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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 Tuesday, September 7, 2004

Young Allies 20

I saw this cover of YOUNG ALLIES COMICS #20 [October, 1946] on the ATLAS TALES website [www.atlastales.com] and something about it didn't seem quite right to me. I continued to study the cover and then it hit me.

What the heck was going on with Bucky?

Bucky, the patriotically-clad lad crashing into the criminal's room under the flame trail of his pal Toro, was Captain America's sidekick. Toro was the Human Torch's sidekick. In YOUNG ALLIES, the teen heroes would team up with a group of non-costumed kids to battle wartime villains and homegrown thugs. Unfortunately, since they all read comic books, they all became juvenile delinquents and grew up to be politicians and columnists.

I'm kidding. The only member of the Young Allies who went bad was Zell "Mad Dog" Miller.

Getting back to Bucky...

Look at his position. He can't have come crashing through the door or window or whatever that is behind him. He looks like he's falling from above and about to land on his keister.

Look at his face. It's the face of a kid who clearly doesn't know how this could be happening to him. I'm thinking he inhaled some wacky smoke from Toro's trail.

Any one out there have a better suggestion?

Getting to the credits...

Syd Shores drew the cover. Stan Lee was the issue's editor. Otto Binder wrote the first of the three Young Allies tales herein, but the GRAND COMICS DATABASE [www.comics.org] has not identified the writers of the other two adventures or the "Tommy Tyme" strip which appears in the issue.

As for the artist credits...

"Dreams For Sale" was pencilled by Syd Shores and Al Bellman with inks by Vince Alascia and Mike Sekowsky.

"Pie-Eyed Plunder" was pencilled by Frank Giacoia with inks by Bellman and Charles Nicholas.

Giacoia pencilled and inked "The Mad Monarchs of Rome," which was the Tommy Tyme story.

"The Crown of Quetzacoati" was pencilled by Bellman with inks by Sekowsky and Giacoia.

If you have to ask how much an near-mint issue of YOUNG ALLIES COMICS #20 would likely cost you, you can't afford it. However, THE OFFICIAL OVERSTREET COMIC BOOK PRICE GUIDE figures this issue would sell in the neighborhood of $1200, and THE STANDARD CATALOG OF COMIC BOOKS pegs it at $615.

A quick check of recently completed eBay sales found a "very good" copy of the issue going for a mere $233.50 after a spirited auction of twenty bids. To the best of my knowledge, Zell Miller was not one of the bidders.

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

******

15 MINUTES

15 Minutes

Ordinary people come face-to-face with super-heroes and super-villains in 15 MINUTES #1 [Slave Labor Graphics; $3.95] by creator and writer Bob Elinskas, penciller David Hedgecock, and inker Mike Kelleher. Elinskas sent me a copy of this issue and included some comments on what he was going for here. He wrote:

The book's concept is that everyone gets his or her fifteen minutes of fame (ala Andy Warhol). That also includes superheroes, supervillains, and the average folks who happen to run across their paths during the course of the day. Of course, not everyone handles their time in the spotlight the same way. For some, it brings glory. For others, it may mean tragedy. To still others it could mean anything from heartbreak to redemption to instant fame. And there are some folks whose fifteen minutes were up a long time ago. Each issue has at least two self-contained stories; the first two issues will have three stories each. You won't need to read any other issues to enjoy the current one.

Comic books about the common man interacting with super-heroes or the human side of super-heroes and super-villains have become a genre within the super-hero genre and that's okay with me. If you want me to believe a man can fly, you have to also link the fantasy with my reality.

The three stories in this full-color issue feature an out-of-work salesman who gets a super-weapon by mistake, a young boy whose father was a second-rate super-villain, and a farm couple trying to make the best of a super-battle that took its toll on one of their fields. My favorite is probably "Return to Sender," which had some honestly funny moments. "Book Covers" had nice emotional weight, but was fairly predictable. "Crashing In On Fame" didn't work for me, hampered by its sparse four pages.

The cartoon-like art was adequate, but it was obscured under computer coloring that frequently made it seem like I was reading the comic book through a layer of mud. A sad fact of contemporary comics is that too many techno-colorists lack the restraint which would allow them to assist the storytelling instead of overwhelming it. Just because you can do something on a computer doesn't mean that you should.

On our scale of zero to five, 15 MINUTES #1 gets what I hope is an encouraging two Tonys.

Tony Tony

******

CBG NOTES

I finished reading COMICS BUYER'S GUIDE #1597 [October, 2004] before the unplanned hiatus, but I never got around to discussing a few more items from that issue. Until now.

HeroClix. They look kind of cool, but they hold no interest for me. Save that I keep checking for a Black Lightning HeroClix. There doesn't seem to be one.

Can I count on my loyal legions of TOT readers to let me know if HeroClix makes a Black Lightning figure? Besides wanting to get a few for myself, I would also be entitled to some money from DC. The company is usually pretty decent about paying me my fair share, but, on occasion, I have had to remind them that they owe me money. I am the poster child for friendly reminders.

Elsewhere in the issue, in an article about the BRADY BUNCH figures coming from Figures Toy Co., the company's CEO explains the absence of a father figure by saying they couldn't get the rights to the father. Mike Brady was played by Robert Reed, who died from AIDS. Why am I not buying this explanation?

Someone paid $22,500 for a near mint/mint condition INCREDIBLE HULK #181, a record price for any 1970s comic book. I wish I had kept my copy to sell to the buyer who was born one minute after the guy who bought this one.

In his "Flashback: 1999" sidebar, John Jackson Miller reports that DC and the estate of Jerry Siegel estate had worked out their differences re: the terminated transfer of copyright renewal rights to Superman. Is this actually the case? Was any such settlement ever reported and, if so, where was it reported?

The "Oh, So?" column includes a letter complaining about the high prices MILE HIGH COMICS charges for comics sold in its stores and on its website. Mile High owner Chuck Rozanski, who writes a column for CBG, has often said many of his customers are more than willing to pay premium prices for comics they want *now* and from a dealer whose grading and service they trust. The concept works for Chuck. Good for him.

However, I'm guessing the letter writer is *not* receiving the Mile High Comics newsletter. Once a week or thereabouts, Chuck e-mails a chatty and informative note to his customers. These notes always announce an online sale of one kind or other.

I'm not gonna put Chuck on the spot by telling you how large some of these discounts have been in the past, but I will say that the sales have allowed me to fill several holes in my collection at prices lower than those found in the guides. Indeed, if it weren't for my hopefully temporary lack of disposable income, I would still be buying comics from him.

The bottom line. If you don't like a retailer's prices, then don't buy from that retailer.

On the other hand, if you want to get on the Mile High mailing list and take advantage of the weekly sales, then I recommend you visit the Mile High Comics website at:

www.milehighcomics.com

Chuck is a stand-up guy who has done a great deal of good for the comics community. I've been happy with every Mile High Comics purchase I have made. Nuff said.

That's also all I have to say about CBG. At least until the crane rolls up to my home with the next issue.

******

FOX COMICS?

20th Century Fox

I was flipping through the new issue of ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY [September 10, 2004] when this ad caught my eye. I don't know if you can make out the titles of the six movies being offered in this Halloween sale, but the homage to the classic EC horror comics of the 1950s should be clear as a bell.

The six movies being offered are:

The Alligator People
The Boston Strangler
Hear No Evil
Night of the Living Dead
Terror Train
The Vanishing

The ad says the DVDs are available at SUNCOAST. I don't know if this sale is a chain exclusive or if the same deal is available at other outlets as well. I'll leave that to you online detectives to sort out.

******

MARY WORTH

Mary Worth

Things look to get nasty in the current MARY WORTH storyline. A widow has moved into the apartment complex managed by the strip's occasionally seen star. Her grown son, who had been estranged from her late husband, has been released from prison and shown up on her new doorstep. His plan for his future?

Open his very own meth lab.

Even the newspapers themselves rarely cover the ongoing plague of criminal drug use - save when there's a big bust locally - so I was pleasantly surprised to see it being used as a plot element on the comics pages. Let us hope the story doesn't hesitate to show the ugliness of that world.

MARY WORTH is drawn by industry veteran Joe Giella, whose most recent comic-book work was seen in DC's Julius Schwartz tributes. He pencilled and inked the Harlan Ellison/Peter David story in DC COMICS PRESENTS: JUSTICE LEAGUE OF AMERICA and also inked Carmine Infantino's pencils for a story in DC COMICS PRESENTS: BATMAN. His work on both tales was impressive.

Mary Worth

Since early this year, Karen Moy has been writing MARY WORTH. Here's what the King Features website has on her:
She's a graduate of State University of New York at Binghamton with a bachelor's degree in studio art. Her love of comics and storytelling led to her writing duties on the Mary Worth strip which she had been a fan of for many years.

Like Mary Worth, Moy lives in an apartment complex, enjoys quoting aphorisms and occasionally dispenses advice. Unlike the character, she is a young woman who is not quite as handy in solving her neighbors' personal problems. She currently lives in New York.
Look for more comic strip coverage in future columns. Given they are the only comics storytelling seen by millions of newspaper readers, they deserve our attention.

******

NEWS FROM ME

The "ME" in the above is not "me" as in Tony Isabella. It's MARK EVANIER, a friend of mine since we were teenagers writing for every fanzine that would have us, a terrific writer of comics and a plethora of other things, and one of the finest human beings I know. I love the guy, albeit not in a way that would get anyone to propose a constitutional amendment against us.

If I could only visit one blog or website every day, it would be NEWS FROM ME. Mark is a veritable font of knowledge and wisdom. He knows way more about, well, almost everything, than I do, and, what he doesn't know, he can find out from a legion of operatives. He also has the gift of commenting on political and social issues with an evenhandedness I envy.

I can't imagine readers with enough spare time on their hands to read TOT daily aren't already visiting NEWS FROM ME. However, in the unlikely event that you aren't reading Mark's blog, I direct you forthwith to:

www.newsfromme.com

It's why the Internet was invented.

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

Tony Isabella

<< 09/06/2004 | 09/07/2004 | 09/08/2004 >>

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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