Review Date: Friday, October 28, 2011

Here in Bongo Congo

Once again there's lots of interesting-looking new stuff on the new issues comic book shelves of late, so let's see how three of these titles stack-up against each other:

Snarked #1
Publisher: Kaboom!
Roger Landgridge: Writer & Artist
Rachelle Rosenberg: Colors

Boom Entertainment's Kaboom! line of kid-oriented comics has just kicked-off a new comic line entitled Snarked. The series is created by writer-artist Roger Landgridge with colors by Rachelle Rosenberg. Readers may recognize Roger Landgridge as the writer behind last year's acclaimed eight-issue "Thor, The Mighty Avenger" mini-series published by Marvel Comics.

Issue #1 of Snarked lays-out the basic fairytale-like story universe of this comic book. The characters live in a small, unnamed kingdom by the sea, whose popular king went on a sailing trip six months previously and hasn't returned. Two parallel sub-plots begin the issue and merge together by issue's end. In the first storythread, we're introduced to town citizens Wilburforce J. Walrus and his sidekick Clyde McDunk, who live a Popeye and sidekick Wimpy-like existence in the Village, trying to get by during hard economic times. Our second storyline introduces young Princess Scarlett and her baby brother Prince Rusty, who together deal with the political shenanigans of the king's evil advisors, emboldened by their Dad's prolonged absence. Advised by a protective Chesire Cat, the young royals flee the bad-guy advisors and by issue's end have linked-up at the Town's waterfront with Wilburforce and Clyde for mutal continued adventure as they seek to avoid the bad guy's clutches while searching for and hopefully finding the missing king.

Roger Landgridge provides us with a very fresh and original take on the fairytale storytelling genre. On the visual side of the storytelling, he's smart enough to give us a cartoon-type drawing style that works perfectly for entertaining kid and grown-up readers, alike. The story itself is Grade A in quality with a lot of originality here, both in plot and presentation. I liked how the narrative shifted at times into creative poetry that moved the tale along in a very original manner. There's also interesting and effective echoes of previously popular fictional characters which add a nice depth to this title. I particularly liked two such elements: first, Wilburforce J. Walrus literally channeling the well-known Popeye character Wimpy as he cons a town butcher out of sausages and secondly, the use of the Alice In Wonderland Chesire Cat as a very effective character in this new storyline.

So a definite thumbs-up recommendation to check-out this new comic book title, which succeeds as an entertaining new storytelling universe for readers of all ages.

Wonder Woman #2
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Brian Azzarello: Writer
Cliff Chiang: Art
Matthew Wilson: Colors

Issue #2 is already on the new issues shelves at That's Entertainment of the revamped Wonder Woman comic book title, as part of DC's "The New 52" mega-event. The title is scripted by A-list writer Brian Azzarello with art by Cliff Chiang and colors by Matthew Wilson. I had enjoyed reading issue #1 last month, in which Wonder Woman comes to the aid of a young human woman impregnated by the God Zeus and as such wanted to review the continuation of this tale in this month's latest issue.

The storyline in issue #2 is entitled "Home" and advances the tale with two interweaving storylines. In the first storythread, Zeus's jealous wife, Queen Hera, plots with her daughter the Goddess Strife against the poor human who's carrying her husband's love child. Our main sub-plot advances with Wonder Woman bringing the woman to Paradise Island, home of the Amazons. There, we meet Diana/Wonder Woman's mother, Queen Hippolyta, as well as certain individual Amazon warriors. The story builds dramatically as the goddess Strife arrives and battles the Amazons. In a dramatic bridge to next month's story segment, Strife makes a surprise announcement as to having an alternative reason for arriving on Paradise Island.

This is one of the more innovative re-boots of a DC title under "The New 52" effort that I've read so far. The creative team gives us a very unique visual reinterpretation of the Wonder Woman universe. In graphic style its reminiscent of Roger Landgridge's retake of Thor in last year's "Thor, The Mighty Avenger" series, also coincidentally mentioned in the Snarked review above. Two elements particularly stand-out in this adventure tale. One is the interesting mix of old-school Greek mythological story elements with pieces of our modern culture, most effectively used here in the portrayal of some of the younger Olympian gods and goddesses as modern-day, Manhattan jaded clubgoers. Secondly, there's a significant level of bloodshed in this tale that actually doesn't gross-out the reader but instead works well in emphasizing the action-adventure side of the Greek mythological telling of this storyline.

I was very happy with The New 52 Deadman title reviewed in our last column and I'm glad that the new Wonder Woman title also has some entertaining staying power. So also add this strong title to the list of comic books to add to your ever-growing new issues reading pile.

Red Hood And The Outlaws
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Scott Lobdell: Writer
Kenneth Rocafort: Art
Blond: Colors

Yet another of "The New 52" titles handy for review this week is Red Hood And The Outlaws, a series that teams-up three superhero characters: the former Jason Todd/Robin as Red Hood, Green Arrow's former sidekick Roy Harper and the female alien Starfire. The new comic book title is scripted by Scott Lobdell with art by Kenneth Rocafort and colors by Blond.

Issue 31 is the first installment of a multi-issue story arc entitled "I Fought The Law And Kicked Its Butt!" The plot begins with action-adventure, as Red Hood/Jason Todd successfully breaks Roy Harper out of a Middle Eastern prison. The trio assembles on the tropical island of St. Martinique, where a female superpowered character named Essence unexpectedly arrives and asks for Jason Todd's help in solving the murders of a Himalayan sect which apparently mentored Red Hood in the past. The issue ends in a confrontation at the murdered sect member's mountain fortress beween Todd and the mysterious band of murderers, which will no doubt kick-off next month's issue #2 with a huge battle scene.

You'll notice that the story summary above is briefer than in most of my reviews. That's because there's little to summarize in the way of story details here. The bulk of the issue is the over-lengthy Caribbean beach scene in which Harper and Todd take turns sleeping with the sexy alien Starfire. You don't have to be politically correct to be offended by the whole extended bizarreness of the episode, which is basically a young teenage boy's fantasy of having a supermodel-level hot chick around who will sleep with anyone in sight. Its fairly creepy the way writer Scott Lobdell explains away the episode by justifying that Starfire's alien make-up includes conveniently forgetting past male relationships, thus opening her up to quickly jumping from guy-to-guy in the behavior. If all this was a minor part of the plot I wouldn't center my review on it, but unfortunately it serves as the main section of most of the issue, thus sinking the whole issue into a mess of daydream drivel.

So without wasting any more time and effort on the above, my review advice is two-fold: if you're a teenage boy looking to indulge in a daydream hot chick fantasy, then feel free to read this issue. And if you're anyone other than a teenaged boy, don't waste your time or money on this slow-paced, creepy wish fufillment drivel and instead read one of the other many new comics out on the store shelves right now.

Contest Winner Announcement!!!

In follow-up to our previous Worcester history trivia contest, we challenged you in our latest contest to name the Worcester city park or field that historically has been nicknamed "Peat Meadow." This one was apparently a real stumper, as for the first time in a few years we didn't have a single entry. So no winner this time, but the correct answer is Duffy Field, located near Newton Square; the field is located on an old peat bog, which led to the "peat meadow" name and which also results in a very foggy field on certain days.

New Contest Announcement!!!

Here's an interesting trivia challenge for this week. The Bongo Congo panel of contest judges challenges you to e-mail us at Gordon_A@msn.com with the answer to the following question: What is the most commonly-used street name in cities and towns across America? It could be as simple as an Elm Street or Maple Street, or it might be something unexpected. But either way, send us your answer no later than noontime on Wednesday, November 9. As always, in the event of multiple correct entries, the winner of the first prize $10.00 gift certificate to That's Entertainment will be chosen via a roll of the dice.

That's all for now, so have a great late-Fall comic book reading week and see you again on November 11 Here In Bongo Congo!


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