Thursday, January 19, 2012

comic reviews 1/20/12

Here In Bongo Congo

     Good King Leonardo offers-up for your reading enjoyment this week the following four reviews featuring a wide variety of new-issue comic book titles:
Blue Beetle #1
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Tony Bedard: Writer
Ig Guara: Pencils
Ruy Jose: Inks
Pete Pantazis: Colors

     DC Comics has recently revived and re-booted its popular Blue Beetle title as part of "The New 52" restructuring of the DC comic book universe.  For the uninitiated, the latest fictional version of this superhero is Hispanic teenager Jaime Reyes, who lives in El Paso, Texas and lives a life similar to Marvel's original Spider-Man, trying to juggle the personal life of a high-schooler with his superhero duties.  Although the new Blue Beetle title is up to monthly issue #4, its early enough in the series that I decided to jump back to issue #1in order to get a clearer reviewer's feel for this effort to re-structure the previous series.  The new title is scripted by Tony Bedard with pencils by Ig Guara, inks by Ruy Jose and colors by Pete Pantazis.

      Issue #1 is a revised origin tale of how Jaime became the Blue Beetle.  The origin plot is essentially a three-act storyline.  Act One is a science fiction flashback, as we learn that the high tech scarab that will eventually give Jaime his superpowers originated ages ago as an alien weapon wielded by a very nasty alien race called The Reach, whose goal is to conquer and destroy all intergalactic races.  Act Two unfolds Jaime's pre-scarab high school life, reintroducing Blue Beetle readers to his best friends/sidekicks Brenda and Paco along with Jaime's parents, his little sister and Brenda's mysterious Aunt Dona Cardenas, who in previous editions of the Blue Beetle title is revealed to be a very evil player in the supervillainess world.  Act Three is a fast-action story segment, in which Jaime and Paco stumble-into an ongoing theft of the Blue Beetle scarab orchestrated by Dona Cardenas, which concludes with the scarab burrowing into Jaime's spine and transforming him into the new teenaged version of the Blue Beetle.

     I was a huge fan of the previous edition of this title, in which veteran writers John Rogers and Keith Giffen produced about three dozen issues between 2006 and 2009.  Last week, I re-read the very high quality "Road Trip" story arc from issues #7 through #12 to compare to this title re-boot.  While in my reviewer's opinion the previous Rogers-Giffen edition is a better-crafted all-around story series, there are many positive points to make about issue #1 of this new edition.  The creative team sticks with presenting the basic structure and character personalities of Jaime's civilian life, which is a wise move given the entertaining story possibilities that can be explored with Jaime, his family and friends.  What we really have here is just a new creative team picking-up a new story arc within an existing title that's been revived with re-numbering of the monthly issues, which overall is not such a bad thing.  In a published interview, writer Tony Bedard states that he wants to emphasize more action and adventure in the new series.  As such, the main revision to the new series is the addition of a more intense element of action and fighting not seen in the previous series edition.

     The end result in the premier new Blue Beetle issue is a balanced blend of old-Jaime story universe with new-Jaime action and adventure.  So a definite positive thumbs-up recommendation to check-out issue #1 of this new title, which succeeds by preserving a lot of the good stuff from the previous edition while introducing a new, higher level of superhero action and adventure.  And when you're finished reading issue #1, there are still copies of issues #2 through #4 available on the new issues shelves at That's Entertainment.

Shinku #4
Publisher: Image Comics
Ron Marz: Writer
Lee Moder: Art
Matthew Waite: Inks
Michael Atiyeh: Colors

     Image Comics recently published issue #4 of its Shinku title.  An inside-the-front-cover narrative helpfully updates the onging story arc entitled "Throne Of Blood" from the first three issues, informing us that Shinku is a young female modern-day samurai who as the last survivor of the Tadaka samurai clan fights the Yagyu clan of vampires.  Previously, Shinku recruited American immunologist Davis Quinn to her cause in the hope of developing a vampire-killing virus.  By the end of issue #3, Shinku was attacked and badly wounded by the vampire ronin Sakura.  The series is written by Ron Marz with art by Lee Moder, inks by Matthew Waite and colors by Michael Atiyeh.

     The issue #4 story segment advances the Shinku-versus-vampires bloodfest from the previous issue.  The first third of this story segment is action-oriented, as both Shinku's ally Oshima and Davis Quinn come to our hero's rescue, killing a bunch of vampires and retreating to safety so Oshima can treat the badly-wounded warrior.  The mid-section of this story segment is more introspective, as Davis Quinn conducts an extended philosophical monologue over the unconscious samurai, examining their predicament and hoping that all will work out o.k.  Our final story section refocuses on the vampire world.  When the vampire ronin Sakura reports failure back to his clan head vampire Lord Asano, the big guy decides to take matters into his own extremely-clawed hands.  The issue ends in a dramatic cliffhanger as Lord Asano attacks our trio of good guys, continuing the warfare into next month's issue #5.

     I was pleasantly surprised that I enjoyed this comic book as much as I did, moreso than I initially expected to.  Given the "Mature Audience" warning inside the front cover, I expected a completed gore-fest that would no doubt be short on decent plot and heavy on blood 'n guts.  While the bloodiness is front and center, its not presented at a gross-out level.  A-list writer Ron Marz is also at the top of his writing game in delivering a script that nicely mixes quality dialogue, interesting plot and fast action.  I particularly enjoyed the varied personalities of the story characters, particularly the threesome of sharp-tongued Shinku, her stoic friend Oshima and the American Davis Quinn, who ironically works all day with blood as an immunologist but is squeamish when the blood flies as the samurai swords and vampire fangs are wielded.

     My only constructive criticism is that given the amount of sexual story content mixed-in with the buckets of blood, the "Mature Audience" warning should be posted on the front cover rather than too discretely tucked-inside the jacket.  But that one item aside, the three elements of interesting samurai/vampire genres mix, strong writing and quality artwork all combine to earn this comic book a well-deserved thumbs-up positive review recommendation.  And as one last review comment, there's an interesting back-of-the-book mix of post-story stuff to read here, including two nice sketchbook pin-ups, an impressive one-page gallery presenting this month's covers of all 36 Image Comics titles and an interesting brief interview with comics writer Ed Brubaker.

War Goddess #0
Publisher: Boundless Comics/Avatar Press
Writer: Mike Wolfer
Pow Rodrix: Art

     The Boundless Comics imprint of Avatar Press is currently publishing a new sword and sorcery-themed comic book entitled War Goddess.  At first glance, the comic looks like a knock-off of DC's Wonder Woman, particularly due to the premier issue's front cover, but the comic actually focuses on the modern-day adventures of the Greek mythological figure Pandora, of "opening Pandora's box" fable fame. Apparently, Pandora has been the main comic book character published by Avatar Press since the mid-1990's and as such this is just the latest of many series starring this heroine.  The kick-off issue #0 is written by Mike Wolfer with art by Pow Rodrix.

     The premier issue plot interweaves two storythreads.  The first sub-plot lays-out the basic premise of Pandora functioning in today's world.  Here, she's a billionaire adventuress who is so wealthy that she isn't even aware of the extent of her world-wide corporate holdings.  We're also introduced to a few of Pandora's human sidekicks who are unaware of her true background, along with Emma Harrow, who's also an immortal mythological figure whose identity I won't reveal in this interview as a spoiler.  The second sub-plot introduces the action-adventure; while excavating an archeological dig in Bolivia, Pandora is contacted by Emma regarding a disaster unfolding as a physics lab experiment within Pandora's company goes awry in Bermuda.  The result is an opening into "dark matter" and other dimensions, thereby reopening in a scientific manner the "Pandora's Box" dimensional rift which our heroine supposedly spent centuries fixing.  By issue's end, both Pandora and Emma are poised to address the disaster, as one of their human female sidekicks has already been converted by the box re-opening into a super-powered villain.

     This new title gives us a fresh and entertaining remix of the often-presented comic book theme of ancient Greek story figures functioning in today's world.  The art is high quality and the story is very detailed and engrossing in explaining to the reader both the back concept of Pandora's history and establishing her current reality of world-wide adventure.  I got a particular kick out of the strong blending of modern-day science with concepts of Greek mythology.  Writer Mike Wolfer is very creative in establishing the mainstream scientific activities of particle accelerator research having the Greek mythological consequence of re-opening Pandora's box.  The result is a successful melding of hard science and fantasy similar in style to some scripts in the Atomic Robo comic book, a strategy that works very well for both titles.

     My only review criticisms are two-fold.  First, its kind of ridiculous that all of the women in this comic book are supermodel gorgeous and end-up running around with hardly a stitch of clothing on; while its visually pleasing for fanboy reading and apparently a tradition in the long history of Pandora comics, the over-the-top dumbness of it takes something away from the quality of the storytelling.  Secondly, the "War Goddess" title is ill-fitting for this comic book, which could lead to a dismissal by potential readers unfamiliar with the publishing history of Pandora who might mistake the title as a Wonder Woman comic knock-off. A much better and accurate title would be to stick with "Pandora."  But both of those comments aside, the good story stuff here makes it all the worthwhile not to miss-out getting on the bandwagon of this new title and seeing how the new modern-day adventures of Pandora unfold in each monthly issue.

Lobster Johnson #1
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Mike Mignola & John Arcudi: Writers
Tonci Zonjic: Art
Dave Stewart: Colors

     Dark Horse Comics has just premiered issue #1 in a five-issue mini-series starring Lobster Johnson.  For the uninitiated, Lobster Johnson is a 1930's crimefighting detective-noir character from Mike Mignola's Hellboy comic book universe, who operates outside the law as a vigilante, killing criminals and burning his trademark lobster claw insignia as a calling card on his victim's foreheads.  This latest Lobster Johnson mini-series is co-scripted by Hellboy creator Mike Mignola and John Arcudi with art by Tonci Zonjic and colors by Dave Stewart.

     The multi-issue story in this series is entitled "The Burning Hand."  The issue #1 story segment centers on Herald Tribune reporter Cindy Tynan, who's investigating a murder mystery on the Lower East Side of 1930's-era New York.  While at first it seems as if there's a ghostly paranormal element to the murder, Cindy quickly discovers that the entire episode is an organized crime scheme to lower real estate values and scam property owners in the neighborhood.  As Cindy follows a step-by-step trail of mystery, readers are introduced to several supporting story characters, including black businessman Harry McTell, crime boss Arnie Wald and a mysterious Nazi figure who will most likely become more active in upcoming installments of this mini-series.  By issue's end, Cindy's sleuthing lands her in mortal danger from the crime syndicate, just as Lobster Johnson arrives on scene for a rescue.

     This is one of those infrequent comics (at least in my opinion) in which the script is significantly elevated to a higher level of storytelling quality by the unique quality of the artwork.  Croatian artist Tonci Zonjic has produced wonderful work on such varied titles as Divas, Planet Of The Apes and Who Is Jake Ellis?; here, he brings the perfect visual style for portraying the 1930's Art Deco/Detective Noir world of New York crimefighting and murder mystery.  His mix of visuals and facial expressions in combination with colorist Dave Stewart's perfect choice of color tones combines with the co-writer's script for a well-paced kick-off to a multi-issue old-school crimefighting adventure.  While Lobster Johnson himself only makes two very brief appearances in this issue, that story structure actually succeeds in establishing the detailed cast of characters on a solid storytelling footing for our vigilante hero to come center stage for the next four issues of the series.

     As a final review heads-up, just a note that its also worth checking-out in the back of this issue a four-page exclusive preview of a new Conan The Barbarian series adapting Conan creator Robert E. Howard's "Queen Of The Black Coast" story series.  This interesting-looking new title is scripted by well-known writer Brian Wood with art by Becky Cloonan and colors by Dave Stewart, and is scheduled for an issue #1 release on February 8.  So definitely add Dark Horse's latest Lobster Johnson title to your ever-growing new comics reading pile and also keep an eye out in February for this new Conan series!

Contest Winners Announcement!!!

     Our latest contest challenge was our annual call for submissions for "The Year's Best" comics for the 2011 calendar year.  Since we didn't have a winner of our previous column's trivia contest, the Bongo Congo panel of contest judges was able to roll-over that contest prize and thus award two prizes for this contest (yay!).  So our co-winners for their entries for year's best comic or comics of 2011 are (drumroll, please)...Mike Dooley and Gregory Goding.

     Mike submitted three comics for his year's best, telling us in his own words "Marvel's mini-series Mystery Men capitalizing on the resurgence of pulp heroes is very well done.  The ongoing Star Trek book by IDW is a great idea and a "fascinating" (to steal a phrase from Mr. Spock) series.  But the #1 book remains The Stand, Marvel's masterful retelling of the Stephen King novel."  Gregory tells us that "my favorite comic of the past year is (Marvel's) Red Skull Incarnate series...I particularly like the way they treated the fall of Johann Schmidt into the evil Nazi Red Skull as it is believable and really brings out what makes the Red Skull ultimately tick...the covers are amazingly done...overall, it's a very well done series even if it is quite short."

     Congratulations to both of our winners, who each receive $10.00 first prize gift certificates to That's Entertainment, for each nominating worthwhile comics and making worthy explanations for why these comics are at the top of their reading piles for 2011!

New Contest Announcement!!!

     Let's cleanse our comic book reading palates with a simple trivia contest this week.  Your challenge is to e-mail us at no later than noontime on Wednesday, February 1 with the correct answer to the following trivia question: Which is the only state among the 50 states in America where coffee is grown as a commercial crop?  As always, in the event of multiple correct entries, the winner of our first prize $10.00 gift certificate to That's Entertainment will be selected via a roll of the dice from among the correct entries.  Please note that the gift certificate is redeemable for regular retail merchandise or in-store ongoing specials, only.

     That's all for now, so have two great mid-winter comic book reading weeks and see you again on Friday, February 3 Here In Bongo Congo!!!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Comic Reviews 1/6/2012

Here In Bongo Congo

     Good King Leonardo wishes everyone a very Happy New Year and has decreed that we kick-off 2012 with reviews of the following eclectic variety of comic book titles, fresh off of That's Entertainment's new issues shelves:

My Greatest Adventure #1
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Various Writers & Artists

     DC Comics is up to issue #3 of a six-issue mini-series entitled "My Greatest Adventure."  This series is an homage to the original Silver Age "My Greatest Adventure" title, which began in 1955 as an adventure anthology series and morphed into a science fiction adventure title.  After introducing The Doom Patrol in the early 60's, the title was quickly revamped into The Doom Patrol's own titled comic book.  The current mini-series presents three short tales in each issue with continuing, multi-issue story arcs, respectively starring Doom Patrol team member Robotman, followed by new characters Garbage Man and Tanga.  Each storyline is assigned a different creative team of writer/artists.  I decided to backtrack to issue #1 for this review, in order to get an accurate feel for the series from the premier of the three parallel tales.

     The initial Robotman story segment is entitled "Uncanny Valley" and has two plotthreads.  One storyline establishes the basic world of Robotman these days, as he's established himself as a solo superhero-for-hire based in Las Vegas, complete with a human staff assistant.  Our second plot thread kicks-off our hero's first adventure, as a missing person case leads him to Cuba and smack into the middle of zombie-based adventure.  "Garbage Man Returns" is an origin story of this new character, in which a corporate drone living and working in Gotham City named Richard Morse seemingly stumbles his way into an eventual Swamp Thing-like transformation.  Our third tale is entitled "Restrained" and features an alien female superbeing named Tanga, who is struggling on an alien planet to help a local populace in their issues with a benevolant but extremely arrogant superbeing ruler.  Without spoiling plot details, there's an interesting mix of sharp humor and action/conflict in this storyline.

     This is a pretty entertaining new comic book title, for a few reasons.  First, I really enjoyed the all-too-rare-these-days structure of featuring three ongoing stories in one standard-sized comic book.  In this case, it really is like getting three comic books for the price of one.  Secondly, while the Robotman story succeeded as a well-drawn adventure story segment, it also had an intriguing sub-theme, in which Robotman struggles internally to deal with the fact that he was once human and is now a brain trapped inside a machine.  And third, writer-artist Kevin Maguire's Tanga story is a real treat.  A new character whom Maguire introduced earlier this year in the Weird Worlds mini-series, Tanga is a female alien super-powered hero in the style of the well-known Legion Of Super-Heroes members.  Maguire mixes her Spider-Man style of sharp-edged humor with a cast of unique alien story characters, resulting in a very fresh and entertaining science fiction-based comic book story.

     My only negative review comment concerns the Garbage Man tale, which is aptly named given the garbage-level quality of a muddled script from writer and Garbage Man creator Aaron Lopresti.  This throwaway tale is vague and sketchy, with the result that by the end of this premier story segment we still don't know how Richard Morse evolved into the trash-dude.  But overall, two strong stories out of the three deserves a well-earned thumbs-up positive review recommendation for this new anthology series from DC Comics.

The Legend Of Oz: The Wicked West
Publisher: Big Dog Ink
Tom Hutchinson: Writer
Alisson Borges: Art
Kate Finnegan: Colors

     Big Dog Ink has published issue #1 in a new, six-issue limited series of a Wizard Of Oz-based comic book entitled "The Legend Of Oz: The Wicked West."  The new title is scripted by Tom Hutchinson with art by Alisson Borges and colors by Kate Finnegan.

     The concept of this series is a re-telling of the familiar Wizard Of Oz story from more of a Wild West adventure approach.  In the premier issue, we learn that Dorothy Gale and her horse Toto have been wandering around Oz for three years now, trying to find their way home to Kansas.  This is a harsher, Wild West version of the fabled Land of Oz, full of 19th century-style Southwest towns populated by gunslingers both bad and good, along with mythical Oz universe creatures.  The issue #1 plotline begins with Dorothy picking her way down the shattered and sparse remnants of the former Yellow Brick Road in search of the Emerald City.  After wandering into one of the atypical small towns, she has a Wild West confrontation with all sorts of characters populating the local saloon.  Without being a plot spoiler, by issue's end Dorothy has interacted with very different versions of the well-known Cowardly Lion and Tin Man, and is poised for further unique adventure as both the story and her efforts to reach The Emerald City continue in the upcoming issue #2.

     I was blown away by the high quality and entertainment of this new Oz title.  There's nothing more fun than coming across a fresh reinterpretation of a well-known classic tale, and we're fortunate to have such a rare gem in this new mini-series.  Writer Tom Hutchinson does a brilliant job in crafting a tale chock-full of new spins on the classic Dorothy of Oz fable.  Again, I don't want to spoil the fun for potential readers, so I'll only mention a few examples.  My personal favorite realignments of the tale are two-fold: First, the recasting of Dorothy Gale as a tough Western gunslinger chick who isn't afraid of a confrontation, whether its a verbal or literal shoot-out.  And secondly, the transformation of Dorothy's well-known little doggie sidekick Toto into a faithful horse, with a streak of smarts and independence worthy of the Lone Ranger's Silver.

     In addition to the fun story detail transformations referenced above, I was struck by the unique revision to the general atmosphere of the Oz tale.  The creative team has blended together the script and visual presentation to present a Western-style Oz adventure comparable to two other classic science fiction/fantasy tales that utilize Western themes: Stephen King's well-known Dark Tower/Gunslinger novel series and science fiction novelist Mike Resnick's western-themed novel entitled Santiago (along with its sequel, The Return Of Santiago).  The King, Resnick and Big Dog efforts all utilize the Wild West story universe structure to the utmost to produce meaningful fictional additions to their respective story genres.

     This is one of the few comics that made such an impression on me regarding literary quality and entertainment that I immediately re-read it in order to double-check and make sure I didn't miss anything meaningful, entertaining or just plain fun regarding the wonderous adventure being re-served to the reader in a brand new manner.  I've said it about the comic titles "Locke & Key," "Jersey Gods" and "I, Zombie" and I'll say it once again, here: there's a smash Showtime, HBO or SYFY Channel series just waiting to bust-out of this comic book onto the television screen.  So obviously, my review advice is to get down to That's Entertainment and pick-up your own issue #1 copy of The Legend Of Oz: The Wicked West and re-read it a few times, yourself!

Shame Itself #1 (One-Shot)
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Various Writers & Artists

     Marvel Comics recently released a one-shot spoof of its Fear Itself event series entitled "Shame Itself."  The issue features ten tales ranging from several one-page quick comedy riffs to a few multi-page stories, along with a three-page illustrated short story.  While there are many writers and artists involved in this comedy compilation, its worth noting that the team of six writers includes Wyatt Cenac and Elliott Kalan, both accomplished comedy writters for The Daily Show With John Stewart.

     The issue kicks-off with a direct spoof of the Fear Itself series in a story entitled "The Last Attack."  While it provides a funhouse mirror comedy version of Fear Itself, it also goes off on its own nutty tangent as various famous Marvel Universe supervillains become preoccupied negotiating a schedule for taking turns in trying to destroy mankind.  The story resurfaces for a conclusion at the end of the issue, while in-between the creative team fills the comic book with all types of Mad Magazine-style comedy riffs on the culture of the Marvel Comics universe.  Rather than list-out the many offerings, I'll feature my two favorites in this review.  "Unholy Reunion" is a very entertaining four-page tale from writer Elliot Kalan and Artist Dean Haspiel, in which Reed Richards and The Thing attend their college reunion.  The comedy is sharp and the story cleverly reverses their roles, as the pair revert to their respective nerd and jock stations on the college social ladder.  "M Marvelous" consists of three e-mailed dating advice questions to the publisher, each of which are answered by various Marvel superheroes.  The answers are completely nutty and provide very funny comments on the worlds of these Marvel characters.

     Much credit is due to Marvel for bringing in an A-plus team of professional comedians to script the material for this one-shot issue.  It clearly pays-off, as the quality of the funny material transcends the standard comic book funny business fare, resulting in a wide range of comedy more comparable to the sophisticated humor of, say, The Daily Show With John Stewart that writers Cenac and Kalan include in their resumes.  I know its a lot of work to put together a multi-sketch issue such as this title, but I'd love to see more of this type of ensemble comedy material from Marvel, as well as any other comic book publisher.  While a monthly schedule might be too much to expect, perhaps Marvel could consider a quarterly or bi-monthly schedule of Shame Itself or a similar series with an appropriate wacky title.

     In the meantime, my obvious thumbs-up positive advice is to savor and cherish this very creative, and more importantly hilarious, variety show of a comic riffing on all things nutty in the wide world of Marvel Comics.

Archie Meets Kiss #627
Publisher: Archie Comic Publications, Inc.
Alex Segura: Writer
Dan Parent: Pencils
Rich Koslowski: Inks

      The venerable and long-lasting flagship Archie Comics title is up to issue #627 with a special "Archie Meets Kiss" storyline.  This is part one of a two-issue multiple story arc scripted by Alex Segura with pencils by Dan Parent and inks by Rich Koslowski.

     This kick-off story segment is entitled "Riverdale Rock City."  Our plot can be divided into two scenes.  Scene one begins with the Archie gang getting together with Sabrina The Teenaged Witch to help cast a complicated spell that will protect the Town of Riverdale from a potential Halloween Eve monster invasion.  Naturally, Veronica and Reggie mess things up, resulting in the invasion of monsters which are actually humorous caricatures of various Twilight movie series characters.  In scene two, the band Kiss magically appears as part of the miscast spell.  It turns-out that the band are expert monster chasers and plan to try and make everything right again in Riverdale.  As Kiss goes off to try and do their monster thing, the Archie gang mysteriously disappears one-by-one, until Archie dramatically discovers that the monster visitors are somehow turning everyone in Riverdale into "Mindless Zombies!!!".

     Over the past few years I've reviewed a few editions of the monthly Archie comic book and I'm continually impressed with the combination of high quality writing that incorporates very relevant and recent pop culture references.  Given how long old Archie has been on the comic book publishing scene, I always expect a dated or stale storyline.  While in last year's reviewed issues we were treated to very relevant national political satire and modern perspectives on dating and marriage, here we're treated to a lighter but just as funny take on the current pop culture horror genre.  The take-off on the Twlight movies works well here, updating 1950's monster mash-type story material into the style of the current 21st century horror movie trend.  In the hands of the creative team, the idea of mixing old school pop culture icons Kiss with this theme also works well, proving to me, at least, that Kiss transcends the turnover of pop culture generations very nicely.

     On a final review note, its also fun to read this issue for the many interesting ads promoting additional Archie comics titles.  It amazes me how many varied titles that feature alternate interpretations of Archie and his gang are thriving within the Archie Comics Publications empire, including spin-off titles of every single Archie universe character, as well as a series in which the gang is drawn in a more "real world" visual style.  Issue #627 also heavily promotes the February 14, 2012 premier issue of a new series starring new character Kevin Keller, who has received national media coverage as the first openly gay character added to the 70-plus year-old Archie Comics universe.

     So in review summary, by all means don't shy away from revisiting the old Riverdale Gang in your wide-ranging monthly comic book reading; there's plenty of modern-day relevant and entertaining humor packed-into issue #627 of Archie.  And stick around to see how Kiss saves the day as the storyline concludes in issue #628!

Contest  Winner Announcement!!!

     Our current contest challenged you to correctly identify the one winner of the Best Male Actor Oscar who was denied receiving the award, which then went to the second-place runner-up.  This is a tough answer to find, so unfortunately we didn't receive any entries.  But for you trivia buffs, the answer is (drumroll, please)...that famous movie dog Rin Tin Tin!  According to Susan Orleans's current best selling Rin Tin Tin biography, the immensely-popular movie pup won the first Oscar in 1929 for his movies roles from mid-1927 to mid-1928.  But the Academy Board of Directors was upset and felt that the award would be cheapened if in its very first year it went to a dog, so they awarded the statue to runner-up human actor Emil Jannings.  Read the Orleans-penned bio for more interesting facts about Rin Tin Tin and other movie dog actors.

New Contest Announcement!!!

     Its time to usher-out 2011 and welcome-in 2012 with our annual Year's Best Comic Books contest.  Your challenge is to e-mail us at by noontime on Wednesday, January 18 and pitch to us your favorite comic book or books published in 2011 and tell us why you liked it/them so much.  Regarding my own personal favorites, stand-outs from amongst the 2011 crowd included three DC "New 52" titles (Deadman, Wonder Woman and Justice League Dark), the "Spider Island" event series from Marvel Comics, the Boom Studios Star Wars satire "Space Warped," the 2011 run of "Atomic Robo" published by Red 5 Comics and the new "The Legend Of Oz: The Wicked West" comic book published by Big Dog Ink and reviewed in this column above.  As always, our contest winner will receive the first prize $10.00 gift certificate to That's Entertainment, which you can use to buy next year's "best of 2012" comic book nominees!

     That's all for now, so have a great two weeks of mid-winter comic book reading and see you again on Friday, January 20 Here In Bongo Congo!