taking situation on a local train.  The main storyline emerges halfway through the issue and focuses on Wendy, the wheelchair-bound daughter of the Villain "The Calculator."  Without being a story spoiler, there's a direct connection between Wendy, her missing villain father and a strange murdering spree in Gotham, which involves the illegal use of technology from the planet Apokolips.  By issue's end, Barbara/The Oracle has figured out what's happening and is marshalling Batgirl to her side to directly take-on the problem in next month's issue.

     I'm a happy fan of this relatively new comic series, mainly due to writer Bryan Q. Miller's sharp dialogue and humor.  It doesn't fail in this latest issue, infusing the various storythreads with a witty banter between Batgirl and just about everyone else, all of which elevates the story details to a high level of entertainment.  Miller's also doing an excellent job is each issue of the series at balancing all of the various elements in busy Stephanie Brown's life, including her superhero duties, trying to establish street cred with both villains and her supposed local hero allies, building a workable partnership with Oracle, trying to have a personal life, etc.  The creative team has made these many aspects of her life both credible and interesting so far in each and every issue.  So if you're already a fan of Batgirl keep on reading and if you're not a fan, get onboard with issue #9 as the kick-off to an interesting and worthwhile new multi-issue story arc.

 
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  Marvel Adventures Super Heroes #1
 Publisher: Marvel Comics
Paul Tobin: Writer
Ronan Cliquet: Penciler
Amilton Santos: Inker

 

 
 

     Marvel Comics has of late been introducing a series of titles billed as "comics for all ages," including the latest run of Lockjaw & The Pet Avengers, The Marvelous Land Of Oz, a new Spider-Man title and this issue #1 of Marvel Adventures Super Heroes.  The first of two stories is scripted by Paul Tobin with art by Ronan Cliquet and Amilton Santos, while the back-up tale is written by Chris Eliopoulos with art by Gurihiru.

     Our main story is an Avengers tale.  In this Avengers interpretation, the team is just forming and consists of Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Vision, Sue Storm, Black Widow and Nova.  Two sub-plots weave back and forth throughout the tale.  In the first storythread, the team struggles to establish themselves by trying to convince world-wide security forces that they can be trusted and can have a legitimate place within the world's anti-terrorist security network.  The second storyline puts this issue to the test, as part of the Avengers respond to a terrorist-style threat from perennial bad-guy Magneto and his henchmen.  The two plotlines come neatly together to a mutual resolution at the end of the story.  Our second brief, 4-page tale stars the sabre-toothed tiger Zabu in a humorous spin-off story from Lockjaw & The Pet Avengers.

     Most comics that are billed as "kid friendly" or "for all ages" are stories written solely at a child's interest level and therefore not entertaining to an average adult's comic book-reading level.  As such, I was pleasantly surprised to find that this issue breaks the glass ceiling on that format and is that rare creature, an actual story that fully functions well as an entertaining read for readers ranging from pre-teen to adult.  There's dialogue in here that addresses serious issues such as politics and homeland security, in a manner that is mature and serious but also clear and simple, thus serving as an effective life lesson in these subjects for kids and adults alike.  Blend-in a bit of for-all-ages humor and you've got a read that anyone can be entertained by.  The four-page second story is definitely a kid's tale, but its so cute and quick that the adult reader can also enjoy it for a quick chuckle.

     So hats-off to Marvel both for making the attempt and succeeding in giving us that rare solidly entertaining comic book that is truly for readers of all ages.  I for one will keep reading this new title for some more issues to see if this quality effort is sustained from month-to-month.

 
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  Tank Girl: Dirty Helmets #1 (One-Shot)
Publisher: Image Comics
Alan C. Martin: Writer
Rufus Dayglo: Art

 

 
 

     Image Comics keeps a steady flow these days on giving us more than one Tank Girl comic book title, so I chose to review the latest one-shot contribution to the group, entitled "Tank Girl: Dirty Helmets."  For the uninitiated, Tank Girl's been a cult favorite since its creation in the 1980's by the British team of Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett.  The two main characters are Tank Girl herself and her mutated Kangaroo-buddy Booga, who cruise (in their tank, of course!) a post-apocalyptic, Mad Max-type landscape having adventures that are a lot lighter and more tongue-in-cheek than expected from the premise.  In 1995, the comic was translated into a cult-hit movie starring Lori Petty as Tank Girl.

     This latest issue is scripted by co-creator Alan Martin with art by Rufus Dayglo.  The comic features a two-part main story followed by a secondary flashback tale.  In the main feature, Tank Girl, Booga and a few friends are thrown into a firefight in a tropical jungle, as they follow their Army-issued mission to wipe-out a mysterious jungle military bunker.  The story is heavy on action, leading to Tank Girl discovering that the bunker defenders are in fact a weird group that worship her as their goddess.  I won't spoil why this is happening or how the situation is resolved.  Our second tale has more of a science fiction base, as Tank Girl recalls an incident from her past in which government scientists clone her brain for her reflex skills and install said brain as the intelligence manning a new high tech tank.  Then its Tank Girl vs. the tank itself in a battle to the death, of course!

     This is a breath-of-fresh-air alternative comic that's a fun read for a lot of reasons.  Rufus Dayglo's black-and-white cartoony art is perfect for this type of madcap humor, on a par with the best artistic styles found in Mad Magazine back in its heyday.  The creative team is as sharp as possible in blending all-out action, explosions and general mayhem with a style of disarming wackiness that works as the perfect mix of basic entertainment and social commentary on the whole blood 'n guts military fiction genre.  I also loved all of the extras scattered throughout this one-shot issue, which includes Tank Girl poetry, a multi page pin-up and fake promos for Tank Girl and Booga products.

    So if you're already a Tank Girl fan, definitely add this one-shot to your collection and if you're a newbie like me, this is a great issue to take your first dip into the pool of wackiness that makes-up the Tank Girl comic book universe.  Lots of Tank Girl titles and graphic compilation reprints are available for your enjoyment on the new issue shelves and in the back issue bins at That's Entertainment.

 
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Contest Winner Announcement!!!

We had a whole bunch of correct entries to our current contest, which asked you to tell us what cult classic science fiction movie featured the three brother robots named Huey, Dewey and Louie.  And the winner by our random roll of the dice is (drumroll, please)...Nancy Shields, who not only gave us the correct answer that the movie was the 1972 feature "Silent Running," but added that it was (direct quote, here) "Silent Running starring Bruce Dern (oh my beating heart), with the theme sung by Joan Baez (exquisite) and composed by Peter Schikele (aka PDQ Bach)."  Glad to learn that our answer is one of Nancy's favorite movies of all time (check it out if you haven't already, its a deeply moving outer space film with a strong environmental protection message), and congratulations to Nancy for winning the $10.00 gift certificate to that's Entertainment.

 That's all for this week, so have a great comic book reading and science fiction movie watching week and see you again next week Here In Bongo Congo!
 
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