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

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TONY'S ONLINE TIPS
for Thursday, July 16, 2009

Mr. Jigsaw 1

One of the greatest comic-book characters you never heard of is back in Mr. Jigsaw #1 [Redbud Studio Comics; $2.99]. Created by Ron Fortier and Gary Kato, the "Man of a Thousand Parts" made his debut in 1983 in Charlton's Scary Tales #38. He made several appearances in various titles, but, despite fans like Don Thompson and myself almost fanatically praising this super-hero to everyone we talked to, neither Mr. Jigsaw or his creators ever received the acclaim and success they deserved. Now you have a chance to change that for the good.

Here in 2009, we need Charlie Grant - a.k.a. Mr. Jigsaw - more than ever. Even in 1983, he was a breath of fresh air in a genre that was getting darker and less friendly by the issue. Charlie is a down-to-earth good neighbor with a big grin, real family values, and a determination to use his amazing powers to help his fellows. Fortier's stories are simultaneously light-hearted and serious with Kato's lively art bringing them to bouncy life on each black-and-white page. The supporting cast is equally wonderful and includes Charlie's doting parents and beautiful reporter Amy Boucher. Over two decades after their original publication, the three stories in this premiere issue are still fine examples of comics craft and entertainment.

Mr. Jigsaw #1 earns the full five Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony Tony Tony

The next two issues will reprint the rest of the hero's published adventures. All-new stories by Fortier and Kato will start with issue #4. For ordering information, you can e-mail Fortier at:

Airship27@comcast.net

Blank Comic Book

The Blank Comic Book [About Comics; 5 for $9.99] is one of the strangest items I've ever reviewed in decades of reviewing stuff for CBG and elsewhere. It's an utterly blank slick cover wrapping 24 utterly blank interior newsprint pages. So you're paying about two bucks for an utterly blank comic book, which is a much better deal than those wretched comics that make the mistake of printing wretched stories and art on their pages.

Some kidding aside, this is a clever little item. Publisher Nat Gertler has suggested several uses for it:

"It's fun to draw your own comics in, it's a keen thing to get signed and sketched in at a convention. For the collector who wants to keep lists of information filed in their long boxes, here's a bound set of pages just the right size to fit."

It's impossible to award any specific number of Tonys to this item as each individual copy will be something different. But I'd love to see what you crazy kids do with them. I'm trying to figure out what to do with mine.

Kudos to Gertler for this keen idea. For ordering information, contact him at:

questions@AboutComics.com

Maid War Chronicles

Gripping adventure and wacky situations combine fairly well in Maid War Chronicle Volume 1 [Del Rey Manga; $10.99] by Ran, artist of Mao-Chan. When a medieval kingdom is invaded and conquered by enemies within and without, a small group of palace maids become protectors of their young prince, the only surviving heir to the throne. Though they appear manifestly unsuited for this task, their surprising courage, ingenuity, and skills serve them well, as do the Twelve Holy Weapons with which they bond. Clearer storytelling would be a boon to this story, but even with the manga affectations that sometimes make it difficult to figure out exactly what one is seeing, this is fun stuff.

Prince Alex's a lecherous adolescent and a jerk in other ways, too, but he honestly cares for the well-being of the young women he has named "The Order of the Maid." Chief maid Cacao Sardonyx butts heads with Alex frequently and often contemplates abandoning him, but, at her core, she's as loyal as she is feisty. Along with some of the villains, Alex and Cacao are the characters best developed in this first volume, but the other supporting players show a bit of promise as well.

Maid War Chronicle Volume 1 is rated "OT Ages 16+," probably for sometimes suggestive language/situations and also for violence. I think it's suitable for younger teens as well, but that's a call parents have to make for their children. I found this opening book enjoyable and give it a respectable three out of five Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony

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

Tony Isabella

<< 07/15/2009 | 07/16/2009 | 07/17/2009 >>

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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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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