Review Date: Friday, May 13, 2011

Good King Leonardo enjoyed so much last Saturday's free comic books distributed at That's Entertainment in honor of National Free Comic Book Day, that he's decreed that we review three of them for you this week. So let's see what these freebie gems are all about:

Atomic Robo
Free Comic Book Day Issue
Publisher: Red 5 Comics
Brian Clevinger: Writer
Scott Wegener: Art
Ronda Pattison: Colors
One of the most popular giveways nationwide last week was the special Free Comic Book Day issue of Atomic Robo. I've previously reviewed a few issues of the monthly title, which features the science and action adventures of the endearing man-child robot created back in the 1920's by scientist Nicola Tesla, real-life scientific rival of Thomas Edison. In five story arcs totaling 25 issues to-date, our atomic hero has been featured in five different historic periods between the 1920's and modern times, battling interdimensional vampires, H.G. Well-type monsters, the wacky and wonderful Doctor Dinosaur and of course, a bad-guy fictional version of Thomas Edison. The title is scripted by Brian Clevinger with art by Scott Wegener and colors by Ronda Pattison.

The story setting of the Free Comic Book Day issue is appropriately May 7, 2011, of course; as soon as Atomic Robo arrives as the celebrity judge at an elementary school science fair in Boston, highjinks ensue as that crazy Doctor Dinosaur arrives on the scene and attempts to steal a fourth grader's science fair project. Turns-out fourth grader Emma Armstrong is the descendent of one of Robo's genious buddies from one of the earlier historic story arcs and as such her project has major scientific merit. Without providing any spoiler details, Robo, Emma and pals battle with their nutbag dinosaur enemy over the project artifact with hilarious results. The story wraps-up with a one-page conclusion set ten years in the future on August 12, 2021.

I doubt if there's a humorous comic book that sells-out quicker each month in comic book shops nation-wide than Atomic Robo, and with good reason. The mixture of charming humor and personality in Robo, combined with the historical period story arc elements of the ongoing, multi-decade Tesla-Edison conflict, make this one of the most entertaining comic books available in today's comic publishing industry. The Free Comic Book Day issue smartly follows in the footsteps of a similar freebie from a few years ago, also featuring the immensely nutty and funny Doctor Dinosaur. So a very enthusiastic thumbs-up recommendation to check-out this freebie if still available and also read the monthly issues of this title, available both on the new issues shelves and in the back issue bins at That's Entertainment.

As a final review note, the Atomic Robo free issue also features two brief stories introducing a pair of new Red 5 Comics titles, an 1840's gold rush adventure series entitled "Foster Broussard" and a 1950's pulp title set in New York City entitled "Moon Girl". While Foster Broussard looks interesting, Moon Girl is an amazing art deco pulp adventure knock-out. We'll review an issue of each of these new titles as soon as possible in upcoming editions of Here In Bongo Congo.

Super Dinosaur: Origin Special #1
Publisher: Image Comics
Robert Kirkman: Writer
Jason Howard: Art and Colors
Image Comics has launched via a Free Comic Book Day origin issue a new monthly comic book entitled "Super Dinosaur." The new title is written by Robert Kirkman with art and colors by Jason Howard.

Most of the issue #1 plot is a flashback tale, in which 11-year-old Derek Dynamo summarizes to two young friends how his scientist father, along with his Dad's partner Max Maximus, discovered a secret dinosaur world at the Earth's core. The pair bring back a Tyrannosaurus Rex egg, genetically altering the eventual hatchling to be a boy-sized, fully intelligent T-Rex named (of course!) Super Dinosaur. There are two detailed sub-plots throughout the flashback. In the first, the two scientists have a falling-out, with lots of battle action between the good Dynamo family/Super Dinosaur versus the bad guy Maximus and his band of villainous dinosaurs. The second plotline details the invention and upgrading of a complex set of robot arms and weaponry that Super Dinosaur wears and manipulates with his tiny dino arms in order to function like a regular person.

This is an extremely cute and fresh take on the common "dinosaurs at the center of the Earth" story concept, which as all comic book fans know pops-up frequently in the comic publishing world. The many characters, both good and evil, are richly detailed and the story concept succeeds on both kid and adult-reader levels. The one oddity here is the unbelievably detailed backstory that's presented in this kick-off issue. The issue is structured as an origin summary, creating an immense, richly detailed story universe for all of these folks in one quick 14-page shot.

Normally, this level of back-story depth and multiple plot concepts, along with the very detailed character bios in the back of the book, unfold over the course of at least a year's worth of comic books in a title. The result is a nagging feeling that we've missed about a year's worth of Super Dinosaur stories and are just being briefed on this title with a special origin summary issue. For me, the effect was disorienting and I don't understand why the creative team didn't just take a deep breath and calmly let this story universe unfold on a monthly basis, versus plopping it all down on our reading plate in one huge glob of detail. But I doubt that this is an issue for kids, who are most likely the main audience for this very entertaining new title. So an overall positive thumbs-up recommendation for kids and adults alike to have some reading fun with Super Dinosaur!

Captain America and Thor, The Mighty Fighting Avengers
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Roger Langridge: Writer
Chris Samnee: Art
Matthew Wilson: Colors
Marvel Comics has contributed to this year's Free Comic Book Day with a free new issue of the recently completed, eight-issue Thor, The Mighty Avenger mini-series. For the uninitiated, this was an acclaimed mini-series providing a unique perspective of Thor as a young, innocent hero living in Middle America. Both the series and this free issue are the creation of writer Rodger Landgridge and artist Chris Samnee, with colors provided by Matthew Wilson.

Our free story is entitled "Once And Future Avengers!" and is a fresh prequel interpretation of the first meeting between Thor and Captain America. In this version, the World War II Cap and the present-day Thor each touch a magic cup in their respective eras, which transports both to Arthurian Camelot. Without being a plot spoiler, the pair team-up to have a Camelot adventure that involves King Arthur, Merlin and of course, Thor's mischevious half-brother Loki. Our free issue tale concludes with both heroes returning to their respective eras wondering if they'll ever meet again.

This freebie giveaway is an unexpected treat for the many fans of the recently-concluded Thor, The Mighty Avenger limited-issue series, for at least three reasons. First and foremost is the return of the charming and unique personality that writer Landgridge applies to Thor, which he also extends to Captain America in this series. Secondly, the dialogue provides a perfect element of droll humor for the characters; its especially fun to read this version of Loki, who speaks more like an I-phone equipped mall shopper than the classic prince of all badness. And third, we're treated once again to the art team's unique and beautiful graphic style. I paerticularly loved the retro deign applied to Captain America's costume, adding yet another nice version to the many Cap uniforms presented over the years.

If you're already a fan of the Thor, The Mighty Avenger series, then by all means add this issue to your reading pile. And if you're a newcomer to the series, then I'd suggest moving-on from this free issue to read either the original mini-series issues or purchase the graphic novel reprint of the series, both available at That's Entertainment.

Ongoing Contest Reminder!!!

As of this writing date, we haven't received any entries to our ongoing contest, which challenges you to e-mail us at Gordon_A@msn.com and tell us what are your three favorite comic books from among this year's Free Comic Book Day giveaways and why you like your selections so much. There's a $10.00 first prize gift certificate to That's Entertainment just waiting for a winner, so e-mail us your contest submission no later than noontime on Wednesday, May 18!

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


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