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for Friday, July 30, 2004

2000 AD Extreme Edition 4

2000 AD EXTREME EDITION #4 [Rebellion; $5.99] delivers giant ants and great bang for your bucks in this issue, reprinting Gerry Finley-Day's "Ant Wars" from 1978 issues of the still-going-strong British weekly. The series is a B-movie-style thriller without the constraints of a Hollywood budget; no producers telling Finley-Day that it's too expensive to have the monsters invade Rio de Janeiro during Carnival time.

The plot is straight out of Saturday afternoon matinees and/or Saturday evenings in front of a flickering TV set with Ghoulardi or Elvira or [insert the name of your own favorite movie host here]. Arrogant soldiers, sent to "civilize" the inhabitants of the South American jungle, use an experimental and faulty insecticide to wipe out the ants which the natives consider a delicacy. Several months and six pages later, the now-enormous ants strike back.

Finley-Day provides plenty of close calls and horrible deaths as Captain Villa and "a semi-civilized Indian known as Anteater" battle their way back to Rio to warn the authorities of the menace in the jungle. The scripts soft-pedal neither the Captain's casual racism or his at-first-grudging respect for his courageous ally. Stark black-and-white art by Jose Ferrer, Lozano, Azpira, and Pena nicely sets the mood throughout the 82 pages of the epic adventure. What a ride!

Less successful - as in "not at all good or entertaining" - is "The Black Widow," a 30-page Judge Dredd story reprinted from 1991 issues of the JUDGE DREDD MEGAZINE. Written by John Wagner, drawn by John Hicklenton, it's a grotesque and unsatisfying gore-fest in which Dredd tries to take down a shape-changing "nosferatu" preying on single men in Mega-City bars. Full color or not, it pales next to the honest excitement of "Ant Wars."

Ignoring the Dredd material - as I plan to - 2000 AD EXTREME EDITION #4 delivers over 80 pages of fun for six bucks. I see that as money well spent and award it four Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony Tony


World War 3 Illustrated 35

WORLD WAR 3 ILLUSTRATED #35 [$5] marks 25 years of publication for the politically-oriented comics anthology. It was founded by Seth Tobocman and Peter Kuper in 1979, just as Ronald Reagan headed for the White House to become the first in a series of three evil Republican presidents. Collect and revile them all!

Distributed by Top Shelf, the zine continues with a rotating board of editors and contributors. The theme of this new issue is "Life During Wartime" and, as you might discern from my preceding comments, it ain't a love letter to the Bush mob.

It also isn't focused strictly on the United States and its adventures here and aboard. The moving "Nakedness and Power" by Tobocman, Teresa Turner, Laird Ogden, and Leigh Brownhill concerns events in Kenya and Nigeria, though not without some connection to our own country. In "This Isn't News," Kate Evans presents a sad scenario from East Jerusalem.

Closer to home, I was mightily impressed by Susan Willmarth's respectful "Arlington National Cemetery" and Isabella Bannerman's "Family-to-Family - A Hunger Relief Program." Also noteworthy is Christopher Cardinale's "Warning Activist/Anarchist Invasion," an insider view of Miami protests (March, 2003) against the proposed Free Trade Area of the Americas.

Of course, for just plain giggles, nothing in the issue beats Kuper's "Richie Bush." It's a hoot, especially considering Kuper drew Richie Rich for Harvey Comics way back when.

Richie Bush

As is the nature of anthologies, comics or otherwise, readers may not appreciate everything in any given issue. I like my comics storytelling to be straight forward; the more "artsy" pieces didn't work for me. But, overall, I found WORLD WAR 3 ILLUSTRATED #35 to be a most impressive and even important publication. That earns it four out of five Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony Tony

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

Tony Isabella

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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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