Here In Bongo Congo
Good King Leonardo found four very interesting new comics to review this week on the That's Entertainment new issues boardwalk (love that new carpet along the boardwalk!), one from D.C. Comics and three from Marvel Comics, so let's see what they're all about:
Superman: The Last Family Of Krypton #1
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Cary Bates: Writer
Renato Arlem: Art
Allen Passalaqua: Colors
DC Comics has just kicked-off a new three-issue mini-series entitled "Superman: The Last Family Of Krypton." The title is written by veteran Cary Bates with art by Renato Arlem and colors by Allen Passalaqua. This is one of those occasional "What If?" storylines giving us an alternate version of a superhero's established comic book universe. In this case, the creative team explores the story possibilities in answer to the question of what if Superman's parents Jor-El and Lara had rocketed to Earth along with him back when he was a baby and their homeworld of Krypton exploded.
Issue #1 in the three-issue series takes us from the family's escape from the exploding planet Krypton through Superman's pre-teen boyhood years. After arriving in Metropolis, the family quickly puts their superpowers to good use and are accepted by mankind. The bulk of the plot focuses on the personal side of the super-family. Over these early years there are strains in the marriage, as Jor-El fixates on helping advance Earth science and Lara promotes her belief in the Raoism philosophy of Krypton. In an interesting plot twist, both parents agree to find a normal American family to surrogate the raising of Kal-El in a secret identity, so that he can better understand and fit into American life. Surprise, they pick Jonathan and Martha Kent of Kansas! Under the alias of "Clark Kent," Kal-El meets Lana Lang and Lex Luthor, of course. In an interesting double bridge to next month's issue, Jor-El takes a fatherly warming to the brilliant Lex Luthor and the Super Family expands with the birth of twin little brothers for Clark.
This is one of those interesting and creative "what if" ideas that makes you immediately wonder why something didn't think of this fun story concept years earlier in the decades-long Superman franchise. It is possible that a similar story was presented in one of those many (and often campy) Silver Age "what if" Superman stories. But whether this is an idea original to writer Cary Bates or just his re-interpretation of an earlier storyline, either way this is an extremely entertaining mini-series. Bates focuses on trying to theorize how these aliens would really fit into our media-obsessed, high tech world of 2010. There are so many small but very effective touches within this story theme, such as Lara taking the Oprah Winfrey talk show route to promote her Raoism writings, and the paparazzi stalking of the family to get pictures into the tabloids of every public move of toddler Kal-El. It was a stroke of genuis to still lead Clark into a Smallville upbringing as a way to avoid the paparazzi and put a new spin on the traditional Superboy story.
My only constructive criticism is that I wasn't thrilled with colorist Allen Passalaqua's use on some pages of very dark and often dreary color tones. But that very minor item aside, this is a very worthy addition to any Superman Family fanboy or fangirl's collection of various interpretations on the well-known standard history of the Superman universe. So a definite positive recommendation for you to get on-board with issue #1 and enjoy what's likely to be a too-short but very fun reading experience in this three-issue mini-series.
Thor The Mighty Avenger #1
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Roger Landgridge: Writer
Chris Samnee: Art
Matthew Wilson: Colors
Marvel Comics has just introduced a new Thor monthly series entitled "Thor The Mighty Avenger." The series is written by Roger Landgridge with art by Chris Samnee and colors by Matthew Wilson. The sub-title for issue #1 is "A new beginning for Thor, The Mighty Avenger!" This issue title accurately describes this new series, which provides a reinterpretation of Thor in the Oklahoma setting where Marvel relocated him to a few years back, along with the fabled City of Asgard.
The plot of issue #1 begins with a focus on young and pretty Jane Foster, a museum curator in the small town of Bergen, Oklahoma. As Jane breaks-up with her boyfriend, she also keeps crossing paths with a street vagrant who refers to himself as Thor. Without giving away any spoiler details, the plot builds as Thor eventually rescues Jane from an otherworldly episode of nightime street violence. Jane grants Thor's wish to examine a Norse artifact in the museum, thereby reuniting our hero with his fabled hammer and transforming him from streetperson to mythic superhero.
While this description doesn't sound very action-oriented, the script is strong enough to make-up for the lack of action with a lot of very good characterization. The plot steadily introduces the reader to the character personalities and story details of this alternative-style Thor universe, of a very small town in which by issue's end, a local vagrant is transformed into a mythic being who must find a way in upcoming issues to fit into the society of this setting. The creative team's narrative and visual style echos that of Tim Sale and Jeph Loeb's iconic "Superman: For All Seasons" mini-series of several years ago. I think its both fair and a well-deserved complement to place this small-town fictional Thor universe in the same interpretive category as the Sale-Loeb interpretation of Superman. It's kind of nice and also just plain interesting to have a Thor title that reduces this grand, mythic, brash character down to a milder, more human scale. If the issue #2 preview scene at the end of issue #1 is any indication, think of a young, unsure Peter Parker trying to figure out how to both start-out as a superhero and get the girl at the same time, and you'll have an idea of this particular Thor approach.
It should be a lot of fun to see where the creative team takes this Thor interpretation in upcoming monthly comic book issues. So both a hats-off and a positive thumbs-up to Marvel for giving us this entertaining and high-quality addition to the many comic book interpretations, both past and present, of Thor.
Captain America: Forever Allies #1
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Roger Stern: Writer
Nick Dragotta: Art
Marco Santucci: Pencils
Marco Santucci & Patrick Piazzalunga: Inks
Chris Sotomayor: Color
Marvel Comics has just released issue #1 of a new four-issue Captain America mini-series entitled "Captain America: Forever Allies." The title is scripted by Roger Stern with art by the team of Nick Dragotta, Marco Santucci, Patrick Piazzalunga and Chris Sotomayor. The series picks-up on a story theme presented in Captain America titles over the past few years, in which Bucky Barnes in his new role as Captain America addresses past issues from his interactions with other World War II-era teenage Marvel Comics heroes.
The early part of issue #1 updates the reader on Bucky's World War II days fighting alongside two teenage hero groups, The Young Allies and The Kid Commandos. The plot presents the background of these characters, then flashes forward to today's world, in which Barnes attends the funeral of Young Allies member Washington Jones. Barnes encounters a young Asian woman at the funeral who bears a strong resemblance to the Young Allies's 1940's foe Lady Lotus. In the second half of the issue, Barnes investigates and finds enough clues to confirm that a youthful Lady Lotus is somehow alive and hiding in the U.S. The issue ends with a confirmation that she is indeed alive and planning some type of trouble, which will no doubt be revealed in next month's issue #2.
I enjoyed very much the Captain America storyline of a few years ago in which Barnes manages to track down the few remaining elderly survivors of his boyhood superhero teams, and was hoping that Marvel would at some point provide more stories addressing this reunion. That's the central focus of this brief mini-series. It's a very good story concept to move the story action by providing Barnes/Captain America with a foe from the Golden Age who apparently has experienced for whatever yet unrevealed reason a lack of aging, similar to his own situation. I was also impressed with writer Roger Stern's focus on addressing the ethnic/racial stereotypes that were imbedded in society and as such were also part of the Timely/Marvel 1940's structure of these characters. The flashback scenes in which the youthful 1940's African-American Washington Jones stands-up to racial discrimination add a realistic and effective storytelling atmosphere to the old-school 1940's sections of this story.
In sum, the creative team succeeds in giving us a new mini-series that nicely balances elements of the old-school 1940's Golden Age Timely/Marvel universe with the modern-day Marvel universe in which a still youthful Bucky Barnes has taken-up the mantle of serving as Captain America. It should be interesting to see how this storyline unfolds in the next three issues as the modern-day Bucky interacts with his historic friends and foes in a modern storysetting.
Deadpool Corps #4
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Victor Gischler: Writer
Rob Liefeld: Pencils
Adelso Corona: Inks
Matt Yackey: Colors
Back in April, I reviewed an issue of Deadpool: Merc With A Mouth, one of several current Deadpool titles published by Marvel Comics. The covers of these issues are so creative and eye-catching that I couldn't resist picking-up this week's issue #4 of "Deadpool Corps" for a review. For the uninitiated, the Deadpool titles are a satire on the mercenary-for-hire comic book genre. Deadpool Corps stars Wade Wilson as the masked ninja-like mercenary as head of the Deadpool Corps that includes a female Deadpool, a kid Deadpool, a masked dog Deadpool and the bodyless floating head Deadpool from an alternate universe. If you can accept all of that as a nutty comic book satirical concept, then you can have a really fun time reading any one of the Deadpool titles and issues.
In this issue #4 fast-moving space adventure, the Deadpool Corps are on a mission to save the Universe. Step one is to confront the giant Space Eyeball, an alien smuggler who supposedly has a clue on moving the mission forward. The first half of this issue is all action, as the Corps fights through the Eyeball's alien bodyguards. After getting the clue from said giant space eyeball smuggler, the team follows their lead to the Broken Blade, codename of a sexy alien ninja who agrees to help the team travel to The Awareness, some sort of alien mega-entity that holds the key to the Corps saving the universe.
I don't want to give away much more than the bare bones plot described above. There's just too much fun and funny stuff going-on in every panel of this typical Deadpool issue, stuufed with satire ranging from casual brief remarks to major story components. Like I said in my last Deadpool review, picture Mad Magazine pioneers Harvey Kurtzman and Will Elder putting together a nutty comic book and you have a good idea of the style of this comic book. There's enough humor, love, lust and genre satire in just one Deadpool issue to fill a dozen issues of most conventional comic book titles. While this is the fourth issue in a five-issue story arc, it completely works as a stand-alone single-issue read. My only question is that its not clear whether this is a five-issue mini-series or just a five-issue kick-off to a monthly title. Here's hoping for the latter, but either way, my recommendation is to definitely enjoy this issue of Deadpool Corps as well as any of the other titles and issues in this gem of a Marvel Comics satire franchise.
As one final review comment, if anyone reading this review works at Marvel Comics (or knows someone who works there), how about publishing a trade paperback or hardcover edition reproducing all of those wonderful and wacky front covers from so many of the Deadpool comic book issues?
Contest Winner Announcement!!!
Our latest contest challenge was for you to tell us that if comic book characters were real, who would you want to meet and why. And our winner is (drumroll, please)...Gordon Dupuis. Gordon submitted a "fanboy" dating suggestion and a "non-fanboy" suggestion. For "fanboy" purposes, Gordon says he'd like to meet She-Hulk, because "she's smart, funny and kind. Besides, I'm 6'8" so if I wore my winter boots we'd be the same height." His "non-fanboy" suggestion is The Phantom Stranger. Gordon writes "I'd love to talk philosophy with such an ancient, enigmatic and (I would suspect) lonely individual. Besides, my pet theory is that he is actually the D.C. Universe's version of God (see the Hal Jordan Spectre series!)." Well thought-out submittals, both. Congratulations to Gordon, who wins the prize $10.00 gift certificate to That's Entertainment.
New Contest Announcement!!
To show our support for our beloved Red Sox's hard fight for a wild card play-off spot, let's go back to a baseball trivia question for this week. We had a lot of entries a few weeks ago for our football trivia question, so here's a similar baseball challenge. E-mail us at Gordon_A@msn.com with the answer to the following: How many baseballs are used by Major League Baseball in an annual full season? That's National League and American League combined, for the total number of all baseballs used. In the event of more than one correct answer, the winner of the prize $10.00 gift certificate to That's Entertainment will be chosen by a roll of the dice.
That's all for now, so have a great comic book reading week and see you again next week Here In Bongo Congo!