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Review Date: Friday, February 18, 2011

Good King Leonardo has decreed that we review this week a DC Vertigo Imprint comic, a DC one-shot issue and a new Marvel Comics limited series title, so let's see how they all stack-up against each other:

Cinderella: Fables Are Forever #1
Publisher: DC Vertigo Comics
Chris Roberson: Writer
Shawn McManus: Art
Lee Loughridge: Colors
DC's Vertigo Comics imprint has just published issue #1 of Cinderella: Fables Are Forever, a brand-new mini-series in follow-up to this past year's Cinderella: From Fabletown With Love limited-run title. Both series star Cinderella as a female James Bond-type spy, jetting around the world in a plotline focusing on spy thriller details as she works to address threats to the general Fabletown community and cast of characters. The series is scripted by Chris Roberson with art by Shawn McManus and colors by Lee Loughridge.

The "Fables Are Forever" title is an inference to the James Bond "Diamonds Are Forever" title, which makes sense as the series concept is in the vein of a Bond spy thriller. The issue #1 plot interweaves two storythreads, a flashback and a present-day scenario. In the flashback, Cinderella recounts discovering on a mission to Russia a few years back that an entire Eastern European society of Fables characters exists whom the New York-based Fables weren't aware of. She tangles with an unidentified female spy code-named "Silver Slipper," barely surviving the encounter. In the present-day, a series of murders is occurring at the Fabletown farm, with the evidence pointing to the return of Silver Slipper. Folks from Cinderella's Russian mission begin popping-up in the present, both as potential victims and suspects. The issue ends in a very dramatic bridge to next month's story segment, as the identity of Silver Slipper is revealed.

This kick-off issue of the limited-run series is a worthy and entertaining follow-up to last year's Cinderella: From Fabletown With Love series. At first, I was missing the Fabletown setting, as most of the story takes Cinderella through both the "Mundy" ordinary New York world as well as across the globe. But on second thought, that's necessary to progress the plot action for a jet-setting James Bond-type spy character. By issue's end, more Fables characters, both good and bad guys, are becoming active in the plot, and I'm sure much of the upcoming issues will revisit the upstate New York Fables farm where the unsolved murders will keep occuring.

A positive review comment is also due to the creative team's skills. Writer Chris Roberson gives us his usual humorous dialogue well-balanced with spy thriller twists, turns and tension, while the art team gives us a sexy and interesting femme fatale spy in Cinderella. And the identity of Sliver Slipper is just great fun and totally unexpected (here's a hint: we ain't in Kansas, anymore!).

So a definite thumbs-up recommendation to read this new series, which is sure to be a lot of fun for fans of the Fabletown comics universe, spy thriller fiction and all-around fun comic book reading, alike.

Superman 80-Page Giant 2011 (One-Shot)
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Various Writers & Artists
DC Comics has just published a one-shot, over-sized 80-Page "Superman Giant 2011" comic book. The issue includes 7 stories by various teams of writers and artists. Similar to a few other giant Superman-themed comics that I've read and/or reviewed in the past year, the comic is structured more as a tribute to Superman rather than starring The Man Of Steel. Each story stars a member of the extended Superman Family, with our hero either playing a supporting or bit role.

Three of the seven stories really stood-out to me as high quality entertainment. The lead tale is entitled "First Time For Everything" and stars Superman's father Jor-El in an action tale set back on Krypton before the planetary explosion. Unlike most Jor-El tales over the years, its a real shoot-em-up thriller, mixing-in a science sub-lot that leads us to a moving and emotional story conclusion. Story number two is entitled "Old Men Talking In Bars." The plot co-stars Daily Planet Editor Perry White and superhero Wildcat, who meet-up one night in a small Metropolis bar, swapping ancedotes and philosophies with humor. "Quarter-Life Crisis" is an intriguing tale starring Jimmy Olson. 100 clones of Jimmy have been accidentally created and loosed upon the city, Jimmy pursues them around the city, as each experiences one day of life before expiring.

Of the four additional stories in the issue, three are still solid and entertaining, just not as outstanding as the three tales reviewed above. My only complaint is one story featuring the Bizarro Superman on his Bizarro planet. Its just too convuluted to follow, with all of the Bizarro double and triple-speak, even for a Bizarro story. As a concluding review comment, I really like the approach of DC in the last few Giant Superman issues, of presenting stories starring Superman's friends and family. The approach both provides fun reading and serves as a nice tribute to how our hero influences these people in their daily lives in a good way. So add this issue to that ever-growing pile of new Superman issues to read!

Onslaught Unleashed #1
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Sean McKeever: Writer
Filipe Andrade: Art
Ricardo Tercio: Colors
Marvel Comics has just published issue #1 in a planned four-issue mini-series entitled "Onslaught Unleashed." The series co-stars two teams of Marvel heroes, the Secret Avengers led by Captain America/Steve Rodgers and the Young Allies, consisting of young heroes Nomad, Spider-Girl, Toro, Gravity and Firestar. The comic book is scripted by Sean McKeever with art by Filipe Andrade and colors by Ricardo Tercio.

The title refers to the central focus of the plot, the return to the Marvel universe of Onslaught, who according to a back-of-the-comic-book narrative is a Marvel universe villain who evolved by combining elements of the X-Men's Dr. Xavier and bad guy mutant Magneto's personalities. The return of this villain doesn't occur until the last page of issue #1. The bulk of the issue is a storyline in which both teams of heroes are lured into a trap set by Onslaught. A series of disturbing dream messages received by Nomad are followed by Toro's kidnapping, with clues leading the two teams to Colombia. Naturally, Onslaught is behind the action and springs his trap on the heroes. In a surprising twist, his return actually consists of possessing the body of one of the good guys, whose identity I won't reveal in this review.

This is a solid, middle-of-the-road decent comic book; nothing really great here, but a good, entertaining read. As a non-regular reader of these characters, I was confused a bit by both the interactions among the Young Allies members as well as the concept of Onslaught and his return. The uninformed reader like me would have been better served if the Onslaught bio was located at the start of the comic instead of at the end of the book. So I'd suggest that the remaining issues have a brief narrative update at the beginning of each story segment. Otherwise, this comic deserves a thumbs-up positive review for being both an interesting and a well-constructed storyline.

Contest Winner Announcement!!!

Our latest contest challenged you to pitch to us your favorite newspaper comic strip or strips, and tell us why you're such a fan of your selection. And our contest winner is (drumroll, please),,,Kevine Browne, who lists Peanuts, The Far Side, Fox Trot and Dilbert among his favorites, but nominates Calvin & Hobbes as his all-time favorite. Kevin describes Calvin & Hobbes as "sometimes poignant, often-times nostalgia-provoking, and ALWAYS fun and enterianing. The sheer wonder and enthusiasm that (creator) Bill Watterson poured into each and every one of his strips still entertains and inspires me to this day."

A very articulate and heart-felt submittal from Kevin for a truly worthy comic strip. Paperback compilations of Calvin & Hobbes are available at That's Entertainment. Congrats to Kevin who wins our $10.00 first prize gift certificate to That's Entertainment.

New Contest Announcement!!!

This past week, we finally reached that wonderful time at the end of the winter when pitchers and catchers report to Red Sox spring training camp in Fort Myers, Florida! In honor of this sacred event, the Bongo Congo panel of contest judges bring you a new baseball trivia contest challenge, one that combines the themes of baseball and our still-freezing winter weather!

Your challenge this week is to e-mail us at Gordon_A@msn.com with the correct answer to the following: Name at least one of the two former Red Sox star pitchers who at one point in their minor league careers pitched for the Pan-Alaska Goldpanners, a collegiate summer baseball team in the Alaska Baseball League. In the event of multiple correct answers, the winner of our $10.00 prize gift certificate to That's Entertainment will be selected via a roll of the dice from among the correct entries.

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

 
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