Review Date: 08/06/2010

Good King Leonardo has decreed that we review three comic books this week starring a trio of the most famous and
well-known of historic comic book characters, two from the D.C. universe and one from the Marvel universe:

Wonder Woman #601
Publisher: D.C. Comics
J. Michael Straczynski: Writer
Don Kramer: Penciler
Michael Babinski: Inker
Alex Sinclair: Colors

DC Comics has followed-up last month's historic Wonder Woman #600 with a brand new Wonder Woman make-over starting in this week's issue #601. The new creative team consists of A-list writer J. Michael Straczynski and artists Don Kramer, Michael Babinski and Alex Sinclair. DC introduced the new Wonder Woman concept in the fifth and final story featured in the #600 anniversary special issue, which also introduced a new and updated costume design for Wonder Woman a.k.a. Diana Prince.

Issue #600 is entitled "Past Imperfect, Present Tense." The plot picks-up from the ending of the previous issue's storyline, with Wonder Woman dialogueing with an urban street version of Cassandra, the famed blind seer of Greek mythology. We quickly learn that something has happened to alter the timestream, thus resulting in the previous destruction of the Amazon nation, the death of Diana's mother Hippolyta and the scattering of the few Amazon nation survivers into hiding around the world. The bulk of the issue consists of a flashback in which Cassandra helps Diana view the past events of destruction, led by a mysterious shadowy male figure from the outside world. By issue's end, Diana is rushing to a secluded location in modern-day Turkey, to rescue a band of Amazon survivors under attack by the mysterious foe's military forces.

The iconic Wonder Woman has gone through periodic make-overs over the generations of comic book publication, and this latest make-over gives us a very entertaining and high quality finished product. J. Michael Straczynski is one of the hottest and most talented current comic writers and maintains his recent success with this kick-off Wonder Woman transformation. The storyline is fresh and interesting, centering on the idea that someone has somehow altered the known timeline, thus resulting in past desturction of the Amazon nation. Straczynski gives us a very polished story setting, of survivors scattered to the winds and looking to Wonder Woman to gather them together and both protect them and somehow restore the reality stream to its rightful state.

In addition to the strong plotting, this issue is elevated in quality by two additional factors. First is the style of dialogue unique to the writing of Straczynski. It's the small narrative twists and touches that make the reading of a Straczynski story such a special experience. As an example in this issue, without being a detail spoiler, I'd recommend checking-out the role of chewing gum in the extended conversation between Wonder Woman and the urban street version of the muse Cassandra. The final strong factor here is the exquisite artistic style of the art team. The high quality of this graphic presentation is the perfect visual component to a tale brings mythic grandeur and the modern world together in the epic clash centered within this new Wonder Woman story concept.

So whether you're a regular Wonder Woman fan or just a general fan of excellent comic book storytelling and graphic presentation, my recommendation is to get onboard now at the beginning of this latest chapter in the long history of this flagship DC superhero title.

Detective Comics #867
Publisher: D.C. Comics
David Hine: Writer
Scott McDaniel: Pencils
Andy Owens: Inks
David Baron and Allen Passalaqua: Colors

Detective Comics #867 kicks-off a new multi-issue story arc entitled "Batman: Imposters, Part One: Laugh And The World Laughs With You." The story is written by David Hine with art by the creative team of Scott McDaniel, Andy Owens, David Baron and Allen Passalaqua.

The plot of this story centers on the real-world phenomenon of flash mobbing, in which a spontaneous social gathering pops-up after notice is spread to folks via texting, e-mailing and posting on social networking sites. In part one of this storyline, someone who is impersonating The Joker is using a modified version of his laughing gas to infect Gotham citizens into dressing-up as Jokers and causing social mayhem in flash mob events. At first the events are just harmless goofs, but by mid-issue the Joker impersonator ratchets-up the mayhem by shooting a police office during a mob event. By issue's end the Joker-themed flash mob phenomena has spun out of control, with a gathering ending in violence that leaves several Gotham police officers dead. The part one story segment ends with Batman and Police Commissioner Gordon facing an angry mob of police officers who blame Gordon for letting the situation get out of hand.

I enjoyed the creativity that writer David Hines brought to this issue by featuring this very interesting and current social activity of flash mobbing. Putting a dark Gotham City spin on this real world phenomena was a very creative plot element. Hines takes this current event and uses it to create a storyline that features three interesting Batman universe sub-plots. The first one is a typical Batman story mystery, asking the question of who the imposter Joker is and detailing his villainess disruption of Gotham society. The second storythread centers more on Police Commissioner Gordon and the conflict that grows between him and the Gotham police force, who feel both used and abandoned by Gordon due to his decisions on how to handle the growing Joker mess. And the third theme in the story focuses on vigilantism, as an imposter Batman starts broadcasting via the internet as a renegade reaction to the Joker flash mobs.

So a definite thumbs-up recommendation for you to read and enjoy this latest issue of Detective Comics that introduces a new multi-issue storyline with a very relevant social current event at the center of the story.

Captain America: The 1940's Newspaper Strip #2
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Karl Kesel: Writer, Penciler and Inker
Ben Dimagmaliw: Colors

Marvel Comics has just published issue #2 in a three-issue mini-series entitled "Captain America: The 1940's Newspaper Strip." As the title obviously indicates, the series is an homage to the old-time superhero comic strips published in daily local newspapers starting back in the Golden Age of comic book publishing. The title is written, drawn and inked by creator Karl Kesel, with colors by Ben Dimagmaliw.

The plotline of this series is a missing persons mystery. Cap and Bucky are in Washington, DC during World War II, while Cap undergoes scientific testing to determine whether the lost super soldier serum which created him can be duplicated from his blood. As the team of scientists disappear one-by-one, its up to Cap, Bucky, Cap's FBI liaison Betsy Ross and FBI espionage expert Micky Flynn to solve the missing scientist mystery. The storyline includes an ongoing disagreement between Cap and Flynn regarding whether or not the infamous Red Skull is involved in the mystery. Naturally he is, and the issue ends in a bridge to issue #3 in which the whodunit is revealed and the Red Skull and Cap confront each other.

The goal of this mini-series is to faithfully recreate both the visual style and the storytelling atmosphere of the Golden Age newspaper superhero comic strip. In that regard, this title and this particular issue are a huge success. Karl Kesel skillfully formats his storyline into four-box comic strip panels, structuring each strip into a nice daily segment of the ongoing story. Kesel also succeeds in creating a 1940's comic strip-style adventure plot for his characters. This is not a modern-day Captain America tale with 21st century storyline details and character's personalities. Instead, we have a more 1940's storyline in which Kesel puts front-and-center a classic and entertaining mystery tale in which the good guys approach the problem with an good-natured enthusiasm which reflects a more Golden Age comic book storytelling style.

Fans of the modern-day Marvel Comics universe won't be bored by this old school telling of a Captain America and Bucky tale. Instead, I think that you'll greatly enjoy the change-of-pace of an old-style story presented by a modern-day creative team. So a thumbs-up recommendation to add this interesting interpretation of Captain America and his friends and foes to your stack of comic book reading material.

Contest Winner Announcement!!!

We had a tie for correct answers between two entries to our latest contest, which challenged you to correctly answer true or false to five trivia questions. And our co-winners are (drumroll, please)...Tanja Pevner and Nathan Manna. The correct answers are as follows:

1. The can opener was invented 48 years after the can was introduced-True.

2. Until he was 18 years old, Woody Allen read virtually nothing but comic books-True.

3. Since 2008, movie dvd's have outsold video games-False, the reverse is true.

4. 18 of 47 U.S. Vice-Presidents have gone on to become President-False, the answer is 14.

5. Ice tea was introduced at the 1904 Saint Louis World's Fair-True, although Tanja pointed out that ice tea was invented before the 1904 Fair, it was introduced there as a mass-produced U.S. consumer product.

Congratulations to our co-winners, who each receive a $10.00 gift certificate to That's Entertainment.

New Contest Announcement!!!

Let's alternate from a trivia contest this week with another thinking person's comic book challenge. This contest is a twist on a contest suggested in May by Gordon Dupuis. Gordon suggested that we ask readers to submit what superhero they would want to date if superheros were real. While interesting, it seemed to the Bongo Congo panel of judges to be a bit too fanboy fantasy narrow in contest scope. So we've tweaked Gordon's idea a bit.

Instead, your challenge is to e-mail us at Gordon_A@msn.com and tell us if comic characters were real, which comic book character or group of characters (superhero or non-superhero) you would want to meet and and why. For example, I personally would like to meet Rip Hunter Timemaster and do some time-traveling myself. Or maybe I'd want to meet Ritchie Rich and ask for a loan! So let us know who you'd want to meet if the comic book universe was real and also tell us a bit why you'd want to meet the person or people.

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


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