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STORE NEWS
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Review Date: 04/30/2010

Before we get to our comic book reviews this week, just a heads-up that my latest science fiction story, entitled "The Proper Equipment," has just been published in the short story anthology "Strange Mysteries 2," edited by Jean Goldstrom (Whortleberry Press). Its an entertaining collection of 40 mystery or mysterious-themed stories authored by a nice mix of authors, from established professionals to newcomers. There's a new Sherlock Holmes tale in the collection and an entertaining Edgar Allen Poe reprint, too.

Whortleberry Press uses lulu.com as their printer, so feel free to go to either www.whortleberry press.com or directly to lulu.com to learn more about the collection and order a copy, using the book title and/or the editor's name to locate the book in the webpage inventory.

Good King Leonardo didn't have a particular theme for this week's reviews, but then noticed that the titles of all three of our review comics begin with the letter "F." So taking a cue from Sesame Street, here are some reviews that begin with that letter of the alphabet:

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Fantastic Four #577
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Jonathan Hickman: Writer
Dale Eaglesham: Art
Paul Mounts: Colors

Fantastic Four is up to #577 with its latest issue, the third installment of a four-part multi-issue story arc entitled "Prime Elements." The ongoing series is scripted by Jonathan Hickman with art by Dale Eaglesham and Paul Mounts. I reviewed a previous issue of this title a few months back and wanted to revisit it to see how its holding-up, given the positive buzz out in the comic book-reading world regarding both the quality and innovation that the creative team has been bringing to this flagship Marvel Comics title.

This latest issue in the "Prime Elements" storyarc is subtitled "Universal Inhumans," and features (you guessed it) the Black Bolt-led Inhumans. Previous story segments established the overall plot that the Fantastic Four receive a warning from the future that they will get involved in a coming conflict between four cities. Each city is introduced as a fantastic science fiction-based city, such as the underground city of Moloid mole subjects, an underground city of lost Atlanteans, etc.

In this latest issue, the FF visit the Moon to investigate the landing of a spaceship city, whose inhabitants turn-out to be the Inhumans. The FF find that five inhuman-like races, called "the universal inhumans," have united in the city under Black Bolt's leadership. All five are genetically related as descendents of the alien Kree race's experiments that created their inhuman species in the first place. The coalition has journeyed to the moon as they follow an ancient prophecy to establish a common new homeworld. The issue ends in a dramatic bridge to next month's installment, as the Fantastic Four learn that the prophecy has instructed the races to take over Earth as their new Eden.

Writer Jonathan Hickman and team are getting a lot of fan credit these days for breathing fresh life and creativity into the Fantastic Four title, and its well-deserved. The overall science fiction theme in the series is majestic, mixing story narrative and action on a grand science fiction scale as the FF and other story characters adventure through these new cities and outer space. There's an atmosphere to this multi-issue story theme reminiscent of the Silver Age Marvel universe that Kirby and Lee created, brought up-to-date in a 21st century story-telling style. The five "universal inhuman" races are very creative and provide a very entertaining alien element in this fresh Fantastic Four adventure.

So a definite thumbs-up for the latest Fantastic Four issue. Its an entertaining read in its own right, but I also highly recommend catching-up on the back issues of this epic adventure, available at That's Entertainment, while also staying on-board for the upcoming monthly issues.

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Firestar #1
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Sean McKeever: Writer
Emma Rios: Artist
Matthew Wilson: Colors


Marvel Comics has just issued a one-shot comic starring the young superhero Firestar. The comic is the latest in a series of one-shots featuring the superhero women of the Marvel universe. This issue is written by Sean McKeever with art by Emma Rios and Matthew Wilson. I'm personally not familiar with Firestar and as such appreciated very much the first page bio narrative, which tells us that Firestar is college student Angelica Jones, a mutant who can both fly and generate microwave radiation energy. The bio gives us a synopsis of her previous comic book story world, including her early exploitation by the mutant Emma Frost as well as affiliations with other young Marvel heroes. Most importantly, the reader learns that Angelica's microwave-based powers gave her cancer, which is in remission but for which she is still undergoing major treatment.

Our one-shot story is entitled "My New Life," and presents a plot that gives the reader some insight into the various facets of Angelica/Firestar's life. On the personal side, we learn of her relationship with her widowed father and her struggles to reach-out to the adult daughter of her father's girlfriend, who tormented Angela in high school but now desperately needs a friend. The superhero side of the plot presents Firestar trying to use her powers in local situations such as a carjacking, while trying to balance both her college responsibilities as well as dealing with the debilitating side effects of her ongoing cancer treatment. By issue's end, Firestar has made either a significant decision or at the least some progress in coping with each of her multiple life issues.

I was very impressed with the emotional element that writer Jonathan Hickman includes in the plot. I don't think I've ever read a comic book with the storyline of a young, college-age person coping with cancer while at the same time trying to get through each day in both the ordinary and superhero worlds. Hickman constructs the narrative in this respect not only as very real-world believable, but more importantly as life-affirming. There's a very valuable important life lesson presented here that blends nicely with the comic book's superhero entertainment content.

I couldn't help but compare this comic book to DC's ongoing Batgirl title, which also presents a college-age superheroine trying to balance all aspects of her demanding young life. While both comics are excellent in presenting their respective fictional worlds, I have to give the edge to Firestar on the issue of real-world relevance, due to the impressive manner in which the creative team develops the life lesson element of the main character's struggle with a life-threatening disease. So keep reading Batgirl, of course, but also give serious consideration to reading this one-shot issue, as well as the ongoing adventures of Firestar, which will continue in issue #1 of the upcoming Young Allies comic book title, scheduled for publication bu Marvel Comics in June.

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The Flash-Secret Files And Origins 2010 #1
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Geoff Johns: Writer
Scott Kolins: Art
Michael Atiyeh: Colors

As part of its ongoing re-booting of the original Barry Allen/Flash character, DC Comics has just issued a one-shot comic book entitled The Flash-Secret Files And Origins 2010. The issue is written by veteran writer Geoff Johns with art by Scott Kolins and Michael Atiyeh. To be honest, I accidentally selected this issue for this week's review under the mistaken impression that it was the premier kick-off of a new Flash title, as opposed to it actually serving an one of those periodic reference primers that comic companies issue to brief readers on the various characters and background history of a superhero's universe. But these issues do have a proper place in the comic book reading and general reference world, so let's see how this issue holds-up in that respect.

The issue is divided into three sections. The first part gives us a story entitled "Running To The Past." The plot revisits a segment of the Geoff Johns-scripted new Flash title from this past year, in which Barry Allen learns that the traumatic death of his mother when he was a boy was actually a murder by the time-traveling evil Reverse Flash. This 18-page story focuses on Barry struggling to come to terms with feeling guilty that his conflict with the Reverse Flash caused his mother's death. I won't spoil any story details, save to say that the tale features appearances by most of the extensive characters in the Flash superhero family. The second section of the issue is structured as a graphic encyclopedia and gives us background information on the Flash himself, his family and friends, Keystone City and Central City, and the Cosmic Treadmill which The Flash uses to time-travel. The final 10-page section of the comic book gives us a rogues gallery of The Flash's many colorful super-villain opponents.

I'm always leery of these reference comic books, which often seem dull to me. Many of them try too hard to pack-in reference guide-type narrative details and facts that just aren't needed to understand and enjoy a character. But this one's an exception, for three reasons. First, the timing of this reference guide is excellent, as Geoff Johns and crew are in the midst of a year one re-booting of this iconic silver age superhero. Secondly, there's a very balanced split here, with the first half of the issue giving us a traditional story while the second half is devoted to the reference material. So we have a taste of both the new storyarc concept and we learn a lot about the detailed world of The Flash.

On a third personal note, I was happy to actually learn something new and very interesting in the reference section; I did not know anything about the odd and science fiction-style history of Keystone City, as detailed in this comic book. I highly recommend that new and old Flash fans alike catch-up on this item, as it will most likely offer some interesting and entertaining storylines in upcoming issues of the new Flash series.

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New Contest Announcement!!!

As you know, our last contest asked you to tell us what classic science fiction film featured three small brother robots named Huey, Dewey and Louie, with the answer being the 1972 movie Silent Running, starring Bruce Dern. As you know, the names were obviously a filmmaker's tribute to Donald Duck's three rambunctious nephews of the same name.

But did you know that a fourth Donald Duck nephew has made rare appearances in a few Donald Duck comics? Good King Leonardo knows all about this mysterious "Nephew #4" and challenges you in this contest to e-mail us at Gordon_A@msn.com with an entry telling us the name of this nephew along with anything else that you might know about him. Our contest winner will receive a $10.00 gift certificate to That's Entertainment. In the event of multiple correct entries, we'll select a contest winner from the correct entries by a random roll of the dice.

That's all for now, so have a great comic book reading week (enjoy all of your May 1 Free Comic Book Day Comics!) and see you again next week Here In Bongo Congo!

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