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

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for Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Black Lightning HeroClix

Black Lightning, the DC Comics character I created a quarter-century ago, will join the ranks of HeroClix super-heroes when the above figure is released next month. All I know about HeroClix is that it's a "collectible miniatures game" and popular with comics fans and gamers of all ages. However, I expect to know much more about HeroClix in the near future, courtesy of the folks at WizKids who manufacture these figures. Naturally, as I acquire knowledge of these wondrous little warriors, I'll share it with TOT readers. In the meantime, enjoy the photo.



Captain Atom: Armagedddon 1

When I decided to review all DCU comics from INFINITE CRISIS #1 on, I failed to take into account that some titles might confuse the boundaries for me. CAPTAIN ATOM: ARMAGEDDON #1 [$2.99] appears to be set in the Wildstorm Universe or some variant thereof, but it stars a hero from the DCU. What's a reviewer to do?

What this reviewer decided to do was read this first issue and then sort it out. Writer Will Pfeifer did a decent job recapping the Captain's history up to the point where Atom was blasted from the DCU to the WU. However, after that, my unfamiliarity with the WU, my disinterest in what I was saw of the WU, and the unappealing art added up to "This isn't really a DCU book, so I'm not going to read any more issues." It was not without merit - it earns two out of five Tonys - but with so many actual DCU books on my dance card, I had to say "no" to someone.

Tony Tony

REQUEST: Let me know if subsequent issues indicate I'm making a bad call here.

Green Lantern Corps 2

I likewise failed to take into account my lack of will power, a failing which, ironically enough, manifested itself when it came time to read and review GREEN LANTERN CORPS: RECHARGE #2 [$2.99]. Giving into temptation, I read the first issue as well and thus set the stage for similar lapses with some of the other comics from the week of October 19. An extra comic here, an extra comic there, and then I'm wondering where my day went.

Written by Geoff Johns and Dave Gibbons, this six-issue series follows Guy Gardner and Kyle Rayner into space to assist with the rebuilding of the Corps. There are some fine character moments on Earth and elsewhere, some suitably weird aliens, and more of that mounting dread which has been hanging over the DCU for longer than I can recall. I tend to favor super-hero stories set on Earth, but I'm digging this outer-space version of the old "raw recuits face danger and become seasoned vets" bit. Overcoming my preferences in this manner earns GREEN LANTERN CORPS: RECHARGE #1 and #2 four out of five Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony Tony


When did Thanagarians who look like lizards start appearing in the DCU? I don't recall seeing them before.

Justice 2

JUSTICE [$3.50] might not be a DCU series, but since it's by Alex Ross, Jim Krueger, and Doug Braithwaite, I'm not feeling real guilty about reading its first two issues. Ross and company seem to favor a kinder, gentler Justice League than that which rules the roost in the current DCU. Or maybe this is ULTIMATE SUPER FRIENDS. I could think about such things for hours, but I choose, instead, to just sit back and enjoy this series. It's got Earth and Earth's heroes in serious jeopardy and facing even more serious impending doom. It's got many villains whose plans are more mysterious than usual and may even be less villainous than usual. Though I would like to see JUSTICE get to the point sooner rather than later, I've enjoyed what I've read to date...and the glorious Braithwaite and Ross which accompanies the story. DCU or not, JUSTICE earns four out of five Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony Tony

Manhunter 15

Back in the days when most DC issues featured three complete stories, albeit eight-page stories, the editors could present odd little slices of faux-history like "How Superboy Got His Costume" or "The Secret of Green Lantern's Oath" or even "How Wonder Woman Got Her Groove Back." Intentionally or not, MANHUNTER #15 [$2.50] is a nod to those days with three vignettes showing the background of various elements of the super-hero gear worn by prosecutor Kate Spencer...whose name I only know because I did some online research before writing this review.

If you're really into MANHUNTER or DCU trivia in general, you will doubtless enjoy this issue more than I did. I smiled evilly at a bit of dark humor in two of the vignettes, but the rest of the issue left me cold. The framing sequence gave me no reason to care about Kate and didn't explain her beyond her desire to put on hero drag and go catch Copperhead.

The dark humor earns MANHUNTER #15 one Tony. Maybe subsequent issues will do more for me.


Klarion 4

I'm not sure Grant Morrison's SEVEN SOLDIERS mini-series will affect the DCU proper, but that didn't prevent weak-willed me from reading SEVEN SOLDIERS: KLARION THE WITCHBOY #4 [$2.99] and the two issues which preceded it. I reviewed the first issue of the series on May 21 of last year:

[Morrison] has revamped Klarion - originally created by Jack Kirby as a foe for Etrigan the Demon - into a clever and abrasive witch-in-training, a future protector of his lost city of Croatoan. But the young man is drawn to the world beyond Croatoan, a world that, like his own, is being menaced by the alien Sheeda. There is weirdness a'plenty here, but, thus far, my interest outweighs my confusion. I don't know if I *like* Klarion much, but I do want to see what he does next.

Artist Frazer Irving delivers appropriately moody art, but he comes up short on the backgrounds and facial diversity. Colorist Irving relies too heavily on a monotonous greenish-blue. It's good work, but it does drag after several pages.

This issue also loses a Tony for failing to include Klarion's creator in its credits. Bad form that.

On our scale of zero to five, KLARION THE WITCH BOY #1 earns but two Tonys. Better luck next time.

Tony Tony

It's several months later and I'm still miffed about the lack of a Jack Kirby credit. Morrison's Klarion is very different from the original, but the visuals of the witch boy and his familiar are still derived from Kirby's work. I haven't changed my mind about the coloring either. However...

The mini-series was filled with cool ideas and was brought to a very satisfying conclusion. I decided I like Klarion a lot; that combination of quiet nastiness and wide-eyed wonderment plays well. In fact, I hope he survives the Seven Soldiers storyline so that we can see more of his adventures and explorations.

SEVEN SOLDIERS: KLARION THE WITCH BOY #4 gets four out of five Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony Tony

Superman 222

OMACs! Why did it have to be OMACs?

Written by Mark Verheiden, SUPERMAN #222 [$2.50] is an "OMAC Project Aftermath," which puts even a writer whose past work I've enjoyed greatly at a disadvantage. Is it just me or are OMACs only as effective as they need to be to advance the plot of whatever DCU book they happen to be in at the time? In this ish, Lois goes one-on-one with an OMAC which used to be some hooker who works with her at the Daily Planet.

What's that? The girl isn't a hooker? She just dresses like one? And the newspaper allows this? And the editor of the comic book believes this why? Or does the editor of the comic book just not want to tell the artist to keep it in his pants while earning big bucks for drawing the comic book?

But I digress.

The issue does have a nice bit where Clark does something real stupid and Lois gets appropriately angry about it and then the two of them act like adults and put it behind them. Kudos to Verheiden for not going for cheap soap opera there. Apologies that the best score I can give this issue is one Tony.


Look for more INFINITE CRISIS COUNSELING next week.



Every Monday, I post new questions on our TONY POLLS page. I do this because it's fun and because I really do want to know what TOT readers think of this, that, and the other thing.

This week's questions take their cue from my Black Lightning HeroClix news. We're asking you to vote on your favorite Lightning costume, if you have ever played HeroClix, if you collect HeroClix figures, and how you would rate my chances of figuring out how to play the game. You can cast your votes at:

As always, feel free to discuss the questions and your answers on the message board [], or, if you prefer, in an e-mail to me. Once I get a little further along in my DCU reviews and other business, I'm hoping to run a lot more of your letters here.

That's all for now. Thanks for spending part of your day with me. I'll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

Tony Isabella

<< 01/10/2006 | 01/11/2006 | 01/12/2006 >>

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.

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