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

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for Friday, May 1, 2009

Most every Tuesday, I post new Tony Polls questions for your balloting entertainment. Here are the results of the questions posted last week...

If someone had fallen way behind on their comics reading, which of these Marvel characters/titles would you recommend they catch up with first?

Captain America.....25.53%
Agents of Atlas.....9.57%
"Ultimate" titles.....6.38%
Fantastic Four.....3.19%
Black Panther.....0%
Ghost Rider.....0%
Iron Man.....0%

If someone had fallen way behind on their comics reading, which of these DC characters/titles would you recommend they catch up with first?

Justice Society of America.....16.33%
Jonah Hex.....13.27%
Wonder Woman.....12.24%
Green Lantern.....11.22%
Secret Six.....11.22%
Justice League of America.....6.12%
Booster Gold.....4.08%
Final Crisis.....3.06%
Birds of Prey.....2.04%
Brave and the Bold.....1.02%
Green Arrow/Black Canary.....1.02%

Since I was the "someone" of these questions, I didn't vote on either them. But I did receive a handful of e-mails from readers with more to say on their votes.

First up is Dave Potts...
On the Marvel question, I voted for Captain America, without hesitation. On DC, I selected "Other." My writein vote is for Fables - which, judging from the choices, probably wasn't the sort of response you were looking for, since you didn't include anything from the Vertigo line. But after the mess that was Infinite Crisis and DC's focus on an unending string of Big Event crossovers in a world even more unpleasant than the real one, I've dropped all DCU titles from my reading list and I can't in good conscience recommend any of them. What does it say about DC when the world in a Vertigo title seems like a more pleasant place to visit than the regular DC universe?
As you've seen, you get your chance to vote on Vertigo titles this week...and WildStorm titles as well.

From Chris Gumprich...
You asked, "If someone had fallen way behind on their comics reading, which of these Marvel titles would you recommend they catch up with first?"

Run, Tony, run! Keep running! Don't look back!

I'd give the same answer to the DC question, but I'm enjoying Jonah Hex too much to let it go without a recommendation.
Peter Gallagher wrote...
It's not often I click the 'other' button when taking part in your polls (i.e. never), but your poll regarding which Marvel comic I'd recommend to someone who had fallen behind on their comic-book reading had me doing exactly that. As it happens, I'm the person that has fallen behind, or, to be more honest, given up. Nowadays the only comicrelated material I read are Marvel Omnibus volumes, or books like Mark Evanier's Kirby: King of Comics or Blake Bell's Strange and Stranger: The World of Steve Ditko. Last Christmas's obligatory comic book gift was the wonderful Marvel Chronicle, the year before it was Dark Horse's Conan the Phenomenon.

By now, you'll have the picture: I'm a middle-aged guy with nostalgia-tinted glasses. So what comic book has once more got me slapping money down for a monthly pamphlet? Exactly the type of book that will appeal to a middle-aged guy with nostalgia-tinted glasses, and that's Guardians of the Galaxy.

It has favorite characters from the past (Warlock, Mantis), characters that never before appealed but now do because of stellar writing (Star Lord and Rocket Raccoon, the possible star of the show) and even a classic LeeKirby giant monster (Groot), all of them visiting unexplored corners of the Marvel Universe and interacting with underused denizens of said universe, all of whom are more interesting than they've ever been, thanks again to the solid writing. What's not to like?

A few things, actually. Not every issue is a classic, the art recently has been decidedly iffy, and there are too many issues tying in to "events," which was possibly the very thing that saw me giving up in the Nineties. Added to the positives mentioned above however is that New Millennium rarity, a comic book where every and any issue really could be a jumping on point for new readers. Geez, it's like the Seventies never went away!
And from Brian Saner Lamken...
I haven't read a new Marvel comic in almost seven years. (They didn't drive me away; I quit comics cold turkey due to a financial squeeze brought on by health problems.) I wish I'd kept up with the standalone Spider-Girl, but even her "new" series has ended and wasn't on your list. I couldn't bring myself to actually vote for Ed Brubaker's Captain America without having read it, but I'm assured you can follow it despite all the Secret Invasions and I'm really looking forward to borrowing or springing for the collections. I did get a couple issues of the first Agents of Atlas mini-series from a quarter box and enjoyed them, but the new series is apparently tied to this pervasive Dark Reign thing.

When I did start buying some new comics again, I went with DC over Marvel because, if I have to make a choice, those characters are where my heart lies which some would say is reason not to buy their titles these days. With Shadowpact, Blue Beetle, and Manhunter over, I'd probably go with Justice Society of America. The pseudosequel to Kingdom Come ran long in the middle, but its ending put a lump in my throat...and I loved seeing Jerry Ordway draw the characters again.

Had you not reviewed a collection of Paul Dini's Detective Comics, I would have suggested that. Peter Tomasi turned in a mostly top-notch run on Nightwing but with uneven artwork. That's been cut short, too.

The one DC superhero title I'd recommend without hesitation is Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade, which keeps getting better. I'll have a review up soon on my blog.

I'm behind on reading them, but my favorites out of the rest of the field, certainly in the adventure/super-heroish category, are Mike Mignola's Hellboy and BPRD from Dark Horse. Paul Grist's Jack Staff - from Image - is irresistible but infrequent.
Expect poll questions on Dark Horse and Image next week. In the meantime, our current Vertigo and WildStorm poll questions are active until sometime after midnight on Monday, May 4. Those who have yet voted on them can do so at:

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

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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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