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

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for Tuesday, June 23, 2009

From Comics Buyer's Guide #1655:

"I love quotations because it is a joy to find thoughts one might have, beautifully expressed with much authority by someone recognized wiser than oneself."

- Marlene Dietrich (1901-1992)

Some random musings on a spring day.

* The DC and Marvel universes have gotten considerably darker in recent years and this baffles me. In the wake of eight years of government malfeasance and misrepresentations, at a time when the United States is struggling with a crippled economy, two wars, and numerous social concerns, do DC and Marvel believe comics readers want comic books that are even more depressing than real life? Do we actually want comics even more depressing than real life? Maybe I don't speak for the majority of readers, but I would definitely be up for comic books in which the good guys beat the bad guys and did so without becoming bad guys themselves.

* Diamond Comics Distribution, which holds a virtual monopoly in our industry, recently changed the sales thresholds items must achieve in order to be distributed by the company. This eliminates a number of comics and magazines - some worthy, some not - from its Previews catalog. You can get an inkling of what this means with a quick comparison of its catalog order numbers.

The number for Comics Buyer's Guide #1655 was: 4522.

The number for Comics Buyer's Guide #1656 was: 1082.

The catalog order number for the last item listed in the March Previews was: 5111.

The catalog order number for the last item listed in the April Previews was: 1764.

This leaves me with nothing but questions:

Is our industry shrinking?

Does this enormous Diamond cutback offer opportunities for new distributors to enter the marketplace?

Will publishers turn to alternate forms of distribution such as online downloads or print-on-demand publication?

As the old saying goes, we live in interesting times.

* We live in a comics age when many great old comics are being reprinted in hardcover archives and masterworks editions, in trade paperbacks, and in black-and-white essential and showcase volumes. To conclude this month's opening remarks, here's my lightning round picks of ten such collections I'd like to see from DC, Marvel, and everybody else...


Sheldon Mayer's Sugar and Spike
Johnny Thunder (the western hero)
Sam Glanzman's USS Stevens
Boy Commandoes
Joe Simon's Prez
Rip Hunter, Time Master
Tony Isabella's Black Lightning
'Mazing Man
Newsboy Legion


Basil Wolverton's Powerhouse Pepper
Millie the Model
Blonde Phantom
Kid Colt Outlaw (from the 1960s)
Two Gun Kid (from the 1960s)
Larry Lieber's Rawhide Kid
1950s crime comics
1950s/1960s romance comics
My Girl Pearl by Stan Lee and Dan DeCarlo
1950s/1960s war comics

Everybody else:

Cosmo the Merry Martian
Pete Morisi's Thunderbolt
She's Josie (before the Pussycats)
The Phantom (Gold Key)
1960s ACG fantasy/science fiction comics
Archie's Mad House
Tales Calculated To Drive You Bats
Vintage TV adaptations (Dell/Gold Key)
Vintage movie adaptations (Dell/Gold Key)

Play your own lightning rounds and be sure to share your lists with us here at TOT.



It's Tuesday and that means new Tony Polls questions for your balloting entertainment. This week's questions ask you to choose which of the above-mentioned reprint volumes you would most like purchase. You can cast your votes at:



It's always a risk, albeit a minor risk, to include opinions on the world outside comic books in my columns. On the other hand, my reviews and my other writings are informed by the world outside comics and, because of that, those opinions have a rightful place in my commentaries. Alas, not every CBG readers sees it that way. Just ask Joel L. Peschke who wrote:
"In the wake of eight years of government malfeasance and misrepresentations...?" Really? Am I really paying money to read such liberal rants in a magazine about comic books? I have rolled my eyes and looked past such comments in your previous columns, but no more. I could waste my time and mention Bill Clinton lying under oath. I could mention his administration paying North Korea to forgo nuclear weapons, only to then turn around and use that same money to finance their nuclear program. I could even mention President Obama taxing hard working citizens like me into oblivion...or attempting to socialize, I mean nationalize, health care, the auto industry, and the banking system.

No doubt you are entitled to your opinions. But with that said, I am certainly equally entitled to not pay money to read them. And I won't, any more.

Thank you for allowing me my "rant." You probably feel it was a brief waste of your time, but at least it wasn't a waste of your money.
Here's how I responded to Joel's note:
"Since I figure there's less chance of my convincing you of the rightness of my views than you convincing me of the rightness of yours, I'll simply thank you for your past readership and wish you the best for the future."
The TOT e-mailbox is always open to comments from my readers, even when I don't agree with them. You can write me at:

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

Tony Isabella

<< 06/21/2009 | 06/23/2009 | 06/24/2009 >>

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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