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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 Monday, August 3, 2009

The San Diego Comic-Con is like a tsunami that makes landfall wherever a comics fan might be. During the convention, my e-mail dropped off to maybe 10% of its usual volume as did the arrival of review items to Casa Isabella. Twitter and other online networks got busier than usual while the more traditional message boards I frequent got quieter. The relative calm of the days before SDCC, the days during, and the days after gave me a chance to catch up on many things. For me, that's one of the relatively few benefits of my not attending the show.

Comics publishers made many announcements during SDCC, as did many Hollywood types. I care a lot more about the former than the latter, but none of the announcements from either camp knocked me on my keister. Several made me smile, either because they announced publications I want to read or because they represented work for my friends. Some made me yawn.

Marvel's announcement that it had acquired rights to the UK's Marvelman/Miracleman seems to have been the big comics news of the convention, perhaps because the announcement was teased/hyped on Twitter every five minutes. Over a week later, there are questions as to exactly what Marvel owns, but it does seem there will be new material based on the original Mick Anglo stories, reprints of the original stories, and, it is most fervently hoped, collections of the Marvelman/Miracleman material by Alan Moore, Gerry Leach, Alan Davis, and others, including a never-published story by Neil Gaiman and Mark Buckingham. Naturally, fans are also hoping that Gaiman will continue with his ambitious plans for the character, though it would be picking up those plans something like two decades after he first conceived them.

My reactions to this announcement are all over the map. While I'm pleased Anglo will be making some money off Marvelman - it does seem likely Marvel will use the original name - I can't ignore that the character is a blatant imitation of Fawcett's Captain Marvel, devised to continue profitable British titles when Fawcett got out of the comic-book business.

Reprinting the original stories? Both Warrior, the UK magazine wherein Marvelman was revived, and Eclipse, who published the revival in this country, reprinted some of those stories and, quite frankly, they were awful. Maybe there are better Marvelman stories from that era, but, if there were, why weren't those tales reprinted in the 1980s?

Since I don't see how the newer Marvelman of Moore and company could fit into the Marvel Universe, I assume it's a version of the Anglo character who will be used for that purpose. While I think Marvel is generally better at character implants than DC - look how badly DC has incorporated characters from other publishers, notably the Fawcett Captain Marvel, who has been absolutely savaged by current DC management, into its DCU - I'd rather see the Marvelman characters exist in their own separate reality. Surely there are writers and artists who could duplicate the charm of the Fawcett Captain Marvel in a contemporary setting. We already have plenty of terrific Marvel Universe comics. How about something different that would appeal to a different demographic?

Comicdom needs definitive collections of the new Marvelman and Miracleman stories of the Alan Moore era. These were great comics then and, like Moore's Swamp Thing stories, hold up as well as any comics being published today. Better than most. If Marvel has cut through the legal entanglements that have kept these comics out of print far too long, three cheers and a tiger to them!

New stories by Neil Gaiman, continuing what he started so many years ago? That would be sweet as well. Even if he doesn't have the time or inclination to pick up that torch again, one would hope he would designate a worthy successor to follow through on what he had planned. Talk about a challenge for the lucky writer who got that gig. Definitely running with the big dogs.

My interest in this announcement has increased since SDCC, but it doesn't change my overall opinion that the convention's big news announcements weren't all that big. There were announcements that pleased me on a personal level, either because they involve comics I'd like to read or work for friends of mine, but I can't say any of them bowled me over. Maybe, as is the case with the Marvelman news, my excitement will grow the more I think about them. If so, you'll read about it in future TOTs.

The next of those future TOTs won't be coming your way until Tuesday, August 11, in order to accommodate our web-wizard Justin attending Wizard's Chicago Comic-Con, August 6-9, at the Donald E. Stephens Convention Center. Please don't hesitate to say "hi" to my good friend and check out the wonderful sketch cards that he's done for a multitude of card sets.

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

Tony Isabella

<< 07/31/2009 | 08/03/2009 | 08/11/2009 >>

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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