Friday, December 11, 2015


I like to think I become wiser and more forgiving as I get older, but there’s a slim possibility that’s a crock of shit. However, I am striving not to take what has been done and will be done to old favorites personally. Some readers, maybe even most readers, enjoy some comic books more than I do. They have their own ideas on what they like in a character or a title. As Don Thompson, my late and always missed mentor, used to say “If you like that sort of thing, you’ll like this.” Words to live and review by.

DC’s Grayson [$3.99] is not a title I enjoy. The title star is the former Robin/Nightwing. His identity was exposed to the world and he was thought dead. He has infiltrated a spy organization called Spyral and is that nefarious group’s Agent 37. He’s still working for Batman, even though Batman isn’t Batman these days. We won’t go into Batman’s present circumstances today.

Grayson #14 is the only issue of the title I have ever bought and I bought it for the Looney Tunes variant cover by Mikel Janin and Spike Brandt. I love this variant cover. It’s the main reason I’m  writing about Grayson in this bloggy thing.

Dick Grayson has reportedly been under fire for nearly a decade and rumors of his impending demise were all the online rage with fans of the character sorely miffed at what they perceived as DC’s lack of love for Nightwing. I can see where DC might have a problem with Grayson. Logically, Dick must be pushing 30 and that means company cash cow Batman must be pushing 50. As a reader who is facing his 64th birthday in a couple weeks - Will you still need me, will you still feed me? - that doesn’t bother me.

What does bothers me is that Dick Grayson, a grown-ass man who has proven himself time and time again, is still answering “how high” when Batman tells him to jump. Granted, he’s one of several grown-ass men and women who do the same, but, after a time, that routine became tiresome to me. Except in the case of Black Lightning, this doesn’t offend me per se. I just don’t find it interesting. I would like to see Grayson be his own man. But, if you like that sort of thing, you’ll like this.

Sidebar. Though I don’t buy Grayson or, for that matter, too many mainstream super-hero comic books, the genre still remains one of my favorites. I have a friend who does buy a great many super-hero comics and he loans me his copies so I can keep up with the titles and, on occasion, when I think I have something interesting to say about them, write about them. I might not enjoy some or even many of those titles, but I will never disparage the genre as a whole. I love super-hero comics, even if I don’t love all of the current incarnations of some of my old favorites.

Sidebar the second. I also strive not to be one of those cranky old fans who proudly proclaims that he wouldn’t wipe his ass on super-hero comics published after the 1960s or the 1970s or the 1980s or whenever he was toilet-trained. Maybe that next different take on the Astonishing Sponge-Man will thrill me anew. But I’ll never get the chance to discover that renewed thrill if I refuse to give the new Sponge-Man a chance to win me over.


Eerie Archives Volume Twenty [Dark Horse; $49.95] reprints issues #95-99 in a magazine-size hardcover collection. This is a terrific looking book, but, alas, by this time in the title’s history (1978-1979), I found it difficult to read each new issue.

The stories were wordy and not in an “Alan Moore is an incredible writer” kind of way. I never warmed up to The Rook and that strip is in every issue. The art is mostly by Spanish artists who, though many could draw beautifully, were sub-standard storytellers. If all I want is pretty pictures, I’ll go to a art museum.

Some of the stories read like they were written long after they had been drawn. They read like the American scripters were given pages of somewhat connected art and asked to make up a story to go with it. Some of the attempts get an “E” for “effort,” but none of these stories win even a small prize.

There are some good stories. “Harrow House” is a decent surprise-ending tale which was unfortunately broken into two halves and run in issues #95 and #99. It was written by Bruce Jones and drawn by Jose Ortiz. I also enjoyed Jim Steinstrum’s “Willie’s Super-Magic Basketball” with art by Carmine Infantino and Rudy Nebres. Comics historians might also find some value in Joe Brancatelli’s biased and tedious “The Comic Books” columns.

These later Eerie Archives collections are for Warren Publications enthusiasts. You could get very good copies of the original issues in this book for less than the cost of this reprint volume. If you really like the material and the hardcover format, then I suspect you’ll be okay with the $49.99 price tag.

ISBN 978-1-61655-850-5 


I’ve been extremely critical of Marvel’s recent Secret Wars event.I haven’t cared for the main, as-yet-uncompleted series. I haven’t cared for most of the countless tie-in series. Okay, I suppose you could count them, but that would be as boring as actually reading them. There has been a sameness to these spin-off titles, even when they are written and drawn by talented creators. Still, one of the series did kind of sort of tickle my fancy.

The four-issue 1872 speaks to my love of the Marvel westerns of the 1960s, even though it doesn’t feature any of those cowboy heroes. Written by Gerry Duggan with art by Nik Virella and colors by Lee Loughridge, this series is set in a secluded Old West town filled with versions of such Marvel mainstays as Steve Rogers, Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, Wilson Fisk, Natasha Barnes, and others. It’s a town under the thumb of Mayor Fisk who, in turn, of the Roxxon Company. While not as breezy as the Marvel western comics of the 1960s, it is a solid story of good guys and bad guys and some folks finding their way to one side or the other. There are some shocks along the way and, most importantly, a satisfying ending. These four issues tell a complete story, something the majority of the other Secret Wars spin-offs failed to accomplish.

This series has been collected in a just-released trade paperback with some additional reprints from Avengers #80 and Marvel Comics Presents #180. At $15.99, it’s an affordable gift for your Marvel Comics reading friends or yourself. I recommend it.

ISBN 978-0-7851-9877-2

That’s all for now, my friends. Hug your loved ones and keep them close. I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2015 Tony Isabella

1 comment:

  1. Hey Tony,

    I don't much care for Grayson either, but D.G. is on fire (IMO) in 2015's Batman Eternal. There are some twists in that story, starting with issue #1, which really made me sit up and take notice. Have you read it?