Today's TOT is posting later this morning as opposed to its usual crack of midnight. That's my fault. In figuring out how many TOTs I had to write to accommodate our wondrous web-wizard Justin's trip to Wizard World Chicago - this past weekend, I miscalculated...and, by the time I realized my mistake, it was too late for me to send him even short columns. So...you're getting a short column today and another short one tomorrow.
I'll be back up to full-size columns on Wednesday...with some very special TOTs planned throughout the month. That said, let us see what I have for you today.
William Messner-Loebs returns to comics writing with MOONSTONE NOIR: BULLDOG DRUMMOND [Moonstone Books; $4.95]. That alone should catch the attention of those who enjoyed his work on JOURNEY, JONNY QUEST, and THE FLASH.
Captain "Bulldog" Drummond returns from the trench warfare of World War I to become a private detective. Revered by those who fought by his side and, in one case, on the other side, his direct manner frequently confounds the authorities, even as they admire the determination with which he serves his clients.
Created in 1920 by H.C. McNeile as a Brit version of the hard-boiled heroes appearing in American fiction, Drummond was the star of over a dozen novels, almost two dozen movies, and a number of radio serials.
Messner-Loebs, too long absent from comic-book credits, brings much tough-guy humor to his 46-page story, wherein Drummond becomes the patsy of international criminals bent on stealing an universal solvent which could change the nature of warfare forever. In the opening pages, we see "Bulldog" in action in the War and then, a few years later, going up against a group of anarchists in London, a character-revealing prologue to the main story. It's great fun in a pulp magazine vein.
Visually, I was impressed by Barkley's art and storytelling, and far less enamored of the Tim Seelig cover, which I felt did a poor job of conveying what the reader would find inside this comic book. My other complaint is that it appears a page of this story was omitted and another page run twice. Mistakes happen, but, at a cover price of five bucks, someone should have checked the make-ready before this comic rolled off the presses. Still, the bungle didn't stop me from enjoying the book. I'd be up for more Drummond stories by Messner-Loebs and Barkley.
BULLDOG DRUMMOND gets four out of five Tonys.
Every Monday, I post several new questions on our world-famous TONY POLLS page and take down the previous week's ballot. It'll be a few days before I bring you the results of last week's voting and my comments on same, but this week's questions are already in place as you read these words.
This time around, I'm asking about your comics buying habits. How many traditional comics do you buy in a week? How many manga volumes do you buy in a month? How many comics-related trades and hardcovers...and DC Archives editions...and Marvel Essentials...and Marvel Masterworks do you buy in a year?
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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