Review Date: Sunday, November 14, 2010

Good King Leonardo has decreed that we review this week the premier #1 issues of three new comic book titles, so let's see how this trio of comics stack-up against each other:

Superboy #1
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Jeff Lemire: Writer
Pier Gallo: Art
Jamie Grant: Colors

DC Comics has just published issue #1 of a new comic book title starring the Conner Kent version of Superboy. For the uninitiated, this version of Superboy is a clone created from a combination of Superman and Lex Luthor's respective DNA. In previous Superman Family comic book titles, Conner has come to live with Ma Kent in Smallville and after struggling with the idea of his mixed good-evil heritage and has decided to try and live in Smallville under his Conner Kent-Superboy dual identity, following Superman's boyhood path in developing into a hero for the cause of all good.

Issue #1 is part one of a multi-issue storyline entitled "Smallville Attacks!" The plot begins with The Phantom Stranger arriving in Smallville to warn Conner that some future action of his will put a loved one in grave danger. This warning is followed by an attack on Conner by super-villain The Parasite, who wants to drain Conner's powers to use against Superman. The bulk of the issue unfolds as a mega-battle between the pair both within and eventually just outside of Smallville. After Superboy creatively defeats the villain, the issue ends with a dramatic bridge to next month's issue, as a surprise character from the Batman story universe arrives in Town and dramatically announces that its too late to save Smallville from The Phantom Stranger's prophecy.

I enjoyed this comic book very much for a bunch of reasons. The artwork is exceptional, with Pier Gallo including some aerial scenes of breathtaking beauty which emphasize the rural loveliness of Smallville, Kansas. Secondly, Krypto is prominently by Conner's side throughout this storyline; I'm a huge Krypto fan, so any comic book co-starring our favorite super-pup has redeeming qualities in my eyes, irregardless of any other features of the story. Third, there are two very interesting support characters in this new comic book title: Lex Luthor's friendly (and apparently love-smitten) niece Lori and Conner's best friend, brainy Simon Valentine, who dramatically announces to Conner that he knows he's Superboy, just as the battle action starts. It should be fun to see how this threesome interacts with each other as future monthly issues unfold.

And finally, with being a spoiler, I just love writer Jeff Lemire's choice of the Batman universe character who arrives in Smallville at the end of this issue. This is a never, ever before-seen pairing in the DC Universe of these two characters, who at first seem completely incompatible and unlikely allies, but who have the potential for giving us a very fresh and entertaining storyline in upcoming issues. So for for all of these reasons, issue #1 of this latest incarnation of a Superboy title deserves both my positive review thumbs-up and your worthy comic book-reading attention.

Carnage #1
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Zeb Wells: Writer
Clayton Crain: Art

Marvel Comics has recently begun publishing a five-issue mini-series entitled Carnage, starring the team-up of Spider-Man and Iron Man. Issue #1 is part one of a storyline entitled (naturally) Carnage and is written by Zeb Wells with art by Clayton Crain.

The main plotline focuses on a monstrous, howling six-armed version of Spider-Man running amok through New York City. Peter Parker/Spider-Man identifies the thing as a follower of the supervillain Carnage. As the normal Spidey and Iron Man take-on the creature, its clear that the monster has a desperate motive of reaching some person, which it tries to communicate to the pair as it fixates on reaching an armored car. The issue #1 story segment concludes on two notes. First, two figures in Iron Man-type suits named Royal Blue and Firebrick show-up at the battle and kill the creature. Secondly, its revealed that the person said creature was trying to reach is a particular Marvel universe villain being transported in the armored car, whose identity I won't reveal as a spoiler.

My reaction to this comic book is to give it a mixed review. Its not a terrible comic, but it could just be a whole lot better. Writer Zeb Wells scatters thin slices of his basic plot here and there in the issue, all the while overwhelming those plot details and mystery elements with just too much focus on the battle scene, which occupies almost every single page of this issue. A much better quality product and much more entertaining issue would have resulted by cutting the battle stuff in half and expanding the potentially interesting plot details, such as the mystery of the connection between the monster and the end-of-issue supervillain, and expanding a very brief sub-plot involving Tony Stark and a corporate rival inventor.

I was also at a loss regarding the identity of the two wannabe Iron Men who show up on the battlescene, as to whether these guys are new Marvel characters created here by writer Wells or serve as carryovers from some other Marvel comic book. And finally, I'm just not a fan of the extremely dark and dreary colorization and graphic style presented in this comic book. So while there's some good story elements scattered a bit throughout this issue, its not enough for me to recommend a read of this new series unless you're a very loyal fan of Spidey and Iron Man and want to cover all the bases of various versions of this twosome out there in today's Marvel publishing universe. Maybe the cobwebs (no pun intended) will shake-out in this mini-series in future issues, but I'm not feeling it.

One final positive observation, however. There's a funny Spider-Man themed Mazda automobile ad on the back cover of this issue, with a cute play on words on the well-known "with great power comes great responsibility" Spider-man quote, that's worth taking a look at.

Generation Hope #1
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Kieron Gillon: Writer
Salvador Espin: Art
Jim Charalampidis: Colors

Our third premier comic book title this week is issue #1 of Generation Hope, published by Marvel Comics. The comic is written by Kieron Gillon with art by Salvador Espin and colors by Jim Charalampidis. The title stars Hope Summers, the young X-Gene mutant who was raised in the future by Cyclops's son Cable and has starred in an extensive Hope Summers and Cable series of comics prior to this new title.

Issue #1 is part one of a multi-issue storyline entitled "The Future Is A Four-Letter Word." A page one narrative explains that having returned to the present day from her previous adventures with Cable, with the assistance of the X-Men, Hope has gathered together four fellow mutant teens; by touching each of them, she has helped them gain control over their out-of-control mutant powers. In this issue #1 plotline, Hope, her new group of four teens, Cyclops and Wolverine travel to Tokyo to help a fifth known out-of-control young mutant, who has morphed into an out-of-control giant monster-that-ate-Tokyo. The issue interweaves two sub-plots. In the first, we meet each of the group of new teen mutants and learn their thoughts, hopes and fears about their new team situation. In the second, the entire group confronts the out-of-control Tokyo mutant teen, with the issue ending in a large-scale acceleration of the battle, which no doubt will continue at the center of next month's issue #2.

This is an entertaining comic book for a few reasons. First, I enjoyed very much the character of Hope Summers in the issue of Cable that I reviewed last year, so its satisfying to see Marvel continue to progress her adventures within the Marvel comic book universe. Writer Kieron Gillon gives us a very interesting and entertaining plot concept, that of Hope and the X-Men gathering newly-emerging mutants and using Hope's touch abilities to assist them in gaining mastery over their out-of-control powers. Its very creative for Gillon to place the final, most dangerous mutant in trouble in a Tokyo setting, echoing the well-known Godzilla monster movies set in the same locale. The art team's style is very appropriate to this comic book setting and the dialogue is engaging, particularly the thought narratives as each character conducts an inner dialogue with themselves regarding the stress of joining the new team.

As a final comment, its worth noting that the main story is followed by an eight-page illustrated narrative entitled "The Saga Of Hope," which provides a detailed and very useful summary of the adventures of Hope Summers to-date in various Marvel comic books, followed by a list of nine softcover reprints of the various Hope Summers/Cable tales. So a very well-deserved positive review recommendation to read this latest installment in the ongoing Marvel Comics adventures of Hope Summers, her new emerging team of teen mutants and the original X-Men.

Contest Winner Announcement!!!

Our latest contest challenge was for you to rename Marmon Place, the private way next to That's Entertainment, with a name appropriate to the theme of our favorite pop culture emporium. For example, Ken at That's Entertainment suggested renaming the street as Lois Lane! Ken and I also together brainstormed the idea of going the Superman route and renaming the street "Truth, Justice And The Amercian Way!"

And our contest winner is (drumroll, please)...Gordon Dupuis, who suggests renaming the road as Wonder Way. Gordon adds "after a being a regular for eight years I'm still washed with an overpowering sense of coolness and creativity every time I step through the door." The Bongo Congo panel of contest judges agreed that the name "Wonder Way" serves as an appropriate symbol for the whole range of wonderful things that That's Entertainment represents for all of us fanboys and fangirls, alike. Congrats to Gordon, who wins the contest first prize of a $10.00 gift certificate to you-know-where.

New Contest Announcement!!!

Let's cleanse our contest palates this week with a simple, standard trivia contest. This question was actually the final question at the end of a recent episode of Jeopardy. We wanted to use it this week, because while it seems potentially deceptive, it was actually a very straightforward question to answer. So e-mail us at Gordon_A@msn.com and tell us what are the only two countries on Earth (yes, just Earth, no other planets, please!) that have the letter "X" in their countries name. As always, in the event of multiple correct answers, the winner of the $10.00 first prize gift certificate to That's Entertainmnet will be selected from among the correct entries by a roll of the dice.

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


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