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

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TONY'S ONLINE TIPS
for Friday, October 20, 2006

Candy 6

I like Candy. Although the masked and stylish Blonde Phantom is TOT's official TOT pin-up queen, Candy O'Connor is our official pin-up teen. Published by Quality Comics, where she enjoyed a long run in POLICE COMICS and in her own title, most of Candy's adventures were drawn and written by Harry Sahle, who was also one of the top Archie artists in the 1940s and 1950s. I get a kick out of Sahle's great CANDY covers. Occasionally, I even get to read an actual issue of the title.

Sahle's cover for CANDY #6 [October, 1948] features Candy and her long-suffering boyfriend Ted Dawson. Though it may shock some of our younger TOT readers, air-conditioning in movie theaters and restaurants really was a powerful draw for the customers of post-war America. Indeed, the Cold War - you may have heard something about it while trying to text-message your friends in history class - started because the godless Communists were insanely jealous of our Frigidaire technology.

Candy, Woodland Splash

"Summer fun" is the theme of this issue. Candy stars in four stories. In the lead, her long-suffering father - our lovely lass was hard on the men in her life - attempts a vacation at home with disastrous results. In Candy's second tale, enamored of a handsome dancer, she takes expensive ballet lessons. Ted and her dad scheme to get her to abandon that fad of the moment and they succeed. She signs up for even more expensive horse-riding lessons.

Candy, Geoffie Splash

Candy's mom asks our teen queen to entertain "Little Geoffie," the son of a friend, for a couple of days. He turns out to be a studly hunk into rowing, ten-mile walks, tennis, golf, bicycling, and other sporting activities. Ted encourages Geoffie to show off his physical abilities at every turn and succeeds in his real goal; the jock is too exhausted to take Candy dancing. Ted's victory is short-lived; he falls asleep on Candy's front porch, too tired to cuddle with her.

Candy Water Skiing Splash

In her final story of the issue, Candy and her family go on a beach vacation. Our girl vies with an athletic rival for the love of a lifeguard, wins a water-skiing contest, and ends up losing the lifeguard to the cute girl boyfriend Ted was dating while Candy was hitting the beach. All four of these stories were drawn and likely written by Sahle.

Filling out this issue:

In another Sahle story, Rims, a pal of Candy and Ted, tries to earn money for a "back to school" dance by transporting furniture. He loses the trailer, inadvertently steals another, and then swaps the stolen trailer for the original. You're doing a heck of a job, Rims, a heck of a job.

Jitters Splash

Jitters, another hapless teen, is hired to deliver groceries. As you can tell from the above splash page, this does not go well for him, his employer, or their customers.

Fillers include "Pixy" (a single-page gag strip) and "Witch of Sarik" (a two-page text story). That adds up to 52 pages of comics fun for one thin dime. The good old days.

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

******

CIVIL WAR

What else I have for you today starts with a half-dozen CIVIL WAR reviews. However, be warned that there are definitely serious SPOILERS AHEAD!

Heroes for Hire 1

HEROES FOR HIRE #1 [$2.99] adds another layer to Marvel's epic CIVIL WAR storyline as Misty Knight and Colleen Wing sign on with the government to go after unregistered super-villains, the "black hats." Writers Justin Gray and Jimmy Palmiotti with artists Billy Tucci and Tom Palmer have done an impressive job delivering a debut that has plenty of action and amusing moments without ignoring the more serious aspects of the Superhuman Registration Act.

I love the oddball team the ladies have assembled - Shang-Chi, Black Cat, Paladin, Humbug, Tarantula, Orca, and Vienna - and how each of them makes perfect sense once you read the issue. I love that the storytelling - from the writers and the artists - is clear as a bell and exciting to boot. I look forward to the inevitable confrontations between Misty and the megalomaniacal Tony Stark when he decides she doesn't get to choose who her team goes after. I'm hoping she leaves him spitting up nuts and bolts.

I'm not wild about the gratuitously sexy costuming - help me out here, ladies, why exactly would Misty want arrows pointing to her nipples? - but that's just my pal Billy being Billy. I can't be too harsh with him, not when I'm loving that he's drawing comic books again. All in all, this was still one of the most enjoyable issues in this universe-spanning event.

HEROES FOR HIRE #1 earns four out of five Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony Tony

New Avengers 23

NEW AVENGERS #23 [$2.99] focuses on Spider-Woman and actually manages to kind of sort of explain what Jessica Drew's being doing since she joined the team. She was a "triple agent," a member of SHIELD who was actually working for the estranged Nick Fury while pretending to be working for Hydra. This element of the relaunch never worked and I'm relieved to see the end of it.

On the plus side, writer Brian Michael Bendis gives the issue some serious emotional weight as the consequences of Drew's actions bring her to a believably desperate state. With excellent art from Olivier Coipel (pencils) and Mark Morales (inker), this issue earns a solid three out of five Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony

Wolverine 45

WOLVERINE #45 [$2.99] has Wolverine slugging and slashing it out with the Sub-Mariner to keep his word to mass murderer Nitro: asylum in exchange for the name of the people who used the villain as a rainmaker for their business. Kudos to writer Mark Guggenheim for a story that explores and challenges the morality of the heroes in the tale...and for not making it an easy ride. Artists Humberto Ramos and Carlos Cuevas rose to the occasion and did their best work yet on the series.

WOLVERINE #45 earns five Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony Tony Tony

Cable/Deadpool 31

I don't much care for either Cable or Deadpool and never have, but, despite that, I did enjoy CABLE & DEADPOOL #31 [$2.99]. This issue starts Deadpool trying to apprehend unregistered super-heroes and ends with George Bush ordering the execution of the president of another sovereign nation. That would be Cable.

Writer Fabian Nicieza gives a terse-but-helpful "what has gone before" page, makes the battle between the outnumbered Deadpool and the heroes fun and believable, drops a bombshell about an off-stage battle of registered and unregistered heroes without revealing too much of that battle, and has Cable trying to convince Bush to show restraint, dropping another bombshell as to future consequences of Iron Man's crusade to remake the super-human community as he sees fit. It's an eventful chapter and I'm eager to see what happens in the next issue. With good art from Staz Johnson and Klaus Janson, this issue earns four out of five Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony Tony

Young Avengers/Runaways 2

CIVIL WAR: YOUNG AVENGERS & RUNAWAYS #2 [$2.99] impressed me less than the first issue of this mini-series. The two super-teams battle each other for a bit and then get past it, just in time for a brainwashed Kree warrior to swoop down and break someone's neck. Wikipedia tells me the Kree has previously appeared in a MARVEL BOY mini-series, but it doesn't tell me anything about the nasty warden of the SHIELD instillation where the Kree was held. Neither does this issue's writer. More than any other official CW tie-ins, this series strikes me as an unnecessary add-on. Maybe it will prove to be more important down the line, but, at this halfway point, it has yet to convince me of its worth. No Tonys here.

No Tonys

Ms. Marvel 7

MS. MARVEL #7 [$2.99] came as a pleasant surprise. I've been critical of the title, but this CW tie-in issue contained some fine moments. I really liked the scenes between teen metahuman Arana, her father, and Ms. Marvel. It was good to see Carol Danvers show even a little independence in her dealings with the villainous Tony Stark and various government goons. Her and the girl actually make convincing arguments in favor of the Superhuman Registration Act, though not for the draconian and inhuman ways in which the feds are enforcing it. Maybe there's hope for Ms. Marvel.

I also thought the desperation of underground heroes Arachne and the Shroud was well played. I'm still disappointed in Wonder Man, of course. Where are the Hollywood liberals when you really, really need them?

Kudos to writer Brian Reed, penciller Roberto De La Torre, and the rest of the MS. MARVEL creative team. This issue earns them an impressive four out of five Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony Tony

More CIVIL WAR reviews coming next week.

******

ADDENDUM

When I reviewed an earlier issue of WOLVERINE, I looked more than a little askance at Logan's "healing factor" allowing him to regenerate from an explosion that reduced him to bits of skeletal remains. That surpassed even my overdeveloped willing suspension of disbelief...and it turns out other readers has the same reaction to the sequence.

On the letters page of WOLVERINE #45, writer Marc Guggenheim defended this sequence:

...this level of injury/regeneration has been done before: Morrison did it in his first X-Men arc; Millar incinerated Logan in his last Wolverine issue (the Holocaust story); Way hit Logan with a nuclear missile; and Claremont even had Logan regenerating from a single cell of blood in Uncanny X-Men Annual #11.

I'm still not buying it. To paraphrase, a foolish continuity is the hobgoblin of small minds. Morrison, Way, and Claremont all diminished Wolverine by making him virtually immortal and, as such, less interesting. I'll give Millar a pass because I think there's room for interpretation in his Holocaust tale and because it was so damn good. The other examples? Not so good.

But, the foolish among you cry, those other stories are part of THE CONTINUITY. They must be true.

Not the way I see it. Writers and artists have been telling stories of this Marvel Universe since the 1940s...and some of those stories are just plain stupid. Just ignore them.

Don't tie them around your neck like mutant albatross. Don't devote entire issues to explaining them. Just ignore them and get on with the lives of these characters.

Can I hear an "amen" out there?

******

COMICS IN THE COMICS

When the news of tainted spinach broke, editorial cartoonists were all over the Popeye connection within a matter of hours. But, since the cartoonists of the comics pages work much further ahead of schedule, I've just now seen their first comics comments on the plight of poor Popeye.

Here's the FAMILY CIRCUS panel from October 16:

Family Circus

And here's REALITY CHECK from October 17:

Reality Check

If there are any spinach-related comics panels or strips I've missed, please e-mail them to me. I'll share them with your fellow TOT readers in future installments of this feature.

******

GET MORE TONY

Esssential Zombie

Now that I have a copy of ESSENTIAL TALES OF THE ZOMBIE VOL. 1 [$16.99] - and my thanks to Marvel Comics for sending it to me - I can tell you exactly which of my old stories and text pieces are reprinted in it. Here's the list:

"The Sensuous Zombie" is six pages of text and photos from old monster movies. What struck me as I read the piece for the first time in decades was that I hadn't seen any of these movies I was writing about. Memory fails me here, but I must have gotten the information in the article from books and magazines on monster movies.

"Voodoo Unto Others" is a six-page comics story drawn by the great Win Mortimer, a charming man I wish I could have worked with more often. This one is a favorite of mine. The story's kid hero was named after my brother Ray. At the risk of sounding immodest, the title is brilliant.

This story was one of three or four plots I originally pitched to Gold Key Comics for their mystery titles, but the editor there didn't go for them. I then pitched a couple of them to Roy Thomas, who bought them immediately. Later, as an editor myself, I bought the other two, wrote plots for their artists, and then handed off the pencilled pages to other writers to script. We'll talk about these other Gold Key rejects in a bit.

"Introducing Brother Voodoo" was a four-page plug for the new hero scheduled to debut in STRANGE TALES. A utterly embarrassing piece of work, we shall speak of it no more.

Marvel bought the already-drawn "Warrior's Burden" from artist Vicente Alcazar. I don't know who originally wrote whatever these six pages were meant to be, but I rearranged a few of the pages and turned it into my own story. I know I was planning to write more of these "Gilgamesh" stories, but I think all I ever did was, as an editor, give the idea for one of them to a writer who was having a tough time selling his own plots to me.

"Courtship By Voodoo" was one of the many single-page "true" stories I wrote for Marvel's monster magazines. This one was drawn by Ron Wilson.

"Voodoo War" was another of my Gold Key pitches, but I made it quite a bit more violent for this TALES OF THE ZOMBIE publication. Syd Shores pencilled the first two pages before he died, Dick Ayers pencilled the final six, and Mike Esposito inked it.

"The Voodoo Killers" was another "true" story, this one drawn by Mike Kaluta.

"Was He a Voodoo-Man?" was drawn by Win Mortimer. Looking at the page for the first time in ages, I laughed out loud when I read "the following story was told to Tony Isabella by an international wire service reporter who wishes to remain anonymous." I should be ashamed of myself.

I discussed the three-chapter "Simon Garth Lives Again" tale the last time I wrote about this Essentials volume. I plotted all three chapters, scripted the first and third, and edited the Chris Claremont script for the second. I'll have more to say about this one in some future column.

As editor of some of the issues reprinted in this collection, I probably co-plotted and did some rewriting on the various stories and features therein. I also wrote some of the house ads reprinted in this volume. I can't be sure which ones, but, if the ad makes use of my "three beat" technique...as seen in lines like "A pulse-pounding plethora of features, fantasy, and photos"...then it was more than likely written by me.

An ad for the never-published TALES OF THE ZOMBIE #11 includes a blurb for the third of my Gold Key rejects. "A Fire Within" was plotted by me, written by Bill Mantlo, pencilled by Don Heck, and inked by Bob McLeod. I don't know that it ever appeared anywhere, but it was Mantlo's first Marvel Comics writing and McLeod's first Marvel Comics inking. It would be cool to see it again after all these years.

As you can see, ESSENTIAL TALES OF THE ZOMBIE has quite a bit of Isabella stuff in it. Marvel does pay me royalties whenever it reprints my work, so I benefit financially when you buy the volume. There are other reasons to lay down your cash for this book, like stories by Steve Gerber and Roy Thomas, but I'll talk about those when I do a full-fledged review later this month.

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

Tony Isabella

<< 10/18/2006 | 10/20/2006 | 11/06/2006 >>

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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