Review Date: Friday, July 8, 2011

Here In Bongo Congo

Its another "All-DC Comics Week" Here In Bongo Congo and as such Good King Leonardo has decreed that we review two new Flahpoint event series titles along with the latest issue of a regular DC monthly title. So let's see how these new comic books stack-up against each other:

Flashpoint: Hal Jordan #1
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Adam Shlagman: Writer
Ben Oliver: Art
Allen Passalaqua: Colors

Among the many limited-issue new comic book titles under the wide umbrella of DC's Flashpoint event series is issue #1 of Flashpoint: Hal Jordan. As I've mentioned in previous Flashpoint reviews, the concept of this alternate universe series is that an enemy of The Flash has altered the structure of the DC storytelling universe. In this brave new world, Aquaman and Wonder Woman lead their respective empires in world war against humanity, resulting in millions of deaths in Western Europe. In addition, the backstories and lives of most of the major DC superheroes are radically different throughout this series. The Hal Jordan mini-series is scripted by Adam Schlagman with art by Ben Oliver and colors by Allen Passalaqua.

Issue #1 is entitled "Rising Tide" and alters the familiar origin tale of Hal Jordan becoming the Green Lantern. In this revised origin story, instead of working as a hotshot test pilot for Ferris Aircraft, Hal and owner Carol Ferris are transformed into co-pilots patrolling the Atlantic against Aquaman's forces, as the company appears to be conscripted into military service. Without being a detail spoiler, the pair have a wild action adventure against some of Aquaman's forces. In follow-up to the incident, Hal goes out on solo flight patrol and by the end of the issue #1 story segment encounters the crashlanded, dying alien Green Lantern who we know will bequeath the coveted Green Lantern power ring to him at the start of next month's issue #2.

Its been a lot of fun this past month reading a selection of the various Flashpoint titles; DC deserves a worthy shout-out for adopting the strategy of unfolding various alternate history segments of their wider superhero universe via the production of these short-run mini-series titles. The three-issue Hal Jordan title should provide just the right length of story arc to introduce the alternate version of Green Lantern and establish his place in the Flashpoint event universe for further action as the entire series evolves. Issue #1 in this brief series definitely provides a mix of alternate history freshness and entertainment as one piece of the overall Flashpoint picture puzzle. It should be a lot of fun to see how the creative team of this title uses the Emerald Warrior within the world war situation of Flashpoint. So a definite thumbs-up recommendation to place Flashpoint: Hal Jordan at the top of that ever-growing list of various Flashpoint series titles to read over the summer.

Flashpoint: Project Superman #1
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Scott Snyder & Lowell Francis: Writers
Gene Ha: Art
Art Lyon: Colors

Our second comic book reviewed this week within the Flashpoint story universe is issue #1 of the three-issue mini-series entitled Flashpoint: Project Superman. Obviously, this branch of the Flashpoint event establishes an alternate tale of DC's favorite All-American superhero. The series is based on a general plot outlined by the writing team of Scott Snyder and Lowell Francis, with Francis soloing on fleshing-out their joint concept into a detailed story script. The title's artwork is produced by Gene Ha with colors by Art Lyon.

Issue #1 establishes a prequel storyline in lead-up to the eventual issue #2 arrival of Superman on the scene by focusing on "Project Superman," a secret U.S. Army Project managed by the infamous General Lane, whose goal is to create a Captain America-style supersoldier. The ultimate secret volunteer for this experiment is Lieutenant Neil Sinclair, who in the standard DC comic book universe is apparently the superhero Apollo from the Wildstorm group of characters that DC incorporated into their publishing world a few years ago. The issue #1 plotline interweaves two sub-plots; the decades-long intense experimentation on Sinclair, as he steadily evolves the range of Superman's well-known powers (x-ray and heat vision, super-hearing, etc.), along with a parallel decline in Sinclair's basic human compassion and value for human life. By issue's end, the inevitable bloody tragedy occurs, resulting in Sinclair being squirreled away by General Lane in lock-up for the safety of America. The issue #1 story segment concludes with the rocket carrying baby Kal-El crashlanding in Metropolis instead of Kansas, with the public attention of the event leading Sinclair to scheme a plan for the true eventual Superman to assist in his resurrection and freedom.

While I'm giving this issue a well-deserved positive review recommendation, its with the qualification that it could have been a better-produced comic book issue, on two counts. First, choosing to focus an entire Flashpoint comic book issue on an alternate version of Sinclair/Apollo was confusing for readers like me who aren't experienced readers of the Wildstorm hero character. A first page narrative or some other explanatory device would have been helpful in providing a clearer understanding of the standard and alternative Sinclair storyline structure. Secondly, scripter Lowell Francis just wastes too much time plotting at length the evolution of Sinclair's Superman-like powers in parallel with his decline in moral character. Given the constraints of a three-issue mini-series, this issue #1 storyline should have been condensed to the first half of the issue, allowing much more story space for evolving Superman into the mix right in issue #1.

So in sum, while this is an interesting and entertaining comic book, its just not among the very best of the Flashpoint story titles. I'd keep it on my list for Flashpoint reading, but suggest getting around to reading it after such other titles as the main Flashpoint mini-series, the Flying Graysons title and the Green Lantern title reviewed above.

Power Girl #25
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Judd Winick: Writer
Hendry Prasetya: Art
Jessica Kholinne: Colors

DC's Power Girl title is up to issue #25 this month. I gave a very positive review to an issue in the early run of this series and a negative review to a follow-up issue, so I was interested this week in returning to the latest issue to see how this comic book is faring with the current creative team. I was also attracted to the fact that Batman guest stars in the current story run. The series is currently scripted by Judd Winick with art by Hendry Prasetya and colors by Jessica Kholinne.

Issue #25 is the second and final part of a two-issue story arc entitled "We Can Be Heroes." The story quickly updates the reader on plot progress to-date, in which Power Girl and Batman have helped the government imprison a meta-human named Rayhan Mazin. It turns out that Mazin has been falsely profiled as a terrorist due to his Arab-American background. In issue #25, Mazin breaks-out of confinement to visit his dying father. Without being a detail spoiler, Power Girl and Batman have an extended confrontation with Mazin, which alternates between heavy battle action and detailed conversation throughout the issue. By issue's end, the unjust and false accusation against Mazin is resolved; the issue ends on a neat, two-page redirection of the plotline, in which Batman and Power Girl have an interesting conversation resolving some lingering JSA business between the two heroes.

I enjoyed very much the change-of-pace plot focus of this issue, as an alternative to the big-time Flashpoint universe events dominating this summer's DC new issues publication schedule. Veteran writer Judd Winick does a stellar job in blending the relevant political topic of racial/ethnic profiling with a standard battle action subplot. The artwork here is exquisite, with the art team giving us some of the best action panels that I've seen in a very long time, particularly a series of panels that emphasize to great visual effect just how superpowerful and ultra-invincible Power Girl is in comparison to other, obviously less-powerful heroes in the DC Universe. I also enjoyed the freshness of the Rayhan Mazin character and hope that DC continues to feature this meta-human character, who I personally have never seen before this issue, in future issues of DC comic book titles.

So I'm very glad to see that the current creative team has successfully restored the Power Girl title to a level of entertainment and production quality on par with the early issues of this title that were helmed by renowed comic creator Amanda Connor.

Current Contest Results!!!

We had no entries to our current contest, which challenged you to pitch to us your favorite episode of the long-running animation series The Simpsons. So we'll just move-on to a new contest below.

New Contest Announcement!!!

We'll go back this week to our ever-popular trivia form of contest challenge. And since we're smack in the middle of the dog days of summer, what better time than to offer-up a dog trivia contest! The Bongo Congo panel of contest judges challenges you this week to e-mail us at Gordon_A@msn.com with the correct answer to the following challenge: Name the correct popular television shows that each of the three following famous dog actors appeared on:

Eddie, The Jack Russell Terrier

Duke, The Blood Hound

Bullet The Wonder Dog, A German Shephard

As always, in the event of multiple correct entries, the winner of the $10.00 first prize gift certificate to That's Entertainment will be chosen via a roll of the dice.

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


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