Review Date: Saturday, January 01, 2011

For our end-of-the-year review column, Good King Leonardo has decreed that we ring-out 2010 with an eclectic mix of comics to review, one DC comic, one Marvel comic and two independent publisher comic books:

Adventure Comics #521
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Paul Levitz: Writer
Geraldo Borges & Marlo Alquiza: Art

DC's long-running flagship title Adventure Comics is up to issue #521 this month, with a lead story starring The Legion Of Super-Heroes and a second story starring The Atom. The main Legion story is scripted by Paul Levitz with art by Geralso Borges and Marlo Alquiza. The Atom tale is written by Jeff Lemire with pencils by Mahmud Asrar, inks by John Dell and colors by Pete Pantazis.

The Legion story is entitled "The Summons Of The Ring" and is part one of a new multi-issue story arc. The plot kicks-off with the arrival at 31st century Legion headquarters of Dyogene, an alien creature from Oa, the homeworld of the Guardians of the Green Lantern Corps. Dyogenes announces that he will anoint a new Earth Green Lantern from amongst the ranks of the Legion members. The bulk of this story segment unfolds with the various Legion members going about their various Legion duties as they mull over the pending selection. I won't spoil the selection surprise beyond noting that by stories end, Dyogenes selects a Legion member, who immediately accepts the role as Earth's 31st centruy Green Guardian. As a brief mention of the back-up Atom tale, the plot focuses on The Atom teaming-up with his civilian scientist uncle to combat bad guys wielding nano-technology, with the story segment ending in a cliffhanger as the bad guys hold The Atom's dad hostage.

I enjoyed both stories very much. Veteran DC writer/editor Paul Levitz by now certainly knows his way around the details of the 31st century Legion of Super-Heroes universe. Levitz seamlessly blends three story elements together very well: smoothly introducing the many, many members of the Legion into the brief, half-issue story segment, incorporating a few sub-plots of Legion action events and progressing the main storythread of a new Earth Green Lantern selection process. I loved the actual selection of the new Lantern, who is an excellent choice and should provide some fun plot details as this multi-issue story moves forward. A positive review thumbs-up is also deserved for the second Atom tale in this issue. Nothing earth-shaking with this story, just an entertaining little Atom script (pun intended) in which our small hero does his best to battle bad guys alongside his uncle and rescue his kidnapped dad.

So a definite thumbs-up review recommendation to get your traditional, old-school DC universe entertainment fill for this week with this fun two-story issue of Adventure Comics.

Fantastic Four #583
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Jonathan Hickman: Writer
Steve Epting: Art
Paul Mounts: Colors

Marvel Comics kicks-off in the current issue #583 of the Fantastic Four its well-publicized supposed death of one of the Fab Four. The story arc is entitled "Three" and is written by Jonathan Hickman with art by Steve Epting and colors by Paul Mounts. For the uninitiated, this creative team has received much acclaim in the past year or so for revitalizing this long-lasting Marvel comic book title with exciting storylines featuring science fiction plots on a grand adventure scale, in balance with excellent plot details regarding the personal lives and issues of the Fantastic Four family members.

This Part One of the "Three" storyline is subtitled "In Latveria, The Flowers Bloom In Winter," and unfolds with two interweaving storythreads. The briefer storyline is a high action plotthread, as the FF fight a battle at the edge of the forever city of The High Evolutionary. This is a follow-up to previous FF issues in which several science fictional cities emerge at various locations around Earth. But this action-adventure is overshadowed by the main storyline, in which Reed and Sue's genius daughter Valeria teleports to Latveria to try and enlist Victor Von Doom to assist her father in an unexplained ciritical effort. Genius Valeria quickly realizes that Doom has lost his genius intellect (apparently detailed in previous issues) and deftly strikes a bargain with the evil dictator, in which he agrees to assist the girl-genius in exchange for her restoring him to his previous intellectual brilliance.

The creative team continues its iconic run in this title with the kick-off to another exciting major multi-issue story arc. Writer Jonathan Hickman once again proves his skill in delivering a comic book superhero-themed tale on a grand scale of science-fiction adventure. Hickman's style is to progress a story far and fast in each issue's story segment, and he does so again here, progressing the tale with lots of action but maintaining the sense of mystery and anticipation that hooks the reader into wanting to stick with the adventure through each monthly issue. I particularly got a kick out of a dramatic issue-ending, two-page bridge to next month's issue, which pulls The Silver Surfer into the story situation in a very clever and dramatic way.

My only constructive review criticism of the issue is to suggest that Hickman and team tone-down a bit the precociousness of genius FF daughter Valeria. She comes off a bit too smug and know-it-all at times, to the point where I wanted her to trip-up in her efforts just to wipe the self-satisfied smugness off of her face. But that minor peeve aside, there isn't a comic book title out there these days doing a better job of providing grand-scale science fiction in a traditional super-hero story-setting, so a strong recommendation here not to miss this interesting and enjoyable adventure as it plays-out toward the big "death of an FF member" finale.

The One #2
Publisher: GG Studio
Giuliano Monni & Davide Rigamonti : Writers
Pasquale Qualano: Pencils
Alessia Nocera & Andrea Errico: Colors

Issue #2 of a comic book entitled "The One" caught my eye this past week as I wandered the new issues shelves at That's Entertainment. The comic is an English translation of an Italian comic book published by GG Studio. The series is written by Guiliano Monni and Davide Rigamonti with art by Pasquale Qualano, Alessia Nocera and Andrea Errico.
The setting of this title mirrors the fictional universe of Tolkien's well-known Lord Of The Rings trilogy. The story begins with Sadhel and Erara,two female representatives of tribes of enchanted forest people, arguing over whether or not to ally with the mistrusting human tribes, in anticipation of some sort of upcoming epic war. The plot next shifts to a personal love story between a human man, Masdhin, and his enchanted girlfirend, Faras. We learn detailes of their relationship history via flashback, then in the present we follow Masdin's attempt to rescue Faras who's been captured by some bad enchanted folk. The issue ends wirth the duo, aided by a troll sidekick, on the run from the bad guys.
In many ways, this title is a warmed-over version of The Lord Of The Rings trilogy, i.e., enchanted and human tribes and individuals jockeying for position and gain in the shadow of an upcoming huge military confrontation. But it is entertaining in its own right. The art is exquisite, with loads of gorgeous warrior women drawn in the style of the late great Michael Turner. The dialogue is a bit detailed and complex, to the point where I did have to double-back and check a few previous pages to understand the story progression. But more importantly, the plot is interesting and the characters are very credible. So if you're a fan of high fantasy, I think that you'll enjoy this particular Italian-imported interpretation of the type of fantasy world that Tolkien is so well-known for creating.

The Cape #1
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Jason Ciaramella: Writer
Zach Howard: Art
Nelson Daniel: Colors

The Cape is a new comic book title just published by IDW Publishing. The series is written by Jason Ciaramella with art by Zach Howard and colors by Nelson Daniel. The credits explain that Ciaramella's script is the adaptation of a short story entitled "The Cape," written by Joe Hill.

The main character of The Cape is Eric, whom the first half of the issue follows from childhood to his 20-something years. Playing superhero as a kid and wearing the aforementioned Cape, Eric has a brutal injury falling from a tree. It's all downhill from there, as the plot follows Eric through years of injury pain and general behavior negativity. His relationship with loving girlfriend Angie can't stop him from spiraling down to the very bottom rung of the loser ladder. After being dumped by Angie and crashing in his mother's basement, Eric finds his old childhood cape and discovers that it gives him the power to fly. In this case, I'll gladly provide the dramatic ending spoiler: our boy Eric is a rotten-to-the core loser who uses the cape to take ex-girlfriend Angie for a Lois Lane-Superman type flight and thus slaughter her with a bloody drop from high altitude. Next issue's theme: how a rotten guy uses a found power for further rottenness.

I'll get to the heart of this review recommendation fast-this is the worst comic book that I've reviewed among the hundreds I've reviewed over the past few years. The plot twister could have been creative, in that one assumes until the last few pages that the cape will offer Eric the chance to turn his life around for good instead of being a tool for Eric to go the evil route. But all of the details of the story just plain radiate grossness and disgust, from Eric's needlessly rotten attitude to every decent person in his life to the culmination of this issue, when he disgustingly slaughters his girlfriend and is proud of it. A story can be dark and gross but of high quality if there's some redeeming value in the tale. None of that element is even hinted of here, so its not worth sticking around for even one issue's worth of viewing this disgusting creep's life. So don't waste a dime on this failure of a story presentation.

One final important review comment. This waste of paper has nothing to do with the upcoming new superhero television series "The Cape," premiering on January 9 on NBC. So give the television show a try and read some other comic book.

Contest Winner Announcement!!!

Our latest contest challenge posed the following question: what is the one sport in which the defense controls the ball? We had several correct entries, so by a roll of the dice our winner is (drumroll, please)...Stan Hosmer, who correctly identified baseball as the sport in which the defense controls the ball. Congrats to Stan on winning the $10.00 first prize gift certificate to That's Entertainment.

New Contest Challenge!!!

It's time to ring-out 2010 and ring-in 2011, so let's have an appropriate end-of-the year contest. The Bongo Congo panel of contest judges challenge you to e-mail us at Gordon_A@msn.com and submit to us your entries for Most Favorite and Least Favorite comic books of 2010. Feel free to nominate in these categories either your most or least favorite individual issues or a comic book title in general, and tell us a little bit about why you like and/or dislike your entries so much. As always, our first prize contest winner will receive a $10.00 gift certificate to 2010 and 2011's favorite pop culture emporium, That's Entertainment!!!

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

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