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STORE NEWS
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Review Date: 07/09/2010

In honor of this past week's 600th anniversary issue of Wonder Woman, Good King Leonardo has decreed that its once again "Women In Comic Books Week" Here In Bongo Congo.  As such, we're reviewing the Wonder Woman anniversary issue along with two other new comic books starring women.  While we just did an all-female superhero review column two week's ago, it's a tribute to the high quality and variety of good female-lead comics out there at the moment that the opportunity has come again so soon to review several new comics featuring superheroines. Let's review them this time in alphabetical order, which, believe it or not, is actually V, W and X!
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Velocity #1
Publisher: Image/Top Cow Productions
Ron Marz: Writer
Kenneth Rocafort: Art
Sunny Cho: Colors

 

 
 

           
    Image/Top Cow Productions has just published issue #1 in a new Velocity title.  The comic book is written by Ron Marz with art by Kenneth Rocafort and colors by Sunny Cho.  For the uninitiated, Velocity is the superhero name of Carin Taylor, a Flash-like superspeed character who's one of the genetically-enhanced characters of Image/Top Cow's Cyberforce comic book line.  She's the younger sister of the Cyberforce character Ballistic.  Carin/Velocity's obvious talent is superspeed.  She's protected by a layer of Kevlar installed beneath her skin in order to combat the friction of high speed travel.  The Kevlar also gives her skin a Goth-like pale pallor.

     Issue #1 is entitled "Decoys" and is part one of a multi-issue story arc.  The early part of the plot introduces Doctor Erasmus Paine, who we learn in flashbacks was one of the founders of the Cyberdata cybernetic initiative which gave the Cyberforce their powers.  Dr. Paine is a mutated monster due to early self-experiments with the technology.  Wracked by pain (pun intended by the writer, most likely) and bitterness, the mad scientist plots an evil plan to kill-off Velocity and the other Cyberforce members.  Dr. Paine captures Velocity midway through the issue, explains his evil strategy to her and sets the clock in motion toward everybody's pre-planned destruction.  Velocity escapes the bad guy's clutches and is off on the last page of this issue to try and save the day, literally running against a 60-minute countdown that will continue into next month's issue #2.

     Sometime back in the 1990's, I read an issue of an earlier Velocity title and enjoyed that brief introduction, so I've been looking forward to this well-publicized return of Velocity in her own limited-run solo title.  This issue succeeds in at least three respects.  First and foremost is the art.  It can be very tricky for an artist to take-on a superspeed character and convincingly convey a graphic sense of high speed.  The art team here does the best job I've ever seen in providing an artistic style that gives the reader a sense of super-speed running action.  The highlight of this effort is a two-page spread at the beginning of the tale that's poster-worthy in showing Velocity's ability to race at the blink of an eye around the mad doctor's lab.  The art team knows they've succeeded here, portraying Velocity as literally winking at the reader in this entertaining scene.

     The second major hit of this comic book is the quality of writer Ron Marz's script.  A veteran scripter of such other ongoing Image/Top Cow title hits as Witchblade and The Magdalena, Marz brings that experience to this title with a script that's loaded with fresh and cutting-edge dialogue that balances well with the high-speed action sequences.  I particularly enjoyed the little touches in an early scene prior to the start of the action, in which Carin/Velocity takes-in a movie and we learn how hard it is for her to blend-into society as normal even in her everyday civilian identity.  The third positive element to this issue is the factual logic that writer Marz brings to Velocity.  While I love DC's The Flash, the illogical physics of The Flash's powers can be grating when the writers sometimes push it too far into the fantastic.  Here, Marz does his best in grounding Velocity in a real-world functioning.  Little touches like needing the kevlar skin to protect her from friction lend a more enjoyable air to an obvious science fiction-type situation, keeping it from spinning into unintentional campiness.

     So if you're a current fan of Image/Top Cow's Cyberforce team comic title, this limited series is a worthy addition to the Cyberforce comic book universe as a spin-off starring one of the Cyberforce main characters.  And if you're like me, just a fan of your everyday basic superspeed superheroes, here's an additional thumbs-up recommendation to jump-in and enjoy this excellent mini-series from the very start.


 
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Wonder Woman #600
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Various Writers and Artists

 
 

     
     As mentioned above, on the heels of the recent Batman #700 and Superman #700 special anniversary issues, DC completed the trifecta last week with the release of the Wonder Woman #600 special anniversary issue.  The oversized issue has an all-star cast of various writers and artists who provide a total of five stories and many full-page poster tributes and pin-ups.

     The first story is entitled "Valedictorian" and is written by veteran Wonder Woman writer Gail Simone with pencils by George Perez.  The plot of this opening tale features a high-action battle teaming-up Wonder Woman with her many hero friends over the years, then concludes with a touching tribute to some of the non-hero characters in the Wonder Woman story universe.  The second story is written and drawn by Amanda Conner.  Without spoiling any details, its a very funny tale featuring Wonder Woman, Power Girl and Power Girl's pet cat.  Story number three, entitled "Firepower," is scripted by Louise Simonson and gives us an all-out battle story featuring Wonder Woman and Superman versus a mythological foe. A very brief fourth story is written by veteran scripter Geoff Johns, while the fifth story is a prologue tale introducing next month's takeover of the Wonder Woman title by writer J. Michael Straczynski.

     The creative teams for the first three stories did a very solid and entertaining job in giving us three tales that pay special tribute to the history and anniversary status of Wonder Woman.  Geoff Johns's brief story was very mystical and confusing, but served its purpose of providing a bridge from the previous styles of Wonder Woman to the brand new visual style and updated storyline that Straczynski introduces us to with this prologue. Wonder Woman's new costume as designed by Jim Lee gives a nice 21st century make-over that worked for me, as does the top-notch script from Straczynski that adds a fresh 21st century updating of the Greek mythology world that surrounds the Wonder Woman franchise.

     You get a lot of bang for the buck in this giant-sized tribute issue, including an interesting anniversary tribute at the beginning of the issue written by Lynda Carter, who we all know played Wonder Woman on television.  So get over to That's Entertainment and add this very special issue to your ever-growing comic book collection!

 
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Madame Xanadu #24
Publisher: D.C. Vertigo Comics
 Matt Wagner: Writer
Marley Zarcone: Art and Colors

 
 

 
     DC Vertigo's very popular Madame Xanadu title is up to issue #24 with the latest release.  I reviewed a previous issue several months ago.  The series follows this mystical seer from her early origins as the wood nymph Nimue during Arthurian legend times, through history toward our current day.  Along the route, the series has had some ingenious script details interacting Madame Xanadu with some of the classic Golden Age DC heroes.  Matt Wagner has written the series from the start in collaboration with various artists.  Issue #24 is drawn by Marley Zarcone.

     This issue is entitled "Extra-Sensory."  The setting is 1963 New York and the main character is Rosalyn Mays, a young African-American woman living in Harlem.  Rosalyn seeks-out Madame Xanadu's help at her Greenwich Village occult shop, when she starts envisioning people she randomly meets as dessicated corpses.  Madame Xanadu determines that the visions are a warning that she needs to protect someone she loves from impending death.  Without providing any spoiler details, when Rosalyn envisions the deaths of her mother and young sister, she heeds Madame Xanadu's warning and springs into action, averting family tragedy.  By issues end, the overall experience has motivated Rosyln to make a major personal life change for the better.

     There are two types of story plots that alternate in this title: plots that focus on Madame Xanadu's role throughout human and DC superhero history and smaller plotlines like this issue, focusing on average folks assisted by the good Madame when faced with occult mysteries.  Both types of storylines are consistently strong and entertaining in the capable hands of gifted writer Matt Wagner.  This current story continues that trend, with a typical tale in this title that mixes the occult with an important life lesson, in this case a lesson focusing on both racial equality and the need for a person to be true to their own personal talents and career desires.

     As a final review comment, this title has been slowly moving Madame Xanadu from Arthurian legend times to the current year 2010.  As we're up to the year 1963 in issue #24's setting, it will be very interesting to see where the title goes setting-wise when several issues from now, writer Wagner brings the extended storyline up to today's world. 

 
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Ongoing Contest Reminder!!!

     Maybe it's due to this week's excessive heat, but we haven't received any entries yet to last week's contest, challenging you to give us
both an interesting pop culture item, such as a favorite t.v. show or character, along with an existing comic book title that a fan of your pop
culture item might also enjoy.  For instance, a fan of the Harry Potter books and movies might enjoy the comic book "Leave It To Chance,"
which is set in a Harry Potter-like world. We'll keep the contest open to Wednesday, July 14, so put on those thinking caps and
e-mail us at Gordon_A@msn.com with anentry. Our selected contest winner will receive a $10.00 gift certificate to That's Entertainment.

     That's all for now, so try to stay cool in this crazy heat, have a great comic book reading week and see you again next week Here In Bongo Congo!

 
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