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Review Date: Friday, July 22, 2011

Here in Bongo Congo

It's Women In Comic Books Week again Here In Bongo Congo, with Good King Leonardo decreeing that we review the following three new comic books starring female characters in the main story roles. So let's see how these issues stack-up against each other:

Wolverine & The Black Cat: Claws 2, Issue #1
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Jimmy Palmiotti & Justin Gray: Writers
Joseph Michael Linsner: Art
Dan Brown & Nick Filardi: Colors
Marvel Comics has just published issue #1 of a three-issue mini-series as the second short installment in the ongoing Wolverine & Black Cat: Claws series. A page-one narrative informs the reader that the first series teamed-up the Marvel duo in an adventure that took place in the Antarctic wilds of Ka-Zar's Savage Land. This current installment is scripted by the team of Jimmy Palmiotti and Justin Gray, with art by Joseph Michael Linsner and colors by the team of Dan Brown and Nick Filardi.

Two sub-plots interweave and eventually combine in this issue. The first storythread focuses on the dating relationship between our two heroes; as they unwind in an upscale New York restaurant after their Savage Land adventure, they juggle sharp banter about their relationship with the immediate crisis of an ongoing robbery of the restaurant by a masked gang. The second ploththread follows the escape from The Savage Land of villains Arcade and White Rabbit. Naturally, they end-up tracking our heroes to the New York restaurant, (which is obviously having quite a busy night!), where a new battle begins. Without being a detail spoiler, the storyline takes a surprise twist as Wolverine and Black Cat are abruptly tossed via alien technology into the future, where they meet an unexpected futuristic Marvel universe hero for further adventure in next month's issue #2.

I enjoyed very much this kick-off issue of the Claws 2 mini-series, for a few reasons. First and foremost among the high points is the writing team's dialogue. Veterans Palmiotti and Gray are at the top of their game in providing sharp and witty dialogue between Wolverine and The Black Cat, who are fun and funny whether sparring over a meal about their romance or smoothly tossing zingers at their foes in the heat of battle. Secondly, I liked the story continuance from the first run of this title into this second series; its tough to compress a detailed plot into only three issues, so there's a lot more depth and detail in the adventure by building on the previous series as a strong backstory. And third, I was very impressed and entertained by the sudden surprise futuristic twist in the final pages of this issue. Taking a 180-degree story turn by unexpectedly tossing our heroes into a future setting could have been a blunder, but in the capable hands of this writing team, the turn works very well and provides a rich extra layer to all that's happening in this fast and fun adventure tale.

So a definite thumbs-up positive recommendation to get-in on the ground floor with issue #1 of this very entertaining Wolverine and Black Cat team-up. And also enjoy catching-up on the comic book issues of the first series, Claw 1, available at That's Entertainment.

Michael Turner's Soulfire #0
Publisher: Aspen Comics
J.T. Krul: Writer
Marcus To: Pencils
Saleem Crawford: Inks
Beth Sotelo: Colors
Aspen Comics has an issue #0 on the new comics shelves this past week kicking-off Volume #2 of its Soulfire series. The comic has an October, 2009 printing date, so I suspect its a reissuance or restocking to push upcoming publications of this title. Irregardless of the publication schedule, the series is scripted by J.T. Krul with pencils by Marcus To, inks by Saleem Crawford and colors by Beth Sotelo.

Issue #0 presents a limited, 12-page story that provides an introduction to the storytelling universe of this series. The year is 2212 and apparently magic is returning to modern society. In high tech megacities such as Beijing, China and Sydney, Australia, individuals are emerging with meta-human style powers that are deemed in this title as the reemergence of magic into the modern world. Not much happens in this issue #0 beyond interactions among friends who exhibit these powers. In the Beijing pages, two friends stumble upon a magical lizard hatchling at the zoo. In Sydney, a handful of magical-powered young adults talk about the burden and confusion of their powers. Two leaders are also introduced: Maliki, an eons-old winged magical woman who mentors the good guys and by issue's end, an unnamed magic-powered bad guy who's assembling young bad folk about him in San Francisco.

I was a fan of the late Michael Turner's art and writing efforts at Aspen Comics and I'm glad to see the creative folk at that publishing house continuing their comic book title efforts in his stylistic footsteps. There's nothing cutting-edge here, just a brief, decent-enough introductory storyline sold at a reduced price to introduce readers to the second edition run of this series. It serves its purpose of aquainting newbies like me to the Soulfire characters and succeeds in assuring us that if we get into this title we'll get exquisite art along with a fresh take on the "emergence of folks with powers" theme that is repeated often in the comic book publishing world.

So a deserved positive recommendation for this decent promo-style issue #0 of all-things-Soulfire over at Aspen Comics. As a final review comment, beyond the 12-page kick-off story segment we're treated to some very nice sketchbook pages of the characters, along with some decent advertising of reprint compilations of various Aspen Comics titles, including Fathom and the Volume 1 series of Soulfire, all available in one form or another at That's Entertainment.

Flashpoint: Lois Lane & The Resistance #1
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Dan Abnett & Andy Lanning: Writers
Eddie Nunez: Pencils
Don Ho: Inks
Among the many mini-series titles under D.C.'s Flashpoint mega-event umbrella is issue #1 of the three-issue series entitled Flashpoint: Lois Lane & The Resistance #1. As I've mentioned in previous Flashpoint series reviews, the premise of this series is that a foe of The Flash has altered reality, such that Aquaman and Wonder Woman are leading their respective kingdoms in world war against mankind, resulting in millions of deaths at the war front in Western Europe. While Barry Allen/The Flash seeks to find a way to restore the world's proper reality, he must interact with a wide range of DC universe characters whose own backgrounds and storylines have been radically altered in the new world timeline. This particular Flashpoint title is scripted by the team of Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning, with pencils by Eddie Nunez and inks by Don Ho.

Issue 31 is entitled "Breaking News" and weaves the Lois Lane story piece into the fabric of the Flashpoint saga. The plot moves forward quickly with much action and adventure; reporting on a Parisian fashion show when the war erupts, Lois is a rare survivor of Aquaman's flooding destruction of Paris. Rescued by Amazons, Lois is transported to England as a captive of Wonder Woman's empire. The story progresses through Lois's initial months of captivity as she develops a double life as a spy for America against her captors balanced with her cover as a supposedly willing convert to the Amazon cause. The issue #1 storyline ends in a cliffhanger as Lois and a surprise ally are exposed and face life-threatening danger at the hands of the Amazons.

This particular mini-series addresses a key piece of the Flashpoint saga that's referred to in other titles, that being the role of Lois Lane as a leader of the human resistance behind enemy lines. As such, its both informative regarding the wider story universe being constructed within Flashpoint and entertaining as a stand-alone action-adventure tale. This is the first Flashpoint title I've read that drops the reader right into the frontlines of the world war, so the story also succeeds from the perspective of a war comic book. A tip-of-the-review-hat is also deserved to the creative team, who blend the story together with a strong combination of excellent artwork and engrossing dialogue. As a final review comment, the front cover hints at the addition of The Demon and an Ambush Bug-like character as future issues unfold, which should add further interesting developments to this unfolding tale.

So a well-deserved positive review for yet another Flashpoint series comic book title. While I've enjoyed the four titles that I've read so far, for its success in filling-in some of the big picture elements of the ongoing world war, this particular title is my personal favorite read to-date in the Flashpoint series.

Contest Winner Announcement!!!

Our latest contest came about after New York Yankee Derek Jeter recently reached the 3000-hit plateau by hitting a home run. We asked you to tell us of the 27 Major League Baseball players who reached 3000 hits before him, who is the only one to also hit a home run for number 3000? And our contest winner selected via a roll of the dice from among several correct entries is (drumroll, please)...Kevin Browne, who correctly tells us that former Red Sox Third Baseman Wade Boggs also hit a homer for his hit number 3000. Congratulations to Kevin, who wins our first prize $10.00 gift certificate to That's Entertainment!

New Contest Announcement!!!

The Bongo Congo panel of contest judges have an unusual historical trivia challenge for you this week. As we all know, way back in the day before the advent of e-mails, tweets, etc., penny postcards sent through the U.S. mail were a very routine way for folks to drop notes to each other; many collectible magazines refer to old-time postcards as the e-mails and tweets of their day. The popularity of postcards peaked in 1913, the year that a huge, and I mean HUGE number of them were mailed around the U.S. Your challenge this week is to e-mail us at Gordon_A@msn.com and tell us just how many millions of postcards were mailed in the U.S. in that peak year of 1913. If you're guessing, again, think really huge, because its a pretty mind-boggling number! As always, in the event of multiple correct answers, we'll select the winner of the first prize $10.00 gift certificate to That's Entertainment via a roll of the dice.

That's all for now, so stay cool in this summertime heat by having a great comic book reading week and see you again next week Here In Bongo Congo!

 
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