We have an eclectic mix of comics to review this week, including one D.C. comic, one Marvel title and two science fiction-themed issues, so let's see how they all stack-up against each other:
Brightest Day #8
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Geoff Johns & Peter J. Tomasi: Writers
Patrick Gleason, Ivan Reis & Ardian Syaf: Art
Multiple Inkers and Colorists
On the heels of last week's reviews of two spin-off titles in DC 's ongoing "Brightest Day" event, let's tackle the current issue #8 of the main Brightest Day title. The issue is co-written by veteran Geoff Johns and Peter J. Tomasi, with art by a very large teams of artists. In follow-up to last year's Darkest Night series, Brightest Day focuses on the mystery of 12 DC heroes and villains who have been brought back to life by the power of the White Lantern, to be given a second chance. Issue #8 is entitled "Defiance," but begins with a wonderful oil painting-like cover of Hawkgirl with the title "Hawkgirl Unleashed!"
The issue #8 installment opens with a two-page focus on Hawk, Dove and Deadman, in which Boston Brand/Deadman explains to his two colleagues how the White Lantern ring that he wears gives him clues to the mystery. The remainder of the issue alternates back-and-forth between two sub-plots. In the first storyline, the Martian Manhunter accesses the memories of a female Martian, M'Gann, and learns of her deadly battle with a violent Green Martian, thereby proving that there is at least one additional Martian on Earth. The second plotline is more detailed and focuses on Hawkman and Hawkgirl following a mystery on Hawkworld. Hawkman allies with a group of humanoid lion people and learns the history of human and multi-species interactions on the planet, while Hawkgirl accesses a floating city, where she is captured and comes face-to-face with a very unexpected ruler of the city.
The purpose of this issue is to move forward a few storythreads of the scattered heroes as they follow their respective paths toward solving the mysteries posed by the Brightest Day series. As the acclaimed writer of the landmark Justice Society of America (JSA) series, writer Geoff Johns is the consumatte veteran in weaving a tale of multiple heroes functioning in multiple storylines. Johns and writing partner Peter J. Tomasi do an admirable job in providing an entertaining issue of the ongoing story arc while moving several pieces of the overall puzzle forward. Including the short introductory segment, we basically have three segments of the tale advance forward in this issue with some interesting and satisfying progress.
While the art for the first two story segments is of decent quality, the particular art team assigned to the Hawkman-Hawkgirl story section excels in producing an extremely high quality artistic style and panel lay-out. The segments focusing on Hawkman and his lion-people allies in the Hawkworld forest are lush and beautiful, and include a stunning full-page panel of the group approaching two ancient and huge statues that reminded me of certain similar grand scenes from the Lord Of The Rings movie trilogy. So a well-deserved thumbs-up for this issue, which works well as both an installment of the Brightest Day series and as an entertaining stand-alone read. And if you're a fan (as I am) of the not-too-often-featured Hawkman and Hawkgirl, then you have three good reasons to read this high quality and interesting new comic book.
Avengers & The Infinity Gauntlet #1
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Brian Clevinger and Lee Black: Writers
Brian Churilla: Art
Michelle Madsen: Colors
On the scale of DC's Brightest Day mega-event, as many readers know, Marvel's latest large-scale effort is a major multi-title focus exploring many elements of The Avengers comic book universe. As part of this effort, Marvel has just released issue #1 of a planned four-issue mini-series entitled "Avengers And The Infinity Gauntlet." The series is written by Brian Clevinger and Lee Black, with art by Brian Churilla and colors by Michelle Madsen.
Issue #1 is entitled "For Thanos," and begins by portraying the instellar villain Thanos possessing the infinity gems and thus completing his control over the mega-powerful infinity gauntlet. Very quickly the plot shifts to Earth, where Thanos's newfound ability to affect time and space results in approximately half of all humanity, normal humans, heroes and villains alike, to vanish. So its up to the remaining heroes to make an attempt to set reality straight. Under the leadership of Sue Storm, a small but effective team is assembled to travel to the center of the galaxy and give it a try. A good portion of the plot focuses on both choosing the special team and deliberating the issue of allying with Doctor Doom in this effort. By issues end, both issues are dealt with and the team is readying to travel via a vehicle called "The Star Rig" to undertake the mission.
This is a well-constructed light entertainment series. The art is of a Saturday morning cartoon style, as are some of the plot details, such as the introduction of a good ol' boy truck driver named Ulysses Solomon Ace to drive the interstellar truck Star Rig for the team. Both the plot and visual presentation are an interesting mix of comic book elements that work for both kids and adults. Usually this type of comic book effort over-skews in one direction, either too childish for adults or too adult for kids. But in this case, the creative team strikes a very equal balance between these two elements, giving us the rare comic that works, at least in my opinion, for readers of varied ages. Hats-off also to the creative team for giving us a lot of details regarding who among the superhero world vanished versus who remains to try and sort-out the problem. It's a very interesting mix of partial teams and individual survivors, which should provide a lot of entertainment as the details of this mini-series unfold.
Doctor Who #14
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Tony Lee: Writer
Matthew Dow Smith: Art
Charlie Kirchoff: Colors
IDW Publishing is up to issue #14 in its Doctor Who comic book title. The series is based on the well-known BBC-produced Doctor Who television series, which has been an historic science fiction syndicated t.v. franchise for decades. The comic book is scripted by Tony Lee with art by Matthew Dow Smith and colors by Charlie Kirchoff. Issue #14 is part two of a four-issue story arc entitled "Final Sacrifice," and is the final story arc starring the Tenth Doctor. Apparently, the comic book duplicates the television series practice of recasting actors who portray The Good Doctor from time-to-time.
Issue #14 begins with a brief but useful narrative summary of the story arc so far. Without going into heavy detail, the story is a bit of a complicated plot in which the Doctor and his friends/allies have traveled to an alien world in the far future, where they get involved in political intrigue and conflict between two groups of human settlers on the planet. Major characters in this conflict include a brutal alien queen of the planet and a human enemy of the Doctor, a time-traveling British professor who allies himself with the alien Queen. By the end of this second story arc installment, the historical Earth origins of the two warring groups of settlers have been detailed and a bridge to next month's issue is established with the arrival of powerful aliens who appear to be allying themselves with the evil queen.
If you're a Doctor Who fan, you won't be disappointed with this issue. The creative team is very adept at recreating the atmosphere, dialogue and style of the beloved cult television series. There's an interesting science fiction plot here that reminded me of those Star Trek episodes in which the show's stars get involved in political intrigue among factions in an alien society. It is a much more detailed plot in this story than your standard comic book, requiring the reader to really focus on all of the intrigue and maneuvering amongst the players in the story. But the heavier narrative stuff is also nicely balanced with traditional Doctor Who gadgets, such as Tardis, the Doctor's time portal disguised as a British phone booth. So a positive recommendation for this interesting and entertaining comic book, well worth the read whether you're already a Doctor Who fan or just looking for a good non-superhero comic book to enjoy.
On a final review note, the main story in this issue is followed by a four-page preview of Dungeons And Dragons #0, a new IDW Publishing title obviously based on the role-playing game. I've never played D & D nor read anything related to it before and thoroughly enjoyed this brief but very interesting preview of the upcoming comic book. So we'll plan to write a review of the upcoming new comic book title as soon as possible in a future edition of this column.
Harlan Ellison's Phoenix Without Ashes #1
Publisher: IDW Publishing
Harlan Ellison: Writer
Alan Robinson: Art
Kote Carvajal: Colors
A second IDW Publishing science fiction-themed comic book for review this week is Harlan Ellison's Phoenix Without Ashes #1. The title is scripted by the well-known science fiction author Harlan Ellison, with art by Alan Robinson and colors by Kote Carvajal. Unlike many previous efforts that adapt well-known science fiction stories to comic book format, the back cover blurb seems to indicate that this is an original, new story written by Ellison as a four-part mini-series.
The setting is the year 2785, and the plot centers on Devon, a young, Amish-like farmer living in the "world-village" of Cypress Corners. Although not stated outright, its clear that the Town is situated within an interstellar starship, with the simple-living villagers clueless about their more advanced origins. An authoritative council of village elders forbids Devon from marrying his true love, Rachel. Devon discovers that the elders have been manipulating computer equipment to support their iron-fisted rule. When he goes public, the scared villagers side with the elders and pursue Devon out of Town. This first issue ends with Devon discovering a mysterious metal portal in the ground to further his escape from his pursuers.
It's a common science fiction theme to plot a story about simple-living humans who don't realize they're heirs to a more advanced human civilization. Coincidentally, the Doctor Who story reviewed above also included this theme. Since its not a fresh concept, the key to any new story is to present the story details in a way that avoids staleness and provides some worthwhile entertainment. Its a no-brainer that a science fiction giant such as Harlan Ellison has the ability to avoid the potential pitfalls in revisiting this theme. And Ellison doesn't disappoint, giving us as well-constructed, interesting and entertaining a spin on this well-known science fiction story idea as you'll ever read. This first issue gets the general villagers-in-space concept firmly established, hooking the reader into looking forward to the next three issues, in which Devon will most likely learn the truth about the giant spaceship and somehow try to rescue his true love.
If you're a certified science fiction fanatic like me, you won't feel bored at all with this latest take on a well-known sci-fi theme as presented by one of the grand masters of the genre. And if you're brand new to this type of story, get on-board and enjoy the telling as presented by Harlan Ellison and the artistic team. As with the Doctor Who issue reviewed above, its a nice change of pace from reading the standard superhero-themed comic book.
Contest Winner Announcement!!!
Our latest contest posed the trivia question of challenging you to tell us how many baseballs are used annually in Major League Baseball (MBL) games. We didn't receive a correct answer, but our rules were to declare as winner the entry closest to the correct number. The correct answer is 22,000 baseballs used annually. Most folks guessed way above that number, with the closest answer coming from Kevin Browne, who guessed that the number was 72,900. Congratulations to Kevin for winning the $10.00 gift certificate to That's Entertainment.
New Contest Announcement!!!
Let's try to rally our Red Sox in their quest to land a wild card spot in the playoffs with one more baseball trivia contest. E-mail us at Gordon_A@msn.com with the answer to this question: which player has the longest last name among all of the players in Major league Baseball? As always, in the event that we receive multiple correct answers, our contest winner will be selected from among those correct answers by a roll of the dice. The winner of the contest will receive a $10.00 gift certificate to That's Entertainment, so enter right now!
That's all for now, so have a great comic book reading week and see you again next week Here In Bongo Congo!