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

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for Tuesday, August 25, 2009

JSA: Kingdom Come Part One

I have a "to do" list so long it could choke a T-Rex. One of its items: read Geoff Johns' runs on JSA and Justice Society of America from start to finish. I've enjoyed just about every issue of either series that I have read, but the chaos of my life and the demands of providing variety in my reviews has kept me from following his JSA work on a regular basis. The latest reminder of this gap in my comics reading is the trade paperback of Justice Society of America: Thy Kingdom Come Part One [DC; $14.99], which reprints issues #7-12 of the current series.

Working with co-story guy Alex Ross, this first part brings the Superman of a world where the heroes went to extremes into the world of the current JSA. As signs hint the same affliction may be coming to "our" world, Johns weaves wonderfully human stories of a super-hero society where the older members guide, train, and work with the children of their former comrades. It's an enormous cast of characters, yet the reader quickly comes to know and care about them all. There are even nice center-stage stories for a number of heroes, including Steel, Damage, and Liberty Belle. This is a book about hope in a DC Universe that most often plays to the dark side of its heroes. Give me the light anytime.

Pencillers Dale Eaglesham and Fernando Pasarin do outstanding work on the visuals and storytelling. The book also includes the Ross-painted covers, the alternate covers for the issues, and, at the front of the book, a nice roster of character bios.

Justice Society of America: Thy Kingdom Come Part One earns the full five Tonys. It's a great buy.

Tony Tony Tony Tony Tony

Yokai Doctor

What do you do with problems like yokai? They are the spirits and demons who have plagued Japan for centuries. Young Kotoko is a young exorcist and her solution to the problem is to banish these supernatural nuisances and menaces. Until she meets Kuro, a young man who follows a different path: he's a yokai doctor who tries to heal these creatures and render them no threat to the world of men. Does this count as meeting cute?

In Yuki Sato's Yokai Doctor Volume 1 [Del Ray Manga; $10.99], we meet the lead characters, learning their backgrounds and divergent methods of dealing with the yokai. Kotoko and Kuro are likeable heroes and the tale of their meeting is engaging, albeit not so engaging that I wanted to read the same story twice in one book. I'll explain.

According to the text pages at the end of the comics in this book, a common way for a new series to be launched is with a short story to test the waters. Sato took his original short story and expanded it. Both versions are in this book and, while that might please completists, it left me feeling like there was only half the amount of story that should have been in this book. That cost this initial volume a point.

Yokai Doctor Volume 1 earns a disappointing two out of five Tonys. Still, if the writing and art are as good in the next book as in this one, it will certainly receive at least one more Tony. I look forward to reading it.

Tony Tony

Spider-Man J

Yet another version of our friendly neighborhood Spider-Man is doing his web-slinging thing, but this time the neighborhood is in Japan. The manga paperback Spider-Man J: Japanese Daze, [Marvel; $9.99] reprints stories originally published overseas and, more recently, in Spider-Man Family.

Written and illustrated by Yamanaka Akira, translated by Yuko Fukami, and adapted by Marc Sumerak, the adventures feature a very young - early teens? - Spidey who works with a police detective and battles a mix of original and Marvel villains. In one adventure, he teams up with the American "Super Power Unit: Fantastic Four" to battle Doctor Doom. In others, he contends with Shadow Moth, Lord Beastius, and Mantis.

Spidey and some of the other characters are drawn in a style that borders on and often crosses into the "super-deformed" style of art. That's a little hard to take.

The stories themselves are interesting, but that's due as much to the oddness of the setting than the actual plots. It was cool to see this take on Spider-Man once, but it's not likely to bring me back for more.

Spider-Man J: Japanese Daze earns two Tonys.

Tony Tony

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

Tony Isabella

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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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