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

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Tony's Tips will return Tuesday, September 3 (09/03/02). In the meantime, please enjoy some of Tony's past columns and the other features here at World Famous Comics.

The After-Poll Report (07/16/02)

Our TONY POLLS questions for last week were mostly "torn from the headlines" of various comics message boards and websites...with questions on CrossGen, Marvel going all "Ultimate," and much more. Here's how you voted with italicized commentary from yours truly, Jack the Rip...I mean...from Tony the Pollster.


CrossGen has announced several major deals recently with the most recent being the creation of imprints Cross Gen Entertainment and Code Six. Which of the following scenarios do you think is the *most* likely to occur in the next five years?

CrossGen will overtake Dark Horse and Image for the number three spot...94 votes (58.02%)

CrossGen will not crack the top five...30 (18.52%)

CrossGen will close shop...30 (18.52%)

CrossGen will be the top comics company in the USA...4 (2.47%)

CrossGen will overtake DC or Marvel for the number two spot ...4 (2.47%)

CrossGen and Mark Alessi have scored some very impressive success in the company's short history and, time after time, their announced deals and plans strike me as creative and reasonable. If Alessi can resist the urge to get down in the gutters with some of his competitors--and I think we all know of whom I speak--and stay

focused on his own affairs, I fully expect CrossGen to capture that third-place spot among comics publishers.

Can CrossGen pass DC or Marvel? I'd have to say "no" on the first as long as Paul Levitz is making the calls at DC; Levitz is as smart or even smarter than Alessi.

As for Marvel, while I don't see CrossGen beating them, I do believe Marvel can beat itself. I don't want to see this happen. A strong Marvel is good for our industry. But, leave us face it, Marvel has already dodged many a bullet and the company's luck may not hold out forever.


Which of these do you think will be the top US comics company five years from now?

DC...102 votes (57.95%)

Marvel.....68 (38.64%)

CrossGen...3 (1.70%)

Dark Horse...0



Other...3 (1.70%)

Based on my answer above, I'm sure you've already figured out that I voted for DC. I have more confidence in Paul Levitz's leadership than that of Bill Jemas. Check with me again if either moves on to new challenges.


THE DEATH OF SUPERMAN was a headline story ten years ago. To celebrate the anniversary, DC is publishing SUPERMAN: DAY OF DOOM, a four-issue, weekly-shipping mini-series written and penciled by Dan Jurgens. Which of these most closely reflects your reaction to the news?

Ho-hum. Been there, not interested...58 votes (32.58%)

Doesn't the Superman office have any *new* ideas?...36 (20.22%)

It'll be good to see Jurgens on a Superman project again...35 (19.66%)

I have no reaction whatsoever...31 (17.42%)

I might buy it if the advance looks catch my interest...14 (7.87%)

It was a terrific story and I can't wait to see how Jurgens expands on it...4 (2.25%)

You can count me as a Dan Jurgens fan, so I'm glad to see him working on Superman again. I haven't enjoyed everything Dan's done over the years, but he has always delivered an above-average

portrayal of the Man of Steel. That said, I also understand why so many voters aren't as thrilled as I. I hope Dan's mini-series will convince those skeptical readers he and DC weren't just trying to--pardon the expression--beat a dead horse.


Ten years ago, Milestone and DC launched a new line of super-hero comics including ICON, STATIC, and HARDWARE. Would you be interested in seeing a revival of these and the other Milestone titles?

Yes...85 votes (48.85%)

No...28 (16.09%)

Undecided...10 (5.75%)

Never read them...51 (29.31%)

I would be extremely interested in seeing a revival of the Milestone titles. The creators working on those comics brought new

attitudes and voices to the super-hero genre...and they were barely getting started when DC pulled the plug on the imprint. Heck, yes, I would like to see them back in the game.


Should Marvel go the "Ultimate" route with all of its super-hero titles?

No...133 votes (76.44%)

Yes...20 (11.49%)

Undecided...21 (12.07%)

I voted NO on this one, but it certainly seems to me that Marvel is testing the online waters to see if this plan will float.

It's definitely a gamble; the company could be giving the readers who have been buying its titles for decades...through the good and the bad...the perfect opportunity to jump ship to publishers they perceive of being more respectful of their support.

Would I head for the lifeboats if Marvel made this transition? Given that I am on the record as preferring classic Spider-Man to the "Ultimate" version, that might well be the case. I have grown up with these characters; I don't think I need to go through that process again.


Marvel will be cutting their page count from 22 to 21 pages to include a synopsis page ala their Ultimate titles. Do you approve or disapprove of this move?

Disapprove...75 votes (42.13%)

Approve...74 (41.57%)

Undecided...29 (16.29%)

I definitely approve of a synopsis page, but not in lieu of a story page. At 22 pages per issue, Marvel's comics are already

a less than terrific value for their cover are most of the comics published today. Reducing the page count even further

makes them an even less than terrific value.


Which of the following factors do you think weighed heaviest in the above decision?

The synopsis page will help new readers get up to speed on a title they're reading for the first time...57 votes (33.33%)

By paying creators for one less page per issue, Marvel shaves a few hundred dollars off each issue's expenses...56 (32.75%)

Trade paperback collections will flow more smoothly when writers don't need to recap previous issues within their stories ...43 (25.15%)

Creators will be able to get that much further ahead on the titles on which they work...5 (2.92%)

Other...10 (5.85%)

I had a tough time decided which choice to vote. I don't doubt for a moment the monetary savings was a major factor, but I decided to give Marvel the benefit of the doubt and vote the trade paperback position. Marvel wants to duplicate DC's success in the mainstream bookstores and I'm thinking *they* think about that with every traditional format comic they publish.


In the traditional Marvel Universe Spider-Man titles, should Peter and Mary Jane get back together?

Yes...136 votes (79.53%)

No...17 (9.94%)

Undecided...18 (10.53%)

Romantic devil that I am, I'd love to see Peter and MJ get back together. Breaking them up was the easy way out for writers too craven to face the challenge of writing an interesting married couple. I'm confident Kevin Smith and J. Michael Straczynski are up to that challenge. I say...bring it on.


When their planes are full or near full, should the airlines make their larger passengers pay for two seats?

No...94 votes (54.34%)

Yes...64 (36.99%)

Undecided...15 (8.67%)

Back to reality. I voted NO on this one. In the customer service department, most airlines comes up short in virtually every area of their business. Their price and scheduling structures are absurd. Their maintenance and security are suspect. Their public relations acumen is practically nonexistent, as witness this latest media misstep.

Making all of their customers comfortable should be a matter of pride for the airlines and, if not that, then a powerful selling tool. The outfit that figures that out will be selling more than enough tickets to cover the occasional wide load.


Do you read owners' manuals before operating whatever device or product the manual is for?

Sometimes...97 votes (56.07%)

Rarely...35 (20.23%)

Yes...35 (20.23%)

Never...6 (3.46%)

I'm ashamed to admit it, but RARELY was my answer. I start to read the manuals, but I either get bored or get so excited that I just have to play with my new toys right away. This is probably why Sainted Wife Barb never gives me power tools on my birthday or Christmas.



We ask questions, we get e-mails. Let's start off with this one on from a guy named JOE. He was responding to questions from our June 16 poll, but I misfiled his comments:

First, thanks for the scan of the Superboy issue with Super- Monkey in your TONY'S ONLINE TIPS column for June 14. My two-year old daughter has fallen in love with it, and it's now the wallpaper on our computer. So she can see Super-Monkey and Superbaby pulling tires off cars. It replaced the Brian Bolland cover to JUDGE DREDD #1, which I am sure my wife appreciates, since the two-year old would always say "him have bad teeth" when she looked at it. Just goes to show...monkeys on the cover sell the magazine without ever seeing the inside.

On this week's polls...I have a feeling neither the Max line nor the Marvel Knights line will be around next year, for different reasons. I've picked up on six first issues from Max (Alias, Cage, Fury, Howard the Duck, Blade, something else I can't think of) and none of them piqued me enough to buy a second issue. None of them. Nor could I think of a person to recommend them to. From asinine to simply unreadable would be the gamut of my reactions to the books This versus the newer titles from Vertigo (i.e., American Century, The Crusades, Fables, Outlaw Nation) which I picked up from issue one and have loved and, in the case of ON, recommend to a variety of people. I don't see a fundamental base for this line, especially from Marvel. For me, it comes down to an issue of quality.

I have been enjoying the MK CAPTAIN AMERICA, and half of each issue of DOUBLE-SHOT, but in terms of Captain America, Daredevil, it seems more likely they will be absorbed back into the mainstream Marvel. Perhaps the Punisher will carry on under the barrier, but I have never seen exactly why this line exists. It really doesn't do anything outside mainstream Marvel to justify its separateness. To switch companies, in the olden days, it would be like having the Robert Kanigher-edited DC mags called something different from the ones edited by Julius Schwartz?

As for which company I would want to own, it would definitely be DC. There is a broad spectrum of interesting characters there: the Charlton heroes, the Fawcett heroes, Jack Kirby's Fourth World heroes. It would be the best sandbox to play in.

Which the big three DC icons would I most want to write? That would have to be Wonder Woman. There is so much potential in that character. The long Kanigher run. The Mike Sekowsky period with Diana Prince as Diana Rigg. The William Marston originals. And yet that great history sometimes seems lost.

I haven't read much Wonder Woman lately; it doesn't grab me off the shelf. Not like the Kurt Busiek/Trina Robbins mini-series did, or even much of the Perez run. I tried again with the recent "Gods of Gotham," but couldn't get into it. But there are so many ideas in the character and her past.

Moving on to last week's poll questions, AVI GREEN e-mailed me with this:

Marvel's slashing of a page to make room for the synopsis page is a bad idea since it can severely undermine the ability to allow the story being published to be meaty enough. If I were running the company, I'd very much want to be able to publish a book with say, 24-30 pages of story. The more pages, the more interesting, exciting, and most of all, meaty, the story can be.

As for which company will be the top spot in five years, I'd say DC and Marvel will probably still be running neck on neck with each other, but who knows? Maybe CrossGen will end up passing both companies in successful sales. It depends on whether or not Marvel:

a) listens to its fans properly,

b) honors what makes their comics what they are, and

c) refrains from relaunching titles every 20 issues or so, as they are doing with Captain Marvel.

In the case of DC, it depends on its willingness to reach out to the public and make a real effort to promote all their wonderful comics. They need to reach their existing fan base and the general public. That's the key to success.


I think CrossGen will be in the top five, but probably closer to the bottom. While they've had good books with wonderful art, I don't think they've quite managed to do the *great* book that will get them up to the top. People I see seem to admire what they're doing in terms of marketing, formats, etc., but don't particularly care for the actual stories.

I don't see anyone breaking the dominance of the "Big Two" anytime soon so that knocks it down to Marvel or DC. I went with DC as Marvel seems to focus primarily on shocking events, spinoffs of X-Men or Spider-Man, and restarts of existing characters that don't really go anyplace new. None of these ideas particularly work in the long term. Five years from now, I suspect enough Marvel fans will have gotten sick of the Quesada/Jemas show and will have moved on to other publishers.

I said Marvel shouldn't go all "Ultimate" in the poll, but the more I think about it, the more I fall in the "undecided" category. It depends on how it's done. Given the current circumstances, I'm against it. Half the fun of the current Ultimate line is that it's pretty much one book/one concept. If this became the sole MU, I doubt it would take long for us to have Ultimate Peter Parker and Ultimate Uncanny X-Men and so on.

I also don't care for some of the Ultimate content. Mark Millar's takes on the Avengers and X-Men work for me as alternate versions, but are too cynical for me to like them as the "real" versions. Besides, I like the current MU, even if I wish they'd pay a bit more attention to continuity; I'm not saying they need to reference past events so much as taking some care not to contradict them all the time.

However, I would be interested in an Ultimate Marvel Universe (albeit under a different name; I hate the use of the adjective "Ultimate"), if it met a few conditions:

1) A nice ending to all that has gone before in the original books;

2) Do it similar to the great 1960s DC revamps. Leave the big guns alone for the most part but as for the rest take the names and go to town. The only real big guns I can think of are Spider-Man and Wolverine. Beyond that, I'd include Captain America--just cause he's been around most of the time since the early 1940s--and some of the X-Men basics, such as the school, Prof X, and the whole mutant thing. And throw in some new characters. Don't have the X-Men be a new version of Wolverine, a new version of Cyclops, etc. Get some never-before-seen folks in there.

3) Don't just arbitrarily change race/sexual orientation/what have you. If you want a black homosexual character as Iron Man, give him his own name. Leave the Tony Stark name out of it.

4) Let the super heroes be super heroes!

5) Don't neglect the casual/monthly audience. Throw in some nice one-issue stories in there. Let's not have it all be six-part stories.

I'm indifferent to Marvel dropping a page of story for their synopsis pages. There's so much padding in a standard Marvel book these days that having one less page won't be noticeable. It's the reasons given for the move that bother me. From the article at Newsarama, it seems like Joe Q has pretty much decided it's much better to write for the trade rather than ensuring that individual issues are properly satisfying. That is an attitude I vehemently disagree with. Obviously some stories require more pages, but more and more I read Marvel comics that seem like they only had eight pages of story and decided to stretch it out.

We also heard from JON KNUTSON:

I don't see the new CrossGen imprints having much of an effect on things. I've heard all sorts of good things about the titles, from you and from others, but none of them have grabbed me enough to try them out.

DC will be the top US comics company five years from now. I almost went with Marvel, due to the many movies based on Marvel characters that will be hitting the screens in the coming years, but unless they're going to take greater advantage of this "free" advertising, I don't see them getting into the number one spot. I'm anticipating DC will do some things themselves in the coming years to offset whatever Marvel has done or will do; that will keep them at the top with Marvel a very close second.

On the SUPERMAN: DAY OF DOOM miniseries, it'll be nice to see Jurgens on Superman again. I can't necessarily say I'm going to buy it, but I'd have to say I'm kind of leaning in that direction a bit, based on what I've been hearing about the story.

On a possible Milestone revival, I'd be interested in reading

STATIC, but that's more due to the STATIC SHOCK animated series. The only time I read any of those titles was when they crossed over with the Superman titles. As with CrossGen, none of them really grabbed me enough to try them out.

I'm definitely against Marvel going the "Ultimate" route with all its super-hero titles. They can put out as many Ultimate books as they want, but I want my overly-convoluted, continuity-heavy Marvel Universe...well, perhaps not that convoluted, but given my general familiarity with the Marvel Universe, it's always a treat for me when a writer is able to bring something in from the comics of my past, and I can recognize it, and get that much greater enjoyment of it.

Going all "Ultimate" is, in my mind, throwing out the baby with the bath water! With both lines going, you've got the best of both worlds. However, I really hate the "Ultimate" name? It has always struck me as putting down what Stan, Jack, Steve, and the rest of the guys working at Marvel in the Silver Age did. On the other hand, I haven't yet been able to come up with a better name for it.

I'm generally for the page count cut to allow for the synopses page. It's always nice, even as a current reader, to get caught up with where things are in a particular title. Plus, there doesn't seem to be that many writers currently working in comics these days who do that good a job of recapping. I can understand the point of view that it makes for a less choppy trade paperback (reading some of the ESSENTIALS volumes does make it clear how sometimes several pages would be spent in recap, which can now be used to advance the plot a bit more). So far as having one less page of story, I would think any good writer/artist team can do a good job with whatever page count they've got, no?

In the regular Marvel Universe titles, I think Peter and Mary Jane should get together again. Mind you, I'm not currently buying any of the Spider-Man titles, but you know, there's been so few marriages between characters in Marvel titles as it is (and there have been plenty broken up among those). I'd like to see this one put back together again.

I voted "no" on the airlines question. I've got a couple of reasons for that, which I'll delineate:

1) I'd likely be considered a larger person, and I don't see why I should pay more than someone else. Now, my "largeness" is more height than weight, but airplane tickets are expensive enough as it is!

2) It would be nearly impossible to try to enforce it. With so many people buying their airline tickets online (every flight I've been on in the last year has been purchased online), what are they going to do, include an item that says, "Click here if you're a larger person"? Who's going to click that? Are the airlines going to wait until people are checking in, and then pull people aside and say, "Hey, you're so fat, you have to pay for an extra seat"? Who's going to put up with that kind of treatment?

3) The airlines are doing, in my opinion, a real crappy job with customer service since 9/11. I flew to Washington to spend Christmas with my family, bought my tickets online two months in advance, and had my flight changed three times before the day of my departure! The airline canceled flights that weren't full enough and ended up making all other flights overbooked as a result. If McDonald's can compute how many Big Macs to make every 15 minutes during the dinner hour, I would think the airlines would be able to figure out where and when to schedule flights so every flight would be as booked as it needs to be for their minimum requirements. Plus, the seats are really uncomfortable, especially for taller or larger people. I can't even put the food tray down all the way, because my knees get in the way.

If the airlines are looking to make more money, they need to offer better features. More leg room would be a good start. More comfortable seats, too.

I'm sure a number of people are going to vote "yes" to this question, figuring that it's their own fault that larger people are larger. But who decides who's a "larger person"?

On the last question, I sometimes read owner's manuals. It depends on my overall experience with the type of device. If I'm fairly unfamiliar with it, I'll definitely read the owner's manual. If it's the type of thing I'm very familiar with, I may just page through it briefly, or try it out on my own!

I've got some more letters to run, but I'm going to save them for Saturday's edition of TONY'S TIPS. You've been staring at this screen way too long.

Go outside and get some fresh air already!

Tony Isabella

<< 07/13/2002 | 07/16/2002 | 09/03/2002 >>

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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.

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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