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Reviews and commentary by Tony Isabella
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for Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Candy 4

Candy O'Connor is our official TOT pin-up teen. This cover of CANDY #4 [June, 1948] was drawn by Harry Sahle, who, as near as I can determine, wrote and drew most of the feisty brunette's stories during her relatively long comics career.

Candy first appeared in POLICE COMICS #37 [December, 1944] and continued through issue #102 [November, 1950], backing up costumed adventures Plastic Man, the Human Bomb, and the Spirit. She also appeared in 64 issues of her own title, with the last issue dated July, 1956. That's a pretty good career for a teen star too often dismissed as an Archie imitation.

I've only read one issue of CANDY, but I found the young lady to have a style all her own. Though she comes from a Betty Cooper background, she has some Veronica Lodge in her makeup as well. She isn't what I would call a heartthrob - not sweet enough, not bitchy enough - but she is certainly an interesting character.

Issues of CANDY do turn up on eBay from time to time, but the bidding usually goes beyond my budget. However, I'll keep trying to score more CANDY comics, the better to write about her and them in future editions of this column.



I don't know if "kvetching" is an accurate reflection of these DCU/IC reviews I've been doing, but I'm running out of "C" and "K" words to use in my headers. I guess a case could be made that this universe-altering story might be going on a tad too long, but I'm not trying to make that case today. Nope, today I'm just reviewing three DCU titles from the week of February 22.

Let's have at them.

Beware of spoilers.

Batman 650

BATMAN #650 [$2.50] begins where the previous issue left off, with Bats and Jason Todd watching Bludhaven getting Chemo-bombed in the distance. According to the captions, Bludhaven is vaporized. As seen in other DCU comics, that wasn't actually the case...though there was horrible death and destruction.

Jason gloats over the likelihood of Dick "Nightwing" Grayson being dead, psychologically pulls Batman's shorts over his head by blaming Bats for the murders Jason's committed, beats up on Batman and the captive Joker, gets slashed by a batarang, and, seemingly, gets blown up again by the Joker. As with other recent issues of this title, BATMAN #650 revels in brutality and in making Batman as impotent as humanly possible. In short, more of the excruciatingly bad writing I have come to expect from what should be DC's flagship Batman title. Oh, well.

Condensing the cheap psychology, Jason went bad on account of Batman not killing the Joker after the Joker "killed" Jason because Jason would have killed the Joker if Batman had been killed. There is a certain historical symmetry here. When DC wanted to kill off Jason back in the day, they first did their best to make the young hero as unlikeable as possible.

I don't entirely disagree with Jason's being pissed over Bats not killing the Joker. The vow against killing is a fine ideal for heroes, but, even ignoring how often Batman has actually saved the Joker's life, I'm not a believer in absolutes. The Joker can't be held in asylums or prisons, he always escapes, and he always kills lots of people while he's out. In my book, he's a clear exception to the ideal. Of course, in my book, Batman wouldn't have to kill the Joker. Some cop or guard would've killed the Joker years ago. With the thanks of the community.

A final comment. BATMAN #650 ends with Batman, the Joker, and Jason in an exploding building. BATMAN: GOTHAM KNIGHTS ended with Hush and the Joker facing off and Batman apparently ready to allow them to kill each other. Don't get me wrong. I'm not complaining. I'm all for killing off the Joker as many times as it takes to make sure he's really dead, dead, dead.

BATMAN #650 gets no Tonys.

No Tonys

Batman: Journey Into Knight 7

BATMAN: JOURNEY INTO KNIGHT #7 [$2.50] kicks off the second half of this series, which is set very early in Batman's career, as a mysterious new threat with the seeming ability to control minds from afar makes itself known. Writer Andy Helfer continues to tell an intriguing tale, combining elements of pulp action, police work ala Gotham City, corporate intrigue, and soap opera. Even incidental characters who only last a couple pages are given weight in this issue. Kudos to Helfer and the solid work of artist Tan Eng Huat. This series is first-rate Batman and it earns five Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony Tony Tony

Catwoman 52

CATWOMAN #52 is the final issue before the title and its star jump one year forward. In an intense story by writer Will Pfeifer and artist Pete Woods, Selina Kyle ends the hostilities between her and Black Mask by, presumably, shooting him dead. As with Wonder Woman's killing of Maxwell Lord in what I contend was self-defense, I'm okay with Catwoman taking Black Mask out.

If Selina were charged with this murder and brought to trial, any defense lawyer should be able to win her case. Here we have a woman whose mind was tampered with by the freaking Justice League. She knows Black Mask is a murderer. She knows he beat and tortured Slam Bradley. She knows Slam's son suffered worse injuries because of Black Mask. She's heard Black Mask threatened the lives of her closest friends. She has every reason to believe the crime-lord is serious about his intent to do them grievous and lethal harm. With so many extenuating circumstances, I doubt the authorities would even take this to trial.

Pfeifer will be sticking with CATWOMAN and I'm delighted about that. I'm still sore about Selina becoming a hero because the JLA brainwashed her, but I'm eager to see what happens next.

CATWOMAN #52 gets five Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony Tony Tony

Thanks for spending a part of your day with me. I'll be back tomorrow with a CENTENNIAL COMIC and more DCU reviews.

Tony Isabella

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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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