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

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for Thursday, March 18, 2004

Today is INTERNATIONAL DAVE COCKRUM DAY. There are those who will shake their heads at this pronouncement of mine, pointing to all of the other celebrations/events/whatevers which also claim this day as their own. To them, I say...

Absolutely Incredible Kid Day is a fine thing to celebrate, as are Aruba's Flag Day, Grover Cleveland's birth anniversary, Forgive Mom & Dad Day, Michigan's Grandparents & Grandchildren Day, and the birthdays of Queen Latifah ("You got me straight-trippin', boo!"), Wilson Pickett, and Charley Pride.


...this is my column, located in the sovereign state of Tony Isabella's world, and if I want to make today a special day for my pal Dave Cockrum, it'll take a lot more than a little head-shaking to stop me. A pox on all nay-sayers.

To state the obvious...

Dave Cockrum is the talented comics creator who revitalized DC's Legion of Super-Heroes in the 1970s and, a couple years later, created or co-created many of the heroes and villains who started the X-Men on their comeback trail. He's a remarkable designer and storyteller whose art graced hundreds of comics covers and stories over the past three decades. He's a good guy who came up through the ranks of comics fandom in the 1960s and never forget where he came from. He is a mensch who has never hesitated to stand up for what was right. He deserves his own day.

Giant-Size X-Men 1

The comics industry press has reported extensively on Dave's recent battles with pneumonia and all the attendant woes: physical, financial, and emotional. Comics fans and pros alike have rallied to assist him in a variety of ways.

Now I'm asking my readers to do what they can for the cause on this first INTERNATIONAL DAVE COCKRUM DAY.

Here's what I'm asking.

Visit the Dave Cockrum tribute site at:

You'll find lots of cool stuff there: Cockrum news, links to more Cockrum news and articles on him, a gallery of Dave's artwork, his biography, his bibliography, and--this is the important part-- information on the benefit book being prepared by our mutual buddy Clifford Meth, information on the benefit auctions which Heritage Comics will be holding, and online ordering for the benefit volume and a couple of other Cockrum goodies.

Order the benefit book. The contributors list is staggering: Neal Adams, Murphy Anderson, Sergio Aragones, Mark Bagley, Randy Bowen, John Byrne, Chris Claremont, Gene Colan, Alan Davis, Harlan Ellison, Neil Gaiman, Dave Gibbons, Alan Moore, George Perez, John Romita, Roy Thomas, Herb Trimpe, and dozens of other top talents. You'll find me in there, as well, with a brief tribute titled "None But the Dave."

(I know. Buy the book anyway.)

Are you getting into that good old INTERNATIONAL DAVE COCKRUM DAY spirit?

That's good...because you're not done celebrating yet.

Dave's recovery, even after he is released from the hospital and back home with his beloved wife Paty and their beloved macaws, isn't going to be a matter of days or even weeks. But, right now, while he is away from home and hearth, your cards and letters will do much to brighten his days. Send them to:

Dave Cockrum
Extended Care Nursing Home, NA1A
Bronx Veteran Affairs Medical Center
Floor 1A, Room 10D
130 W. Kingsbridge Road
Bronx, NY 10468

I know what you're thinking right now:

"Why didn't I dream up INTERNATIONAL DAVE COCKRUM DAY before that crazy old bastard Isabella?"

It's not too late.

I freely admit I am completely unworthy to be the force behind such an auspicious celebration. So I would completely understand if every man, woman, and blogger among you stole this day for your very own.

I'm talking to you, COMIC BOOK RESOURCES and NEWSARAMA and THE PULSE and COMICON.COM. I'm calling you out, NEWS FROM ME and ADD (the wondrous weblog of Alan David Doane) and GROTESQUE ANATOMY and MIKE STERLING'S PROGRESSIVE RUIN and especially PEN-ELAYNE ON THE WEB, which can be found at...

...and where my dear friend Elayne Riggs has posted first-hand reports from folks who visited Dave in the hospital.

I'm throwing down before each and every comics blog, message board, and website out there. Wrest INTERNATIONAL DAVE COCKRUM DAY from my withered hands and make it your own!

Come on. You know you can take me.

In the meantime, I'll be sending lots of good thoughts to my friends Dave and Paty Cockrum. That and ordering the biggest damn INTERNATIONAL DAVE COCKRUM DAY cake I can find!



You can't announce an INTERNATIONAL DAVE COCKRUM DAY without sprucing up the announcement with some Cockrum artwork. I chose to go with what is easily the most famous Cockrum cover of all time--even though it was penciled by Gil Kane--and one of several spiffy covers he did for the 1980s run of BLACKHAWK. Who knows what other bloggers, message boards, and websites will use to dress up their versions of INTERNATIONAL DAVE COCKRUM DAY. Lord knows there's no shortage of great Cockrum art out there.

GIANT-SIZE X-MEN #1 (Marvel; 1975) turned out to be one of the most...perhaps THE most...significant comic books of the 1970s. It teamed Cyclops with the new X-Men recruited by Professor Xavier to help him rescue the old X-Men from the living island Krakoa. We'd seen Banshee a few times in the original X-Men run and Wolverine in a recent issue of INCREDIBLE HULK, but this giant-size spectacular introduced us to Nightcrawler, Storm, and Colossus, characters who would loom large across the Marvel Universe in the decades to come. At the time, I certainly didn't realize this comic was the start of something so huge. I just knew it was exciting and loads of fun. Who needs more for half-a-buck?

"Second Genesis" was written by Chris Claremont and Len Wein, drawn by Dave Cockrum (with an inking assist by Peter Iro), colored by Glynis Oliver (then Wein), and lettered by John Costanza. The relaunch had been developed on the editorial watch of Roy Thomas, but Wein was the editor-of-record when the book shipped. Backing up the 36-page lead story were reprinted "fact" stories showcasing Cyclops, Iceman, and Jean Grey.

Blackhawk 256

Also shown is the Cockrum cover for BLACKHAWK #253 (December, 1982). Inside was "The Private War of Hendrickson" by writer Mark Evanier and artist Dan Spiegle. Other credits include Carl Gafford (colorist), Carrie Spiegle (letterer), and Marv Wolfman (editor), though Evanier would assume the editor's position for most of the title's two-year-run.

If you're talking brilliant-but-underappreciated comic books, BLACKHAWK #252-273 are on the top-ten list of any comics fan worth the name. Evanier and Spiegle did comics long on characterization, cleverness, and humanity, and did so without sacrificing the action and suspense readers expected from a World War II series featuring a team of brave warriors from around the world.

Hey, when I put it that way, the Blackhawks and the new X-Men have a lot in common.

So what are your favorite Dave Cockrum comics?



Almost 30 years ago, Dave Cockrum helped put the X-Men back on the comic-book map. This year, Marvel Comics is again revitalizing what has grown to be an entire line of X-Men titles by bringing new concepts and creators to those titles.

In honor of INTERNATIONAL DAVE COCKRUM DAY, I'm relaunching our TONY POLLS page with a whole heap of X-Men-related questions. Which of the "new" X-Men titles are you most eager to read? Which of the new titles will you be buying? To cast your votes on these momentous mutant matters, go to:

These special X-Men polls will remain active until the end of the month...when they will be replaced by the first of our *weekly* poll questions. Hoo-hah!



I'm running late for the INTERNATIONAL DAVE COCKRUM DAY sack-race, but I couldn't end this column without mentioning that WIZARD will be running a Dave Cockrum feature in an upcoming issue. I was one of the Cockrum fans and friends interviewed for the piece by Wizard staff writer TODD CASEY.

The issue of Wizard with this feature will be on sale in comic stores on April 28 and on newsstands May 11. Casey also tells me Wizard will be taking donations for Dave at the magazine's booth at Wizard World LA this coming weekend, March 19-21. For information on the convention, go to:

If you're planning to attend the convention, be sure to show that good old INTERNATIONAL DAVE COCKRUM DAY spirit by thanking the Wizard gang for showing their support.

Thanks for spending a part of your busy day with me. I'll be back Monday with more stuff.

Tony Isabella

P.S.: Did you hear the one about the columnist who wrote and posted a column, went to bed, and woke up to find this great news:

I'll be following up on this in Monday's TOT.

<< 03/17/2004 | 03/18/2004 | 03/22/2004 >>

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

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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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