Review Date: Friday, May 27, 2011

Good King Leonardo has decreed that we review this week the latest issues of two current D.C. and Marvel crossover event series, as well as another Marvel comic book. So let's see how these issues stack-up against each other:

Flashpoint #1
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Geoff Johns: Writer
Andy Kubert: Pencils
Sandra Hope: Inks
Alex Sinclair: Colors
DC Comics recently published issue #1 of its Flashpoint event series. The core of the Flashpoint event is a five-issue mini-series, with many more issues being published in a lengthy crossover list throughout the summer. The series stars The Flash/Barry Allen, in a story concept in which Allen is the only person who realizes that most of the basic concepts of the established DC universe have mysteriously altered. The five-issue mini-series is scripted by veteran writer Geoff Johns with pencils by Andy Kubert, inks by Sandra Hope and colors by Alex Sinclair.

Issue #1 of Flashpoint jumps right to the heart of this story concept. Barry Allen wakes-up from a nap in his crimelab and discovers that the entire DC universe has been radically altered. The story features two sub-plots. In the first storythread, this altered reality in the midst of a devastating world war, as Wonder Woman and Aquaman lead their respective kingdoms against mankind, already resulting in millions of deaths and threatened human extinction. The second storythread introduces the altered nature of DC's stable of superheroes, as a large group of heroes gather to try and convince a vicious vigilante version of Batman to lead them against Wonder Woman and Aquaman to save mankind. This premiere Flashpoint issue ends in a dramatic cliffhanger, as Barry Allen confronts Batman in his own effort to convince the Caped Crusader that reality has been horribly altered.

Issue #1 kicks this series off to a wonderfully entertaining start, in three respects. First, A-list veteran writer Geoff Johns is at the very top of his writing game here, excelling with both the general plot concept and the small narrative and story details. We're treated to a wide range of extremely entertaining alternate reality DC universe details, including both significant alterations of well-known DC superheroes and the introduction of some brand-new heroes and villains in this altered reality. Secondly, the concept of Barry Allen as the featured series star works very well; Johns portrays The Flash's new situation very credibly and mixes-in some personal changes to Barry's life that are emotionally moving. Third, and perhaps best of all is the cliffhanger reveal of the altered Batman's secret identity. I wouldn't dare spoil the surprise for readers beyond noting that its a very entertaining idea of featuring this particular person as donning the Caped Crusader costume, one that I'm surprised hasn't been featured before (as far as I know) somewhere in a Batman title.

So while it does look worthwhile at this point for committing to the many comic book issues that will be published within the full Flashpoint event, at the very least, I enthusiastically recommend that The Good DC Reader check-out the core five-issue Flashpoint mini-series.

Invincible Iron Man #504
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Matt Fraction: Writer
Salvador Larroca: Art
Frank D'Armata: Colors
Marvel's new "Fear Itself" event series continues with several new crossover title issues, including this past week's publication of Iron Man #504. As I mentioned a few weeks ago in my review of the Fear Itself Prologue issue, the storyline features the arrival on Earth of the God of Fear, a supervillain who has the power to use various superheroes fears against them. Thor and Captain America are featured the most in this series. This Iron Man issue in the series is written by Matt Fraction with art by Salvador Larroca and colors by Frank D'Armata.

The story segment is entitled "City Of Light, City Of Stone." An inside-the-front-cover narrative explains that the God of Fear has caused seven devastating weapons to rain down on Earth. This issue focuses on Iron Man's investigation of the weapon which has crashed into Paris, France. Upon his arrival he finds that the entire city population has been turned to stone, with a bizarre creature resembling The Grey Gargoyle having caused the problem. A battle between the pair ensues with the creature knocking Iron Man/Tony Stark unconscious. By issue's end, Iron Man awakens to find even more devastation occuring amidst piles of shattered former humans/statues.

While overall this issue gets a positive review recommendation, I had mixed feelings regarding some aspects of the story. On the plus side, the tale is very well-written and presented in excellent graphic style. I enjoyed both the main plot concept as well as a sub-plot that featured a continuation of the well-known emotional tension between Tony Stark and his attractive sidekick Pepper Potts. However, in balance to the good stuff are some very creepy scenes of thousands of former humans being shattered into granite pieces as our hero and the alien gargoyle creature battle throughout Paris. While the narrative acknowledges that even Iron Man is freaked over this destruction, it just lent a unusually intense and creepy pall to the tale.

But I can understand that this type of story element might require such heaviness to best present a tale of world-shattering events unfolding on a planet-wide scale. So as long as you're in the mood for a well-presented tale with some dark end-of-the-world elements to it, then by all means take this comic book out for a reading spin.

Heroes For Hire #7
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning: Writers
Tim Seeley: Art
Jay David Ramos: Colors
Marvel Comics has just published issue #7 in the "Heroes For Hire" title. The idea here is similar to DC's Oracle storyline. Instead of Barbara Gordon/The Oracle, we have bionic-arm detective Misty Knight running a mercenary superhero agency, in this case coordinating from her mission control center superheros Paladin and Spider-Man who are doing the dirty fieldwork. The current storyline is written by the team of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, with art by Tim Seeley and colors by Jay David Ramos.

Issue #7 is part 2 of a multi-issue story arc entitled "Neighborhood." The main storyline is Spider-Man action-oriented. Spidey gets caught by the bad guys while tracking through New York City a shipment of lethal narcotics that originated in the underwater realm of Atlantis. Parallel sub-plots feature Misty Knight coordinating efforts from her control room, as well as Paladin trying to get back into the action after getting clocked by bad guy Bat Roc in last month's issue. This story segment comes to a climax as Paladin and Spider-Man come to realize that there's an even bigger conspiracy going-on than the Atlantean drug situation, confirmed by the arrival on the scene of a well-known Spider-Man supervillain.

I enjoyed this comic book very much for a few reasons. First, after reading the two heavy-duty mega-event comics reviewed above, it was very cleansing to kick-back and read a standard, bad guys-versus-good guys Marvel Universe comic book in which the entire world wasn't off of its collective rocker. Secondly, this unusual trio of seemingly incompatible heroes actually meshed together very well as the story progressed. I also enjoyed very much a sharp and witty sub-plot in which Paladin takes a cab ride and has to converse with his New York cabdriver about the reality of being a C-List superhero, at best.

So for a just plain fun and interesting Marvel story universe superhero comic book read, by all means check-out this latest issue of Heroes For Hire. I liked it enough to eventually go back and check-out the previous six issues available at That's Entertainment.

Current Contest Announcement!!!

For the second superhero-themed contest in a row we have no contest entrants. Our latest challenge was for you to submit your positive or negative opinion regarding the new Marvel "Fear Itself" crossover event series. So we'll just move-on in the new contest below to a non-comic book trivia challenge.

New Contest Announcement!!!

Here's a simple but interesting trivia contest. E-mail us at Gordon_A@msn.com with the answer to the following trivia question: What is the number-one most popular fruit eaten in America these days? As always, in the event of multiple correct answers, we'll select our winner of the $10.00 gift certificate to That's Entertainmnet via a roll of the dice.

Have a great comic book reading week and we'll see you again next week Here In Bongo Congo!


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