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Review Date: 01/14/2011

Good King Leonardo has decreed that we review this week three new comic issues starring well-known superheroes, two comics from the DC universe and one from the mighty world of Marvel Comics:

Batman Beyond #1
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Adam Beechen: Writer
Ryan Benjamin: Pencils
John Stanisci: Inks
David Baron: Colors
In follow-up to the recent Batman Beyond six-issue mini-series, DC has just premiered issue #1 in its new monthly Batman Beyond title, The series is a futuristic addition to the wide Batman story universe and features Gotham teenager Terry McGinnis as the Caped Crusader in an unidentified future year in the City. Terry is mentored and supervised in his Batman adventures by an elderly Bruce Wayne. The series is scripted by Adam Beechen with pencils by Ryan Benjamin, inks by John Stanisci and colors by David Baron.

The issue #1 story is entitled "Madness, Mayhem & Mentachem," and is part one of a three-issue story arc. The main plotline centers on Carson Jatts, an employee of a Gotham company named Mentachem, which warehouses dangerous superhero-related materials. Upon learning that he's dying from work-related contamination, an embittered Jatts steals a villain's superpowered wand from the facility, losing control of the weapon and accidentally transforming himself into a megapowered bad guy. A second plotline folds the young Batman into the story, as he comes to realize that his mother and young brother are among the hostages that Jatts takes at a city shopping mall. Issue #1 ends in a dramatic confrontation between Batman and the Justice League, as the Caped Crusader takes a stand against the League's desire to bull-into the shopping mall without much heed to civilian casualties.

I gave a positive review to an issue of the Batman Beyond mini-series and I'm happy to be able to provide the same thumbs-up recommendation for this kick-off issue of the monthly title. Its very fresh and fun to read this enhancement of the Batman story universe that adds a futuristic spin to all that is Batman. The strongest entertainment element here is writer Adam Beechen's talent in blending new futuristic elements together with the traditional Batman story universe. My favorite traditional example is the aged Bruce Wayne, an embittered, always-on-duty old man struggling to relate to his caped protege's positive outlook regarding both the job and life in general. The most interesting futuristic element in issue #1 is the future Justice League, five individuals completely different from our 2010 League. I won't be a spoiler regarding their identities, beyond the one irresistable comment that there's a new Green Lantern in the mix, and I can't figure-out whether he's human or alien.

So a well-deserved thumbs-up positive recommendation for all good DC readers to read this premier Batman Beyond issue. If you haven't already read the just-completed mini-series, then by all means check-out the back issues which are still available on the new issues shelves at That's Entertainment or talk to the store staff about any upcoming graphic compilation reprints of this excellent series.

Iron Man Legacy #9
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Fred Van Lente: Writer
Steve Kurth: Pencils
Allen Martinez: Inks
John Rauch: Colors
Similar to the Batman universe, there are lots of various Iron Man titles on the new issues shelves these days at That's Entertainment. I wasn't familiar with the Iron Man Legacy title, so when I saw issue #9 on the new issue shelves this past week, I thought I'd take it out for a review test-drive. The comic book is scripted by writer Fred Van Lente with pencils by Steve Kurth, inks by Allen Martinez and colors by John Rauch.

Issue #9 is sub-titled "Bunker Mentality" and is part four of an ongoing multi-issue story arc entitled "Industrial Revolution." A page one narrative catches-up the new reader on the story situation so far: the year is 1984 and Tony Stark has lost control of his corporation. Living in the L.A. inner city, he's organizing the neighborhood into a groundroots cooperative, in which he and the local African-American population will be research entrepreneurs, creating groundbreaking high tech and manufacturing these products to bring some economic prosperity to Stark's newfound downtrodden friends.

The plot advances in this month's issue, as Stark leads the folks into squatting in an abandoned warehouse and starting their business operation. Along the way, Stark and friends deal with multiple challenges, including threats from the police as well as danger from a local criminal organization that appears to have some supervillain support. By issue's end, Stark has made progress on some of these issues. The story segment ends in a dramatic bridge to next month's issue, as Stark's roommate/girlfriend is captured by the bad guys, revealing both their supervillain connections and their plans to threaten Stark with his girlfriend's life in the balance.

Credit is due to the creative team for taking the unique story angle of setting this entire title run in the year 1984. While it limits their ability to have fun with today's 2010 lifestyle and technology, its both a challenge for the writer/artists as well as a rare experience for the modern-day reader to see these characters function in the pre-cell phone, pre-personal computer world. I got an entertaining kick out of seeing everyone in this story have to struggle on their own without today's standard personal equipment to deal with all of their problems and situations. These story boundaries provide a nicely-crafted alternative type of Iron Man tale, as well as wake the reader up regarding how we get so overwhelmed these days, both in comic book stories and in real-life, by all of the gizmos in our world.

So have some fun with this comic book-use it as an entertaining chance to see characters creatively use their wits to work with each other to deal with the interesting story situation, as opposed to pushing a button or using an I-phone app to immediately solve the problem at hand. You'll be glad that you took a chance on this interesting throwback Iron Man tale.

Superman/Batman #79
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Chris Roberson: Writer
Jesus Merino: Art
DC's very popular and long-running Superman/Batman title is up to issue #79 this month. The series is currently written by Chris Roberson with art by Jesus Merino. For the uninitiated, this comic book (obviously from the title) pairs Superman and Batman together, with the stories often structured with a dual, parallel narrative that reveals how the pair often think differently or see their common situation in very different ways.

This issue kicks-off a new, multi-issue story arc entitled "World's Finest." The story setting is the 853rd century, as a time-traveling supervillain named "Epoch,The Lord Of Time" arrives in that century and announces he's there to conquer the world. The story immediately shifts into high action and adventure, as the Superman, Batman and robot-Robin sidekick of that day take-on the bad guy. Without spoiling any details, the battle and maneuvering among the foursome rapidly shifts between such locations as the future versions of the Batcave, Fortress of Solitude and Justice League headquarters. The issue ends in a plot twist as Epoch time-jumps away from the future heroes, arriving in today's Times Square where our 2010 trio of heroes are waiting to take him on in next month's issue.

Among the many Superman and Batman-themed comics out there, this title has always stood-out as an excellent source for veteran and newcomer fans alike to get a high quality double dose of our heroes. This current issue is no exception to that rule. Writer Chris Roberson succeeeds in three entertaining respects. First, he gives us a far future, science fiction version of Batman and Superman that's both credible and avoids potential cheesiness. And you gotta just love their robot Robin sidekick! Secondly, he adds fun and entertaining far future details regarding the well-known DC universe props of the Batcave, Fortress of Solitude and Justice League headquarters. And third, he brings all of this action and plot nicely full-circle by issue's end back to our present-day heroes, for further fun adventure and action in next month's issue.

So a positive recommendation to add this well-crafted comic book issue to your ever-growing new issues reading pile. There's a nice mix of far future and present-day DC universe details and atmosphere in this comic book that makes it well-worth taking the time for an entertaining read.

Contest Winner Announcement!!!

Our latest contest challenge was for you to tell us your most favorite and least favorite comics of 2010. We have co-winners this week, who are (drumroll, please...) Mike Dooley and David Ruiz. Mike's favorite comic this past year was The Lone Ranger, with Mike telling us that the build-up of suspense from issue-to-issue was well-worth the wait. His least favorite title was Ultimate Spider-Man, telling us that "the current storyline is just too much Spidey and his Amazing Friends."

David Ruiz's favorite comic book of 2010 was Thor, The Mighty Avenger, which we just reviewed last week. David liked its classic, works-for-all-reading-ages style and wishes Marvel wasn't ending publication of the title next month. David's least favorite title this past year was Nemesis, saying that the title for him didn't live-up to its hype and much of the storyline didn't seem to make much sense. Congrats to our contest co-winners, who each receive a first prize $10.00 gift certificate to That's Entertainment!

As a final contest comment, for what its worth, my own three most favorite comics of 2010 were Thor, The Mighty Avenger, the ongoing comic book adaption of Philip K. Dick's science fiction novel "Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep? and the science fiction futuristic take on Batman, "Batman Beyond." For least favorite, check out my reviews throughout 2010 which gave a thumbs-down to a handful of titles.

New Contest Announcement!!!

Here's a simple mystery contest for you. The Bongo Congo panel of contest judges has noticed that there are many cars around Worcester these days (my neighbor Ray's car, included) with bumper stickers on them that mysteriously just list the number "13.1." So e-mail us at Gordon_A@msn.com and tell us what these mysterious "13.1" bumper stickers mean. In the event of multiple correct entries, our contest winner of the That's Entertainment $10.00 gift certificate will be selected via a roll of the dice from among the correct entries.

That's all for now, so have a great start-of-2011 comic book reading week and see you again next week Here In Bongo Congo!

 
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