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

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TONY'S ONLINE TIPS
for Friday, March 17, 2006

Konga 2

When your title "hero" dies in the first issue, what do you do in the second? KONGA #1 [1960] was a sanitized adaptation of the American International movie, but the scientist who transformed a cute little chimp into a giant gorilla and his "creation" still died in the comic book.

KONGA #2 [August, 1961] took a page to recap the first issue and then cut to Sandra, the scientist's assistant, and her fiancé, Bob Stanley, visiting the rubble that had been Dr. Charles Decker's home and laboratory. A metal box survived the destruction and they keep it as a "token to the memory of a great scientist."

Konga 2 Panel

Bob and Sandra marry and go to Australia, where Bob will head the department of genetics at the University of Sydney. This job doesn't seem to entail any actual teaching.

The newlyweds are given "numerous pets" by their new friends, including a cute little chimp they name Konga. They're just asking for trouble, aren't they?

Bob opens Decker's metal box and finds the scientist's notes on the experiments that transformed the original Konga. He decides to continue and complete Decker's work. In other words, to steal a line from Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, Bob learns from Decker's mistakes and is able to repeat them.

Konga II grows to enormous size, bigger than his predecessor. Bob the genius has no antidote for the growth serum. By page 11, Konga is toppling buildings and being fired upon by the Australian army. Fortunately for Konga, the soldiers in this story are to the military as Bob is to science; the giant ape escapes and hides in the brush country.

Bob continues to make wonderful decisions. He smuggles Konga - the still-growing Konga - on to a ship. The ship gets caught in a typhoon about the same time Konga gets too big for its cargo bay. Konga rescues Bob and Sandra, carrying them to an unknown island. When a tyrannosaurus rex of the type indigenous to unknown islands tries to eat the Stanleys, Konga reduces the creature to dinosaur pâté in two panels.

The island's active volcano chooses that moment to erupt, good timing considering this is page 18 of a 20-page story. A seaplane rescues Bob and Sandra, the island explodes, and it looks bad for Konga. The tale ends with "a monstrous hand [reaching] up from the depths! A salute? A goodbye? A last gesture from a dead or dying creature? Or a sign of life? Only time and fate know the answer and they speak in whispers no human ear can hear."

Konga 2 Panel

Dick Giordano drew this issue's cover. The story was likely written by Joe Gill. The art looks to me like Charles Nicholas on the pencils and Sal Trapani on the inks.

Bob and Sandra became more likeable in future issues, perhaps because those issues would gloss over Bob's role in creating Konga. Gill added humor to subsequent Konga tales, which especially worked well when Steve Ditko was the artist.

The movie on which KONGA was based is terrible, notable only for Michael Gough chewing up scenery as the lecherous and murderous Dr. Decker. Gough would go on to play butler Alfred Pennyworth in in the Batman movies of 1989 through 1995.

But the Charlton comics developed into a fun and frequently charming series. Counting specials, there were 26 issues and Ditko drew 14 of them. I'd dearly love to see the entire run reprinted in an ESSENTIAL-format collection.

When I dream, I dream really big.

The GIANT MONSTERS theme is part of our regular TOT rotation. Look for another creature commentary in two weeks.

******

COMICS IN THE COMICS

We continue today's GIANT MONSTERS theme with Scott Willis and Jack Ohman's MIXED MEDIA from October 9, 2005:

Mixed Media

In this MOTHER GOOSE AND GRIMM from November 14, Mike Peters used King Kong for some political commentary:

Mother Goose

John Deering's STRANGE BREW panel from January 21 made use of another classic monster:

Strange Brew

One more. Godzilla returns in Dan Thompson's LOST SHEEP strip from February 12:

Lost Sheep

Okay, maybe these aren't actual "comics in the comics," but, hey, Godzilla and King Kong...are you gonna say "no" to either of them? I didn't think so.

******

CORRECTIONS

Sinister Tales 196

I do my best to own up to mistakes when I make them, even when I've repeated someone else's mistake. In my TOT for February 13, I credited Christopher Rule with inking Jack Kirby's pencils on "I Was Trapped by Titano the Monster That Time Forgot!" I took that credit from MARVEL MASTERWORKS: ATLAS ERA TALES TO ASTONISH VOL. 1 [$49.99]. The story was actually inked by Joe Sinnott. My thanks to Dr. Michael J. Vassallo of the amazing Timely-Atlas mailing list [groups.yahoo.com/group/timely-atlas] for pointing out the error in that Masterworks volume. You're the best, Doc!

******

GET MORE TONY

Comic Buyer's Guide 1617

COMICS BUYER'S GUIDE #1617 [June; $5.99] should be available at bookstores and comics shops sometime next week. My subscription copy arrived at Casa Isabella on Tuesday. As you can see, the Hulk landed the coveted cover spot this month.

My "Tony's Tips" leads off the magazine's review section. The column has my thoughts on the recent Mohammad cartoon controversy and violence, as well as reviews of ESSENTIAL AVENGERS VOL. 5, TEEN TITANS: THE FUTURE IS NOW, FRANK MILLER'S SIN CITY VOL. 6 and VOL. 7, EASY WAY by Christopher E. Long and Andy Kuhn, and VIVID GIRLS VOL.1 (from Avatar). At the tail end of the issue's price guide, you'll find the first installment of a "Tony's Back Page" feature on THE CHAMPIONS, a super-hero team book I conceived and wrote for Marvel in the 1970s.

CBG #1617 also has features on V FOR VENDETTA, the direct-to-video ULTIMATE AVENGERS, and TOY FAIR 2006, and columns by such CBG stalwarts as Craig Shutt, John Jackson Miller, Beau Smith, Heidi MacDonald, Andrew "Captain Comics" Smith, Michelle Nolan, William Insignares, Marc Patten, Chuck Rozanski, Maggie Thompson, and Peter David. I don't review comics/magazines on which I've worked, but I can certainly recommend them. As I do here.

Champions 1

Want to read my CHAMPIONS stories? Marvel will be reprinting them in June. Here's their sales pitch:

CHAMPIONS CLASSIC VOL. 1 TPB

Written by TONY ISABELLA, BILL MANTLO & CHRIS CLAREMONT.

Penciled by DON HECK, GEORGE TUSKA, VINCE COLLETTA, BOB HALL & JOHN BYRNE.

Cover by GIL KANE.

Okay, a god, a demon, a spy and two mutants walk into ...resulting in some of the strangest scenarios of the '70s! It's gods vs. heroes in the City of Angels! With mad scientists, Russian super-spies, and guest-stars from Marvel's western and horror eras! Plus: the secrets of the Black Widow! Featuring Hawkeye! Collects CHAMPIONS #1-11. 208 PGS./ Rated A ...$19.99

To answer a frequently asked question, yes, Marvel does send me money when they reprint my stories. They also send me a copy of the reprint collection. They do this without my even having to so much as remind them. I like this. Since the size of my check is determined by how well the collections sell, you are putting money in my pocket when you buy them. Thanks.

******

I READ THE NEWS TODAY

Weekly World News

I read the news today, oh, boy. I read the WEEKLY WORLD NEWS for March 20. I have been picking up the paper for several weeks now, intrigued by the number of comics folks who are contributing to its pages. Jeff Rovin, who worked in editorial at DC, Warren, and the 1970s' Atlas, is the editor-in-chief. Paul Kupperberg has joined the paper as senior editor. Every weekly issue has a full-page "Weird Picture Search" by Sergio Aragones, and comic strips by Ernie Colon and Danielle Corsetto. There's more.

Bob Greenberger, who was my terrific editor when I wrote some STAR TREK comics for DC, is now writing for the WEEKLY WORLD NEWS. Which is how this came about:

Two-Ton Tony

Writing about a famous gambler tormented by a haunted deck of cards, Bob named him...Two-Ton Tony Isabella. I thought this was hilarious, so, when he and Jeff asked for permission to use my name in the paper, I readily agreed. In fact, I went them one better. I gave them permission to use my head and sent them a few photos to work with. Ah, the wonders of Photoshop.

My wife and kids got a kick out of the story and my expanded photo, though they insist it didn't take that much Photoshopping to achieve that look. My son Eddie and I love the paper so much that we went online...

www.weeklyworldnews.com

...and subscribed to it.

This March 20 issue is on sale now, so, if you want to add it to your Isabella collection, you need to move fast. You probably needed some groceries anyway.

As for me...my likeness is available for use in comic books, comic strips, newspapers, and much more.

Have your people call my people.

******

TONY POLLS

Every Monday, I post new questions on our TONY POLLS page for your balloting entertainment. Earlier this month, you were asked to vote on three somewhat less-than-completely-serious questions. Here are those results:

If power is, indeed, the ultimate aphrodisiac, then which of these guys is the love god of the comics industry?

Dan DiDio.....23.36%
Brian Michael Bendis.....16.06%
Steve Geppi.....14.60%
Joe Quesada.....14.60%
Frank Miller.....11.68%
Paul Levitz.....10.95%
Jim Lee.....3.65%
Todd McFarlane.....2.19%
Erik Larsen.....0%
Mike Richardson.....0%
Other.....2.92%

I voted for Paul Levitz, but that was mostly because he's just so darn cute. But he's a heartbreaker. He never calls, he never writes, he...let's move to the next question.

If you were a DC Universe character, what profound changes in your life will be evident one year after INFINITE CRISIS?

The JSA has a better health plan than the JLA...31.30%
The Guardians assigned me to Space Sector 2004, which is somewhere in the blackness that is Dick Cheney's soul...10.69%
President Bush ordered animal-hybrid Beast Boy thrown out of the Teen Titans...9.16%
Zatanna and Bizarro are now a couple...9.16%
Clark's bedroom games with the "golden lasso of truth" are starting to creep me out...8.40%
Whenever I meet Batman, it's as if I was meeting him for the first time, like in that Drew Barrymore/Adam Sandler movie...7.63%
My Fortress of Solitude is now a Starbucks...6.87%
After I was sent to Arkham, Scarface sold me to the Joker for a can of wood polish...6.87%
I've been invited to join the new Justice League by its new leader: Super-Hip...6.11%
Guy Gardner really does have a power battery in his pants...1.53%
Other...2.29%

I voted "other." Sad to say, I was written out of continuity long before INFINITE CRISIS. On the plus side, I get to hang out with the real Supergirl, the real Black Lightning, and Cosmo, the Challengers' space pet.

It's "Rush Week" for THE NEW AVENGERS. Which of these prospective members would you most like to see make the team?

Squirrel Girl.....22.56%
It! The Living Colossus!.....19.55%
Devil Dinosaur.....12.03%
Batroc zee Leaper.....10.53%
Paul Jenkins.....9.02%
Razorback....8.27%
Punisher.....4.51%
Galactus.....3.76%
Royal Roy....3.76%
Rocket Racer.....2.26%
Other.....3.76%

I voted for Paul Jenkins. Given half the chance, I think Paul could be the Snapper Carr for the AARP crowd.

When I offer "other" as a choice, I usually get a half-dozen or so folks who vote for it. Most of them don't bother to e-mail me their "other" choice, but SEAN MEIERS did:

Gotta go with Rocket Raccoon.

That's all it takes. Just a quick e-mail and you, too, can be counted in the TONY POLLS.

If you'd like to vote on this week's questions, which involve 1970s DC and Marvel titles, comic-book advertising, comics-buying budgets, and Chuck Norris, go to:

www.worldfamouscomics.com/tony/poll

Look for new questions on Monday.

That's a wrap for this column. Thanks for spending a part of your day with me.

I'll be back on Monday with more stuff.

Tony Isabella

<< 03/15/2006 | 03/17/2006 | 03/20/2006 >>

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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THE "TONY" SCALE

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.

Tony
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.

TonyTony
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?

TonyTonyTony
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.

TonyTonyTonyTony
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?

TonyTonyTonyTonyTony
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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