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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 24, 2004

Walt Disney Summer of Fun 2

Today is the last day of summer vacation for Eddie, Kelly, and their classmates here in Medina, Ohio. They start their new school year on Wednesday.

I'll try to do something special with them today - I'm writing this over the weekend so, naturally, nothing has been planned yet - but that won't be easy. Kelly has volleyball practice in the a.m. There will be the usual last-minute stuff to make sure they're both ready for school. It's going to be busy. Fingers crossed, I'll be able to take them out for a special meal or a quick round of putt-putt golf. Nothing flashy. Just a nice cap to a summer heading to the archives.

Today's opening shot is the cover of WALT DISNEY'S SUMMER FUN #2 [August, 1959]. The GRAND COMICS DATABASE [] has tentatively credited it to "D. McLaughlin," but that should not be considered a definite. The cover fits my frame of mind: the quiet winding down of another summer.

Inside, Mickey Mouse stars in "The Tunnel of Hidden Treasure" by writer Carl Fallberg and artist Jack Bradbury. The artist drew two other stories in the issue: one featuring Goofy and the other featuring Pluto.

Carl Barks is represented with "Fun? What's That?," an Uncle Scrooge tale he also wrote. Additionally, he drew the Donald Duck story which appears later in the issue.

Finally, Jimmy Cricket gets a solo story drawn by Paul Murray. That makes 70 pages of comics in an 84-page issue which originally cost a quarter. Now that's value!

THE OFFICIAL OVERSTREET COMIC BOOK PRICE GUIDE pegs the price of a near-mint condition copy of the special at $450. THE STANDARD CATALOG OF COMIC BOOKS says $175. A quick eBay search turned up no copies for sale or recently sold.

Let's see what else I have for you today.



Comic strips are as much a part of comicdom as the comic books and manga we love. I'm going to try to include them in this online journal more often, beginning with this CLEATS "comics crossover" from August 21:

Cleats - August 21, 2004

Meanwhile, over in REX MORGAN, the good doc and his wife have just survived a harrowing rafting adventure during which Morgan's skills saved the life of their guide. Rex is already something of a minor celebrity in his strip world due to his political stances on health care issues. I would think this story - rafting tourists rescued from a flash flood by climbing and being pulled up a sheer cliff - would be all over the newspapers in that world. Heck, I'm seeing made-for-TV movie all over this.

More to come in future TOTs.



Majestic 1

Majestic is kind of sort of the Superman of the Wildstorm Universe, transported to the DC Universe by alien technology. He's more direct than our heroes, far less deferential to human concepts like due process and national sovereignty, and equal in power to Superman. He seeks to return to his own universe, but occasionally gets sidetracked from that objective by his often arrogant impulse to "fix" things on Earth. He's got your basic "attitude as big as a planet."

What's good about MAJESTIC #1 [DC; $2.95] is the coffee shop conversation between him and Superman...solid characterization and dialogue by writers Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning...exciting artwork by Karl Kerschl...enough background for a newcomer to get into the story...a slugfest with the Eradicator that actually turns out to advance the overall plot...and Superman's wisdom eventually sinking into Majestic's thick skull.

What's not-so-good is that there isn't enough content in this first of four issues. It's a too-quick read. Like an increasing number of comics buyers, I demand more for my money. I want either more pages or more meat in the pages I'm getting.

MAJESTIC #1 gets a respectable three Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony



I like to write about my family and my community, but I wasn't certain my readers were interested in those subjects. Then I heard (via e-mail) from several readers, including a couple from Medina itself, on how much they enjoyed those little windows into my life. That's not exactly a mandate, but it is encouragement enough for me to run items like this from time to time.

The big news for parents of middle and high school students is that we now have "pay-to-play" for virtually all school activities. This is a result of the electorate voting down two school levies in a row. Sainted Wife Barb and I are still figuring out what we'll be paying for Eddie and Kelly to participate in civic, music, and sports programs, but it will be somewhere between $250 and the "per family" cap of $450.

Those who voted against the levies harped over and over again about our "Taj Mahal" high school. However, even as someone who's been critical of certain aspects of the new buildings, I found it incredible that these voters were complaining about - wait for it - the wide hallways in the buildings.

Granted, if you did as these people did and walked through the school when it's not in session, those hallways do look very wide. Fill them with 2400 students moving from class to class eight times a day and you get a different picture.

The worst thing about the pay-for-play is that it hurts those students who are unable to pay but who would benefit greatly from participation. Medina is not a poor community, but we do have many families who are just getting by. We are, after all, a city within a state that has been losing jobs faster than most states and ranks 49th of the 50 states in attracting new jobs.

We're taking a third swing at the levy in November. Those who oppose it are now also complaining that the school board continues to put it on the ballot...mostly because levy supporters picked up more "yes" votes between the first and second attempts. I'm hoping the third time turns out to be the charm.



Road to Perdition: Detour

ON THE ROAD TO PERDITION: DETOUR [DC/Paradox Press; $7.95] is the third of the three graphic novellas relating Michael "Angel of Death" O'Sullivan's exploits between the gangland murders of his wife and son...and the fate which awaits him in the original ROAD TO PERDITION. Writer Max Allan Collins brings readers completely into the 1930s setting of his story, aided by the compelling art of penciller Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and inker Steve Lieber.

The Angel's target is Connor Looney, the vicious gangster who killed his loved ones. To get Connor, O'Sullivan and his surviving son have already put John Looney, crime-boss of the Illinois-Iowa tri-cities, behind bars, and robbed gang operations throughout the Midwestern states. The Chicago mob has put a price on the heads of O'Sullivan and his son, but there are those who question if loyalty to the Looneys is good for their business.

In DETOUR, Connor takes a more active role in the manhunt, using an innocent family as bait. The book starts slowly, allowing Collins to introduce the characters and situations, picks up speed, and then barrels to its exciting conclusion, a character-defining confrontation between O'Sullivan and his target.

Whether working in comics or prose, Collins masterfully blends crime fiction and history. He never disappoints the readers, which is why ON THE ROAD TO PERDITION: DETOUR picks up the full five out of a five possible Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony Tony Tony



Tabloia 572

TABLOIA WEEKLY MAGAZINE #572 [Salt Peter Press; $3.95] isn't a weekly and isn't a magazine. That's one of the better jokes to be found in this new title. It's obvious Tabloia's creators ("True Tales For the Sophisticated Pseudo-Intellectual") had fun creating this anthology comic with the heart of a supermarket tabloid. The fun is even somewhat infectious, though, sadly, none of the issue's four tales are able to sustain the initial humor beyond their first few pages.

I'll give them props for the attempts. "The Lump" starts with an amusing nod to the preface of Universal's 1931 FRANKENSTEIN. "Dick Hammer, Conservative Republican Private Investigator" is not nearly as one-sided as its title suggests, poking fun at the left and the right. "Doctor DeBunko" is a droll send-up of naysayers of the supernatural.

My favorite of the tales is "Spluhh! The Thing Who Burst From an Exploding Volcano!" which draws inspiration from the monsters Jack Kirby drew for TALES TO ASTONISH and other pre-Marvel Universe titles. TABLOIA even got Dick Ayers to ink this one.

Add a trio of splendid pin-ups by Mike Allred, Tom Yeats, and Gene Colan to the mix and you have a pleasant comic which delivers a few laughs and shows promise. I give it two Tonys.

Tony Tony



Tommysaurus Rex

A boy and his dinosaur. Sounds a little too high concept to be interesting. Except that creator Doug TenNapel is smart enough and skilled enough to make the young protagonist of his TOMMYSAURUS REX graphic novel [Image Comics; $11.95] a fully-rounded character who faces crushing sorrows and, in accepting and dealing with them, grows into a capable and compassionate man.

Lonely Eli, grief-stricken after the death of his beloved dog Tommy, is sent to his grandfather's farm for the summer. His first unpleasant encounter with the local bully leads to his discovery of a Tyrannosaurus Rex who, inexplicably, is alive and trapped in a cave. Now all the lad has to do is tame the creature, convince the townspeople it's not a menace, and deal with said bully short of having Tommysaurus devour the little brute. Even there, TenNapel doesn't allow the bully to remain a convenient cardboard antagonist for Eli and his enormous pet.

Readers will connect with Tommy, cheering his joys and sharing his anguish. TenNapel's vivid panels and crisp dialogue suspend our disbelief in his fantastic tale. It *feels* all good and true stories surely must.

TOMMYSAURUS REX earns the full five Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony Tony Tony



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.

COMICS BUYER'S GUIDE announced the winners of its annual FAN AWARDS - the longest running fan popularity poll in the field - in its October issue. This week, with the possible choices based on their results, I'm asking you to vote for your favorite publisher, character, penciller, inker, and comic book.

This poll will remain active until sometime after midnight on Monday morning. Cast your votes at:

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

Tony Isabella

<< 08/23/2004 | 08/24/2004 | 08/25/2004 >>

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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