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

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for Wednesday, March 10, 2010
Nyoka 23

You know the drill. I'm Tony "the Tiger" Isabella, reclaiming the Marvel nickname given to me by Roy Thomas in the dim reaches of history that were the 1970s. This is the "Year of the Tiger" and I'm embracing its motto: I win!

Today's tiger-themed cover is Nyoka the Jungle Girl #23 [Fawcett; September 1948]. The cover illustrates a three-part tale, "Danger in Duplicate," wherein our heroine must face not one, but two deadly tigers. The artist of both the cover and the interior story has been tentatively identified by the Grand Comics Database as Bert Whitman. The writer of the 17-page adventure has likewise been tentatively identified as Rod Reed.

Needless to say, though I do say it often, the GCD is the most mind-boggingly useful comics research website there is. You can be astonished by its magnificence by going to:

The other thing I'm doing most of this month is chipping away at the lofty "stuff I want to write about" pile on my desk. Why? Because it's there!

Chew Volume 1

Chew Vol. 1: Taster's Choice by writer John Layman and artist Rob Guillory [Image; $9.95] reprints the first five issues of the justly-acclaimed title. Among the many things that impress me about this series is how smoothly Layman and Guillory bring new readers up to speed each and every issue. I'm talking one page of concise, clever recap. Here's my lame attempt:

In an America where chicken has been outlawed, Tony Chu is a cibopath for the incredibly powerful Food and Drug Administration. He can take a bite of any food, including human beings, and get all sorts of information about it flashed into his brain. This makes for a comically tragic hero in adventures that, for all their dark humor, are still exciting and suspenseful.

When I reviewed the first issue of the series here...

...I said this about it:

"In both concept and execution, Chew is one of the strongest debuts I've seen in ages. Layman's script is dark and hilarious, accomplishing the latter without ever diminishing the seriousness of the crimes with which Cho must deal. Guillory's art clearly lean towards the humorous, but still gives the story an appropriately grim vibe."

Five issues in, Chew has lost none of its genius. In fact, it has added workplace conflict, other intriguing characters with unusual gifts, a teasing romance-to-be, a vast conspiracy, and some shocking surprises. This first trade earns the full five out of five Tonys. Buy it NOW!

Tony Tony Tony Tony Tony

ISBN 978-1-60706-159-5

Dinosaur Valley Girls

Dinosaur Valley Girls [Frontline Entertainment; $24.95] is pretty obviously a low-budget film. But that doesn't mean this 1996 comedy, written and directed by comic-book writer, dinosaur expert, and novelist Don Glut lacks merit. I've watched it three times in preparing this review and I think it's a hoot.

Action-film star Tony Markham [played by Jeff Rector, who looks and speaks a bit like Charlie Sheen] is haunted by dreams and visions of a beautiful cavewoman in a valley of dinosaurs. When an ancient artifact transports the actor back in time, he soon learns that Hollywood heroics won't be enough to protect the cavewoman and her tribe from the perils of this time-lost world. It's a decent premise with a satisfying conclusion, and that's not something we always get from movies with much bigger budgets.

There are two versions of the movie. The director's cut has boobies. Lots of boobies. They're quite nice, but, on occasion, they slow down the film. The family version covers up the boobies, but still has sexual elements that probably wouldn't be appropriate for young viewers.

Rector is good in his role, but the outstanding performances come from Karen Black and Ed Fury as an estranged cave-couple whose split also split the tribe into separate male and female tribes. Again, it's an amusing concept and Glut and his actors work it for many laughs along the way. An anti-smoking running gag gets a bit old, but it leads to a painting-on-the-wall sight gag that had me laughing out loud.

Most commentary tracks put me to sleep, but Glut's impressed the heck out of me as he described how much bang he, his cast, and his crew got from the minimal bucks that financed this movie. It's practically a course in low-budget filmmaking.

Glut takes justifiable pride in his film's dinosaurs, as well he should. Aside from a couple modern lizards made to look huge, and that's more an in-joke homage to the low-budget dinosaur films of the past that anything else, all the dinosaurs in this movie are scientifically accurate. I thought the lightning-scar allosaurus looked particularly swell.

The second disc features a bevy of special features: a "making of" documentary, deleted scenes, actress auditions, music videos, and more. Special note must be made of some familiar folks who had a hand in this movie:

The uber-talented Pete Von Sholly did some art for the film and co-wrote the annoyingly catchy "Jurassic Punk" song and other "Dinosaur Tracks" tunes. Frank Brunner did dinosaur and storyboard art. Author Bill Warren makes a cameo appearance and "Uncle Forry" Ackerman has a walk-on while clutching a copy of Famous Monsters of Filmland. Even Roy Thomas gets a "thanks to" nod as the end credits roll.

Dinosaur Valley Girls is an entertaining way to spend a couple hours. It wasn't going to win any Oscars, but all I ask of most movies is a few hours of fun and this movie delivers that. It earns a respectable three out of five Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony

That's all for now. Thanks for spending 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.

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Medina, OH 44256

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