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

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for Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Big Smile Cartoon

The last time I went to the dentist, the office voted me their favorite patient of the day. This is a testimony to what being doped to the gills can do for my personality.

When I return to the dentist this afternoon, I'll probably be voted worst patient of the year. Because after I got the bill for that previous visit, I realized I've already run through my dental coverage for the rest of this year. So, unless it's an emergency, today's visit is my last until 2007.

My fall-back plan is to brush more often, eat soft foods, and avoid reading comic books that make my gnash my teeth. Let's see how I do with that.



New Avengers: Illuminati

Marvel's "Road to Civil War" continues with the NEW AVENGERS: ILLUMINATI [$3.99] by Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev. This issue focuses on the most secret super-team in the Marvel Universe, a team formed in the wake of the legendary Kree-Skrull war. Iron Man brings together Doctor Strange, Charles Xavier, Reed Richards, Black Bolt, Namor, and the Black Panther. His plan is for them to share information and resources privately and without letting their public teammates or even their families know of it.


Only the Panther refuses to join this secret team. When men of such power gather secretly, perhaps the world is wise to be very afraid of them. He wonders what happens when they disagree: "When one of those Earth-changing moments finds you all at odds with each other, here in a secret meeting? What happens then?"

He urges them to walk away now. They don't.

Time reduces the group's number. Charles Xavier goes missing after M-Day, the day when most of the world's mutants were stripped of their mutant powers. Namor leaves in violent disagreement when the group banishes the Hulk into the deepest reaches of the galaxy. But it is a proposed Super-Hero Registration Act that destroys the group forever...with only Tony Stark and Reed Richards supporting a law they see as inevitable.


Bendis does a fine job capturing the characters and voices of his players. I might disagree with Tony's and Reed's choices, but I think they make them honestly. Fearful though I am of what CIVIL WAR will bring to the Marvel Universe, this tension is why I'm far more interested in it than in DC's CRISIS re-do. This is new and scary territory for the Marvel heroes.

Maleev brings a gripping realism to the issue's visuals. He may not nail the look of each character, but he definitely captures the emotions of the moments. It's great stuff.

This issue also features a seven-page preview of CIVIL WAR #1 by Mark Millar and Steve McNiven, a sequence which makes a fairly good case that the fears expressed by Tony Stark and Reed Richards in this issue were not unwarranted. I'm not wild about the set-up here, but it certainly makes an impact.

NEW AVENGERS: ILLUMINATI earns the full five Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony Tony Tony

Amazing Spider-Man 530

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #530 [$2.50] features the middle chapter of the three-issue "Mr. Parker Goes to Washington." It doesn't have as much heart as the previous chapter, but J. Michael Straczynski scored major points with me when, much to the consternation of Tony Stark, Pete addressed the Senate Metahuman Investigation Committee. Of course, this comes from a reviewer who is increasingly of a mind that the best way to deal with politicians, from the White House on down, is to beat them with large sticks.

The hands-on super-hero stuff starts near the end of the issue when a Titanium Man - one of many, collect them all - tries to kill Stark. The battle continues/concludes next issue.

The tale's artists are Tyler Kirkham (pencils) and Jay Leisten (inker). It's pretty good, but still a bit of a letdown after last issue's teaming of Ron Garney and Bill Reinhold. It's not helped by the heavy hues of colorist John Starr.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #530 is a solid comic book, but not as good as the previous issue. It earns three Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony

Fanstastic Four 536

FANTASTIC FOUR #536 [$2.99] gives away major surprises on its cover, so I figure a spoiler warning is unnecessary here. We also get Reed bummed out by the events of NEW AVENGERS: ILLUMINATI and an army of Doombots invading the United States or, to be a bit more accurate, one government outpost in the United States. Still to be revealed are how Doom is alive and how the U.S. will react to such a blatant act of war. My prediction: Bush or Rumsfeld will matter-of-factly state that "Latveria is not Iraq!"

This issue has fine writing by J. Michael Straczynski, equally fine pencilling by Mike McKone, and *four* inkers. So when did FF turn into a DCU title?

FANTASTIC FOUR #536 is certainly an intriguing set-up for the next issue, but, solely on its own merits, it comes in at three out of five Tonys. I'm looking forward to that next issue.

Tony Tony Tony





Springing forth from my e-mailbox today is a Godzilla-oriented missive from my pal JOHN PETTY:

It was good to see your column praising the outstanding work by Doug Moench and Herb Trimpe in THE ESSENTIAL GODZILLA. The only reason I haven't picked up this black and white collection is that I have the original series and am having it bound into hardcover. If you ever have any interest in doing the same, I can't recommend David Banks highly enough. He works with Capitol Bindery and he creates some truly beautiful products. Take a look at... see what I mean.

Hearing you're as big a fan of The Big G as I am, I thought you might find a website run by a friend of mine, interesting. Check out...

Best of all, he's posted an article I wrote about the first three Godzilla/Gojira films - for an upcoming book project - on the website at:

I think you might enjoy it, and I'd value your feedback, if you have a moment.

The website and your article have been duly bookmarked, John. I plan to explore the first and read the second once I return from the dentist this afternoon.

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

Tony Isabella

<< 04/17/2006 | 04/18/2006 | 04/19/2006 >>

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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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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