Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Dave Bennett emerges victorious in our DESIGN A NEW LOGO FOR TONY
ISABELLA contest with the spiffy keen piece shown above.  He wins
a prize package of autographed copies of 1000 Comic Books You Must
and Grim Ghost #1-6.

In alphabetical order, our riotous runners-up are Alan David Doane,
Mark Evanier, Robert Lloyd, and Christopher Mills.  Their entries
have appeared in previous bloggy things.  They receive their choice
of either an autographed copy of 1000 Comic Books You Must Read or
Grim Ghost #1-6. 

To claim their prizes, these fine crafters of logos need to send me
their preferred mailing address and, in the case of the runners-up,
their choice of prize.  Once I receive this information, I’ll get
the prizes out as soon as possible.

I’m kicking around an idea for another contest.  When it’s ready,
I’ll announce it here.


With no paying gigs on my desk or in my immediate future, I’ve been
reading many of the comics loaned to me by a friend.  My February
reading project in what will be a year-long effort to get current
with Marvel Comics titles, was Fantastic Four and FF, both written
by Jonathan Hickman.  I say “was” because I’m now current with the
titles and pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed them.  They
rank with Avengers Academy and Daredevil as some of the best super-
hero comics I’ve read in recent months.

Hickman’s Fantastic Four is very imaginative with new ideas and new
plot twists coming along on a nigh-monthly basis. While I’ve heard
complaints that the Four aren’t in character, I disagree.  Not only
do I recognize Reed, Sue, Ben, and Johnny in these comics, I find
their reactions to circumstances that even they must find daunting
to be logical and consistent.

The temporary - Aren’t they all? - death of the Human Torch worked
for me.  His “demise” was courageous and affecting.  His return to
life was, well, more than a little gross but still believable in the
context of this current series of adventures.

I like the addition of Spider-Man as an honorary member of the FF
family and the amazing number of “foster children” now residing at
the Baxter Building.  Reed and Sue are very busy working parents,
the kind of parents I recognize in my own community, albeit without
all the alien and interdimensional invaders.  The feeling of family
is coming through in Hickman’s work.

There are still some high body counts in these issues, an overused
element of Marvel super-hero stories, but there’s more of a sense
the heroes are accutely aware of these and trying to minimize the
lost of lives and property.  There’s a scene in which the horrified
heroes realize that debris from a space battle is falling on their
city and their emotional pain is evident.

Another positive for these titles was the lack of tie-ins to that
horrible Fear Itself event.  It happened, but it didn’t impact or
slow down Fantastic Four and FF.

The FF/FF negatives are few.  Doctor Doom as some sort
of noble monster isn’t ringing true for me because I can’t forget
his slaughter of innocents while Marvel was dismantling everything
that was really cool about the Black Panther and Wakanda.  I might
never see Doom in an even slightly more positive light because of
that just plain dumb story, something editors and writers should
consider before going forward with such game-changing developments.
Good change is good, dumb change isn’t.

Even more minor...I don’t like the Juan Bobillo/Marcelo Sosa art on
FF.  All the characters look stunted to me and the European flavor
seems out of place for a distinctly American comic.  The Fantastic
Four are American super-heroes and an American family; the art in
their comics should reflect that.

Lots of positives, few negatives.  Fantastic Four and FF are both
well worth reading.


My side February reading project is Wolverine.  The five years or
so before Greg Rucka came on the title in mid-2003 were close to a
total train wreck.  Some good and even outstanding art on occasion,
but truly lousy writing. 

Two pre-Rucka stories deserve comment.  Matt Nixon’s “The Shadow
Pulpit” [Wolverine #117-118, August, 2002] were a literally ungodly
mess featuring a secret murderous faction of the Catholic Church
plotting to mind-control New Yorkers into becoming Catholics.  I’m
a lapsed Catholic of many years - I’ll consider returning as soon
as I see the Pope doing the perp walk for his role in covering up
child molestation and protecting pedophile priests - and even I was
offended by this nonsense.

However, Daniel Way’s “Good Cop, Bad Cop” [Wolverine #188-189, May-
June, 2003] was much more to my liking.  Logan plays a supporting
role in a tale about a good cop trying to bring down a murderously
bad cop. Penciler Staz Johnson did a fine job on the visual end of
things.  Good storytelling with strong emotional content.  I think
I like Logan more the less he’s involved with the rest of Marvel’s
super-hero universe.  He doesn’t play well with others and most of
his interactions seem forced to me.

I’m almost done with the Rucka run and, when I finish it, I’ll have
stuff to say about it.


I caught up with two of DC’s “New 52" titles as well: Green Arrow
and All-Star Western.  Sad to say, the former has not lived up to
the promise of its first issue.  It’s heavy on mindless action and
is failing to keep its title hero or his supporting cast interesting.
Maybe incoming writer Ann Nocenti will be able to turn this series
around, but, as I never cared for her stint on Daredevil, it will
be a hard sell for me.

All-Star Western is still readable, but that’s several notches down
from the wonder that was Jonah Hex.  The team of Jimmy Palmiotti
and Justin Grey who impressed me so mightily on the earlier series
are still writing this one, but the stories aren’t as strong as I’d
come to expect.  That’s sad. 

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2012 Tony Isabella


  1. As even a lapsed Catholic, you'll probably want to avoid Chuck Austen's "Holy War." Then again, everyone should avoid that story. Pee-yew.

  2. I too returned to the Fantastic Four as almost three decades because Hickman gets them right and they are the family team I remember from my youth. As for Catholicism, we're still on our own, each and every one of us. Being active or passive, God loves us all.

  3. Fantastic Four and FF are at the top of my list of Marvel Comics these days, but I also like the notion of Wolverine running a school for mutants.

  4. I really liked your new logo. Who is the guy holding your leash?

  5. I agree with everything you said about the Fantastic Four and the FF. I understand the idea of individual artistic expression, but why can't Juan Bobillo/Marcelo Sosa draws the characters "on-model"? Particularly Dragon Man, who has become my favorite of the foster kids.