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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 Thursday, November 11, 2004

Batman Strikes!  Batman Strikes!

One of these things is not like the other.

I read the Burger King edition of BATMAN STRIKES (free with a Kids' Meal) first. Sainted Wife Barb was feeling a wee bit peckish after going into her office on the weekend; she gave me the comic book when she returned home.

The cover wasn't quite as good as the DC edition - that Burger King logo takes away the impact of the flowing cape - but the comic itself was pretty darn spiffy.

Writer Bill Methany's "Penguin Rising" did a really top-notch job introducing the characters and situations which drive the new Batman cartoon series. Within the first three pages of his 21-page story, we learn Batman is considered a lawless vigilante and that this is early in his career. Through the tale, Methany seamlessly inserts characterization and information into dialogue. The only confusion a new reader might encounter would come from there being so many different versions of the Batman on the market at present. The perils of iconic success.

Artists Christopher Jones and Terry Beatty deliver their usual superb work. Their renditions come as welcome relief to the truly ugly visuals of the cartoons. Overall, I was so impressed by what they and Methany accomplished that I cut them slack on that giant and very silly robotic penguin.

Wait. There's more.

This Burger King edition of BATMAN STRIKES also features four activity pages for its young readers, a classic Silver Age BATMAN cover by Carmine Infantino and Joe Giella, and a reprinting of one of my favorite Batman stories, "The Batman Nobody Knows" by Frank Robbins and Dick Giordano. Not to mention a subscription page for other age-appropriate DC titles and a plug for Diamond's Comic Shop Locator (1-888-COMIC-BOOK).

On our usual scale of zero to five, the Burger King edition of BATMAN STRIKES gets an impressive four Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony Tony

DC's BATMAN STRIKES #1 [$2.25] doesn't fare well in comparison to the Burger King edition. This version of "Penguin Rising" runs only 20 pages. It lacks the opening two pages of the Burger King edition and adds a final page of Bruce and Alfred at the grave site of Bruce's parents. The final page seems like it was added at the last minute. I don't know which version of this story was prepared first, but Burger King's is better.

The DC edition is inferior in other ways as well. The 20-page story is all the comics and bonus features you get. There are so many advertisements - including an 8-page Bionicle 2 insert - that the issue is more of a catalog than a comic book. This concerns me because I had entertained the hope that the "Johnny DC" symbol on DC titles for younger readers would also symbolize more value for those readers and not less than can be found in the DC books aimed at older readers. It's not exactly like taking candy from babies, but it's close enough.

DC's THE BATMAN STRIKES #1 picks up a punitive two Tonys. The company should be ashamed of itself.

Tony Tony

******

TV DEATHWATCH

Father of the Pride

I have additional cancellations (or same-as-cancellations) to announce:

FATHER OF THE PRIDE is being pulled for the November sweeps. When TOT readers were asked to vote for the show most likely to be the first canceled on Tuesday, this show came in first with 41.94% of the vote. If it returns to the schedule, my guess it will be to use up any completed episodes as quickly as possible.

DR. VEGAS is also on hiatus during the November sweeps. You picked it as the second most likely Friday show to get the axe with 11.70% of the votes. The never-aired COMMANDO NANNY was the first by almost half the votes cast. As much as I like Rob Lowe, he has got to find better material if he's going to regain the star appeal he had on THE WEST WING.

The WB's DREW CAREY'S GREEN SCREEN also got the hook for the November sweeps. TOT readers chose it as the most likely Thursday series to get canceled with 40% of their votes. It was the second, thanks only to Fox pulling the plug on TRU CALLING without airing any of the show's second season episodes.

The baseball-centric CLUBHOUSE swung and missed. It's gone. TOT readers rated it the fourth-most likely Tuesday series to meet that fate with 6.45% of the vote.

What show will go next? I don't know, but I hope it's one of those home makeover shows that makes my Sainted Wife start talking all crazy like.

******

TV MUST-WATCH

Cold Case

When it comes to TV, I'm not *just* about the negativity. I enjoy kicking back and watching the tube as much as the next guy. In alphabetical order, here are my five favorite programs currently airing:

COLD CASE

LOST

NYPD BLUE

THE DAILY SHOW

VERONICA MARS

I frequently write about these shows (and others) on the TONY ISABELLA MESSAGE BOARD. In fact, go there right now and post lists of your five favorite programs. It'd be a nice break from all of the political comments and those posts from Isabella fans (male and female) who want to have sex with me.

The TONY ISABELLA MESSAGE BOARD can be found at:

www.comicscommunity.com/boards/tony

See you there!

******

WHAT I'M READING

I'm gonna need a bigger spider-hole if I'm going to be waiting out the next two years - FREEDOM IN 2006! - with the great comics collections I've been receiving of late. In an effort to cheer me up after last week's tragic elections, the folks at Fantagraphics Books sent me two massive tomes of remarkable graphic storytelling artistry. Consider these pre-reviews...

Krigstein Comics

B. KRIGSTEIN COMICS [$49.95] collects "34 key stories from every stage of [Bernard] Krigstein's career." The tales trace the artist's evolution, unhampered by the inadequate production methods of the past. Many of the tales, which cover almost every genre in comics, have been remastered from the artist's own files and 14 of them have been re-colored by the legendary Marie Severin. I can't wait to crack this baby.

Locas: The Maggie and Hopey Stories

LOCAS: THE MAGGIE AND HOPEY STORIES [$49.95] collects dozens of tales originally done by Jaime Hernandez for the justly renowned LOVE AND ROCKETS comics. I'm talking 700 pages of comics following the lives of two of the most beloved protagonists in the history of comics. I'm going to be totally buff by the time I finish holding up this book to read it.

I say this often - and here I go again - there has never been a better time to be a comics enthusiast. There are so many great creators working in the field today. There are so many publishers collecting their works in wonderful volumes. There is such variety available to comics readers...from the classic comics of the past to the wondrous works of this new millennium...it damn near brings tears to my eyes.

THIS is the true Golden Age of Comics.

Thanks to Eric Reynolds and the Fantagraphics gang for sending this "care package" to darkness-enshrouded Ohio...and thanks to you for spending part of your busy day with me.

I'll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

Tony Isabella

<< 11/10/2004 | 11/11/2004 | 11/12/2004 >>

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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