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

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for Monday, July 12, 2004


A giant radioactive monster charging towards hapless humanity strikes me as the perfect image for this particular morning. Your Tipster is wrestling with conflicting family schedules and serious financial concerns. We'll talk more about the latter further down in today's column. However...just to put your mind immediately at ease...I'm committed to bringing you a new edition of TOT every day for as long as humanly possible.

The well-received MY FIRST MARVELS chapters will resume in a day or two. I needed to do additional research on these memorable-to-me comic well as catch up on other bits of business. Meanwhile, to answer a frequently-asked question, yes, I would love to collect these chapters - appropriately rewritten for a general audience - into a book. Interested publishers should feel free to contact me.

Here come the reviews...



Amazing Spider-Man 506

"The Book of Ezekiel" begins in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #506 and 507 [Marvel; $2.25] as Peter Parker again hooks up with the mysterious mentor who holds that Parker's spider-powers are more supernatural than scientific. I'm on the doubting side of the fence here, but I'll happily admit writer J. Michael Straczynski's theory makes for entertaining reading.

There are lots of choice bits in these opening chapters. We see a side of Ezekiel we haven't seen before and, though it's on display early on, it's no less shocking for it. We get some old-fashioned, but amusing action with Spidey and a neat appearance by Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson. We get human interest from Mary Jane Watson-Parker and some honestly cute banter between her and Peter. We get to consider Ezekiel's "spider totem" arguments. Best of all...seriously creepy spiders and lots of them.

Visually speaking, you won't find many super-hero comics which look as good as this. Kudos to penciller John Romita Jr., inker Scott Hanna, and colorist Mark Milla.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN has been consistently enjoyable since JMS came on board. It remains the best of the spider-titles.



Captain Marvel

Genis, son of the legendary Captain Marvel, has had problems following in Dad's footprints. He was insane for a while, but he's gotten a handle on it and is trying to atone for what he did while he was uncontrollably insane. Not surprisingly, people with long-term memories are hesitant to call on him.

Not so legendary sidekick Rick Jones, who shares a molecular bond with Genis. When his wife Marlo shows up at their doorstep as an evil killing machine from the future and crumbles into dust before them, Rick asks Marv to prevent that deadly destiny. Time-hopping of a somewhat inexact nature follows.

Writer Peter David keeps the plot twists and snappy banter on high throughout CAPTAIN MARVEL #19-23 [Marvel; $2.99 each]. In our time, the sorcerous Magus kicks off a plan which clearly can't bode well for the good guys. In the future, Genis and Rick are menaced by Genis' immortal - and evil - son. On the "what has gone before" page, CIA operative Leslie Steele is involved in an adventure that seems to have nothing to do with the actual comic book. However, I wouldn't put anything past our pal Peter.

First-rate art by pencillers Aaron Lopresti and Pat Quinn, and equally amazing color art by Chris Sotomayor, combine with David's "gotta get that next issue" brand of storytelling to make CAPTAIN MARVEL great fun for teens and older readers.



Donald Duck and Friends 316

The trio of stories in WALT DISNEY'S DONALD DUCK AND FRIENDS #316 [Gemstone Comics; $2.95] star Donald Duck, his friend Mickey Mouse, and Don's nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie in their roles as Junior Woodchucks. Daisy Duck, Donald's sometimes sweetie, appears in that last tale, but Don himself meets another fascinating female in the lead.

"Worlds Apart" by writer Lars Jensen and artist Marco Rota is a gem. Hanging around super-inventor Gyro Gearloose's lab gets Don transported back to prehistoric times and also makes him a magnet for people and things from other eras and places. Joining him in the distant past are space-traveler Luna and a unforgiving squad of law robots. The action is fast, the perils keep coming, and Roca draws one heck of a T-Rex. It's a great story.

Mickey Mouse doesn't fare as well. The most interesting thing in his story is the odd resemblance between its Chinese detective and underground comix genius Robert Crumb.

Things pick up again via the slight-but-entertaining Junior Woodchucks adventure as the boys take Daisy on a survival course. It's a fun story, but the Woodchucks aren't as supremely capable as we've seen them in the past. Their shortcomings here exist only to further the plot. No merit badges for the writer.

DONALD DUCK AND FRIENDS is suitable for all ages.



Judge Dredd Megazine

JUDGE DREDD MEGAZINE #218 [Rebellion; $10.99] is a 100-page companion to the long-running 2000 A.D. Dredd appears in the lead story, the first chapter in a serial which finds him hunting mutant killers in the Cursed Earth, the most hostile terrain on the planet. Mean Machine, a popular Dredd foe, gets his own serial. A third tale catches us up with a character from one of Dredd's past adventures. There's a sample of the Dredd strip currently running in a British tabloid, and the latest installment of a text feature chronicling Dredd's 2000 AD appearances. In other words, there's no shortage of Dredd material for his avid fans.

Other new stories in the magazine include: "Young Middenface" (starring a popular supporting player from 2000 A.D.'s "Strontium Dog" series) and "Black Siddha" (a young man atoning for the sins of past lives by becoming a super-hero in this one).

Classic reprints are a key part of the Megazine's line-up. Currently running are "Charley's War" and "The Hell-Trekkers." The former is the legendary Pat Mills/Joe Colquhoun epic about a young Brit in the trenches of World War I. The latter features a wagon-train of humans making their way across the Cursed Earth in search of a better life on the other side of the territory.

Moody painted pages rub borders with striking black-and-white art. Exciting new tales share the contents page with great stories from the past. JUDGE DREDD MEGAZINE continues to be a favorite of mine and I recommend it highly.



Are you going to Comic-Con International? What are your main reasons for attending the con? Those are the questions I'm asking you in this week's TONY POLLS. You can check them out and vote on them by going to:

I'm still catching up on previous TONY POLLS results. Here's a question I asked in early June.

TV GUIDE listed its 25 top cult shows ever. From this list of 19 shows, which is your favorite?

Here's how you responded:

BABYLON 5.....14.29%
STAR TREK.....13.10%
THE SIMPSONS.....10.71%
THE AVENGERS.....7.14%
THE PRISONER.....7.14%
THE X-FILES.....7.14%
DOCTOR WHO.....5.95%
DARK SHADOWS.....1.19%
FAMILY GUY.....1.19%

This was a tough choice for me. I went back and forth between BABYLON 5 and BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. Ultimately, what decided me is that I've watched all of the BABYLON 5 episodes three or more times...and am still finding new things in them, thus adding to my over-all enjoyment of the series.

Voting was tight. BABYLON 5 and STAR TREK were neck-and-neck all the way to the end. Every other ranking was also very close. We do love our television, don't we?

Don't expect to see the OTHER choice pop up in future polls. The folks who vote that choice rarely - if ever - follow up with an e-mail telling me what they would have voted for if their favorite had been offered. As I'm limited to 20 choices on the questions, it seems unwise to offer OTHER as one of them.

I'll have more results for you later this week.



Boy, do I not want to write this section.

My finances are in fairly sorry shape of late, due to a number of factors. I got stiffed by an awful lot of clients over the past twelve months and, at this point, it seems unlikely that they will ever pay me. Other clients have been slow in paying...and I fear I'll be writing some of those off as well. Throw in a few health problems...which I am overcoming, as witness the daily appearance of TOT...and I haven't had the energy, mental or physical, to seek other writing assignments. Until now.

Consider me as on the market as I've ever been. My schedule will be completely open as of August...and that's even with TONY'S ONLINE TIPS keeping its daily schedule. I'm interesting in comics and other writing gigs for which I would be paid on completion or within a reasonable period of time after completion. Any back-end deals, attractive though they may be, will have to wait until I've got the finances back under control.

How can you help if you're not hiring writers?

I'm glad you asked.

Donations to TONY'S ONLINE TIPS are always appreciated. You can make them via our handy PayPal link.

Are you going to any comics conventions this summer? Tell the editors and publishers you meet how much you would love to see new Tony Isabella work.

Don't be shy about telling...well...darn near everyone about TONY'S ONLINE TIPS. The more folks who visit the website, the more folks who talk about it in their blogs, on their websites, and to other readers, the better chance Justin and I have of attracting paid advertisers. We're picky about *who* we'll accept ads from, but we have reasonable rates to companies and individuals providing good products, service, and value to the readers of this website. Interested parties should contact Justin at:

Review items are always welcome from creators and publishers. My goal is to review all kinds of comics and comics-related items, but there's precious little money in the budget to buy more than a few of these items. I can borrow some comics from generous pals, but the best way for creators/editors/publishers to improve their chances of getting stuff reviewed is to send it to me.

Putting this in perspective...

We're not talking a life-and-death situation here. My family won't starve or be on the streets if the above request for help and work comes up zip. However, if you appreciate what I do here, and if you'd like to make it easier for me to keep doing it, now's the time to make that call or send that donation you've been meaning to send for months and years. End of pitch.

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

Tony Isabella

<< 07/11/2004 | 07/12/2004 | 07/13/2004 >>

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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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.

Please send material you would like me to review to:

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840 Damon Drive
Medina, OH 44256

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