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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 Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Eddie and Kelly

No offense to the many fine bloggers whose works entertain me when I have the chance to read them, but I never think of TOT as a blog. I think of it as a column - though I readily confess there are times when I do get a little bloggy with it.

Like now.

When Sainted Wife Barb took our son, Eddie, to have his senior photos taken, she also had the above shot taken with our daughter, Kelly. Is that a keeper or what?

Eddie will be graduating from Medina High School in a couple months. He has already been accepted into the honors engineering program at The Ohio State University and will be heading southward to Columbus in the fall. He's been working part-time for a company that's a leader in the fire-protection and mechanical contracting industries and will be working full-time for them this summer, as well as being an assistant coach in the baseball league he played in last summer. Even with that schedule, he and I are planning a father-son graduation trip, though we haven't yet decided where it is we'll be going. It could even be Comic-Con International in San Diego. I'll keep you posted, just in case there's a chance for us to meet any of the loyal legions of TOT readers.

Kelly, who is as excellent a student as her brother, made the Medina High School junior varsity softball team this spring. She's a freshman, so she's looking forward to staying with the softball program until she graduates. This summer, she'll be playing either travel or recreation league softball, while getting in shape to try out for the JV volleyball team. Clearly, my gorgeous daughter is the jock of the family.

There's always something going on at Casa Isabella or with my family, but, for the most part, I post those items at the official Tony Isabella message board:

www.comicscommunity.com/boards/tony

Stop by when you get a chance. Bob Ingersoll posts his great movie quiz Monday through Friday. William Ashley Vaughan posts the Turner Movie Classics schedules and offers comments on the movies being aired. Hurricane Heeran, Barry Keller, and others share all kinds of interesting stuff. And, of course, my buddy Jim Guida is the best there is at what he does, not that any of us are entirely sure what that is. It's fun, it's free, and we'd love to have you join us there.

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

******

ANNIHILATION

Annihilation 6

I fell behind on my comics reading during the most recent TOT hiatus, but I do plan to weigh in on some of the big stories to be found in the DC and Marvel universes. They don't come much bigger than the universe-spanning Annihilation #6 [Marvel; $2.99] by Keith Giffen and Andrea DiVito.

Short recap: Annihilus invaded our universe, destroying world after world. He made Galactus look like a nibbler. Opposing the insectoid Attila was Richard Ryder (the last of the Nova Corps) and Ryder's allies, which included Ronan the Accuser, the Super-Skrull, the Silver Surfer, and others.

In this issue, the shifting tide of war now favors Ryder and his forces. I've said the title is as much a war story as a super-hero or a science fiction tale; this issue is the proof. There are epic battles in space, a satisfying confrontation between Ryder and Annihilus, and an equally satisfying "Armistice Day" epilogue that truly conveys the weariness of those who have survived this event. If there's a negative to this issue/series, it's that the last page is the sort of "it's not over yet" cliche I dislike. I'm tired of big comic-book epics that don't really end, that simply lead into the next big comic-book epic.

Annihilation #6 still ranks high with me. It earns the full five out of five Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony Tony Tony

Heralds of Galactus

Annihilation: Heralds of Galactus #1 [$3.99] focuses on Terrax the Tamer, who had been forcibly recruited into the service of Annihilus, and Stardust, who "died" in battle against Annihilus. Each herald gets his and his/her/its own story.

Terrax battles the Space Parasite, an obscure Hulk villain, in "Parasites" by Christos N. Gage with art by Giuseppe Camuncois and Stefano Landini. It's a well-written and well-drawn story, but not well-written and well-drawn enough to change my apathy for Terrax. Hold that thought.

Stardust is another character who interests me not. "A Death of Hope" by Stuart Moore and Mike McKone was another well-written and well-drawn tale, but, beyond an admiration for the craft of those two gentlemen, it didn't do much for me.

My problem with Marvel's second Annihilation event is that, individually, I don't care about most of the characters who will be appearing in it. They worked well in the first event, but that story was told and it's done with and I don't need to read it again. Maybe Marvel has something terrific planned, but prologues like Heralds of Galactus aren't going to convince me to give Annihilation II much of a chance.

My apathy overcomes my appreciation of quality in the case of Annihilation: Heralds of Galactus #1. It earns three out of five Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony

******

BLACK LIGHTNING STUFF

Showcase Presents Black Lightning

It seems unlikely that anyone reading TOT doesn't already know this, but, of all the things I've done in comics, Black Lightning is the creation and work of which I'm proudest. It's also the work I am most asked about at conventions and online. This is where I try to keep Black Lightning's fans up to date on what's happening with the character.

Fan Rick Phillips has launched BLACK LIGHTNING LIMITED, a blog devoted to all things Black Lightning. He posts a new item every day and, though I've no official association with or oversight over the blog, I certainly approve of Rick's efforts. The image leading off this section is his notion of what a Showcase Presents Black Lightning volume might look like.

You can visit Rick's blog at:

blacklightninglimited.blogspot.com

In other Black Lightning news, Ben Morse wrote a cool article on the character for a recent issue of Wizard. The piece is also available online and you can read it here:

www.wizarduniverse.com/magazine/wizard/003717774.cfm

Watch for more Black Lightning stuff in upcoming TOTs.

******

COMICS IN THE COMICS

One of my favorite features is "Comics in the Comics," wherein I share with you newspaper comic strips and panels reflecting that theme. I have five such comics for you today, starting with Karen Montague-Reyes' Clear Blue Water from April 1:

Clear Blue Water

At GoComics, I found this explanation of the strip's unusual title:

The phrase "clear blue water," explains author Karen Montague-Reyes, comes from the world of politics. It describes the ideological divide between two political parties. In the Torres house, clear blue water is the gulf of personal experience that Eve and Manny cross each day to make their lives work. Male and female, liberal and conservative, biracial and Hispanic, they approach everyday life from opposite shores and find common ground in their devotion to each other and their determination to raise their children well.

You can read the strip online here:

www.gocomics.com/clearbluewater

TOT reader Tom Duffy introduced me to Frank Page's very wacky Bob the Squirrel, a strip that often utilizes "guest stars," as seen in these strips from April 2 and 3:

Bob the Squirrel

Bob the Squirrel

Read Bob the Squirrel daily at:

www.gocomics.com/bobthesquirrel

Hi Flagston spends some time with his comic strip comrades in the Hi and Lois strip from April 2:

Hi and Lois

One more for today. The Incredible Hulk made an appearance in Dave Whamond's Reality Check from April 2:

Reality Check

I have dozens of "Comics in the Comics" sitting in my files, so expect to see more of them in upcoming TOTs.

******

GET MORE TONY

CBG 1629

Comics Buyer's Guide #1629 [F&W Publications; $5.99] has Reggie Mantle and Frank Miller's 300 on the cover and a whole lot of good reading inside the magazine. My favorite pieces this time out were Craig "Mr. Silver Age" Shutt writing about JLA super-mascot Snapper Carr, Andrew "Captain Comics" Smith dissecting Marvel's Illuminati inconsistencies, and Michelle "Doesn't Have a Catchy Nickname, But Should" Nolan giving an issue-by-issue report on the Archie's Rival Reggie title.

My contributions to the issue are my usual "Tony's Tips" with reviews of Andru and Esposito: Partners For Life, The Invincible Iron Man DVD, Too Soon to Say Goodbye by Art Buchwald, Marvel Adventures Spider-Man Vol. 5: Monsters on the Prowl, and DCU Infinite Holiday Special...and a "Tony's Back Page" sidebar excerpted from the Andru/Esposito book.

Fall of Cthulhu 0

Over at CBGXtra.com, I continue to post new editions of "Tony's Other Online Tips" every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. On Monday, I reviewed Fall of Cthulhu #0 from Boom Studios, and I'll be looking at other Boom books the rest of the week. You can get these reviews by going to:

www.cbgxtra.com

******

TONY POLLS

Most every Tuesday, I post new "Tony Polls" for your balloting entertainment. Earlier this year, you were asked three questions about unscrupulous comics publishers. Here are the results of your voting on these questions.

Comicdom is abuzz with news of a particularly vile wannabe publisher who failed to pay creators for work and threatened to sue them for going public with this information. Would you support - as in with donations - an CBLDF-type organization, perhaps a Comics Creators Legal Offense Fund, to aid creators in legal action against such publishers?

Yes.....59.69%
No.....13.18%
Maybe.....27.13%

The majority of you voted YES, which is good, but I must admit I was hoping for closer to 100%. I voted YES, of course. Not only would I support such an organization, I already am contributing to such an organization. It's called Unscrewed!. You can read about it and the vile publisher who inspired it here:

www.unscrewedcomic.com

Would you support a comics industry version of the Better Business Bureau whose purpose would be to warn comics creators and fans of such publishers?

Yes.....85.27%
No.....7.75%
Maybe.....6.98%

I also voted YES on this one. Most of you want to know about such publishers and, judging from the next set of results, would be guided by that information.

Would you buy comics published by such a publisher?

Yes.....6.77%
No.....79.70%
Maybe.....13.53%

I voted NO on this one.

This week's "Tony Polls" ask you to vote on four categories of the National Cartoonist Society awards, which will be given out at the 61st Annual Reuben Awards Banquet in Orlando on May 26...and on two of the Hugo Awards, which will be given out at Nippon 2007, the 65th World Science Fiction Convention in Yokohama, Japan. You can cast your votes here:

www.worldfamouscomics.com/tony/poll

These questions will remain active until midnight on Monday, April 9, at which time they'll be replaced by brand-new questions. Tell your friends to vote while the voting's good.

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

Tony Isabella

<< 04/03/2007 | 04/04/2007 | 04/05/2007 >>

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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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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