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for Thursday, March 11, 2010

Detective Comics 147

Our "Year of the Tiger" celebration continues with the cover of Detective Comics #147 [May, 1949]. The cover artists are Dick Sprang (pencils) and Charles Paris (inks). They also drew the cover story - "Tiger Shark!" - which features an one-shot villain with an underwater modus operandi.

Backing up Batman and Robin in this issue are: "Slam Bradley" in a story drawn by Howard Sherman; "Robotman" by Otto Bender with art by Jimmy Thompson; and "The Boy Commandoes" with penciled art by the great Carmine Infantino.

We're going to be celebrating the Chinese "Year of the Tiger" for the next week or so, mostly because I love to shout the motto of this Chinese year: "I win!"

And when I win, don't all of you win a little, too?

Donald Duck 349

It's a poorer United States of America that doesn't have new Walt Disney comic books in it. So, naturally, I was delighted when Boom! acquired the Disney license and scheduled several monthlies, among them classic titles like Mickey Mouse, Uncle Scrooge and Walt Disney's Comics. I am eager to resume reading old favorites and sampling the new Boom/Disney books, but I must report a moderate disappointment in the first of the resumed Disney titles I've read.

Donald Duck and Friends #347-351 [$2.99 each] presents Donald as "Double Duck," an often reluctant super-spy working for a too-secret-to-name organization. The title is written by Fausto Vitaliano and Marco Bosco with visuals by several artists. Though it's not stated in the issues, I'm assuming the stories originally appeared in Italian Disney comics.

I like the initial premise. Donald was a super-spy for three days and his memories of those world-saving days were erased. But now, though untrained, he's again needed by that afore-mentioned secret organization. The classic comic-book Donald has always been more than just a foil for his nephews and others; he's often risen to the occasion and shown cleverness, courage, and the odd mastery of this or that skill. Both sides of Donald are evident here and that pleased me.

The art is lively with good storytelling, fluid movement, and vibrant colors. The multiple artists aren't a distraction because their depictions of Don and the other characters are all on model." This is a concept I wish DC and Marvel would embrace; there are too many times when I can't recognize characters from those publishers. But I digress.

What disappoints me about Donald Duck and Friends is a storyline that, five issues in, doesn't seem close to delivering a satisfying ending. I don't deny some chapters have nifty moments: humor, action, surprises, and the delightful complication of poor Don trying to settle an enormous parking fine generated during his three missing days. But, after five issues, over a hundred pages, and at a cost of fifteen bucks, the readers deserve that satisfying ending. Then Donald can move on to the next mission.

I'm also disappointed by the "classic" elements that have or haven't been used in these issues. Uncle Scrooge isn't much more than a footnote and the nephews don't appear at all. While I would not want to see them usurp Donald's role, they would be better fits for this new direction than the tiresome characters who do appear with regularity: the shrewish Daisy Duck and the one-note Gladstone Gander. Give me a break.

Finally, though I understand the probable economic/production reasons behind the use of preexisting foreign material in Donald Duck and Friends, I can't help but regret we aren't getting new stories by American writers and artists. There are few characters more classically American than Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, Uncle Scrooge, and the rest of the Disney pantheon.

Donald Duck and Friends #347-351 earn three out of five Tonys, but I think the title can and should be better. Boom will be collecting these five issues in hardback ($24.99) and softcover ($9.99) this May. On a bang-for-your-bucks basis, I recommend the less expensive of the two formats.

Tony Tony Tony

ISBN 978-1-60886-545-1

Prism Comics

Here's a nifty book that likely won't get the coverage that it should: Prism Comics: Your LGBT Guide to Comics #6 [$3.99]. It's the 2009-2010 handbook to "everything gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered in comics." The 68-page annual is published by Prism Comics, a non-profit organization that supports LGBT comics creators and promotes LGBT issues in comics.

I never miss an issue of Prism Comics. Like previous issues, this one is filled with information about creators, comics, and more. It has terrific interviews and reading recommendations. As for why it matters to me, my interest in LGBT issues in comics and in the world stems from the same place that led to my creation of characters like Black Lightning and Misty Knight. We have LGBT readers, we should have LGBT readers in our comics. To me, this is about simple fairness, a concept I understood even as a kid.

I must note and with considerable pride that Black Lightning's love for his lesbian daughter and his acceptance of her partner was praised in this year's edition. Especially since I established my creation's pro-gay viewpoint over a decade ago in 1995's Black Lightning #5. Yeah, it's tacky for me to bring that up myself, but, given DC Comics' tendency to try to rewrite history when they have disputes with creators, I wanted to make sure my contributions stay on the record.

Prism Comics earns the full five Tonys. For more info on the organization, go to:

Tony Tony Tony Tony Tony

ISBN 978-0-97591-645-4


Black Lightning 5

Black Lightning is an important hero in American comic books. That's something a number of comics readers and professionals have impressed upon me recently, urging me to speak out even more often and forcefully than I already have. They've made a convincing case as to why I should do this.

Sometime soon, hopefully, by summer, I want to launch a Tony Isabella/Black Lightning blog and/or website to serve as a sort of repository for accurate information on the character, his creation, and related matters. I would love to team with some like-minded, but far more technologically savvy soul to bring this dream of mine into reality. If you're interested, let's talk.

On this and all other matters concern this column and my other work, I can be contacted at:

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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Medina, OH 44256

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