Review Date: Friday, April 8, 2011

Here are three new comic book reviews for this week, along with the current contest winner announcement and a new contest announcement:

Here In Bongo Congo

Good King Leonardo has been informed that Godzilla is here, running amok in Worcester and stepping on our favorite pop culture emporium, so let's review the return of our favorite creature-feature, along with two DC comics titles for this week:

Godzilla: Kingdom Of Monsters #1
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Eric Powell & Tracy Marsh: Writers
Phil Hester: Pencils
Bruce McCorkindale: Inks
Ronda Pattison: Colors
IDW Publishing is publishing the latest return of that icon of Japanese and international pop culture, Godzilla! "Godzilla: Kingdom Of Monsters" #1 is on the new issues shelves this week, with a second comic entitled "Godzilla: Gangsters & Goliaths" due for release in the near future. Issue #1 is written by Eric Powell & Tracy Marsh with pencils by Phil Hester, inks by Bruce McCorkindale and colors by Ronda Pattison.

Issue #1 provides the latest interpretation of the arrival of the giant lizard sea creature in Japan. After coming ashore near two children playing on a beach, the monster runs amok, destroying a village and killing hundreds of people in the process. The big boy begins rampaging in the direction of Tokyo, leading to a nuclear attack which only results in somehow adding a firebreathing ability to the lizard. By issue #1's end, the big guy seems unstoppable in his lumbering toward the big city, resulting in the Japanese Prime Minister informing President Obama of the growing crisis.

This is a very light and insubstantial comic, progressing the introductory issue's storyline very quickly and with a limited amount of dialogue-I can't remember the last time that I read through a comic book so quickly. On the other hand, the whole idea of Godzilla is so pop culture goofy and fun, that an in-depth, plot-driven approach to the lizard king isn't really required in order to have an enjoyable time reading about the well-known monster in a comic book format. As such, this hors d'oeuvre of a storyline works well enough to be fun and entertaining, if you're in the mood for reading a kitschy monster mag of a comic book. The art is also appropriately cartoony to match the simplicity of the storyline. I do think that for this comic book to last for awhile, the creative team will have to add some depth to the sketchy human characters and the seeming brainlessness of the rampaging Godzilla. But for now in issue #1, it's all good enough to have some retro fun. So a positive recommendation for you to run screaming "Godzilla! Godzilla" down to That's Entertainment for the latest comic book version of our creature-feature friend.

On a quick final review note, a hats-off is due to IDW Publishing for the neat marketing gimmick of allowing comic shops nation-wide to stock special issues featuring a front cover of the big guy stepping-on and crushing your favorite local comic emporium. So enjoy the issues available at That's Entertainment accurately depicting Godzilla squishing our favorite Park Avenue pop culture emporium. Yikes!

Justice League Of America/The 99 #1
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Stuart Moore & Fabian Nicieza: Writers
Tom Derenick & Drew Geraci: Art
Allen Passalaqua: Colors
DC Comics has just published issue #6 in a six-issue mini-series teaming-up the Justice League Of America with The 99. As the entire series is available at That's Entertainment, I thought it would be more useful to review issue #1 to see if its thumbs-up worthy to read the series. For the uninitiated, including myself, The 99 is a team of teenaged superheroes based on Islamic culture created in 2006 by former Marvel and DC Comics veterans for Teshkeel Comics. The 99 members of the group each possess a magical Noor stone which embodies them with super or magical-powered abilities. The mini-series is written by Stuart Moore and Fabian Nicieza, with art by Tom Derenick and Drew Geraci, and colors by Allen Passalaqua.

The issue #1 story segment is entitled "The City Of Tomorrow," and focuses on three sub-plots. In the first, the grand opening of a city of peace is being inaugurated in the Middle East desert, populated by people of all races and nations from around the globe. While Superman and Wonder Woman attend the grand opening, a mysterious epidemic of violence breaks-out among the city inhabitants. Secondly, in St. Louis, a member of The 99 is attacked by costumed bad guys, resulting in the good guy losing control of his power. And third, at a South American dig, mysterious circumstances originating from possible Noor stone activity are investigated by Hawkman. By issue's end, all three plotthreads are being addressed by combinations of various JLA and The 99 team members.

This is an interesting comic read with an old-school, 1980's feel to the art, dialogue and storyline, most likely due to the fact that the series is the creation of some older comic industry veterans. The mixing of the three plotthreads is well-balanced, with the story situations DC universe-credible and well-presented. The issue could have been a smoother read had the creative team provided a page one narrative regarding the background of The 99, a superhero team for which I (along with many readers) wasn''t at all familiar with and as such had to research for my own understanding. But with a little understanding of the group, the cross-over mini-series works.

In sum, this isn't a cutting-edge or big event comic, but a decent, average read in an old-school style. So a positive review is warranted for this interesting mini-series offering us a fresh pairing-up of the well-known, iconic Justice League Of America with the newcomer superhero team of The 99.

Starman/Congorilla #1
Publisher: D.C. Comics
James Robinson: Writer
Brett Booth: Pencils
Norm Rapmund: Inks
Andrew Dalhouse: Colors

DC Comics has published the kick-off issue #1 of a new title featuring the team-up of Starman and Congorilla. I last reviewed the pair as part of the wider team of DC superheroes featured a few years ago in the Cry For Justice mini-series. This new comic book title is written by James Robinson with pencils by Brett Booth, inks by Norm Rapmund and colors by Andrew Dalhouse.

The premier story segment is entitled "Now & Then," and alternates the plot between the present moment and the previous five hour lead-up to now. In the backstory sequences, a mysterious impenetrable energy dome has surrounded Washington, D.C. Before our heroes can join the widespread superhero effort to disperse the dome, they need to trackdown for various reasons the missing Malavar, a superintelligent gorilla buddy of Congorilla. Clues along the missing gorilla's trail lead Starman and Congorilla to enlist Animal Man and Rex, The Wonder Dog in their effort. Our present-day plotline leads the foursome into Florida swamp country, where they find the missing super ape under attack by bad supergorillas from Gorilla City. Without being a detail spoiler, the day is saved by a surprise superhero whom Malavar was secretly assisting. Everyone gets through the battle safe and sound, setting-up the story to focus on the Washington, DC superdome dilemma as continued soon in Justice League Of America issue #53.

Having given a thumbs-down review to the previous Cry For Justice mini-series, I wasn't sure what to expect from this continuation of the adventures of two of that series featured heroes. I'm pleased to report that I enjoyed this comic title much more than its predecessor, for a few reasons. First, it didn't contain the over-the-top element of blood and gore featured in the Cry For Justice issue that I reviewed. Secondly, while the plot details are average at best, you just have to give a gold star for effort to any comic book that brings back the rarely-seen Rex, The Wonder Dog. Our boy Rex apparently lives these days with Animal Man and his wife; the scenes here in issue #1 where Rex and Animal Man communicate via woofs and sighs are worth the price of the comic alone. And third, while the plot is a bit overly dense and complicated at times regarding Congorilla's musings regarding his missing friend, its still an interesting premise and worth the challenge of following the detailed dialogue, as a worthwhile counterbalance to so many of the overly simplistic plotlines featured in some new issue comics these days.

So whether you're a fan of a talking gorilla, a woofing wonder dog or just some of the benchwarming, secondary feature players within the DC superhero universe, this is a decent-enough new comic title to take a reading chance on and see where the first few issues take us for action and adventure.

Contest Winner Announcement!!!

Our latest contest challenge was for you to tell us why the small village of Plato, Missouri has been in the national news of late. And our contest winner is (drumroll, please)...David McBarron, who correctly answered that it was announced last week that the latest U.S. Census counts show that Plato is the new exact geographic center of the U.S. population, as the growth of the national population continues to move westward. Not too long ago, the exact center of our population distribution was located farther eastward in Illinois. Congratulations to David for winning our first prize $10.00 gift certificate to That's Entertainment!

New Contest Announcement!!!

As our beloved Boston Celtics are just a few days away from starting the NBA play-offs, the Bongo Congo panel of contest judges have decreed that we hold a Celtics trivia contest this week. So e-mail us at Gordon_A@msn.com with the correct answer to the following question: What record-breaking significance does the number 2609 hold regarding a current Celtics team player? Hint: if you do a little research, you'll see that the number increases with just about every Celtics game. As always, in the event of multiple correct entries, our winner will be chosen via a roll of the dice.

That's all for now-we're taking next week off from reviewing comics due to a work commitment with our day job, so have two great springtime comic book-reading weeks and we''ll see you again on Friday, April 22 Here In Bongo Congo!


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