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

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for Thursday, March 30, 2006

Dennis the Menace 100

It's cause for celebration and recognition when a comic book reaches its 100th issue, even if the comic book itself doesn't make note of the achievement. Today's column honors two such CENTENNIAL COMICS starring one of comicdom's most beloved characters.

Hank Ketcham's DENNIS THE MENACE first appeared on March 12, 1951, in a mere 16 newspapers. But, before long, the single-panel feature was a major success story, spreading from the newspapers to comic books, television (live action and cartoons), merchandising, and a theatrical motion picture. Standard/Pines published DENNIS in comic-book form from 1953-1958. Fawcett, once the publisher of CAPTAIN MARVEL, took over after that (1959-1979), followed briefly by Marvel in 1981 and 1982.

DENNIS THE MENACE #100 [January, 1969] would not have been on my radar when it came out, though I had been an avid viewer of the TV series starring Jay North. However, I do have fond memories of the Dennis comic books I read as a pre-teen, my favorites being the giant-sized holiday and vacation specials.

Dennis the Menace Bonus 100

DENNIS THE MENACE BONUS MAGAZINE SERIES #100 [January, 1972] was a continuation of those DENNIS THE MENACE giants. I'd love to see the best of these reprinted, though choosing the "best" from so many years of great issues would be a daunting task.

Today, DENNIS THE MENACE appears in over a thousand newspapers in 48 countries and 19 languages. Fantagraphics Books, a publisher which had already assured its place in heaven with its reprinting of Charles Schulz's PEANUTS from the beginning, is earning further celestial favor with its HANK KETCHAM'S COMPLETE DENNIS THE MENACE series. The first book [$24.95] reprints all the newspaper panels from 1951 and 1952; the second volume (1953-1954) could be on sale even as we speak. The adjective "must-have" springs to mind every time I think of these books.

Want to get some DENNIS THE MENACE comic books? The good news is that there's almost always a nice selection being auctioned on eBay...and many go for very affordable prices The bad news is that the really choice giants aren't offered as regularly and, when they do show up, the bidding can get very competitive. But those books are definitely worth the effort and the money.

CENTENNIAL COMICS are part of our regular cover rotation here at TOT. Look for them every other week or so.



Picking up from yesterday, here are reviews of four more DCU titles from the week of February 22.

Green Lantern 9

GREEN LANTERN #9 [$2.99] is a nicely done-in-one issue teaming GL with Batman in pursuit of a new and extremely powerful Tattooed Man. This version of the villain is a hitman working for an unseen Tobias Whale, though the driving force of the tale is the bad blood between Batman and Hal Jordan. Writer Geoff Johns does a terrific job resolving that. Kudos also to Ethan Van Sciver (pencils, inks) and Prentis Rollins (inks) for their finely detailed art, maybe a bit too detailed in spots, but swell nonetheless. GL jumps forward a DCU year with its next issue, but this current issue earns a commendable four out of five Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony Tony

JLA Classifieds 17

JLA: CLASSIFIED #17 [$2.99] features the second part of Gail Simone's "The Hypothetical Woman." On the downside, the slow build to the reveal of the title character isn't working. We got a shot of said character in a giant test tube at the end of the previous issue and she's not shown at all in this one, though she's referred to as a goddess in the final panel. You need much more than that to catch my interest.

On the upside, I'm digging General Dvory Tuzik, the villain of the serial. A genocidal dictator sent packing from his country by the United Nations and the League, he's cut a deal with a number of other less-than-benign rulers to use their secret WMDs against the JLA. It's a good premise, one which stretches the resources of the League to a dangerous degree...especially if you don't stop to ask why they haven't called in some reserves. Adding to the tension is that the Flash has been infected by a "Starro the Conqueror" virus and himself become a threat to the world.

JLA: CLASSIFIED #17 is a good solid super-hero story with fine art by Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez and Klaus Janson. It earns three out of five Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony

Supergirl 5

I wanted to like SUPERGIRL #5 [$3.99]. I like the character. I generally like Jeph Loeb's writing. I think Ian Churchill draws well, even if his work is more flash than storytelling. But, when I finished reading the issue, all that happened was that the good Supergirl and the bad Supergirl beat on each other and the JLA for a bunch of pages with an "I'm the only Supergirl" ribbon tied around the story to give it some kind of meaning. The double-page spreads and full page pin-ups will doubtless delight those who buy comics for the art...and I admit they look cool...but there were too many for them to be effective storytelling. Regrettably, the best score I can give this issue is two Tonys.

Tony Tony

Wonder Woman 226

WONDER WOMAN #226 [$2.50] was just kind of sort of there. Its premise - tracking Wonder Woman's "relationship" with Superman as reported by a media that kept getting it wrong - was nifty, but the execution of that premise was lacking. This final issue of WONDER WOMAN ends on one of those "alternate realities" final pages we've seen in other DCU comics. Yawn.

I have never been a huge fan of this title. It's been okay at times, but the character seems to defy every writer and editor who has worked on her. Every time I read an issue by a new writer, it seemed like they were redefining Wonder Woman to suit themselves and at the expense of the character. I hope the next creative team does better.

WONDER WOMAN #226 gets two Tonys.

Tony Tony

More DCU reviews tomorrow.



When listing the contents of credits of BLONDE PHANTOM #19 in Tuesday's column, I included this:

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

The GRAND COMICS DATABASE [] was the source of that information, but I should have caught what I knew was an error in the credits. Fortunately, someone named "Mopee" caught it and posted this to my message board:

The Sekowsky inking credit is wrong. Big Mike was a penciller. He never inked. Never ever. All "inked by Mike Sekowsky" credits are wrong.

TOT regrets the error.

Thanks to Mopee for catching that and thanks to all of you for spending part of your day with me.

I'll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

Tony Isabella

<< 03/29/2006 | 03/30/2006 | 03/31/2006 >>

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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.

Please send material you would like me to review to:

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