Two smaller publishers put out worthwhile FCBD titles intended for children. Both are recommended. . . . . . . . . .
RICHIE RICH / KUNG FU PANDA FCBD flipbook (Ape Entertainment)
RICHIE RICH in “ERUPTION DISRUPTION” = Script: Jason M. Burns Art: Tina Francisco Colors: Dustin Evans Letters: David Hedgecock Cover by Jack Lawrence
This is not the Harvey Comics RICHIE RICH that I remember. The storyline seems to be updated for a different generation of young readers. Even Richie Rich himself has a different look and a change in his hairstyle. The art seems to reflect current preferences/standards for young teen adventure books.
I didn’t read a lot of RICHIE RICH Harvey comics. Mostly I read the Richie Rich back-up stories in the pages of CASPER, HOT STUFF, or BABY HUEY. It was usually a short feature, always humorous in nature and related to Richie’s unlimited allowance which gave him freedom to do and attempt things ordinary kids lacked the finances to pull off. The longer stories in his own book did have a little more substance and usually revolved around some adventure with dangerous (but still humorous) elements. I just didn’t read many of them. An advertisement page inside the FCBD issue proclaims “Richie Rich Returns! . . . After 20 years away from comics, Richie Rich returns with all new adventures! . . . . . A mix of James Bond and Indiana Jones with the bank account of Donald Trump.” That’s a concise and very accurate summation of this newest, modern version of the character.
Richie keeps busy all the time, between school and activity with Rich Rescue, the team of friends and associates he leads into adventure. As the story opens with comic relief the Rescue team is taking a well-deserved vacation break in Hawaii. Reggie Von Dough likes to complain, and seems to have a rivalry (not sure over what) with Richie. The other friend is Gloria, a cute little red-head who may be the source of the competition. The lone adult on the team is Cadbury, acting in multiple roles as servant, butler, body guard and the muscle for the group. He’s fond of speaking in alliterations in a very formal and proper manner. When things get hectic they rely on Irona, a female robot with a unique array of powers (flight, super-suction, etc) and high-tech tools. Rounding out the group is Dollar, the family dog who is smarter than he acts. Before they can have much fun, a new threat emerges in Dr. N-R-Gee who seeks to steal all of the world’s energy but jump-starting a volcano (don’t ask me how that accomplishes his purpose). Richie defeats him in a non-violent manner that also incorporates a very brief science lesson (with explanation!) into the story.
The art is vivid and appealing for younger readers. In spite of being completely different from what I expected, Richie Rich seems promising. It’s worth taking a look at; and I may be prompted to pick up one or both of the two issues debuting in May and June (undersea adventure, and dinosaurs/cavemen) to help make up my mind.
KUNG FU PANDA in “Let The Fur Fly” Writer: Jason M Burns. Art: Dario Mazara. Colors : VC Design. . . . . and “Touch Of Destiny” Writer: Quinn Johnson. Art: Chris Houghton. Colors: Diego Rodriguez. Cover: Rolando Mallada. Letters (both): David Hedgecock.
The ink and colors in both of these stories are very sharp and vivid, creating a sense of depth - particularly when featuring main characters. The effect is as if Kung Fu Panda (“Po” by name) is always standing in the foreground, regardless of what is going on in the background. It’s very appealing and should hold the attention of younger readers/viewers.
In “Let The Fur Fly” Po is sent on a mission to enter the Forest of Isolation and find a leafy antidote to the fever rendering Tigress unconscious due to a poison in her system. In between the amusing comments from Po (usually related to food) a lesson is learned as Po must outsmart rather than out-fight his opponent to obtain the antidote.
The shorter backup feature - “Touch Of Destiny” is told only with pictures. Only until the reader gets to the last three panels is there any dialogue which explains the activity the various forest creatures were engaged in. It’s a puzzle for younger readers and is depicted very well. I confess I wasn’t sure what was going on until I came to the last page.
This flipbook serves as a nice introduction to Ape Entertainment’s offering for younger readers.
INSPECTOR GADGET + JOHNNY TEST FCBD MAY 2011 (Viper Comics) “Inspector Gadget” written by Dale Mettam. Art by Jose Coba. Letters by Tony Garza. “Johnny Test” written by Dale Mettam. Art by Ivan Escalante. Letters by Tony Garza.
One of the better cartoon programs from the 1990’s returns for new comic-book adventures - - and that’s an occasion to celebrate. Everything that made the TV show such fun is here and stays true to form. Inspector Gadget is like a cross between Inspector Clouseau and Maxwell Smart - - - a self-assured yet bumbling investigator/secret agent. The art reminds me very much of the cartoon show - - especially the dynamic two-page full blown panel on pages 2 and 3.
Gadget, his niece Penny, and companion dog Brain get an apparent expenses-paid trip on the original Orient Express train. No sooner do they arrive than the group get a new mission to safeguard a passenger on the train. Of course, the nefarious Dr Claw is also on board with plans to nab the VIP and dispose of Gadget at the same time. It ends on a cliff-hanger - - to be continued in the forthcoming INSPECTOR GADGET ON THE ORIENT EXPRESS.
The back-up JOHNNY TEST feature is my first introduction to this character. Warner Brothers owns the rights so I’m pretty certain it exists as a cartoon show on some children’s TV network even though I’ve never seen it. In spite of the distinguished ownership, the art is done in a minimalist simple style that reminds me of several recent cartoons. But that’s not a flaw. The story is very funny in a childish way, especially the bumbling midnight ninjas (a.k.a. “homework fairies”).
Johnny is a game-playing, late-night TV watching slacker who neglects his homework and lives with a family of achievers, especially his inventor-father (the latest creation - - apple and meatloaf cake.) When he finally gets to sleep two teleporting heavyset ninja garbed “elves” enter his bedroom and complete his homework, which ends up getting Johnny perfect grades. Later, a teleporting “Mary From The Future” arrives to show Johnny the future consequences of his perfect homework - - he lands a job as Senator John Test with his (talking) dog Dukey as chief-of-staff. To save the future, Mary tells Johnny he has to stop doing his homework: “Whoa! Didn’t see that coming.”, he replies.
This is a preview of JOHNNY TEST: THE ONCE AND FUTURE JOHNNY also upcoming from Viper Comics. Both of these stories look like fun. I wish I had some younger relatives to read this to.