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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 Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Crisis on Infinite Earths

From Comics Buyer's Guide #1666:

"God made man because He loves stories."

- Elie Wiesel (1928-), writer, professor at Boston University, political activist, Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor

How many pages does it take to tell a great comic-book story? It only took two pages to tell maybe the best super-hero origin in the history of comics, just two pages to explain who the Batman is and, more importantly, why he is.

Some of my favorite stories are the five-page surprise ending stories by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, the ones found in nearly every Marvel fantasy/sci-fi comic of the 1960s. I couldn't begin to list all the unforgettable stories Will Eisner and Al Feldstein told in eight pages for, respectively, the Spirit and EC Comics. Or those hilarious Donald Duck tales by Carl Barks that packed so much into their ten pages. On the other end of the comics spectrum, some manga creators will take hundreds, even thousands of pages to tell their stories.

How many issues does it take to tell a great story?

The first issue of Fantastic Four by Lee and Jack Kirby changed comics forever, as did Alan Moore's "The Anatomy Lesson" in his second issue of Swamp Thing. Then there's Fantastic Four Annual #1, the comic book that changed my life by making me want to write comic books.

It only took two issues to present the first meeting between the Justice League of America and the Justice Society of America. It took just under three issues for Lee and Kirby to bring us "The Galactus Trilogy." Moving into the 1970s, it took nine issues of Avengers for Roy Thomas to bring us the classic "Kree-Skrull War" from start to finish.

There were several comics stories that crossed over from title to title, but, in 1985, DC's Crisis on Infinite Earths made this into a marketing tool. My quick calculation - because math is hard - comes up with 67 issues of the series itself and all of its related tie-ins. Using even quicker calculations, here's a list of some other DC and Marvel events:

1985: Secret Wars II (Marvel; 40 issues)

1986: Legends (DC; 22 issues)

1988: Millennium (DC; 45 issues)

1988: Invasion! (DC; 33 issues)

1994: Zero Hour (DC; 40 issues)

2005: Infinite Crisis (DC; 33 issues)

2006: Civil War (Marvel; 106 issues!)

2006: 52 (DC; 89 issues)

2008: Secret Invasion (Marvel; 113 issues!)

This year, Marvel's Dark Reign is coming to its finish after appearing over so many issues I lost count. At DC, it looks like Blackest Night will encompass just under 100 issues. It would take a person with much better math skills than your poor benighted Tipster to compute how much it would cost a comics reader to buy each and every issue of these two events. My best guess would be...a lot.

Relax. This isn't going to turn into a rant on the gi-normous event stories we've been getting from DC and Marvel for these past several years. Clearly, many readers enjoy them. Heck, I've had good things to say about them from time to time. I've even talked myself into reading all of Blackest Night and as many of the Dark Reign issues as I can borrow. Still, as with so many things in our lives, I'd love to see a greater sense of moderation from both of the Big Two.

Sometimes all you really need is one great comic book.

******

ADDENDUM

Comics Buyer's Guide 1666

I'm reprinting a recent "Tony's Tips" column over this week's trio of TOTs. However, I'll be including a good chuck of brand-new material in each TOT as well.

Some updates:

I talked myself out of reading all the Blackest Night titles and tie-ins. I'll be talking about the ones I did read in tomorrow's TOT, but, if you want the shorthand version today, here it is:

They are all the same comic book.

Sure, every now and then, there was a decent character bit or a plot development that actually meant something in one of the way too many issues of this event. But not nearly enough of these bits or developments to justify this leaden event. Were some toy Green Lantern rings really worth the boning of the DC Universe for these past several months? I don't think so.

I probably will read many of Marvel's Dark Reign comics as I catch up with that fictional universe. I might even read as many Siege comics as I can beg or borrow. I'll review the ones I think are either very good or incredibly awful. If I have more tolerance for the Marvel events than the DC events, it's because Marvel has better editors who get better work out of their writers.

For the same reason, Marvel's coming Heroic Age event intrigues me more than DC's Brightest Day event. I'll try to read both as I acquire copies of same.

Come back tomorrow for my review of the first several issues of Blackest Night as previously published in CBG as well as new reviews of the BN issues I have read since then.

******

GET MORE TONY

Doc Savage TPB

Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze [DC; $17.99] reprints the eight issues of the color series published by Marvel in the 1970s. The trade paperback contains four adaptations of Doc Savage novels: The Man of Bronze, Death in Silver, The Monsters, and Brand of the Werewolf.

The writers: Steve Englehart, Roy Thomas, Gardner Fox, and me. The artists: Ross Andru, Jim Mooney, Ernie Chan, Tom Palmer, Frank Giacoia, Frank Springer, Rich Buckler, and Jack Abel.

I scripted issue #7 ("Brand of the Werewolf") from Fox's plot, then plotted and scripted the final issue. At this time, I don't know if DC will be paying royalties to the writers and artists of these stories. I'll let you know if/when I get a check.

Bookplate

Fantom Press has created an exclusive signed bookplate with an original commissioned drawing by Rich Buckler reimagining his original cover to Doc Savage #7 and featuring the signatures of the collection's living creators. This book/bookplate set [$25] is limited to 100 copies and will ship in early June.

Like all Fantom Press products, profits from this sale will go to help artist Bob Larkin. I was honored to be part of this sale and urge you to visit Fantom Press at:

www.fantompress.net/home

******

TONY STUFF

If you wondered during our hiatus whether "Tony's Online Tips" would continue, here's a partial answer:

You can expect a new TOT every Monday through Friday through mid-September, which is when my son Eddie and daughter Kelly will start their fall semesters at The Ohio State University. I know I had previously reported Kelly would be attending Tiffin University, but she decided OSU offered more possibilities for her, even though she won't be playing softball there. I really like Tiffin, but I can't fault Kelly's reasoning. Maybe this is why I had that dream wherein she and I were visiting every softball field she's played at over the past dozen years. Believe it or not, she was a member of a recreation league team in the first grade. Time doesn't just fly; it races through our lives.

Getting back to TOT...

Deadlines on my paying gigs, conventions, and maybe a family vacation might result in my taking a day or a week off during these next several months, but I'm going to try to work far enough ahead to avoid even those "interruptions in service." Of course, if my loyal legions of TOT readers started clicking on our handy TIP THE TIPSTER link and making with the donations, this feature would become a paying gig and move up on my list of priorities. I'm just saying, you know.

In other Tony stuff...

I'm pursuing paying gigs inside and outside of comics. Feel free to ask editors and publishers to hire me should you run into these celestial beings at conventions and the like.

I'm battling the usual depression, but my health is generally pretty good these days. My latest blood pressure readings have me right where I should be.

Sainted Wife Barb, Eddie, Kelly, and my cat Simba are all very well, for which I am very grateful.

My country and my world aren't doing so well, but I won't be writing about them until Kelly graduates next month. She doesn't need to be harassed by those churlish creeps who take exception to my political and social positions.

That pretty much covers what I wanted to share today. Thanks for stopping by. I'll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

Tony Isabella

<< 05/10/2010 | 05/19/2010 | 05/20/2010 >>

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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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