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

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for Monday, March 16, 2009

Last Will and Testament

TOT is open for business again, starting with this review of a comic book I read in October and then continuing with some new material. I missed you.

MY DCU comics reading has been limited after reading almost all of their super-hero books for a three-month period last summer, but I decided to read DC Universe: Last Will and Testament [$3.99] in the hope said universe was leaving me something. Maybe the uncontested ownership of Black Lightning or Challenger Mountain or that giant penny in the Batcave. The sad story is I got bupkis, not even the story ending I wanted to see.

This is Geo-Force's story, his settling of his long-held score with Deathstroke. The one-shot is written by Brad Meltzer with art by Adam Kubert, John Dell, and Joe Kubert. From the get-go, I was confident it would read well and look great and, on those scores, I was not disappointed.

There's a lot I liked about this. Meltzer did an incredible job portraying Geo-Force as a man on the brink of a turning point in his life. I loved the supporting roles given to various heroes, most especially Black Lightning and Rocky Davis. I loved that Geo-Force, always underrated despite his power, was the super-hero who took down the terminally overrated/overused Deathstroke.

What I didn't care for at all was...Deathstroke survived being impaled by his own sword. Which means that he'll be back, probably sooner rather than later. Which, in turn, means there is still no justice for his countless victims. Instead of going back to same villains over and over again, and in stories that so often feel like we have read them before, DC's writers and editors should be challenged to bring their readers something that we haven't seen before. Meltzer succeeds on that level to a large degree, but, at story's end, we know we're heading back to square one.


Even with my objection to its conclusion, DC Universe: Last Will and Testament was entertaining and moving. It picks up an impressive four out of five Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony Tony


1000 Comic Books You Must Read

1000 Comic Books You Must Read [Krause Publications; $29.99] is my new book and the reason why TOT has been hiatus for the past month. I'm talking 1000 comic-book covers, 62,000+ words, covering the history of comic books from the ancient cave paintings in France to the closing months of 2008. Though, to be honest, it only takes a page to wrap up everything that happened before 1938's Action Comics #1.

I turned in the "final" manuscript last week. There's still a lot of tweaking to be done - hence the quotation marks - but we're definitely over the hump and heading for the weekend. It's been one of the most challenging projects of my professional life, involving far more work than myself or anyone else involved in the book knew it would be at the beginning. But the final result will be a book of which I can be proud of and, more importantly, a book which will entertain and inform its readers.

This hardcover book covers every genre and kind of comic book I could fit into its 270+ pages. It goes on sale in late November of this year, which makes it a perfect holiday gift for that comic book reader you love. Especially yourself.

I'll try to run some excerpts from the book as we get closer to its publication date. For now, I just wanted to let you know it was coming. "The hard sell will come later," he said with a smile on his face.



Black Lightning: Year One

Before the hiatus, I said I would be happy to answer questions e-mailed to me by my readers. That still holds true. The question I was asked most frequently during the hiatus was:

What do you think of the Black Lightning: Year One mini-series?

Nothing. I haven't read it and don't intend to read it unless and until I have a good reason for reading it.

There's probably no good way for me to explain this position without drawing the indignation of the moronic fans who always take DC's side in situations like this, who assume Black Lightning was created as "work-for-hire" when he wasn't, who can't conceive that DC Comics (or its editors or its executives) might not follow the spirit and letter of its agreements with freelancers, and who have never in their lives created anything. Even so, I'll give it a try. If you fall into any of the above categories of moronic fans, you should probably stop reading now.

When this mini-series was first conceived, Dan DiDio issued a decree that I could not write it. From a business standpoint, it was a questionable decision. From a personal standpoint, well, how could I not take it as a personal insult?

Many things in life cause me pain, but I'm not going to rank DC's determination to keep me from ever again writing my proudest creation high on that list. However, I would be lying if I claimed that it did not cause me pain. So...

I haven't read Black Lighting: Year One and won't read it until and unless I have good reason to do so...and the only such reason that comes to mind would be if I were writing new Lightning stories for DC or for someone who licensed my character for use in some other medium. I doubt this happening, but I would certainly be eager to accept any opportunities of this nature.

Far and away, the majority of questions I am frequently asked involve Black Lightning. I'll try to answer all of them by the end of the week. In return, maybe you can come up with some questions on other subjects.

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

Tony Isabella

<< 02/20/2009 | 03/16/2009 | 03/17/2009 >>

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:

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840 Damon Drive
Medina, OH 44256

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