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Reviews and commentary by Tony Isabella
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for Thursday, May 25, 2006


The days of my being able to get ready for a convention in an hour and then bounce back from it after a good night's sleep might just be past me. But, despite the difficulties of the eight-hour-plus drive each way, attending the 5th annual EAST COAST BLACK AGE OF COMICS CONVENTION was well worth my time and effort. Though it wasn't a large event, it was one of the most enjoyable conventions of which I've ever been a part. I'm already planning to return for the 2007 show.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be writing about ECBACC in bits and pieces. I'll also be reviewing as many of the comics I bought at the event as possible, here and in my column for COMICS BUYER'S GUIDE #1621 [October, 2006]. Stay turned.

I don't have any new reviews for you today, but I do have as many of our TOT departments as I could squeeze into today's column. Let's have at them.



Today's selection of editorial cartoons and comic strips have in common that they all address current issues. We start with Bob Gorrell's editorial cartoon from March 30:


Gorrell is nationally-syndicated and distributed by Creators Syndicate, Inc. His fondness for PEANUTS is obvious in the above cartoon; it's not the first time he's turned to Charles M. Schulz for inspiration. Gorrell's cartoons run in USA Today, The Atlanta Journal, The Detroit News, and many other prominent newspapers and periodicals. You can check out his website at:

Fittingly, LA CUCARACHA creator Lalo Alcaraz offers a comics-centric take on immigration - as in "what the GOP wants you to fear this election cycle" - in his strip from April 7:

La Cucaracha

My thanks to TOT reader Tom Duffy for alerting me to the above strip. You can visit Alcaraz's website here:

Ward Sutton's SUTTON IMPACT strip for May 19 was sent to me by Dave Potts:

Sutton Impact

Finally, cartoonist Tom Tomorrow gives another PEANUTS homage in his THIS MODERN WORLD for May 22:

This Modern World

I hope you enjoyed today's political edition of COMICS IN THE COMICS. Look for more great panels and strips in future editions of this column.



Teen Titans 31

I reviewed TEEN TITANS #31 in the March 3 edition of TOT. At that time, I wrote:

My reaction to TEEN TITANS #31 [$2.50] was a sad little sigh, almost a moan. Geoff Johns and (surprisingly) Scott Shaw! suck the last bit of fun out of Captain Carrot and the Zoo Crew for no good reason I can discern. Raven and Beast Boy free Kid Eternity from captivity so he can dust the dead Titans who the living Titans have been fighting since what feels like the dawn of time. If you count Shaw!, it took five - five! - artists to draw this wearisome comic book and, judging from their work, they weren't any more interested in it than I was.

TEEN TITANS #31 gets absolutely no Tonys.

No Tonys

The esteemed Shaw! was, of course, co-creator of CAPTAIN CARROT AND HIS AMAZING ZOO CREW with writers Roy Thomas and Gerry Conway. Well, as it turns out, Shaw! didn't draw the final chapter of the Captain Carrot story that concluded in the above comic.

The equally esteemed SCOTT ROBERTS, whose place in Heaven has already been assured by his wonderful PATTY CAKE AND FRIENDS comic books, e-mailed me to correct the incorrect artistic credit that appeared in this issue and on that story. While Shaw! did draw the Captain Carrot pages in TEEN TITANS #30, he did not draw the pages in issue #31. DC called upon Roberts to draw said pages over the Thanksgiving weekend.

My thanks to Roberts for the correction.



Comics Buyer's Guide 1619

COMICS BUYER'S GUIDE #1619 [August, 2006] arrived over a week ago, but I haven't even had time to flip through it yet. I'll do that now. Coverage of Marvel's CIVIL WAR. Andrew "Captain Comics" Smith runs a fan's 14 favorite covers and comments on them. Stuff on the new X-Men movie. Jack Abramowitz writes on the many lives of Golden Age hero Cat-Man. In my "Tony's Tips" column, I list my choices for top five INFINITE CRISIS titles, five worst IC titles, and five best of DC's rest before reviewing several books, comics, and books of comics. A whole lot more reviews by other reviewers. Craig "Mr. Silver Age" Shutt writes on the Metal Men and near-miss comics weddings. Terry Moore's 10 favorite comics covers. The big finish of my three-part "Tony's Back Page" series on the Champions. And so forth. Just under 200 pages of goodness for $5.99. Heck, I'd buy the magazine.

Meanwhile, over at CBG's online forum, I continue to write and post exclusive-to-that-forum reviews of this and that. In recent weeks, I've reviewed ES (ETERNAL SABBATH) and a quartet of SIMPSONS COMICS. You can read those reviews at:



This most crucial of election years offers many subjects for this section. In Ohio, the extreme religious right, eager to turn the state into a theocracy, is coming from all over the nation in its zeal to elect Kenneth Blackwell as governor. Blackwell is also secretary of state, which means he gets to supervise the election in which he's running. And most of Ohio's voting machines are made by Diebold, the company whose head honcho promised to deliver the 2004 election to George Bush. Lord help us!

However, as I ease back into writing regular political/social commentary, I'm going to turn my attention to something else I read in my local newspapers this week.

Killer Robots


When Stephen Colbert of THE COLBERT REPORT lists bears - "those godless killing machines" - as the number one menace on his weekly "Threatdown," it's hilarious. But the joke sort of sticks in one's throat when a real-life bear/human encounter goes bad.

This week, in Ohio's Ashtabula County, a 500-pound black bear escaped from a privately-owned animal compound and went to a nearby home. The bear mauled the 36-year-old woman who lived there before being killed by its criminally negligent owner.

The woman was bitten and clawed while her 15-year-old daughter watched and tried to get the bear off her. The daughter was able to lure the creature away with meat from their freezer. The bear's victim was flown by helicopter to a Youngstown hospital, where she is currently listed in satisfactory condition.

The bear's owner will doubtless be charged with some crime or another, but, to me, the big question is:

Why was he allowed to keep dangerous animals in a residential area in the first place?

This guy has three other black bears on his property, as well as foxes, mountain lions, and coyotes. Yeah, he holds a license for commercial game propagation, which allows him to keep and breed wild animals indigenous to Ohio, but, again...

Why in a residential area? Why wasn't his property inspected on a regular basis to ensure - as much as possible - that something like this wouldn't happen? Why do we need to breed black bears and the rest for hunting when the state already has a breeding-out-of-control deer population that would much better serve the desire of hunters to kill unarmed creatures?

A footnote from California. A recent study showed junk food has contributed to the population growth of those bears living near residential areas. Female bears who used to give birth to one cub in their lifetimes are having two or three cubs. Apparently, it's from going through human trash and eating our castaway hamburgers, pizzas, and fries. This gives us yet *another* reason to find the Burger King creepy. He's a bear sympathizer.



Modest Blaise, The Puppet Master

Comics got a brief mention in the May 19 ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY "Listen To Me" insert; the insert's exclusive to subscribers of the magazine. Here's what EW wrote:

What do manga heroine Lady Snowblood and British cartoon icon Modesty Blaise have in common - besides a penchant for battling evil in a state of undress? Both are beloved by Quentin Tarantino. Now you can be inspired to direct an estrogen-infused revenge flick thanks to LADY SNOWBLOOD VOL. 1. Or, if you're feeling lazy, read about Blaise's adventures in THE PUPPET MASTER on the toilet - just like John Travolta in PULP FICTION!

Geez, EW, that was kind of snarky.



City Hunter

This department is where I go to my aging files and pull out e-mails and notes that have been residing there for years -- so long, in fact, that I don't always remember why I put them in my files in the first place. For example...

Here's a plot summary for CHENG SHI LIE REN (1992), a Jackie Chan movie:

While searching for the daughter of a Japanese publishing magnate, private investigator Ryu Saeba and his assistant Kaori are caught up in the middle of a cruise liner highjacking. It's up to Ryu to save the day...but can he do it on an empty stomach?

Based on a popular Japanese comic strip, this Hong Kong movie follows the antics of private eye Ryu Saeba. While searching for the runaway daughter of a publishing tycoon, Ryu by coincidence ends up on a cruise ship highjacked by ruthless American criminals to take the passengers hostage. Assisted by his jealous female assistant, the runaway, two female undercover cops, and a male gambler, Ryu must foil the nefarious plot. The movie combines broad humor focusing on Ryu's lechery and hunger with excellent action sequences. Especially noteworthy is a fight sequence in a theater showing a Bruce Lee movie, in which Ryu's fight is humorously juxtaposed with Lee's on-screen fight.

The popular "comic strip" on which the movie was based is Hojo Tsukasa's CITY HUNTER, which I used to enjoy in the too-short-lived RAIJIN COMICS. I bought the movie at a Blockbuster sale, watched it, didn't particularly care for it, but decided to give it another chance for some reason. That was in 2004.

I don't recall if I reviewed it after my first viewing, but I clearly planned to review or re-review it. That's why the summary has been in my files for over two years.

In my typical "best laid plans" manner, I have no idea where my copy of this movie is. Should it ever reveal itself to me, I might finally get around to re-watching it and writing that long-delayed review. Stranger things have been known to happen.



This time around, the OG gives a shout-out to the spiffy WORLD FAMOUS COMICS COMMUNITY message boards. Sponsored by Kevin Smith's View Askew Productions and directed by Justin, these message boards have some of the best conversation you'll find online. In addition to the "General Forum" and the somewhat more mature "Pop Culture Bored," the Community hosts boards for creators Mike Allred, Dan Brereton, Jan Duursema, Insight Studios, David Mack, Tom Mandrake, Denny O'Neil, John Ostrander, Alvin Schwartz, Jeff Smith, and yours truly. The moderators do a pretty good job keeping the trolls and the spam to a minimum, the posters are knowledgeable and friendly. It's a community in the truest sense of the world. You can see if it suits you by visiting its home page at:



Outsiders 34

Who's annoyed me mightily lately?

DC Comics.

In the recent "One Year Later" issues of THE OUTSIDERS, team leader Nightwing essentially pimps out Thunder, alleged daughter of Black Lightning, to a genocidal dictator as part of the team's plan to overthrow the dictator.

Way to take one for the team, girlfriend.

So, to state the obvious once more, a white man is pimping out a black woman in a super-hero comic and no one at DC -- no writer, no editor, no artist, no publisher -- has the common sense to pause for a moment and reconsider this sequence of events.

That's why DC is on my list today.

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

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.

Please send material you would like me to review to:

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