TONY'S ONLINE TIPS From COMICS BUYER'S GUIDE #1469 (01/26/02)
"The most creative of each species, with the ability to tell any story, shaped these worlds and breathed life into these heroes. Surely, each creator did so with an artist's eye and with all the joy which comes from creating."
Bezeletredad, an omnipotent and omniscient being, at least by our three-dimensional standards, who, nevertheless, found the time to appear in GALAXY-SIZE ASTOUNDING SPACE THRILLS #1.
Columnists amuse editors at their own peril. Three weeks ago, when I reviewed Archie comics and digests and rated them on a scale of one to five "Juggies," it was mostly for my personal sophomoric delight in seeing the word "Juggies" in print, over and over again, in this lofty publication.
Much to my surprise, my CBG editors loved it. So much so that when, a week later, I reviewed comics from Oni Press sans any such ratings system, they were crestfallen. As they picked their tubes of toothpaste up from the floor, I promised I would devise new and even more entertaining ratings for future columns.
This week, I am reviewing 12 of 22 Image Comics titles sent to me by Image's outgoing Director of Marketing Anthony Bozzi. Here's the introductory drill on these reviews
With two exceptions, I have never read an issue of these mags. I expect creators to make their comics accessible to new readers, no matter if it's the first issue of a title or the last. I expect art and coloring and lettering and writing to be in service of the story. When it comes to letters columns, if the designer gets all into being design-y to the point where I can't read the darn pages, the comic book loses valuable points.
These comics will be rated on a scale of one to five "I"s with the Image "I" being used as the visual depiction of their ratings. However, since that wouldn't be funny all by itself, I'm asking you to say "I" with a Cuban inflection. So, a really good comic would earn an "ie-ie-ie-ie-ie!" That's right; this week's comics will be rated on the following Ricky Ricardo scale.
Ie-ie-ie-ie-ie: "I love Lucy!"
Ie-ie-ie-ie: "I like Lucy!"
Ie-ie-ie: "Lucy, you got some splaining to do!" Ie-ie: "No, Lucy, you can't be in the show!" Ie: "I loathe Lucy!"
We'll leave the whole question of whether or not I retain even a small shred of my dignity for another time.
DARK ANGEL: PHOENIX RESURRECTION #4 ($2.95): I'm a fan of Kia Asamiya's work, but I didn't have a clue what this comic was about until I read an advertisement for CPM Manga's monthly reprints of the original series about the Dark Angel characters. From the ad, I kind of sort of get that the hero has taken on the mantle of the Phantom Saint and seeks to master the arts of magic and war, but I don't know how it relates to this Image series.
Asamiya's art is gorgeous and, were I given a "what has gone before," I might have enjoyed the story as well. Jonathan D. Smith gets a tad carried away with the computer coloring here and there, but, generally, holds up his end nicely. What hurts this issue is its inaccessibility. I can only give it an: ie-ie-ie!
FELON #1 ($2.95): Cassiday walks out of prison after serving five years. She wants her share of the ill-gotten gains from the robbery that put her there, but it doesn't appear that her cohorts in the crime are eager to hand it over. This leads to much tough talking and some mild violence, alleviated only by an amusing bus ride. I've no complaints about the technical skills of writer Greg
Rucka, penciler Matthew Clark, inker Ray Synder, and colorist Matt Nelson, but nothing in this issue made me want to come back for the next one. I give it an: ie-ie.
GALAXY-SIZED ASTOUNDING SPACE THRILLS #1 ($4.95): Steve Conley recaptures the Golden Age of juvenile science fiction in his Argosy Smith stories. This satisfying hunk of comic features "Blueprints of Tomorrow," an exciting and thoughtful tale in which Argosy must compete with other iconic heroes to determine the direction of all reality. I think Conley was a little hard on the competition, but I got a kick out of this adventure.
Backing up the lead are a plethora of background features and a terrific Crater Kid story-within-a-story by Marty Baumann and the late Pat Boyette. The 45 pages of interior story, art, and feature pages gives this book the feel of the classic Marvel Comics annuals of the early 1960s and that earns it an: ie-ie-ie-ie-ie!
G.I. JOE COMIC BOOK #2 ($2.95): This falls squarely into the ranks of comic books I want to like a lot more than I can. The J. Scott Campbell cover does nada for me; I've seen its like hundreds of times before. The story has too many characters who spend far too many panels talking about what's going on; the overcrowding never gave me a chance to care about any of them. When the action does finally start, the storytelling lacks clarity. The end result is a book that fails to keep my interest.
I realize I'm arguing against success here. The book is doing extremely well in the marketplace. Long-time fans of the G.I. Joe heroes and villains may well know who these characters are without the introductions I expect. But I think the creators overestimated their ability to handle the large cast and epic scope of their tale and that overconfidence hurt the book. The best rating I can give this issue is an: ie-ie.
IMAGE INTRODUCES...PRIMATE #1 ($2.95): Think Mighty Joe Young with excessive gore. In the future, writers/creators Beau Smith and Kevin Bernhardt should focus more on the possibilities inherent in the secret of their intelligent ape protagonist and less on the body counts. Kudos to artists Mitch Byrd and Ryan Odagawa for some fine work, and to the writers for the moving lines they wrote for anthropologist Catherine Lim at the end of the story. If I ignore the boring preview of the next series to debut in IMAGE INTRODUCES, I can see my way to giving this issue an: ie-ie-ie.
LAST SHOT #2 ($2.95): The back cover does an excellent job of setting up this issue's story for a new reader-"In a world ruled by bounty hunters, survival means carrying the biggest gun" is how the intro begins-but the story itself was too thin to interest me. I need more substance from comics I read. The creators get points for their feature pages, but lose them with the unreadable letters column. I give the book an: ie-ie.
MAGDALENA/ANGELUS #1/2 ($2.95): Avatars of light and darkness clash with enough leaden exposition and overblown verbiage to make me consider mime an art form. The art is "old school Image," lots of lines battling with self-conscious computer coloring effects for the reader's attention. Even before I realized this comic offers a paltry 16 pages of story for its three-buck cover price, I wished I could give it a lower rating than: ie.
MICHAEL TURNER'S FATHOM: KILLIAN'S TIDE #4 ($2.95): Although a "The Story Thus Far" paragraph on the inside front cover gave me an opening into the story, it didn't give me enough background to care about these characters or understand their aquatic world. I felt as if I had sat down during the last ten minutes of a movie, which, in a way, I had, but there was nothing in those ten minutes that made me want to see the whole thing. It's a better book than
MAGDALENA/ANGELUS, but it still gets an: ie.
NOBLE CAUSES: FIRST IMPRESSIONS #1 ($2.95): Jay Faerber's new series about an elite family of super-heroes looks to be great fun. His characters are believable and likeable in a soap-opera kind of way. His authorial storytelling skills (and those of artists Billy Dallas Patton and Patrick Gleason) are top-notch. And, in the area of bang-for-your-buck, this introductory one-shot has two complete stories, one of them a delightful flashback showing the meeting of two key players. I love this book and I'll be sticking with it as it begins its ongoing run. I give it an: ie-ie-ie-ie-ie!
OBERGEIST: RAGNAROK HIGHWAY #6 ($2.95): A series about a Nazi butcher of Hitler/Mengele proportions seeking his redemption isn't something I'd rush to the comic shop to buy. Even allowing for the solid work of writer Dan Jolley, penciler Tony Harris, inker Ray Snyder, and colorist Matt Hollingsworth, even allowing that I might have had more of a connection to the characters and story if I had read the previous five issues, this still isn't a book that holds any interest for me. And, since my personal sensibilities are what determines the rating, I can only give it an ie-ie.
POWERS #14 ($2.95): I love the idea of cops and super-heroes crossing over into each other's worlds. Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Oeming faced my high expectations for this oft-praised series and largely met them as hero-turned-detective Christian Walker and "spunky rookie" Denna Pilgrim conclude their investigation of the suspicious death of Olympia. I don't know if previous issues have offered readers a closer look at Walker's and Pilgrim's lives, but that was the one aspect of the book I felt was lacking. Of course, if the previous POWERS comics have done that, I'll be finding that out as soon as I can get my hands on the back issues.
POWERS is now a must-read for me and that earns this issue an: ie-ie-ie-ie-ie!
POWERS ANNUAL#1 ($3.95): If I weren't already sold on POWERS, this annual would have sealed the deal. It starts with a 13-page story in which Walker and Pilgrim investigate a homicide involving an unregistered super-hero and a deceased super-villain. Save for some flashbacks, the tale is told in the "box," the foreboding room where the cops interrogate their suspects. The Bendis dialogue is always on the money, working with Oeming's knack for body language and facial expression.
The lead story is followed by an illustrated 26-page segment of the transcript from the trial which takes place after the events of the story. It's surprisingly breezy reading, marred only by the way-too-easy conclusion of the trial.
Wait, there's more. We get a four-page letters column wherein Bendis asks his comics industry pals to share stories of e-mailed rudeness. Bendis has his own style for creating letters columns: his frequent profanity is of the tongue-in-cheek "Aren't I the bad boy" kind; he doesn't take himself too seriously; his hucksterism is amusing in its utter lack of shame; and he's clearly having fun
with all of the above. I had fun, too, which, after all, is what's really important here.
The annual finishes with six pages of Oeming sketches. That adds up to a whole lot of crunchy goodness for four bucks and earns the POWERS team their second ie-ie-ie-ie-ie of the week.
Hey, kids, we're now just slightly past the halfway point of my Image Comics reviews. Come back next week and, not only will we have the rest of the reviews, but, if you bring your maracas, you might even get to shake them with Ricky's band. And, as always, you crazy redheads are most welcome!
CBG AND ME
Mark Evanier announced yesterday that he had written his final column for CBG. By yesterday evening, I had received a dozen or so e-mails asking me about the news and also about my own status with comicdom's newspaper. The short answers are
Yes, I knew about this before Mark's announcement. It was not a surprise to me. As for Mark's reasons, those are his to discuss or not discuss as he sees fit.
No, I'm not ending my own CBG column. I've signed a contract to write "TONY'S TIPS" through 2002. Barring any new developments from Krause or in my own situation, I expect to continue reviewing recent comics and comics-related items in CBG as I have since the beginning of the year.
Yes, those columns will continue to be reprinted right here, approximately a month after they have appeared in print. I'll also continue to add new material to the columns for their presentation here. Am I a sweetheart or what?
Fans of Mark's column can still find him writing about lots of cool stuff at his POINT OF VIEW ONLINE website
Mark updates this website frequently, so bookmark and make it a point to visit it regularly. You won't find a more entertaining or informative writer anywhere.
I have a stack of ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY issues I'm too anal to put into the recycle bin until I share some of their contents with you. Leave us start with tidbits from recent installments of "Jim Mullen's Hot Sheet"
AMERICAN FLAGS. Everyone wants to show their patriotism now. China can't make them fast enough.
KATE & LEOPOLD. Modern Meg Ryan falls in love with a guy who lives in the year 1876. Trent Lott.
BURNING HARRY POTTER BOOKS. They contain no swearing, no sex, no drugs, and good wins over evil. Do you really want your kids reading that kind of crap?
THE BEATLES. They had 2001's No. 1 album. Sure, they didn't have to compete with Freddie & the Dreamers this time.
PEOPLE'S CHOICE AWARDS. I don't remember being asked to vote, do you? Who runs this thing-Katherine Harris?
From the November 2 issue
EW critic Marc Bernardin gave a "B-" to Rhino's BATTLE OF THE PLANETS video, calling it "a horrible, horrible, great show about five teenagers who fly around in a fancy blue fighter jet (which can transmute' into a bird made of fire...don't ask) looking for alien robots to fight." He continues
"What makes it so bad is also what makes it so priceless: the 70s lounge soundtrack, the ridiculous costumes, and the voice work of Casey Kasum, who can make almost anything sound like an episode of Scooby-Doo."
SMALLVILLE and ANGEL got some decent play from Ken Tucker in this issue. He gave the adventures of Superman when he was a teen a solid "B" and the continuing saga of the vampire-with-a-soul a healthy "B-."
"Books" critic Ty Barr gave LITTLE LIT: STRANGE STORIES FOR STRANGE KIDS a "B+". The anthology is edited by Art Spiegelman and Francoise Mouly and features comics by Paul Auster, Jules Feiffer, Kim Deitch, and Crockett Johnson.
In the issue's "EW Recommends" section, DC/Vertigo's moody I, PAPARAZZI by Pat McGreal, Stephen John Phillips, and Steven Parke received a well-deserves "A".
In EW for November 9, Tucker gave Brian Michael Bendis a "B+" for the premiere issue of Marvel Max's ALIAS.
From the "Sound Bites" section in the November 30 issue of EW, we have this
from Craig Kilborn (THE LATE LATE SHOW)
"Fox is developing a one-hour series about the Centers for Disease Control.
The network has worked closely with the CDC ever since the launch of TEMPTATION ISLAND."
The same issue also had this intriguing news
Though THE PRISONER only ran for 17 episodes, the Kafka-meets-le Carre British series-about a secret agent trapped in an idyllic village-still managed to become the X-FILES of its day. But now the 1967 creation, starring Patrick McGoohan, may finally be moving beyond cult status. A&E recently finished releasing the entire series on DVD, and New York publisher Ibooks has just inked a deal to create a set of original hardcover novels featuring the Prisoner, or "No. 6," as he's better known, starting in late 2002. "The DVD set has brought a whole new generation to [the show]," says Ibooks president Byron Preiss. Rounding out the series will be a reissue of three out-of-print novels based on the program (the first, due out in June, written by sci-fi master Thomas Disch), as well as an all-new official PRISONER companion.
I'll have more EW stuff for you next week.
I got a little carried away with my TONY POLLS questions for January 13-20, which marked their return to the Web after being on hiatus for over a year.
This time out, I wanted to find out more about my legions of readers. Here are the results...
HOW OLD ARE YOU?
Over 50.....6 votes (3.82%)
[More than half of the 157 voters, assuming they were born in this country, could run for President of these here United States. However, I am disappointed that the young people aren't reading my columns. They could learn so much.]
ARE YOU MALE OR FEMALE?
Female.....4 votes (2.68%)
[This one hurt. I guess it's true what they say about women liking those bad boys better.]
WHAT IS YOUR MARITAL STATUS?
Married (includes same-sex unions).....77 votes (50.66%) Cohabitation.....14 (9.21%)
[I got one e-mail...and only one...from someone offended by my including same-sex unions in the married numbers. The last time I checked, my Lord's commandment to love one another didn't continue with a list of exceptions.]
IF YOU ANSWERED #1 OR #2 TO THE ABOVE, DOES YOUR PARTNER READ COMIC BOOKS?
Yes.....33 votes (34.02%)
[Two-thirds of you need to get on the stick.]
DO YOU HAVE CHILDREN?
Yes.....56 votes (38.89%)
IF YOU ANSWERED YES TO THE ABOVE, DO YOUR CHILDREN READ COMIC BOOKS?
Yes.....34 votes (58.62%)
[To those that answered "no," I suggest you put warning labels on your comic books and tell your kids they can't read them. Maybe they'll get hooked before they realize you've tricked them.]
IF YOU ANSWERED YES TO THE ABOVE, DO YOUR CHILDREN EVER BUY COMIC BOOKS FOR THEMSELVES?
Yes.....12 votes (31.58%)
[To the "no" people, try giving your kids gift certificates to the local comics shop in lieu of allowance.]
ARE YOU A COMICS INDUSTRY PROFESSIONAL?
Yes.....19 votes (12.84%)
[One voter thought he shouldn't list himself as a professional because he hadn't done much work in the field lately. That sounds like a comics professional to me.]
HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN READING TONY'S COLUMNS, EITHER IN COMICS BUYER'S GUIDE OR ONLINE?
Less than one year.....9 votes (6.08%)
1 year.....6 (4.05%)
2 years.....14 (9.46%)
3 years.....18 (12.16%)
4 years.....13 (8.78%)
5 years.....6 (4.05%)
More than 5 years.....35 (23.65%)
More than 10 years.....47 (31.76%)
[Over half of you have stuck with me five years or more. Why does the phrase "glutton for punishment" keep bouncing around in my consciousness?]
WOULD YOU BUY A COLLECTION OF TONY'S PAST COLUMNS?
Yes.....81 votes (59.12%)
[How about if I added a centerfold pin-up of me in the Zatanna costume?]
HOW MANY COMIC BOOKS (INCLUDING GRAPHIC ALBUMS/NOVELS) DO YOU PURCHASE IN A MONTH?
More than 100.....7 votes (4.76%)
More than 90.....1 (.68%)
More than 80.....3 (2.04%)
More than 70.....8 (5.44%)
More than 60.....8 (5.44%)
More than 50.....10 (6.80%)
More than 45.....7 (4.76%)
More than 40.....11 (7.48%)
More than 35.....6 (4.08%)
More than 30.....10 (6.80%)
More than 25.....9 (6.12%)
More than 20.....14 (9.52%)
More than 15.....11 (7.48%)
More than 10.....19 (12.93%)
More than 5.....10 (6.80%)
Less than 5.....13 (8.84%)
[Quite a range here, though I'm surprised that there were 11 people who bought more than 80 comic books a month. If they start cutting back today, they could afford to buy that collection of my old columns.]
APPROXIMATELY WHAT PERCENTAGE OF THE COMIC BOOKS YOU PURCHASE DO YOU ACTUALLY READ?
100%.....121 votes (83.25%)
Less than 25%.....1 (.69%)
[Good for 83.25% of you. The others need to cut back and save that extra money for, I don't know, a collection of my old columns or something.]
IN THE PAST YEAR, APPROXIMATELY HOW MANY COMICS HAVE YOU PURCHASED BECAUSE OF TONY'S REVIEWS?
More than 25.....1 vote (.72%)
More than 20.....1 (.72%)
More than 15.....1 (.72%)
More than 10.....13 (9.35%)
More than 5.....31 (22.30%)
Less than 5.....43 (30.945)
[It's like talking to a brick wall sometimes.]
HOW OFTEN DO YOU VISIT THE TONY ISABELLA MESSAGE BOARD?
Several times a day.....16 (11.35%)
More than once a day.....13 (9.22%)
Every other day.....7 (4.90%)
Every three days.....12 (8.51%)
Every other week.....4 (2.84%)
[There are 16 of us spending way too much time online. It's cutting into our nap time.]
OF THESE COMIC-BOOK PUBLISHERS, WHICH IS YOUR FAVORITE?
Archie.....1 vote (.68%)
Dark Horse.....3 (2.03%)
Kenzer & Company.....1 (.68%)
Top Shelf.....2 (1.35%)
[It would have been 59.46% if they'd let me write a new BLACK LIGHTNING series. On the bright side, Bill Jemas doesn't call me anymore, not even to ask if my refrigerator's running.]
New TONY POLLS questions are posted every Sunday at
ZERO: Burn your money before buying any comic receiving this rating. It doesn't *necessarily* mean there's absolutely nothing of value here - though it *could* - but whatever value it might possess shrinks into insignificance before its overall awfulness.
ONE: Buy something else. Maybe I found something which wasn't completely dreadful in the item, but not enough for me to recommend it when there are better comics available. I only want what's best for you, my children.
TWO: Basic judgment call. I found some value, but not enough to recommend it. My review should give you enough info to decide if you want to take a chance on it. Are you feeling lucky today, punk? Well, are you?
THREE: This denotes something I find perfectly respectable. There are better books out there, but I wouldn't regret buying this item. Based on my review, you should be able to determine if it's of interest to you. Let the Force guide you.
FOUR: I recommend anything earning this rating. Unless you don't like the genre, subject matter, or past work of the creators, I believe you'll enjoy this item. Isn't it uncanny how I can look right into your soul that way?
FIVE: Anything getting this rating is among the best comicdom has to offer. You should buy/read this, even if the genre/subject matter doesn't appeal to you. It's for your own good. Me, I live for comics and books this good...but not in a pathetic "Comic-Book Guy" sort of way.
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