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

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for Monday, March 8, 2010

Funny Picture Stories

The above cover hails from Funny Picture Stories Volume 1, Number 3 [January, 1939]. Though I've never seen a copy of this comic book, I assume the cover scene illustrates "Trained Tiger" by Victor J. Dowling, "A Complete Joe Brailey Story" in seven pages. I'm going to keep rocking the "Year of the Tiger" motif this week for two reasons.

The first is that I enjoy leaping willy-nilly into these TOTs sans any advance planning beyond grabbing items from the towering "Things I'd Want To Write About" pile on my desk. The second is that, the very day the column in which I embraced the "Tiger" motto of "I win!" went online, two positive things happened.

King Features approved the Phantom prose story I wrote with my amigo Bob Ingersoll. It'll be one of two new tales in Moonstone's Phantom: Generations trade paperback. It's scheduled to hit the street in June. Here's the cover:

Phantom Generations

Here's the solicitation:
Story: Tom DeFalco, Ben Raab, etc.
Art: Pat Quinn, Gordon Purcell, etc.
Cover: Eugenio Mattozzi
376pgs, b/w, 7" x 10", $19.99

Includes two bonus never before published stories by Tony Isabella and Mike Bullock! A monstertome collection of the one shot comic novellas, with each story (by a different creative team) telling a tale of one of the 21 Phantoms!

Creators like Ben Raab, Pat Quinn, Tom DeFalco, Don Hudson, Mel Odom, Michael Stribling, Will Murray, Enrique Alcatena, Joe Bucco, Danny Fingeroth, Mike Baron, Alex Saviuk, Gordon Purcell, Greg Cox, Steven Grant, Justin Gray, and more!
At about a buck per story, I think this is a pretty good buy. Order your copy today!

1000 Comic Books You Must Read

The other positive thing that happened last Wednesday was that I received my first royalty check for 1000 Comic Books You Must Read. What this means is the book has sold well enough to pay back the advance money I got for writing the book and is now making additional money for myself and the publisher. This was a pretty good check, too, enough to pay credit card and utilities bills for a couple months. Obviously, I'm hoping it's the first of many such checks. Especially since the book is the perfect St. Patrick's Day gift for comics fans everywhere.

Do I have *any* shame? Not that I've noticed.

So, while it's still true I haven't landed any new work this year, I'm feeling better about my professional life. I'll continue working on pitches and proposals for books and comic books. And, of course - this is for any editors and publishers reading TOT this morning - I'm available for other gigs as well.

I win, you win, our readers win.

While I'm on the subject of my book, I had intended to launch a 1000 Comic Books You Must Read site shortly after the book was published. Well, that plan got derailed and still hasn't come together as I would like. But I'm committed to launching that site and providing fans of my book with fun and features to thrill them anew. One way or another, I should have some news for you in the very near future.

In the meantime, following's previous coverage of my work, its readers have weighed in on what they think are must-read comic books. It's a terrific piece and you can read it at:

Thanks to our wondrous web-wizard Justin for sending me a link to this article.

Amazing Spider-Man 617

I'm mostly enjoying Amazing Spider-Man, despite what I still consider one of the dumbest and most offensive things ever to appear in this classic title. You know the one. I don't think I need to elaborate. But there have been many good stories since The Great Dumbness and, by recognizing them as occurring in another of the many Spider-Man realities, I can enjoy them.


Since I just finished watching the third season of Animaniacs on DVD, let's break this down to "Good Idea/Bad Idea."

Good Idea. Trying to make Spidey's villains more interesting. Please note that I said "more interesting" and not "more powerful" or "more deadly." They're not the same things.

Bad Idea. Doing this one villain right after another villain. It's contrived, especially when the mastermind behind the upgrades is the monumentally unimaginative Lady Kraven or what ever the heck they call her.

Good Idea. Giving the Rhino a happy ending.

Bad Idea. Replacing him with a new Rhino, a new, boring, and even ridiculous new Rhino. Where's the quality control?

Good Idea. Mysterio. I'm totally buying his return and all it encompasses. He hasn't been this interesting since the days of Stan Lee and Steve Ditko.

Good Idea. No "bad idea" when it comes to Mysterio and I got a huge kick out of his origin story in Web of Spider-Man #4 [$3.99]. Kudos to writer Fred Van Lante.

Bad idea. Resurrecting the "Clone Saga" garbage in the Spider-Girl portion of Web of Spider-Man. I mentioned "The Great Dumbness" earlier. Well, the "Clone Saga" was "The Great Dumbness" before the current reigning "Great Dumbness" and I think a case can be made that those who believe otherwise are delusional. We should create support groups for them.

Good Idea. I liked the Hammerhead tale that also appeared in Web of Spider-Man. Kudos to writer Frank Tieri for showing me something new with this character.

On our usual scale of zero to five Tonys, here's how the most recent issues of these titles ranked:

Amazing Spider-Man #617: two Tonys.

Tony Tony

Amazing Spider-Man #618-620: four Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony Tony

Web of Spider-Man #4: three Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony

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

Tony Isabella

<< 03/05/2010 | 03/07/2010 | 03/09/2010 >>

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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

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