Thursday, January 26, 2012


DC Comics published two western comics in the month of my birth, a
mere drop in the bucket in a month that saw 28 different western
titles hit the newsstands.  All-American Western #124, continuing
the numbering of All-American Comics, was dated February-March of
1952 as was All-Star Western #63, which continued the numbering of
All-Star Comics, previous home of the Justice Society of America.
Julius Schwartz was the actual editor of both issues.

Johnny Thunder, a seemingly mild-mannered schoolteacher who fought
crime disguised as the dark-haired hero, was the cover feature of
All-American Western.  His father was the town sheriff, who often
compared his son unfavorably to the dynamic Thunder.  “The Iron
Horse’s Last Run” was written by Robert Kanigher with art by Alex
Toth and Sy Barry. Johnny was backed up by strips that can best be
described as third-stringers: Overland Coach, Minstrel Maverick and
Foley of the Fighting Fifth.  The writers and artists included John
Broome, Gil Kane, Irwin Hasen, Carmine Infantino, and Joe Giella.
None of these stories, save for a two-page strip by Alvin Schwartz
and Mort Drucker, have ever been reprinted.

Native-American hero Strong Bow was the cover star of this issue of
All-Star Western in a tale by Bill Finger and Frank Giacoia.  He
would eventually lose his spot to the Trigger Twins.

The Twins were Walt and Wayne Trigger.  Walt was a sheriff and his
brother was a civilian.  They were identical twins and equally good
with a gun.  They double-teamed owlhoots who had no idea they were
up against not one, but two heroes.  Their story in this issue was
written by Kanigher with art by Infantino and Giella.  The issue’s
other main strips were Roving Ranger (with art by Toth and Giella)
and Don Caballero (drawn by Kane and Bernard Sachs).

By the time I started reading DC’s western titles, they were down
to just two or three strips per issue. Johnny Thunder and Trigger
Twins were the headline acts, though Matt Savage, Trail Boss, would
eventually knock the Twins off the covers of the relaunched Western

Look for more comics from December, 1951, the month of my birth, in
future bloggy things.


Iron Man is my “catching up on Marvel” reading project this month.
For the most part, I don’t plan to comment on these issues unless
I have something interesting - if only to myself - to write about
them.  Like today.

Matt Fraction’s Invincible Iron Man #1-7 are cover-dated from July,
2008 to January, 2009.  Fraction’s work on the title has received
considerable praise and not without reason.  These issues featured
a chilling global war between Tony Stark and the son of an old foe,
portrayed the complexity of Stark’s life, and even managed to make
him somewhat less of a war criminal in my eyes.

Where these issues didn’t work for me is something I find a common
failing in many of Marvel’s super-hero titles, most usually in the
titles written by the so-called architects of the Marvel Universe.
Sadly, these writers seem far more interested in mass destruction
and enormous body counts that actually building anything of lasting
value.  If I lived in their Marvel Universe, I’d need heavy-duty
anti-depressants just to get out of bed in the morning.

The body counts and destruction are the stuff of Hollywood movies,
not surprising given the comics industry’s financial dependence on
and twisted adoration of that trashy world.  Yet there are seldom
lasting consequences to the body counts and destruction.  It’s as
if New York and other Marvel Universe locales had an eternal supply
of citizens and buildings to be knocked off by the next abominable
villain.  It’s like Whack-a-Mole with victims and structures that
pup back up every time you hit them.

The “Dark Reign” issues of Iron Man are next.  Even though no one
at Marvel ever convinced me that any American government would make
Norman Osborn the top cop of Marvel America - my willing suspension
of disbelief doesn’t go that far - I’m looking forward to reading
what Fraction does with that absurd concept.


As is my habit, I write items on index cards so I can discuss them
in this bloggy thing.  Today’s card has three items on it:

John Rozum
Mars Attacks
“Do the math!”

John Rozum, an extremely talented writer, has gone public with his
reasons for leaving DC’s Static Shock title after working on issues
#1-4 of that “New 52" series.  That’s his story to tell and he does
so with considerable grace on his blog.  I recommend his words to
all fans of the character Static and as a cautionary note to things
that are frequently going wrong at companies like DC.

My own take on this situation lacks Rozum’s grace, but, hey, what
do you expect from a grumpy old man like me?  Unicorns, candy, and
pretty flowers?

I have long contended - and said as much to Dwayne McDuffie several
years back - that DC’s main interest in the Milestone super-heroes
is to keep any other publisher from doing them.  Frankly, I can’t
imagine another publisher treating the characters worse than DC has
these past two decades.

In Static Shock, you had a fair-to-middling artist with the urge to
be a writer being the driving creative force of that book.  That he
exhibited no particular skill as a writer is meaningless.  He read
a book on writing.  One book.

Then you have an editor whose GCD listing shows exactly one eight-
page script to his credit and who chooses to defer to said artist.
No matter how stupid that artist’s plotting, writing, and demands
were.  It’s an absolute perfect storm for the creation of a lousy
comic book.

This isn’t a unique situation.  Editors with little or no creative
chops are micro-managing talented writers.  The favored writers and
artists get to run roughshod over characters, storylines, and their
fellow creators.  I was going to say it was high-school behavior,
but it’s middle-school at best.

It’s time for some adult supervision.


Kudos to IDW for making absolutely inspired choices to write their
new Mars Attacks series.  Chew creator/writer John Layman will be
writing the series and it will be drawn by the great John McCrea.
I am so on board with this.

As reported by Rich Johnston at Bleeding Cool, the comic will have
55 variant covers, each of them representing one of the 55 original
Mars Attacks trading cards.  There’s no way I can afford to buy 55
copies of a comic book, but I’m hoping IDW will collect all these
covers in some sort of special.  Maybe as a fundraiser for the Hero
Initiative? That would be a very good thing.


My old Bullpen Buddy Scott Edelman tweeted: I dreamt I annoyed all
my friends by coming up with a personal catchphrase and dropping it
into every conversation: "Do the math!"

Which made me think...why math? 

Math is hard.  Why must we keep asking people to do it?  Maybe we
should explore some alternatives?

Do the biology.

Do the geography.

Do the remedial reading.

It’s time to overthrow the tyranny of math.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2012 Tony Isabella


  1. Given the tendency of many people these days not to do even minimal research on anything, I rather like your "do the remedial reading" and plan to start using that soon. If I may quote you, that is.

  2. If John Bolton could be an Ambassador to the UN, I think pretty much anything is possible.

    Now convicted felon Bernard Kerik came very close to running the Homeland Security department.

    I don't know if pointing out how unbelievable reality is will make you enjoy Marvel Comics more or your life less. Sorry if it's the latter.

    I had the same reaction to the old DC cross-over where Gotham City was abandoned after an earthquake. No US government would allow a major metropolis to just decay after a disaster! Then came Hurricane Katrina.

    I guess we either need strong powers of denial or strong anti-depressants to make it in the real world, too.