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Reviews and commentary by Tony Isabella
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for Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Blonde Phantom 22

BLONDE PHANTOM COMICS #22 [March, 1949] was the last issue of the stylish crimefighter's comic book. The cover marks a departure from the wordy covers of previous issue; it delivers an hilarious visual joke with a minimum of dialogue. This is one of my favorite covers of the series. The GRAND COMICS DATABASE [] credits the art to Charles Nicholas.

The contents of this 36-page issue:

Blonde Phantom in "Trapped Under the Earth" (7 pages), pencil art by Al Gabriele, inks by Al Bellman;

Blonde Phantom in "Jackpot of Death" (5 pages), pencil art by Don Rico, inks by Al Bellman;

"The Bluff," a 2-page text story;

Sub-Mariner in "Death Lurks in the Pool" (4 pages), art by Al Bellman; and,

Blonde Phantom in "Doomed For Death" (8 pages), pencil art by Al Bellman, inks by Ken Bald.

Over at Greg Gatlin's ATLAS TALES [], there is this comment about the lead story:

Certain key elements of the plot of [FANTASTIC FOUR] #1 are showcased here: a criminal called "The Mole" is using a gravity control device to sink whole buildings to the earth's core, as part of his plan of world domination.

The Blonde Phantom has been TOT's official pin-up queen for a little over a year now. Alas, this cover marks the last piece of Blonde Phantom art I have for you.

Will we see the Gowned Guardian again? That depends entirely on TOT readers sending me any of the following:

original drawings of the character,

photocopies of her 1940s stories, or,

photos of cosplayers dressed as her.

If we do have to "retire" the Blonde Phantom's crown, I'll do my best to find a suitable successor among Marvel's other dynamic damsels of the fabulous Forties.

Let's see what else I have for you today.



Civil War: X-Men 2

Our CIVIL WAR coverage continues with two issues that hit the comics shops the week of August 16. As usual, you should count on there being...


In CIVIL WAR: X-MEN #2 [$2.99], the original X-Men (sans the deceased-for-the-moment Jean Grey) have illegally left the Xavier Institute in search of the mutants who escaped from the "sanctuary" in the opening act of this four-issue series. Bishop is leading a government-sponsored team to recapture all of them. Meanwhile, on the government side of things, we have the President preparing to issue an unconditional amnesty for the mutants while parties within the Office of National Emergency scheme to escalate the situation before that amnesty is issued.

Continuing to explore characters and themes from his recent X-MEN: THE 198 series, writer David Hine is going to great lengths to make things difficult for the mutants. When Cyclops and his three mutanteers go up against a Sentinel, as they have done successfully so many times in the past, the best they can manage is to escape. When they reach the hiding place of the escaped mutants, just a bit ahead of Bishop, who is holding off action until the amnesty order comes down from the White House, those bad guys inside O.N.E. just happen to have a mind-controlling mutant and the DNA from Cyclops that will allow said mutant to trigger a battle between Bishop and Cyclops. It all seems so contrived.

Though I liked what penciller Yanick Paquette and inker Serge LaPointe did in this issue, the story itself didn't do much for me. The best score I can give to CIVIL WAR: X-MEN #2 is a disappointing two out of five Tonys.

Tony Tony

Thunderbolts 105

The neatest thing about THUNDERBOLTS is that the reader never knows what will happen next. The cast of characters is constantly are the allegiances and motives of those characters. In issue #105 [$2.99], we see Baron Zemo come to an understanding with former mortal enemy Captain America. We see Songbird getting ready to betray Zemo with Zemo's knowledge and apparent blessing. We see Nighthawk with the Grandmaster and the Squadron Sinister, an association he is beginning to regret. In the middle of the CIVIL WAR between the heroes, the winds of a new and more cosmic war are beginning to blow. Wow.

Kudos to writer Fabian Nicieza, artists Tom Grummett and Gary Erskine, and editor Molly Lazer for making THUNDERBOLTS s solid and consistently entertaining title. This latest issue earns three out of five Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony



The "E. cole outbreak caused by tainted spinach" story has run its course, but not before a whole bunch of editorial cartoonists used comics icon Popeye to comment on the news. Cartoonist Daryl Cagle collected a whole bunch of these cartoons at his PROFESSIONAL CARTOONIST INDEX website:

In TOT for September 28 - available in our archives - I ran a couple cartoons he missed.

Here are two more from my own area newspapers. This first one is by CHIP BOK of the Akron Beacon Journal...

Bok cartoon

...and this second one is by JEFF DARCY of the Cleveland Plain Dealer...

Darcy cartoon

That seems to be it for my favorite sailor's latest moment in the spotlight, but keep watching future editions of this column for more comics in the comics.



Battle for Bloodhaven

Every week, I post a brand-new and exclusive edition of TONY'S OTHER ONLINE TIPS on the Comics Buyer's Guide forum. This week, I look at DC's CRISIS AFTERMATH: THE BATTLE FOR BLUDHAVEN. You can read the review at:

Want even more Tony? Then head over to MySpace where I have been doing posting a nigh-daily blog:

Tales of the Zombie 9

Marvel's ESSENTIAL TALES OF THE ZOMBIE is available from fine comic-book emporiums and bookstores everywhere, though I haven't as yet received my copy of the black-and-white collection. Here's the original solicitation:


Written by Roy Thomas, Steve Gerber, Doug Moench, Tony Isabella & Chris Claremont. Penciled by John Buscema, Tom Palmer, Syd Shores, Pablo Marcos, Alfredo Alcala, Virgilio Redondo, Yong Montano, Ron Wilson & Tony DiPreta. Cover by Boris Vallejo.

Jaded by heroes who come back from the dead? Meet the hero who started there and stayed there! His stare's the only thing that's empty about the adventures of Simon Garth through mad science and madder magic! Terrors criminal, corporate and just plain creepy reprinted for the first time in more than a quarter-century! Collects stories from TALES OF THE ZOMBIE #1-10 and DRACULA LIVES #1-2.

576 PGS./Explicit Content ...$16.99
ISBN: 0-7851-1916-7
Black & White

As far as I know, my contributions are the opening and closing chapters of "Simon Garth Lives Again," the story that was supposed to end the series and the magazine. However, there might be some other Isabella stuff in there as well. I'll get back to you when I have a copy of the book.



Chicken with Plums

Marjane Satrapi's CHICKEN WITH PLUMS [Pantheon; $16.99] makes ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY's "The Must List" in the October 6 edition of the magazine. The graphic novel tells the tale of a famed Iranian musician who has lost his will to live. I'll be reviewing the book in an upcoming issue of COMICS BUYER'S GUIDE.

The same EW has Daniel Fierman's review of the DVD of X-MEN: THE LAST STAND, which picks up a "B" from the critic. A sidebar offers this information:

The X3 collector's-edition DVD comes with its own comic book: reprints of three classic tales drawn by the great artist Jack Kirby, with writer Stan Lee's alliterative dialogue ("the master plan of the miraculous Magneto!", plus a silly new story in which Stan the Man himself is the hero.

AMERICAN PROFILE is a weekly color magazine "that celebrates hometown American life." It's distributed in newspapers across the country, including my hometown MEDINA GAZETTE. This week's cover article celebrates comics detective Dick Tracy's 75th anniversary. Don't fret if your local paper doesn't carry the magazine. You can read the article online here:



Supergirl and the Legion

Each and every week, we give you new TONY POLLS questions for your amusement. Earlier this month, we asked you these questions. Here's how you voted:

How would you rate DC's SUPERGIRL AND THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES (1001 Years Later)?

Very Good.....23.94%

Last week, I received this poll-related e-mail from TOT reader JOHN R. HALL. He wrote:

I enjoy your columns very much. I have a suggestion for more statistically sound presentation of your polls. It appears you set in all caps the rating that got the largest share of votes. That's how your poll on "Snakes on a Plane" showed "Poor" with all-caps. A better indicator of the consensus of your respondents, though, would be to focus on the median, i.e., the category with half the votes as good or better and half the votes as bad or worse. In the case of "Snakes on a Plane," the median was two grades better than "Poor." Still not up with your Near Mint but a lot closer. Just another in a series of e-mails intended to link my professional skills with my favorite hobby.

On the ratings questions, I'm no longer putting the grade with the highest score. This way, readers can interpret the results any way they choose.

On the specific question of SUPERGIRL AND THE LEGION OF SUPER-HEROES...I voted FINE.

Annihilation 1

How would you rate Marvel's ANNIHILATION comics?

Very Good.....16.67%

I voted VERY GOOD on this one.

Lost Cast

Which of these new or returning TV genre (fantasy, horror, sci-fi) shows are you most looking forward to watching?

Lost (ABC).....39.53%
Heroes (NBC).....26.74%
Smallville (The CW).....20.93%
Ghost Whisperer (CBS).....4.65
Jericho (CBS).....3.49%
Medium (NBC).....3.49%
Supernatural (The CW).....1.16%

I kicked ABC's Lost to the curb a few episodes into its second season. Most master plans, whether they be in comics or TV shows, bore the crap out of me. I cast my vote for HEROES, which, as of this writing, I haven't actually seen. But it's waiting on my DVR and I hope to view the pilot episode soon.

Looking ahead to the 2007 season, which of these shows are you most looking forward to watching?

Survivor: Comic-Con International.....35.16%
CSI Mayberry.....21.98%
MILF: Anti-Terrorist Squad.....17.58%
Gitmo Legal.....5.49%
Irritable Bowel Syndrome Doctors.....4.40%
Revenge of the Apprentice.....4.40%
Dumpster Diving with the Debutantes.....3.30%
Lost II: More Sub-Plots.....3.30%
Despondent Husbands.....1.10%
Extreme Combover.....1.10%
Kennel Break.....1.10%
Trading Louses: Marrying Someone Else's Mistake.....1.10%

Oh, ye of little imagination. I wanted a fourth question for this particular week and I was feeling silly, so the above was what you got. But, even as I posted it, I knew you were going to vote for the obvious choice.

I went with MILF: ANTI-TERRORIST SQUAD because I think I could have fun writing a show like that...and, yes, it is all about me. But I figure it's only a matter of time before some network green-lights one or all of the above programs.

This week, I have five questions for you:

How would you rate HEROES, the new NBC series about several people, who suddenly acquire superhuman powers?

At this juncture in Marvel's CIVIL WAR, which description best fits Tony "Iron Man" Stark?

Does incarcerating unregistered superhumans in a prison in another dimension constitute cruel and unusual punishment?

Do you feel minority superhumans (African-American, gay, Hispanic, etc.) in Marvel's CIVIL WAR are being injured, tortured, or killed at a disproportionate rate?


You can vote on these questions here:

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

Tony Isabella

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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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840 Damon Drive
Medina, OH 44256

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