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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 ONLINE TIPS
for Tuesday, April 27, 2004

This photo-funny, created by my pal Bill Thom, is as close as I'm likely to get to the new Punisher movie until the previously-viewed DVDs go on sale at Blockbuster Video. Judging from the bad reviews the film is receiving, that could be as early as mid-May. Okay, probably not *that* early, but you get the point.

Tony as The Punisher

Yes, I will buy a previously-viewed copy of THE PUNISHER when it's available. Because I have this mad desire to own all comics-related movies no matter how crappy they are.

Yes, I realize this is a sickness.

Let's change the subject.

******

2000 AD

It's been about a month since we last caught up with 2000 AD and its companion mags. Here's the basic poop on issues #1377-1382 (Rebellion; $3.75 each) of the venerable British weekly.

2000 AD #1377

Judge Dredd is having a rough go of it. The "Master of Fear" serial wrapped up without ever rising to the delicious possibility of exploring what a man like Dredd might fear, a disappointment as the story was written by Alan Grant and drawn by John Burns.

John Wagner's "Brothers of the Blood" ran in #1378-1381, and focused on Dolman, a cadet at the Academy of Law and one of several Dredd clones. Dredd co-creator Carlos Ezquerra was the artist for this serviceable but not outstanding serial.

Gordon Rennie's "Gulag" could turn things around for Dredd as he and a squad of judge-volunteers prepare to enter Sov territory in search of unreturned POWs from the two-decades-done "Apocalypse War." With art by Charlie Adlard, this serial could have some true bite to it.

Issue #1377 saw the launch of new series "Valkyries," which is little more than Star Wars with more explicit violence and as much T&A as writer Steve Moore and artist John Lucas could fit into each chapter. It was a big yawn for me, but it might have been exciting for readers who don't have the courage to go out and get themselves some actual porn. I have nothing against nudity - I quite like it, actually - but its presence in a story doesn't negate the need for interesting characters and plot.

"The Red Seas" (pirates-and-sorcery) and "The V.C.s (our army at war in space) finished their current stories in issue #1397. I thought the former was somewhat weak, but the latter remains good-and-gritty entertainment.

The "Future Shocks" fillers in issues #1380 and #1381 were a step above the norm for these one-off tales. Richard McTigue and Simon Colby paired on "War For Sale, One Previous Owner" (Love that title!) while co-writers Colin Clayton and Chris Dows teamed with artist Alan Burrows for "Lucky For Some." The end of "Lucky" got me to chuckling out loud and that's an uncommon reaction for me to have to one of these filler yarns.

"Sinister Dexter" (hitmen of the future) and "Rogue Trooper" (genetically-enhanced clone soldier at a war on a distant planet) launched new stories in 2000 AD #1380. Both were readable, neither broke new ground for the characters or genres.

Finally, issue #1382 kicked off the new "Durham Red" serial. She's a mutant vampire in the far future, fighting to stop the most powerful mutant of all from wiping out non-mutant humanity. This heroine has gotten lost in her too-epic and too-tedious adventures with the oppressively dark painted artwork adding to the misery of the thing. It may be time to retire this character until somebody comes up with a new and better handle on her.

2000 AD #1377-1382 did have their moments, but not near enough of them to earn the issues more than three Tonys each.

Tony Tony Tony

******

2000 AD EXTREME EDITION

2000 AD Extreme Edition #3

Editor Alan Barnes ventured back to the very dawn of 2000 AD's long history for 2000 AD EXTREME EDITION #3 ($5.99). The 114-page issue reprints "Invasion!", the weekly comic's first lead feature. Here's a quick introduction:
Britain, 1999 AD--a nation under the heel of the brutal Volgan Republic! But one man ain't beaten:

London lorry driver Bill Savage. Armed only with his trusty "shooter," Savage fights on - a one-man army versus the might of the Volgan war machine.
"Invasion" is all-out action. Created by co-writer Pat Mills and artist Jesus Blasco, the strip isn't subtle. Even so, Mills, working with Gerry Finley-Day and several talented artist, turned Bill Savage into a memorable hero. They crafted Bill's supporting players with equal skill, so much so that, even given the guerilla warfare setting of the series, it's still a shock when a character meets his or her demise.

This issue reprints the strip's first five episodes and then jumps around to present another eighteen episodes, all taken from 2000 AD's premiere year. Artists include Blasco, Carlos Pino, Mike Dorey, and others. As a bonus, we also get a preview of the brand-new Savage series by Mills and Charley Adlard; it kicks off in 2000 AD #1387. I'm looking forward to it.

2000 AD EXTREME EDITION #3 offers a lot of excitement for the six bucks it will cost you on this side of the Atlantic Ocean. On our scale of zero to five, it gets four Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony Tony

******

JUDGE DREDD MEGAZINE

Published every four weeks, JUDGE DREDD MEGAZINE continues to be an enjoyable blend of new comics and features and truly classic reprints. The 100-page magazine sells for $10.99 over here, a bit pricey but still worthwhile.

Judge Dredd Megazine #217

MEGAZINE #217 doesn't short-change the Dredd fans. There are two new comics stories, one written by Gordon Rennie and one by Pat Mills with art by D'Israeli and Duke Mighten. Rennie's tale is the wittier of the pair while the Mills effort, the last chapter of a serial, suffers from attempting to revive a classic Dredd opponent one time too many. Time to let Satanus, that magnificent bloody T-Rex, sleep forevermore.

Two other new stories are spin-offs from Dredd. An incredibly obscure character's present circumstances are revealed in "Whatever Happened to Cookie?" The story didn't involve me, but I did enjoy Roger Langridge's comical artwork.

Judge Anderson of the PSI-Division starred in the concluding chapter of "Half-Life" by writers Alan Grant and Tony Luke. It's a grim-yet-moving tale set at the birth of Judge Death and the Dark Judges and in the present. The Arthur Ranson art is terrifically atmospheric and the tale's end is a true punch to the gut.

Want more Dredd? This issue also features:

"The Dredd Files: Part Four" (a text series which presents an issue-by-issue overview of Dredd's 2000 AD adventures);

"Ladies' Night" (from a 1987 annual, it's decoy duty in Mega-City, written by Wagner and Grant and drawn by the remarkable Bryan Talbot);

"John Brown's Body" (from a 1986 annual, the darkly hilarious tale of a rookie Judge's ill-fated field test by Wagner, Grant, and Ezquerra; and,

"Lazarus," a Dredd text story by Gary Russell about a deadly secret on a distant world. As much horror as science fiction, it's a well-written tale.

The non-Dredd reprints are:

"Charley's War" (seven chapters of the legendary World War I series by Pat Mills and Joe Colquhoun); and,

"Enemy Agent" (a not-at-all-impressive "Future Shocks" reprint from 2000 AD's first year).

JUDGE DREDD MEGAZINE #217 isn't as strong as some issues, but it still rates three-and-a-half Tonys. For information of all the 2000 AD publications, visit the official website at:

Tony Tony Tony Half Tony

www.2000adonline.com

******

WHAT WOULD TONY DO?

Go figure. After my snarky comments about the title of this segment, I up and decide that I like the full title better than the abbreviation. I swear, if I weren't so gosh-dashed cute, I'd slap myself silly.

coffin photos Today's topic is the infamous "coffin photos" taken by former Maytag Aircraft Corporation employee Tami Silico. She photographed the flag-draped coffins carrying the remains of US soldiers killed in Iraq and sent the photo to a friend in Seattle. The friend sent it to THE SEATTLE TIMES which, with Silico's permission, published it. American military officials pitched a bitch about the photo. Maytag fired Silico *and* her husband.

Me? I'm hoping this particular genie doesn't go back into the bottle until the United States gets some much needed regime change. Which I hope comes sooner rather than later.

The Bush administration would have you believe that its policy of not letting these coffins be photographed, indeed, of flying them into the country under the cover of darkness, is to somehow protect the privacy of these slain soldiers and their families. That spin is uncommonly offensive even for an administration that, though it didn't write the book on deceit, has taken presidential deceit to astonishing levels.

The American people have a right to know and *see* the rising cost of Bush's war. These images do no disrespect to the soldiers who have made the ultimate sacrifice for their nation. They do no disservice to the loved ones who mourn these soldiers by allowing all of us, in a small way, to share the grief with which families all over the United States are dealing.

The White House wants to hide, as much as possible, the tragic cost of its greed, folly, and arrogance. That this is growing more impossible every day doesn't seem to concern them. They just pile on the deceit, contemptuously secure their supporters will believe them no matter what.

We have a sort-of-president who has spent a third of his time in office on vacation and what sometimes seems like another third of it raising campaign funds. Yet he can't find the time to meet the honored dead when they return home...or to openly visit their wounded comrades. In this, as in other matters, Bush's priorities are so skewered as to stagger our cherished concepts of decency and leadership. Now more than ever, and no matter how painful it might be, the American people have the right to the whole truth...and the obligation to seek it out when it is denied to us.

A true leader would openly acknowledge the sacrifices made by the troops under his command...and he would do far more to shield them from harm than this president has. That's what I would do if I held the highest office in our land.

The "coffin photos," which is how they have come to be known, can be viewed at:

www.thememoryhole.org/war/coffin_photos/dover

Spend a few minutes with them.

Someone should.

Thanks for spending a part of your day with me. I'll be back tomorrow with more news, views, and reviews.

Tony Isabella

<< 04/26/2004 | 04/27/2004 | 04/28/2004 >>

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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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