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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, March 5, 2007

Strange Brew

I'm back. I hope the loyal legions of TOT readers missed this column as much as I missed writing it. I wish I could absolutely guarantee that it will continue to come to you every Monday through Friday as long as I can lift my fingers to the keyboard, but life doesn't work that way.

My first priority will always be my family and friends. I'll save the details for when they might be more appropriate, but the answer to the question "Where did those first two months of 2007 go to?" lies within that area of human experience. All is either well or getting there in the chaos that is the world of Isabella, but, as wise men have proclaimed, "Stuff happens."

My next priority is my paying work. Unfortunately, that kind of mostly dried up by the end of 2006. The good news is that I am writing more material for Comics Buyer's Guide, including a trio of exclusive reviews for the magazines's website:

Some more good news is that I'm a week away from completing my first comics script in years. It's taking me longer to write this story than it should because it takes a while for a plug like me to get back the confidence I had before I was put out to pasture, but it strikes me as a good start to what I hope will be many more new stories for your edification and entertainment.

I also have a shot at what would be my most profitable comics writing gig in over a decade. If it works out, I won't be able to tell you anything about it for some time - at least not publicly - but, believe me, it will be a great gig.

I have some other projects on my desk as well, but let's save writing about those for another day and get to the immediate matter at hand: the future of TONY'S ONLINE TIPS.

The short version: yes, it does have a future.

I'll write new columns as often as I can make the time to do so. I'm hoping that will be five times a week. Encouragement in the form of e-mails, message board posts, and spreading the word to your online pals would be appreciated. "Tip The Tipster" donations would likewise be appreciated, but I'll feel better about accepting them after I work my way back to five TOTs a week.

The opening rotation will resume sometime later this week. I am trying to decide which features I want to keep and which I can live without. If you have favorites among them, let me know which ones they are sooner rather than later.

I'm abandoning my week-by-week coverage of Marvel's Civil War titles, though I will certainly have more to say about them in the weeks to come. The plan is to cover more variety in a more timely fashion, but I won't shy away from reviewing comic books and other items that may have come out weeks, months, even years ago. You have the Internet; you can find anything.

Of necessity, this week's TOTs will include a heaping helping of "Comics In the Comics" treats and "Tony Polls" results, and also a "Tony's Tips" reprint from CBG's print edition. As for the rest, I'm making it up as I go along...

...and doing it without a safety net!



I couldn't work the "credit where it's due" info smoothly into the opening sequence, but the art up top is the March 3 installment of "Strange Brew" by John Deering. The seven-times-a-week panel is one of my favorites. You can read it here:

You can learn more about Deering here:

Why did I run this panel? Because it amused me and I couldn't figure out how else to share it with you short of cutting it out of my morning paper and taping it to your refrigerator.




Back in May of 2006, cartoonist Jim Meddick did an extended super-hero sequence in his "Monty" comic strip. As shown above, it began with a Spider-Man reference, then took a decidedly different turn. I ran the first three strips before the hiatus. I'm running them again today with the rest of the sequence.











If you enjoyed this sequence, please thank World Famous Comics web-wizard Justin. Getting the strips to look as good as they do is a major undertaking.

If you want to read current "Monty" strips, go to:

More "Comics in the Comics" coming soon.



Starting tomorrow, March 6, we'll be resuming our nigh-weekly "Tony Polls" questions. Here are the results of questions we asked earlier this year.

DC Comics Logo

Of these companies, whose comic books and other items did you enjoy the most in 2006?

DC Comics.....54.21%
Marvel Comics.....22.43%
Fantagraphics Books.....6.54%
IDW Publishing.....5.61%
Viz Media.....4.67%
Dark Horse Comics.....3.74%
Bongo Comics.....0.93%
Gemstone Publishing.....0.93%
Virgin Comics LLC.....0.93%
Archie Comic Publications.....0%
Avatar Press Inc.....0%
Devil's Due Publishing.....0%
Digital Manga Distribution.....0%
Dynamic Forces.....0%
Image Comics.....0%
Oni Press Inc......0%
Random House.....0%
Top Shelf Productions.....0%
Wizard Entertainment.....0%

That DC Comics won by such a commanding margin didn't surprise me in the least. I've long noted the pro-DC bias in online comics fandom, though it remains inexplicable to me. However, I was very pleased to see Fantagraphics take third place. I might find their editorial/promotional voices a tad arrogant on occasion, but there is no denying they publish remarkable books and comics. Would that their power was always used for good, though, I suppose, that could be said of all of us.

I voted for Marvel Comics because I enjoyed more Marvel books last year than I did those of other publishers. I was in the mood for super-hero stories that addressed real-world concerns and took chances. On those counts, Marvel delivered.

Comic Con International Logo

Would you like to attend Comic-Con International/San Diego in 2007?


I went with undecided on this one because I'm consumed with guilt at the mere thought of spending so much money to attend a show where, in all likelihood, I won't be able to get any editor or publisher from a major company to even speak to me about doing some work for them. Oh, sure, I'd get to hang out with hundreds of friends and readers, but, the whole time, I'd be thinking about my son's college tuition and my daughter's braces.

Though I have booked a too-expensive hotel room within walking distance of the convention, I have not yet bought my airline ticket or formally committed to going to the show. If you're an editor or publisher from a major company, or a Hollywood big shot with oodles of money to spend foolishly, you have a couple of months to dangle promises of good-paying work in front of me and thus lure me to the debauchery that is San Diego. I am so willing to be corrupted by wealth and fame.

Mid-Ohio-Con Logo

Would you like to attend Mid-Ohio-Con in 2007?


You can count me as a big yes on this one. My friend Roger Price's Mid-Ohio-Con is my favorite comics convention of them all. I'll be there on November 24 and 25, once more serving as the con's program director. Whether you're a comics fan, comics pro, or savvy exhibitor, make your plans to attend as early as possible. This is one party you won't want to miss!

Shadow Cover

Which of these classic pulp adventure heroes do you prefer, Doc Savage or the Shadow?

The Shadow.....55.88%
Doc Savage.....44.12%

No list of the greatest adventure heroes of all time would be complete without these characters. Doc Savage is my favorite of the two, but I'm a fan of the Shadow as well.

Nostalgia Ventures and my pal Anthony Tollin are republishing the original pulp magazine stories of Doc Savage and the Shadow in spiffy trade paperback editions, two complete novels plus brand-new feature articles in each and every book. At $12.95 per book, these editions offer spectacular bang for your bucks.

For a list of available titles and ordering information, you can go to...

...or e-mail Anthony at:

I'll have more "Tony Polls" results for you in my next column. New poll questions will be posted tomorrow at:



Smash 19

Starting now, I want to include more of your responses to TOT in these columns. Here's a note from Steve Bennett on the last column posted before the hiatus:

I read your February 5 column with interest as I've been fascinated with British comics ever since my Grandmother brought me one of the boy weeklies back from an overseas trip. Partially because of their exoticism - I can still remember dealing with the overwhelming idea that there were other comics being published, all over the world, that I'd never be able to read! - and partially because they're so connected to the wish fulfillment that's supposedly inherent to comics. Though you wouldn't know from the bulk of what's being published in America.

Take Robot Archie; who wouldn't want to be have a robot to pal around with and defend you while you go on incredible adventures? I admit I've become somewhat over-fascinated with the character, in spite of the fact I've never actually had the chance to read one of his adventures.

Got to go read the Steel Claw collection; here's hoping Robot Archie comes next.

I understand the fascination with foreign comics and British comics in particular, Steve. Included in my opening rotation are 2000 AD, Alan Class and other U.K. reprints of our American comics, and original British comics like the issue of Smash! shown just north of your letter. Additionally, en route to me even as we speak, is The Spider: King of Crooks with stories by Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel. You can bet I'll be reading and reviewing that one as soon as possible.

I love getting e-mail on TOT and many other writing, past and present. Readers can send their comments to:

That's all for now. Thanks for spending part of your day with me. I'll be back soon with more stuff.

Tony Isabella

<< 02/05/2007 | 03/05/2007 | 03/06/2007 >>

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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