Saturday, September 24, 2016

TONY WATCHES TELEVISION

Most of what I watch on TV these days comes from comic books: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Arrow, Daredevil, Gotham, Guardians of the Galaxy, iZombie, Jessica Jones, Legends of Tomorrow, Lucifer, Preacher, Supergirl, The Flash, Ultimate Spider-Man and whatever the current season of the Avengers cartoon is called. I should also mention the coming Luke Cage. I think the only comic-book TV I’m not watching is The Walking Dead (because I want to get caught up on the comic books first) and the reality show Kevin Smith is on. That’s a lot of television.

In celebration of fans like me who watch too much damn television, here are a few quick thoughts on some of the above shows. If there are major spoilers, I’ll warn you beforehand.

I was intrigued by the season premiere of Agents of SHIELD. As has become usual for this series, the events of the last Marvel movie weigh heavily on the agents. SHIELD has a new director and, though he’s not in this premiere, I don’t like or trust him. The Sokovia Accords limit the super-powered help the agents can call on. Daisy is still hunting the Watchdogs and the various criminals who work for them...and she’s being hunted by the government. The members of the core team from last season are scattered throughout the agency. And then there’s the Ghost Rider.

The Ghost Rider is the Robbie Reyes version of the character. He’s the most intriguing part of the show. He strikes me as more violent and lethally vengeful than his comic-book counterpart, but he’s got my attention.

The reader/viewer in me who wants to see heroes both triumphant and happy hopes the core team gets back together. If that happens, it probably won’t happen until near the end of the season. However, based on this first episode, I’m in for the long ride.

******************************

Ultimate Spider-Man has been playing in the Spider-Verse with Miles Morales becoming something of a sidekick to our Spider-Man. The episodes have been entertaining with Spider-Gwen showing up in the season finale. Though the show is aimed at younger fans, it doesn’t dumb down the alternate universes stuff or the pseudo-science. I get a kick out of it.

Marvel's Avengers Assemble has a similar feel. This season, we’ve seen Ultron, the Inhumans, Ms. Marvel and the Vision with Captain Marvel and the Black Panther due to appear in the finale I haven’t watched yet. It’s an entertaining series.

******************************

The first season of Jessica Jones told a gripping story of a hero with PTSD and a villain who was as terrifying as any I have seen on the big or small screen. The introduction of Luke Cage was played just right. The brief appearance of Claire Temple from Daredevil likewise. That said, I had three problems with the show.

The first was its pacing. It took thirteen episodes to tell a story that wasn’t a thirteen-episode story. To stretch out over so many episodes, it had to...

SPOILERS AHEAD
SPOILERS AHEAD
SPOILERS AHEAD


...fall back on having smart people do really stupid things. When Jeryn Hogarth freed Kilgrave so that he could force her spouse to drop her divorce demands, my son Eddie gave up on the series. Being older and wiser (or, at least, having read and watched a lot more stories than him), I merely rolled my eyes painfully.

The third problem is more a problem with me than the show itself. I am bone-tired of heroes who fail to make the moral choice to end a threat that can’t otherwise be contained. I don’t see the whole “heroes don’t kill” thing as being absolute because sometimes that is the only moral choice. Nothing short of killing Kilgrave could have ended the clear and present danger he presented to Jessica and  all others. He was a sociopath who reveled in death. He needed to be put down.

I never bought that a Kilgrave confession was the only way to get justice for the imprisoned Hope Shlottman. With Kilgrave dead, any number of witness could have testified to the villain’s power over them. In a world that has seen Avengers and Asgardians, Hope could have gained her freedom in a court of law.

SPOILERS OVER
SPOILERS OVER
SPOILERS OVER


Those problems aside, I have nothing but love for the performances of Krysten Ritter (Jessica Jones), Rachael Taylor (Patsy Walker), Mike Colton (Luke Cage), David Tennant (Kilgrave) and the rest of the cast. They were magnificent.

There will be a second season of Jessica Jones. I’ll be watching.
******************************

Technically, Better Late Than Never is not a comic-book show. What it was: the four-episode story of Henry Winkler, William Shatner, George Foreman and Terry Bradshaw traveling through Asia. What it was: delightful, funny, informative. I hope the show is released on DVD with lots of extras. I hope the series will return for another travel adventure with these gentlemen.

******************************

Eddie and I have watched the first four episodes of Daredevil Season Two on Netflix. I assume these episodes were the first Punisher story arc and that Frank Castle will be back before the end of the season. Elektra has shown up as well.

I’m loving this season as much and maybe even more than I loved the first season. I’m a little put off by the Punisher’s use of deathly torture, but that’s hardly out of line with how he’s been portrayed in various comics in recent years. Elektra seems a little off to me as well. But, as I said, I’m loving this season. If Eddie and I can manage to be free at the same time, we’ll likely binge-watch the rest of the episodes.

******************************

Gotham kicked off its third season and, with that season opener, I have developed a theory:

Gotham takes place in a world that will never have a Batman. There will be no Dark Knight to keep the monsters at bay. That task will fall to flawed heroes like Jim Gordon, Harvey Bullock, Selina Kyle, Bruce Wayne and others. They will all have to make tough decisions. Gotham may never run out of monsters.

That makes Gotham a pretty gloomy show. What keeps me watching is the great acting and writing. This isn’t my Batman. It is a series that intrigues and entertains me.

******************************

Lucifer kicked off its second season. There’s so much going on in just the first episode that I need to warn you...

SPOILERS AHEAD
SPOILERS AHEAD
SPOILERS AHEAD


Despite the fact this his mother has escaped from Hell and might be up to enormous no good, Lucifer really has his shit together by the end of the second season premiere. His relationship with Detective Chloe Decker now makes sense for both of them. He and his brother Amenadiel are mending their relationship. Demon Maze is redefining her relationship with Lucifer. Even Dr. Linda Martin, his shrink, is finally getting through to him. I’d like to see Lucifer keep his shit together because this improved state of mind hasn’t lessened his sarcasm or swagger one whit. I like character growth like this. We don’t see if often enough in TV shows or comic books.

SPOILERS OVER
SPOILERS OVER
SPOILERS OVER


High marks to actors Tom Ellis (Lucifer Morningstar), Lauren German (Chloe Decker), D.B. Woodside (Amenadiel), Lesley-Ann Brandt (Maze) and Rachael Harris (Dr. Linda Martin)...and to the Lucifer writers. Who would have thought that a show about the devil would become a cheerful followup to Gotham?

******************************

My daughter Kelly and I binge-watched the last ten episodes of the second season of The Flash over the past week or so. It was quite the ride to the finale. A few missteps, to be sure, but, overall, very satisfying. As for those few missteps, an appearance by King Shark in all his CGI glory plus the spectacle of a metahuman army gathered by Zoom balances the scales. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for season three.

My goal for the next three to four weeks is to stay current on all of the above series while catching up on Arrow, Daredevil, iZombie and Legends of Tomorrow. I love a challenge.

The bloggy thing will be going on hiatus until Monday, October 3. See you then.

© 2016 Tony Isabella

Friday, September 23, 2016

CITIZEN TONY: IDOLATRY IN AMERICA

When San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick respectfully took a knee during the playing of the national anthem, he did it to protest oppression against minorities in this country. It did not surprise me that the PINOs - Patriots in Name Only - totally lost their shit. Idolatry is strong in our country as we have foolishly deified such things as the national anthem and our flag and ignored what they stand for.

Confession. I’m not really sure what “The Star-Spangled Banner” stands for. It’s a frankly terrible song written by a racist and a slave-owner who may not even have been a first-hand witness to the events he was writing about. I can ruefully ignore the racist and slave-owner tags, if only in part, because, at the time “The Star-Spangled Banner” was written, you couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting a racist or a slave-owner. For the record, I do not condone the swinging of cats, dead or alive. However, the awfulness of our national anthem remains as does the seeming dishonesty of its writer. If he were alive today, he would probably be the official musician of Fox News. But I digress.

Kaepernick meant no disrespect to our veterans. The claim that he did is more absurd perceived victim-hood from the usual right-wing politicians and pundits.

The PINOs lose their shit over our flag as well. If a politician isn’t wearing a flag lapel pin, they can count on their patriotism being questioned. When someone burns a flag in protest, which I see as one of the highest expressions of the freedom our country stands for, the politicians and the pundits and our low-information fellow citizens demand said protestor be arrested and suffer gulag-level “justice” for the act of protest. Because these politicians and the pundits and low-information fellow citizens haven’t the first clue as to what the flag stands for. Nor do they have the desire to see our country live up to those standards.

At times like this, I am reminded of the greatest political speech ever to appear on screen. The speaker is President Andrew Shepherd [Michael Douglas] in The American President:

America isn't easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, 'cause it's gonna put up a fight. It's gonna say "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can't just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the "land of the free".

The flag is not important. What is stands for is.

The national anthem...well, it’s not important because it doesn’t seem to stand for much beyond celebrating a battle instead of what our country means to us and to all those millions of people around the world who look to us for hope in these most desperate of times. I’d like to see “The Star-Spangled Banner” discarded and replaced with a better anthem...or maybe even a rotating number of anthems that better express our country’s highest ideals, the ideals which we should constantly strive to achieve instead of retreating into jingoism and fear of those who are not exactly like us.

I admire Kaepernick and all who have joined his protest against the undeniable oppression of black people and other minorities in this country I love. That’s what America stands for.

I’m Citizen Tony and I approve this message. 

© 2016 Tony Isabella

Thursday, September 22, 2016

THURSDAY WITH TONY

Some random thoughts on this sunny Thursday in Medina, Ohio, home office of this bloggy thing of mine...

Marvel Comics invited me to attend the premiere of Netflix’s Luke Cage series in New York on Wednesday, September 28. Misty Knight, a heroine I created with artist Arvell Jones during our run on Iron Fist, is a supporting character on the show. Of course, I accepted Marvel’s invitation on account of...this is so cool!

Unfortunately, all of the stuff going on here in Medina and with my career means I can’t linger in New York. I’ll be arriving there on Wednesday and flying home on Friday. I’m not sure what will be on my schedule for Thursday, but I’m hoping to at least share a meal with some old friends while I’m in town.

Naturally, you can expect full bloggy thing reports on the premiere and whatever other adventures I have in the Big Apple. Maybe even pictures if I upgrade my phone before I leave.

******************************

A year ago today, I posted this on Facebook:

I’m home from my dental surgery, which did not go as well as hoped. There was more bone to remove than anticipated. I won't be getting even temporary dentures for at least three more weeks. Until then, I'll be eating soft foods. Had things gone as planned, I 'd have temporary dentures right now.

I am groggy and uncomfortable, but not in any real pain. That will come. Once the swelling goes down, I should be doing much better. I hope to be at the keyboard again soon. Back to bed.


Today, I am again terribly under the weather without the excuse of dental surgery. If I were to self-diagnose, I would attribute this current excruciating pain in my stomach to a combination of eating something that didn’t sit right with me and the stress of dealing with everything going on in my life. I’ve hinted about the latter, but I want to share a few more details...

The biggest concern here at Casa Isabella is for my mother-in-law Rose. She has Alzheimer’s and dementia. Her much younger than her husband has left her and she is currently living in a care facility that she doesn’t realize is her new home. We’re trying to do what is best for her, but it’s often difficult to determine what “best” is in situations like this. We’re trying to proceed without anger, but there is considerable anger involved.

Barb has power of attorney in these matters. Fortunately, Rose’s house is in her name. Unfortunately, though the bones of the house are very good, it is in need of serious cleaning and repair work. It’s also filled with all kinds of items and papers that need to be gone through. At some point, the house will go to the government to cover the cost of my mother-in-law’s Medicare.

Barb is being helped by family members, our kids, and me. But it’s a tough time for her and that makes it a tough time for me. We’re all working together to find a new and safe normal.

On my career front, I am far more busy than I ever expected to be at this stage of my life. At present, I can’t discuss everything I am doing, but it’s all very exciting and interesting for me. It’s taking effort to put myself on an even keel, but I’m getting there.

With the news about Black Lightning getting a pilot commitment from Fox, all sorts of “friends” and strangers who want to collaborate with me have appeared out of nowhere. This was something I’ve never experienced before, but I have been able to navigate these strange waters with advice received from actual friends who have been where I am now. I thank those real friends for having my back.

The next couple weeks will see me working away on all fronts while also paying more attention to my health. My blood pressure has been going up and, while I’m not in the danger zone, that’s something I need to keep an eye on. Your good wishes are appreciated, but your fretting about me is unnecessary. I have survived much more hectic periods in my life. I’ll survive this stuff as well.

******************************

I’ll leave you today with something I posted on Facebook this very date in 2009:

My smile of the day. Held open a door for a woman wearing a Winnie the Pooh shirt. She wished me a "a sunny honey day."

May all of you have a sunny honey day today. I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2016 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

RAWHIDE KID WEDNESDAY 88

The Rawhide Kid is my favorite western comics character and one of my favorite comics characters period.  Something about the short of stature (but big on courage and fighting skills) Johnny Clay spoke to the short of stature (but big on comics-reading skills) teenage Tony Isabella.  After rereading the Kid’s earliest adventures when Marvel Comics reprinted them in a pair of Marvel Masterworks and an Essential Rawhide Kid volume, I wanted to reacquire every Rawhide Kid comic, reread them and write about them in this bloggy thing of mine. This is the 88th installment in that series.

The Rawhide Kid #102 [August 1972] has a cover by Larry Lieber that illustrates “Guns of the Comancheros” (14 pages). Lieber wrote and penciled the story with inks and likely colors by George Roussos. Before we get to that story, a little history lesson, courtesy of a quick visit to Wikipedia.

The Comancheros were primarily Mexican traders in northern and central New Mexico Territory who made their living by trading with the nomadic Great Plains Indian tribes, in northeastern New Mexico and West Texas. Comancheros were so named because the Comanches, in whose territory they traded, were considered their best customers. They traded manufactured goods (tools and cloth), flour, tobacco, and bread for hides, livestock and slaves from the Comanche. As the Comancheros did not have sufficient access to weapons and gunpowder, there is disagreement about how much they traded these with the Comanche.

Save for an outlaw who refers to this issue’s damsel in distress as  “seƱorita” one time, the comancheros in Lieber’s story don’t seem to be Mexican or traders. They are a criminal gang who don’t really show up until page eight of the story.

SPOILERS AHEAD
SPOILERS AHEAD
SPOILERS AHEAD


The Rawhide Kid is resting by his campfire when he sees a girl who has apparently lost control of her horse. He rides after her. But, when he stops what he thought was a runaway stallion, he feels the lash of Cathy Cameron’s ire.

CATHY: My horse was under control...and I was perfectly safe!

KID: You mean you were deliberately riding at breakneck speed?

CATHY: Of course! I always ride fast!
 
KID: Fast? Lady, you were riding that horse into the ground!
CATHY: I was not! And it’s none of your business what I do with my horse!

KID: Wow! You’re a real charmer!

CATHY: And you’re an ill-mannered and offensive oaf, whom I hope I’ll never have the misfortune to run into again!

KID: I’ll miss you, too!

Later, the Kid comes across a railroad construction site and gets a job lying track. It’s tough work, but a lot safer than fighting gunslicks and dodging posses.

Cathy’s dad is the railroad president. Spotting the Kid among the workers, she tells her father he’s rude and impossible. Dad thinks he seems like a nice sort.

You know who’s not a nice sort? The comanchero who’s watching Cathy from a nearby hillside. He’s waiting for the moment when Cathy is not with so many people. This is foreshadowing, your sign of quality comics writing.

At the end of the day, with the workers planning to go to town and have some fun, one slimy fellow name of Frank decides Cathy will be his fun. He puts hands on her, despite her protests. The Kid tells  Frank to back off. Frank punches Rawhide, knocking our young hero to the ground.

Frank wants more. Rawhide obliges him, head-butting the roughneck in the gut. The Kid then throws three punches and knocks Frank to the ground. According to Frank, nobody knocks him off his feet and lives. He draws his gun and fires.

Rawhide ducks under the shot, drawing his gun at lightning speed. He shoots Frank in the bully’s shooting arm. Mr. Cameron, who saw the whole thing, fires Frank on the spot. But the Kid’s identity is now revealed:

Only one man can dodge gunfire and toss back lead that fast! Y-you’re the Rawhide Kid!

Digression. Depending on what marvelous western comic book you were reading, this same claim could have been applied to Kid Colt or the Ringo Kid or the Outlaw Kid or...you get the idea.

Cathy is now interested in the Rawhide Kid. Chicks always dig those bad boys. The Kid spurns her breathless advances. All he wants is peace and quiet. The young woman does not take this well.

Cathy decides to make Rawhide pay for humiliating her publically by framing him for stealing a diamond brooch, She hides the brooch in his bunk, which is the first one searched because the Kid is known to be an outlaw. Rawhide returns to the bunkhouse right after the brooch is found.

Knowing he’s being framed and also that there’s no way to prove his innocence, Rawhide leaps through a window. He jumps and his horse and rides away. Cameron sends his men after him.

Cathy gloats to herself. She’s fixed the Kid good and proper. She is a horrible person.

Who know who else are horrible people? The comancheros who, seeing the crew ride after the Kid, realize Cathy is only guarded by her father. They grab the still-gloating Cathy, knocking her dad to the ground. She sure could use a coincidence right about now.

The Rawhide Kid has shaken his pursuers. Just in time to see Cathy being held hostage by the comancheros. Realizing she’s the one who framed him, the Kid knows he has to rescue her so she can clear his name. But he can’t attack the kidnappers head on or they might kill her. He comes up with a plan.

We get a few panels of Cathy being harassed by the bad guns and a shot of her dad reading the ransom note. The kidnappers want fifty grand for Cathy. My inflation calculator only goes to 1913, but, in  today’s money, that would be probably be over two million dollars. Dad doesn’t hesitate to wire for the money.

The Kid rides into the comanchero camp and is instantly recognized because:

That outfit! Those twin colts! He’s the Rawhide Kid!

We pause to contemplate what the Kid’s life might have been like if he only owned a second pair of clothes.

The Kid joins up with the comancheros. Scullery maid Cathy thinks he will rescue her, but he says he wouldn’t lift a finger to help her. Of course, it’s all a ploy.

That night, Rawhide knocks out Cathy’s guard and frees her. Spotted by the kidnappers, he must shoot it out with them. He outguns the entire gang, but the gang leader grabs Cathy from behind. He tells the Kid to drop his guns or Cathy buys it. The gang leader aims his gun at the disarmed Rawhide. Cathy bites her kidnapper on the wrist, forcing him to drop his gun. The gang leader dies of rabies.

Just kidding. Rawhide leaps at the gang leader. They fight on the edge of a convenient cliff. The gang leader falls to his death and Cathy learns an important lesson:

CATHY: I was spoiled and spiteful! I’ll never deliberately hurt anyone again! I know how it feels to be a victim! I just learned it the hard way.

KID: I reckon sometimes that’s the only way! 

SPOILERS OVER
SPOILERS OVER
SPOILERS OVER


This was an entertaining story. Like many of Lieber’s Rawhide Kid yarns, it has never been reprinted. This is where I make my nigh-weekly plea for Marvel to publish The Best of Larry Lieber’s Rawhide Kid. I would buy two copies right from the get-go.

The “Marvel Bullpen Bulletins” page runs after page 6 of the above tale. There’s no “Stan’s Soapbox” this time around because Stan Lee was on vacation in Miami Beach. The lead item teases that the next Bullpen Bulletins will herald a new era for Marvel.

In other items...the current issue of Marvel Spotlight debuts the new, modern-day Ghost Rider by Gary Friedrich and Mike Ploog. The “mad, mod, mystic hero who straddles both the world of motorcycles and the supernatural” takes the place of Werewolf by Night, which is graduation to its own ongoing title.

Marvel writers Gerry Conway and Steve Englehart addressed a comics course at Indiana University and appeared on TV there. A few months earlier, Stan spoke at the “prestigious” University of Puget Sound in Washington and visited the local zoo. This is where he got the idea for the Gibbon, the somewhat less than prestigious Spider-Man villain.

The news section wraps with The Defenders and Warlock getting their ongoing titles and the launch of Doc Savage in comic-book form. It was, indeed, an exciting time for Marvel fans.

Close to thirty titles are listed in “The Mighty Marvel Checklist,” a roster that includes a great many super-hero titles like Spider-Man and Avengers, sword-and-sorcery (Conan), war (Combat Kelly and Sgt. Fury), monsters (Fear), westerns (Kid Colt), romance (Our Love Story), teen humor (Harvey), kid humor (Li’l Kids), and, of course, Millie the Model and her frenemy Chili. What with most comic books costing twenty cents and me having a decent-paying newspaper job, I bought them all.  

The second story in this issue was “The Man Who Couldn't Be Killed” with art by John Romita. The six-page story originally appeared in  Western Outlaws and Sheriffs #70 [December 1951]

SPOILERS AHEAD
SPOILERS AHEAD
SPOILERS AHEAD


Rotten person Lem Clyde sells guns and ammunition to the Wahnooki tribe, which appears to be a fictional tribe created by the as-yet-identified writer of this story. I couldn’t find any reference to it online.

Clyde incites the tribe to violence against the white man. Though the townspeople fight them off, Clyde keeps selling more guns and ammo to the Wahnooki. He figures on taking over after all the white men have been killed. But he doesn’t much care who dies. He sells blanks to the Wahnooki to increase his profits. The unsuspecting chieftain is so pleased with the “good white man” that he’ll make Clyde a tribe idol.

The sheriff comes after Clyde, but is caught by the Wahnooki. The lawman is tied to a post to be executed by a tribal firing squad. But, no matter how many times the braves shoot at him, the sheriff is unharmed. They’ve been shooting him with blanks.

The Wahnooki kneel before this new white god, renouncing the false leader they had worshiped. The sheriff calls for peace between the tribe and the white man. The chief agrees, but refuses to let the lawman have Clyde:

Wahnooki cannot give Lem Clyde! Him belong to tribe now! Him behind great father!

The sheriff looks at the top of the totem pole behind him:

Grinning down hideously from the top of the Wahnooki totem pole was the shaven head of Lem Clyde! By ancient Wahnooki custom, the honored place on their totem pole was reserved for the head of an idol! Thus, Lem Clyde’s dream of playing “god” to an Indian nation was all too ironically realized!

Today, on a government reservation in western Oklahoma, stands the musty skull...a grisly symbol of one man’s untamed greed...and the costly price he paid for it! 
 
SPOILERS OVER
SPOILERS OVER
SPOILERS OVER


I found this story less believable than Marvel creating a gibbon-based super-villain. Clyde’s plan doesn’t seem to make much sense once he impedes the Wahnooki’s chances of wiping out the white men by selling them blanks. The Wahnooki are offensively stupid. Plus: I can’t write “Wahnooki” without giggling.

The “Ridin’ the Trail with Rawhide” letters page appears after the first page of the Wahnooki story. Six readers were represented on the page.

Robert K. Gillis of Elmsford, New York, didn’t like George Roussos’ inking and wanted to see John Tartaglione back on the Rawhide Kid. He didn’t get his wish.

Howard Leroy Davis of Pitman, New Jersey commits on the Rawhide Kid and Two Gun Kid reprints in The Mighty Marvel Western #17. The old Rawhide Kid stories featured the pre-Johnny Clay version with some editing and redrawing. Davis was ok with that. But the editing and redrawing on the Two Gun Kid reprint was jarring. That story came from the pre-masked hero version of Two Gun, a yarn in which no one seemed to notice the hero was wearing a mask. Honestly, that’s what made those reprints fun for me and why I’ve just started collecting The Mighty Marvel Western. In any case, Marvel said they would stop adding the mask to Two Gun Kid reprints from that time.

Dennis Sellers of Huntingdon, Tennessee wanted to see more of the characters introduced in the originally all-new Western Gunfighters title. After a plug for the new Ghost Rider, Marvel said it would try to use them as guest stars in titles like Red Wolf and Outlaw Kid. The Gunhawk did appear in that month’s Outlaw Kid.

Arnold Brown of Taylorsville, Kentucky had nothing but praise for the Dick Ayers art in Rawhide Kid #96. Marvel responded that there would be more Ayers in the upcoming months, though Lieber would be the regular writer and artist.

Steve Kahn of Sudbury, Massachusetts didn’t like Rawhide Kid #96. He also didn’t want to see the Kid meeting other gunfighters. As he saw it, the comic should be about the Rawhide Kid and just the Kid. Marvel asked the readers what they thought. This is Letter Column Answers 101. When you don’t have a good answer, toss the question to the readers.

George K. Wagner of Memphis, Tennessee thought Rawhide Kid #96 was one of the best issues ever and praised the characterization. He promises to keep buying Marvel’s western until “they start showing Gene Autry and Tim Holt movies at the local theater on Saturday afternoons.” In Marvel’s response, John Wayne and Johnny Mack Brown are also mentioned.

That’s it for this installment of “Rawhide Kid Wednesday.” I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2016 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

TONY'S TIPS #175

This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Black Lightning, Garfield, DC Super Hero Girls: Finals Crisis and World of Archie Double Digest!

CAPA-ALPHA: THE END OF AN ERA

Though I am not a current member of CAPA-ALPHA, the long-running comics apa, I wanted to share this announcement...

ANNOUNCEMENT

The last paper edition of CAPA-Alpha will be December 2016.  Gaff isn't able to handle the physical CM work. I have decided with increased costs for postage and printing and  and my desire to spend the CM time on other things, that I do not want to be CM after December.  Since no one has offered to take over CM duties, and Gaff and I have been the only CMs since 2002, this effectively closes the books. All things remain the same, as far as page requirements and dues, until the December mailing is sent.

Gaff will be in charge of an electronic version of K-a, starting in January.  He's working out the details at the moment. There are lots of options and he's deciding what will work best. I'll be printing the e-mail suggestions that were sent this month and I encourage members to comment on the situation in their contribs.

I know this will disappoint those who wish to see the paper version continue, but sometimes we just have to roll with the changes.  K-a has had a 52-year run, through ups and downs, which is an impressive accomplishment.  Let's close out the run with three solid mailings.

best -- Merlin Haas

MARVEL 1990s: CAPTAIN AMERICA ANNUAL #9

Previously in Tony Isabella's Bloggy Thing...
 
I’m working my way through Marvel Firsts: The 1990s Omnibus - all 1288 pages of it - a story at a time. I was not a big fan of Marvel during the 1990s, but I figured it was time to take another look at the characters and comics launched in what has been called “comics' most divisive decade.”

Only one story from Captain America Annual #9 [1990] is reprinted in the 1990s omnibus: a 10-page Nomad tale by writer Fabian Nicieza with artists Don Hudson (pencils) and Tom Morgan (inks). “Walking the Line” set the stage for the Nomad limited series which would, in turn, be followed by an ongoing series. The woefully inadequate Grand Comics Database summary is one line long:

Nomad gets a new costume.

SPOILERS AHEAD
SPOILERS AHEAD
SPOILERS AHEAD


There is more to the story than that. Jack Monroe, former sidekick to Captain America, quietly attends the funeral of Patty Joplin, a young woman who was his informant. She was also a drug addict whose habit was fed by drug dealer Umberto Safilos. Nomad is astonished to find Safilos at the funeral, invited by Patty’s parents. We get some tough guy action between Nomad and Safilos’ henchmen. Safilos suggests Monroe talk to the Joplins.

This is not your average gritty story. Though Nomad thought Safilos was Patty’s pimp, the situation is somewhat more complicated than that. Safilos is the father of the child Patty turned over to her parents to be raised. There is a stalemate between the Joplins and the drug dealer. Safilos knows of serious improprieties in Patty’s father’s business. The Joplins are raising his child.

“Life goes on.”

Nomad isn’t sure what to do next, but he knows he has to change how he operates. The new costume is part of that.

SPOILERS OVER
SPOILERS OVER
SPOILERS OVER


I enjoyed this dark story of a dark world. I recall enjoying both the Nomad limited and ongoing series as well. If Marvel collected those issues in a trade paperback or two, I would more than likely buy them.

The annual also has two Captain America stories. The first - “You Are What You Eat” (23 pages) - launches “The Terminus Factor.” The five-part serial ran through this and four other annuals. I have no memory of this serial whatsoever.

This story was written by Roy Thomas with art by Jim Valentino and inker Sam de la Rosa. The GCD summary:

Cap is helping investigate a live volcano when a strange luminous substance escapes the lava and inhabits the local pond. When the villagers (and Iron Man) eat the tainted fish, they go berserk and attack Cap.

Tainted fish? Was this a remake of Airplane?

The second Captain America story - “ A Soldier's Story” (22 pages) is written by Randall Frenz with art by Mark Bagley (pencils) and Mike DeCarlo. The GCD summary:

Reb [Ralston] is shot and dreams of an adventure where Cap and the [Howling Commandoes] saved the Starks from the Red Skull.

I have no memory of this story either.

Since I liked the Nomad story, the 1990s have tied the score 2-2 in  this series of Marvel Firsts: The 1990s Omnibus reviews. I’ll be doing more of these reviews in the future.

Tomorrow is “Rawhide Kid Wednesday” with our straight-shooting hero going up against the “Guns of the Comancheros!” See you then.

© 2016 Tony Isabella