Monday, July 30, 2012

Comic Reviews 7/30/12

Here In Bongo Congo

     Since our good readers have been coping as best they can with the recent heatwave, Good King Leonardo has decreed that we try to beat this never-ending summer heat with some refreshing new comic books.  So let's check-out some of the latest cool offerings from the new comic book shelves:
Batman #11
Publisher:  D.C. Comics
Scott Snyder: Writer
Greg Capullo: Pencils
Jonathan Glapion: Inks
Fco Plascencia: Colors
     The multi-issue "Night Of The Owls" storyline that's been unfolding in The New 52 reboot of Batman concludes in this month's issue #11.  I reviewed an earlier installment in the saga, which introduces to the Batman storyverse a seemingly omnipotent evil organization called The Court Of Owls, which has been secretly operating in Gotham for several generations, using costumed operatives known as "Talons," as a kind of anti-Batman group of costumed evildoers.  The storyline is the creation of A-list writer Scott Snyder with pencils by Greg Capullo, inks by Jonathan Glapion and colors by Fco Plascencia.
     The issue #11 wrap-up story segment unfolds in two parts.  Part One presents a final battle confrontation between Batman and a powerful Talon who is revealed as Gotham politician Lincoln March.  March is under the belief that he's actually Thomas Wayne, Jr. the long-lost brother of Bruce Wayne who Bruce believes died in a childhood accident.  Part two of the tale takes place in the aftermath of the big battle; as Bruce recuperates from major injuries, he and Dick Grayson/Robin hold an extended dialogue regarding the vagueness of Lincoln's claim as well as the mystery of Lincoln disappearing at the end of the mega-fight.  The discussion concludes with the dynamic duo making peace regarding some lingering issues between the pair, as well as leaving the threat of the Court Of Owls and the mystery of Lincoln March's true identity open for consideration in future issues of Batman.
      Since I've only read one previous Court of Owls story, I was concerned that issue #11 wouldn't hold-up as a stand-alone issue to read.  Happily, the issue works very well both on its own and as a satisfying conclusion to the ongoing saga.  During the past few years, writer Scott Snyder has contributed some major new lore to the Batman storyverse and he's hit another homerun here with the concept of "The Owls."  I loved the twist of a potential evil Wayne brother confronting Bruce Wayne/Batman, and enjoyed very much the ambiguity of the situation; there's a nice emphasis here that the lost brother story could be true or false, and it will be up to future Batman issues to either put Lincoln's belief to rest as a grand allusion or alternately welcome him to the extended Batman family as the latest bad sheep of the family (maybe he can be roommates with the bratty Damian version of Robin!).
     Its important to also acknowledge a second story in this issue, scripted by the writing partnership of Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV.  Entitled "The Fall Of The House Of Wayne," its an elequent and emotional tale alternating present-day and flashback scenes that connect Batman's faithful butler Alfred as well as Alfred's father Jarvis to the multi-generational struggle between the Batman family and The Owls.  So a definite thumbs-up positive review recommendation for The Good DC Reader to enjoy this high quality issue #11 of Batman both as a satisfying conclusion to the current Owls storyarc and as an entertaining standalone Batman comic tale.
Batman Annual #1
Publisher: D.C. Comics
Scott Snyder & James Tynion IV
Jason Fabok: Art
Peter Steigerwald: Colors
     DC's latest Batman Annual features a story in which Batman fights his well-known supervillain foe Mister Freeze.  The plot also connects somewhat with the ongoing Night Of The Owls event that concludes in the regular monthly issue #11 reviewed above.    Scott Snyder writes this story in partnership with James Tynion IV, with art by Jason Fabok and colors by Peter Steigerwald.
    The story in this Annual issue, entitled "Night Of The Owls-First Snow," is bracketed front and end with flashbacks to an event in Mr. Freeze's childhood during a snowy winter in Lincoln, Nebraska.  The bulk of the tale consists of a traditional-style confrontation between Freeze and The Caped Crusader.  After an extended thriller scene in which our villain escapes from the infamous Arkham Asylum, Freeze has an even lengthier confrontation with Batman, Nightwing and the bratty Damien version of Robin.  The goal of Freeze's effort is to seize from control from Bruce Wayne of the frozen body of Freeze's terminally ill wife Nora so she can be thawed, cured and restored to life with an antidote that Freeze initially developed for The Court of Owls.  I don't want to be a story spoiler and reveal how this plan concludes, beyond mentioning that there's a very interesting surprise plot twist that concludes the storyline.  The Annual plotline wraps-up with a two-page return to the childhood flashback that began the story, also providing an unexpected plot twist to the backstory segment of the tale.
     The creative team does an excellent job of providing us with a feature-length annual story that works well on three counts.  First, we're treated to a solid story addition to the long-running set of tales featuring Batman's battles with one of his more traditional foes.  There's even a brief appearance by The Penguin in the midst of this situation that adds an additional nice retro flair to the story.  Secondly, the art team's style and coloring is pitch perfect for portraying the impact of Batman's cold warrior foe.  I actually felt cold reading some of the more visually frosty scenes in this issue.  And third but hardly least, the writing team's surprise plot twist is both unexpected and among the best story surprises that I've read in any comic book over the past few years.  I actually fell for the deliberate writer's trap of sympathizing for Freeze's longing for his lost wife while wondering why Bruce Wayne was seemingly in the wrong in this scenario, until the plot twist revealed the true meaning of the storyline.
     So another worthy thumbs-up recommendation is due for this new issue comic book that succeeds on three counts: providing an entertaining Batman tale, presenting top-notch graphic visuals and perhaps most importantly, giving us all a chilled Mr. Freeze feel that we could all use in the middle of The Great Heatwave of 2012!

Sunset: First Look
Publisher: Image Comics/Top Cow Productions, Inc.
Christos Gage: Writer
Jorge Lucas: Art

     Image Comics and Top Cow Productions have just published a comic issue offering a first look at a portion of a new graphic novel entitled "Sunset."  The creator-owned production is written by Christos Gage with art by Jorge Lucas.  For the affordable price of $1.00, the comic book apparently presents the first 22 pages of a book-length tale that is also currently available in original hardcover format.

     The plot centers on Nick Bellamy, a California retiree who, together with his housekeeper, cares for his apparently Altzeimer-afflicted aged wife.  The stoic Nick clearly sees society as having declined in civility, as on a trip to the local supermarket he encounters several crass and extremely rude younger folk.  Nick's errand is interrupted by three mobsters who confront him to collect money that he supposedly took from their boss decades earlier.  The story explodes into a slaughterfest, as Nick kills his attackers in an unexpected display of sharp reflexes and visciousness, then returns home to slaughter more bad guys who had killed his wife and the housekeeper while waiting for Nick's return.  The preview issue concludes with Nick torching his house and setting-off to confront the mobster responsible for the attack.

     I was not entertained by this comic book, for a few reasons.  First, in characterization and story concept, Sunset is a carbon copy of the acclaimed 2008 movie "Grand Torino," which starred Clint Eastwood as an aged loner in a very similar life circumstance, i.e., American society has declined to sucky incivility and only one senior citizen continues to comport himself with personal grace and dignity.  Secondly, after viewing the high quality of the Eastwood film, its jarring to see the same tale painted-over with heavy layers of blood and gore.  And third, the black-and-white art combined with Jorge Lucas's particular graphic style is a very uncomfortable viewing experience.  It didn't take long for me to dread turning the page to continue squinting at this difficult visual presentation.

     I'm a huge fan of Worcester native Chris Gage's prolific and high quality comic book scripting, particularly his excellent work at Marvel.  But while Gage's scripting here is professional and strong, the negatives outlined above tip the balance in this instance into a negative review recommendation.  If you're a fan of Gage's work in general, feel free to add this comic book and/or the accompanying graphic novel to your collection as another example of his body of work.  But if you're just looking for a stand-alone, summertime thriller or noir-style comic book read, I'd recommend searching further along the new issues shelves for another title.

The Massive #2
Publisher: Dark Horse Comics
Brian Wood: Writer
Kristian Donaldson: Art
Dave Stewart: Colors

     Dark Horse Comics is in the middle of publishing a three-issue premier story arc for a new science fiction series entitled The Massive.  The series follows the dramatic struggles of a band of seafaring environmentalists struggling to survive in a post-crash world.  Issue #1 kicks-off the three-part story entitled "Landfall," establishing the concept that the global environment and world social order has collapsed following a series of unexplained environmental mega-disasters.  The Ninth Wave oceanic activist group is patrolling the Bering Strait searching for their lost sister ship called The Massive when they're attacked by Siberian pirates.  Sub-plots established in issue #1 included the pirate attack and mysteries surrounding both the fate of The Massive and the cause of the world-wide collapse.  The series is scripted by Brian Wood with art by Kristian Donaldson and colors by Dave Stewart.

     Issue #2 advances the plot in three alternating storythreads.  A new subplot focuses on the struggles of The Ninth Wave activists one year ago at the start of the world-wide collapse.  Group leader Israel Callum leads the battered team into Hong Kong harbor in search of fuel and supplies within the partly-submerged city.  Action ensues as the team has a deadly confrontation with local residents struggling to establish a new social order.  The additional two subplots continue story elements from issue #1, further progressing the Siberian pirate confrontation and the slow revealing of the details of the world-wide collapse.  By issue's end, the crew has discovered a bit more about the origins of the pirate attack, while a few of the environmentalists begin crossing the Bering Strait to seek help in what's left of Alaska.

     This is a suspenseful and entertaining sci-fi adventure series that works well for several reasons.  The best thing that this series has going for it is the strong writing skills of A-list scripter Brian Woods.  Woods avoids the easy trap of environmental preachiness, using the main event of worldwide collapse as an always close backdrop while he focuses on unfolding a traditional thriller adventure tale.  His cast of characters are diverse and well-rounded, from group leader Israel Callum through the main and supporting cast members.  I particularly enjoyed the air of mystery saturating this tale; at every twist and turn there are one or more mysteries thrown at the reader, from the origins of the world disaster to the mystery of the missing ship, all the way down to the vague personal backgrounds and hidden secrets of just about every crew member.

     There's a lot of engrossing entertainment in the first two issues of this series, so much so that I'm wondering how the creative team is going to give us any sense of story arc completeness with only one more monthly issue remaining in this brief kick-off three-part story arc.  But in the hands of this skilled creative team, I'm confident that the initial story conclusion in next month's issue #3 will establish enough goings-on to carry this title into worthwhile additional monthly story adventures.  So get on down to That's Entertainment and add this very enjoyable science fiction adventure series to your always-growing summertime new issues reading pile!

Contest Winner Announcement!!!

      Our latest contest challenged you to correctly identify the few players in Major League Baseball history who have actually played all nine (9) field positions in only one game.  And our contest winner is (drumroll, please)...Ray Loughlin III, who correctly identified the five following players who have achieved the rare feat: Bert Campaneris (A's, 1965), Cesar Tovar (Twins, 1968), Jose Oquendo (Cardinals, 1988), Scott Shelden (Rangers, 2000) and Shane Halter (Tigers, 2000).  Congratulations to Ray, who wins our first prize $10.00 gift certificate to That's Entertainment!!!

New Contest Challenge Announcement!!!

     Since we're in the middle of the baseball season, let's stick with baseball for our new contest.  Our latest contest challenge is an off-beat Red Sox trivia question suggested by Ray Loughlin, Jr., father of our contest winner above.  Your new challenge is to e-mail us at no later than Wednesday, August 8 listing as many Red Sox players as you can find in the history of the team whose last name is the same as a Massachusetts city or town.  Whoever correctly lists the most players in this category will win our first prize $10.00 gift certificate to That's Entertainment.  In the event of multiple entries of lists with the same number of correct players, the winner will be selected from among those entries via a roll of the dice.  Please note that our first prize $10.00 gift certificate to That's Entertainment is redeemable for regular retail merchandise or in-store ongoing specials, only.

     That's all for now, so have two great 2012 London Olympics-watching and comic book reading weeks and see you again on Friday, August 10 Here In Bongo Congo!

Friday, July 13, 2012

Comic Reviews 7/13/12

Here In Bongo Congo

     Good King Leonardo has decreed that we kick-off this week's column with a review of a new nonfiction book on the current status of the comic book industry, followed by reviews of three new comic book titles.  So let's get right to our reading material and see what these new publications are all about:
Comic-Con And The Business Of Pop Culture
Publisher: McGraw Hill
Rob Salkowitz: Author
    McGraw Hill has just published a new non-fiction book that examines both the flagship San Diego Comic-Con and the wider issue of the future of comic books within the ever-changing world of the global multimedia entertainment system.  The investigation is authored by Rob Salkowitz, a self-confessed 40-something comic fanboy who also happens to be an experienced business technology consultant, futurist and instructor in the Digital Media program at the University of Washington.
     Even non-fanboys and fangirls are aware of the rise of comics in the past generation to a lucrative position at the center of American popular culture.  Salkowitz begins his investigation by initially charting that ascension, centering upon the evolution of San Diego Comic-Con from a small 1970 funny book show to today's multi-media Hollywood extravaganza that attracts at least 130,000 attendees every July for a four-day mega-media blitz. The story quickly shifts to the July 2011 Comic-Con, in which Salkowitz and his fellow fan wife Eunice immerse themselves in the San Diego transmedia experience that crossconnects and ultimately dwarfs the traditional comic book industry with all forms of modern-day technological visual delivery at a global scale.
     Its a dizzying trip through Comic-Con, as Salkowitz deftly lays-out the complexity, depth and color of an industry that on the one hand has exploded with Hollywood corporate commitment and funding while on the opposite extreme experiences ever more balkanization and confusing fragmentation, as new technologies accelerate such trends as hands-on fan involvement, print-on-demand production and creator-owned properties that all jostle for attention and ultimate domination of the comics industry.
     However, the theme of the book isn't Comic-Con in and of itself, but rather how the San Diego experience encapsulates the bigger struggles occuring in 2012 for the heart and soul of the general comics-related entertainment industry.  Such megatrends as Hollywood embracing big-budget comic movie productions and digital comic book downloading have moved comics into what Salkowitz calls the world of "transmedia."  As such, in the transmedia environment, the traditional Batman comic book is now interlinked with Batman movies, animated t.v. shows, digital downloads, fan-based creative endeavors and of course video games, such as the "Lego Batman 2" game which received a positive review just this morning in my local town newspaper.  The result is a dizzying choice of ever-changing entertainment options, all of which accelerate the decline of the traditional back issue comic-collecting hobby as well as a nationwide plummeting of sales for monthly new issue, traditional print comic books.
     The strength of this investigation is two-fold.  First, we're treated to many interesting facts about how we got to the current crossroads in the comics industry as well as facts regarding the current state of the genre.  My favorite nugget culled from this information category is a fascinating explanation of how the comic book publishing industry back in the 1980's completely ruined the "training," so to speak, of comics reading within the general populace by abandoning traditional pharmacy sales in order to sole-source sales through emerging speciality comics shops.  This lessening of common retail outlets offering comics took parental purchase power out of the sales picture, as parents were more inclined to buy their youngsters comics during routine family shopping excursions as opposed to going out of their way to visit the unfamiliar new concept of specialty shops.
     Secondly and more importantly, Salkowitz brings his professional corporate analysis skills to bear in analyzing the comics industry's future place in the ever-expanding transmedia world.  Using the management technique of scenario planning, he postulates four potential future paths for the health of the comics industry.  Creatively labeling these scenarios as Endless Summer, Infinite Crisis, The Expanding Multiverse and Ghost World, these hypothetical futures range from positive comics expansion into the new transmedia alternatives to negative decline into a niche specialty hobby on par with antiquing or poetry reading.  Salkowitz emphasizes that no one scenario will be predictive of the true future, but rather elements of two or more of these alternatives will likely blend into a true future reality for the industry.
     Beyond the obvious conclusion that this book is a fun and entertaining read for all of comic fandom, this is an important book in many respects; similar to its subject matter, Salkowitz's investigation transcends the niche of comicdom, interconnecting our fun hobby with wider societal and popular culture issues.  There are very valuable lessons offered here on understanding such interconnected subjects as the global economy, ever-accelerating advances in popular technology and communication, mass media and the traditional genres of art and creativity.  "Comic Con And The Business Of Pop Culture" itself even transcends traditional publishing sales categories, with its subject matter making it a worthy and valuable addition to reading lists on corporate management, futurism and sociology.  The book breaks new ground in our understanding of the overdrive characterizing today's popular culture and as such deserves to be at the very top of any recommended reading list, from summer reading to management references to academic reading lists.
     So take advantage of the various methodologies explored in the book: whether by traditional bookstore or internet purchase, whether in traditional print format or Kindle/I-Pad/Whatever, by all means purchase and read a copy of this groundbreaking work that illuminates all that is happening right now in the fast-paced and ever-shifting world of American and global popular culture.
Atomic Robo #1 (Volume 7)
Publisher: Red 5 Comics
Brian Clevinger: Writer
Scott Wegener: Art
Nick Filardi: Colors

     Everyone's favorite sentient robot is back this month with the premier issue #1 in Volume 7 of Atomic Robo, published by Red 5 Comics.  For the uninitiated, Atomic Robo was created in 1923 by Thomas Edison's inventor rival Nichola Tesla.  As the genius head of Tesladyne research corporation, Robo has globespanning science/explorer/thriller adventures.  The extremely popular series is well-known for three elements: dry wit/tongue-in-cheek humor, the clever story element of setting each 5-issue story volume in a different post-1920's historical era and the sporadic appearance of Dr. Dinosaur, one of the more entertaining idiot villains in current comic book publishing.  Atomic Robo is the creation of writer Brian Clevinger, artist Scott Wegener and colorist Nick Filardi.

     The new multi-issue story arc is entitled "The Flying She-Devils Of The Pacific."  Set in 1951, the issue #1 plot unfolds in three acts.  Act One is an extended fight scene; as Robo tests an early jetfighter prototype, he stumbles into an airbattle between two groups of high tech air combatants.  Act Two unfolds after Robo is shot-down and rescued by one side from the battle.  The premise unfolds that the rescuers are a group of former South Pacific female WW II Allied soldiers who went AWOL after the war, apparently continuing combat against a similar group of Japanese deserters.  Everyone's using high tech weaponry designed by a few eccentric inventors affiliated with each side of the fight.  Act Three focuses on the Japanese side of the secret war, as in a bridge to next month's issue #2 story segment, the Japanese forces successfully complete phase one of a new strategy to finally win the 6-year-long post-WW II conflict.

     I'm an unabashed major fan of all things Atomic Robo, from the artwork to the humor to the highly entertaining personalities of Robo and his regular support characters, so its doubtful that I would stray from heaping high praise on any new issue of this title.  However, there are a few story elements within Volume 7 that differentiate the current storyline from the previous story volumes and are worth noting.  First-up is a deeper layer of story detail and dialogue than found in previous Robo issues.  I've been frustrated at times by the quickness of earlier Robo tales, fast-paced with minimal story narrative and dialogue.  There's a lot more story meat in this issue, giving the reader the feel of almost two story segments in one issue.  A second element worth noting is the plot premise itself.  Hats-off is due to writer Brian Clevinger for coming-up with a very fresh and unique WW II spin-off storyline.  There's a fun science fiction feel to the story concept of a secret WW II conflict continuing in the South Pacific for years after the real-world 1945 end of the war.  It should be fun to see where this fictional history takes us in upcoming story segments.

     Our third interesting story element is an emphasis on strong female characters carrying the storyline.  Atomic Robo has always been a comic title that features strong women, whether they're brilliant Tesladyne scientists or fellow adventurers who rescue Robo and save the day as much as their male counterparts.  This story element is featured even more front-and-center in this tale, with issue #1 introducing some very entertaining individual women characters who together comprise the all-female Allied fighting forces against the seemingly all-male Japanese military forces.  These three story elements combine with the usual high quality of this title to produce the most entertaining volume yet of this remarkable and just-plain-fun comic book adventure series.  So an obvious thumbs-up positive review recommendation to get onboard with issue #1 of this latest Robo volume and while you're at it, check-out the back issues and graphic reprint compilations of the first six volumes, all available at That's Entertainment!

Winter Soldier #7
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Ed Brubaker: Writer
Michael Lark: Pencils
Brian Theis & Stefano Gaudiano: Inks
Bettie Breitweiser: Colors

     Marvel Comics is currently up to issue #7 of its Winter Soldier title.  As all Good Marvel Readers know, the Winter Soldier is a current-day persona of Captain America's sidekick James "Bucky" Barnes, who was revived by Soviet agents after his initial WWII death and brainwashed to serve as a Cold War Soviet assassin.  These days, a memory-restored Bucky/Winter Soldier has espionage adventures working with his sidekick the Black Widow/Natasha Romanov in coordination with U.S. spy services.  This comic book title is currently scripted by A-list writer Ed Brubaker with pencils by Michael Lark, inks by Brian Theis and Stefano Gaudiano, and colors by Bettie Breitweiser.

     Issue #7 is part two of a multi-issue story arc entitled "Broken Arrow."  A page one narrative summarizes the story so far, explaining that rogue former Soviet agent Leonid Novokov whom Bucky had mentored in his bad old days is on the attack, killing former stand-ins of the Winter Soldier on order to flush Bucky out into an open confrontation.  In the first half of the issue, our duo, in partnership with CIA Agent Sitwell, follow Novokov's trail of carnage as he kidnaps an American research scientist.  When the Black Widow discovers a secret past of the scientist relevant to her own personal history, the action ramps-up in the second part of the tale, as the good guys conduct a fast-paced raid on the suspected location of their prey.  After a dramatic car chase, the story segment ends in a cliffhanger to issue #8, as Novokov both springs a trap and reveals an unexpected motive for his actions.

     This is a very entertaining non-mega event comic book, of the high quality that I've come to expect from comics creator Ed Brubaker.  In many ways, Brubaker is the legimate Marvel heir to the late, great Gene Colan, consistently delivering serious thriller stories that blend real world situations with various Marvel hero characters in a visually-pleasing cinematic graphic style.  Reading this comic book is a visual experience akin to watching an entertaining television or movie spy thriller.  While the entire creative team deserves credit, a particular shout-out is due to colorist Bettie Breitweiser, whose color pallette and shadings are pitch perfect for the tone of this style of spy adventure.

     Again, I don't want to be a spoilsport and reveal any specifics, but there's a host of entertaining twists and plot surprises scattered throughout this issue.  Those story gems, combined with the writing and artwork quality detailed above, ultimately mix together to produce a very satisfying hero/thriller adventure tale.  So yet another positive thumbs-up review recommendation to definitely include this enjoyable comic book in your ever-growing pile of summertime new comic books.

The Tick #100: The Tick Meets Invincible
Publisher: New England Comics Press
Benito Cereno: Writer
Les McClaine: Art

     There's an issue #100 special edition of The Tick currently on the new issues shelves.  Many fans are no doubt aware of the colorful background story to the origin of this popular character.  The Tick was created by 18-year-old Ben Edlund in 1986 as a newsletter mascot for Norwood-based New England Comics.  When Edland further produced a few black-and-white issues for the comic shop, the character took-off huge, eventually going national and crossing genres from nationwide comic book sales to a three-season Fox network animated series, culminating with a short-lived 2001 live-action Fox series starring well-known comic actor Patrick Warburton in the title role.  The Tick is an iconic parody of superhero comics, with our good-hearted oddball hero fighting crime to the sound of his nonsensical battle cry of "Spoon!"  Issue #100 is written by Benito Cereno with art by Les McClaine.

     The issue #100 story is entitled "Nigh-Invincible" and co-stars the Robert Kirkman/Cory Walker-created superhero Invincible.  The goofy plot kicks-off with a local turf war breaking-out between rival villain gangs respectively led by Tick perennial villain Chairface and Martin Of Mars, a new villain leader in Town.  When Martin uses a weapon to pull Invincible to our timeline from an alternate reality, its up to the new dynamic duo, assisted by Tick's regular cast of sidekicks, to take-on the new baddie and his gang of blob creatures.  When Martin of Mars accidentally kills the Tick's best buddy Arthur, our hero goes nuts, following Martin back to Mars and with the assistance of Invincible, dispatching the villain in a wacky and mega-scale way.  The issue ends with a surprise twist that will surely lead to the happy return to life of Arthur in the next Tick issue.

     I was quickly won over to this highly entertaining and funny comic book for a few reasons, the first being the top notch humor and storytelling.  The current creative team of writer Benito Cereno and artist Les McClaine just plainly know what they're doing, producing a sharp superhero parody that transcends the regional publishing roots of this title, placing the Tick on par with the best of the funny stuff out there in the wide world of comic book publishing.  A second shout-out is due for the quality of the parody details; in addition to the basic funniness, there's an effective element of superhero satire throughout the issue.  My favorite item in this category is the persona of Martin The Martian, who's clearly a buffed tribute to the pint-sized Martian featured in many classic Bugs Bunny cartoons.  He even delivers the familiar "this makes me angry, very angry indeed..." line from those classic Bugs/Martian confrontations.

     A third tip-of-the-review-hat is deserved for the filler material that follows the 24-page main story.  This oversized anniversary issue is stuffed with articles, columns, previous cover reproductions and sketch/panel reprints well-worth the bargain $6.99 issue price.  My favorite bit of anniversary news gleaned from this material is the dual confession of writer Cereno and publisher George Suarez that this isn't really a 100th anniversary issue!  When one adds-up all of the previous tick issues under various title runs, there's slightly over 100, but what the heck, since there are "at least 99 issues of The Tick prior to this one," why not throw a summertime party and crown the latest issue with the official 100th title designation as the centerpiece for a mid-summer celebration!  That's a wacky philosophy that you gotta love and only adds to the campiness and humor of this Tick special edition.  So by all means, load-up on some summertime laughs with this enjoyable riff on superheroing starring our likeable hero buddy from nearby Norton, Massachusetts!

Contest Winner Announcement!!!

     Our latest contest challenge was for you to pitch to us your favorite current television series within the science fiction/fantasy/horror genre.  The Bongo Congo Panel of Contest Judges received several fine and worthy series nominations, all of which are interesting shows within the genre.  And our winner is (drumroll, please)...Stan Hosmer, who wins with his nomination of Doctor Who as his favorite science fiction t.v. series.  Stan explains that he loves the backstory, the rotating cast of companions and imaginative creatures/villains and how the main character manages to remain a mystery in many ways.  He also admires the fantastic way that the show's creators cover for themselves when whenever there's a substitution of the actor who plays the character of Dr. Who himself.

     For those of you unfamiliar with the show, the series began in 1963 and is the longest-running science fiction television show in the world.  The role of the Doctor has been played by 11 different actors over the years, with the change in person cleverly explained as the good Doctor "regenerating" himself with new features and a new personality.  Congratulations to Stan who wins our first prize $10.00 gift certificate to That's Entertainment!

New Contest Challenge Announcement!!!

     Given that we're in the dog days of summer baseball with our Red Sox mired at the bottom of the AL East Division, the Bongo Congo Panel of Contest Judges has decided to try and cheer-up fans with a baseball trivia contest.  Your challenge is to e-mail us at no later than Wednesday, July 25 with the answer to the following question: What are the names of the few Major League Baseball players who have actually played all nine field positions in the course of one game (that includes pitcher and catcher!).  Believe it or not, the situation has occurred more than one time.  As always, in the event of multiple correct entries, our contest winner will be chosen via a roll of the dice.  Please note that our first prize $10.00 gift certificate to That's Entertainment is redeemable for regular retail merchandise or in-store ongoing specials, only.

     That's all for now, so have two great summertime weather and comic book reading weeks and see you again on Friday, July 27 Here In Bongo Congo!