Reviews and commentary by Tony Isabella
"America's Most Beloved Comic-Book Writer & Columnist"
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TONY'S ONLINE TIPS
for Thursday, March 4, 2010
"I win!" is the motto of those born in the "Year of the Tiger" and I'm claiming it for my motto as well on account of the Marvel Comics readers of the 1970s knew me as Tony "The Tiger" Isabella. I wasn't as jazzy as Johnny Romita or as darling as Dick Ayers, but I had my fans. Anyway, TOT is celebrating this "new year" all week long here if, by celebrating, you mean your Tipster is diving into the pile of stuff on his desk and writing about whatever floats to the surface. Let us commence.
Ethan Persoff's website ois filled with wild and wondrous drug comics, government comics, and other kinds of strangeness. In this case, it's a 1960s Vietnamese Batman comic, an unauthorized knock of the popular DC Comics character. Persoff has posted the entire 32-page comic, complete with cover and fold out back cover. Since the comic isn't in English, I can't tell you if its story was any good. What I can report is the art is pretty awful, there isn't much action, Robin and Batgirl (Betty Kane?) are in the story, and Robin seems to have the power of invisibility. You can experience this weirdness for yourself at:
The Brave and the Bold: Milestone trade paperback [DC; $17.99] collects the three recent team-ups between DC and Milestone characters and three tales from the original runs of the Milestone characters. The pairings in the new stories were inspired choices: Black Lightning and Static, Blue Beetle and Hardware, the Spectre and the Xombi.
Matt Wayne's "The Last Time I Saw Paris" had great character interaction between Jeff Pierce and Virgil Hawkins. While it was your basic two-on-one heroes/villains battle, Wayne revealed a lot about both Lightning and Static amidst the action. I confess I got a little misty over the respect shown my creation; that's usually not a factor in DC Comics.
There was more generation gap fun in my friend Adam Beechen's "System Compatibility." The overly enthusiastic Blue Beetle worked well with the dour Hardware.
For a truly chilling story, we got John Rozum's "Annihilating Angel," my favorite of the three new stories. Which says a lot on account of I kind of loathe the Spectre. The whole "God's wrath" routine usually results in the Spectre being a dick and God coming as a supremely arbitrary dick. Maybe it's time for a new take on this classic DC character.
The older stories? Kurt Busiek's "Getting Out" was a fill-in story when it first ran in Static #12, but I wasn't at all disappointed back then or now. It's a solid story with consistent characterization and a hopeful satisfying ending.
Dwayne McDuffie's "Version 2.0" was heavy stuff when it ran in Hardware #16. The title hero had switched sides, was working with his former arch-enemy, and misleading Icon into thinking this was part of a plan to bring that enemy down from within. I never knew what to expect next from the book, or even if I could root for its title hero. Super-hero comics can make you think.
The best of the three Milestone stories is also the best story in the book. Rozum's epilogue to his "Silent Cathedrals" has David Kim - Xombi - trying to resurrect the friend who died so he could live. A story that could have gone in a number of different lesser directions ends up being a moving celebration of the friend's life. Expect to see this one make the sequel to my 1000 Comic Books You Must Read.
The Brave and the Bold: Milestone earns an impressive four out of five Tonys.
I have previously expressed my fondness for the Batman: The Brave and the Bold comic book, but issue #13 [DC; $2.50] was a particularly swell issue. In writer Sholly Fisch's "Night of the Batmen," the Caped Crusader's pals try to fill the Gotham City gap when Bats is injured on a case. In a comic book series that has already given us a cameo appearance by Sugar and Spike, we get two more unexpected teams from the past as well as a bevy of battling heroes and villains. We also get solid art and storytelling from Robert Pope (pencils) and Scott Morae (inks) in an issue that had me smiling from start to finish. This one earns the full five out of five Tonys.
I reviewed Blackest Night #0-6 for an upcoming "Tony's Tips" column, finding some merit in writer Geoff Johns' take on the DC zombies featured therein. So, in one of those perverse moments I sometimes I have, I decided to read as many of the Blackest Night preludes, spinoffs, and tie-ins as I could handle. Those reviews will appear in TOT over the next several weeks.
Green Lantern #39-42 [DC; #2.99] are a prelude to the Blackest Night event. With Lanterns of various hues flitting about the universe, these issues introduced "Agent Orange," the one and only Orange Lantern. It's a clever moniker, but not one I'd have chosen for an extraterrestrial character.
Johns is one of the best writers at DC, but this story didn't launch my spaceship. I like Green Lantern best when I'm not being constantly reminded that there are 3600 Green Lanterns out there. Former editor Julius Schwartz had the right idea when he limited the Green Lantern Corps to an appearance or two per year. It made Hal Jordan more special and obviated the present-day requirement to spell out his specialness in caption and/or dialogue on a seemingly monthly basis. Now God knows how many additional Lanterns have been added to the mix: red, purple, blue, zebra-striped, etc. It hurts my brain to think of them all.
If the story arc weren't already confusing enough, penciller Philip Tan's storytelling is sometimes unclear. It was a struggle to get through the four issues, which culminate in the rising of a huge Black Lantern lamp and larger desiccated grasping black hands. How do I talk myself into these things?
Green Lantern #39-42 pick up a disappointing two Tonys, though I don't doubt there are many DC readers who will enjoy them for more than I did.
Thanks for spending a part of your day with me. I'll be back tomorrow with more stuff.
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THE "TONY" SCALE
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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