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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 Monday, August 2, 2004

Monday, Monday.

I've a busy week laid out before me. I have columns to write and (hopefully) a new project for which I'm clearing the decks as best I can. Of course, one of my ongoing aims is sending a new TOT your way each and every day.

I don't find Mondays as annoying or depressing as some people do. I'm a big fan of new beginnings: new day, new week, new idea, and so forth. Oh, sure, there's lots of stuff I could get annoyed about, and doubtless will later this week, but, right now, I just want to review some comics.

That's me, master of the segue.

******

BLOODHOUND

Bloodhound 1

Wow!

It's been a long time since I experienced that reaction after reading a comic. In BLOODHOUND #1 (DC Comics; $2.95], Dan Jolley and co-creator Drew Johnson introduced us to ex-cop and present-day convict Travis Clevenger, an extremely hard man with a reputation for being the best there is at what he does...and what he does is collar metahumans.

Dave Johnson's cover is an absolute knock-out. The BLOODHOUND logo is printed on yellow police tape. The artwork wouldn't be out of place on a hip crime paperback of the 1960s.

Jolley's solid script not only introduces his characters and concept artfully, but also offers an exciting and even horrifying example of just how good Clevenger is in a fight. The sequence is as brutal as any I've seen in a DCU comic book, but it never comes across as sordid exploitation.

Penciller Leonard Kirk, especially when he's teamed with inker Robin Riggs, is a favorite of mine. He draws well and he tells the story well. In this first issue, he exceeded even my expectations, depicting the prison with a gritty clarity. No stylistic tricks here, just really good art. The artists definitely earned their share of the "Wow" this comic got from me.

BLOODHOUND is not for youngsters, but I definitely recommend it for readers sixteen and older. On my scale of zero to five, its first issue picks up an impressive four Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony Tony

******

CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN

Challengers of the Unknown 1

CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN, the original series, is among my all-time favorites. I tell you this up front so you know the source of my discomfort with this new series which, two issues into its six-issue run, has only the most tenuous connection with the original series. That connection may well get stronger in another issue or four, but I'm not here to speculate on that.

CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN #1 and #2 [DC; $2.95 each] doesn't feature the same characters as the original series and certainly isn't adventuring in the same sci-fi milieu. It makes me question why this new series doesn't stand on its own, though I suspect it has as much to do with retaining ownership of the name as anything else. Heck of a way to encourage creativity.

Objections thus noted, let me say writer/artist Howard Chaykin is crafting an intriguing story here. His five protagonists aren't even remotely lily white and they are all far more than even they knew they were. There are assassins and terrorists doing terrible things and some of them appear to be in the employ of our nation's secret masters, who also, apparently, control some vast right-wing media empire. I'm two issues into the six-issue series and dying to learn the answers to all of the maddening questions Chaykin has raised thus far.

The bottom line? Chaykin is telling an exciting packed-with-plot thriller. With an intricate script and equally intricate art, he gets a lot more actual story into 22 pages per issue than you'll find in almost any other contemporary comic. I'm in for the whole ride. I also hope that, when and if the big "original Challengers" revelation comes, that Chaykin is gentle with both this reader and with the heroes of my youth.

CHALLENGERS OF THE UNKNOWN #1 and #2 each receives a cautious three Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony

******

JLA

JLA 100

Everyone working on JLA #100 [DC; $3.50] is a seasoned comics professional. They've all done comics I've enjoyed. Then there's this decidedly NOT special one hundredth issue of JLA. How does it make me yawn? Let me count the ways.

JLA #100 is basically a promo for writer Joe Kelly and artist Doug Mahnke's new JUSTICE LEAGUE ELITE series, the Elite being your basic "black ops" super-hero team. Yes, another "black ops" super-hero team. Because comics of today create and nurture new cliches in a fraction of the time it once took. Yawn.

As near as I can figure, not having slavishly read every JLA and/or Superman comic of the past several years, the Elite spin out of a storyline that ran in Superman titles. However, since clarity of storytelling is no longer as cherished as it once was, the new or lapsed reader doesn't get sufficient information as to who these Elite heroes are. Yawn.

The Elite do have their arrogant superiority complexes down pat. Because that's something else we rarely see. Yawn.

Character model sheets are *so* old-fashioned. So most of the JLAers look anorexic. Except for those who look like they've been using steroids. Yawn, yawn, yawn.

The solitary Tony I'm awarding JLA #100 is a hundredth-issue gift from me to DC. It's a mercy Tony for a title that deserves so much better than this issue.

Tony

******

TONY POLLS

It's Monday and that means I have new TONY POLLS questions for you. This week, you get to vote on your favorite sci-fi legends of television and also weigh in on where you stand in relation to the various eras of comic books. You'll find the ballot box open and ready for business at:

www.worldfamouscomics.com/tony/poll

******

TONY STUFF

I hope you've been enjoying these daily doses of TOT. Justin and I plan to keep them coming as long as possible. If you'd like to support our efforts - and also help yours truly out of a tight financial bind - here are some suggestions:

"Tip the Tipster" via PAYPAL. You'll find a link elsewhere on this page. All donations are appreciated.

Advertise in TONY'S ONLINE TIPS. We're picky about who we'll accept advertising from, but if you're offering a honest product or service and dealing fairly with your customers, you're the kind of client we want. For information on ad placement and rates, e-mail Justin at:



I'm available for freelance writing and editing jobs. There are gigs I won't take for various reasons, but, if I think I can do good work for you without compromising my ethics or screwing over another comics creator, I'm your guy. Obviously, I'm looking for work that guarantees pay within a reasonable amount of time after completion of the work. That doesn't necessarily rule out anything else, but my priorities - at this time - have to be with the paying assignments.

We're proud of what we do here. We hope to keep doing it for many years to come. You can help us do that.

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

Tony Isabella

<< 08/01/2004 | 08/02/2004 | 08/03/2004 >>

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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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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