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Friday, September 14, 2007

An Okie With a Big Hammer

Can't believe I haven't mentioned this yet, but one of Marvel Comics' "big boys" is now hanging his helmet in Oklahoma. The Mighty Thor will be rubbing elbows with the common folk in America's heartland for a while, courtesy of writer J. Michael Straczynski and artist Olivier Coipel.

The funny thing about this is that I took a peek at issue number one when I spotted it on a spinner rack at a bookstore (yeah, they have those again, but they're not HALF as cool as the old metal ones), and quickly went through it. And, though I knew about the new creative team, I had no idea the story was set in my home state, and I didn't pick it up. Bummer.

Ah, well. I'm sure I'll be picking up the initial trade paperback, as the first two issues have sold out, according to this story from NewsOk. Our old friend Kevin Stark, of the Toy and Action Figure Museum even has a blurb in there! Way to go, Kev!

I wonder...., will the creative team keep ol' Goldilocks in the Sooner State long enough to develop an accent? And, will he root for the Sooners or the Cowboys? The suspense is building...

Robot Manga Boy!

Ok, he's not called that, but he LOOKS like one! I'm talking about Zeno, the "robot boy" created by a man who has a young son by the same name.

David Hanson, of Richardson, Texas has hopes of getting "Manga Boy" on the toy store shelves in three years. Gotta admit, it'd be a pretty cool toy, as he's creating it to be interactive. You know, recognizing people, "seeing" things, an expressive face. Hate to think what the price tag would be, however.

See a video of Zeno here.

Betty & Veronica Double Digest #s 151-153/$3.69 and 161 pages each from Archie Comics

Those two wholesome look-alikes, Betty and Veronica, have gotten real. The two are easily the best known teenage girls in the history of comic books, and have always been drawn in the minimalist style associated with animated cartoons. But their last three anthologies are experimental; the lead story features Archie’s two girlfriends drawn in a more realistic style that makes them look more distinct from one another. In addition, these stories also add a slight edge to their continuity as Veronica dates a ‘bad’ boy.

It is almost certain that this approach was taken to increase publicity for Archie Comics through the outraged reviews of diehard fans, and through shocked media reports. One might suspect that the publishers are also dipping their toes into a new pool to test the waters for future, more realistic adventures. This reviewer is neither outraged nor shocked, and hasn’t heard a peep in the media.

These lead stories are well-written and drawn, and are followed by more than 100 pages of Betty and Veronica as they have traditionally been portrayed. Both versions are entertaining.

Although this male reviewer can’t be certain, both Betty and Veronica seem to ring true as girls, although their world is much more pleasant than the real one. Real young girls should find much to relate to in these young ladies, and will enjoy these stories.

Recommended for preteens yearning to become teenagers.

Various writers and artists/unlike most comic books, sold in lots of places.

MINIVIEW: Thunderhead Underground Falls [Alternative Comics]. Two young, outcast lovers steal a few moments together before the boy leaves for military service. Drawn in an unpolished, unsophisticated style with lots and lots of silent panels and pages, this is a five minute, unsatisfying read.

Reviews By Michael Vance