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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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for Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Tony and Martin

Today is my birthday - I'm 53 - and any good time I was hoping to have will be postponed until after the holidays. This Christmas season has been a bear for the Isabella family, what with Sainted Wife Barb being shorthanded at work, yours truly picking up a few paying (and most welcome) assignments, and Eddie and Kelly wrapping up a hectic semester. Still, busy or not, it wouldn't feel like my birthday if I didn't visit with the loyal legions of TOT readers, albeit briefly.

I've no particular words of wisdom to impart from my ancient point of view, save for these:

Every birthday means you're still in the game.

Every new day holds the promise of tomorrow.

The above photo of my pal Martin Arlt and myself was taken by the lovely Pam Arlt at this year's Mid-Ohio-Con. In the frenzy of the convention, Martin and I became joined at the elbow and, while waiting for the surgeons, we posed for this shot of Martin opening Marvel's ESSENTIAL SUPER-VILLAIN TEAM-UP collection to one of the best comic-book pages I ever wrote. Of course, it helped that Sal Buscema drew such a striking image of the enraged Namor. Don't you miss great art like that?

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



Brad Meltzer

New TONY POLLS questions will continue in January, but I still have three weeks worth of holiday-theme balloting results to share with you. Let's start with the questions I posed to you the week of November 29...

It's that time of the year...and I'm picking up extra cash doing investigative work for a very special client. I'm asking for help checking things twice. This week's questions concern a pair of controversial series from DC and Marvel.

First...BRAD MELTZER, writer of DC's IDENTITY CRISIS. Is he naughty or nice?


How did I vote? I think you're being way too kind, but I'll reserve further comment until I review IDENTITY CRISIS in January. When you're all sick of reading what every other online blogger and reviewer thinks of it.



How quickly you forget all the truly wonderful comic books our pal Brian has written! I went with "nice" because ULTIMATE SPIDER-MAN forgives a whole lot of sins.

I'm also thinking of reviewing AVENGERS DISASSEMBLED and the issues and relaunches related to it. Does anyone want to cheer me on or talk me out of it?

THE ATOM? Naughty or nice?


I went with "nice" because I'm an optimist even in the face of DC's nigh-company-wide inability to appreciate and understand its super-heroes. Plus I have this terrific idea for a new ATOM title. Which you'll almost certainly never get to read.

THE SCARLET WITCH? Naughty or nice?


I can't disagree with the majority, though I'm dismayed that yet another heroine has been abused by a publisher.

TONY ISABELLA, "America's most-beloved comic-book writer and columnist." Naughty or nice?


You're far too kind.

Okay, 76.47% of you are far too kind.

The rest of you...

How many weeks of poll questions can Tony get out of this concept?

Tony can milk this for three weeks.....20.18%
Tony can milk this for four weeks.....38.53%

I was sure I could milk this cow for a month, but some of you knew better. Good call.



J. Michael Straczynski

The "naughty or nice" theme continued into the poll questions for the week of December 6...

I'm on a mission from Santa, trying to find out just who in comicdom is naughty or nice. I'm asking for help checking things twice. My first surveillance target is acclaimed Amazing Spider-Man writer J. MICHAEL STRACZYNSKI. Is he naughty or nice?


I haven't yet read the controversial arc currently running in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN, so I went with my high regard for Straczynski's BABYLON 5 and the good turns he's done dear friends of mine. That earned him a NICE vote from me.

GWEN STACY, late girlfriend of Peter Parker, a.k.a. Spider-Man. Was she naughty or nice?

WAY TOO NICE.....46.91%

I based my WAY TOO NICE vote on the story details I've gleaned via online osmosis, details which have me almost afraid to read the actual comics. Say it isn't so, Joe.

DC Vice President (Editorial) DAN DIDIO. Is he naughty or nice?


The tie put me in the mind of the DC house ads for BAT LASH in the late 1960s: Will he save the West or ruin it? That's how I see Didio. I lean toward and voted NAUGHTY, but I'd absolutely love to be proven wrong.

BATMAN, as seen in the recent WAR GAMES. Is he naughty or nice?


Having read WAR GAMES in its entirety - you'll see my review of the final arc within the next couple weeks - I had to vote with the majority on this one. The even more intriguing question would be why DC believes an insane Batman is a good thing.

MARK EVANIER, whose sparkling insight and wit can be found at the must-read NEWS FROM ME []. Is he naughty or nice?


Now that's what I call a mandate. The admirable Evanier gets a higher score here than I did. If I didn't love and admire him so much, I could really learn to hate him.

HEIDI MacDONALD, the resident goddess of another of my most favorite blogs, The Beat []. Is she naughty or nice?


The charming Heidi has been on my NICE list forever. As for the third of you who voted otherwise, I must assume you are either churlish cads or wishful thinkers.



I only asked one question for the week of December 13, but I asked it five times...

What kind of gifts are you most likely to give a friend who also reads comic books?

Whatever a voter chose the first time around got five points. The second choice vote got four points, the third choice got three points, the fourth two points, and the fifth one point. Once the voting was done, I added up the points:

Books about comics.....121 points
Action figures.....69 points
Gift certificates.....65 points
Comic books (older issues).....54 points
Movies.....49 points
Comic books (newer issues).....38 points
Novelties or toys.....33 points
Calendars..........28 points
Anime.....25 points
Cartoons.....24 points
Prose fiction.....22 points
Manga.....20 points
Apparel.....18 points
Busts or models.....13 points
Original art.....11 points
Prose non-fiction.....9 points
Magazine subscriptions.....7 points
Prints or posters.....7 points
Trading cards.....3 points

For my comics-reading pals, I try to go with something a bit different each year. In 2003, I went heaviest on the manga. This year, it was reprint collections, books about comics, and movies. Next year...puppies for everyone!

Thanks for spending part of my birthday with me. I'll be back soon with more stuff.

Happy holidays to one and all!

Tony Isabella

<< 12/16/2004 | 12/22/2004 | 12/29/2004 >>

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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840 Damon Drive
Medina, OH 44256

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