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STORE NEWS
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Review Date: 06/06/2010


Good King Leonardo has declared this to be an All-DC Comics Week,
so let's see how the latest issues of three current DC titles are faring:

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The Brave And The Bold #34
Publisher: D.C. Comics
J. Michael Straczynski: Writer
Jesus Saiz: Art
Tom Chu: Colors

 
 

         DC's current incarnation of its esteemed "The Brave And The Bold" title is up to issue #34.  For the past several months, the series has been one of the most popular and talked-about DC new issue titles, due to the extremely high quality writing that A-list scribe J. Michael Straczynski has been bringing to each and every monthly issue of the series.  I gave a very positive and enthusiastic review several months ago to the issue that teamed-up Batman with the popular 1960's counter-culture hero Brother Power The Geek, and my fellow reviewer Dave LeBlanc gave a very well-deserved thumbs-up to last month's issue #33, which starred Wonder Woman, Zatanna and Batgirl. So let's see what the creative team brings to this month's issue #34, which teams-up The Doom Patrol and Legion Of Super-Heroes.

     Issue #34 is entitled "Out Of Time," and is part one of a two-issue story arc, written by Straczynski with art by Jesus Saiz and Tom Chu.  This is a time travel tale, which begins with 31st Century Legionnaire members Saturn Girl, Lightning Lad and Cosmic Boy barely escaping the destruction of Earth by an unexpected black hole.  The trio use their time bubble vehicle to travel back to our present day and enlist the help of The Doom Patrol to carry-out a high-energy scientific procedure that will hopefully destroy the black hole and re-establish the timestream without the anomoly of the unexpected black hole colliding with the Earth.  There's a secondary sub-plot throughout the issue that indicates that someone else is mysteriously interacting with the action taking place, as indicated by an unexpected artifact discovered by the group within the time bubble vehicle.  The issue concludes with a bridge that indicates that next month's installment will give the reader some explanation of the mystery of who else is influencing the activities within this time travel adventure.

     J. Michael Straczynski hits it out of the ballpark for about the fifth month in a row with this latest B&B issue, for three reasons.  First is his skill in providing a script that breathes fresh personality traits into these decades-old DC superhero characters.  While the Doom Patrol have always had a fun sarcasm about them, the Legionnaires have traditionally had the more cardboard personalities of 31st century boy and girl scouts.  Straczynski doesn't alter these personality traits, but instead wisely adds personality layers to these characters that make them less wooden and both more real-world human and fun.  The result is to present these decades-old DC superheros with more believable dialogue and behavior, resulting in a very fresh and entertaining modern comic book tale.

     The second fun story element here is Straczynski expanding the Doom Patrol's well-known sarcasm to include the Legionnaires.  Our three Legion members finally let their hair down in this story, shedding the Eagle Scout images and zinging each other with one-liners and entertaining put-down's on par with The Doom Patrol.  And the third strong point of this story segment are the two interweaving mysteries of this tale, namely, the questions of why the anomolous dark hole destroyed Earth, contrary to the known timestream, and who or what is the mysterious unseen character obviously on the scene with our team of action-adventurers.  After reading the entertaining and unexpected end-of-story twists that Straczynski has delivered in each of his previous B&B stories, I'm certain that next month's issue won't disappoint and will provide a surprising and extremely entertaining twist conclusion to this two-part time travel story.

     I know that with this thumbs-up review I'm just preaching to the choir regarding those many folks who are already fans of this current B&B title run, so I'll conclude by reaching-out to those of you who haven't read this title, lately:  I'm 100% certain that you won't be disappointed by adding this comic book to your monthly reading list, so don't hesitate to start with this current issue and stay on-board for the rest of J. Michael Straczynski's iconic and hopefully long run of scripting this series on a monthly basis.

 
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Batman: Streets Of Gotham #12
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Paul Dini, Dustin Nguyen & Derek Fridolfs: Script
Dustin Nguyen: Pencils
Derek Fridolfs: Inks
John Kalisz: Colors

 
 

        
One of the many new Batman titles available these days, Batman: Streets Of Gotham, is up to issue #12 this month.  I've never read this particular Caped Crusader title before, so let's see how it holds-up in comparison to the many other Batman titles currently out there.  Issue #12 is scripted by Paul Dini, Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfs, with art by Nguyen, Fridolfs and John Kalisz.

     Issue #12 is entitled "The Carpenter's Tale" and is part one of a two-issue story arc.  The plot stars Jenna Duffy, a.k.a. "The Carpenter," a young housing contractor who specializes in discretely constructing and/or remodeling secret hide-outs per the design specs of super-villains.  Picture "This Old House" for super evildoers and you get an idea of Jenna's profession.  I first came across Jenna in an issue of "Gotham Sirens" a few months ago, where she wowed the Gotham Sirens with an amazing Extreme Home Edition make-over of an old house into a super secret lair for that crew.

     The main plot in this issue has Jenna hired by "The Broker," real estate agent extraordinaire for Gotham's villains, to reconstruct an old warehouse for "The Director," a nutty movie director villain who plans to film Batman's death as his latest cinematic masterpiece.  Jenna designs a lair full of traps to ensnare the Batman, then by issue's end becomes the captive bait by which The Director plans to lure Batman to the building.  A second plotline features a young boy named Colin interacting with that crazy little Robin kid who's the son of Bruce Wayne and Ras Al Ghul's daughter.  A second nine-page story in this issue stars Colin, who is actually the runaway (and apparently super-powered) son of Kate Spencer, the costumed crimefighter from the Manhunter comic book title.

     This is a very entertaining addition to the wide universe of current issue Batman titles.  The three-man writing team clearly went to great lengths to give us a story blending equal portions of action, drama and most importantly, a campiness reminiscent of the best camp elements of the old 1960's Batman television show.  Hence the fun of the wacky characters associated with the Gotham underworld with names like The Carpenter, The Broker and The Director.  Yet its not too goofy, as the world of Gotham presented in this comic book is still rooted in the well-known Dark Knight noir elements.  I also just love the idea of a contractor who specializes in doing home remodeling work for bad guys.  Apparently even Batman finds that interesting, as its clear from an encounter early in this issue between Batman and Jenna that the Bat Guy knows all about her line of work.

     So another thumbs-up recommendation to read and enjoy this very creative comic book that adds some new and entertaining elements to the wide and varied world of the Batman universe.

 
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Jonah Hex #55
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Justin Gray & Jimmy Palmiotti: Writers
Vicente Alcazar: Art
Rob Schwager: Colors

 
 

 
DC's current Jonah Hex title run is up to issue #55 this month.  With the very upcoming release of the Jonah Hex movie, it seemed timely to return to the comic book for a review this week.  I had given a positive review to an issue reviewed last year.  The title has been scripted for some time now by the team of Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti, who are joined in this issue by the art team of Vicente Alcazar and Rob Schwager.

     The current issue is entitled "The Brief Life Of Billy Dynamite," and stars a ten-year-old boy named (you guessed it) Billy Dynamite.  Early in the plot, the kid witnesses his saloonkeeper parents killed by a gang of outlaws who invade the bar.  Our anti-hero Jonah Hex arrives too late to prevent the murders, but not too late for the kid to grab Hex's gun and slaughter the bandits.  Flash-forward a few years and the now ten-year-old is running the bar and dynamiting anyone who gets in his way.  When a new gang of outlaws threatens the kid he strikes back, resulting in the gang wiring the boy with dynamite and blowing the him into pieces.  The story ends with Jonah Hex hunting down the crew and killing them all to avenge the boy.

     I'm not sure whether its time to cancel this title outright or just sweep-out the creative team for a new group of writers and artists, but one of the two options is mandatory at this point.  My guess is that Gray and Palmiotti are just burned-out on this title.  In place of a true, fleshed-out storyline, the writers give us a very thin story idea, the concept of a bloodthirsty avenging kid, and cover this premise with layer-upon-layer of just-plain-stupid slaughter and gore.  The whole mess sinks below the genre of western into a puddle of blood 'n guts hack writing and art.  Granted that Jonah Hex is an anti-hero western with a heavy dose of violence, but this waste of comic book paper is not only ridiculous but also just plain not entertaining.  So my advice is to skip this dead-on-arrival failed excuse for a western and instead get your fix of western genre comics with one of the many quality western comic issues available throughout the extensive back issue bins at That's Entertainment.

     On a final note, let's just hope that the anticipated Jonah Hex movie is of better quality, although the word in the shopping aisles last Saturday at That's Entertainment was that the film is also rumored to be a dud.

 
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New Contest Announcement!!!

We haven't received any entries to last week's contest, which challenged you to e-mail us with a proposed futuristic item that you think should be included in a comic book or fantastic story, so we'll keep that contest open until our next column, in the hope of getting one or more prize-worthy entries.

In the meantime, since trivia contests are more popular amongst our readers, let's open-up a parallel trivia contest.  Your challenge is to e-mail us at Gordon_A@msn.com with the correct answer to the following trivia question: what three Massachusetts towns are named after foreign countries?  Here's a hint: two of the three are in Central Massachusetts, really not that far from Worcester.  And no, the town of Florida, Mass. is not one of them, Florida is a state, not a country!  As always, in the event of more than one correct entry, our winner of the $10.00 prize gift certificate to That's Entertainmnet will be chosen via a roll of the dice.

That's all for this week.  We're on vacation next week, so Here In Bongo Congo will return with new reviews and contest challenges in two weeks. So have two great comic book reading weeks and see you then back Here In Bongo Congo!
 
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