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for Wednesday, February 1, 2006

Power Man and Iron Fist

A comic book hitting the 100-issue mark is impressive, especially in this era of reboots, revamps, and renumbering. With today's column, CENTENNIAL COMICS COVERS rejoin our cover rotation. Given today is also the start of BLACK HISTORY MONTH, our honoree is POWER MAN AND IRON FIST #100 [December, 1983].

I'm relatively certain that POWER MAN AND IRON FIST #100 was the first comics title starring a black hero to hit the centennial mark. Since then, only one other title starring a black hero has reached that mark...Todd McFarlane's SPAWN.

The Ernie Chan cover painting depicts Power Man, Iron Fist, El Aguila, Misty Knight, Colleen Wing, and the villainous Master Khan. I created Misty during my three-issue story arc on Iron Fist in the 1970s. That same arc brought Master Khan into the Marvel Universe; he had previously appeared in STRANGE TALES #77 [October, 1960], in one of those five-page Stan Lee/Steve Ditko "shock ending" stories that delighted me as a youngster and which continue to tickle me to this day.

This special centennial issue featured "Soul Games," a 38-page adventure by Kurt Busiek (writer), Ernie Chan (penciller), and Mike Mignola (inker). Unfortunately, my recollections of the story are spotty at best. The GRAND COMICS DATABASE [] tells me that it included retellings of the origins of Power Man and Iron Fist, and also that Bob Diamond, one of the Sons of the Tiger from Marvel's DEADLY HANDS OF KUNG FU magazine, made a guest appearance. I've a vague memory of Master Khan being retroactively elevated to some kind of godhood, but that may have been in some other Marvel comic. Anyone want to help me out here?

Needless to say, I'm happy to see that Luke Cage/Power Man has gone on to become a major player in the Marvel Universe. Not only is he a member of the New Avengers, but he's also a new father and soon to be a new husband. You're the man, Luke!

Iron Fist hasn't fared as well. Still, hope springs eternal. Maybe the next writer down the line will come up with some terrific new take on him. We're rooting for you, kid!

Watch for more CENTENNIAL COMICS COVERS in upcoming edition of this column.



Disparage me if you will, but I have a soft spot in my heart for ZIGGY, that loveable loser created by Tom Wilson in 1968 and, since 1987, written and drawn by the creator's son, Tom Wilson II. This Sunday strip from September 25 nods to another popular panel, Gary Larson's THE FAR SIDE:


Ziggy nods to two other long-running strips in this panel from October 19:


Finally, a bit of reflection from October 20:


I read a lot of comic strips and panels every day, but I don't read them all. If you spot a "Comics in the Comics" candidate you think I might have missed, send it to me at:



Two recent passages need to be noted here.

HECTOR DIAZ, 41, passed on January 20, following his four-year battle against cancer. I knew Hector from SHOPTALK, a pro/semi-pro APA he founded many years ago. Among the other members of this APA were Bob Ingersoll, Ron Fortier, and Christopher Mills.

A writer and artist, Hector was enthusiastic and talented. He was owner/operator of Jumpstart: The Science Fiction/Fantasy Store in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He spoke at conferences, libraries, and schools about comics, and gave workshops for younger children on creating their own comics and games. I'm sorry to say I hadn't been in contact with him for many years - too often the way of this industry - but it's very clear from his obituary that he continued to contribute to the art form in many ways.

Hector is survived by his wife, Sharon, and his sons, Nicholas and Steven. I'll be remembering my friend and his loved ones in my prayers and thoughts, and ask you to do the same.

I never met NORMAN ZAHLER SR., who passed away recently at the age of 92. He's the grandfather of comics creator THOM ZAHLER, who is a good friend of mine. Thom has written a moving tribute to his granddad and posted it to his blog:

Though I never met Norman, reading Thom's remarks made me wish I'd had that privilege. My condolences, prayers, and good thoughts to Thom and his family at this sad time.



Batman Begins

The most successful comic-book film of 2005 was BATMAN BEGINS, which took in $371.8 million at the box office. The Top 100 movies were listed in ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY [January 27]. Here's how "our" films rated:

7. BATMAN BEGINS [$371.8 million]

13. FANTASTIC FOUR [$329.5]

26. CONSTANTINE [$230.1]

31. SIN CITY [$158.9]

38. SKY HIGH [$82.5]


97. AEON FLUX [$29.5]

100. ELEKTRA [$56.5]

I know I'm fudging the list a little bit by including SKY HIGH and AEON FLUX, but the former celebrates the fun of the super-hero comics of the past and the latter, though it began as an animated series, always felt like a comic book. AEON FLUX and A HISTORY OF VIOLENCE are still in active domestic release, so they could move up on the chart before leaving the theaters.

That issue of EW also had brief mention of other comics coming to the big screen. X-MEN 3 - X3, if you must - is on the calendar for May. SUPERMAN RETURNS will premiere in June.

Moving to the small screen, BLADE debuts on Spike TV in June. Based on the character created by Marv Wolfman and visualized by Gene Colan, this will be Spike TV's first scripted series. Rapper Kirk "Sticky" Jones plays the vampire slayer.




Clifford Meth, who is a good friend, a good writer, and a guy who's come through when comics creators have needed a hand, has a new book coming out. Here's the press release:

Aardwolf Publishing proudly announces METHo.d. [retail $14.95, limited signature edition $16.95] thirteen dark tales by author Clifford Meth with art by Steve Lieber, Al Milgrom, Jordan Raskin, Michael Netzer, William Messner-Loebs, Dave Cockrum, and Paty Cockrum, along with an introduction by Peter David. The cover and book design are by JIM STERANKO, his first notable project in years. Two of the stories from this book have already been optioned for the big screen.

"Meth is a unique, exciting voice, funny, twisted, visionary. I am a huge fan," says Richard Saperstein, executive producer of "Se7en" and "John Q," while Peter David writes, "Clifford Meth knows things. Dark, dank, nasty things that most others wouldn't care to admit they know..."

"I'm delighted with this book," said Jim Reeber, Aardwolf's publisher/editor. "Meth is on the prowl, the art is superb, and a cover and design by Jim Steranko makes it an event."

Ian Anderson, lead singer/songwriter of Jethro Tull, wrote, "Clifford Meth has the touch. Fantasy, dark humor and ravishing detail to his characters. Isaac Asimov meets C.S. Lewis meets Beelzebub meets, well, Clifford Meth. Read some and then, read some more."

From Jeffrey Jones: "Razor sharp dialogue, wonderfully erotic and beautifully said. The meaty characters appear extremely real in front of me."

METHo.d. was in the January issue of PREVIEWS and is scheduled to ship in March. However, if you fear your local comics retailer won't be stocking the book, you can order it directly from:



Today's recommended site is Rich Watson's GLYPHS: THE LANGUAGE OF THE BLACK COMICS COMMUNITY. On a nigh-daily basis, Watson posts news from a under-reported segment of the comics industry and links to further coverage of these stories. Every morning, when I fire up the computer and go online, GLYPHS is the first comics news site I visit. You can check it out by going to:



Today's SNAPSHOTS come to us courtesy of DAVE VAN DOMELEN, who took them in 1997 at Mid-Ohio-Con's Tony Isabella Roast. Promoter Roger Price and I were looking for something different for the show programming schedule and I came up with the idea of doing a roast of one of our guests. Roger came up with the idea that I should be that guest. No good idea goes unpunished.

Mark Evanier

MARK EVANIER, one of my oldest and dearest friends, agreed to be the roastmaster. If I were to be mocked and insulted, then, by God, I wanted it to be funny and, when you're talking funny, Mark is your go-to guy.

Tony kissing Roger Stern

"The Kiss of Death" is what Dave calls this photo. I kissed ROGER STERN for two reasons. The first: when you're following Mark Evanier, you do whatever it takes to get a laugh. The second: look at him. He's a damn sexy man.

Tony at podium

I don't remember anything I said in my response. I remember getting some laughs and that's about it.

We did a few more of these Mid-Ohio-Con roasts - Roger Price, Roger Stern, Roger...I mean, Mark Waid - and then ran out of guests who were regulars of the convention and who had a sense of humor. I'm not doing the Mid-Ohio-Con programming these days - having done it for over a decade, I thought the show needed some new ideas in that area - but, if I ever resume those duties, I will find someone to be the roastee.

Even if I have to promise not to kiss him or her.



Our first TONY POLLS questions of 2006 were posted on January 2 and remained active for a week. They were all simple "thumbs up" or "thumbs down" choices.

DC's INFINITE CRISIS. Thumbs up or thumbs down?

Thumbs up.....70.97%
Thumbs down.....29.03%

I hadn't read any issues of this series when this question was posted, so I didn't vote on it. If I were voting on it now, after reading two issues, I would give it a guardedly optimistic THUMBS UP. Check back with me in a few months.

DC's ALL-STAR SUPERMAN. Thumbs up or thumbs down?

Thumbs up.....72.55%
Thumbs down.....27.45%

I didn't vote on this series either. However, I have now read the first issue and you'll find my review of it in tomorrow's TOT. Tease, tease.

Marvel's DECIMATION event. Thumbs up or thumbs down?

Thumbs up.....26.74%
Thumbs down.....73.26%

I hadn't read any issues of this at the time the question was posted. If I were voted today, I'd probably give the series a bit more guardedly optimistic THUMBS UP than I did IC.

Peter Jackson's KING KONG. Thumbs up or thumbs down?

Thumbs up.....77.01%
Thumbs down.....22.99%


Thumbs up.....77.65%
Thumbs down.....22.35%

HARRY POTTER AND THE GOBLET OF FIRE. Thumbs up or thumbs down?

Thumbs up.....79.35%
Thumbs down.....20.65%

AEON FLUX. Thumbs up or thumbs down?

Thumbs up.....19.67%
Thumbs down.....80.33%

My life and circumstances being what they are, I didn't get to see any of these movies in the theaters. I plan to rent them all once they come out on DVD.

Our current TONY POLLS questions ask you to pick which of six Marvel, DC, and "not Marvel or DC" comics titles you would suggest your beloved, perennially behind Tipster catch up on. You can cast your votes by going to:

Thanks for spending a part of your day with me. I'll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

Tony Isabella

<< 01/31/2006 | 02/01/2006 | 02/02/2006 >>

Discuss this column with me at my Message Board. Also, read Heroes and Villains: Real and Imagined.

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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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