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

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for Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Ultimate Power

When I see names like Bendis and Straczynski and Loeb on the cover of a collection, as I did with Ultimate Power [Marvel; $29.99], I expect to enjoy reading that book. My expectations, to put it as kindly as possible, were not met.

Ultimate Power reprints the nine-issue series of the same name, a three-writer, multi-dimensional adventure starring almost all the Ultimate Universe heroes and two different versions of the Squadron Supreme. But it has too many characters competing for space; and one of those astronomically high body counts that, despite the high number, evokes no emotion whatsoever because the writers just sort of toss it out there; and characters making absurd decisions with unconvincing after-the-fact explanations; and very little effort to acquaint new readers with the characters or their relationships.

Yeah, it's pretty much a train wreck.

The plot: Trying to cure Ben Grimm, Reed Richards sends probes into other universes. One of these probe seems to cause horrific devastation and loss of life to the universe inhabited by the "Max" version of the Squadron Supreme. They travel to the Ultimate universe to arrest Reed Richards, both to bring him to justice and in the hope he can end the menace he had apparently created. The Ultimate heroes and SHIELD travel to the Squadron's universe to rescue Reed and prevent any other such invasions. In the third half of the book, a kinder version of the Squadron arrives in the "Max" Squadron's universe. Not even a scorecard will help you keep track of all these brawlers and their agendas.

Ultimate Power is a disappointment. I did think the Greg Land art - with inks by Jay Leisten and Matt Ryan - was pretty good, but it was completely wasted on this story. Considering the writing talent involved, this collection earns a dismal two out of five Tonys.

Tony Tony



Most of you haven't noticed TOT has been largely reprint this year. The reviews and other material have come from the monthly print edition of Comics Buyer's Guide and from the CBGXtra online forum. Fortunately, this backlog of material from our long hiatus of last year has enabled TOT to return while I continue to work on a book project that turned out to be much bigger and much more demanding than either myself or my publisher realized. That book is job one, but, thanks to the backlog of material, TOT hasn't missed a Monday-through-Friday day this year.

But I miss the day-to-day interaction between us that usually comes with this column, so, starting today, when space allows, I'll augment the reprints with answers to questions you ask me. Here's today's questions, asked of me by several of the few readers who did notice the reprints:

When will you resume writing new columns?

I can't give you an exact date. It will be after I catch up with the backlog of "Tony's Tips" and "Tony's Tips Xtra" columns. Today's review was originally posted on the CBGXtra forum in late October. I have enough material on hand to run through the rest of this month and maybe beyond the end of this month. Whenever I run out of material, that's when I'll start writing new TOTs.

Are you going to reprint all your reviews from the monthly CBG and the CBGXtra forums?

No. For the most part, I'm concentrating on reviews of books and other items that are still readily available from, comics shops, and bookstores. I won't be reprinting my reviews of individual issues of comic books or TV shows that aren't available on DVD...with the occasional exception if I think the reviews made some important points that bear repeating.

Can we still "Tip the Tipster"?

Of course. I don't intend to mention this again until I start writing new TOTs, but the "Tip the Tipster" link is still somewhere on this page and, as always, the donations are greatly appreciated. I can use all the "stimulus" you send my way. In return, I promise to help our economy by spending these tips quickly.

If you have a question you'd like me to answer here, e-mail me at:

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

Tony Isabella

<< 02/10/2009 | 02/11/2009 | 02/12/2009 >>

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:

Tony's Online Tips
840 Damon Drive
Medina, OH 44256

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