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Reviews and commentary by Tony Isabella
"America's Most Beloved Comic-Book Writer & Columnist"

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TONY'S ONLINE TIPS
The After-Poll Report (03/19/02)
Our TONY POLLS questions are coming close to hitting the "200 voters" mark, which is cool, but not quite cool enough to satisfy my "ego" needs. If you've been enjoying our weekly polls, be sure to tell your online friends about them. They're free, they're fun, and no salespersons will call on you.

Last week was MARVEL COMICS WEEK at the page...with our usual ten-pack of questions. Here are the results of the questions with the usual commentary by yours truly.

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Our first question was: which of these current ongoing Marvel books is your favorite?

Amazing Spider-Man.....34 votes (20%)

Avengers.....32 (18.82%)

Ultimate Spider-Man.....23 (13.53%)

Exiles.....16 (9.41%)

Alias.....13 (7.65%)

New X-Men.....12 (7.06%)

X-Force.....11 (6.47%)

Peter Parker: Spider-Man.....7 (4.12%)

Incredible Hulk.....6 (3.53%)

Thor.....5 (2.94%)

Fantastic Four.....3 (1.76%)

Daredevil.....2 (1.18%)

Punisher.....2 (1.18%)

Cable.....1 (.59%)

Iron Man.....1 (.59%)

Ultimate X-Men....1 (.59%)

X-Treme X-Men.....1 (.59%)

Elektra.....0

Uncanny X-Men.....0

Wolverine.....0

Several readers e-mailed me or posted to the TONY ISABELLA MESSAGE BOARD to express their displeasure in various titles (Black Panther, Captain Marvel, and Thunderbolts) not being included among the above choices. As I've explained, I'm limited to 20 choices in preparing the questions. In deciding which titles to include here, I went with the 20 best-selling titles sans Ultimates. I left that last one off because it had only published two issues and three is my admittedly arbitrary cutoff point.

However, because of the obvious support for Black Panther and Captain Marvel, I have re-posted the question this week. This time around, I omitted X-Men titles that were on this first list, which freed up those slots for other titles.

Which title did I vote for? AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. J. Michael Straczynski and John Romita Jr. have absolutely revived my interest in Marvel's flagship character. I like what Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley have been doing in ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN, but that's not really *my* Spider-Man.


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The next question was aimed at "veteran" Marvelites. Which of these first wave Marvel Universe titles was your favorite?

Fantastic Four.....62 votes (35.03%)

Amazing Spider-Man.....58 (32.77%)

X-Men.....13 (7.34%)

Tales of Suspense (Iron Man/Capt. America).....12 (6.78%)

Daredevil.....7 (3.95%)

Strange Tales (Nick Fury/Dr. Strange).....6 (3.39%)

Journey Into Mystery (Thor/Tales of Asgard).....4 (2.26%)

Incredible Hulk.....3 (1.69%)

Sgt. Fury and His Howling Commandoes.....3 (1.69%)

Strange Tales (Human Torch/Dr. Strange).....3 (1.69%)

Tales To Astonish (Giant-Man/Hulk)....3 (1.69%)

Tales To Astonish (Ant-Man/Giant-Man).....2 (1.13%)

Tales of Suspense (Iron Man).....1 (.56%)

Tales To Astonish (Sub-Mariner/Hulk).....0

This is embarrassing. I can't remember which title I voted for here. It was either FANTASTIC FOUR or AMAZING SPIDER-MAN. It could still be either one of them. I loved them both so much that my answer probably changes from day to day.

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This one was for the "veteran" Marvel western fans. Which of these titles was your favorite?

Rawhide Kid.....41 votes (34.17%)

Two-Gun Kid.....39 (32.50%)

Kid Colt Outlaw.....23 (19.17%)

Ghost Rider.....17 (14.17%)

I enjoyed all these titles, but RAWHIDE KID was always my favorite. He's a short guy (like me) who could clobber the bullies (like me...on occasion) and still look pretty afterwards (hey, two out of three ain't bad.). I once came *this* close to having this tailor make me a Rawhide Kid outfit. A close friend talked me out of it. He said: "Everyone will think you're gay and we have enough problems as it is."

I *never* got any respect.


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Marvel plans to increase the frequency of their top titles. These next questions addressed that, starting with: how many issues of your favorite Marvel titles would you be willing to purchase per year? Voters were asked to pick the number which represented the *most* issues they'd be willing to buy?

12.....34 (20.73%)

13.....6 (3.66%)

16.....32 (19.51%)

20.....10 (6.10%)

24.....56 (34.15%)

28.....2 (1.22%)

32.....1 (.61%)

36.....3 (1.83%)

40.....0

44.....0

48.....1 (.61%)

52.....19 (11.59%)

Although I love the concept of weekly comics, I don't think Marvel could manage that level of production on a sustained basis. I was amazed by how many readers voted for "24" or "52" issues per year, but I think "16" is a much more realistic goal.

What I found remarkable is that half of the respondents to the question were willing to buy at least 24 issues of their favorite books per year. Since my readership tends to be older and somewhat more affluent than many online fans, I didn't think money would be an issue for them in answering this question. However, I did think their "traditionalist" leanings would have them favoring the tried-and-true 12 monthly issues per year.

I think Bill Jemas and Joe Quesada are on to something here. But I also think they must make sure they can deliver what they say they can deliver.


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How important do you think it is for Marvel Comics to solve their current late shipping problems before increasing the number of issues per year of their other titles?

Absolutely crucial.....114 votes (65.90%)

Very important.....45 (26.01%)

Important.....9 (5.20%)

Somewhat important.....3 (1.73%)

Not Important.....2 (1.16%)

I'm with the ABSOLUTELY CRUCIAL voters. Retailers have to budget their orders and so do many of their customers. It's not in anyone's interest to have issues ship late. That ties up retailer dollars which could be used to buy other comics...and it frosts the readers like nobody's business.

Marvel should move forward on this front, but it should move forward slowly and surely.


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How important do you think it is for the same creative teams to do every issue of these increased-frequency titles?

Absolutely crucial.....46 (26.74%)

Very important.....55 (31.98%)

Important.....35 (20.35%)

Somewhat important.....21 (12.21%)

Not Important.....15 (8.72%)

I'm with the VERY IMPORTANT crowd on this one, though I was just *this* close from going with ABSOLUTELY CRUCIAL. I'd like to see the same writer on the "extra" issues because, theoretically, it's the writer who drives the ongoing story. If the writer can't write the extra issues, why do them?

However, if Marvel was going to use guest writers from time to time, I'd like to see the regular writer working closely with any other writers...and I'd also like to see Marvel use this concept to create opportunities for some writers whose work we don't see much of these days. Many of the characters created during the 1970s and 1980s still appear today; it would be great to see their creators reunited with them on occasion.

As for the artists, as the Marvel brass has pointed out, it's more difficult to get extra issues out of an artist than out of a writer. Guest artists will almost certainly be necessary, but they should be artists capable of staying "on model" when filling it for the regular pencil-pushers.


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How will you adjust your buying habits/lifestyle to purchase these additional issues of your favorite Marvel titles? The voters were asked to Choose the one they were most likely to do.

Drop other Marvel titles.....61 votes (38.12%)

Increase my comics-buying budget.....41 (25.62%)

Drop comics published by other companies.....8 (5%)

Move back in with my parents.....8 (5%)

Buy fewer comics trade paperbacks.....5 (3.12%)

Buy fewer action figures and other toys.....4 (2.50%)

Eat out less.....3 (1.88%)

Buy fewer CDs or records.....2 (1.25%)

Buy fewer DVDs or video tapes.....2 (1.25%)

Attend fewer entertainment events.....1 (.62%)

Buy fewer non-comics books.....1 (.62%)

Cut food budget.....1 (.62%)

Attend fewer sporting events.....0

Cut down on driving to reduce cost of gas.....0

Drop premium cable channels.....0

Get a second job.....0

Go to fewer conventions.....0

Go to fewer movies.....0

Sell off some of my collection.....0

Other.....23 (14.37%)

I think I'd be most likely to drop other comics titles to buy more issues of my favorite titles, but I abstained from voting on this question.

I only buy a handful of Marvel titles as it is. My parents love me, but not *that* much. I don't buy many CDs or records or DVDs or video tapes. The last "action figures" I bought were custom figures of the 1970s Black Lightning and Tobias Whale. I suppose I could have went with "sell off some of my collection," but I've been wanting to do that for years and haven't been able to make the time for such a huge undertaking.

One thing I *wouldn't* do is increase my comics-buying budget. That nearly a quarter of the voters chose that option pleases me no end. But we should consider the 38% who said, in effect, that they would stop buying Marvel Comic A to buy more issues of Marvel Comic B. How will that impact Marvel's bottom line?

Most alarming to me were the 23 voters who chose "other," but who didn't e-mail me to tell me what they would be doing to be able to afford more issues of their favorite Marvel titles. Let's hope they're not planning anything crazy.


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How many of Marvel's Essentials collections have you bought in the past twelve months?

None.....68 (38.20%)

1.....25 (14.04%)

2.....15 (8.42%)

3.....19 (10.67%)

4.....2 (1.12%)

5.....7 (3.93%)

6.....16 (8.99%)

7.....3 (1.69%)

8.....7 (3.93%)

9.....2 (1.12%)

10.....4 (2.25%)

11.....2 (1.12%)

12.....1 (.56%)

More than 12.....7 (3.93%)

I think the MARVEL ESSENTIAL collections are terrific, so I was less than thrilled to see that over a third of the voters did not buy even one of them in the past twelve months. However, given the "veteran" nature of much of my readership, I'm guessing many of the voters have these stories in the originals.

I've bought three ESSENTIALS in the past year: Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, and the Spidey volume reprinting the "Stone Tablet Saga." If I were still writing comics for Marvel, I could buy lots more of them. And I would.

It's probably a darn good thing that I'm a writer and not a drug pusher.


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Which is your favorite MAX title to date?

Howard the Duck.....58 votes (43.94%)

Alias.....57 (43.18%)

U.S. War Machine.....9 (6.82%)

Fury.....8 (6.06%)

Cage.....0

I passed on this one. I've read and enjoyed ALIAS, but I have some philosophical problems with it. I read and wasn't overly impressed with U.S. WAR MACHINE. I read and hated FURY with every atom of my being. I haven't yet read HOWARD THE DUCK...and likely won't read CAGE. That's why I passed.

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It's my poll page, so, just for the heck of it, I asked voters which of these features they would most likely buy in a mini-series written by me.

Giant-Man and the Wasp.....29 votes (16.86%)

It, the Living Colossus.....26 (15.12%)

Captain America.....23 (13.37%)

Luke Cage.....21 (12.21%)

Ghost Rider.....12 (6.98%)

Avengers.....9 (5.23%)

She-Hulk.....9 (5.23%)

Tigra.....8 (4.65%)

Doctor Strange.....7 (4.07%)

Living Mummy.....7 (4.07%)

Spider-Man.....4 (2.33%)

Daredevil.....3 (1.74%)

Fantastic Four.....3 (1.74%)

Human Torch.....3 (1.74%)

Thing.....3 (1.74%)

Sub-Mariner.....2 (1.16%)

Hulk.....1 (.58%)

Silver Surfer.....1 (.58%)

Thor.....1 (.58%)

Iron Man.....0

This question always delights and baffles me. I'm guessing so many of you picked Giant-Man and the Wasp because you liked how I wrote Hawkman and Hawkwoman over at DC. I'm guessing you picked It, the Living Colossus because you're as silly as I am...and, you know, it would be fun to write such a mini-series knowing I could shock everyone with what I would do therein.

My choice was CAPTAIN AMERICA because I could almost certainly end up on Dubya's "enemies list" by showing readers what a *real* American leader can be. Of course, if I did get such a gig, I'd be earmarking a portion of each paycheck to Joe Simon and the estate of Jack Kirby. It would be the right thing to do...much like anyone making money from BLADE should hand over part of their checks to Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan.

The last time I asked this question there were more votes for Spider-Man, Daredevil, and the Fantastic Four. My take on that is: when you have Straczynski, Bendis, and Mark Waid on board, all of those characters are in good hands.


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MORE TO COME

I got pretty long-winded today, so look for comments from the voters...and my responses to same...in Saturday's edition of TONY'S TIPS. See you then.

Tony Isabella

<< 03/16/2002 | 03/19/2002 | 03/23/2002 >>

Discuss this column with me at my Message Board. Also, read Heroes and Villains: Real and Imagined and view my Amazon Wish List.

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THE "TONY" SCALE

Zero Tonys
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.

Tony
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.

TonyTony
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?

TonyTonyTony
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.

TonyTonyTonyTony
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?

TonyTonyTonyTonyTony
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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