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for Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Batman 145

Alfred Pennyworth, butler to Bruce Wayne, adopted a somewhat unusual hobby in the early 1960s. He wrote stories he could never share with anyone other than his employer and his employer's ward, Dick Grayson. Pennyworth, one of the few people in the world who knew Wayne and Grayson were Batman and Robin, wrote of a fictional future wherein the adult Grayson had assumed the identity of Batman and Wayne's son had become the new Robin.

I was 8 years old when I read the first of Alfred's stories in BATMAN #131 [April, 1960] and, geez, did I love it. Even at that age, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I even made up my own stories and acted them out, casting plastic Marx soldiers as the members of the Justice League and their foes. So, to see a regular character in one of my favorite comic books writing his own stories, well, it just blew me away.

BATMAN #145 [February, 1962] featured Alfred's third adventure of his second Batman and Robin team.

"The Son of the Joker" was written by Batman co-creator Bill Finger and drawn by Sheldon Moldoff. The not-nearly-as-maniacal-as-he-would-later-become Joker didn't actually have a heir, but he had a protege who, using his mentor's tactics and tricks, captured Batman II and Robin II. This happened a lot in Alfred's stories, mostly to allow the original Batman - and sometimes Batwoman - to forego retirement long enough to rescue them. The original Joker also appeared in this story and, as you might imagine, ended up in police custody once again.

Let this be a lesson to my older readers. If you're retired and looking to pick up a few extra bucks, resuming a life of crime is probably not a good choice. Better you should become a Wal-Mart greeter. It's still evil, but it's also legal.

There were two other stories in this issue.

Hawaii became a state in 1959 and got its first Batman villain in "Hunt For Mr. 50." Here's what Michael Fleisher wrote about the title character in his 1976 ENCYCLOPEDIA OF COMIC BOOK HEROES VOL. 1: BATMAN...

MR. 50. A cunning criminal mastermind - his true identity unknown even to his underworld subordinates - who presides over a vast international gem smuggling network headquartered on the Hawaiian island of Oahu. In his everyday identity he is Narkin, the foreman of a local sugar plantation. To smuggle stolen gems into the continental United States, Narkin hides them inside huge sacks of raw sugar which he ships to a cooperative "distributor" in Gotham City.

The GRAND COMICS DATABASE [] hasn't identified the writer of this story, but it was pencilled by Moldoff and inked by Charles Paris.

Moldoff and Paris also drew Bill Finger's "The Tiniest Villain in the World." For variety's sake - and to sneak in a plug for one of my favorite websites - here's what MIKE'S AMAZING WORLD OF DC COMICS [] has to say about the story:

Batman and Robin follow the trail of wanted fugitive Joe Burr. They learn that Burr has kidnapped a professor and stolen his new invention a shrinking machine.

Burr's gang shrink the professor and Burr to escape capture. Batman shrinks himself as well and chases Burr at miniature size. When the Caped Crusader finally captures Burr, he is restored to normal size by Robin.

Getting back to our main interest in BATMAN #145, Alfred wrote a few more tales of the second Batman and Robin team. We'll look at them in the near-future.

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



I have no overriding theme for today's collection of COMICS IN THE COMICS. Let's start with brothers Gary and Glenn McCoy's THE FLYING McCOYS panel from July 14:

Flying McCoys

Mark Parisi's OFF THE MARK panel from July 21 had a rare-for-newspaper-comics mention of an anime/manga character:

Off the Mark

Here's Gary Wise and Lance Aldrich's REAL LIFE ADVENTURES from July 9:

Real Life Adventures

Our final example for today. Here's Rick Stromoski's SOUP TO NUTZ strip from July 8:

Soup to Nutz

Since so many other websites and blogs have been covering the 75th anniversary of BLONDIE, I haven't been including the plethora of comic-strip crossovers which are part of the celebration. But they've gotten me to thinking:

Who HASN'T been invited to the big party?

And why?

Obviously, you can't have DOONESBURY's B.D. at the same party as President Bush. Such an encounter certainly wouldn't help Bush get on with his life, now would it?

But how come MARY WORTH or REX MORGAN haven't been invited to the celebration? Mary is a charming woman who is always pleasant and willing to pitch in when someone needs a helping hand. I wish she lived in my neighborhood.

Rex Morgan's absence is even more puzzling. The way Dagwood chows down, it would make good sense to have a doctor at the party. Blondie's hubby might well be just one more dinner roll away from a heart attack.

Any thoughts on this, my loyal legions of TOT readers? If so, don't be shy about sharing them with me.



New TONY POLLS questions were posted yesterday and, today, we have the results of a question we asked last week:

Dark Horse Comics 1

Taking Marvel and DC Comics out of the running, which of these publishers is your favorite?

DARK HORSE.....32.41%
Top Shelf.....2.07%
Devil's Due.....1.38%

There are a lot of fine companies listed above and most have published things I've enjoyed. I voted for GEMSTONE because I get a kick out of Donald, Mickey, Scrooge, and the rest of the Disney characters *and* because the company had the great good sense to hire me to work on about a dozen stories for them with, hopefully, more coming in the future.

Yes, I can be bought...but only if your company is publishing good comics in addition to the ones I've worked on.

For this week's similar question, Dark Horse was taken off the list and another comics publisher added in its place. You can vote on that and this week's other questions at:

I'll have more TONY POLLS results on the morrow.



One of the conundrums of running the TONY POLLS is that when I don't offer you a write-in vote as one of the choices, I usually get a complaint or three, and that when I do offer a write-in vote, I don't get complaints but I also don't actually get your write-in votes. So, with the above question, I tried something different. I didn't include a write-in vote as a choice, but I did include the e-mail address for them in the question itself.

This is the response I got from WAYNE GARMIL:

My write-in vote for favorite non-DC/Marvel publisher would be a tie between Shanda Fantasy Arts and Heroic Publishing (which I followed happily in the mid-1980s to mid-1990s and started up again about a year ago).

A honorable mention would go WaRP Graphics, which I know no longer publishes any comics directly. Yay to DC for keeping those stories in print and letting the Pinis concentrate on telling more new stories!

"Snide" comment: where was the "none of the above" option on the list?


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

Tony Isabella

<< 08/30/2005 | 08/31/2005 | 09/01/2005 >>

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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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