Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Tony Isabella is a jerk...because he’s not writing a second “Tony
Isabella is a jerk” column like he promised he would in last week’s
award-resistant blog.

I had fun writing that “jerk” column and you had fun reading it.  I
was several hundred words into the sequel when I realized I wasn’t
having any fun writing it.  Which made me wonder if you would have
any fun reading it.  So I ditched what I wrote and started writing
today’s bloggy thing.

After reading the “jerk” column, some of you gave me online hugs to
make me feel better.  They were nice, but unnecessary.  The trolls,
anonymous or otherwise, who occasionally unleashed their unskilled
venom on me amuse me.  I find them hilarious.  While I could mock
them all day long, there’s no challenge to that.  Their own words
mock them far more than anything I could write.

If I address any of these poor benighted souls in the future, I’ll
do so because I’ve uncovered new information on a past bloggy thing
topic and want to share that information with you.  For example, I
may write a new Ghost Rider column in the near future on account of
I found some old notes in my files and had a conversation with one
of my editors on the series.  Given I wrote my run on Ghost Rider
four decades ago, these old notes and new conversations will help
help me clarify the facts further.

Comments to this bloggy thing need to be approved by me before they
appear on the blog.  That keeps the trolls under the bridge where
they belong.  But never doubt that I appreciate your comments and
do my best to approve them in a timely manner.

Let’s see what else is on my mind today.


I have a friend who lends me his comic books after he’s read them.
He has been doing this for over a decade and, though he’s not the
least concerned about my holding on to them for so many years, I’m
embarrassed that I now have 20 short boxes of his comics stacked up
in my son’s room, next to the two large windows facing Damon Drive.

My fall resolution is to get current with my friend’s comics before
this time next year.  Of course, if I achieve that goal, I’ll have
to replace his boxes with 20 of my own boxes.  His boxes have been
stacked to form a staircase which my cat climbs so she can lounge
on the top of the boxes and watch the neighborhood.  Day or night,
this is one of Simba’s favorite spots. 

Sainted Wife Barb rolls her eyes when I explain to her why I must
have boxes by the windows.  She doesn’t understand the bond between
a man and his cat.  She fears I am one bag of delicious cat treats
from becoming a crazy cat-person.  But I digress.

I read Steed and Mrs. Peel #0-8 [Boom! Studious; $3.99].  A devoted
viewer of The Avengers back in the day - the 1960s British TV series -
I wanted to love these comics.  Unfortunately, the most I can manage is
to kind of like them and I’m not sure that's not mostly because I like the
idea of a Steed and Mrs. Peel comics series.

Writers Mark Waid and Caleb Monroe do a good job mimicking the TV
show, which is one of my problems.  Comic books aren’t TV shows and
you have to make allowances for their difference besides making use
of an unlimited visual budget.  The dialogue echos the characters
well, but it also comes off as trying too hard.

The most memorable episode of the TV series was the one wherein our
intrepid British heroes contended with the Hellfire Club.  The look
of the legendary episode was so memorable Chris Claremont and John
Byrne lifted it wholesale for their X-Men comics way back in 1980.
Terrific as that episode was, I don’t need to see the Hellfire Club
in darn near every issue of this Boom comic-book series and I don’t
need to see Emma in her “Black Queen” outfit over and over again.
Enough with the fan-service already.

Visually, Steed and Mrs. Peel looks stiff to me.  Were I a gambling
man, I’d wager the Boom artists have only a handful of photo head
shots of the main characters and are constantly struggling to not
make that as obvious as it is.  I appreciate accurate drawings of
the delicious Diana Rigg and the immaculate Patrick Macnee, but not
at the expense of fluid storytelling.

These issues of Steed and Mrs. Peel leave me yearning for a writer
and artist who will do the series justice.  These are two wonderful
characters with a unique style of adventuring and an unmistakable
rapport.  When I think of all that could be done in the Boom comic
books, it makes me sad such potential is so far from being realized
in them.  As much as Steed needs Mrs. Peel, this series needs some
fresh thought.


Conan is one of the classic characters in fantastic fiction, but a
little Conan goes a long way with me.  I love the original Robert
E. Howard stories and enjoyed much of the L. Sprague DeCamp
and Lin Carter follow-ups to those stories.

When it comes to Conan comics, my favorite writers are Roy Thomas
and Kurt Busiek.  They often brought a lyrical quality to Conan’s
adventures lacking in most other interpretations.  Additionally, I
don’t think any comics writer has matched the epic scope of some of
Thomas’ extended storylines.  That said, I am enjoying the current
Conan material written by Brian Wood.

In reading my friend’s Conan comics, I came across what may be the
most chilling sequences I’ve ever seen in Conan comics.  Conan #4-6
[Dark Horse; May-July 2004] saw Conan captured by Hyperboreans and
taken to a city ruled by pale sorcerers who live exceedingly long
lives and are bored unto death by their unending years.  So, from
time to time, one of these ghastly beings ends his life by throwing
himself off a high cliff and into the arms of the “gods” who dwell
below...preceded by his mesmerized servants.  It’s as scary as any
horror in any previous or later Conan adventure.  Conan’s rage came
across and figuratively boiled within me, thanks to the exceptional
writing by Busiek and equally powerful art by Cary Nord and Thomas
Yeates.  If I ever do a sequel to 1000 Comic Books You Must Read,
these issues will be included.

That's all for now. I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.  
© 2013 Tony Isabella


  1. I have a dozen short boxes that I have stacked, in staircase fashion, for our cat Babie. Like Simba, she loves this perch and like Barb, Donna just rolls her eyes when I tell her I can't rearrange the boxes.

    The STEED & MRS. PEEL mini-series done by Grant Morrison and Ian Gibson back in '90 was a lot of fun, even though the characters weren't really 'on model'. Morrison more than captured the personalities of the characters. I think the any new folks working on the current series might want to go back and see how it can be done.

  2. Hi Tony,

    Today is my birthday and I just thought I'd comment. I hope you do another book and call it: "another 1000 comic books you must read". I love the format the historical facts you put in for each issue. I always frequent your new site on Tony's Tips to see what you think of current and books past. You are the top of my favorite links in my Google Chrome favorite links category. You are at the top of the list. I go to your site every day to read what's new.

  3. This blog made me think of all the "to be read" items I have in my possession - and then, made me shudder at just how long it would take me to read them.

    How long it would take at my current rate of consumption and then, how long it would take if I had uninterrupted time to do it.

    And then visions of Burgess Meredith in those thick, thick glasses came to mind.

  4. What's going on with the Tales of Wonder site? I haven't been able to access the blog (where Tony's Tips is hosted) for a couple days now.

  5. I'll try to find out what's going with the TOW blog.

  6. There's been some sort of glitch, but the fine folks at Tales of Wonder hope to have the blog up and running shortly.

    There won't be a new Tony's Tips this week, partly because of this glitch and mostly because I need to buy myself some time.