TONY'S ONLINE TIPS for Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Though the Blonde Phantom is TOT's official pin-up queen, Miss Candy O'Connor is our official pin-up teen. She appeared in POLICE COMICS (with Plastic Man) and in 64 issues of her own title, both published by Quality Comics.
CANDY #3 is the Spring, 1948, issue of that title. From what I've learned, most of her stories were written and drawn by Harry Sahle. Did Sahle draw the above cover? Your guess is as good as mine, better if you've actually read any Candy comics.
Why am I running covers of a comic I've never read? Because I stumbled across the gallery of CANDY covers archived at THE GRAND COMICS DATABASE [www.comics.org] a while back and they spoke to me, though not in a scary "God wants you to blow up stuff" kind of way. Nope, I found them amusing, charming, cute, you name it. Humorous windows to an era we want to believe was gentler and simpler than our world of 2006. Or maybe people were just better at keeping their shades drawn back then.
This just in. I've won an eBay auction for a late-in-the-run issue of CANDY and am in the running for a couple of earlier issues as well. When Miss O'Connor returns to TOT in a couple weeks, I'll have an actual review of one of her comics for you.
INFINITE CRISIS COUNSELING
Fifteen DCU or DCU-related items hit the comics shops the week of December 14. BATMAN: GOTHAM COUNTY LINE #1-3 were reviewed here on January 26. SUPERMAN: TRUE BRIT was put aside for reading and reviewing at a later date. I reviewed the VILLAINS UNITED trade in my "Tony's Tips" column for COMICS BUYER'S GUIDE #1616 and, given my dislike of Greg Rucka's work on WONDER WOMAN, I decided to skip reading the EYES OF THE GORGON trade. That leaves us with 11 books for this session. Lie down on the couch or settle into the comfy chair. I'm here to help you.
ACTION COMICS #834 [$2.50] concludes Superman's latest battle with the Queen of Fables. A little magic goes a long way with me, but I must admit the lady of legends - no, not writer Gail Simone, though I do think she's one of DC's best - was appropriately scary in this issue. I dug the re-creations of Kryptonian fairy tales and that "Queenie" played relatively fair for a psychotic witch. Left unresolved was Lois Lane's current peril: she's been kidnapped by a young man who's already killed for her and who wants to take her to the prom that's inside his head.
I enjoyed Simone's writing and John Byrne's pencilling, but I was a little put off by the apparent need for three inkers on this issue. It seems almost every DCU comic has multiple artists these days. Does the company have a scheduling manager for its talent or are the editors juggling artists on their own?
ACTION COMICS #834 earns a respectable three Tonys.
AQUAMAN #37 [$2.50] has a kinda cool cover by Patrick Gleason and Prentiss Rollins AQUAMAN #37 [$2.50] and good interior art by Leonard Kirk (layouts) and Andy Clarke (finishes), but the story itself is little more than a parade of brutal destruction and death. San Diego gets attacked by a small army of undersea super-villains while Atlantis gets attacked by the Spectre and an army of waterlogged zombies. Aquaman and his cast are in mortal peril, but their cookie-cutter heroics and terror don't give me any reason to care what happens to any of them.
AQUAMAN #37 earns one Tony...and that's for the art.
I read THE BATMAN STRIKES #16 [$2.25] on a whim, even though it doesn't have anything to do with the DCU proper. "Hit and Run" is an okay story - a Joker imposter steals the Batmobile figuring Batman will then lead him to the real Joker - but it seemed kind of thin to me. Even younger readers can appreciate comics with a bit more meat to them; look at the works of Carl Barks, Hergé, and John Stanley for the proof of that.
THE BATMAN STRIKES #16 earns two Tonys.
BATMAN: LEGENDS OF THE DARK KNIGHT #198 [$2.50] is the middle issue of the three-issue "Blaze of Glory" by Will Pfeifer and Chris Weston. A criminal caught by Batman years ago during their first and only encounter has been released from prison after serving his entire sentence. Dying from an injury he may well have received at that time, the criminal seeks...something. In the first issue, he struck out at objects carrying Batman's image or symbol. In this issue, people are his targets. He leaves no clues, but he expects Batman will track him down anyway. I'm on the figurative edge of my seat here. I don't know where this story is going, only that I am thrilled to be along for the ride. Exceptional writing and art earn this issue the full five Tonys.
CAPTAIN ATOM: ARMAGEDDON #3 [$2.99] has the title hero trapped in the WildStorm Universe. His presence will doom that universe, but his leaving would destroy it as well.
I'm not really interested in the WildStorm Universe. I don't care for the art on this series. Yet, despite that, Will Pfeifer's writing of Captain Atom keeps me reading. His Atom is a military man, loyal to his country and his service, and unapologetic about that. He doesn't fit the usual authority/military stereotypes we usually get in fiction. He wouldn't hesitate to give his life to save this universe not his own, but any action he takes would have the same total annihilation effect. It's a desperate puzzle and I'm getting a bang out of watching him try to solve it.
Earlier issues of CAPTAIN ATOM: ARMAGEDDON have earned two and three Tonys. This one gets four.
FIRESTORM #20 [$2.50] finds the title hero off in space with Donna "I'm Not Dead Now" Troy and her hand-picked team of heroes. Over in OUTSIDERS, the premise made for a really boring comic book. Here, we get a terrific Firestorm and Animal Man team-up when they get in the middle of a skirmish between Thanagarians and Rannians over a sacred stolen bird. Writer Stuart Moore does a first-rate job with his lead characters and with making a complicated scenario accessible to newer readers. Artists Jamal Igle and Rob Stull are his equal in the visual department. If FIRESTORM stays this good when it jumps ahead a year, I'll be sticking with it.
FIRESTORM #20 earns four Tonys.
The cover of GREEN ARROW #57 [$2.50] proclaims that this issue features "The Shocking Conclusion!" and that's not at all accurate. Time to activate the spoiler warnings.
Doctor Light has attacked Connor and Speedy, Green Arrow's son and adoptive daughter. Arrow and Black Lightning get to the scene in not quite the nick of time. Arrow goes after Light alone. Then he learns Light is working with or for Merlyn, an assassin and an archer who wants another go at Arrow. The issue ends before they have their little showdown, ends with Merlyn blowing up the house in which Black Lightning and the youngsters are trapped. In what universe is *that* a conclusion?
END SPOILER WARNINGS
The plot is paper-thin, but the action is excellent. I liked the scene where Lightning used his powers in an attempt to shock-start a fallen character's heart. The art by Ron Garney (pencils, pages 1-11), Ron Lim (pencils, 12-22), and Bill Reinhold (all the inks) is first-rate.
On the down side, Light's rants are getting old, especially when he brags about his rapes. DCU writers haven't done a good job with Light; it's as if their comprehension of rapists came entirely from TV shows. If you're going to write about a monstrous crime, you owe it to your readers and the serious subject matter to work a little harder to get it right.
Overall, though, GREEN ARROW #57 isn't a bad super-hero comic. It earns a respectable three Tonys.
HAWKMAN #47 [$2.50] starts off with a good recap of the Rann-Thanagar War and then turns its attention to page after page of an extrmely talky interplanetary war. A former Hawkman foe manages to talk some sense to the Thanagarians, but other races have gotten involved as well. Those other races still want their share of the spoils of war, be they land, power, or technology. Then Blackfire shows up - Starfire's evil sister - to make the usual "surrender or die" proclamation one expects from evil sisters. But, hey, wasn't she doing the whole "power of a god" thing in OUTSIDERS last week? Is there more than one Blackfire?
The Hawkman foe showing a lick of sense was good, but the rest of the issue didn't move me. I'm being generous in giving HAWKMAN #47 two out of five Tonys.
It seems to me that one of the underlining themes of INFINITE CRISIS is that Batman is a moronic master planner who shouldn't be trusted with a screwdriver much less the safety of Gotham City or, heaven forbid, the security of the world itself. Now maybe Batman is incompetent and moronic because Zatanna and his fellow Justice League members messed with his mind, but the end result is this guy whose mistakes kill thousands of people.
JLA #123 [$2.50] makes that case, maybe intentionally, maybe not. It also makes the case that most of the team's members, past and present, don't have much of a sense of commitment when it comes to the League. What was once the gathering of the world's greatest heroes has devolved into a bitter bunch of whiny losers. No wonder so many of them jumped at the chance to follow Donna "I'm Not Dead Now" Troy into space.
The ones Donna didn't want mostly decided to head for home and hearth. That left Green Arrow and Black Canary to go after the Key and Manitou Dawn, the Key's captive du jour. While the Key murders lots of people. While Batman finally figures out the Key is on the loose. Checking on dangerous psychopaths can easily slip your mind when you're really busy not stopping dangerous psychopaths in your own comic book.
Last issue, I gave JLA one Tony for penciller Tom Derenick and inker Dan Green. That was a mistake. I'm enabling the editor and writer to keep churning out this crap-fest of a book if I give JLA #123 even that much. So I won't.
NIGHTWING #115 [$2.50] was a pleasant surprise. I have been critical of this title in recent weeks, but I'm pleased to report that "No Fly Zone" addresses most of my concerns about the previous issues. It doesn't change my opinion of those issues, but I liked the payoffs we got this issue. Kudos to Devin Grayson for giving me a Dick Grayson I can root for, even if I did have to put up with yet another comic featuring Deathstroke. Who, by the way, should die, die, die, die, die, die, die, die, die, die, die, die, die, die, die, die, die, die...
Sorry about that.
Grayson's fine writing on this issue was enhanced by equally spiffy art by Phil Hester and Ande Parks. I'm overlooking that the issue featured that guy who should die to award NIGHTWING #115 four out of five Tonys.
I don't know what to make of TEEN TITANS #30 [$2.50]. I don't know what the heck the Captain Carrot stuff is about, even though I loved the original series. I don't like the Tony Daniel-and-two-inkers artwork on this issue. I do like the notion that the wall between "life" and "death" has been weakened by all the heroes and villains who keep coming back from the dead. I'm baffled by Beast Boy and Raven swapping spit. Those lovingly drawn shots of Wonder Girl in her schoolgirl outfit were cute but just this side of being creepy. But, when I finished the last page, I couldn't say that I had enjoyed the comic.
Because "the doorway between life and death has been cracked open...ever since Superman came back to us" bit is such a big and wonderful idea, I won't leave TEEN TITANS #30 empty...ah...headed. It picks up one Tony.
A final thought about these ICC sessions.
Much to my delight and surprise, TOT readers are digging these reviews...even though I'm running about two months behind the DCU releases. That's why I'm devoting so many columns to them. I hope to get current with them sometime next month.
Most of the e-mail on these reviews has been along the lines of "keep up the good work" or "thank you for reading these comics so I don't have to." That's cool, but it would be even cooler if you'd let me know what you think of these comics.
Got something to say about the DCU books I'm reviewing. Then, by all means, post your views on my message board:
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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