Review Date: Friday, March 25, 2011

Good King Leonardo has decreed that we review this week two comic book titles that were suggested by our readers in last week's contest, along with a new Marvel Comics title:

Axe Cop #1
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Malachai Nicolle: Writer
Ethan Nicolle: Pencils and Inks
Dirk Erik Schulz: Colors
Dark Horse Comics has just published issue #1 of a planned three-issue mini-series entitled Axe Cop. The title was suggested for review by last week's contest winner Mike Dooley, who told us that with all of the marketing buzz around this title, he'd like to know from a review whether he would love it or hate it. The much talked-about gimmick here is that 30-year-old artist Ethan Nicolle teamed-up with his six-year-old little brother Malachai Nicolle and has created a comic based on the supposed writings of Malachai, based on a story the two weaved together in playtime. Colors in the comic are provided by artist Dirk Erik Schulz.

The story in issue #1 is part one of a multi-issue tale entitled "Bad Guy Earth." Our heroes are Axe Cop, a guy who's not a regular cop but someone who graduated from "Axe Cop School" and his talking Dinosaur Soldier friend. They drive around in an Axe Cop car, wielding an axe in hand as they have their adventures. The story begins with a "Bad Guy" big planet appearing next to Earth. As our two heroes try to deal with the "Bad Guy Planet," they encounter various foes, including regular cops who oppose them, supervillains and Earth-bound and outer space effects. By issue's end, two bad guys are on the verge of transforming a "good guy army" into a "bad guy army" to cause more trouble.

The problem with this concept is that we have a story written for a six-year-old for six-year olds. Reading this comic is like sitting in a first grade class during show-and-tell listening to any bright six-year-old present his child-level, nonlinear story musings. Its really cute for what it's worth, but its a very herky-jerky story presented in the very random, kindergarten conceptual level of a very young kid. As such, its just gimmicky to present this in the real comic book publishing world as anything to be considered for a readership beyond very young children. Frankly, for me it became excruciating to have to read more than a few pages of this comic with the story details jumping all over the place as fast as our young author's limited attention span must have shifted as he thought-out this "story" playing in a sandbox somewhere.

So I'm giving this comic a hybrid of a review recommendation. This is a very creative and high quality comic concept for a little kid audience, as supposedly written by a little kid, and on that level I give it a positive thumbs-up recommendation. For any young reader over the age of about ten, I think they'd find the structure of this tale a bit too oddly scattered and kind of babyish. And any adult who truly reads this title for the sheer entertainment of it as opposed to reading it out loud to their own very young children needs therapy. So Mike Dooley, in answer to your contest submittal question, as a fellow adult fanboy, my advice is to skip this title, unless as I said earlier, you want to read it out loud to some very young kids for their entertainment.

PS 238 #49
Publisher: Do Gooder Press
Aaron Williams: Writer and Artist
In comment to last week's contest, my fellow reviewer Dave LeBlanc suggested that we give a review to PS 238. The title is published by Do Gooder Press, with both scripting and art by Aaron Williams. The concept here is that PS 238 is a secret school for metaprodigy children, located three miles below the surface under the normal Excelsior School. Most of the teachers are superheroes themselves, with the kids being a mix of all types of typical grade school personalities, only augmented by superpower abilities or super intellect. There's apparently also one token "normal" kid thrown-into the mix.

An inside-the-cover narrative in issue #49 tells us of the story to-date. In one key sub-plot, somehow two of the schoolkids have gotten themselves transported to and stranded on an interstellar lightship 30,000 light years from Earth. Their rescue lies in the hands of one of their schoolmates who can communicate from the school with them. Another subplot focuses on the shenanigans of a few of the PS 238 kids as they meddle with life in an alternate reality version of Omaha, Nebraska, while another storyline focuses on rivalry issues between two of the more supergenius kids at the school.

While there have been many comic book industry takes on the "school for gifted kids" story concept (see X-men, obviously), creator Aaron Williams manages to avoid retreading along the route of those previous titles with his fresh and original take on the theme. I liked very much the varied and credible personalities that he's developed for these kids, managing to nicely blend real-world elementary school kids with the concept of endowing them with super abilities. The science fiction concepts are presented in a very entertaining manner, with the various storythreads all moving forward nicely throughout the issue.

My only concern is that by this current issue #49, this story universe includes so many characters that the reader needs to consult the many character biographies in the back of the issue to gain some background understanding of some portions of the story dialogue. But with that bio information available, it all works. So a positive thumbs-up recommendation for this title and a shout-out thanks to Dave LeBlanc for the review recommendation.

Secret Warriors #25
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Jonathan Hickman: Writer
Allessandro Vitti: Art
Marvel Comics is up to issue #25 of its Secret Warriors title. The series is a new interpretation of Nick Fury. A page one narrative tells us that in this title, Fury has left his position as head of the world peacekeeping organization SHIELD in favor of leading a team of Secret Warriors, organized into three teams that include many undiscovered young superhumans as well as Fury's son, Mikel. To date, the group has been decimated in battles with traditional SHIELD foe HYDRA as well as a few other groups. These losses include the death of Fury's son. The series is scripted by Jonathan Hickman with art by Allessandro Vitti.

Entitled "Wheels Within Wheels," the issue #25 story segment mostly consists of a detailed backstory set in 1961, which details the creation of a secret group called The Great Wheel, consisting of Fury and the heads of all of the world's major spy organizations. The group is assembled by Aries, a mysterious bearded figure with an undisclosed personal agenda for this secret society. Flash forward to the present, as the group conducts three separate espionage missions, taking-on brutal casualties but securing alien technology that can transform humans into superbeings. The issue climaxes in a cliffhanger, as the Russian member betrays the group and steals the technology for his own purposes. Fury is left wounded and captured by a key enemy for more trouble in next month's issue.

This is a very entertaining and fresh new take on the traditional comic book universe of Nick Fury. Writer Jonathan Hickman is acclaimed for his ongoing hard science fiction interpretation of Fantastic Four and brings the same story flavor and approach to this title. There's that familiar Hickman mix of grand alien/science fiction events unfolding beyond the scope and understanding of we mere mortals, blended with Nick Fury-style action adventure and story progression. The secret espionage society details were interesting and impressive, combined with Hickman's writing approach and some great artwork.

So a positive review recommendation and hats-off to Marvel for giving us a very original addition to the Nick Fury comic book universe, one that makes me want to read future issues of this series as well as backtrack through the previous 24 issues of this title, available either on the new issues shelves or back issues bins at That's Entertainment.

Ongoing Contest Reminder!!!

As last week's That's E newsletter has been delayed, we're keeping our ongoing contest open until next Wednesday, March 30 at noontime. So again, e-mail us at Gordon_A@msn.com with the answer to this Worcester trivia question: How many pies are baked weekly at that famous Worcester pie factory, Table Talk Pies? Our correct winner, or person who gets closest to the correct answer, will win the contest first prize $10.00 gift certificate to That's Entertainment. In the event of multiple correct entries, our winner will be selected via a roll of the dice.

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


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