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STORE NEWS
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Review Date: 05/28/2010


Good King Leonardo offers up four varied comic book titles this week, ranging from two new titles that
revisit
the classic Golden Age of comics to two funky, cutting-edge 21st century alternative comics:

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  DCU: Legacies #1
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Len Wein: Writer
Andy Kubert: Pencils
Joe Kubert: Inks
Scott Kolins: Additional Art
Mike Atiyeh and Brad Anderson: Colors
 
      DC Comics has just published issue #1 in a planned ten-issue mini-series entitled DCU: Legacies.  The series is scripted by veteran writer Len Wein with a large art team led by veteran Joe Kubert and his son Andy Kubert.  The mini-series is a planned tribute to the various historic eras of the DC comic book universe, starting with the Golden Age and ending with our modern DC universe.  Each issue is planned to highlight certain characters, narrative events and themes that evolved the DC universe forward through these many decades.

    Issue #1 has a main feature story and a shorter back-up story.  The lead tale is entitled "In The Beginning..." and kicks-off this multi-issue story arc with a plot focusing on the emergence of the original Golden Age DC superheros.  Senior citizen Paul Lincoln narrates the tale as a flashback story to his youth.  Paul is depicted as a boy growing up in the well-known New York City/Metropolis Suicide Slum, taking his first young steps down the wrong path of a life of petty crime.  That is, until his path crosses more than once with DC Golden Age heroes such as The Masked Avenger, The Sandman and the original Atom.  Paul is conflicted between his pull toward crime and his admiration for these brand-new costumed avengers.  The story climaxes with the young Paul saving The Atom's life in a street battle with criminals, whereupon the boy begins to gravitate more toward living a good life.  This first entry into the history of the DC universe ends with Paul's new heroes portrayed on the cover of Life Magazine as they announce the formation of the original Justice Society of America.

     Our second story is an eight-page tale entitled "Snapshot: Reflection!" and is also written by Len Wein, with art by J.G. Jones and colors by Alex Sinclair.  The story features two interweaving storythreads.  In the first, reporter Scott Scanlon and his photographer sidekick investigate mysterious events that occured the previous evening at a socialite's party.  A flashback narrative details the strange events of the evening as a confrontation between Doctor Fate and a demon, unfolding at the expense of the wealthy socialites attending the gala.  A second storythread features our two investigative journalists sparring over the supposed superhero and paranormal facts of the incident, with Scanlon rationalizing every step of the event with his skepticism and disbelief in both superheros and the paranormal.

     Both of these issue #1 stories get this new series off on a very solid and entertaining footing.  The concept of Legacies parallels the acclaimed Marvel Comics series "Marvels," in which creator Alex Ross gave us a similar historical flashback to the key events in the evolution of that company's comic book universe.  While both series also narrate the epic through the eyes of a non-super-powered civilian who witnessed those times, here DC trumps Marvel by toning-down the style of the effort.  Marvel put the whole thing on a pedestal, delivering its legacy story with an aura of pretentiousness and an atmosphere of doomsday, giving the whole tale a creepy tone, as the helpless civilians stood around like ants while the omnipotent superheros played god before humanity.  Its a much folksier, quainter and more positive place here in the Golden Age of the DC universe, with a storyline in which the average folk welcome their newly-emerged heroes with both curiosity and hope.  With both stories in this issue putting mankind on an equal footing with the superheros, DC has kicked-off a more enjoyable series that will show the reader how American society and the heroes evolved in mutual partnership as history unfolds.

     So an obvious positive thumbs-up for this latest effort at providing an historical perspective to the DC universe.  Irregardless of each reader's preferred historical era of superheros, this new title is an enjoyable read for all DC superhero fans, providing an entertaining and satisfying perspective of the iconic events of one of the "big two" comic book publisher's hallowed history.

 
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  First Wave #2
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Brian Azzarello: Writer
Rags Morales: Art
Nei Ruffino: Colors
 
       DC Comics has just released issue #2 in its planned 6-issue mini-series entitled "First Wave."  As I mentioned in my issue #1 review, this series also revisits the early Golden Age years of the D.C. universe.  Unlike "Legacies", which re-tells iconic events from those historic days, First Wave brings the early Art Deco stylings of several DC characters into the present day with a new story version of these folks, including Doc Savage, The Spirit, The Blackhawks, Rima The Jungle Girl and a young, rookie Batman.  The series is scripted by Brian Azzarello with art by Rags Morales and Nei Ruffino.

      The plot of issue #2 mostly revolves around Denny Colt, a.k.a. The Spirit.  Most of the action takes place between Colt and The Blackhawks, who are presented here as a more renegade mercenaries-for-hire group, whom The Spirit has antagonized and who are thus out for revenge against him.  A smaller side-plot features Rima in a South American thriller storythread begun in issue #1.  There's also a one-panel appearance by the newbie Batman.  The issue climaxes with Doc Savage arriving on the scene and rescuing The Spirit from a nasty captivity by The Blackhawks.

     I gave issue #1 a positive review, and I'm not shifting to a negative review with this issue.  But I can't remember the last time that I was so quickly disappointed in the decline of story quality between two back-to-back isues of a title.  Writer Azzarello is making two huge mistakes with this series.  The first is to make some traditional Golden Age DC heroes the bad guys in this storytelling.  While it was creepy enough to transform The Spirit's good-natured sidekick Commissioner Dolan in issue #1 into a corrupt adversary, the trend worsens here with the transformation of The Blackhawks essentially into common street thugs.  The second mistake is incorporating too many sub-plots into this series.  Both issues jump around too often between four basic storythreads, which is just too much variety to advance the storytelling for a satisfying read in only six planned mini-series issues.

     So I'm giving this comic a mixed review.  Its definitely interesting and worth checking-out for the little reinterpretations of these early DC universe heroes in this new series (i.e., The Spirit's sidekick Ebony reinterpreted as a woman).  Just don't expect a major event-worthy story effort here equal in quality to "Legacies," and you won't feel disappointed.

 
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  I, Zombie #1
Publisher D.C. Vertigo Comics
Chris Roberson: Writer
Michael Allred: Art
Laura Allred: Colors
 
      D.C.'s Vertigo comics line has just released issue #1 of its new "I, Zombie" title with a $1.00 price promotion.  The new series is scripted by Chris Roberson with art by Michael Allred and colors by Laura Allred.

     This new take on the zombie fiction genre is narrated by its feature character, the twentysomething Gwen Dylan.  Gwen lives in Eugene, Oregon and works as a gravedigger at an "eco-friendly" graveyard.  Why, you wonder? For the side benefits, of course! Turns-out Gwen is afflicted with zombieism (is that a real word?).  While we don't learn her backstory in issue #1, we are introduced to Gwen's predicament, which is that she must eat a human brain once a month in order to function as a normal human being, as opposed to "going all Night Of The Living Dead" on people, per Gwen's own words.  An interesting side effect is that Gwen also ingests the dead brain donor's memories.  By the end of issue #1, Gwen's latest new memories reveal that her latest graveyard donor was murdered, leading her to decide that she must find the poor guy's killer.

     This new comic title is one hoot-and-a-half of a fresh take on zombie fiction, just chock-full of new and creative elements for this type of storytelling.  Its best feature is Gwen's support staff of other supernatural friends and aquaintences, including 1960's mod-style ghost friend Ellie, Spot The Were-Terrier and a team of hot vampire chicks who referee local paintball tournaments in order to prey on the doofus players for their blood supply.  Michael and Laura Allred provide a Roy Lichtenstein-like pop-art style that's just perfection personified for the mix of tongue-in-cheek dark humor and satire that writer Chris Roberson wraps around his script.

     I've said it in a limited few of my previous reviews (i.e., Jersey Gods) and I'll gladly say it again, here.  There's a fantastic Showtime or HBO t.v. series just waiting to burst-out of this wonderful wacky comic book.  So my advice is to grab this $1.00 promo issue #1 and then stay on-title for the ride, so you can brag to friends and family that you were an "I, Zombie" fan before (fill-in your favorite young Hollywood starlet, here) made the role of Gwen Dylan a pop culture television sensation.

 
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  Atomic Robo #3
Publisher: Red 5 Comics
Brian Clevinger: Writer
Scott Wegener: Art
Ronda Pattison: Colors
 
       My favorite comic book robot character, Atomic Robo, is up to issue #3 of its latest four-issue annual mini-series.  As mentioned in an earlier Atomic Robo review, A.R.'s fictional bio makes him the creation of Thomas Edison's rival, famed historical inventor Nicola Tesla.  Each issue is set in a different decade between the present-day and the 1920's, and features Atomic Robo and his colleagues at the Tesladyne science corporation in some form of satire-soaked scientific predicament.  This comic book title is also renowned for a very popular Free Comic Day issue of a few years ago, pitting Atomic Robo against a nut job of an intelligent dinosaur named Dr. Dinosaur in a Looney Tunes-style battle on a tropical island.

     The latest issue's plot is set in the year 1999 in the French Polynesia island chain.  Investigating an odd rumor, Atomic Robo discovers the above-mentioned Dr. Dinosaur on a small island in the chain.  Wackiness ensues, as the nutbag of a dinosaur "scientist" captures Robo, Robo escapes and spends the back half of the issue trying to catch the dinosaur with the assistance of his Tesladyne teammates.  I won't give away the specifics of the ending for fear of being a spoiler.

     I'm starting to have split feelings about this comic book title.  I'm still giving it a positive thumbs-up, for its extremely sharp and funny dialogue and story situations.  Praise must also be given to the creative team for finally returning us to a Doctor Dinosaur plot.  There's nothing funnier in comicdom at the moment than the cat-and-mouse extended dialogue in this issue between Atomic Robo and Dr. Dinosaur, highlighting the complete Nutty Professor self-delusion of this character, who fancies himself a mad scientist, but proves time and again that he's just King Of The Idiots.

     On the flip side, the current issue #3 also strengthens the uneasy feeling I've been getting lately that this comic title is becoming a one-trick pony, in that the plotline every month is overly simplistic and sight gag-oriented.  While its funny and entertaining, the stories in these latest issues breeze-by awfully quickly with barely-there plotlines.  After reading this latest issue, I felt as if I'd eaten a really good appetizer when I was hoping for an actual meal.  We deserve far more comic reading sustenance than the promise of potential that we get in this year's Atomic Robo multi-issue story arc.

     So the bottom line of these conflicting review observations: keep reading this wonderful comic book title, but let's all e-mail the publisher per the letters page contact information and beg for more substance, details and more bang in each future issue.

 
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New Contest Announcement!!!

As we mentioned last week, the Bongo Congo panel of judges received a whole bunch of  interesting entries to our last contest, which challenged you to propose your own idea for one of our contests.  While we'll try several of the entries in upcoming weeks, let's start this week with conest co-winner Tanja Pevner's contest idea, followed next time with co-winner Gordon Dupuis's contest.

Tanja proposes what she calls a "Design A Futuristic Item" contest.  She challenges you to create and submit a "cool or futuristic item" that could appear in a comic book or fantasy/horror/science fiction story.  As examples, you could propose an item of technology (flying car, etc.), bio-engineering (flying zebra, etc.), social engineering (zombie children), etc.  So be traditional or wacky, or somewhere in-between, but e-mail us at Gordon_A@msn.com with your great idea for your cutting edge item (plant, animal, mineral, technology, etc.) that you think would be an interesting element to a comic book or genre story.  Our contest winner will receive a $10.00 gift certificate to That's Entertainment.    

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

 
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