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

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for Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Blonde Phantom 19

BLONDE PHANTOM #19 [September, 1948] had this swell cover by Syd Shores (pencils) and Al Gabriele (inks). As with many Marvel covers of the late 1940s, the dialogue on this one practically told a story all by itself.

POLICEMAN: Carlo the killer threatened to kill that patient tonight during the operation! Humph---a fat chance he's got of sneaking in here with all of us on guard! Say!! What's this? It's the Blonde Phantom!

BLONDE PHANTOM: Stop! Don't let him use that knife!!! He's Carlo himself!! The one you're looking for---stop him!

Regular readers know the Blonde Phantom is the official pin-up queen of TONY'S ONLINE TIPS. Louise Grant, secretary to detective Rick Mason, would slip into an evening gown, let down her hair, put on a domino mask, and help Mason solve cases. Clearly, Mason was no Batman. He never figured out the true identity of his formally dressed helper. Though, to the best of my recollection, I've never read a Golden Age Blonde Phantom adventure, the character has long fascinated me. I think we're way overdue for a MARVEL MASTERWORKS: THE BLONDE PHANTOM volume.

Stan Lee was the editor of BLONDE PHANTOM #19, and here's what readers found inside the issue:

Blonde Phantom in "Justice For Jimmy Sullivan" (5 pages, art by Ken Bald);

Blonde Phantom in "Her Double Trouble" (7 pages, pencilled by Bald, inked by Mike Sekowsky);

Sub-Mariner in "The Playboy Killer" (4 pages, pencilled by Sekowsky, inked by George Kapitan); and,

Blonde Phantom in "Rhapsody In Death" (8 pages, pencilled by Bald, inked by Al Bellman).

The OFFICIAL OVERSTREET COMIC BOOK PRICE GUIDE thinks a near-mint condition copy of this issue would sell for around a thousand dollars. The COMICS BUYER'S GUIDE STANDARD CATALOG OF COMIC BOOKS puts the cost at half that. The only recent eBay auction for the issue was for what looked like an optimistically graded good/very good copy with considerable bottom edge damage. The "Buy It Now" price was $130, but the copy did not sell.

Sad to say, there are only three more BLONDE PHANTOM covers to go. I repeat my earlier requests for drawings of the heroine and photos of cosplayers dressed as the gowned crimefighter. Oh, I've got it bad for this broad.



Don't panic. I haven't given up on reviewing all of the DCU and IC comics. But, having reached the final issues before various titles jump forward a year, I wanted to comment on what is either brilliant storytelling or a crass marketing ploy.

It's both.

Some titles delivered legitimate turning points for the heroes in them while satisfactorily concluding a current storyline. I'd put CATWOMAN and MANHUNTER in that group. Some were confusing and labored messes: think JLA and WONDER WOMAN. Some were out-and-out frauds, with BATMAN and BATMAN: GOTHAM KNIGHTS being particularly odious examples.

However, whatever else one might think of ONE YEAR LATER, it does offer the DCU titles an opportunity to start fresh. I don't mean by rebooting continuity - though I suspect some of that will be happening - but by taking beloved characters to a new chapter in their lives. Some writers and editors will have thought long and hard about where their titles are going and how to avoid the many missteps of the past. Others will just go for more of the schlock shocks of the one-trick ponies they are.

INFINITE CRISIS and ONE YEAR LATER will not be cure-alls for the DCU titles. But I'm optimistic for many of them.

Fifteen DCU or DCU-related titles arrived in the comics shops the week of February 22. Four of those won't be reviewed in TOT, at least not at this time. They are JLA: THE GREATEST STORIES EVER TOLD, SUPERMAN CHRONICLES VOLUME 1, SUPERMAN: THE JOURNEY, and TEEN TITANS GO! #28. That leaves 11 issues.

As I mentioned yesterday, TOT is going "short form" for a few days to allow me to complete some other work and to handle a family responsibility or three. Look for the first half of these February 22 reviews tomorrow and the rest on Thursday.

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

Tony Isabella

<< 03/27/2006 | 03/28/2006 | 03/29/2006 >>

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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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