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

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for Friday, April 24, 2009

Bill Barnes

We close the week with an extended version of an entry from my forthcoming 1000 Comic Books You Must Read, scheduled to hit the bookstores and comics shops in November.

Bill Barnes, America's Air Ace Comics #7

Street and Smith (July, 1942)

Writer: Walter B. Gibson

Artists: Jack Binder Studio

Years before the war-ending atomic bomb strikes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, author Walter B. Gibson penned a 34-page comics story in which the famed pulp and comic-book hero Bill Barnes wiped out virtually the entire nation of Japan with a U-235 bomb dropped onto an underwater fault line. The story is remarkable for its uncanny prophecy and its shocking callousness toward the deaths of millions of Japanese civilians. In fairness to Gibson and his readers, this comic is very much a product of its time, plotted with an assist from John S. Campbell, who was Gibson's friend and the editor of Astounding Science Fiction, and drawn just weeks after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. This issue led to a visit to the S&S offices by G-Men who, for national security reasons, were most unhappy with Gibson's story.

Anthony Tollin, Gibson friend and recognized comics, radio, and pulp mag historian, wrote the FBI visit was "understandable considering how concerned the government was at even a mention of a cyclotron (atom-smasher) in an science fiction pulp or Superman newspaper strip. Imagine the reaction to a 32-page story - with a cover blurb reading: "How To Wipe the Japs Actually Off the Maps Based on Cold Scientific Fact" - about an U-235 bomb actually being used against Japan."

Look for more extended entries from my book in future issues of Comics Buyer's Guide.



Every Tuesday, I post new Tony Polls questions for your voting entertainment. Here are the results of the questions that were posted last week...

Which of these annual awards do you believe best reflects comicdom as a whole?

Comics Buyer's Guide Fan Awards.....53.03%
Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards.....36.36%
Harvey Awards.....6.06%
Wizard Fan Awards.....4.55%

If I had thought to include a "none of the above" choice, I'd have voted that way. The CBG awards have always struck me as mired in the DC/Marvel adoration of the magazine's readers and the Wizard awards are just plain absurd.

I went back and forth between the Eisners and the Harveys. I like both better than I like the CBG and Wizard awards. I ended up voting for the Harvey awards, but, really, I would have been just as happy voting for the Eisners.

Which of these awards do you believe is most susceptible to tampering by creators and/or publishers?

Wizard Fan Awards.....70.31%
Comics Buyer's Guide Fan Awards.....18.75%
Harvey Awards....6.25%
Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards.....4.69%

I voted for the CBG awards because:

a) such tampering has already happened, like when Carl Barks supporters, most of whom were not CBG readers, stuffed the ballot box to ensure that a so-so story won awards for everyone who worked on it;

b) such tampering still happens, as is readily evident when a talent gets nominated in multiple categories and doesn't come close to winning any of them; and,

c) the nomination process is open to lobbying by creators and publishers. I got several mass e-mailings from one of this year's nominees.

In short, not a big fan of the CBG awards and even less of a fan of the Wizard awards...which are just plain moronic year after year. I'm more likely to seek out books that have been nominated for the Eisner or Harvey awards.

Do you feel it was fitting for President Barack Obama to bow to the king of Saudi Arabia?


This was my favorite question of the week and I had to take it down early due to ballot-box stuffing from the usual Republican and right-wing idiots. Almost every time I post political questions, some assholes try to "steal the election" and aren't the least bit subtle about it. Really, did they think nearly 200 "no" votes all showing up within two hours wouldn't get flagged?

Ironically, I myself had voted "no" on this question. While I voted for and generally support Obama, I don't think any American president should bow to foreign leaders. Yes, show them respect. Of course. But, no matter what the customs of other countries may dictate, we don't bow to their leaders.

I was especially dismayed to see our president bowing to the tyrant king of Saudi Arabia, a country with horrible human rights violation and which has supported terrorism in the Middle East and elsewhere. After 9-11, we had greater reason to invade Saudi Arabia than we did Iraq.

Getting back to the curtailed poll, I was impressed that the voting was so even. I would have loved hearing from the voters as to why they voted as they did.

I also love to hear why the ballot-box stuffers felt they had to screw up this and other polls. The obvious reason, as seen over and over on Faux News, is they realize their political positions are often ridiculous and try to "sell" them by pretending that they have widespread support.

Cowards and liars, every one of them.

Back to my happy place...

Our current comics-related poll questions will remain active until something after midnight Monday night, April 27. Until then, you can cast your votes by going to:

Thanks for spending a part of your day with me. Have a happy and safe weekend.

I'll be back on Monday with more stuff.

Tony Isabella

<< 04/23/2009 | 04/24/2009 | 04/27/2009 >>

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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