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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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for Friday, July 23, 2004

I'm writing today's TOT several days before it posts. That's to give our wondrous web-wizard Justin time to get it ready before he leaves for San Diego and Comic-Con International. It's a time warp of sorts.

Here, in Medina, Ohio, as I'm trying to write a week's worth of columns in two days, my life consists of writing, watching bits of GODZILLA VS. KING GHIDORAH while eating, reading bits of the new issue of COMICS BUYER'S GUIDE when I take breaks, and sleeping for a few hours when my head hits the keyboard.

There, in San Diego, as you read this, Justin is likely having the time of his life at the convention. He deserves it. He works hard to keep the WORLD FAMOUS COMICS website bringing you loads of free entertainment every day. So, if you're also at the Comic-Con, and you see him, be sure to tell him how much you appreciate what he does for all of us.

By the way, I'm now almost 200 pages into COMICS BUYER'S GUIDE #1596 [Krause Publications; $5.99]. Among the many high points of the ish are Andrew "Captain Comics" Smith's comments of the Spider-Man clone stories, and Craig "Mr. Silver Age" Shutt's nifty columns on Jimmy Olsen robots and the Falcon. The new CBG is one terrific magazine, though, in the interest of fairness, I should once again point out that I'm a contributing editor, the host of the reviews section, and one of the magazine's writers.

As if you didn't already know all that.

We're running shorter-than-usual columns this week to keep TOT daily while Justin is in San Diego. Today, dipping into my recent Comics Buyer's Guide reviews, I'm looking at MEN OF MYSTERY #46 and SHONEN JUMP #18.

Men of Mystery 46

MEN OF MYSTERY #46 [AC; $6.95] is a fun sampler of Golden Age heroes, all of them making their first appearances in the series. The prize of the issue is cover-featured Stormy Foster a.k.a. "The Great Defender." Foster, an unassuming soda jerk, takes a special vitamin to become a costumed super-hero. His sidekick is a Chinese boy named Ah Choo. Both the cover and story are drawn by the great Reed Crandall.

Be warned. Though not as crude and cruel as caricatures found in many other wartime comics, the depictions of Ah Choo and various Japanese spies will make you wince. However, caricature though he may be, Ah Choo shows courage and a readiness to sacrifice his life to protect his adopted country. The story's merits outweigh the unfortunate flaws of its era.

The rest of the line-up:

"Manhunter" (a wise-cracking policeman who donned mask and tights to fight crime with his dog Thor); "Neon the Unknown" (whose ill-defined powers include flying and shooting out ray beams than can curve and circle), "The Jester" (a harlequin-helmeted crime-buster); "Star Pirate" (a space-traveling Robin Hood drawn here by Leonard Starr); and "Kaanga" (a blonde Tarzan knock-off, drawn here by John Celardo).

MEN OF MYSTERY is a bit pricey, but where else are you gonna find comic strips like these outside of their original, expensive, and hard-to-find publications? With too many modern comics giving readers only a portion of a story for three or four bucks, MOM is looking like a better deal every month.

Shonen Jump 18

SHONEN JUMP #18 [Viz; $4.99] weighed in at 372 pages. Here's what I said about it in CBG #1596:

The best buy in American comic books hails from Japan. Every month, this title presents 20 to 60-page chunks of several popular shounen - Japanese word for "boy," denoting works created specifically for young boys - manga series, most of which have also been adapted for anime series. JUMP's current line-up features Shaman King, Naruto, Dragon Ball Z, Hikaru No Go, Yuyu Hakusho, One Piece, and Yu-Gi-Oh!

My favorite of these is ONE PIECE, adventures of a young man with a rubber body who dreams of becoming the world's greatest pirate. He's putting together his crew while defeating truly evil pirates as a sideline. Created by Eiichiro Oda, the series has action and laughs going for it.

The runner-up would be YU-GI-OH! A young boy is possessed by the spirit of the King of Games. His dark (but not TOO dark) self is often a harsh force for justice and creator Kazuki Takahashi keeps the games varied enough to remain interesting. This issue of JUMP has a particularly choice done-in-one duel between Dark Yugi and a mad bomber.

This issue also has a bonus preview: BLEACH, a supernatural action series by Tite Kubo. Its hero is a reluctant ghostbuster who sends rouge spirits to the afterlife. The first volume of this graphic novel series appeared this summer.

As with most of the comics titles I'm reviewing for CBG, you can expect to see reviews of subsequent issues of SHONEN JUMP here. My aim is to bring you literally dozens of comic-book reviews each and every week.

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

Tony Isabella

<< 07/22/2004 | 07/23/2004 | 07/24/2004 >>

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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