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

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TONY'S ONLINE TIPS
for Wednesday, June 10, 2009

What If?: Secret Wars

Alas, today's TOT brings us not one, but two mediocre trade paperbacks from Marvel Comics.

What If?: Secret Wars [$19.99] reprints six "alternate universe" scenarios, with the cover and lead story being "What If Doctor Doom Kept the Beyonder's Power?" You can probably figure out that it ends badly.

The most unfortunate story is Steven Grant's "What If Mary Jane Had Been Shot Instead of Aunt May?," which is flawed in its depiction of both reality and unreality.

SPOILER WARNING
SPOILER WARNING
SPOILER WARNING

I would have thought my pal Bob Ingersoll's frequent "The Law Is A Ass" writings on what constitutes self-defense would have made it pretty clear that Spider-Man's actions at the end of the story are exactly that...self-defense. That's the reality flaw.

The unreality flaw is that the Bush-ian Tony Stark then talks about Spider-Man being put on trial for murder. How many trials did you see during Civil War? Stark's style was to throw the super-heroes who resisted his fascist regime into a Negative Zone gulag staffed by robots. I expect better than this sloppy work from a writer of Grant's ability.

SPOILER ENDS
SPOILER ENDS
SPOILER ENDS

The only semi-bright spot in the collection is "What if the Scarlet Witch Ended the 'House of M' by Saying 'No More Powers'?" by Brian Reed and Jim McCann. It's a decent "heroes are more than super-powers" story, but the Paolo Pantalena art is painfully bad. Nothing else in the book is even remotely interesting.

What If?: Secret Wars gets one out of five Tonys.

Tony

Punisher War Journal Vol. 4

And then there's Punisher War Journal Vol. 4: Jigsaw [$16.99], in which writers Matt Fraction and Rick Remender go out of their way to show us that Frank Castle is a moron. He goes to the same place to buy breakfast every day. He goes to the same hooker-massage therapist every day. He sleeps in a fleabag hotel with no security. Jigsaw offers $55 million to whoever kills Castle; I could take out this idiot for a buck and change. That's how stupid Castle is in this story reprinted from Punisher War Journal #18-23.

It gets worse.

The Punisher won't kill Jigsaw. It's a psychological hang-up involving the possibility of redemption. In other words, it makes no sense whatsoever. Castle is crazier than bat spit, but he's not that crazy.

It gets even worse.

SPOILER WARNING
SPOILER WARNING
SPOILER WARNING

Despite all the murders Jigsaw causes, Castle still won't kill him. Not to worry. At the end of the book, Jigsaw is murdered while in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody when an agent who was deep undercover on two fronts - as the hooker and also as one of Jigsaw's killers - gives a gun to another of Jigsaw's killers so that the guy can do what Castle wouldn't do. It's hard for me to comprehend how much dumbness was squeezed into just one trade paperback.

SPOILER ENDS
SPOILER ENDS
SPOILER ENDS

Despite the Howard Chaykin art - it's nowhere near Chaykin's best - Punisher War Journal Vol. 4: Jigsaw gets absolutely no Tonys. I think they owe me a couple Tonys for reading it.

No Tonys

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

Tony Isabella

<< 06/09/2009 | 06/10/2009 | 06/11/2009 >>

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THE "TONY" SCALE

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.

Tony
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.

TonyTony
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?

TonyTonyTony
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.

TonyTonyTonyTony
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?

TonyTonyTonyTonyTony
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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