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Reviews and commentary by Tony Isabella
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for Wednesday, March 7, 2007

Fantastic Four 49

It's going to be several days before I can get back into full-blown TOT mode, but I want to solicit your assistance on what will be a weekly feature of this column. Let me start with the wonderful surprise that inspired this new feature, which will hereafter be referred to as...MARVEL MONDAY!

A good friend of mine is moving to much smaller digs and, out of necessity, has been reducing the amount of stuff that's moving with him. He decided that I would be a good and loving caretaker for his bound volumes of Marvel super-hero comic books published in 1966. He's an uncanny judge of character that way.

These volumes don't run from the January to December dates on covers and in indicia. They collect the issues which actually hit the newsstands in 1966. The Fantastic Four volume contains issues #49-60 plus Fantastic Four Annual #4.

My plan for MARVEL MONDAYS is to cover that publisher's 1966 comics on a weekly basis. I'm going to try to cover a month's worth of Marvels in a month's worth of Monday TOTs, but, if I have more to say about the comics in any given month, I'm not adverse to taking more columns to do so.

Because I have more ambition than sense, I also want to cover the non-super-hero titles Marvel published in 1966. Tracking them down won't be easy because most of them were published bi-monthly and with cover dates that didn't correspond to the cover dates of the monthly titles. That even holds true for the super-hero books. FF #49 is dated April; Daredevil #14 is dated March. Going from the checklist on the "Marvel Bullpen Bulletins" page, here are the issues published that month:

Spider-Man #35
Avengers #26
X-Men #18
Daredevil #14
Thor #126
Tales To Astonish #76
Tales of Suspense #76
Strange Tales #143
Sgt. Fury #28
Fantasy Masterpieces #1
Marvel Collectors' Item Classics #2

I have a copy of the Sgt. Fury issue on its way to me, but I don't have the Fantasy Masterpieces issue and don't expect to find an affordable copy anytime soon. Additionally, I have to find out which issues of Kid Colt Outlaw, Millie the Model, Modeling With Millie, Patsy and Hedy, Rawhide Kid, and Two-Gun Kid hit the stands in the same month as FF #49.

What I would like from my loyal legions of TOT readers, first and foremost, is the information of which issues of the above comic books came out in the same months as FF #49-60. Then I can start tracking down the issues for inclusion in my MARVEL MONDAYS columns. Consider this an urgent request, especially when it comes to the month of FF #49.

Beyond that, I certainly wouldn't object to readers sending me - originals or copies - the 1966-released issues of Kid Colt Outlaw and the other non-super-hero Marvel titles. I'll work around missing issues when I must, but I think it would be cool to cover them in detail.

Naturally, I will return any original comic books loaned to me as quickly as possible...and reimburse any postage or copying costs incurred by those who assist in this endeavor. You can also count on a nice "thank you" gift from me.

E-mail me before making any copies or sending me any comics. The address is:

There won't be any actual reviews in TOT until next week, but let's see what else I have for you today.



Creepy Worlds 130

Back in January, I wrote about Creepy Worlds #130, one of the Alan Class reprint comics I love so much. You can read that column here:

Creepy Worlds 130 - Strangling Splash

When I wrote the column, I couldn't identify where the Rocco Mastroserio-drawn "The Strangeling" had first appeared. Thanks to Mike Nielsen of the Grand Comics Database [], I can now tell you it hailed from Mysteries Of Unexplored Worlds #25 [Charlton; July, 1961].

I'll be looking at another Alan Class comic next week. Those British reprints are part of the TOT opening rotation and, indeed, among my favorite subjects for this column.



The photo of Dave Cockrum which appeared in yesterday's column was taken in 1995 by Anthony Taylor, who, spotting his work, sent me a much better color version to replace the black-and-white scan I used. You should check it out because it looks a thousand times better now.

Three cheers and a tiger for you, Anthony!



Black Lightning Art

Of all the things I've done during my 35 years in comics, my proudest achievement remains my creation of Black Lightning and the stories I've written about him. Though, sadly, I am not presently writing Black Lightning comic books, I am still passionate about my character and all things relating to him. This department is where I chat about those things and share whatever new information comes my way. For example...

Rick Phillips has recently launched Black Lightning Limited, a suitable-for-all-ages blog. Among the goodies to be found there is a clip from "Saturday Night Live" featuring Sinbad as BL. I'm on record saying that SNL's "Death of Superman" sketch had me rolling on the floor when I first watched it and it's still one of the funniest things I've ever seen on TV. You can view the clip and check out the rest of the blog at:

On the occasion of Black Lightning joining the Justice League of America, Wizard writer Ben Morse has done a spiffy little piece on the character. You can read it here:

One more note. DC Comics has scheduled a Black Lightning: Year One mini-series for later this year. While I have nothing to do with the series beyond giving some background information to editor Joan Hilty and offering my further assistance should she and her creative team choose to accept it, and while reports that I've endorsed the project are blatantly incorrect - I can't endorse what I haven't read - I nonetheless join with Black Lightning's fans in hoping it does justice to the character and respects the values he has always stood for.

Which is my awkward and roundabout way of wishing the happiest of birthdays to Cully Hammer, the artist on the mini-series, who turns 38 today. Cully's a good guy with a tough job: following in the artistic footsteps of former BL artists Trevor Von Eeden, Jim Aparo, and Eddy Newell. I wish him well. Okay, maybe not as well as if I were writing the comic books he's drawing, but, well nonetheless.

Keep watching TOT for more Black Lightning news.



Dark Horse

Most every Tuesday, we post new poll questions for your voting delight. Earlier this year, voters were asked to choose the comics outfit whose wares entertained them best in 2006. The first time we asked, DC Comics took first place with over half of your votes. The second time, with DC removed from the list, Marvel Comics won with a third of the votes. We took Marvel off the list of choices and asked the question one last time. Here are the results we got when we asked:

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

Dark Horse Comics.....28.57%
IDW Publishing.....24.68%
Fantagraphics Books.....7.79%
Image Comics.....7.79%
Bongo Comics.....6.49%
Gemstone Publishing.....5.19%
Viz Media.....5.19%
Dynamic Forces.....3.90%
Wizard Entertainment.....3.90%
Oni Press Inc.....2.60%
Archie Comic Publications.....1.30%
Devil's Due Publishing.....1.30%
Random House.....1.30%
Avatar Press Inc.....0%
Digital Manga Distribution.....0%
Top Shelf Productions.....0%
Virgin Comics LLC.....0%

This third ballot was a tough one for me with lots of worthy candidates. I ultimately went with Gemstone Publishing for personal reasons. Rewriting foreign Donald Duck, Gyro Gearloose, Mickey Mouse, and Uncle Scrooge tales for Gemstone reminded me how much I love those terrific characters. How could I not vote for an outfit trying to keep them on the comics racks?

Moving right along, this week's questions will remain active until sometime after midnight on Monday, March 12.

The new questions are:

Marvel's CIVIL WAR has more or less ended. How would you rate this company-wide event?

The finale of DC's 52 draws near. How would you rate this weekly series?

Do you plan to buy DC's weekly COUNTDOWN series?

Would you like Tony to go through Diamond's PREVIEWS every month and make recommendations in "Tony's Online Tips?"

If an actor/actress leaves a TV series, should his/her character be written out of the show or should the role be recast?

You can vote on these questions here:

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

Tony Isabella

<< 03/06/2007 | 03/07/2007 | 04/02/2007 >>

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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