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

Current TOT >> TOT Archives | About Tony | Books by Tony | Message Board

TONY'S ONLINE TIPS
for Monday, May 8, 2006

Blonde Phantom 20

Shades of Rosalind Shays! It looks as if the BLONDE PHANTOM - the official pin-up queen of TONY'S ONLINE TIPS - is about to give new meaning to the phrase "fall fashion."

Co-creator Syd Shores pencilled and inked this cover of BLONDE PHANTOM #20 [November, 1948]. The cover isn't as wordy as some of the other Atlas covers we've run, but, in case you can't read the balloons and blurbs on the scan, here they are...

UNIFORM MAN: Blonde Phantom---Don't! Stop! Look where you're going!

"HELPFUL" MAN: Quick, Blonde Phantom---into the elevator! You can catch him on the next floor!

DRIVING-THE-POINT-HOME MAN: Look out, Blonde Phantom! The car isn't in the elevator shaft! Don't step down---don't!

CIRCLE-SHAPED BLURB: Breath-taking thrills and spine-tingling mystery! Featuring America's lovely lady of adventure!

Inside the issue:

Blonde Phantom in "Laughter on Judgment Day" (6 pages, drawn by Syd Shores);

Blonde Phantom in "Came the Spring" (9 pages, drawn by Chic Stone);

Sub-Mariner and Namora in "Science Says No" (4 pages, drawn by Carl Pfeufer); and,

Blonde Phantom in "The Mental Maelstrom" (9 pages, pencilled by Charles Nicholas, inked by Al Bellman).

Want to buy a copy of BLONDE PHANTOM #20? The 35th edition of the OFFICIAL OVERSTREET COMIC BOOK PRICE GUIDE opines a near-mint condition copy would set you back a grand. THE STANDARD CATALOG OF COMIC BOOKS pegs it at $500. A quick check of eBay found no recent sales or current issues of the auction.

I have a couple of quick BLONDE PHANTOM notes before I get to today's reviews. First, the series ended with issue #22, so we've but two more covers to show you. Since no one has responded to my request for Blonde Phantom drawings or photos of cosplayers dressed as the Blonde Phantom, America's lovely lady of adventure will be stepping down from her position as official TOT pin-up queen after those last two covers appear. What will replace her in our cover rotation? I have some ideas.

Second, to the best of my knowledge, I've never read an actual Blonde Phantom story from the 1940s. TOT readers with access to a copier and BP comics should feel free to address this shocking void in my comics education. You will be thanked profusely.

On to the reviews...

******

COLOSSUS: BLOODLINE

Colossus: Bloodline

There are some things I like about X-MEN: COLOSSUS BLOODLINE [Marvel; $13.99], which collects the five-issue limited series by writer David Hine and artist Jorge Lucas, and some things I don't like. However, I can't write about them without throwing up a big old SPOILER WARNING!

Colossus returns to Russia because his few remaining relatives are being murdered by the mysterious Pale Man. Prior to his trip, Piotr "Peter" Nikolaievitch Rasputin painted a nightmarish portrait of himself as a brutish version of his armored identity. There is a madness in his mind.

The Pale Man turns out to be Mister Sinister, a villain whose life spans centuries and whose mere presence bores the crap out of me whenever he appears. Even worse, the madness in Peter's mind is revealed to be the result of an agreement between Sinister and the mad monk Rasputin. The villain altered the genetic makeup of the historical villain to allow Rasputin to pass on his essence to the children he fathered. When all but one of the descendants of those children have been killed, Rasputin will return to fully occupy the body of the sole survivor. It eventually comes down to Colossus or his murderously insane brother Mikhail.

Rasputin, as mentioned in the story itself, is a quite common name is Russia. As I see it, making Colossus a descendant of *the* Rasputin is as dumb an idea as when John Byrne decided Flint Marko (the Sandman) and Norman Osborn has to be related because they both had bad Steve Ditko-drawn hair. The histories of the various X-Men are already convoluted enough without adding additional chapters to their life-books.

Given the now-inescapable knowledge that Colossus is related to *the* Rasputin and the entire "crazy evil guy living on in minds of his descendants" situation, Hine did some okay stuff with his silly premise. Mikhail's previous actions take on a new poignancy in the wake of this revelation, and, in exiling himself to an inescapable dimension to avoid being driven to kill Peter, he gets a suitably heroic and tragic "end."

Colossus is left with a terrible burden. The only way to free himself from whatever influence Rasputin might have on him would be for him to sire a whole lot of kids, thus spreading out Rasputin's influence and, in several generations, almost completely wiping it out. I don't even want to *think* about *that* conversation with Kitty Pryde.

Looking at it from another angle, if Colossus does choose to have children - "Please to be making an appointment with the local sperm bank." - he would be knowingly fathering children who would be, by their genetic disposition, depressed, disturbed, morose, and even murderous/suicidal. He'd be sacrificing their lives for his own relative peace of mind. I'm betting not even Hallmark makes a Father's Day card to cover that situation.

Some intriguing Colossus/Kitty stories could come from X-MEN: COLOSSUS BLOODLINE, but that's not enough to elevate my opinion of this trade paperback collection. Despite decent writing and art, the best score I can give it is two Tonys.

Tony Tony

******

3 BLAB! STORYBOOKS

BLAB! editor Monte Beauchamp has teamed with Fantagraphics to launch a line of hardcover illustrated books for adults. At $14.95 for each thin "picto-novelette," you won't be getting a lot of bang for your bucks. On the other hand, the worth of these books can't be judged strictly on the basis of page count.

Darling Cheri

Written and illustrated by Walter Minus, DARLING CHERI was my favorite of the three storybooks sent to me by Fantagraphics. It's a wry album of cheesecake drawings with the text being a farewell note from a sexy con-artist to her latest mark. I'd describe its content as more playfully naughty than outright erotic. I found it amusing and delightful to look at, which earns it five out of five Tonys on our time-honored reviewing scale.

Tony Tony Tony Tony Tony

Struwwelpeter

STRUWWELPETER (and other disturbing yet cautionary tales) by Heinrich Hoffman is illustrated by Bob Staake. Hoffman was an 18th-century physician and mental hospital director who wrote these dark poems and stories to amuse his son. They have amused and horrified other children ever since. They show their age, but they remain as much good bad fun as ever. It earns four Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony Tony

Sheep of Fools

SHEEP OF FOOLS by Sue Coe and Judith Brody was considerably less entertaining than its fellows, not surprising given that it's a graphic condemnation of the sheep industry. Coe and Brody use a selection of annotated old songs, combining them with grisly facts about the history and practices of the sheep industry. Coe's stark drawings brilliantly portray the horror of it all, but the book is so preachy, unavoidably so, I suppose, that fails to either inflame or inspire me. This could be my bad; things are so bad for so many human beings on this planet that I'm not nearly as concerned about animal rights as the authors. I applaud their determination, their passion, and their skill, but their book didn't move me. It earns a respectable three Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony

******

COMICS IN THE COMICS

You know the drill. First up today is Dave Whamond's REALITY CHECK strip from May 7:

Reality Check

How could I not love that one?

I'm not much for soccer, but I do enjoy Bill Hinds' CLEATS, a delightful strip about pre-teen soccer players, their coaches, and their parents. That said, I got an extra "kick" out of these two strips from May 5 and May 6:

Cleats

Cleats

Watch for more COMICS IN THE COMICS in future TOTs.

******

CORRECTIONS AND CLARIFICATIONS

Two corrections this time around.

In the May 2 edition of this column, I wrote:

MIGHTY COMICS #50 [October, 1967] closed the title that had launched as ADVENTURES OF THE FLY two decades previously.

Once again, my lack of simple addition skills betrays me. As ADVENTURES OF THE FLY #1 was dated August, 1959, I that should have read "a decade previously."

The ever-generous NOVA LAND, who sent me dozens of Alan Class comics from my collection, wrote to correct an error in an earlier e-mail he had sent me:

In reading your 5/1 TOT, I noticed a mistake in the letter I sent you. For some reason I wrote "It had to happen before June, 1974 (which would be the absolute latest I could have acquired any of these comics)". That should read "It had to happen before June, 1975..." (which was the month I finished school and returned to the US, hence the absolute latest I could have bought them). I don't think that significantly affects what I wrote you about dating the comics, but it's theoretically possible (though highly unlikely) for one of the comics I sent you to have come out after June 1974. My apologies for the error.

We do strive for - if rarely achieve - accuracy here. If any of the loyal legions of TOT readers spots an error of fact, don't be shy about sending it my way.

******

GET MORE TONY

Noble Boy

Every weekend, I post a brand-new and exclusive edition of TONY'S OTHER ONLINE TIPS on the Comics Buyer's Guide forums. Last week's reviews were NOBLE BOY by Scott Morse and THE PREPOSTEROUS VOYAGES OF IRONHIDE TOM by Joel Priddy.

You can read this column at:

www.cbgxtra.com

Look for this week's TOOT to post soon.

******

TONY POLLS

Every weekend, new questions are posted on our TONY POLLS page for your voting entertainment. Here are the results of your votes from the week of April 3:

Now that the first of DC's ONE YEAR LATER issues have come out, how would you rate your interest in the current DCU?

Near-Mint.....18.81%
Fine.....22.77%
Very Good.....19.80%
Good.....10.89%
Fair.....14.85%
Poor.....12.87%

Quite a spread there. At this early date, the highest grade I could give these comics was FAIR. Mostly because the issues that I remembered best - GREEN ARROW, NIGHTWING, OUTSIDERS - were so bad they brought the OYL average down.

Now that the first of Marvel's CIVIL WAR issues have come out, how would you rate your interest in this storyline?

Near-Mint.....3.37%
Fine.....6.74%
Very Good.....10.11%
Good.....10.11%
Fair.....24.72%
Poor.....44.94%

It still surprises me that online comics fandom is much more forgiving of DC than it is of Marvel when I don't see a whole lot of difference between them. If anything, I think Marvel is doing more interesting things with its heroes. I'm remain intrigued by CIVIL WAR and I rated it VERY GOOD.

Which of these TONY'S ONLINE TIPS rotating "cover features" is your favorite?

SUPERMAN (Silver Age).....19%
Giant Monsters (Godzilla, Gorgo, Konga, etc.).....15%
Alpha/Omega (first and last issues).....14%
Batman (Silver Age).....14%
Centennial Covers (100th issues).....10%
Atlas (Marvel in the 1950s).....9%
Alan Class comics (British reprints).....8%
Blonde Phantom (Marvel heroine of the 1940s).....8%
Riverdale (Archie, his pals, and his gals).....3%
Candy (Quality teen star of the 1940s/1950s).....0%

Another thing that surprises me is that so many readers want more of the same. There are dozens of Superman websites out there, but look who came in first here.

Not to fear, Superman will continue to be part of TOT's cover rotation, though I will be expanding that to include the occasional Golden Age cover as well.

My favorite? Hands down, it's ALAN CLASS COMICS. That's just so damn ironic consider our next question.

Which of these TONY'S ONLINE TIPS rotating "cover features" is your least favorite?

ALAN CLASS COMICS (British reprints).....29.67%
Candy (Quality teen star of the 1940s/1950s).....24.18%
Riverdale (Archie, his pals, and his gals).....24.18%
Giant Monsters (Godzilla, Gorgo, Konga, etc.).....6.59%
Superman (Silver Age).....4.40%
Atlas (Marvel in the 1950s).....3.30%
Batman (Silver Age).....3.30%
Blonde Phantom (Marvel heroine of the 1940s).....3.30%
Alpha/Omega (first and last issues).....1.10%
Centennial Covers (100th issues).....0%

It's good to be the king, especially since my subjects - let's call them readers - aren't exactly filling the royal coffers with TIP THE TIPSTER donations. Your top three choices on this ballot are among my favorite cover themes...and they ain't going away any time soon. Those donations are going to have to start coming in a lot bigger and more regularly before I'd consider dropping comics that I enjoy reading and writing about.

I didn't vote in this category - I like all of these themes or I wouldn't be using them - but, if pressed, I'd probably have voted for the CENTENNIAL COVERS.

Which of these choices would you most like to see added to the TOT "cover rotation"?

TONY'S COMICS (written by me).....23.58%
Tony's random eBay buys.....16.04%
Horror/Mystery comics.....11.32%
Pulp Magazines.....10.38%
Western comics.....6.60%
Comics of the 1940s.....5.66%
Wonder Woman.....5.66%
Movie and TV comics.....4.72%
Funny Animals.....3.77%
War comics.....3.77%
Crime comics.....2.83%
Richie Rich.....2.83%
Vintage paperbacks.....2.83%
Little Kids.....0%
Romance comics.....0%

I knew how this would go when I asked the question, but I've written so much about my own work that I'm more than a little bored with that subject. But, because I love you guys and gals, I'll see if I can accommodate this request.

I voted for LITTLE KIDS because, outside of DENNIS THE MENACE, LITTLE LULU, RICHIE RICH, and SUGAR AND SPIKE, I haven't read many comics from this genre and was looking forward to learning more about them. Oh, well.

This week's TONY POLLS almost finishes our series of "Eisner Awards" questions. We ask you to choose your favorite nominees in the categories of...

Best Graphic Album (New)
Best Graphic Album (Reprint)
Best Archival Collection/Project (Comic Strips)
Best Archival Collection/Project (Comic Books)
Best U.S. Edition of Foreign Material
Best Penciller/Inker
Best Painter/Multimedia Artist

You can vote on them here:

www.worldfamouscomics.com/tony/poll

We'll take one last bite of the Eisner apple next week when I ask you to again vote on HALL OF FAME nominees. Since the actual Eisner voters get to vote for four candidates, I figure I'll remove the name of our first-place winner and let you vote for three more candidates. Should be interesting.

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

Tony Isabella

<< 05/04/2006 | 05/08/2006 | 05/15/2006 >>

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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