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

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TONY'S ONLINE TIPS
for Monday, March 22, 2010

Jungle Jim 14

I'm back to "thrill you anew" after taking a few days off to deal with some family matters. Nothing life-threatening, but they were annoyingly distracting.

We continue to celebrate the Chinese "Year of the Tiger" with tiger-themed comic-book covers. Today's offering is from Jungle Jim #14 [Dell; October-December, 1957]. The cover painting is by the great Morris Gollub and illustrates "The Nandoor Tiger" by writer Paul S Newman with interior art by Creig Flessel. Strangely enough, though Jungle Jim stories involving tigers seem to appear in many issues of this title, more of the covers show him battling alligators or crocodiles. Go figure.

Also in this issue: "The Living Thunderbolt," another Jungle Jim tale by Newman and Flessel, and a four-page "Ranee, Princess of the Jungle" back-up, written by Gaylord DuBois. The Grand Comics Database [www.comics.org] has tentatively identified the artist of the Ranee story as Till Goodan.

Let's see what else I have for you today.

Adam-12

When I reviewed Adam-12 Season Three [Shout! Factory; $34.99] a while back, it was on the basis of the first two of the set's four discs. It earned an impressive four out of five Tonys and watching the rest of the season hasn't diminished my regard for the series in the slightest. However, watching those episodes did suggest a few other things to say about the show.

The friendship/partnership of Pete Malloy (Martin Milner) and Jim Reed (Kent McCord) really works for me. They kid each other at times, get annoyed with each other at other times, but always have the other's backs. However, one episode does take that to a bit of an uncomfortable extreme when Malloy trades sandwiches with Reed to spare his pal having to eat the peanut-butter-and-bananas creation lovingly packed by Mrs. Reed.

A frequent delight in these episodes is seeing a familiar face in a supporting role: Morey Amsterdam, Francine York, Norm Crosby, Trini Lopez, and many others. Two of my favorites are "Post Time," written by Stephen J. Cannell and featuring Maurice Dallimore as criminal "mastermind" Basil Farrington, and "Safe Job" with Michael O'Shea as an aging safecracker.

The season's episodes range between the lighthearted and the deadly serious. We even get a couple bad cops along the way, one who has left the force to take the law into his own hands and the other who tries to con Malloy and Reed into clearing him of a case being investigated by Internal Affairs.

Though Adam-12 is less relentlessly shrill right-wing than Dragnet, it unfortunately does have its truly horrible moments. In my earlier review, I commented on the show's shameful portrayal of Native Americans. Hispanics don't fare much better, but the "worst of show" award has to go to "Militants," an episode in which the villainous Black Panther types are scary caricatures designed to frighten the show's predominantly white audience. It takes being shot by his own brother before a black friend of Reed's "sees the light" about the "black power" movement. The episode is unworthy of its actors and a chilling reminder of the ill-disguised racism of its time, a racism still evident in the modern-day likes of Glenn Beck, Fox News, and the Teabaggers.

One horrible episode, even combined with a few other episodes that just didn't get it, shouldn't dissuade you from checking out Adam-12. The episodes are very entertaining and pack a lot of character and story into their half-hour running times. I just put the rest of the series on my Amazon wish list.

Air Fighters 1

Airfighters #1 [Moonstone; $5.99] is 64 pages of all-new stories of classic and minor 1940s comic-book adventure heroes. It was an easy sell to me and I wish I could report it's a terrific book. But it isn't. It's just sort of there.

It's not devoid of good stuff. The Captain Midnight story by Christopher Mills with art by Rick Burchett and Richard Clark is a solid eight pages of entertainment. It's well-written and nicely drawn. I wish the guys had more pages to work with.

Chuck Dixon's Airboy story is decent, though nowhere near as good as the original Airboy stories or Dixon's previous work on the character from a couple decades back. But the art was weak; like many of these stories, it would've benefitted from color. I'll get back to that in a moment.

Tom DeFalco's Flying Fool tale isn't brilliant, but it's fun and has the best line in the issue. When the hero reminds a friend that he has shrapnel in his skull, the friend replies "What of it? It ain't like you ever used your head all that much to begin with!" Now that's comedy!

Martin Powell's Black Angel story also pleased me. I like the somewhat bloodthirsty demeanor of the title heroine and I thought the Ver Curtiss art was quite good.

But the rest of the strips? Sky Wolf, Bald Eagle, Iron Ace, and Flying Dutchman? Not one of these stories floated my boat or even my airplane.

The Tom Grindberg cover that sort of channels George Evans, Al Williamson, and Frank Frazetta doesn't work either. It's too quiet and the Valkyrie's breasts look like they come from two different women. This just isn't a strong anthology.

Airfighters #1 picks up a disappointing two out of five Tonys. My recommendation would be to crunch the numbers and see if they could produce a color comic featuring Airboy, Black Angel, Captain Midnight, and the Flying Fool. Those strips feature their strongest characters and writers.

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

<< 03/17/2010 | 03/22/2010 | 03/23/2010 >>

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THE "TONY" SCALE

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.

Tony
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.

TonyTony
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?

TonyTonyTony
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.

TonyTonyTonyTony
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?

TonyTonyTonyTonyTony
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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