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

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for Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Action Comics 100

My "Tony's Back Page" feature, which runs monthly in Comics Buyer's Guide, has switched from sterling tales of my life to extended coverage of comics scheduled to appear in my forthcoming book, 1000 Comic Books You Must Read.

Here's one of those entries...

Action Comics #100
Cover artists: Wayne Boring and Ed Dobrotka
Writer: Alvin Schwartz
Artist: Ira Yarbrough
DC (September, 1946)

In "The Sleuth Who Never Failed," Scotland Yard's Inspector Hawkins is determined to prove Clark Kent is Superman. It's the first of several such attempts Hawkins will make with the last one coming in 1952. The story is notable because it established the template for the nigh-countless "Lois tries to prove Clark is Superman" tales of later decades. It was written by the remarkable and prolific Alvin Schwartz, who wrote hundreds of DC scripts, including a long run on the Superman newspaper strip. He also authored The Blowtop, a 1948 novel which sparked the "beat" movement of the era. Schwartz left comics in 1958 for a career in corporate market research and a second career writing documentaries for the National Film Board of Canada. His most recent works include An Unlikely Prophet, a metaphysical autobiography which puts forth the idea that the Man of Steel's world-wide renown has given the character a reality beyond his fictional adventures.

This issue also features Hayfoot Harry, a humorous detective series written by Schwartz and drawn by Stan Kaye, along with such Action Comics stalwarts as Congo Bill, Vigilante, and Zatara the Magician.

None of the stories in this issue have been reprinted.



The Tony Polls are back on a more or less weekly basis. Here are the results of last week's questions.

How would you rate DC's Final Crisis, including its spin-offs?

Very Good.....12.50%

With over 67% of the voters giving a "fair" or "poor" thumbs down to Final Crisis, it's safe to assume the event did not meet with universal approval. I haven't read much of the event, so I went with "fair."

How would you rate Marvel's Secret Invasion and its spin-offs?

Very Good.....17.11%

I voted "good" on this one, having read the core series and a whole bunch of the spin-offs. However, over 52% of the voters put it at "fair" or "poor," it didn't fare that much better than DC's Final Crisis.

Which of the events did you enjoy more?

Marvel's Secret Invasion.....57.33%
DC's Final Crisis.....42.67%

I voted for Secret Invasion, which beat DC's event by a healthy margin. But, if the ball was in my court, I would wrap up the loose ends from whatever events have just concluded or are just getting started...and instruct my writers and editors to focus on telling the best stories they can tell within the confines of the individual characters and titles on which they work. I would love a year or two without any events.

Should the United States military drop its "gay ban" and allow gay men and women to serve openly?


Do I really have to tell you how I voted?

I was delighted to see the majority of voters agree that the military's anti-gay policies need to end...and also that there was none of the ballot-box stuffing that occurred with previous Tony Polls questions of a political nature.

I was baffled that even 10% of the voters remain in favor of the gay ban. To quote Anna Quindlen of Newsweek, "...there is not a scintilla of data or evidence to support [the gay ban]." Indeed, many of those who supported the ban, even some of those who were in the military and supported the ban, have come to realize that the ban actually does harm to military readiness and national security. Let's hope President Obama and Congress have the courage to put an end to this clear discrimination.

The Tony Polls are always open to question suggestions from TOT readers. If you have such suggestions - and up to a limit of 20 possible responses to each question - feel free to send them to me:

Our current questions - which concern comics industry awards and another one of our real life queries - will remain active until sometime after midnight on Monday night, April 20. You can vote on those questions here:

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

Tony Isabella

<< 04/14/2009 | 04/15/2009 | 04/16/2009 >>

Discuss this column with me at my Message Board. Also, read Heroes and Villains: Real and Imagined.

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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.

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