Review Date: Friday, March 4, 2011

It's Bizarro World Week here in Bongo Congo, with Good King Leonardo having decreed that we review three comic books that seem extremely oddball or weird from the looks of their front covers. But you know the old saying, "you can't judge a book by it's cover," so let's get inside these comics and see how the stories stand-up against each other:

Archie #617
Publisher: Archie Comic Publications, Inc.
Alex Simmons: Writer
Dan Parent: Pencils
Rich Koslowski: Inks
The winner of the most bizarre comic book front cover for this week is Archie #617, which features Archie posing with his arms around President Barack Obama and ex-Governor Sarah Palin while proclaiming "Everybody Gets Along In Riverdale!" The issue is scripted by Alex Simmons with pencils by Dan Parent and inks by Rich Koslowski.

The story itself is part two of a two-issue story arc entitled "Campaign Pains." A page one re-cap of last month's story segment explains that while campaigning against each other for Riverdale High class president, Archie and his buddy Reggie have their pictures taken with Obama and Palin respectively, then use the photos in their campaigns without getting either politician's permission. The effort spins out of control in issue #617, as both peeved professionals show-up in Riverdale to find-out who's behind faking their endorsements. There's a lot of panic and highjinks throughout the tale as Archie and pals spend most of the story avoiding Obama and Palin. By issue's end, the visitors team-up to finally trap our friends, who confess and apologize, with Principal Weatherbee meting-out appropriate punishment for all involved.

Wacky front cover aside, as with previous issues of Archie Comics that I've reviewed, this is a pretty solid and decent story within the standards of the Archie comic universe. Writer Alex Simmons strikes a very credible balance between standard Archie comical highjinks and presenting the two real-world politicians within the reality of Archie Comics. There are some excellent one-liners from both Obama and Palin that aren't cheesey and actually deliver a combination of comic book humor and observation on our real-world national politics. Good Archie Comics scripts often include a life lesson for the reader and this one is no exception. The issue of Archie and Reggie promoting the fake endorsements is addressed head-on in the second part of the story, as each is confronted by their respective politician. Again, to the writer's credit, politics is put aside as both Obama and Palin provide the mature mentoring here that lead both kids to a better understanding of being responsible for one's own actions.

So while the nutty front cover led us to review this issue, the inside story happily provides some very high quality entertainment, giving the reader a fun Archie tale blended with some interesting real world political relevancy. Whether you're a fan of Archie or either of these story guest stars, here's a definite thumbs-up positive recommendation to add this issue to your new issues reading pile.

Mark Zuckerberg: Creator Of Facebook (One-Shot)
Publisher: Bluewater Comics
Jerome Maida: Writer
Sal Field: Pencils
Kamui Oscuro: Colors
Bluewater Comics has a one-shot biographical comic book on the new issue shelves featuring Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg. The issue is scripted by Jerome Maida with pencils by Sal Field and colors by Kamui Oscuro. The issue makes our "bizarro" review column based on its kinda creepy-looking cover art of the Facebook founder, combined with a back cover that has a bizarro ad for an upcoming Justin Bieber "graphic novel."

This is an oversized comic that chronicles Zuckerberg's progress is creating Facebook. The story starts at the beginning of his Harvard experience as the kernal of the Facebook idea forms. Step-by-step, we follow the experience as Zuckerberg interacts and allies himself with friends who in one way or another get involved in the process. An intersecting storyline deals with the conflict side of the story, as Zuckerberg deals with various folks with try to take advantage of the financial potential of the social network, including high tech venture captial investors. The issue ends early in Zuckerberg's experience as he initially gets the social network to a significant national size and deals with some early conflicts and untrustworthy people.

I admit that I haven't seen yet the popular movie "The Social Network," which also portrays Zuckerberg's story, but I suspect from reviews and clips of the movie that I have seen that this comic book takes a different approach, focusing more on the gritty details of Zuckerberg's progress from start-up to intial bigtime success. I'm giving this comic book a bizzaro mixed review. The idea of a comic/graphic presentation of this well-known bio story is presented poorly here, and fails on traditional merits-the art is horrendous, practically at the level of crude stick figure doodling, the lettering is microscopic and the tale is visually presented in boring, talking head-style in just about every panel.

But on the bizarro flipside, if you can squint your way through or use a magnifying glass to read the dialogue, you'll find the narrative details of one of the most fascinating early 21st century high tech success stories. I would actually recommend ignoring the crude drawings in each panel and just read the engrossing dialogue of this at times dramatic rags-to-riches tale as written on each page of the issue. So while this comic book fails as graphic entertainment, for the purposes of our weird review theme this week it succeeds as a solid and entertaining journalistic article on the Mark Zuckerberg story.

Deadpool Team-Up #884
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Tom Peyer: Writer
Jacob Chabot: Art
John Rauch: Colors
Marvel Comics's "Deadpool Team-Up" comic book title is up to issue #884, with a suitably bizarro front cover proclaiming this issue's team-up between everyone's favorite costumed nutty assassin and guest-star The Watcher. The story is written by Tom Peyer with art by Jacob Chabot and colors by John Rauch.

The wacky plot begins with Deadpool trying to remember where he stashed his millions in payment from his last assassin job. Searching with advice from two voices he hears in his crazy head, Deadpool crosses paths with The Watcher; hijinks ensue as the pair get into trouble, with The Watcher constantly repeating the rules of his watching game, how he can't interfere or assist Deadpool is addressing the various tight spots they get into. Without being a detail spoiler, by issue's end, the poor Watcher has become so stressed-out from dealing with Deadpool that (you guessed it), he snaps and does interfere with direct action instead of passive watching, with hilarious results.

Unlike our two previous comic book reviews above, this story is as entertainingly bizarro as the issue's front cover. But that's not too surprising, given that the nature of this comedic costumed assassin is completely nutty to begin with. There are some great Mad Magazine-style riffs in this tale, including a nice satire on the many comic book titles that Deadpool currently stars in, as well as the introduction of "The Assistant Watcher," a college stoner-type flunky who The Watcher sticks with all of the really boring watching jobs (yeesh!).

So the bottom line here is another enthusiastic thumbs-up recommendation for this consistently bizarro comic book title that delivers its usual high level of fun and just-plain- nuttiness in this current issue. As a final review heads-up, the creative team continues its teaming-up of Deadpool with grand-scale characters with an announcement in the back of this issue that next month's team-up guest star is none other than Galactus, devourer of worlds, who chooses our idiot friend Deadpool as his new outer space-surfing herald!


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