Tuesday, August 7, 2012


Kent Blake of the Secret Service #6 [March 1952} hit the newsstands
in my birth month of December 1951.  The issue comes midway through
the title’s 14-issue run.

Blake was a government investigator of some sort, though, from what
I’ve been able to learn of his adventures, his missions went well
beyond the usual territory of the real-world Secret Service as we
know it.  His debut issue adventures were written by Hank Chapman
with art by Joe Sinnott (pencils) and Tom Gill (inks).  With this
sixth issue, the Korean War became the backdrop for Blake’s cases.
The “Tales of War” focus would run through issue #12.

We don’t have definite credits for the sixth issue, but Atlas Tales
opines the cover might have been drawn by Sol Brodsky, who was
a prolific Atlas cover artist in the 1950s.  The website attributes
the art on the issue’s three Kent Blake stories to Gill.  The issue
also features two short non-series comics stories and a text story.

According to International Hero, Blake’s ghost appeared in Amazing
Spider-Man Annual
#13.  The site reports:

Kent continued to work for the Secret Service until the modern day,
when he was killed by Ryan, a minor crook. Never willing to leave
a case unfinished, in life or in death, his ghost returned to draft
in the aid of costumed crimefighter Spider-Man in capturing his

That said, the Grand Comics Database lists no such story in Amazing
Spider-Man Annual
#13.  Can any of my bloggy readers pinpoint where
this story actually appeared?

That’s what I know about Kent Blake.  Keep reading my bloggy thing
for more comics from the month of my birth.


My reading of “The New 52" from DC Comics is fairly random and my
reviewing of same even more so.  Overwhelmingly, the material does
not speak to me as a reader or as a writer.  The comics still smell
of desperation to me, despite the initial commercial success of the
relaunch.  Going forward, I’ll only be reviewing these titles when
they are very good, very bad, or strangely interesting.

Action Comics #9 [$3.99] by Grant Morrison and artist Gene Ha falls
into the third grouping.  It’s a tale of the Superman of Earth 23,
a dark-skinned alien who has become President of the United States.
Which is as illegal on that Earth as it would be on ours.  Perhaps
this comic book is what Joe Arpaio, the definitely racist, arguably
criminal sheriff of Arizona’s Maricopa County thinks is proof that
our own President Obama was born in Kenya.  Maybe Donald Trump or
Orly Taitz sent him their copies of the comic book.

While I have no way of knowing where Morrison falls on the absurd
“Birther” issue, I suspect he saw it as a cool springboard to tell
an entertaining and fascinating story.  In “Executive Power,” the
issue’s secondary feature, Sholly Fisch and Cully Hamner followed
up on the lead tale in like manner.  I enjoyed this issue...and I
also wonder how long it will take before someone starts selling it
on eBay with an emphasis on its “Birther” aspects.  Do right-wing
fanatics read comic books?

On a related note...why 52?

Why does this new DC Multiverse have only 52 Earths?  Is there some
mathematical or mystical significance to the number?  Is there an
advertising significance to the number beyond DC’s use of it?  To
my way of thinking, once you start with such parallel universes,
you’re logically dealing with an infinite number of such universes.
This is an actual question, so feel free to comment.


Bleeding Cool #0 [Avatar; $1.99] previews the new 100-page comics
magazine spinning off from the popular website.  Rich Johnston, the
originator of that site, is the head writer for this print edition.
I welcome its arrival.

Critics of Johnston’s style of journalism often complain that much
of what he writes is gossip, rumor and speculation.  I’m not a big
fan of gossip about the personal lives of comics creators and that
goes back to when I was actually working in the offices of Marvel
and DC.  But the rumors and speculations bear fruit with regularity
and that kind of stuff intrigues me.  Comics publishers hate when
someone pulls back the curtain to reveal their great and powerful
wizards are fast-talking con men from Kansas.

The preview issue downplays the gossip for articles on the Valiant
Comics relaunch, The Walking Dead, Boom!, and more, including an
interview with Before Watchmen contributor Len Wein, the original
editor of Watchmen.  Not every article will interest every reader,
but, with 100 pages per regular issue, I suspect every reader will
find a great deal of material of interest to him or her.

Bleeding Cool Magazine #1 launches in October.  I’m looking forward
to reading and reviewing it.


Over the weekend, I read Fantastic Four #603-607 and FF #15-19.  I
enjoyed them, but don’t have anything particularly profound to say
about them.  Some random thoughts:

The Council of Reed stuff is getting tiresome, as is the Franklin
and Valeria of the future stuff.  That said, the issues featuring
Galactus were cool. 

I laughed out loud at the issue with Johnny Storm and Peter Parker
as roommates.  Maybe Marvel Studios should think about producing a
buddy comedy.  I would offer casting suggestions if I knew or cared
who’s hot in Hollywood these days.

I don’t quite have a handle on Johnny Storm since he came back from
death and the Negative Zone.  I think there’s a personal story in
those events, but writer Jonathan Hickman seems to be dancing all
around it. 

The issue with the Negative Zone elections was sweet.  However, I’m
concerned the right wing of the Zone engaged in voter suppression
in the name of combating voter fraud that didn’t exist.  Maybe the
Watcher should look into that.

Man, there are a lot of youngsters attending the FF school.  It’s
hard to keep track of them.  But they are fun.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.
© 2012 Tony Isabella


  1. From my friend John Wells:

    Just a quick note to let you know that Kent Blake's ghost DID appear in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN ANNUAL #13's Doctor Octopus story (by Marv Wolfman and Byrne & Austin). I can send scans tonight if you're interested. (Interesting enough, Marv's pal Len Wein brought back DC's own 1950s secret agent King Faraday--who was still breathing--a few months before that in BATMAN #313-314.)

  2. Dave sez,

    ...So, I'm guessing that you'll be reviewing "The New 52" books two out of three times? :)

    I followed Green Lantern pretty much since Geoff Johns and Ethan Van Sciver brought Hal Jordan back in Rebirth. I liked how they pulled it off and what Johns was doing with the character. I stuck with the character up to Brightest Day. A 26- to 52-issue follow up to an eight issue mini-series with several "side-bars" just felt wrong to me.

    I'm thinking that 52 is DC's magic number as far as 52 weeks in a year. It's been a magic number as far as publishing and it seems to have bled over in the multiverse. I hate the idea of a multiverse. The idea of a dimension for Qward and the Crime Syndicate was fine. A single consistent history from the JSA to the Legion was alright by me - even though I'm kind of enjoying Robinson's Earth 2 - go figure.

    It's kind of weird that a multiverse would spring back from an event that erased all other Earths and realities to a single one. But I'm no rocket-surgeon...

    Green Lantern seems to be just Hal and Sinestro debating - until this latest issue with the return of Black Hand.

    Aquaman is still the must-read book for me. It's obvious that Johns is giving that 100%.

    Beyond that, there isn't a DC title that looks interesting to me as a fan or comic reader. But then, I don't believe that DC is aiming anything at me any more.

  3. DC did a year-long weekly series called 52 (the one by Rucka, Waid, Morrison, and Johns), that being the number of weeks in a year and thus issues of the series. The in-universe significance of the number was a running mystery in the series. It was revealed in the final issue to be the number of universes in the new Multiverse. The number seems to have stuck in DC's hive mind.

  4. Morrison actually came up with his "Black President Superman" before Obama was elected, so I'm pretty confident that there's no Birther intent there.

    The reason there are 52 alternate earths is because DC brought back the multiverse idea in its weekly miniseries, 52. I guess they felt they needed an in-story reason for the title of the miniseries, and went with the first one they could find.

  5. Tony,

    When I first heard that DC was planning a reboot with 52 titles my first reaction was perhaps they were looking towards the future. Perhaps they realize that the standard monthly comic (which has become nothing more than a story without a beginning and an end, nothing but a monthly chapter to a larger story) would eventually have to be replaced.

    Could DC be setting themselves up as a publisher offering a softcover book (much like what the Hernandez Brothers do with "Love & Rockets") each week? Batman one week, the next week Green Lantern Corps, the following week Flash, etc…

    Getting the audience/readers used to the idea that there dare 52 books published each year, one a week containing 80-100 pages.

    Or am I giving publishers like DC too much credit for thinking outside of the box?

  6. Yes, we right-wingers do read comic books. - A.

  7. My shot was at right-wing *fanatics* and I named three of them in the blog. Surely you don't count yourself among that mad sad gang of three.

  8. I wish I had known of Tom Gill's work on these books years ago. I have several Lone Ranger and other Gold Key books he did signed and this would have led to some interesting stories, I'm sure. Gill was a very, nice gentleman and loved talking about creators and editors he had worked with 'back in the day'.

    I recall there were, initially at least, 52 Monitors during Final Crisis (We could only have wished!). Picking a number like that does seem random and eventually I would think DC will find some way to increase or ignore the number when they need something for a sales boost.

  9. Mr. Isabella,

    I have posted a couple of times on your blog and I cannot say enough how much I have enjoyed your work through the years. I cannot understand why the major comic book corporations have de-emphasized the importance of competent writers. It seems to have been a growing trend through all forms of entertainment over the last thirty years. In the seventies it seems as if it was a golden age for writers. In comics, music, movies, and even television. I would love to one day hear your thoughts as to why we have regressed. Why the comic book industry has regressed? I can tell how much you love the comic book industry. It is a crime you do not have a place with the big two. Why have great writers been thrown on the trash heap? Why do companies no longer care if they put out an intelligent product? Was it the MTV generation or just the overall dumbing down of America? Is it simple economics? Now they can have one writer bang out mediocre plots for twenty different projects; instead of five different writers having the time to think about four scripts?

    I am not a very political person. The entire process makes me ill. I do think it is very arrogant and ignorant to believe one side is completely right and the other side is completely wrong. It seems as if the only thing the two sides can agree on is how to screw us over.