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

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for Tuesday, August 3, 2004

Tuesday, Tuesday.

I had planned to start today's column with political comments which would have surely received applause from those who believe as I do, grumbling from those what don't, and perhaps and hopefully thoughtful nods from the undecided who hold the fate of my country in their votes. Those inspirational comments of mine will still be forthcoming, but, gosh darn it, I feel too good today to put them before you today.

Today...I am a happy man.

Don't get your hopes up. I don't have any major announcements in the good news vein. But I woke up early this morning sans any of my usual pains and feeling pretty chipper about a couple other things that happened over the past few days.

There was the phone call from a popular entertainer whose work I enjoy immensely and who seems to have enjoyed my comics writing a great deal as well. I don't know anything will come of it - the odds are wildly against it - but it was just spiffy to talk to this guy about some cool stuff.

Spider-Man: The '67 Collection There was the unexpected gift of the six-disc SPIDER-MAN: THE '67 COLLECTION from a reader of this column. When I started a wish list at Amazon, it was mostly to keep track of stuff I would get if the money started rolling in again. When I mentioned it here - and Justin started listing a link at the end of these columns - I never thought anyone would actually make use of it. It means a lot to me that someone did.

Four of my pals - Bob Ingersoll, Roger Price, Bill Thom, and Thom Zahler - had a terrific time at Comic-Con International in San Diego and, afterwards, in Los Angeles. They even got to hang with some of my other favorite folks. While I certainly regret that I couldn't make the trip myself, I'm delighted to know they had such a fun time on the West Coast.

Sainted Wife Barb, son Eddie, and daughter Kelly - if all has gone according to plan - will have left on a four-day vacation trip today. While I wish *I* could be with them - all my COMICS BUYER'S GUIDE deadlines and a couple others besides fall in the first week of the month - I'm happy that they're getting away for a few days. They deserve a break from me!

Besides...I'm one of those reclusive types that enjoys having a few days of just me and my writing. I really do love facing the blank screen and having at it.

To sum up:

Feeling good. Political comments coming. Excited about the adventures of every new day.

Stay tuned for today's reviews.



Archie 549

I don't know if editor Victor Gorelick planned it this way, but the four stories in ARCHIE #549 [Archie Comics; $2.19] have the common theme of Archie Andrews contending with the modern world and generally coming in second.

George Gladir's "Wonder Women" has Riverdale High's favorite redhead bemoaning "the gentle and adorable girls of yore" in light of Veronica's tennis prowess and the female action stars of movies and video games. Gladir leaves scant doubt Archie will eventually have to learn to deal with the strong women of today.

Craig Boldman goes for the slapstick in "Unbalanced," which draws its humor from a battle between Archie, Jughead, and a wild piece of modern art.

Gladir returns for the third round in "It's A Mad Ad World." It's Archie trying to escape from the advertising seemingly encroaching on every square inch of his world.

Finally, in "Sooo Cute," Greg Crosby pits Archie against a woman of tomorrow when Betty's 11-year-old cousin develops a crush on him. I guess chicks dig that waffle-shaped scar on the side of the lad's head.

All these amusing stories are pencilled by Stan Goldberg and inked by Bob Smith. Archie Comics has many talented artists, but the Goldberg-Smith team is my current favorite.

ARCHIE #549 picks up three out of five Tonys. If you're new to TOT, you can find the explanation of my ratings system somewhere off to the right side of today's installment.

Tony Tony Tony



Batman: Broken City

Some months ago, I read/reviewed a chapter of BATMAN: BROKEN CITY [DC Comics; $24.95] in its comic-book publication. I couldn't figure out what was going on, but I was intrigued by what writer Brian Azzarello and artist Eduardo Risso did there. I was looking forward to reading the entire story.

This is not my Batman. By that, I mean, this is not a Batman I enjoy reading about. This Batman brutally beats and tortures a bound and helpless Killer Croc. This Batman worries about crossing a line when he should worry that he left the line behind a terribly long time ago. This Batman is a self-obsessed thug. This Batman is insane.

Does the meandering plot matter? Okay. Batman wants to solve the barbaric murder of a young woman, sister of a mid-level Gotham criminal. He gets sidetracked by his personal demons, takes it out on other criminals, makes stupid mistakes, gets knocked around not nearly half as much as he deserves, gets people killed, and maybe, maybe, accomplishes one good thing.

Azzarello is an exceptional writer, but one who so very often resorts to shorthand that he fails to make either impact or point. This time around, he compounds his sins by saddling Batman with yet another cruel add-on to his already tragic enough origin.

Risso is an even *more* exceptional artist. He portrays the darkness of this Batman and his world brilliantly. Would that his work here was in service of a better and more palatable story.

This hardcover collection of BATMAN #620-625 is blessed with superb coloring by Patricia Mulvihill and cursed by slick interior paper that looks cheap inside those hard covers. I couldn't see spending twenty-five bucks on it, even if you buy into its twisted vision of Batman. If you must have it, wait for the trade edition. Hard or soft, all I can give BATMAN: BROKEN CITY is a disappointing two Tonys. Sigh.

Tony Tony

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

Tony Isabella

<< 08/02/2004 | 08/03/2004 | 08/04/2004 >>

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.

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