"Look, Captain! Men of flame coming out of the crater!"
So speaks the uniformed master of the obvious on the cover of TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED #22 [February, 1958]. This is Jack Kirby's third and final cover for the title, illustrating "Invasion of the Volcano Men." If the six-page story has been reprinted, the GRAND COMICS DATABASE [www.comics.org] doesn't have that information in its entry for this issue.
Volcano creatures appeared with some regularity in DC titles. The Challengers of the Unknown fought such beings a couple of times in the 1960s and, if memory serves, Batman, Cave Carson, the Doom Patrol, and Wonder Woman also contended with such fiery foes during the Silver Age of Comics. Over at Marvel, Kirby and editor/writer Stan Lee came up with the Lava Men to bedevil Thor, the Avengers, and their other heroes.
Besides the Kirby story, there were three other tales in this issue of TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED:
"The Man From Robot Island" (drawn by Bernard Bailey);
"I Married a Girl From the 4th Dimension" (drawn by Howard Purcell); and,
"Water Was My Enemy" (pencilled by Joe Maneely with inking by Joe Sinnott). Maneely, who was Stan Lee's favorite artist over at Atlas in the 1950s, only drew a handful of stories for DC and other publishers back then. This was one of them.
Kirby also drew covers and stories for DC's other mystery and sci-fi titles as well, though not, to the best of my knowledge, any for MYSTERY IN SPACE and STRANGE ADVENTURES editor Julius Schwartz. DC freelancers of the era tended to do most or even all their work for just one DC editor. Anyway, as I've proclaimed repeatedly this week, I would love to see these rare Kirby stories reprinted in a trade paperback collection.
I'll have another Kirby cover for you in tomorrow's column and a few more after that. In the meantime, let's see what else I have for you today.
COMICS IN THE COMICS
Once again, we start with a comic strip that doesn't actually fit our COMICS IN THE COMICS theme.
Cathy Guisewite created a minor furor with her CATHY strip for March 23. Like many readers, I hadn't known Cathy's last name or that of her new husband Irving. Now I know she's Cathy Andrews and he's Irving Hillman. From such things are the trivia questions of tomorrow born.
The DILBERT strip for March 23 and the FRAZZ strip for March 18 both fit solidly into our theme as creators Scott Adams and Jef Mallet include nods to other comic-strip characters - Marmaduke and Dick Tracy - in those episodes.
Our final strip for today is Tom Batiuk's FUNKY WINKERBEAN for March 20. In this storyline, comic-book shop owner John has been charged with obscenity for selling two adult comic books to adults, a parallel to a real-life case. In this installment, he discusses his loss of business as parents refuse to let their kids buy comics from him. This got me to wondering:
Has anything been written about the business losses, if any, suffered by the real-life comics shops which have found themselves victimized by such bogus prosecutions? We hear about the outcomes of the cases, but usually not about the short and long-term effects to the businesses. I await enlightenment from any readers who have information on this.
Watch for more COMICS IN THE COMICS in future TOTs.
Here are the results of last week's TONY POLLS.
Joss Whedon signed to write and direct a WONDER WOMAN movie and fandom was abuzz with guesses/suggestions as to who would play the Amazon. Here's the first group of our own search, presented in the order we heard them. The top ten vote-getters of this and the next question went on to the next round. Which of these actresses would you most like to see as Wonder Woman?
I confess. From this first round, I cast a nostalgic vote for LYNDA CARTER.
Which of these actresses would you most like to play Wonder Woman?
CATHERINE ZETA JONES.....19.08%
Holly Marie Combs.....1.32
Joanie "Chyna" Laurer.....0%
I almost voted for Catherine Zeta Jones because she looks the part and I almost voted for Lucy Lawless because she's so much fun to watch and I almost voted for Musetta Vander to give her a shot at the big time. But, finally, because I think she's gorgeous and a great actress, I voted for GINA TORRES.
The National Cartoonist Society announced its nominees for the 2005 Reuben Awards. Who would be your choice for CARTOONIST OF THE YEAR?
I voted for MEN'S ADVENTURE MAGAZINES, which, along with Alter Ego will be reviewed in an April edition of TOT. I just read Wrong About Japan and my review of that will likely run in Comics Buyer's Guide before it appears here.
As for Comics Buyer's Guide, while I may discuss something in an issue, I won't be reviewing it as long as I'm also contributing to the magazine.
Which of these items would you most like to see reviewed in a future TONY'S ONLINE TIPS?
BLOOD OF THE DEMON #1.....26.87%
Doom Patrol #9.....9.70%
Birds of Prey #79.....8.96%
Ex Machine #8.....7.46%
Elfquest: The Grand Quest Volume 7.....5.97%
Catwoman: When in Rome #4.....5.22%
100 Bullets #58.....3.73%
Authority: Revolution #5.....3.73%
Books of Magick: Life During Wartime #8.....3.73%
Cartoon Network Block Party #6.....3.73%
Adventures of Superman #637.....2.24%
Detective Comics #804.....1.49%
Batman Gotham Knights #62.....0%
Batman Legends of the Dark Knight #189.....0%
I voted with the majority here. I'm curious to see what John Byrne and Will Pfeifer will bring to the character.
This week's TONY POLLS questions have the semi-finals of our "Who Should Play Wonder Woman" competition. You'll also be asked to choose science fiction's Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form) and Best Dramatic Presentation (Short Form) from the nominees for the 2005 Hugo Awards...and make some more picks on what comics and other items you'd most like me to review. To cast your votes, head on over to:
I showed you this Black Lightning card in the February 7 TOT and asked for information on where it came from. The first answer came from ERIC GIMLIN:
I have - or had, who knows after at least 6 moves? - 9 cards from this series. They came, uncut, as the bracing board for a bag of remaindered comics at Toys 'R' Us. I cut them up, but never saw any more used in the packaging of comics I wanted. Does your card look like it was hand-cut on at least have some ragged edges on the sides? As always, I'm enjoying your articles. Thank you again for them.
We have a winner...of my gratitude. Looking at my card, I do see the barest trace of a dotted line. Thanks, Eric.
Thanks also to Phil Fried and George Nelson, who e-mailed me within minutes of Eric.
A day later, I received an e-mail with even more information from a TOT reader who didn't sign his note. I don't want to try to guess his name from an e-mail address, but I do thank him sincerely for this missive:
Greetings! I'm responding to your call for information on a pair of trading cards featuring DC characters. In the early 1990s, DC packaged sets of 3-4 back issues of various Batman titles for sale in Toys-R-Us. The cards in question were printed on the sets' backing boards. Each board could be cut into nine cards. The series was divided into at least four categories: "Great Heroes," "Great Villains," "Great Teams," and "Great Moments in Comics." Although the cards are copyrighted 1989, I seem to remember getting mine somewhat later, in 1992 or 1993. I managed to obtain only 47 of the cards - yes, I still have them! - and the highest-numbered one I have is Ambush Bug at #120. I hope this is helpful. I read Tony's Tips regularly and enjoy it thoroughly.
That's a wrap for this column. Thanks to all for spending a part of your day with me.
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: