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Review Date: Wednesday, March 23, 2011

We're back from a one-week hiatus, with Good King Leonardo having decreed that its once again time for another DC Comics review week. So let's see how the following three new DC comics issues stack-up against each other:

DC Universe Online Legends #3
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Marv Wolfman: Writer
Mike S. Miller, Adriana Melo & Norman Lee: Art
Carrie Strachan: Colors
DC Comics is up to issue #3 of its DC Universe Online Legends comic book. Obviously from the title, the comic is based upon the Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) game of the same name. The series is scripted by veteran writer Marv Wolfman with art by the trio of Mike S. Miller, Adriana Melo and Norman Lee, and colors by Carrie Strachan.

The multi-issue storyline is entitled "Betrayal," and is structured as back-to-back sub-plots. The first sub-plot covers the first half of the issue and is set in a future Metropolis in an unknown year. We're thrown into the middle of a DC Universe catastrophe, in which bad guys Lex Luthor and alien Braniac have succeeded after all of these years in killing Superman. Per the betrayal theme of this title, Braniac has turned on Luthor and is in the process of destroying humanity. In the issue #3 installment, Luthor convinces the few surviving superheroes led by Power Girl that he never meant for Brainiac to turn on mankind, and as such they must ally with him to save humanity. Our second sub-plot is set in both present-day Metropolis as well as in the orbiting Justice League space station headquarters, and consists of the Justice Leaguers arguing over the best strategy to employ against Brainiac at the very beginning of this conflict.

Having never seen the online game version of this series, I can't review this issue in comparison to the video experience. But as a stand-alone comic book, this issue is a pretty decent comic read. There's no clunky video adaptation feel to the plot, which is often a flawed result of such video game-to-comic book adaptation efforts. The story concept is intriguing, with veteran writer Marv Wolfman layering the plot with a complex take on the issue of Betrayal. While the main betrayal in the plot is Braniac turning on Luthor, there's also an unexplained secondary betrayal in progress, as its clear that Luthor is pulling-off a mysterious betrayal of his own against the heroes with his offer of an alliance to save mankind. In addition, the present-day versus future alternate sub-plots are very effective in creating a sense of mystery as to where all of this story action and complexity is ultimately heading.

So if you're a fan of the online game version of this title or just a fan of good DC superhero storytelling, here's an enthusiastic thumbs-up recommendation to check-out the interesting and entertaining issue #3 of this series. You can also catch-up on issues #1 and #2 on the new issues comic book shelves at That's Entertainment.

Legion Of Super-Villains #1 (One-Shot)
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Paul Levitz: Writer
Francis Portela: Art
Javier Mena: Colors
DC Comics also has a one-shot Legion of Super-Villains comic book currently on the new issues shelves. The title is written by veteran writer Paul Levitz with art by Francis Portela and colors by Javier Mena.

This over-sized special issue is entitled "When Evil Calls" and is set in the well-known future DC universe of the Legion Of Super-Heroes comics. The plot centers on the efforts of villain Saturn Queen to build an alliance of intergalactic super-villains with the goal of toppling civilization in order, in her words, to let chaos reign. Starting with an elaborate large-scale prison breakout, Saturn Girl moves her effort forward step-by-step. Without being a detail spoiler, midway through the tale, a mysterious advisor mentors Saturn Queen into a new strategy, finding and destroying three hidden planets of superbeings who keep evil in check while promoting universal goodness. By issue's end, Saturn Queen and her minions are hip-deep in carrying-out this effort, with the story to be continued in the upcoming issue #11 of The Legion Of Super-Heroes regular monthly title.

While this issue has several positive elements, first and foremost is the effectiveness of the high quality art. The art team's graphic style and rendering skill is exceptional, on a par with A-list artist Amanda Connor in conveying effective facial expressions and emotions ranging from good to bad. Most impressive is the rendering of wacked-out supervillain Saturn Queen, as she flickers back-and-forth from emoting brilliant leadership of her growing ragtag villain army to plain outright uncontrolled violence and lunacy. Veteran Paul Levitz's story is entertaining and fresh, literally giving us a flip-side, almost bizarro alternate reality of the Legion's future world, where in this case the Legion team structure is welded to the villainy side of the future.

While this issue's a lot of fun to read, it also hooks the reader into wanting to find-out where this runaway train of future villainy is heading in issue #11 of The Legion Of Super-Heroes. So get on-board the storyline with this one-shot issue and stay onboard for the upcoming continued story in future issues of The Legion's own comic book title.

Doom Patrol #20
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Keith Giffen: Writer
Matthew Clark & Ron Randall: Pencils
Art Thibert & John Livesay: Inks
Our third DC Comics review for this week is the current issue #20 of Doom Patrol. This current title run is the fifth and latest DC version of this iconic Silver Age superhero team, consisting of an assembled group of misfit superheroes who had a dedicated cult fan following back in the 1960's. Toward the end of the 1960's title run, DC killed off the team, a unique decision in that era that generated a lot of fan interest. The latest series is written by veteran writer Keith Giffen with pencils by Matthew Clark and Ron Randall, and inks by Art Thibert and John Livesay.

The issue #20 story segment is entitled "With Friends Like These..." The plot sets the Doom Patrol on a mission to find a new secure location in the world. Apparently, the group of mishap heroes has been expelled from their previous base on remote Oolong Island by an international corporation. Finding temporary secure refuge in Vegas, the members split-up and ask various well-known DC hero teams if they can crash in their digs. Each group has its own unique stuttering excuse for not letting the Doom Patrol double-up with them in their respective homes. By issue's end, the Patrol's number one evil nemesis drops by Vegas and convinces the group that they should team-up and take back good old Oolong Island from the corporate take-over.

If this plot sounds somewhat dry and dusty, that's because it is. There's not much happening here in the way of a traditional adventure superhero plot. This is one of those transitional story segments in a multi-issue storyline, in which the characters take a breather and brainstorm for an issue on where the plot should go next. On a positive note, it is really interesting and at times very funny to see the Doom Patrol go begging around the DC universe for a place to stay, like a group of college students kicked-out of an apartment. Without being a spoiler, their rebuff from Batman when they consider moving to Gotham is my favorite get-out-of-my-town moment in this story.

So I'm giving this issue a borderline average thumbs-up positive review recommendation. Its a little dull, fairly funny but best enjoyed if you commit to reading it not as a stand-alone issue, but in conjunction with the previous few monthly issues and stick with this plotline as it unfolds in the next few new issues.

Contest Winner Announcement!!!

We had several interesting entries to our current contest, which challenged you to pitch to us a worthy comic book title for us to review in a future edition of this column. My fellow reviewer Dave LeBlanc suggested reviewing a comic book entitled "PS 238," a comic about gifted kids in a clandestine school secretly located a mile below a real public school. Dave McBaron pitched reviewing Ultimate Spider-man, saying its focus on Peter Parker as a teenager effectively revisits the original concept of Spidey, as opposed to other titles in which Parker is now older.

And our contest winner is (drumroll, please)...Mike Dooley, who writes that he'd love to read a review of the new comic "Axe Cop." This comic's getting a lot of industry and fanboy/fangirl buzz. Mike writes that for him, there's never a middle ground for such a bizarre premise, he'll either love it or hate it. As such, he'd like to read a review in order to hear another opinion before he gives it a try. Sounds like a plan, Mike, so in addition to your first prize $10.00 gift certificate to That's Entertainment, we'll schedule a review of Axe Cop as soon as possible. Plus, we'll be taking a review look at some of our other worthy contest entry suggestions.

New Contest Announcement!!!

For a change of pace, this week the Bongo Congo panel of contest judges bring you an off-beat Worcester local trivia question. As all good Worcesterphiles know, the Table Talk Pie Company located at Kelley Square is world-renowed for its decades of producing wonderful pies for all. Your challenge this week is to e-mail us at Gordon_A@msn.com with the answer to the following question: How many pies does Table Talk produce on a weekly basis? If you don't know the answer and want to guess, guess high, because to us at least, its a surprisingly very high number. As always, if we receive more than one correct answer (or answer closest to the correct number of weekly Table Talk pies), the winner of the $10.00 gift certificate to That's Entertainment will be selected via a roll of the dice.

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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