Thursday, March 8, 2012


Fighting in Korea, Combat Kelly had a healthy run in the 1950s with
a total of 44 issues from November 1951 to August 1957 and a couple
guest shots in Battle.  His third issue, shown here and dated March
1952 hit the newsstands in my birth month of December 1951.  Since
the Korean War ended in July of 1953, Kelly overstayed his time in
that country by four years.  However, The M*A*S*H television series
holds the record for fighting in that war.  It debuted in September
1972 and in ended February 1983.

The cover of this issue manages to tell a complete story in a mere
three panels, but, alas, no one has identified the cover artist at
this time.  There are two Combat Kelly stories in the issue, both
of them written by Hank Chapman and drawn by Joe Maneely.  If you
want to talk Atlas greats, Chapman and Maneely would be pretty much
at the top of the list.  I’d love to see collections of their 1950s
stories for the company.

The issue also has two non-series stories, one drawn by Gene Colan,
the other by Paul Reinman.  Colan did outstanding work throughout
his career.  Reinman did his best stuff in the 1950s.

Let’s see what else I have for you today.


The Elderberries, one of my favorite comic strips, has come to an
end.  Created by Phil Frank and carried on magnificently by Corey
Pandolph, the strip was set in a retirement community filled with
quirky residents and staff.  Strips about senior citizens are not
uncommon, but, unlike most of the other ones, the Elderberries was
not centered on the frailties of old age.  It didn’t go for any of
the easy jokes found in such strips.  Its humor came from a cast of
funny and interesting characters who made their own adventures in
a world that rarely gives seniors their due. 

The strip will continue in reruns.  Dusty, the General, Boone, Miss
Overdunne and the rest of the Elderpark gang will doubtless acquire
new readers who will find them as much fun to be around as I have.
I came to the strip midway through its run, so those older strips
will be new to me as well.  But, for now, my thanks to Frank, Joe
Troise, and Pandolph for their wonderful work on the feature...and
my additional thanks to Pandolph for giving the characters a grand
send-off.  Well done, sir.


While trying to get current on Marvel titles, I’m also attempting
to stay current on the DC “New 52" titles I’m still reading and, of
course, reading comics, graphic novels, and manga from many other
publishers.  If Doc Wertham was right, I’m undoubtedly heading for
a life of crime.

Aquaman #2-5 and Batgirl #2-5 were the most recent DCs I read.  I’m
loving both a lot.  I’m still thrown by what is and isn’t still in
continuity in those titles, but it’s starting to come together for
me.  Even with these series, I could use a scorecard.

I haven’t enjoyed Aquaman this much in decades.  Writer Geoff Johns
is making the Sea King relatable and just cool enough to be both a
legend and a bit of a loser at the same time.  Those man-munching
monsters from the Trench were scary villains.  The mysterious fate
of Atlantis and the surprise appearance of some survivors intrigues
me.  Artists Ivan Reis (pencils) and Joe Prado (inks) are producing
outstanding visuals issue after issue.  Unlike many “New 52" books,
Aquaman doesn’t come off as comics by committee.  It has a singular
voice and, for me, that makes for great comics.

Batgirl #1 was good but a little shaky, but, with issues #2-5, Gail
Simone rocked the character and the scripts.  We got to see Barbara
Gordon deal with serious issues, defeat a frightening villain, and
prove herself ready and more than able to run with the big dogs of
Gotham.  Some of the continuity changes throw me, such as her dad
having never remarried, but I’m good with that one.  The surprise
appearance of another member of the Gordon family was also a spiffy
twist.  My only question...did Oracle exist in this new continuity
and, if so, how extensive was Barbara’s involvement with the Birds
of Prey.  Inquiring minds.

Five issues of Batgirl.  Two excellent villains.  Action, drama and
emotion.  At the moment, Batgirl is my favorite DC Comics series.
Have I mentioned that Simone rocks?


Save for Avengers Academy, I enjoy New Avengers more than all those
other Avengers titles.  I love the idea of Luke Cage leading these
heroes.  I love the quirky line-up.  I love Squirrel Girl because,
come on, she’s Squirrel Girl. 

Writer Brian Michael Bendis seems to bring his best stuff to this
title.  The banter and the monologues work better here than in his
other books.  The characters don’t seem like they have to work to
be comfortable around and even friendly with each other.  The Mike
Deodato art and storytelling is first-rate, dynamic when it needs
to be, human when that’s called for.  Even the reappearance of the
overused Norman Osborn - I’m all for Hawkeye putting an arrow into
his skull - didn’t harsh my buzz too much.  Even so, Norman is one
of those annoying songs that makes me wince whenever I “hear” him.
Where’s the Punisher when you need him?

While I didn’t think the execution was as strong as it could/should
have been, I was intrigued by Wonder Man’s thinking as to attacking
the Avengers in New Avengers Annual #1 and Avengers Annual #1.  It
always bothers me when these terrible events that dominate Marvel’s
universe get brushed away as if they weren’t absolutely devastating
to the general public.  It’s good to see Wonder Man, crazy though
he may be, addressing this question.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2012 Tony Isabella


  1. Dave sez,

    You CAN'T go wrong with Aquaman! Green Lantern and Aquaman are my MUST reads from DC. GL is a hold-over from Geoff Johns relaunch, Green Lantern: Rebirth. I did stop reading it during Brightest Day, though. A weekly follow up to Blackest Night was a bit too much strain on my wallet. As long as Johns and Reis are with Aquaman, so will I.

    I have a feeling that DC NEEDS to succeed with Aquaman. Marvel has Namor. Disney/Marvel has Percy Jackson, son of Poseidon. DC may be finding that it is not a good thing to just sit on their properties, when Marvel and Disney are bringing so many of them to film - like The Avengers characters. I would LOVE to see an Invaders film! Captain America, the Human Torch and Namor!

  2. I've been a fan of Elderberries too. My mother worked in geriatric care for many years, mostly as Director of Nursing, and the strip reminded me of some of her stories. I think she worked with Miss Overdunne. My newspaper has decided not to run the reprints; they've replaced the strip with one called "Gil".

  3. I agree with you on the execution of both the writing and art in New Avengers. Top notch for a new book from Marvel. And Squirrel Girl!... what can I say, Doreen's a cutie, and I love her being thrown in the mix. Too me Academy has been less appealing as of late (last 3 issues or so), but I'm loyal to a title once I start on it, so... there you have it. Have you tried Secret Avengers? I like it because it reminds me of the old Agent of SHIELD book, where you can expect what you see to be "behind the scenes" as far as the rest of the titles are concerned. Plus I really like the idea of Steve Rogers being groomed to be the next Nick Fury. I love the big Red White & Blue BoyScout, but I also like him "growing up" emotionally to see the real problems behind the flag, and get a little dirty to try and clean things up.