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STORE NEWS
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Review Date: 06/25/2010

Good King Leonardo has decreed that we review three new comics this week that star female superheros or villains, along with one new superteam comic book:   
  
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The Black Cat #1
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Jen Van Meter: Writer
Javier Pulido: Art
Matt Hollingsworth: Colors

 

 
 

           
     Marvel has published issue #1 this past week of a new Black Cat four-issue mini-series.  The comic book is scripted by Jen Van Meter with art by Javier Pulido and Matt Hollingsworth.  For the uninitiated, Black Cat is Felicia Hardy, a costumed master burgler those badness never goes beyond cat burglery.  In previous Marvel comics, Felecia has paired-up with Spider-Man, for both romance and crime-fighting adventures.

     Issue #1 of this new mini-series is entitled "The Trophy Hunters."  Our plot begins with Black Cat's boyfriend Spider-Man telling her that he's having recurring and confusing dreams with a Russian theme.  This precognition soons becomes true, as someone is setting-up Black Cat for burgleries which she didn't commit, just prior to the arrival in town of a display of rare and valuable Russian Faberge Egg jewelry.  The action escalates in the second half of the story, as Black Cat confronts her burglery rivals as they simultaneously burgle the Faberge exhibit.  While our friend Spider-Man blunders-into the action and ruins Black Cat's efforts, she still manages to steal one of the jeweled eggs for herself.  The plot climaxes with a very unexpected twist as a bridge to issue #2.  I won't reveal the details, save to say that Felecia/Black Cat discovers in an unusual way that the tables have been turned against her, because by stealing the jewelry she's actually taken the bait in an elaborate plot clearly directed specifically against her.

     I'm a fan of Marvel's Black Cat character because I like the idea of the international cat burglar with a heart of gold, hanging-out with Spidey and in the end always deciding to do the right thing on stuff that matters more seriously than stealing baubles.  Issue #1 of this mini-series doesn't disappoint, in that it puts the reader right back into the traditional world of that character.  Writer Jen Van Meter's plot is sharp and full of colorful characters and dialogue, both of which move the story and action along at a nice pace.  The dialogue between the good guy-bad girl couple of Spidey and Felicia is fun and very entertaining.  Several secondary characters also make a colorful impact on this high quality story, including two high-tech "gear girls," or women who provide working staff support to Black Cat by creating her costumes and running computer tech back-up support of her burglaries.

     A positive thumbs-up is also due to the art team of Pulido and Hollingsworth, who provide an visual style and coloring just right for this mix of fast action and even faster smart dialogue; the style struck me as being in the same graphic vein as renowned artist Tim Sale, which is the perfect fit for a noir/burglary/mystery mix of comic book story elements.  I was disappointed a few years back when the last Black Cat mini-series set us up with some enjoyable early issues but let us down when writer Kevin Smith mysteriously shut-down the mini-series, then wrapped it up a year or two later with a concluding issue that fell flat.  From the quality of this issue #1, I have a good feeling that this new effort and new creative team is taking a much better approach to storytelling that won't let us down, so I highly recommend jumping on-board this mini-series starting with this week's issue #1.

 
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Joker's Asylum II: Harley Quinn #1 (One-Shot)
Publisher: D.C. Comics
James Patrick: Writer
Joe Quinones: Art
Alex Sinclair: Colors

 
 

    
DC Comics is in the midst of a series of Joker's Asylum one-shot comics, each of which features a flashback tale starring one of Batman's more renowned foes, as narrated by The Joker from his cell in the infamous Gotham supervillain nuthouse, Arkham Asylum.  Last week, I reviewed The Riddler tale in this series, so let's check-out the quality of this week's tale, starring Harley Quinn, famous for being both Batman's archfoe and The Joker's sometimes girlfriend.  The story is written by James Patrick with art by Joe Quinones and colors by Alex Sinclair.

     The story is entitled "The Most Important Day Of The Year," which we quickly learn for Harley Quinn is Valentine's Day.  The tale begins with Harley escaping Arkham Asylum in order to spend her favorite holiday with boyfriend The Joker, or "Mr. J" as she's known for calling Batman's most famous arch-villain foe.  Discovering that someone has actually pulled-off kidnapping The Joker, Harley immediately shifts into retaliatory overdrive which features lots of explosions, general wackiness and all-out comic book mayhem, as Harley pursures her goal of not just freeing "Mr. J," but more importantly, getting him back in time to still celebrate Valentine's Day together, of course!  The plot climaxes with the entry of The Batman, who takes-over the situation, ending the mayhem while reuniting the nutty pair in a very funny way, so Valentine's Day can still be celebrated to Harley Quinn's delight.

     While I liked last week's Riddler-featured Joker's Asylum story, I like this one even better, for a few reasons.  Writer James Patrick plots the story with the perfect pitch of Harley Quinn's well-known bizarre personality that's a mix of equal parts childish enthusiasm, villainy, pure insanity and sleek female costumed sexiness.  The happy result is a brakeless funhouse ride of jarring twists and turns, taking the good reader on a wonderful and crazy fictional ride, through a tale featuring our favorite Gotham City bad girl/evil clown/jester queen.  As with last week's issue, the Joker narration is also dead-on, and concludes with a minor narrator's plot twist that's both very cute and nicely humorous.  So a positive thumbs-up recommendation for you to both read this latest Joker's Asylum issue and to become a happy and entertained follower of the rest of this very enjoyable DC limited series.

 
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The Magdalena #1
Publisher: Top Cow Productions
Ron Marz: Writer
Nelson Blake II: Pencils
Sal Regla: Inks
Dave McCaig: Colors

 
 

 
         Top Cow Productions has just published issue #1 in a new title within its long-running Magdalena comic book series.  Since 1998, Top Cow has been producing this popular series, with the current issue produced by veteran writer Ron Marz along with an art team of Nelson Blake II, Sal Regla and Dave McCaig.  The basic concept is that The Magdalena is a descendent of the bloodline of a daughter fathered by Jesus Christ and Mary Magdalene, and that for the past thousand years, one daughter of each generation has heroic powers and abilities in fighting evil on behalf of the Church.

     This new title features the latest Magadalena, named Patience, who is conflicted between her desire for independence and serving the church leaders who assign her to resolve demonic and evil situations.  The story has two interweaving sub-plots.  One features Patience addressing her conflicted feelings of hero responsibility as she interacts with Kristoff, a Knight of Malta who originally trained her and who also fights biblical evil.  The second plotline features an actual demonic threat, as a son of satan emerges with an evil organization set to try and take-over the world.  The issue ends with an action attack by a demon on Patience and Kristoff, which no doubt will escalate into a kick-off issue #2 all-out battle.

     I've previously read a few issues of the earlier numbered run of this title and enjoyed the comic.  In comparison, this current issue is actually of an even higher quality than that previous run.  Writer Ron Marz is an A-list scripting veteran at Top Cow, having had a previous long and successful writing run in Top Cow's Witchblade title.  He applies those sharp writing skills to this title with a script that's very engrossing; the reader is drawn-into the tale via very realistic dialogue and multiple plot twists.  The result is a blending of both real world and superhero fiction elements into an entertaining story.  Think of The Da Vinci Code with a superhero element and you've got the sense of this comic book universe.

     It's important to note that there's an excellent two-page biographical spread at the end of the issue, that provides very interesting and wothwhile information on the current Magdalena, Patience, as well as five of her predecessors.  Overall, this issue #1 works as a well-rounded comic book entertainment for regular fans of the title as well as newcomers.  So while there's an obvious detailed religious setting to this story concept, the story works very well for readers of all religious (or non-religious) persuasions.  So a strong thumbs-up recommendation for yet another of this week's comics which feature strong central female heroes and/or villains.

 
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Atlas #1
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Jeff Parker: Writer
Gabriel Hardman: Art
Elizabeth Breitweiser: Colors

 
 

 
         Marvel Comics has followed-up the recent Seige mega-event with the new "The Heroic Age" event, that seeks to settle the Marvel Universe characters and circumstances back into a more routine structure.  In addition to the many new Avengers titles debuting in the series, issue #1 of a re-tooled Agents Of Atlas series has been published, with the title scaled-down to just "Atlas."  For the uninitiated, the team unites six 1950's characters who were featured in the old Atlas Comics line but never appeared together back then.  The group consists of The Submariner's cousin Namora, Jimmy Woo, Gorilla Man, Robot M-11, Marvel Boy/The Uranian and Venus.  This new kick-off tale is scripted by Jeff Parker with art by Gabriel Hardman and Elizabeth Breitweiser.

     This story is entitled "The Return Of The Three Dimensional Man," which sums-up very well the main plot feature-the introduction to the group of Delroy Garrett, who inherited the mantle as the latest person to wear the costume of The Three Dimensional Man.  Through a mix of both present-day and flashback storytelling, we're given the origin story of the 1950's Atlas team as well as the original and current 3-D men.  The narrator is Delroy Garrett himself, who tracks the newly returned Atlas heroes to San Francisco in response to a series of mysterious dreams he has about the group.  Along the way, Garrett is attacked by unnamed assailents and falsely accused as a criminal, most likely by the same mysterious players.  The story climaxes with Garrett coming face-to-face with the Atlas team, leaving us wondering whether the meeting will result in a team-up or a confrontation in issue #2.

     I wasn't impressed with last year's Agents of Atlas reintroduction of this team, and as such was very happy to discover a much-improved series with this retitled continuation of the group.  This new creative team brings a higher quality product to the comic, from the art team's more sophisticated, mystery/noir-like graphic style, to Jeff Parker's top notch script.  The story here succeeds in bringing these retro characters seamlessly into our 2010 American society, with a tale laced with topical cultural references and a nice mix of modern dialogue and credible action.  The result is a very entertaining mix of action, stimulating dialogue and fun mystery that avoids the mistake of trapping these old-school Atlas Comics superheros in either intentional or unintentional campiness.  Credit is due to the creative team for giving us a quality new comic book title that's on equal par with the many other Heroic Age titles, including the Avengers titles, in terms of artistic style, writing and basic entertainment.

     Just a quick final comment that there's a back-up story in this issue, set in 1958, which begins a multi-issue secondary story arc detailing the origin of the group.  Its also on par with the main story feature for the same reasons detailed above, so my advice is to read this new comic book title for both the main modern-day story and the back-up 1950's old-school adventure.


 
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Contest Winner Announcement!!!

Our latest contest challenge was for you to tell us which current Red Sox player had an unexpected role as a teenager in a popular 1990's movie.  We asked you to name the movie and tell us a bit about the role.

And the contest winner is (drumroll, please)...Stu Cathell, who correctly tells us that the player is red-hot hitter Kevin Youkilis.  Stu added that the movie was "Milk Money," which starred Ed Harris and Melanie Griffith.  The film was shot near where Uke lived in Cincinnati.  Kevin was 14 years old and featured with a bunch of other kids in the film.  The producers gave him one speaking line in the film.  I saw an interview with Uke on the NESN channel last year in which Kevin said that he wandered down to the movie set with some friends and the movie producers picked him out of the crowd to play the part of a big kid who shakes other kids down for milk money.  Congratulations to Stu for his correct answer and prize of a $10.00 gift certificate to That's Entertainment.

New Contest Announcement!!!

Let's try another major league baseball trivia question for this week's contest.  E-mail us at Gordon_A@msn.com with the answer to the following question:  What very unusual event occured at the June 4, 1974 Cleveland Indians home game against the visiting Texas Rangers, involving the crowd of 25,134 people, that came to be known by many baseball folk as "The Worst Marketing Idea Ever"?  First prize is a $10.00 gift certificate to That's Entertainment, and in the event of multiple correct answers, the winner will be chosen by a roll of the dice.

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

 
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