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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 Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Adam: Legend of the Blue Marvel

I have started my massive "comics organization" project and, as a result, I'm reading a lot of comic books whose titles begin with "A". Go figure. Most of the time, I'm reading them and filing them. But I couldn't let Marvel's five-issue Adam: Legend of the Blue Marvel [$3.99 each] pass without mention.

Adam Brashear - the Blue Marvel - was the most powerful hero in the Marvel Universe of the 1960s. His costume covered him from head to toe, but when, in the aftermath of a battle with his arch-foe, his race was revealed to the world, President John F. Kennedy and the government became...concerned. Though a staunch supporter of civil rights, Kennedy felt the presence of such a hero would create fear among white Americans and derail his administration's efforts. He asked the Blue Marvel to step down and the patriotic Brashear, who had been a decorated soldier, compiled with Kennedy's request. Until his arch-foe returned and kicked the behinds of the Avengers. Until the Avengers came to him for help.

I applaud writer Kevin Grevioux for his extremely ambitious attempt to explore the civil rights movement of the 1960s within the Marvel Universe of that decade and into present times. That's the kind of smart thoughtful writing I like to see in super-hero comics. But, as with the Sentry, I find such continuity implants disturbing and illogic. Would Adam really have sat out every one of the cataclysmic events that threatened the continued existence of Earth every other week since his retirement? It just doesn't make sense. Especially since Grevioux could have thrown us a bone with scenes of Brashear secretly doing his part.

As someone who doesn't much care for the uber-powerful Sentry, I'm just as dismayed by the sudden appearance of the uber-powerful Blue Marvel in the MU. Bigger and more powerful doesn't necessarily or often add up to interesting. Give me power levels that allow for a bit of suspense during the hero's battles.

One of the toughest nuts to swallow in this series is the government assigning a gorgeous blonde operative to win Adam's affections and even marry him, the better to keep tabs on a power that terrifies them. That she falls in love with him, that they make a family and a life together, is diminished by the seaminess of that love's beginnings. It may be an effective example of the government's fear of powerful black Americans and the lengths to which such fear drove them, but, darn it, we don't have enough loving-with-no-dark-secrets married couples in comics. We needed the Brashears.

Too much of the story is driven by Adam's not being as heroic and as smart as we know him to be. That's Hollywood-style plotting and we see too much of it in today's comic books. Let's not forget movies come to comics for ideas far more often than comics go to movies. We're better than they are.

Then there's the art. Which just isn't very good. Which is truly sad because, flawed as this story is, it deserved much better art than it got.

Grevioux does the heavy lifting in Adam: Legend of the Blue Marvel, so he earns the perfectly respectable three out of five Tonys. I urge him to continue to attempt ambitious projects like this one. Comicdom needs them.

Tony Tony Tony

******

TONY ISABELLA VS. THE MESS

Up above, I mentioned my "comics organization" project. It's actually a bit more than that.

In my closing in on six decades on Earth, I have accumulated way more books, comics, magazines, movies, records, and just plain stuff than I could possibly need to keep. Up until recently, this vast accumulation of stuff filled a good-sized storage unit, *two* large basement rooms, two downstairs bedrooms, my office, and good chunks of my master bedroom, my son's bedroom, and our main floor living room. Though I have every expectation of living long enough to dance and piss on the graves of all my enemies, I figured that I needed to start reducing this accumulation before my heirs were saddled with that task.

Thus my personal battle with "the mess" began.

With the help of my friend and neighbor Greg, we have cleared all my stuff out of one of the basement rooms, the master bedroom, my son's bedroom, and the main floor living room. I gave Greg my vinyl records - save for a few albums with comics connections - but the rest has been consolidated into the other storage areas listed above. It's a good start.

My ultimate aim is to sell 75-80% of this stuff. Whatever I make from these sales will go towards household renovations, which definitely includes updating my office into a more efficient work space. I have a lengthy "bucket list" of things I want to write - comics and books - and the endless clutter does get in the way of those projects.

Almost from the start, I've been documenting my "accumulation of stuff" campaign with an eye towards creating a blog dedicated to it and maybe, if I can make it funny enough, turning this adventure into a book. Keep reading TOT for news of that.

When I start selling stuff on eBay or elsewhere, I'll let you know about that as well. A percentage of any profit made from the sale of review items that have been sent to me over the past couple decades of "Tony's Tips" and "Tony's Online Tips" will be donated to the Hero Initiative. You can learn more about that organization by going to:

www.heroinitiative.org

My epic battle with "the mess" isn't the only thing going on in my life, but we'll talk about my forthcoming 1000 Comic Books You Must Read and other things in the very near future. For now, I thank you for spending a part of your day with me. I'll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

Tony Isabella

<< 08/11/2009 | 08/12/2009 | 08/13/2009 >>

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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