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

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TONY'S ONLINE TIPS
for Monday, December 18, 2006

Mid-Ohio-Con

Mid-Ohio-Con is my favorite convention. I've only missed one of them in over twenty years. The show is the creation of my good friend Roger Price, who always manages to bring together a terrific line-up of exhibitors and guests. This year's event was the first in a new venue: Battelle Hall at the Columbus Convention Center in the city's exciting arena district.

Battelle Hall is huge. Not Comic-Con International huge, but enormous compared to past Mid-Ohio-Cons. There was plenty of room for fans to mingle, to shop at exhibitor tables, to stroll down the wide aisles, and to visit the approximately 150 comics/media guests at the show. Even allowing for growth, Battelle Hall should remain a comfortable and friendly venue for Mid-Ohio-Con for several years to come.

Getting to the show was easy, what with the convention center being blocks from an I-71 exit. The Hyatt Regency Hotel, connected physically to the center, offered nice rooms at reasonable rates. The hotel has a decent restaurant (Market Stand Café), a large bar and lounge area, and a food court that was just right for that fast meal or cup of coffee.

There are also a number of eateries within a short walk of the hotel, but you don't want me making any dining choices for you. My Friday night meal was so-so and overpriced. My Sunday night dinner made me ill. On the positive side, Saturday night's visit to Buca di Beppo with Bob Ingersoll, Mark Evanier, and the ever-delightful Carolyn Kelly could not have been more enjoyable.

Moving right along...

Mid-Ohio-Con Events 2006

Mid-Ohio-Con is officially and traditionally a two-day event, the Saturday and Sunday after Thanksgiving. For Roger, I'm betting it starts the day after the previous year's con. For me, it starts the first time I recommend a guest to Roger for the next show, or he asks my opinion of a prospective guest, or when comics and media professionals begin requesting guest credentials on Mid-Ohio-Con's website. Because that's when I start planning panels for the next convention.

After taking a few years off, I once again assumed my position as the show's Program Director. The 2006 event schedule listed 22 panels or program. Putting them together, signing up panelists for them, planning those which needed more planning than sticking some nice people at a table in front of an audience, required well over 1,000 e-mails from me and to me. And it would have been even more without the assistance of pals like Craig Boldman, Gary Herrmann, and Tim Stroup, each of whom did the "heavy lifting" on one or more of this year's panels.

Recruiting panelists and scheduling the programs involves some major juggling. It is, for example, considered a very bad thing to have a guest on two different panels at the same time. I suspect Evanier could manage it off, but it's not something lesser mortals should attempt.

I had two panel rooms with staggered starting times this year. As best I could, I scheduled panels against panels which I thought would appeal to different audiences. I tried to include programs that represented all the creators and interests to be found at the convention. I have no idea how well I succeeded because I was too busy running the schedule to attend any program of which I wasn't a participant. Several people have told me the panels and schedule worked out well, but they may have just been humoring the gibbering madman I became an hour or two into the show.

I'm exaggerating. I had a lot of help from terrific hosts and moderators like Boldman, Evanier, Hermann, Stroup, Thom Zahler, Bob Ingersoll, Jeff Martin, Joe Edkin, Stormcrow Hayes, Paul Storrie, Dan Mishkin, and Scott Crawford, who helmed the Marvel Comics panel wearing his sensational self-made Wolverine costume.

But I think I'm getting ahead of myself. Let's roll back the clock to Friday evening...

In years past, one of the Columbus comics shops has sponsored a pre-MOC party at its store. However, since last year's show, the store was sold and its new owners decided against continuing that beloved tradition.

Mid-Ohio-Con traditions don't die easily. Dara Naraghi, the publisher of Columbus-based Ferret Press, teamed up with the local creators collective PANEL to sponsor a pre-con party at Barley's Brewing Company, just across the street from the convention center. The "Underground" room at Barley's had free comics, live music, and a cash bar. My schedule only allowed a couple of quick visits, but it was clear a good time was being had by all. Three cheers and a tiger to Naraghi and PANEL.

"My schedule" will be the elephant in this convention report. I didn't get to spend nearly as much time on the convention floor as I would've liked...or with the comics creators and media guests who were at the show. Sigh.

Mid-Ohio-Con Stamp

Saturday's program began with a DC Super-Heroes Stamp Ceremony unveiling. The United States Postal Service was selling the stamps and offering a Mid-Ohio-Con pictorial cancellation to commemorate the event. The USPS was sold out of the DC stamps by 2 pm Saturday afternoon. They plan to return next year to do a similar ceremony and pictorial cancellation for the Marvel stamps.

If you can't make out the cancellation from the above image, you'll just have to figure out a way to convince/bribe me to send you one of the 20 cancellations I bought. Wait, I'm already down to 14. Better think fast.

There's a whole bunch of stuff I want to cover in this week's TOTs, so I'm going to spread the Mid-Ohio-Con report over the next three, maybe four columns. I'll have more on the show's celebrity guests, comics creators, programming, and even reviews of items I got at that show. Stay tuned.

******

DOC SAVAGE

Doc Savage Book 1

From Nostalgia Ventures comes Doc Savage #1: "Fortress of Solitude" and "The Devil Genghis" [$12.95], the inaugural book in their continuing series of double novels reprinting the classic pulp adventures of the Man of Bronze. Series editor Anthony Tollin and contributing editor Will Murray have chosen the first novels well, for these stories pit Doc Savage against his greatest enemy...John Sunlight.

Sunlight is as scary and as colorful a villain as you'll find in any of the pulp magazines of the day. Intellectually brilliant, insane in his lust for power, physically powerful, and so twisted he would rather destroy a man's soul than kill him. He finds Doc's hidden fortress and immediately begins to make use of the terrible weapons, seized from other villains, stored there. Maddeningly, he frequently seems to be several moves ahead of Savage in the deadly games he plays.

Written by Lester Dent as "Kenneth Robeson," these thrillers are clearly among the best of his Savage novels. I like "The Devil Genghis" better than "Fortress" because it's got a great supporting character in bad girl Toni Lash and because Dent conveys a palpable sense of peril as Doc struggles, actually struggles, to thwart the master plan of Sunlight. If I have any complaint about the story, it's in the inanity of Monk and Ham, always the best of Doc's band of adventurers, bringing their pets along on the mission. Neither critter contributes anything of value to the tale, even the comic relief they generally add falls flat this time around. Still, it's the most minor of quibbles.

The two novels are unabridged republications of the original stories with the original Paul Orban illustrations. Typographical errors have been corrected. In addition to the novels, this first book also features new historical essays by Tollin and Will Murray. Besides being literary agent of the Dent estate, Murray is a fine writer who has collaborated posthumously with the author on eight Doc Savage novels, the latest being the forthcoming The Desert Demons.

Like Nostalgia Ventures series of Shadow reprints, the new Doc Savage books are a dream come true for pulp adventure enthusiasts. On our usual rating scale, Doc Savage #1: "Fortress of Solitude" and "The Devil Genghis" earns the full five out of five Tonys. I'm eagerly awaiting future volumes.

Tony Tony Tony Tony Tony

******

ADDENDUM

The Doc Savage and Shadow double novels are available in fine comic-book emporiums and bookstores everywhere, but, if you are so unfortunate as to be not near a fine comics emporium or bookstore, here's ANTHONY TOLLIN to tell you how to get them:

With Christmas coming, I should point out that both THE SHADOW and DOC SAVAGE trades are available from me by subscription, six issues for $72 (first class) or $66 (media mail). Of course, you can always give yourself a gift subscription, too. You can order via PayPal through my e-mail address...

sanctumotr@earthlink.net

...or by check or money order to:

Anthony Tollin
P.O. Box 761474
San Antonio, TX 78245-1474

On sale in December:
THE SHADOW 3: "The Red Blot" and "The Voodoo Master"
DOC SAVAGE 2: "Resurrection Day" and "Repel"

On sale in January:
THE SHADOW 4: "The Murder Master" and "The Hydra"
DOC SAVAGE 3: "Death in Silver" and "The Golden Peril"

On sale in February:
THE SHADOW 5: "The Black Falcon" & "The Salamanders"
DOC SAVAGE 4: "Land of Always Night" and "Mad Mesa"

On sale in March:
THE SHADOW 6: "The Shadow's Justice" & "The Broken Napoleons"
DOC SAVAGE 5: "The Spook Legion" and "The Submarine Mystery"

On sale in April:
THE SHADOW 7: "The Cobra" & "The Third Shadow"
DOC SAVAGE 6: "The Polar Treasure" and "Pirate of the Pacific"

Figure on yours truly reviewing as many of these as I can fit into my upcoming columns.

******

ANNIHILATION

Annihilation 4

One of my 2007 goals is to get current on the big series from DC and Marvel - 52, Annihilation, Civil War - by the middle of January. That's going to be tricky with so many big holidays on the horizon - my 55th birthday, Christmas, New Year's - but a man's got to have goals.

Annihilation continues to impress me as one of the best war comics of all time. Told on a massive scale, it has Annihilus busting loose from the Negative Zone and visiting utter destruction on every world, every galaxy in his path. That goofy-looking bug-guy from the 1960s has become one of the most fearsome menaces in the Marvel Universe...and that's putting him next to the likes of Galactus and Thanos. Standing between him and his goal, which is revealed in Annihilation #4, is a shaky alliance of space-warriors including Nova, Starlord, Gamora, Ronan the Accuser, Drax the Destroyer, and Phyla, daughter of Captain Marvel. The United Front was holding the line when I last reviewed this title, but, in issues #3 and #4, things got worse. Much worse.

SPOILERS AHEAD

Thanos adds his teleportation technology to the overwhelming numerical superiority of the Annihilation Wave. The United Front can't hold. Its warriors can but scatter and flee for their lives. The war is over and the good guys have lost.

What's left is guerilla warfare with Nova and Starlord going one way, Drax another, and Ronan, joined by a most surprising ally, yet another. Odd alliances mix with betrayals and with a personal agenda that may doom the universe. This is as epic a war story as I've ever read.

SPOILERS END

Keith Giffen (writer) and Andrea DiVito (artist) have kept me on the edge of my seat with their story...and it gets better issue after issue. Annihilation #3 and #4 earn the full five out of five Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony Tony Tony

One more note. Issue #4 has a terrific nod to Civil War via a conversation between Nova and Starlord. It was interesting to get such a distant perspective on that conflict...and I continue to wonder if the events of this more cosmic series will have some impact on what's happening on Earth.

******

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

Tony Isabella

<< 12/11/2006 | 12/18/2006 | 12/19/2006 >>

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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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