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for Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Naoki Urasawa's Monster Volume 1

From Comics Buyer's Guide #1665:


For the time being, this feature has switched from presenting stirring tales of my life and career to offering extended coverage of comics from my book, 1000 Comic Books You Must Read.

Naoki Urasawa's Monster Volume 1

Cover Artist: Naoki Urasawa
Writer: Naoki Urasawa
Artist: Naoki Urasawa
Viz Media (February 2006; © 1995 Naoki Urasawa/Studio Nuts)

Dr. Kenzo Tenma, a dedicated healer and brilliant surgeon practicing in Germany, sacrifices his career to save Johan, a young boy later revealed to be a sociopath. Before disappearing from the hospital with his sister, the boy murders the hospital director and the chief surgeon, allowing Tenma to again rise in the hospital hierarchy. Inspector Heinrich Runge suspects Tenma of the murders, but can find no evidence to prove his suspicions.

Nine years later, Johan, now a young man, has embarked on a killing spree. Openly blamed for the murders, Tenma goes on the run in search of Johan. Determined to bring an end to the killing, Tenma is torn between the terrible thing he believes he must do and his natural instincts as a healer.

Great characters, chilling suspense, and shocking violence are all hallmarks of this series, which originally ran from 1994 to 2001 in Japan's Big Comic Original. The manga has been collected into 18 volumes and a 74-episode anime adapted from the books currently airs Monday nights on the SyFy Channel.




I'm pleased to announce that, having seriously considered a half-dozen different colleges, my daughter Kelly will be attending Tiffin University in the fall and has signed a letter of intent to play on the school's softball team. Sainted wife Barb, brother Ed, and, of course, proud papa me are all thrilled. I think she made the right choice. Go Dragons!

Black Lightning

Here's the kind of thing that drives me crazy. A few blogs and websites have recently posted very positive reviews of my Black Lightning writing. On an unrelated message board, a reader who had not previously read those comics sought them out and posted that he now considered me "one of the big greats."

Sounds very flattering, doesn't it? Or it did until the same guy posted this on a DC Comics message board:

"Tony Isabella did a great job in the second volume of Black Lightning; however, I'd rather not drag [in] 70s old timers like him or Englehart and Moench, because their body of work was built in different times. They were the revolutionaries of the 70s."

Now that's a WTF moment!

Since somebody always asks this whenever I mention my greatest comic-book creation, here's a quick answer:

I would happily write new Black Lightning stories for the rest of my life. At the present time, that can only happen if DC Comics also wants me to write them and, judging from recent history, the company's editors and publishers don't want this.

If you want to see new Black Lightning stories by me, if you want to see my previous Black Lightning stories reprinted, telling me won't achieve this. You have to tell DC Comics representatives. Often. Loudly. Preferably at public gatherings like conventions and convention panels or when taking incriminating photographs of them doing unseemly things.

Because if it were up to me, I would have never stopped writing new Black Lightning stories.

Giant Dell Giant Index

For many years, I was a member of CAPA-Alpha, first and best of the comics amateur press associations. The apa continues to thrive. Recently, two of my apa buddies who are still members published a swell zine called Giant Dell Giant Index [$10], their attempt to get all 204 of the Dell Giant covers in print in one place.

When Gary Brown sent me a copy of this zine he had published with Alan Hutchinson, I was instantly transported into a world of great comics covers from my childhood. I must have spent two solid hours looking at, nay, studying those covers. More than once, I'd gaze at one of them and say to myself, "You know, I'd really like to create a comic book like that one," and then add another item to my bucket list of things I'd like to write.

Gary and Alan are willing to print additional copies of this zine if they receive enough requests. To make your request, e-mail Gary at:

Tell him Tony sent you.

Bozo the Clown

I had a dream the other night, a flashback to one of the most embarrassing moments of my childhood, even though I myself did not embarrass myself. It was when the Cub Scouts pack of which I was a member got to see a live taping of the local version of the Bozo the Clown show.

I didn't watch the program, but I knew who Bozo was. As best I can recall, this local version would do some sort of not really a monologue to welcome his studio guests, show them some cartoons, and have them compete for prizes.

On this Saturday afternoon, we were all given balloons. The first five or so scouts who blew their balloons up so big that they popped would get prizes. I don't think they were very good prizes because I remember I didn't care whether I won or not.

So, there we were, the good Catholic Cub Scouts of Sts. Philip and James Church and School, blowing up balloons. And some of the scouts were...cheating.

They were blowing up the balloons and squeezing them between their knees to pop them. The culprits were the usual young bullies and budding douche bags. The guys we all knew dishonored our Scout Code and many other codes of decency on a daily basis. I am sure they didn't care about the prizes any more than I did. They just liked being jerks.

That was nothing new. That I was used to. What I wasn't at all used to was being part of a group being verbally disciplined by a disappointed, exasperated clown. It was as if we had taken a pin to Bozo's big shoes and deflated them. I felt bad for the clown, and embarrassed for my fellow scouts.

The bullies went on to become Boy Scouts, continued acting in their usual boorish behaviors, and never, as near as I could tell, suffered any consequences whatsoever. They collected their merit badges, usually cheating on them, and probably grew up to be adult lowlifes. I like to think they are now all unemployed, married to ugly, unpleasant wives, and just counting down the days until their hearts or livers explode.

I graduated from the Cub Scouts to the Boy Scouts and stayed two months. Because I thought, as young men, these kids would have outgrown being jerks. But they didn't. Nor did the adult men who were our alleged role models take them to task for their continued bad behavior.

"Authority" had disappointed young Tony Isabella. It wasn't the first time, it would be galactically far from the last time, but that sick feeling has stayed with me ever since.

Damn. I didn't mean to end today's TOT on such a sour note. Let's all go surf the web for cute photos of puppies and kittens. I'll be back tomorrow with more cheerful material.

Tony Isabella

<< 04/20/2010 | 04/21/2010 | 04/22/2010 >>

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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:

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Medina, OH 44256

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