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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 Wednesday, November 17, 2004

The Incredibles

Sainted Wife Barb had a day off and that's why you didn't get a new TOT yesterday. We did some house cleaning, went to see THE INCREDIBLES, raked leaves, went grocery shopping, had a nice dinner with our kids, and watched some TV. Life's too short and uncertain for me to pass on such opportunities.

Speaking of THE INCREDIBLES...

Brad Bird's movie comes *this* close to beating out FAHRENHEIT 9/11 on my personal list of the best movies of the year. Oh, man, did this speak to the super-hero-loving fan in me.

We meet Mr. Incredible and Elastigirl in the Bird equivalent of the Silver Age of Comics, colorful super-heroes contending with wacky - but still dangerous - villains like Bomb Voyage and kooky kids who want to be their sidekicks. This is their wedding day, a joyous occasion which also marks the end of this particular era of super-heroes.

A would-be suicide sues Mr. Incredible for the pain he suffers as a result of the hero saving his life. This opens the door to a flood of lawsuits against the heroes, so many that the government steps in. It pays off the claims and grants clemency to the heroes on the conditions they stop doing their super-hero-thing and enter the government's relocation program. The heroes outwardly accept this, but some continue to operate secretly.

Bob Parr (Mr. Incredible) is uneasy in his new life. He loves his wife Helen (Elastigirl) and their three kids, but his life as an insurance company paper-pusher is killing him. In an amusing and character-defining sequence, he secretly helps an elderly woman navigate his employer's deliberately labyrinthian policies to get her rightful due.

Things take a turn for the even worse when a villain with an old resentment lures Bob back into the super-hero biz. The movie retains its humor, but it doesn't pull any punches. A scene where Bob learns the extent of his foe's evil is positively chilling and the subsequent action makes it clear why THE INCREDIBLES ended up with its PG rating.

There's so much to love about this movie. Bird's script hits all the right notes. The voice actors are terrific. Helen is as impressive as mother/housewife as she is as a super-hero. The easy and realistic friendship between Mr. Incredible and Frozone. The moral strength of the heroes. The growth of the Parr children as they grasp and accept the responsibility that must come with their powers. The scene-stealing Edna Mode, voiced by Bird himself when he couldn't find the right actor for the part.

Edna Mode

Barb enjoyed the movie as well. In fact, as the imaginative end credits were rolling, she asked if a sequel was already in the works. We both agreed the can't-come-soon-enough-for-us DVD would be an instant purchase.

THE INCREDIBLES get the full five out of five possible Tonys. You *must* see this movie.

Tony Tony Tony Tony Tony

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

******


ARCHIE

Archie 552

My mid-November resolution is to try to review, even if only in passing, every review item sent to me. This will last until the next shipment from the ever-generous DC Comics, at which point my head will explode.

ARCHIE #552 [Archie Comics; $2.19] is a typical issue of the publisher's flagship title. There are four stories plus a trio of feature and gag pages. All of the stories are readable, but I only found one exceptional.

Craig Boldman's "Plaidness Madness" opens with Archie and Mr. Lodge - Veronica's dad - having a conversation about whether or not Veronica would like a certain jacket. This is a technique favored by the late great Frank Doyle - my personal favorite of the Archie writers. You start with the characters, acting in character, and the humor and story proceed from those characters through a series of funny scenes and accompanying witty dialogue, all building to a punch line. Any Archie writer who gets mentioned in a review that also mentions Doyle should feel honored.

All four tales are drawn by penciller Stan Goldberg and inker Bob Smith, the best of the current Archie artists. I always look forward to MID-OHIO-CON [www.midohiocon.com], but this year's event has the added attraction of Goldberg being a featured guests. I'm especially looking forward to meeting him and maybe even conducting a short interview for this column.

Getting back to ARCHIE #552, that Boldman/Goldberg/Smith tale elevates the issue's score to four Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony Tony

******


BETTY

Betty 142

BETTY #142 [$2.19] was an off-issue for this title. No story rose above the average and a tale about Veronica's enormous closet came off like a joke told too many times. However, I was intrigued by the appearance of Noriko - apparently a classmate of Betty's - in "Show Me The Shodou" by Kathleen Webb, Stan Goldberg, and John Lowe. Shodou is Japanese calligraphy. Noriko is teaching it to Betty in this story.

Is this Noriko's debut or has she appeared in other stories I haven't seen? Regular readers of this column know that I'm forever nudging the fine folks at Archie Comics to be more inclusive when it comes to portraying the Riverdale High students. I would love to see more of Noriko, albeit not always in stories which emphasize her nationality.

Also noteworthy is the "Dear Betty" column by Sara Algase, who does a fine job dispensing good advice to the kids who write to the column with their concerns and problems. Some background on Algase would be welcome; she's a definite asset to the title.

BETTY #142 picks up two out of five Tonys.

Tony Tony

******


HELP WANTED

Are you a pharmacist in the Cleveland (Ohio) area in search of a new job? As I've mentioned before, Sainted Wife Barb runs a home infusion program for a major health care organization. It's one of those rare programs which benefits everyone...as it allows patients who would otherwise have to extend their hospital stays to receive their necessary medication at home. It also allows terminally ill patients to, if they wish, live out their lives in the comfort of their own homes.

One of the reasons days off for Barb - like the one mentioned above - are so cherished by us is because she doesn't get many of them. That's going to be even more so in the weeks to come because she has an open position on her staff...and it'll be my beloved who picks up the slack until the position is filled.

So...if you are a pharmacist in the Cleveland area and would like to work for *the* best boss ever...send me an e-mail with your contact information and I'll give it to Barb.

******


OLD MAIL

A quick check of my TOT files revealed e-mails that have been sitting there for months. I'm going to try to run as many of these as possible before the end of the year. This first one arrived in April, but it arrived sans signature:

I might be an odd DC fan to some, but I never was really a big fan of either Batman or Superman. I had read a few books of theirs over the years, but never really found them that great. I've seen all four Superman movies and all four Batman movies and really only liked the first of each. I'm finding it hard to get excited about the new Batman movie now in production at Warner Brothers, when we have already traveled down that route before.

I find Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and the Flash much more interesting. I think they are DC's three best characters and they never get their due. Why doesn't WB spend the time and effort to do good movies on them?

The Wonder Woman movie has been on and off for years. There were some casting possibilities flying about this year, but I don't think anything came of them.

The only Green Lantern film news in recent months has been the brouhaha over the ultimately revealed to be false report that Jack Black would be playing the Emerald Crusader.

The closer we've come to seeing the Flash on screen was on an episode of SMALLVILLE which introduced a super-speedster named Bart Allen. At the time, I thought it might be a back-door pilot for a new Flash series, but I'm not so sure of that now.

There are other comics readers who follow the ups and downs of DC's cinematic adventures far closer than I do. Some of them are TOT readers and I would be delighted to have them update me on what - if anything - is happening in Hollywood with Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, and the Flash. If they do, I'll run the information here as soon as I receive it.

******


TONY POLLS

There are two TONY POLLS questions. This week, we're playing INTERNET DEATH MATCH.

Who has a better website, DC or Marvel Comics? Which is your favorite comics news site, Newsarama or the Pulse? Which is your favorite gossip/news column, All the Rage or Lying in the Gutters? You can cast your votes at:

www.worldfamouscomics.com/tony/poll

******


TREMORS NEWS

Tremor DVD

TREMORS is one of my all-time favorite movies and I also get a kick out of its two sequels, one prequel, and the short-lived TV series which aired on the Sci-Fi Channel a few years back.

Here's the latest newsletter from the fine folks at Stampede Entertainment...

Dear Tremors fans,

It is time for another quick update. Unfortunately there is nothing new to report in the development of more Stampede film projects but we do have a couple of new web site updates for you to take a look at.

S.S. Wilson took the time to answer a number of fan questions. There are answers to at least 18 new questions since the last update so be sure to check it out:

www.stampede-entertainment.com/tremors-faq.html

This next update has been what seems like months in the making. If you follow our FanTalk forum...

www.stampede-entertainment.com/fantalk

...you are probably aware of the debate regarding the layout of Burt's Basement and certain discrepancies which have crept in over the years.

Burt Gummer

Much of the confusion revolves around the fact that a full floor plan was never drawn and, over the years, only sections of the basement were ever built and used at one time. Since an entire basement has never really existed, it's been impossible to take a panorama photograph to really get a feel for what it looks like. Add to that the small changes that took place given the number of years the movies and series spanned and the number of different directors who have worked on the project and it's no shock there would be a little confusion about some of the details.

Dedicated Tremors fan C. Martin, the founder of the original Burt's Basement site - and now http://www.burt-gummer.info - has stepped up to the plate and not only heavily researched the issue, but developed a detailed floor plan and several 3D renderings to better illustrate the layout of Burt's Basement as seen in the TV series.

Director S.S. Wilson has looked over the layout and deemed it to be accurate, although keep in mind that due to his heavy writing schedule he was never on the series set in person himself.

Take a look and see what you think:

www.stampede-entertainment.com/tremors/burtsbasement/

An interesting thing to note when you look over this floor plan is that several rooms are postulated to exist but we have yet to see them in a Tremors film. Be sure to stop by and give us your feedback in FanTalk:

www.stampede-entertainment.com/fantalk

That is it for this addition of our e-mail update. Thanks so much for your support of our films!

From time to time, I let the readers of this column know that I'm available for writing assignments. I usually also mention the deal-breaker that I'm looking for assignments for which I will get a paycheck and not just a back-end dream that there will be money somewhere down the road. It's not a matter of my lacking faith in my abilities. It's a matter of having to put the financial needs of my family before my joy of writing comics.

This isn't an absolute rule. If an Alex Ross were to call me tomorrow and ask me to work on a creator-owned property with him, I'd jump at the chance...both because of my regard for Alex's work and because the odds would be pretty good of a paycheck showing up sooner or later. There are maybe a couple dozen other creators I hold in similar esteem.

I also feel that way about TREMORS.

Here's my standing offer:

Any publisher who gets rights to TREMORS can get me to write the comic books on a back-end deal...just as long as they guarantee me that they will recruit good artists to draw my scripts and that they will make reasonable efforts to promote the comics. You get TREMORS and you can get me. It's that simple.

Of course, if they get TREMORS and don't hire me to write the comics, I will hunt them down and kill them.

I'm just kidding.

Maybe.

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

Tony Isabella

<< 11/15/2004 | 11/17/2004 | 11/18/2004 >>

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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