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Reviews and commentary by Tony Isabella
"America's Most Beloved Comic-Book Writer & Columnist"

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for Thursday, May 19, 2005

Donald Duck 67

I had a sudden impulse to talk baseball, which is why today's column is starting out with Tony Strobl's cover for DONALD DUCK #67 [September, 1959]. The sudden impulse didn't come with any kind of plan, so all you get from me are random facts and views. You can figure out which is which.

I'd really like to root for the Cleveland Indians, even when they suck, but I can't until the team gets rid of their offensive Chief Wahoo symbols. "History" and "tradition" are poor defenses for racism. Evolve already.

Apparently, I like the Class AA Akron Aeros team more than the Akron Beacon-Journal does. Coverage of the home team and its games rarely runs over three paragraphs.

I don't follow the Class A Lake County Captains, even though I'm told their stadium is quite nice and the games there are fun. It's the "Lake County" part of their name. It sounds like a horror movie title. I need to work on this irrational dread.

My son Eddie's "Senior League" baseball games haven't started yet. All but two of his team's practices have been canceled due to bad weather and terrible fields. It takes days for his home field to dry out after a steady rainfall.

We have six Medina teams this year, so they won't have to play teams from outside the city. I don't have exact numbers, but most of the teams have 12-14 players. That should cut down on forfeits, even when families go on vacation.

Here's a surprise. I'm an assistant coach on my son's team. I didn't know about this until one of his teammates told me I was listed as such on the website. Fortunately, there are three other assistants, none of whom can possibly know less about coaching than I do. The kids should be alright.

My daughter Kelly is on a travel softball team. At her level, Medina has two such teams and that appears to be one too many. Her team has 12 players and the other team has nine. During the school year, the league allows games to be rescheduled when the girls are busy with school functions. Come June, a team with less than eight players at a game automatically forfeits. Don't tell Kelly, but I fear this will be a frustrating season all around.

Despite that gloomy prediction, I'm looking forward to seeing Kelly play. And Eddie. And the Aeros. And, using the excuse that I'm spending time with my beloved family, maybe even the Indians on TV every now and then.

What can I say? I love the baseball.



Beowulk 1

History's greatest warrior has walked among us for 1400 years and he's about to face *something* and he's about to face it alone. The nature of this "something" is only one of the mysteries with which writer Brian Augustyn teases us with in BEOWULF #1 [Speakeasy Comics; $2.99].

Augustyn's a dependable story-smith. He tells us plenty about Beowulf in this premiere. A flashback to a World War I battlefield shows us the hero's power and resilience. Wulf's keeping track of a courageous young soldier until the soldier's death at the age of 104 reveals his loyalty and longitivty. That he's part of a police "special talents squad" and seeks a peaceful end to a crisis shows his compassion and intelligence. That's enough to get me solidly in Wulf's corner.

The mysteries include ordinary people transforming into super-beings, the Department of National Security taking a keen interest in such folks, a somewhat sinister National Security agent, and the previously-mentioned "something." Whatever's going on, Augustyn has me wanting to learn more about it.

The comic also looks good. It appears to have been shot from artists Dub's pencils with decent-if-occasionally-monotone color by Pierre Andre Dery.

BEOWULF is worth checking out. It picks up a promising three out of five Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony



I love comic strips guest-starring characters from other comic strips or from cartoons and comic books. I love self-referential humor in comic strips. Heart as big as all outdoors kind of fellow that I am, I love sharing them with you.

First up today is Jim Meddick's MONTY from May 7:


From the same day, we have this incredibly neat installment of NANCY by Guy and Brad Gilchrist:


Nancy's Aunt Fritzi may well be comicdom's perfect woman. She is a caring and intelligent individual. She's absolutely gorgeous. And she reads comic books!

Maybe we should introduce her to John from FUNKY WINKERBEAN. The poor guy is due some happiness.

One more for you today. It's Russ Wallace's NATURAL SELECTION panel from May 6:

Natural Selection

Let's hope Dennis gets past this misfortunate and grows up to be more like Jay North, the actor who played the character on the popular TV show of 1959-1963. Sainted Wife Barb and I had dinner with Jay and our mutual friend Jon Provost - who played "Timmy" on Lassie - and he's one heck of a nice guy. If he ever appears at an autograph show or a convention near you, don't miss the opportunity to meet him.

Look for more COMICS IN THE COMICS in future TOTs.



Two days ago, I ran the results of TONY POLLS questions which, while the voting was still open, inspired a good number of posts on my message board and roughly two-dozen e-mails. Readers had been asked to pick the recent comics event which most angered or annoyed them...and also name the DC, Marvel, and non-DC/non-Marvel titles they would most like to see return. I ran some of those e-mail in yesterday's TOT and have more of them today.


First up today is JASON MICHAEL:

I chose "other" in answer to the first question because it was more a combination of events that annoyed me. My choice would have to go under the blanket title of "Identity Crisis/Infinite Crisis." I don't like the general tone in DC's books these days and don't feel it suits the characters all that well. The rape and murder of Sue Dibny, making Jean Loring the murderer, killing Blue Beetle and having Max Lord the culprit...these are editorial choices I don't agree with. I won't waste your time with too much detail as I am sure you have read the reasoning elsewhere by people who are more articulate than I am, and besides, thinking about it too much makes me sad. It seems a shame to take characters with so much potential and squander them for a quick sales boost.

Thanks for posting these polls. I always enjoy them.


What If 1

I also heard from DAVE STUMME:

For the revivals, I chose "Other" for both the Marvel and the non-DC/non-Marvel questions. At Marvel, I'd like to see revivals of What If? and Guardians of the Galaxy as monthlies.

For non-DC/non-Marvel publishers, I'd like to see a lot of the Eclipse line return. DNAgents, Crossfire, and The Liberty Project spring to mind. I also miss those Bruce Jones anthology titles from Pacific and Eclipse: Alien Worlds/Alien Encounters and Twisted Tales.

Northguard 2

Our Canadian pal DWIGHT WILLIAMS wrote:

For the DC Comics revival, I chose "other" with a five-way tie between Chase, Black Lightning, Challengers of the Unknown (all the members who have been in the team over the last 20 years), Scare Tactics, and Suicide Squad.

For Marvel...I vote for Nick Fury and SHIELD. I like UN "blue berets" whether they are soldiers, spies, or, as in SHIELD's case, soldier/spies.

Other publishers? That would be a tie between Northguard and Captain Canuck. But then, I do consider myself a patriot.

The results of last week's TONY POLLS will run in tomorrow's column. This week's questions - which ask you to grade the new DC Comics logo and rate your expectations for a quartet of comic-book movies - are up and running at:

You have until sometime after midnight Tuesday morning to cast your votes. Shortly after these questions come down, new questions will be posted. It's the circle of life, baby!

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

Tony Isabella

<< 05/18/2005 | 05/19/2005 | 05/20/2005 >>

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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