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

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for Thursday, October 29, 2009

From Comics Buyer's Guide #1659:

"I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library."

- Jorge Luis Borges (18991986)

Veteran "Tony's Tips" readers know I'm a big fan of our public libraries. I was a proud foot soldier when my local library came under fire from zealots of the religious right many years ago and have just as proudly voted in favor of library funding whenever it has appeared on the ballot. In these tough economic times, I have been able to read countless books, including collections of comics, that I could not have read were it not for my local library and its partnership with over 100 other libraries in our neck of the woods. Other folks rely increasingly on libraries to help them find jobs and vital information.

Our economy also impacts our libraries, forcing many of them to reduce hours of operation, educational programs, new purchases, and even their workforce. Just when they are most essential, our libraries are having to struggle to continue to provide service to their patrons. They need and deserve our support.

Judging from my mail, quite a few librarians are avid readers of CBG and this column, Recently, I received this from Nancy Bent, Reference Library at LaGrange Public Library in LaGrange, Illinois. She wrote:
I use your reviews in CBG to order books for our library's graphic novels collection, and first I want to thank you for your ability to cut to the chase on why a fan (or a library) would want to order or avoid the titles you review! I really appreciate your ratings system and your eclecticity of titles. Thanks!

Would it be possible to include the books' ISBN numbers of the books in your reviews? Since ISBNs are unique to each title it makes ordering them SOOOOO much easier than looking each one up by title, author, etc. Thanks for considering the request of a harried librarian.
As some who's been helped by librarians more times than I can count, I'm more than happy to add ISBN information to my reviews whenever applicable.

For example, the ISBN of my forthcoming 1000 Comic Books You Must Read is:


As my book celebrates the fun, the quality, and the incredible variety found in the American comic book from Action Comics #1 to present, I'd love to see it in as many libraries as possible. Non-librarian "Tips" readers can help out by requesting their local libraries order the book. The more copies we sell, the better the chance that I'll be able to write a sequel and include the great comics I couldn't fit into the first book.

Can I add that 1000 Comic Books You Must Read is the perfect holiday gift for every comics fan in your life, including yourself? Or would that be pushing it?

While you're waiting to see who loves you enough to give you 1000 Comic Books You Must Read, let's consider another item worthy of your attention.


The more I recall The Middleman, the tragically short-lived TV series from the summer of 2008, the more I realize it's one of my favorite super-hero shows ever. That was driven home to me when I viewed Shout! Factory's DVD release of The Middleman: The Complete Series [$39.99].

Created by Javier Grillo-Marxuach and originally published in comic books by the Viper Comics Group, The Middleman was as pure in concept as in its small-screen execution. The title hero was the latest in a centuries-old line of fighters against evil. He was a "white hat" hero in a reality where our world or portions thereof was threatened with destruction on a regular basis. What would've been impossibly camp in lesser hands was a stirring saga of hope through scripts that combined action and wit, and performed by actors who absolutely conveyed the truth of that hope. Any day of the week, any hour of the day, any minute of the hour, I'll take The Middleman over The Dark Knight or Watchmen. I like it when good triumphs over evil without itself becoming evil in the process.

Matt Keeslar played the determinedly squared-jawed Middleman without ever making his character one-dimensional. Natalie Morales nailed the mildly cynical optimism of artist and Middleman trainee Wendy Watson. Even Ida, the android "Alfred" of the Middleman HQ, gruff as she was, always came across as solidly on the side of the angels. Kudos to Mary Pat Gleason for how well she brought that to the small screen.

It's a shame there were only twelve episodes of this wonderful series. It's a blessing that they have so quickly become available in this four-disc set. My interest in the special features, which fill the entire fourth disc, is less than in the shows themselves, but there's some good stuff there, including the entire table read of the script for the final episode.

The Middleman: The Complete Series earns the full five out of five Tonys. It would make a wonderful gift for the super-hero devotees in your life.

Tony Tony Tony Tony Tony

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

Tony Isabella

<< 10/21/2009 | 10/29/2009 | 10/30/2009 >>

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:

Tony's Online Tips
840 Damon Drive
Medina, OH 44256

Order my book,
1000 Comic Books You Must Read.1000 Comic Books You Must Read

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