Sunday, July 7, 2013


Whiz Comics #140 [Fawcett; December 1951] is another comic from my
birth month.  The cover artist is Kurt Schaffenberger, a top artist
for Fawcett, ACG and DC.  At DC, he’s best known for his long and
defining run on Lois Lane.

Multiple features in a 36-page comic book doesn’t give much space
for the individual features.  “Captain Marvel Becomes President of
the U.S.A.” only runs six pages.  On the other hand, I figure that
it only took six pages for Marvel’s political opponents to demand
his birth certificate and find out he was a) actually a 12-year-old
boy or b) born at the Rock of Eternity, which is neither one of the
50 states or a territory of the United States.  Otto Binder wrote
this story and it was drawn by Schaffenberger.

Also featured in this issue:

Colonel Corn and Korny Kobb in “Rent Fugitives,” a four-page humor
story.  Writer and artist unknown.

Golden Arrow in “Dynamite Trail,” a 6-page western-frontier story
inked and likely penciled by Anthony Cataldo.  The synopsis at the
Grand Comics Database: Curtis has bought land from a big rancher,
and then he finds gold on the property.

Wicky and O'Shawnessy in “Sport For Burglars,” a two-page text tale
by Rod Reed writing as Walter Farmer.

Lance O’Casey in “The Pearl Pirates,” a six-page adventure story,
drawn by Charles Tomsey.  The GCD synopsis: A steamer is attacked
by pirates, who steal a shipment of pearls.

Ibis the Invincible in “The Zombie Master,” a six-page super-hero
occult story.  Writer and artist unknown.

Doc Sawbones in “Symptomatic,” a half-page humor strip.  Writer and
artist unknown.

Keep watching this bloggy thing for more vintage comic-book covers
from the month of my birth.  There’s only a few more to go and then
I’ll start to visit comic books from the month when I decided that
I wanted to write comic books when I grew up.


Her Last Breath [Minotaur Books; $25.99] is Linda Castillo’s fifth
book in her Kate Burkholder series.  Burkholder is the police chief
of a Ohio village whose jurisdiction includes a large population of
Amish. The chief was born Amish and has uneasy and uncomfortable
ties to her family and former friends.  Not surprisingly, all these
novels involve crimes against or by the Amish.

Digression.  Ohio has the largest population of Old Order Amish in
the United States.  Ohioans are fascinated by the Amish, especially
those of us who live in close proximity to their communities.  It’s
only slightly unusual to see an Amish buggy in the parking lot of
one of our larger supermarkets.

That fascination extends to mystery novels.  I’m currently reading
two series involving the Amish.  I started reading a third series
but found its excessive detail and almost sermonizing approach to
Amish beliefs off-putting, though I’ll likely give it another try
later this year.

I’m as fascinated by the Amish as anyone.  I once devoted several
days attempting to craft a super-hero story with a young Amish boy
as its narrator, only to abandon it when I realized that doing it
justice would require more than the single-issue story I was going
for.  I’ll probably return to it some day.  Anyway, that ends this
digression.  On to Her Last Breath...

Burkholder has her flaws and her demons, which is pretty standard
for police heroes in these books.  She’s romantically involved with
a big-city detective who comes with his own baggage.  She’s built
a competent and loyal police force, despite her losing her regular
battles with the penny-pinching city council.  She has family among
the Amish, but they consider her a sinful outsider who is definitely
going to burn in Hell for all eternity.  As a liberal with a birth
family full of clueless right-wingers, I can relate to Burkholder’s
disconnect from that family.

There are three storylines in this novel, only one of which will be
resolved by the book’s conclusion.  What initially appears to be a
terrible hit-and-run accident which kills an Amish man and two of
his three special-needs children is actually a carefully-conceived
murder.  The man’s wife was Burkholder’s best friend when she was
an Amish teenager and, in looking for suspects, Kate dredges up too
many memories, both happy and sad.

Another storyline involves Burkholder’s relationship with Detective
John Tomasetti as that relationship reaches what could be a turning
point.  The third involves evidence of a decades-old crime that may
end Burkholder’s career.  So, even as I’m basking in the enjoyment
of Her Last Breath, I’m eagerly awaiting the next novel.  I hope I
won’t have too long of a wait.

Her Last Breath has everything I like in a mystery novel.  It has
great characters, heinous villains (even if we don’t know who they
are until the end chapters), human interest, suspenseful action and
a sense of fairness when it comes to giving readers the chance to
solve the mystery on their own.  We get the clues right alongside
Burkholder.  I’m pleased to say I figured out the mysteries about
the same times she did.

I recommend all the Kate Burkholder books:

Sworn to Silence, Minotaur Books, 2009
ISBN 978-0312597160

Pray for Silence, Minotaur Books, 2010
ISBN 978-0312540036

Breaking Silence, Minotaur Books, 2011
ISBN 978-1250001580

Gone Missing, Minotaur Books, 2012
ISBN 978-0312658564

Her Last Breath, Minotaur Books, 2013
ISBN 978-0312658571


Bongo Comics continue to publish some of the best buys and most fun
books in the industry.  With the exception of a few house ads, Bart
#82 and #83 [$2.99 each] were cover to cover comics stories
or related content.

Bart Simpson #82 leads off with “The Martin Chronicles,” in which
Martin and Milhouse vie for the role as Bart’s best friend.  It’s
social climbing for the desperate by Ian Boothby with art by Phil
Ortiz and Mike Rote.  The issue includes three other stories and a
lively editorial/letters section.

Bart Simpson #83 has “The Booty,” a wild story by Pat McGreal that
involves, among other things, competitive eating with a rare comic
book as its prize.  Art is by Rex Lindsey and Dan Davis.  A second
Bart story by Shane Houghton, Nina Matsumoto and Andrew Pepoy finds
our rebellious young hero imprisoned in the school library until he
reads a book and writes a book report.

Bongo’s Simpsons and Futurama comics will delight viewers of those
shows.  Since I’m one of those happy viewers, I can’t say for sure
if non-viewers will enjoy them as well.  My bet would be that they
would because the comic books strike me as being accessible even to
readers whose knowledge of the shows comes from social osmosis and
not actual viewing.  Definitely recommended.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.   

© 2013 Tony Isabella


  1. I like the typo "Ibid the Invincible". What would his powers be? He has the same powers as the hero in the previous story?

  2. Typo fixed. Head bowed in shame.