Review Date: Thursday, November 18, 2010

Good King Leonardo has decreed that we review four premier issues of new comic book titles this week, two from Marvel Comics and two from D.C. Comics, so let's see how these #1 issues stack-up against each other:

She-Hulks #1
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Harrison Wilcox: Writer
Ryan Stegman: Penciler
Michael Babinski: Inker

Marvel Comics has just published issue #1 of She-Hulks. As the latest addition to the Hulk family of comic book titles, She-Hulks co-stars Jennifer Walters/She-Hulk and Lyra/Savage She-Hulk. A page one narrative details to the uninformed reader that Jennifer is the original Hulk/Bruce Banner's cousin, while Lyra is the daughter of the Hulk from an alternate savage future reality, stranded here in our world. I was a huge fan of the award-winning She-Hulk title run of a few year's ago and as such wanted to check-out this latest version of all things Hulk.

Issue #1 is part one of a multi-issue story arc entitled "Man Hunt," and introduces the main plotline, in which the Avengers have authorized Bruce Banner to lead the team of various Hulks to seek-out and capture various Marvel universe villains who have assembled in a new bad guy team known as The Intelligencia. The main storythread is action-oriented, as Jennifer and Lyra initially capture one super-villain and then pursue a second more dangerous bad guy. A second storyline threads throughout the issue, focusing on Jennifer helping Lyra adjust to life in her new secret identity as a high school-aged civilian. The pair settle in New York City, where Lyra begins to attend a local high school and has to deal with everyday high school situations such as fitting-in, maneuvering her way through the various high school student cliques, meeting guys, etc. The issue ends with the capture of the second super-villain and Jennifer announcing that the hunt for the team of bad guys has only just begun.

This is a very fun and entertaining new comic book for at least three reasons. As a child of the Silver Age, I grew-up with Bruce Banner as the only Hulk existing in the Marvel Universe. So its a lot of fun to have this large group of Hulks existing in Marvel Comics these days, and issue #1 of this comic infers that many of the other Hulks will be joining the two stars in future issues. Secondly, writer Harrison Wilcox gives us a strong storyline that nicely balances superhero action with the more personal sides of Jennifer and Lyra's lives. The sub-plot focusing on Lyra's attempts to fit-in as a "normal" teen are both funny and entertaining, as she consistently one-ups folks at her new high school without even realizing what she's doing. Third, the art team's style is top-notch, mixing standard panel lay-outs with one full-page panel of battle #1 and a two-page panel of battle #2 that are among the best visual action scenes to come along in comics over the past few years.

So a definite positive recommendation to check-out this latest addition to the Hulk family of comic book titles. Whether you're a She-Hulks fan or just a superhero comic book fan in general, you won't be disappointed with this fun new comic book title.

Ant-Man & Wasp #1
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Tim Seeley: Writer & Pencils
Victor Olazaba: Inks
Val Staples: Colors

Marvel Comics has just published issue #1 of a three-issue mini-series starring the duo of Ant-Man & Wasp. The limited series is written by Tim Seeley, with pencils also by Tim Seeley, inks by Victor Olazaba and colors by Val Staples. The Wasp here is well-known Avengers scientist-member Hank Pym and Ant-Man is Eric O'Grady, a young man who has inherited the mantle of Ant-Man.

Issue #1 has two interweaving sub-plots. The first one introduces the reader to the current status of these two superheroes. Hank Pym/Wasp is the older, respected scientist member of The Avengers, while we learn that Eric/Ant-man is an arrogant, hard-drinking womanizer who doesn't take his superhero role seriously, focusing more on partying than his responsibilities. The two heroes are brought together when Ant-Man visits Hank Pym at Avengers headquarters and unwittingly assists a supernatural foe to access the building and steal an artifact on behalf of The Avengers traditional bad guy foes A.I.M. It's revealed that the artifact can have specific bad effect on one particular Avenger, whom I won't identify to avoid spoiling the details. By issue's end, after reviewing the situation with other Avengers members, its decided that Ant-Man and Wasp will team-up and take the first crack at retrieving the artifact.

This is a run-of-the-mill decent comic book. There's nothing heavy here in the way of a grand comic book event or new interpretation of certain superheroes. Instead, we're given a comfortable old school tale, reminiscent of comic book plotting back in the 1980's and 1990's, of Marvel superhero characters facing a traditional foe in a traditional type of confrontation and figuring-out how to deal with it all. This type of tale is a worthwhile balance to the many cutting-edge, grand mega-event stuff that comic book publishers like to prioritize these days. It should be entertaining to see how the good guys deal with both this struggle with A.I.M. and the threat to their friend over the course of the next two issues of this series. It should also be interesting to see how the immature Ant-Man (hopefully!) grows and changes for the better through this particular adventure.

T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #1
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Nick Spencer: Writer
Santiago Arcas: Colors

DC Comics has just published issue #1 in a revival of the Silver Age comic book Thunder Agents. For the uninitiated, the original comic series was published by Tower Comics beginning in 1965 and featured art by the iconic Silver Age artist Wally Wood. The superheroes in this team were an arm of the United Nations, fighting word-wide villainy under the acronym "The Higher United Nations Defense Enforcement Reserves." The original series heroes included popular heroes Dynamo and No-Man, who were each spun-off into their own brief comic book titles.

The issue #1 story is entitled "The High Road." Its a very detailed story, densely packed with a mix of action and dialogue that introduces the reader to a complete revamping of the Thunder Agents comic book concept. There's a darker theme here, in which the origin details of the team are modernized based on the concept that the U.N. carefully selects candidates, then empowers them as superheroes with the expectation that the heroes will sacrifice their lives in the course of duty in dealing with some very unusual threats to mankind. Without going into heavy spoiler details, the issue #1 plot centers on both the deaths of current Thunder Agents and the recruitment of their replacements. There's also a detailed plot thread in which a very detailed plot of betrayal unfolds, leading to the heavy death toll of Thunder Agents who need to be replaced by issues end.

I'm giving this issue #1 debut a deserved positive recommendation based upon the quality of both writing and artwork. However, I honestly was creeped-out by the darkness of the storyline. I was a big fan of the 1960's comic title and still cherish my copy of issue #1 as autographed by Wally Wood. The new storyline is updated to our 2010 world and story sensibilities, and as such there's an incredibly heavy dose in this plot of nasty betrayal and sacrificing of lives. There's a very jaded and cold feel to the players in this story, with the good guys seeming as nasty and cold, if not moreso, than the evil guys. Think of a very hard-edged, bleak version of Warren Ellis's classic series Planetary and you get the picture. On its own, there's nothing wrong with that type of comic book tale, but its just kind of disappointing and grating to read such a harsh and cold reinterpretation of an iconic comic book series from a much simpler comic book reading time and place.

So again, a deserved thumbs-up for quality, but I have a feeling that a lot of old-time Thunder Agents fans are going to pass on continual, monthly reading of this series when they get exposed to the atmosphere of this bleaker version of an old-school iconic series.

The All New Batman: The Brave And The Bold #1
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Sholly Fisch: Writer
Rick Burchett: Pencils
Dan Davis: Inker

DC Comics has just begun publishing a new title of Batman: The Brave And The Bold. The comic book is based on the animated television series and is written by Sholly Fisch with pencils by Rick Burchett and inks by Dan Davis.

Issue #1 is a stand-alone, single-issue tale entitled "Bottle Of The Planets." The plot begins with a fun, three-page battle in which Batman and Black Canary defeat the Joker and his army of Joker robots. Superman quickly arrives on the scene and whisks Batman away to the famed bottled City of Kandor, where the two shrunken heroes are thown into working to solve a mysterious crime, in which someone is stealing pieces of technology which could be used as a dangerous weapon. Our costumed duo has to sift through many potential suspects, including various political leaders of the bottled city. There's robot fights and mystery throughout the tale, which climaxes in a creative sting operation by which Batman and Superman solve the crime.

My previous positive reviews of comics based on t.v. cartoon shows always point-out that the strength of the comic includes the fact that the quality of the writing and artwork are enjoyable for adult readers as well as children. While that's happily the case again here, there's also an extra positive writing element here, in that the plot successfully introduces young readers to well-known elements of the classic Superman-Batman partnership. The two heroes here talk about how they're both very different in personality and superhero style, yet are close friends who can work togther and respect each others strengths and weaknesses. So in addition to offering an entertaining comic book tale, the plot offers a worthy life lesson to young readers about valuing and respecting others who are different from oneself.

As such, I'd highly recommend this cartoon show-based comic book as a worthy addition to the many Batman-Superman varieties of storytelling out there in the wide world of DC publishing.

Contest Winner Announcement!!!

Our latest contest challenge came straight out of the final question round of a recent episode of Jeopardy, in which we asked you to name the only two countries in the world that have the letter "X" in their names. We had several correct entries, so by a random roll of the dice the winner from among the correct entries is (drumroll, please)...David Ruiz, who correctly identified Luxembourg and Mexico as the two countries. David further tells us that while he came-up with Mexico, his girlfriend identified Luxembourg. So David, you'd better split that $10.00 prize gift certificate to That's Entertainment with your girlfriend, if you know what's good for you!

On a final contest note, Ken at That's Entertainment kiddingly took a guess at Texas rather than Mexico. However, Ken is correct in that science fiction alternate reality where Mexico won the Texas War Of Independence!

New Contest Announcement!!!

We have one more contest up our sleeve based on the television show "The Big Bang Theory," although I'm sure we'll think of more Big Bang Theory contest ideas as time goes by. In a particular episode last season, Sheldon makes a bet with Howard, wagering his precious copy of an iconic Silver Age edition of The Flash comic book that he keeps in a bank safety deposit box. Naturally, Sheldon loses the bet and has to relinquish his treasure to our favorite t.v. show lounge lizard.

As such, your contest challenge is to e-mail us at Gordon_A@msn.com and tell us which issue of The Flash was used in the bet, and what is so neat and iconic about that issue's cover. As always, in the event of more than one correct entry, we'll select a winner of the $10.00 prize gift certificate to That's Entertainment via a random roll of the dice.

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


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