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"America's Most Beloved Comic-Book Writer & Columnist"

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for Friday, March 12, 2010

Fight Comics 76

Today's "Year of the Tiger" cover is Fight Comics #76 [Fiction House; September 1951]. It's drawn by Maurice Whitman and features Tiger Girl in "The Kraal of Zombi-Zaro." I have no idea what a "kraal" is, but, Tiger Girl is pretty cute.

Like many other comics jungle girls, Tiger Girl was inspired by Sheena, Queen of the Jungle. TG came to Africa by way of India, but I wasn't able to find any sort of origin story for her online. In this issue, her 12-page adventure is drawn by Ken Battlefield of the Jerry Iger shop and possibly inked by Ray Osrin, who went on to become the main editorial cartoonist for The Plain Dealer in Cleveland. Backing up Tiger Girl were stories starring forgettable characters Kayo Kirby and Rip Carson of Risks, Unlimited. Comely as TG is, a comics fan in 1951 could almost certainly find a much better comic book for his or her dime.

Why do I embrace the "Year of the Tiger"? It's because I just love the year's motto:

I win!

Indeed, I've been saying it so often around Casa Isabella that I fear I'm turning into an anime character. On that somewhat scary note, let's see what else I have for you today.

Solomon Grundy 7

I've been working my way through Blackest Night prelude issues and, let me tell you, my friends, it's no jog in the park. There will be...


Although only the final issue of Solomon Grundy [$2.99 each] is a tie-in to "Blackest Night," I read all seven issues of the limited series starring the Golden Age Green Lantern's brutish foe. My overall reaction?

"What the Hell was that?!"

A revived Cyrus Gold, the evil man whose corpse and memories supplied the raw material for Grundy is told by GL and the Phantom Stranger that the only way for him to end his cycle of rebirth and death is to learn who killed him. Gold has apparently wiped this terrible knowledge from his memory.

My immediate reaction to his quest?

"Oh, geez, they're not really gonna make us wait seven whole issues to find out Cyrus killed himself?"

They did.

Which wouldn't have been such a terrible thing if there were anything of value in those issues. Instead, the revived Cyrus is now some sort of were-Grundy, transforming into the man-monster at night. Each issue mixes flashbacks of Cyrus doing awful things and battles between Grundy and whatever characters Scott Kolins wanted to write/draw, or maybe, whatever characters editor Adam Schlagman instructed him to use. Kolins' art is mildly interesting, but not enough to overcome my gag reflex over a tedious series as fragrant as the swamp in which Cyrus died.

Cyrus Gold fails. The Phantom Stranger shrugs his shoulders in defeat. Grundy comes back to life as a Black Lantern. Cyrus' seven issues of fame amount to nothing more than a mendacious come-on for the DCU's Blackest Night event. DC editorial seems to have difficulty distinguishing marketing from actual storytelling. It's the same old same old.

Out of a possible five Tonys, Solomon Grundy #1-7 earns none. A trade paperback collection [$19.99] is scheduled for May release. I can't even begin to imagine why.

No Tonys

ISBN 9781-40122-586-5

Titans 15

Cover-dressed as a prelude to Blackest Night, Titans #15 [$2.99] is basically "This Is Your Life, Aqualad!" J.T. Krul's writing is sufficient for that small task and he makes an effort to identified the various players who appear in this recap. There is also considerable soul-searching that culminates in Aqualad/Tempest claiming the throne of Atlantis. Because that's worked out so well for Aquaman and every one else who's ruled the underwater city in the past couple decades. There's nothing unique about the art - Jose Luis pencils and JP Mayer inks - but I liked it.

Titans #15 is slight fare, not even filling enough for a decent snack. It earns but two Tonys.

Tony Tony

Angel 29

Catching up with IDW's Angel series, I read issues #25-29 [$3.99] in one afternoon.

Co-written by actor Juliet Landau and presumably not-an-actor Brian Lynch, Angel #24-25 focuses on Drusilla, the mad vamp Landau has portrayed so well on TV. I've mixed feelings about this tale of Drusilla's past and present-day incarceration in a mental institution. I think it could have been told better as one issue; the second chapter rambles quite a bit and the repetitive slaughter wears thin. All the story really accomplishes is to explain where Dru was during the time Los Angeles was in Hell and position her to make a reappearance in the series. As a bonus, the two issues also features fetching non-Dru photos of the lovely Landau. That adds up to a pair of issues worthy of a perfectly respectable three out of five Tonys.

Tony Tony Tony

Angel #26-27 didn't do as much for me. Set at a knock off of San Diego's Comic-Con, the story throws together a bunch of concepts and elements from various episodes of "Angel" and "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." There's the sword that killed Angel, a spell that turns people into whatever their cosplay costumes represent, and bounty-hunting demons. Outside of a humorous bit of dialogue here and there, there's little to recommend these two issues. They get one out of five Tonys.


Bill Willingham assumed the writer's role with Angel #28-29, and it's a major "git" for IDW. Willingham's Fables [DC/Vertigo] is the best comics series of the past decade. Which means I expect a lot from him.

I was somewhat disappointed that his first storyline focuses more on the supporting cast than on Angel himself. There's a good, even borderline brilliant, reason for that, but, nonetheless, it's a disappointment. Also disappointing is that Willingham doesn't do a particularly good job introducing all the supporting characters in these two issues. Even an inside front cover roster of all the series players would have solved that problem. we have Connor (Angel's son) and the other members of Angel's gang holding down the fort in Angel's absence. There's some mysterious Connor-protectors in the mix as well. None of this is badly done and most is entertaining. The best scene in the two issues is one of the few with Angel; it's a scene that reveals the considerable downside of his new celebrity.

Willingham's debut issues have me going back and forth between giving them three or four Tonys. Assuming my web-wizard Justin can do the surgery, let's call it three-and-a-half.

Tony Tony Tony Half-Tony

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