Wednesday, October 31, 2012


This weekend, I'll be working to clear out my garage at 840 Damon Drive, Medina, OH of all garage sale materials.  That means you have a final chance to get used (generally lightly used) comic book and magazine boxes for one dollar each. 



Previously in Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing...

The Rawhide Kid - the one created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, then
continued by Larry Lieber - is my favorite western character.  So,
inspired by Essential Rawhide Kid Volume 1, which reprinted all the
Lee/Kirby issues and then some, I’ve been writing about the Rawhide
Kid most every Wednesday.  When I ran out of the issues reprinted
in the book, I tracked down some owlhoots, brought them in and used
the reward money to buy the next ten issues of the title.  Because
that’s what the Kid would have done.

The Rawhide Kid #42 [October 1964] was the second issue of the book
I bought off the newsstands.  Even then, something about the cover
looked odd to me, but I just recently learned why.  It’s a reprint
of the Joe Maneely-drawn cover of Rawhide Kid #14 [May 1957), which
featured the earlier western hero with that name.  The Kid’s face
was redrawn to be the new Rawhide Kid. 

The Grand Comics Database says the face was redrawn by Jack Kirby,
but that’s clearly not accurate.  My guess would be it was redrawn
by someone who worked in the Marvel offices.  If Marie Severin was
on staff at that time, she’d be my first guess and a guess it would
be.  Sol Brodsky would be my second guess. 

“Gunfight with Yerby’s Yahoos!” (18 pages) is a momentous occasion
in the history of the Rawhide Kid.  With this issue, Larry Lieber
takes over the scripting and the art chores on the feature.  Editor
Stan Lee is still doing the plotting, just as he did with the giant
monster stories Lieber scripted for Strange Tales and other titles,
but my pal Larry would also take over the Rawhide Kid plotting just
a few more issues down the trail.


Lieber might not have been as showy as either Lee or Kirby, but he
was a fine storyteller in both his writing and art.  The very first
caption tells the readers most of what they need to know about the
story’s hero:

You are looking at a man who seeks no trouble–-who harbors no
grudge–-who desires only to be left in peace! But, alas, that is
never to be the destiny of...the Rawhide Kid!

By midway through the second page, the readers also know Rawhide is
a wanted fugitive and accused of crimes he didn’t commit.  I wish
today’s comics writers knew how to introduce characters so smoothly
and completely.  I hate when I have to go online just to figure out
a character’s name and story.

The Rawhide Kid is enjoying a meal when he’s recognized.  The local
lawman tries to arrest him, but the Kid escapes.  A posse follows
him, but is attacked by “an Apache war party.”  Thanks to the Kid,
the posse escapes, but, during his hand-to-hand fight with one of
the Apaches, our hero is struck in the head with a rock.  Because
of this, his vision goes blurry from time to time.

The Rawhide Kid stops in another town, hoping to get some food and
get back on the trail without incident.  He’s recognized, but these
folks aren’t looking to arrest him.  They need his help. 

The vicious Yerby’s Yahoos gang is heading their way and their new
lawman won’t arrive in time to face them.  The Kid can’t stand by
and do nothing.  His vision clears in time for him to drive off the
Yerby gang.  But he knows Yerby will be back and decides to stick
around until the marshal arrives.

Rawhide’s vision problems continue.  Two of Yerby’s men watch the
Kid try to shoot tin cans off a fence and miss all but one of them.
Learning this, Yerby comes to town to face the Kid in a shootout.
Though Rawhide can barely see, he still out-draws the outlaw and is
tracks Yerby by the sound of the outlaw’s taunts.  Once again, the
Kid has saved the town.

The new marshal arrives and recognizes Rawhide as our hero gallops
away.  The lawman tries to form a posse, but the townspeople isn’t
having any of it: “Marshal, before you expect this town to start
chasing that dangerous criminal...there’s something you ought to
know about him!”

Lieber would use the impaired vision bit again in the 1970s, but he
would do it differently.  I was working at Marvel when that later
story appeared and complimented him on it.  He was quite pleased.
Not too many people in the office paid attention to The Rawhide Kid
and didn’t recognize/realize the hard work and skill Larry brought
to every issue.

This issue’s non-series story was “The Tall Man” (5 pages) and it
was another Lee (plot) and Lieber (script and art) collaboration.
The GCD says an uncredited George Tuska inked the story, but that’s
another credit with which I take issue.  While I do see some clear
evidence of Tuska inking or redrawing some faces, I’m not sure he
inked the entire story. 

Comics historian Nick Caputo thinks Tuska did ink the entire story.
Asked about it on a mailing list, he wrote “I would also note that
Tuska’s Watcher story appeared the same month in Tales of Suspense
#59. Compare the inking to Lieber’s story and I think you’ll notice
the similarities.” 

I don’t have a copy of that story at hand, so, for now, my judgment
is Tuska did retouching on Lieber’s art but did not necessarily ink
the entire job.  Fee; free to weigh in with your thoughts.

Getting back to the story...

A tall stranger rides through a lonely wooded area.  He’s ambushed
by outlaws fixing to rob a gold-laded stagecoach.  They think he’s
Marshal Shorty Dancer, the top lawman in the territory.  However,
now that they see the stranger up close, they figure he’s too tall
to be the marshal.  They recruit him into their gang.

The stagecoach comes.  The outlaws ride towards it.  The tall men
starts taking them down one by one with acrobatics and astonishing
gunplay.  The outlaws are baffled by his turning on them.

The not-so-surprising surprise ending.  The tall man is...Marshal
Shorty Dancer.  He got his nickname when joking friends started to
call him...Shorty!

Okay, not one of the best of these non-series stories and nowhere
near as good as Lee and Lieber’s previous efforts in the back pages
of The Rawhide Kid.  But it’s a fun little tale.

That’s all for today, amigos.  I’m getting back on the bloggy thing
trail in search of new adventures.  But I’ll be back here tomorrow
with more stuff.

© 2012 Tony Isabella


Today's "Rawhide Wednesday" bloggy thing will post later today.  I don't plan to skip any days at this point, but late postings may be a fact of life for a few days.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012


I had a terrific weekend and I’m not saying that just to annoy the
anonymous troll who sends me a message once a month telling me how
awful my life must be.  Besides not having a name or the courage to
sign his little venom-grams, he likely does not have a loving wife
and children, a nice home with nice neighbors, any accomplishments
that comes within light-years of even my meager ones and not even
the slightest clue that his notes bring me and those I share them
with great laughter.  But I digress.

I had a terrific weekend.  Sainted Wife Barb had three days off and
so, with some help from me and our neighbors, was able to get all
sorts of little projects off the “to do” list.  I was able to get
some of my own projects underway and even finished several of them.
We watched Ohio State beat Penn State and the Cleveland Browns beat
the San Diego Chargers.  We had a wonderful early Halloween dinner
with our neighbor Greg, his daughter Giselle and her roommate Mel.
We also had nice evenings watching episodes of Elementary and House
Hunters International and a wild show about large devises chucking
pumpkins great distances.

On Sunday, we enjoyed a special Movie Night, the first in what I’m
hoping will be a nigh-weekly event at Casa Isabella in which I try
to recreate the movie experience of olden times.  The entertainment
consists of a theatrical short, a theatrical cartoon, a chapter of
a serial, and a movie or two.  All that was missing from this night
was popcorn and a raffle.

The theatrical short was “Women Haters” (1934), the first of nearly
200 shorts starring the Three Stooges.  Moe, Larry and Curly join
the Woman Haters Club, but Larry breaks the club’s oath by marrying
a cute, feisty blonde (played by Marjorie White).  All the dialogue
is in rhyme and, though these rhymes are occasionally painful, you
can’t help but admire the tenacity with which the writer and actors
pulled it off.  High brow humor was never the forte of the Stooges,
but I laughed out loud several times.  The performances, the wacky
slapstick and the era in which this short was made all contributed
to my enjoyment.  Even Barb giggled once or twice.

The theatrical cartoon was “Baseball Bugs” (1946), one of my least
favorite Bugs Bunny cartoons.  The brutish Gas-House Gorillas, who
exhibit no personality save for their brutish behavior/demeanor are
clobbering the elderly Tea Totallers.  From his rabbit hole in the
outfield, Bugs trash-talks the Gorillas, yelling he could beat them
all by himself.  The Gorillas hear him and it’s on.

The match-up here is between brute force and cleverness/speed and
there aren’t any surprises.  For the big finish, with Bugs leading
by one run, two outs and a Gorilla on base, the batter chops down
a huge tree and uses it for a bat.  He knocks the next pitch miles
out of the stadium. By taxi, bus and elevator, Bugs makes a catch
at the top of the Empire State Building observation deck.  Out of
nowhere, an umpire shows up to declare the game over with Bugs as
the winner. 

Now I realize it’s silly to complain about the same baseball rules
the cartoons plays fast and loose with throughout its running time,
but that ending has never worked for me.  I would have liked to see
something more clever and more wild.

Maybe Bugs’ pitch hits the bat so hard it turns it into toothpicks
that fly up into the air and form something amusing when they fall
back to the ground.  Maybe the pitch shatters the bat leaving the
batter with nothing more than a limp branch.  An ending that takes
place in the ballpark would work better for me.  Ah, well.

Superman (1948) was my choice for the serial.  “Superman Comes to
Earth,” the first chapter, covers a lot of ground quickly.  We see
the doomed planet Krypton, Jor-El’s attempt to convince the Science
Council of that coming doom, he and wife Lara sending their infant
son to Earth, the Kents finding and raising that son to be a good
man who knows he must use his powers to help others, a little bit
of super-action when Clark learns how to use his powers and when he
rescues his adoptive father from a tornado, a glimpse of Lois Lane
and Jimmy Olsen, and, of course, a cliffhanger involving what seems
to be a certain train wreck disaster. 

Barb hadn’t seen any serials prior to this.  She was fascinated by
some of the things I pointed out to her, notably how animation was
used for special effects that couldn’t have been accomplished with
the serial’s budget and how so much stock footage from movies with
larger budgets was used in the chapter.  As I told her, we will see
some of the same stock footage in other chapters and serials.

The highlight of the evening was Happy Family Plan, my choice for
our feature film.  It was definitely a risky choice as the movie is
in Japanese with English subtitles and Barb had never watched any
films of that nature.  What helped is that this movie is a family
comedy with several characters and situations not unfamiliar to an
American audience.

Happy Family Plan [Shochiku; $29.99] is set in the 1990s when the
Japanese were going through the same kind of tough economic times
we have been experiencing.  Indeed, the studio that made the film
in 1998 was affected by those times and could not release the movie
as planned.  Friends of director Tsutomu Abe formed a support group
to release the film in northern Japan.  It was a hit, playing all
the country and winning an award in the 2000 Houston International
Film Festival.

Salaryman Fujio Kawajiri loses his job in a company restructuring
that puts several of his fellow workers out of their jobs as well.
Since his family - wife Yuko, daughter Yoku and son Yoshitiro - can
no longer live in their company housing, they move into the house
and restaurant of Fujio’s in-laws.  The restaurant is struggling,
Fujio isn’t having any luck finding a job, Yoku is having a tough
time at her new school, Yoshitiro is trying to get on his school’s
baseball team and Yuko’s former flame is working at the restaurant.
When a business venture with a former co-worker turns out to be a
scam, Fujio finds himself at the bottom of the family food chain.

Yoshitiro sends in an application for his family to appear on Happy
Family Plan
, an actual Japanese television show in which the father
or a family must accomplish some task within a week.  Success means
a fabulous gift for the family.  In this case, it’s Yoku’s dream,
a trip to the United States, which, on the TV show, is represented
by a cowboy and a backdrop of New York City.

Happy Family Plan researches contestants to come up with difficult
challenges.  Tone-deaf Fujio has a week to learn how to play “Home
Sweet Home” on the piano.  He must play the song perfectly to win
the prize.  His quest to succeed for his family will have effects
on both his family and others.  It’s a funny and heartwarming film
with relatable characters and situations.  Both Barb and I enjoyed
this movie.  It’s definitely worth watching.

Some quick notes on this DVD package...

Happy Family Plan is the first release of the J Cinema Project, “a
unique educational campaign to provide enhanced resources to learn
about Japanese language and culture through film.”  The second disc
has Japanese language video lessons and games as well as commentary
on the social issues seen in the film.  A dedicated website offers
“bonus content including language learning worksheets, interactive
games and a discussion board.”

I haven’t checked out the second disc yet.  Truth be told, I rarely
check out DVD special features.  I guess I’m a main attraction kind
of viewer.  Even so, these special features interest me more than
most.  If I check them out any time soon, I’ll write about them in
a future bloggy thing.

That was my “Happy Tony Movie Night!” If you have your own special
movie nights, I’d love to hear about them.

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

Monday, October 29, 2012


It was as pleasant an October morning as I could have wanted when
I went to the Medina County Board of Elections last Friday to cast
my votes in the upcoming election.  Though Ohio Secretary of State
Jon A. Husted has been a major force in the Republican Party effort
to suppress voting and, especially, early voting, the local board
members have supported expanded voting hours and opportunities and,
indeed, planned their budget accordingly.

Medina is overwhelmingly Republican territory, though liberals and
progressives do manage to keep our views alive and even manage to
win the occasional election.  However, Medina is also the home to
a virulently oppressive Tea Party and other stone-cold racists and
bigots.  One of the reasons I chose to vote early is to avoid being
harassed by one such barnacle on the hull of democracy. 

The other reason is because there are days when my ongoing health
issues prevent me from leaving the house.  Conversations with other
early voters confirmed I’m not alone in this.  These voters truly
need flexibility in voting.  They could vote by mail, but they also
enjoy chatting with the poll workers who are, at least in the main
office, unfailingly helpful and pleasant.

Voter suppression has been a key tactic of the Republican Party in
this election.  When Husted lost his appeals to the higher courts
that prevented him from limiting early voters, an anonymous group
of right-wingers targeted minority communities with billboards that
proclaimed voter fraud was a felony.  Of course, those of us who’ve
done our research know that voter fraud is largely a myth fostered
by the right-wingers, but, if you’re a member of a minority who has
been profiled and targeted by law enforcement for centuries, those
billboards can still be intimidating. 

Happily, the company that owned those billboards realized - if only
after the protests started - that anonymous billboards violated the
contracts they hadn’t reviewed before putting the billboards up.
By way of penance, they donated several billboards proclaiming that
voting is a right.  Better late than never.

There were seven presidential candidates on the ballot this year.
I voted for Barack Obama for reasons I’ll discuss again a bit later
in the week.  In the meantime, my friend Mark Evanier summed it up
as well as anybody when he Tweeted “If you want to know why some of
us are not voting for Romney, read anything that isn't controlled
by Rupert Murdoch.” 

Voting to reelect Sherrod Brown to the U.S. Senate was another easy
call.  Brown has done a good job, even if I do disagree with him on
a few issues.  His opponent, Josh Mandel, is one of the slimiest of
politicians.  When Mandel ran for Treasurer, he once claimed that
his African-American opponent was a Muslim, combining bigotry and
lying in a particularly noxious mix.  Indeed, PolitiFact has given
Mandel more “pants on fire” ratings than any other person.

Though Mandel won his previous race, he began campaigning for this
Senate seat almost immediately.  He missed countless meetings while
raising campaign funds and hired unqualified cronies.  His Senate
campaign is being bolstered by millions of dollars from Karl Rove’s
groups.  Not surprisingly, Mandel, his campaign and his supporters
continue to lie about nearly everything.

Lots of out-of-state money is being poured into Ohio by Rove, the
Koch Brothers and other right-wing scumbags.  This makes it easier
for me to vote a nearly straight Democratic ticket.  Because Rove
and his ilk don’t want the same country I want.

I voted for Betty Sutton for the House of Representative.  She is
running in a cobbled-together-to-benefit-Republicans district.  Jim
Renacci, her opponent, was consulted when the Republicans drew the
district lines.

Renacci’s another bad egg.  His votes usually benefit the wealthy
at the expense of everyone else, including children, the elderly
and veterans.  His supporters make a huge deal out of Sutton voting
with the House Minority Leader most of the time.  Why this is worse
than Renacci voting with the Majority Leader is something they do
not explain or even mention.

Most of the other races aren’t as clear cut, but I generally vote
Democratic because Democrats are under-represented in my hometown
of Medina and in the surrounding area.  Judith A. Cross, who was a
terrific judge, is running for state representative and she got my
vote easily.  I’ve disliked our Republican County Commissioners for
decades, so voting against them was just as easy.

I don’t care much for our Prosecuting Attorney Dean Holman, who is
a Democrat.  But he’s running unopposed so there’s not much I can
do about that.

I voted for Democrat John L. Detchon for sheriff, based more on the
recommendation of the outgoing sheriff, a Republican, than anything
else.  I don’t need or want politics in that office.

It was tough to vote against County Treasurer John A. Burke because
I like the guy personally.  But the Republican, who I voted for in
years past, hasn’t done a very good job in these admittedly tough
times.  I feel bad about this vote, but I think Burke’s opponent
will do the job better.

None of the three candidates for the State Board of Education was
impressive, but one was definitely a must-vote-against.  Marianne
Gasiecki is a co-founder of the Mansfield Tea Party and there’s no
way I would ever vote for someone from that venomous organization.

There are two state issues on the ballot.  The first calls for the
holding of a constitutional convention to rewrite the constitution
of Ohio.  Which would give the reigning Republicans the opportunity
to push though horrible laws on a wholesale basis.  They will still
try to pass those laws, but at least we can slow down their efforts
to turn the state into an extreme right-wing madhouse.

The other state issue calls for a change to the state constitution
which would take redistricting out of the hands of the politicians.
In the past two redistricting instances, the reigning Republicans
drew the maps to give them unconscionable advantages.  Naturally,
the Republicans are against this amendment.  Just as naturally, I’m
for it.  Because redistricting should be a matter for geographers
and mathematicians.  Not politicians of any party.

There were two tax levies on the ballot.  I voted for renewal of a
tax for the Medina County Board of Developmental Disabilities, an
organization that does great work in our communities.

I voted - and this was a hard vote - against an additional proposed
tax levy for the Medina City School District.  Yes, the schools do
need more money.  But, the district has an arrogant, untrustworthy
superintendent and a school board that isn’t smart enough to bounce
his ass out of the job.  Since I have no confidence that the board
and the superintendent will spend the money wisely, I can’t bring
myself to vote for it. 

However, I make this promise for all to see.  If the school board
fires the superintendent, I’ll vote for the next proposed tax levy.
Even if it’s twice as large as this one.

This will be a week of somewhat different bloggy things.  I feel a
need to clear my bloggy thing file of the all of the topics and all
the odds and ends I haven’t gotten around to write about yet.  I’m
not sure I’ll get to them all, but, after this week, I’ll return to
my usual mix of news, views and reviews...and throw a surprise or
two into the fray.  It’ll be fun.

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

Sunday, October 28, 2012


There will be no vast accumulation of stuff sale this week. 

Looking at the weather forecasts for a good chunk of my bloggy thing readership and the probability that many areas will be without power for days, I'm not going to run an online sale this week.  It wouldn't be fair to those readers who won't be able to get online.

You can still order items from last Monday's sale, but no new items will be posted until Monday, November 5.  I thank you for your understanding.

My thoughts and good wishes go all those in harm's way.  Stay strong, my friends.


Friday, October 26, 2012


This weekend, if you come to my garage at 840 Damon Drive, Medina, Ohio... can buy empty comic-book and magazine boxes for a dollar each.  These are used and, in many cases, slightly used boxes.  First come, first served, no limits. 

I will be home all day today and most of Saturday and Sunday.



This here bloggy thing of mine will return on Monday, October 29 with the first of three special columns.  Have a nice weekend and I'll see you then.


Thursday, October 25, 2012


My Own Romance #21 [March 1952] hit the newsstands in the month of
my birth, December 1951.  The spiffy Atlas Tales website attributes
the cover art to Al Hartley.  All the information from this opening
bit, except for the parts I make up, comes from Atlas Tales.

Atlas published 73 issues of My Own Romance from March 1949 to July
1960.  The title continued its numbering from My Romance and then
its numbering was continued by Teen-Age Romance.  The catchy title
given on the cover isn't used on the interior story that the cover seems
to have been taken from.. 

Here’s everything I know or made up about those stories...

“See You Around” (5 pages, pencil art attributed to Mike Sekowsky
and inks to Chris Rule). I’m guessing the cover scene is from this
story which involves the heroine’s lover leaving her for a cougar.

“My Heart’s Desire” (5 pages, signed by Morris Weiss). She wants a
man with a slow hand.

“Love Gets a Lift” is a single-page text piece about the benefits
of cosmetic surgery.

“A Guest in the House” (6 pages, written by Ed Jurist and pencilled
by Jay Scott Pike, both of whom signed the story).  The heroine is
smitten by her father’s business partner and tries to seduce him.
The surprising ending: “Oh, my darling daughter, I never told you
he was my business partner!”

“Love is a Winner” is another single-page test piece.  This one is
a testimonial from a woman who had the cosmetic surgery discussed
in the earlier text piece.

“The Sacrifice Of Sheila Storm” (6 pages, pencil art attributed to
Mike Sekowsky).  In one of the biggest goofs in Marvel history, a
horrific story intended for Adventures into Terror was published in
this romance comic instead.

Keep watching this bloggy thing for more vintage comic-book covers
from the month of my birth.


Cold War #1-4 [IDW; $3.99] is an espionage thriller by John Byrne
set in the 1960s.  Rebellious former MI6 agent Michael Swann takes
on odd jobs for Her Majesty’s Secret Service.  In this four-issue
series, it’s “The Damocles Contract” and it involves British rocket
scientists and the alarming news that one of them may be defecting
to the Soviets.

Comparisons to James Bond will be inevitable, but the similarities,
which I didn’t find as great as some reviewers, didn’t bother me.
Byrne did a fine job with the genre and time period.  The writing
was solid, the characters worked for me, the art and storytelling
were smooth and even the coloring was more to my liking in that it
served the story rather than distract from it.

I’ve come to prefer Byrne working with his own creations instead of
the overused toys from DC and Marvel...and his work on movie and TV
properties like Angel and Star Trek.  I’m delighted to see him so
active in the field.  Too many other talents from my generation are
absent from our comics racks.

I recommend this four-issue series.  I also hope we’ve not seen the
last of Cold War.


No one writes better Conan comic books than Roy Thomas.  For that
matter, outside of the Cimmerian’s creator Robert E. Howard, no one
writes better Conan stories than Roy Thomas.  If further proof of
this is needed, I direct your attention to Conan: Road of Kings #7-
12 [Dark Horse; $3.50 per issue], which issues comprise the second
half of a 12-issue series.

Conan is traveling the fabled Road of Kings, the pathway to many of
the great kingdoms of the Hyborian Age.  Seeking to sell his sword,
Conan finds himself working as a bodyguard to an obnoxious prince
who seeks to claim a crown.  Of course, before the prince can wear
that crown, it must be taken from its current wearer.  The strange
party of conspirators includes a woman whose husband was murdered
by the current king, her young daughter, a courageous soldier and
a priest.  The four-issue arc features monsters human and inhuman,
lots of action and cliffhangers and wonderful character moments for
Conan.  Artists Mike Hawthorne and John Lucas (issues #7-8) and Dan
Panosian (issues #9-10) deliver commendable art that compliments
the fine writing of Thomas. 

Issues #11 and #12 find Conan in the city of Argos where, as usual,
it doesn’t take look for the warrior to find himself at odds with
the king’s guards and a hanging judge.  More thrilling action and
wry dark humor make for a great story with Hawthorne and Lucas on
the art. Like I said above, no one writes better Conan comic books
than Roy Thomas. More, please.


Men of War was one of the first titles cut from DC’s “New 52.”  I
read and sort of enjoyed the first issue, but the friend who loans
me his new comics after he reads them dropped the title after that
first issue.  I recently read the entire eight-issue run of Men of
and have a few thoughts about it.

War comics have been a tough sell since the Vietnam War.  I think
that as readers have learned more about the horrors of modern wars,
sometimes from friends and family members who have served in them,
there is less interest in war as entertainment.

As I noted in my review of Men of War #1, I was intrigued by there
being super-beings in whatever war Joe Rock was fighting.  Though
I thought the series, which ran in the first six issues, was good,
it never came together enough to rise above that.  The back-ups in
those issues were interesting as well, one short story was drawn by
Richard Corben, but they were also “just good.”

There’s nothing wrong with “just good" comic books.  Especially at
a time when so many comic books, including around half of DC’s “New
52" titles, don’t rise to that level.  However, when those comics
cost three or four dollars per issue, readers have every right to
expect more than “just good.”

Men of War #7 featured two done-in-one tales, one written by James
Robinson with art by Phil Winslade, the other by J.T. Krul with art
by Scott Kolins.  I enjoyed both, but, again, they didn’t knock me
out.  The title never found its identity or the level of quality I
think its $3.99 cover price required.

Men of War #8 was a book-length adventure teaming Frankenstein and
the G.I. Robot.  Written by Jeff Lemire and Matt Kindt with art by
Tom Derenick, it was my favorite issue of the title’s run...and it
could just have easily been a fill-in issue of Frankenstein, Agent
of S.H.A.D.E.

I’m glad DC isn’t giving up on the war genre.  I recognize making
such a title work in today’s marketplace is an enormous challenge.
I live for such challenges, but, since no one is likely to hire me
to develop such a title, I hope someone else meets that challenge.
War is, sadly, too big a part of human history and experience to go
under-represented in the comics marketplace.   

I’ll be back here tomorrow with the first of three special bloggy
things.  Most of which aren’t about comics.  You have been warned.

© 2012 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, October 24, 2012


Previously in Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing...

The Rawhide Kid - the one created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, then
continued by Larry Lieber - is my favorite western character.  So,
inspired by Essential Rawhide Kid Volume 1, which reprinted all the
Lee/Kirby issues and then some, I’ve been writing about the Rawhide
Kid most every Wednesday.  When I ran out of the issues reprinted
in the book, I tracked down some owlhoots, brought them in and used
the reward money to buy more issues of the title.  Because that’s what
the Kid would have done.


The Rawhide Kid #41 [August 1964] has another great Jack Kirby/Dick
Ayers cover.  A downright inspirational Kid is leading prisoners in
a revolt against “The Tyrant of Tombstone Valley!”  There are about
two dozen figures on the cover and, man, did it make me want
to read this comic.  I’m pretty sure this is the first issue of The
Rawhide Kid
I ever bought.

Written by Stan Lee with art by Jack Keller and Paul Reinman, “The
Tyrant of Tombstone Valley” (18 pages) starts out with tension and
action.  Keno Barkerton, “leader of the deadly Barkerton gang” and
a friend of the Red Raven, spots Rawhide and sics his owlhoots on
the outnumbered Kid.  The Red Raven was a costumed villain who the
Kid brought to justice three issues prior and a bottom-of-the-page
editor’s note directs readers to that issue.  Continuity is in the
house and Rawhide is definitely one of the new breed of Marvel hero
taking comicdom by storm.

After two pages of furious fighting, a wounded Rawhide manages to
escape from the town.  Though weakened from his injury, he bounces
back from what he describes as a “surface nick” and then sets out
to even the score with Barkerton.

Digression.  There’s a house ad for Fantastic Four #29 and Amazing
#15 after page five of the story. 

The Kid’s quest goes on for months and one can only assume he has
a few other unrecorded adventures along the way.  When the search
leads to Tombstone Territory, he overhears a desperate woman trying
to get someone to save her husband who has been taken prisoner in
the dreaded Tombstone Valley.  Clearly on edge because of his long
journey, Rawhide questions the manhood of the townsmen who refuse
to help the distraught wife.  Three of them draw on him and their
guns are quickly shot out of their hands.  As the trio flee, they
apologize to the Kid. Who says good manners were completely ignored
in the Old West?

Rawhide offers to help the woman.  She sums up the situation in a
single dialogue balloon:

You’re very kind, Kid–-and very brave! But–-the valley is ruled by
the Tyrant of Tombstone Territory–-and nobody who enters is ever
allowed out again!

By the end of the page, Rawhide is in the forbidden valley getting
himself shot at.  He surrenders, figuring that’s the quickest way
to get to the bottom of this.  Unarmed, he’s taken “to the largest
wall ever seen west of the Rio Grande!”

The wall is enormous.  Taller than the Great Wall of China, it is
made out of what appears to be poured concrete with a giant wooden
door in its middle.  It would have taken years to construct, which
becomes all the more improbable when Rawhide learns the tyrant of
this valley is none other than Keno Barkerton, all decked out in a
gold crown and fur cape. It takes some doing, but, once you accept
these absurdities, the story is an exciting one.

Digression. What does it say about me that I can more easily accept
a flying outlaw (Red Raven) in the Old West than I can this amazing
feat of engineering and a thug strutting around under the hot sun
in a crown and fur cape?  End of digression.

While looking for a hideout, the Barkerton gang found the valley.
They also discovered a huge gold nugget just lying around.  It was
the biggest gold strike ever, too big for the gang to mine.  Which
is why they started seizing “volunteer workers” who were forced to
work the mine and prevented from escaping by the wall and Keno’s
outlaws. The land and the gold belonged to the native Americans who
lived in the valley, but the gang drove them off.

Keno announces his revenge on the Rawhide Kid:

As for you, Kid–I ain’t gonna shoot you! But you’ll wish I did!
You’re gonna work in my mines–-and make me richer with every nugget
you did out for me!

Rawhide is taken to the mine.  Before he lifts a shovel, he turns
the tables on his guards and disarms them.  Inspired, the captives
join the Kid to escape from the valley. 

Back, you mangy coyotes!! Nothing can stop men who are fightin’ for
their freedom!!

Knowing they are outnumbered and out gunned, the Kid and his freedom
fighters build a bonfire to lure Barkerton and his main force into
position.  Then the Kid uses dynamite and a bit of geography that
wasn’t shown to the readers previously...

This is more than a huge prison-–it’s a natural dam as well! Behind
that rock formation below, there’s a mighty river waiting to pour
into the valley!!

The “dam” is blown.  Rawhide and his men are safe at the top of the
rocky peak.  Keno and his men flee through the giant door to avoid find themselves surrounded by the former residents of
the valley. They are never seen again.

When the “raging flood waters subside,” Rawhide leads the men back
to town and their grateful families.  Unnoticed by the crowd, the
Kid rides off.  He stops only to return the wave of a boy who, with
his father, are riding a wagon into the territory. 

The Kid thinks:

They look like new settlers in these parts! I’m glad I helped drive
out badman like King Barkerton and make this territory safe for
fine folks like that!

Alas, as the kid rides off...

FATHER: Son, I told you not to go wavin’ at strangers! We don’t
know anything about that hombre! This is dangerous country–-a man
alone can be an outlaw!

SON: I’m sorry, Pa! I reckon I shoulda known better!

FATHER: Always remember, son–-you can’t trust anyone! Least of all
those lone drifters with their guns hung low! I wouldn’t trust him
as far as I can throw him!

Stan Lee wraps it up with a final poignant caption:

Not always are men rewarded for their deeds! Sometimes, they are
misunderstood! Like the Kid! But still, his is the courage which
helped forge the West! His is the life of which legends are made!

Stan does his usual terrific job on the scripting.  Fill-in artist
Keller doesn’t deliver the gritty atmosphere and energy of outgoing
artist Dick Ayers, but his solid storytelling and knack for western
comics carry the adventure well.

The issue’s non-series story is “The Winner” (5 pages) by Stan Lee
(plot) and Larry Lieber (script and art).  Like their collaboration
in the previous issue, this one is also more serious than most of
these back-ups. 

Frank Dawson, the fastest gun in the territory, rides into a town.
The citizens are terrified of him, even though he does nothing to
justify that fear.  It’s his reputation that has them cowering at
his presence.  He reflects on his life:

That’s how it’s been since I became the fastest draw! All these
years I’ve been shunned by decent folks...treated like a vile
animal! But I’m not! I’m a person and I crave the companionship of
other people! But it’s hopeless! My reputation cheats me of
friends! And surely no woman will ever love me! I’ll never get
married...never raise children! I’ll die a lonely unwanted old man!

Arrogant and brash Rafe Collins decides to make his own reputation
by outdrawing Dawson.  The older man tries to ignore him, but Rafe
keeps pushing Dawson.  A gunfight ensues and, much to the surprise
of all, Collins beats Dawson.  The triumphant youth takes his leave
of the wounded Dawson.

Dawson is amazed by the reaction of the townspeople no that he is
no longer the feared fastest gun.  One man even invites him to have
dinner with him and his wife.  Dawson thinks: They no longer fear
me! They’re even befriending me! My plan worked! I could’ve won
that gunfight, but I purposely lost it!

His thoughts continue into the next panel:

Now I’ll no longer be known as the fastest draw! My reputation was
a curse that deprived me of worthwhile human contact! But at last
I’m free!! I can have friends! Maybe some woman will even marry me!
My days of loneliness are over! After all these long years!

Now it’s Rafe Collins who carries that burden.  The townspeople are
afraid of him and even his friends shun him.

By beating Frank Dawson, I’ve made myself an outcast! I’m the real
loser! I’ll be alone the rest of my days unless–-unless I can get
beaten in a gunfight as he did! But if I deliberately lose, I’m
liable to get killed–-not just wounded! I can’t take the chance!
I’ve got to go on this way! I’ve got to give up everything and
forever remain...

...the fastest draw!

With the next issue, Lieber takes over the scripting and art of the
Rawhide Kid stories.  It’s the start of a decade-long run of fine
stories and, every Wednesday, I will be writing about them in this
here bloggy thing of mine. 

Now it’s time for me to ride, my amigos, but I’ll be back tomorrow
with more stuff!

© 2012 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, October 23, 2012


My Friend Irma was a popular radio show, which was broadcast on CBS
radio from April 11, 1947 to August 23, 1954.  Marie Wilson played
its scatterbrained title heroine on radio, in two films, and on a
TV series.  The show was created by writer, producer, and director
Cy Howard.  There was also a My Friend Irma newspaper comic strip
and, as you might have guessed from the above image, a comic book.
Shown is My Friend Irma #16 [March 1952], which hit the newsstands
in my birth month of December 1951.

Wikipedia has all sorts of fascinating facts about My Friend Irma.
Here’s one worth noting:

In 1946, writer Arthur Kurlan worked with CBS Radio in an attempt
to bring the premise and characters of the popular play and film,
My Sister Eileen, to radio. Soon after this effort failed, the very
similar My Friend Irma was created. Kurlan took legal action, and
ultimately received a settlement from CBS.

The Irma movies were My Friend Irma (1949) and My Friend Irma Goes
(1950).  The first movie is best known for introducing Dean
Martin and Jerry Lewis, who proved so popular with audiences that
they also appeared in and got more screen time in the second movie.
The boys got their own DC Comics title in 1952.

The My Friend Irma comic ran 46 issues from June 1950 to February
1955.  It was usually written by Stan Lee and drawn by Dan DeCarlo.
Issue #16 featured 23 pages of Lee/DeCarlo stories and gag pages
ranging from one to six pages.  There were also two feature pages:
“Irma's Dept. of Utter Confusion” and “Irma's Fashions.  Both were
drawn by DeCarlo.

The My Friend Irma comic strip launched on September 11, 1950.  It
was originally drawn by Jack Seidel, but Lee and DeCarlo took over
the strip in 1951.  The rights situation might be complicated, but
I’d sure to love to see collections of the Lee/DeCarlo comic strips
and comic books.

After the My Friend Irma comic book came to an end, Lee and DeCarlo
teamed on a strangely familiar title called My Girl Pearl.  It ran
for 11 issues from April 1955 to April 1961.  Eleven issues would
fill a swell trade paperback.  I’m just saying.

Keep watching this bloggy thing for more vintage comic-book covers
from the month of my birth.


Here are more answers to questions I’ve recently and frequently
been asked...

Since announcing my “40 Years and a Mule” reviews on October 2, I
have received nine review items.  That’s far less than I expected.
Starting sometime next week, sooner if I get ahead on all the other
stuff I’m doing, I will be reviewing these items as bonus editions
of this bloggy thing.  So there will be days when you get more than
one dose of my wit and wisdom.  Or whatever you want to call what
I do here.


My only remaining appearance this year will be the Akron Comicon,
Saturday, November 10, at the University of Akron Student
Center.  The one-day event has an impressive guest roster including
Tom Batiuk, Gerry Conway, Joe Staton, Mike W. Barr, Craig Boldman,
Darryl Banks, Norm Breyfogle and others.

During the convention, I’ll be signing and possible selling various
Tony Isabella-written things.  It’s likely that I’ll have a couple
boxes of trade paperbacks and hardcovers for sale as well.  Beyond
that, who knows?

Unfortunately, I will not be attending this year’s Detroit FanFare,
October 26-28 at the Hyatt Regency in Dearborn, Michigan.  It’s a
terrific event and I wish I could be there, but, alas, I couldn’t
make it work this time around.  Maybe next year.


Atlas Comics. I wish I could tell you I knew what was going on with
The Grim Ghost or this publisher.  I did agree to write more Grim
Ghost comics over a year ago.  I sent the publisher my thoughts on
the next round of stories, which would be somewhat more ambitious
than the first round.  I also sent him a pitch for a new title that
Mike Grell and I dreamed up.  I haven’t received any communication
from Atlas since then...and that was December.

Yes, I have seen the solicitation for a Grim Ghost trade paperback.
I’m looking forward to it.  However, outside of the actual comics
stories I wrote, I have not given my permission for Atlas to use my
work product (scripts, plots, e-mails). I’m not against such use,
but there needs to be a conversation about it so I can be assured
it is presented in the best way possible.

I’m not trying to bust anyone’s balls here.  But I’m not the guy to ask
about what’s going on at Atlas...because I just don’t know. 

That said, I wish them well.  I had a blast writing those issues of
Grim Ghost and I think they were far and away the best comic books
published by the company.  Of course, I may be biased.


I’m also not the guy to ask about this Black Lightning thing that’s
appearing in DC Comics Presents.  I don’t have anything to do with
it.  It was done without my approval. I don’t intend to read it and
I don’t want to hear about it. It is an unclean thing to be shunned
as long as the earth itself exists.


Not a day goes by of late without someone asking me if I have read
Sean Howe’s Marvel Comics: The Untold Story or if I was interviewed
for the book.  The answer to both questions

Among my circle of professional contacts, Howe’s book is receiving
mixed reviews.  I do have it on order.  How soon I read it depends
on what else is on my reading pile. 

Will I review it? I suspect there will be no shortage of reviews of
this book.  Whether or not I review it depends on whether or not I
think I have something interesting to say about it.

That answers all the outstanding questions I feel like answering at
this time.  I’ll be back tomorrow with another Rawhide Kid bloggy
thing.  See you then.

© 2012 Tony Isabella

Monday, October 22, 2012


My summer-long garage sale have concluded, so I’ll be offering new
goodies from my Vast Accumulation of Stuff to my online readers.
Here’s how these online sales work:

First come, first serve. In other words, the quicker you e-mail me,
the better your chance of getting the item or items.  Only e-mail
orders will be accepted. 

All the items are in very good or better condition unless otherwise

Items will be shipped via United States Postal Service.  There is
a $5 shipping/handling charge for up to four items via media mail.
Add $1 for every two additional items.  The charge helps defray my

Payments are by check, money order or PayPal.  My PayPal address is
the same as my email address.  Purchases will be shipped within a
week of checks clearing,  money orders received or PayPal payments

Because this is a one-man operation done between family, household
and work responsibilities, these items are only available to buyers
within the United States and to APO buyers. 

Here are this week’s new items...

Originally serialized in Age of Bronze #20-26. Hardcover. $14.

BOOK OF SCHUITEN. Oversized, unopened hardcover. $40

CITIES OF THE FANTASTIC: THE INVISIBLE FRONTIER by Schuiten and Peeters. Oversized hardcover. $9

FANTASTIC ART: THE BOOK OF LUIS ROYO. Oversized hardcover. $22


MISADVENTURES OF A ROVING CARTOONIST: THE LONG RANGER’S SECRET SIDEKICK by Tom Gill with Tom Lasiuta. Autobiography of artist Tom Gill. Hardcover. $15

SCHULZ AND PEANUTS: A BIOGRAPHY by David Michaelis. Hardcover. $17

SUPERMAN: EARTH ONE by J. Michael Straczynski and Shane David. Hardcover. $10

Here are last week’s remaining items...

1000 COMICS YOU MUST READ BEFORE YOU DIE: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO COMIC BOOKS, GRAPHIC NOVELS AND MANGA.  Foreword by Terry Gilliam. General editor Paul Gravett. Hardcover. $18

DISTANT NEIGHBORHOOD VOL. 1 by Jiro Taniguchi. Softcover. $11

MAMMOTH BOOK OF ZOMBIE COMICS (2008). Softcover. $10

OVERSTREET COMIC BOOK PRICE GUIDE 41st EDITION. Hero Initiative edition with cover by John Romita Sr. and Tom Palmer. Hardcover.$15.



SHOWCASE PRESENTS TALES OF THE UNEXPECTED VOLUME 1. Reprints issues #1-20. Softcover. $10

STAN LEE’S SUPERHERO CHRISTMAS by Stan Lee, illustrated by Tim Jessell. Hardcover. $8
Thanks for your patronage.

Tony Isabella


Mutt & Jeff #56 [February-March 1952] hit newsstands in December
1951, the month of my birth.  If you’re a newcomer to this bloggy
thing of mine, comics covers from that month are a frequent feature
here.  This is made possible by the wondrous website that is
 Mike’s Amazing World of Comics.

Mutt and Jeff was created by Bud Fisher in 1907 and the comic strip
kept going until 1982. Horse-racing gambler Augustus Mutt has the
strip all to himself for about a year until he was joined by Jeff,
another enthusiast who he met in an insane asylum.  The strip was
drawn by several cartoonist with the most notable being Al Smith,
who drew it for nearly 50 years.  Other assistants include George
“Krazy Kat” Herriman and future children’s book superstar Maurice
Sendak, who worked on the strip while he was in high school.  The
strip outlived Fisher, who died in 1954.

Mutt and Jeff were on the cover of Famous Funnies #1, considered by
most to be the first modern format comic book.  Reprints also ran
in DC’s All American Comics.  According to Wikipedia, “it has been
suggested that some of the Mutt and Jeff material published by DC
Comics were new stories drawn by Sheldon Mayer.”

DC Comics published 103 issues of Mutt & Jeff from roughly Summer
1939 to June 1958.  These consisted entirely of newspaper reprints.
Dell published 12 issues in 1958 and 1959 with many featuring new
comic-book stories by Smith.

Harvey acquiring the license after that.  There were 33 issues from
Harvey [February 1960-November 1965] plus spin-off series Mutt and
Jeff Jokes
(3 issues) and Mutt and Jeff New Jokes (4 issues).

For a time, there were persistent rumors that Dark Horse Comics was
developing a Mutt and Jeff movie starring publisher Mike Richardson
and myself.  However, since I started those rumors, it is unlikely
such an awesome film will ever be made.  Restraining orders are the
bane of creativity.

Keep reading this bloggy thing for more vintage comic-book covers
from the month of my birth.


This is another of those “me, me, me” editions of my bloggy thing.
When I write one of these, it’s for two reasons.  First, it helps
me put my crazy life into perspective.  Second, it lets me answer
questions frequently asked by friends and readers.  For what it’s
worth, I try to make these “special” bloggy things as entertaining
as possible.  It’s your call if I succeed or not.

I’m currently going through some physical and mental problems.  The
physical problems seem to stem from a reoccurrence of the gout that
hit me a while back.  On that previous occasion, I would experience
excruciating pain when pressure was put on my right big toe.  Even
a light bed sheet would trigger the pain.  Fortunately, that gout
cleared up in about a week.

This time out, the pain is in my left knee and, while it’s not as
bad as the previous time, it’s bad enough to slow me down.  A lot.
I have to think about what foot to put down first when I’m going up
or down stairs.  Right foot for up, left foot for down.  I have to
be very careful lifting anything and, unfortunately, I do a whole
bunch of lifting every day.  My doctor thinks it’s gout again, but,
as it’s been going on for two weeks, I’m not so sure.  Looks like
another visit to the medical center is in my future.

My mental problem? Anxiety.  Now I know the upcoming elections are
making many people nervous and I’m certainly concerned that a GOP
win will be very bad for my country.  But there’s not much more I
can do about the election.  I’ve made the donations I could afford
to make.  I’ve put up some lawn signs.  I’ve written about what’s
at stake here and on my Facebook page.  It doesn’t add up to much,
but it’s what I was capable of doing this year.

My more personal anxiety comes from my Vast Accumulation of Stuff.
My living room has about three dozen boxes of stuff I wasn’t ready
to sell in this year’s garage sales.  The number just sort of grew
as I was going through boxes for those sales.  I need to get these
boxes out of the living room and down to my basement.  Which isn’t
real easy given my bum knee. 

My garage needs to be cleared out before Thanksgiving.  One of the
reason I’m selling mystery boxes is to have fewer boxes to return
to my Fortress of Storage.  Ideally, I’d like to mystery box all of
my current garage sale stock and start fresh in 2013.  I’ll have an
announcement on this soon.

Before I can bring anything back to the Fortress of Storage, I’ll
need to take some non-comics stuff out of there.  These are items
which our kids played with when they were youngsters and which are
going to be given to relatives or donated to charity. 

I also have to rearrange the boxes in the Fortress of Storage so I
can safely go through the boxes for next year’s garage sales.  As
I’ve mentioned, the Fortress looks like Comic Book Jenga right now.
It’s not safe and, while there would be a certain delicious irony
in my being crushed to death by comic-book boxes, I would just as
soon hang around for a few more decades.

Once the living room and garage are cleared, then I can get back to
work on my future reading room and mailing center.  I need to clear
some kids stuff out of there and lay down some raised flooring for
my DrawerBoxes.  Once that’s done, the actual sorting can commence
and, eventually, I’ll have a comfortable and quiet place to relax.


I’m currently working on the second batch of mystery box orders.
I had 20 orders in the first batch.  Of those, 18 have shipped or
are going to ship on Monday, 1 order remains unpaid for and 1 order
was canceled.  There are 9 orders in the second batch and I hope to
have all of those ready for shipping later this week.

Future mystery box will likely be sold via the Vast Accumulation of
Stuff sales I run every Monday.  The makeup of the new boxes will
likely change somewhat as I am almost out of paperbacks and “signed
by me” items.  Keep watching my VAOS sales for details.

Last week’s VAOS sale was less successful than I hoped it would be,
so many items are being re-offered this week along with a bunch of
new items.  Some neat stuff there.

This week’s VAOS sale will post later today.  The proceeds from my
sales help support this blog and my extravagant lifestyle.  I hope
you’ll look over the list of items for sale and buy a whole lot of
them.  This will create millions of new jobs, lower your taxes and
help me take our country back from whoever and whatever you’re most
terrified of.  I’m Tony Isabella and I approve this shameless bit
of false advertising.  

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2012 Tony Isabella

Friday, October 19, 2012


Arrow, the new CW take on Green Arrow, is unlikely to become one of
my favorite shows.  However, it does interest me, which is why I’m
devoting today’s blog to it once again.


“Honor Thy Father,” the second episode, aired this past Wednesday
night.  Not unlike many super-hero comic books, it opened with an
action scene unrelated to this week’s main story.  Scenes like this
are meant to get an issue of a comic book or an episode of a series
off to a fast start while giving the reader/viewer a look at what
the hero can do.  It was accompanied by a brief to the point recap
of what this hero and series is about.  High marks to both.

When I wrote about the Arrow pilot yesterday, I didn’t give credit
to the writers.  In alphabetical order, we have Greg Berlanti, Marc
Guggenheim and Andrew Kreisberg.  All have written for comic books
as well and, not surprisingly, the series has a similar feel to the
comics of today.  Which is a mixed blessing.

From the action opening, we go to family stuff.  A court hearing is
held to officially welcome Oliver Queen back from the dead and to
confirm his father’s death.  Friend Tommy comes along for the ride.
Sister Thea declines to join them, having sat through several other
legal proceedings during Ollie’s bad boy days. 

After the proceedings, Ollie runs into Laurel Lance in front of the
courthouse.  Laurel is representing Emily Nocenti, the daughter of
a dock worker who was murdered to keep him from testifying against
his boss.  I’m guessing Emily’s name is a nod to comics writer and
editor Ann Nocenti. 

Martin Somers is the boss, an evil and powerful man who allows the
Chinese Triads to move their drugs through the Starling City ports.
Somers is listed in Ollie’s book of bad guys, which Ollie was given
by his father shortly before his father’s death.

I’m resigned to the probability that Ollie’s targets will have some
connection to Laurel’s cases.  It’s an absurd coincidence, but one
I accept easier from television than I do from comics.  I’m kind of
a snob that way.

Ollie ditches his bodyguard Diggle for the third time in just two
episodes and heads to his secret HQ for a quick training montage.
It’s a short scene, but I still don’t believe we need to see it in
every episode.  The opening action already established what Ollie
can do.

In a virtual repeat of a scene in the pilot, Green Arrow takes out
Somers’ henchmen and then tries to scare Somers into confessing his
crimes.  For a second week in a row, it doesn’t work. But it does
get a couple of cops killed. More on that in a bit.

The repetition this soon into the series concerns me.  Who wants to
see the same basic story every week?  So we pause from the action
recap to talk about some of the things I did like.

The human drama elements are mostly good.  Ollie is struggling to
be the man he needs to be and the man his family wants him to be.
His interactions with his troubled kid sister are moving as is his
growing trust in Diggle. 

His relationship with Laurel is complicated and difficult.  Having
her groan-inducing police detective father in the mix makes it more
so.  The Lance family has suffered enough, so I think I’d like to
see Daddy Lance become an ally of Green Arrow.  I’d rather see him
struggle with his Oliver Queen trust issues than chew scenery every
time he’s in a scene with him.

Oliver’s mom is definitely a treacherous lady, though she seems to
want to protect her son.  I’m still not sure about husband Walter,
but I’m hoping he turns out to be a good guy.  That said, the very
public “drama queen” moment with Ollie rejecting an executive role
in the family business was ridiculously over the top.

No scenes with housekeeper Raisa this time around.  I hope she’ll
be back next week.

Let’s talk flashbacks to Ollie on the island.  I’ve changed my mind
about them with the revelation Ollie wasn’t alone there.  As long
as this back story isn’t drawn out for more than the first season,
I’m intrigued. 

Back to the action...

Ollie visits Laurel, who is under police protection.  Both of them
want to be friends and Ollie desperately needs someone he can talk
to.  I’m still voting for Diggle.

Assassins from the Triad break into Laurel’s apartment and try to
kill her. Ollie holds them off long enough for Diggle to join the
fray and shoot most of them.  Then Ollie saves Diggle from certain
death at the hands of head assassin China White with an impossible
kitchen knife throw.  This is where Diggle starts to realize Ollie
may be more than he appears.

China White is embarrassingly played by Kelly Hu.  Dumb name, dumb
wig, dumb dialogue, awful waste of a decent actress.  Watching her
made my eyes bleed, my ears throb and my brain hurt.  First Asian
in the series and this is what we get?

Somers figures the Triad will want to clean up all loose ends and
that includes him.  He’s preparing his escape when Arrow shows up
and takes down his men.  Our hero puts the fear of fatal arrow-wood
into Somers and Somers confesses.

China shows up for another pointless fight.  Then Daddy Lance shows
up to get all “stop or I’ll shoot” with Arrow.  Our hero uses some
sort of trick arrow to create a distraction and escape.  When Daddy
Lance looks at the arrow, he sees a tape recorder attached to it.
Somers’ confession is on the recorder.

Is the confession admissible in court? Bob Ingersoll could tell me
for sure, but I’m guessing it could be since Daddy Lance didn’t do
anything illegal to obtain it.  On the other hand, it was clearly
a coerced confession.  Since I like happy endings, let us assume it
was either admissible or, fearing the Triad, Somers gave it up when
questioned by the police.

By the way, more trick arrows. Please.  I’d like to see non-fatal
arrows.  Shock arrows.  Knockout arrows.  Net arrows.  Arrows that
threaten criminals with being forced to watch Honey Boo-Boo.  Stuff
like that there.

Boxing glove arrows? I wish.

Some good stuff in this episode, but, if Arrow is going to keep my
interest, the series will need a new plot.  Repeating this one for
a third time would not be charming.

I’ll be back on Monday with more stuff.

© 2012 Tony Isabella

Thursday, October 18, 2012


As of this posting, I have put together the first 19 out of 20 mystery box orders.  It's "19" because one troll canceled his order.  He's not a troll because he canceled his order, but that's another story.

Of those 19 orders, I have shipped 11 boxes and have another 5 boxes ready to be shipped tomorrow.  I'm awaiting payment on the remaining 3 boxes.

I've received some very nice comments from those who have already received their boxes, so it looks like this crazy sale was a fairly good idea.

Over the weekend, I will be sending invoices on the 9 additional mystery box orders I've accepted. 

I will not be accepting any more orders until those 9 boxes are ready for shipping.

After that, I'll look at what's left from my summer garage sales and proceed from there.  The make-up of the standard mystery box may change slightly depending on what's left. 

I might also offer specialized mystery boxes: all VHS tapes or all hardcovers or all trade paperbacks.

Specialized mystery boxes may end up being offered via my weekly Vast Accumulation of Stuff sales which post every Monday.  I haven't thought that far ahead.

Empty comic book and magazine boxes are available for $2 each and with no quantity limitations.  But you have to arrange to come to my house to pick them up.

If you haven't checked out this week's VAOS sale, there are still many good items being offered there.

Thanks for your support.



Green Arrow returned to the CW network last week in an incarnation
different from the version of the hero who appeared in Smallville.
From where I sat on the couch, that was an advantage.  I had bailed
on Smallville after a few seasons.

Arrow is the name of this new series.  I liked it better after my
first viewing than I did after my second, but I still thought it’s
worth watching for a few more episodes.

I’m going to go over that pilot episode pretty thoroughly, so, if
you haven’t watched it yet, you should heed this...


Stephen Arnell does a fine job as the title hero.  In the pilot, he
was convincing as the party boy, as a shocked young man caught in
a disaster and situation for which he was never prepared, as a grim
determined survivor, as an outsider reconnecting to the world, as
a driven vigilante and as a faux-party boy. That’s more range than
I expect from the CW and its usual 20-something angst.

The pilot episode tells the viewer everything he or she will ever
need to know about what led Oliver Queen to become the Green Arrow.
Which is my way of saying we don’t need to see more flashbacks to
the island.  He had to develop mad skills to survive on the island,
he has the mission given to him by his father and he’s adapted his
survival skills to fulfill that mission.  You could retell all the
pertinent parts of the origin in under a minute in the opening of
the show.  Much as Person of Interest does.

Oliver’s mission? His father did bad things with other really bad
people.  Starling City is filled with corruption and much worse as
a result of this.  Daddy gave Ollie a book with the names of those
bad guys and, with more or less his dying breath, asked his son to
set things right.

The Queen family stuff is interesting with clear story potential.
Mommy Moira [Susanna Thompson] gives off a coldness even when she
is seeing the son she thought dead for the first time.  I’m amazed
this didn’t tip me off to her larger role in things.  Thompson did
a nice job of disguising that under the shock any mother would feel
given her son’s return from the dead and the obvious toll it took
on Oliver. 

Walter Steele [Colin Salmon, who I liked very much in Hex and Keen
] is the business partner of the late Robert Queen and, as it
turns out, the new husband of Moira. I pegged him for a bad guy at
first.  Now I’m not so sure.  Another good performance.

As for the rest of the Queen “family”...

Housekeeper Raisa [Kathleen Gati] has always seen Ollie as a better
man than he was.  Though “housekeeper as substitute parent” is an
old bit, their scenes together were good and I’m hoping we see more
of them. 

Sister Thea [Willa Holland] is a rebellious teen dabbling with drug
use.  Her nickname is “Speedy” and, yeah, that made me groan, too.
I’m taking a “wait and see” position on this character.

Best friend Tommy Merlyn [Colin Donnell] makes me teeth hurt.  He’s
another slimy party boy and probably a future villain.  We’ve seen
his like in just about every 20-something angst drama from the CW.
He might be a convenient character to push stories forward, but I
could do without him.

Cut to love interest Dinah Laurel Lance [Katie Cassidy], a pivotal
character who needs work, as does the actress playing her.  She’s
Ollie’s ex-girlfriend.  She’s a tough-as-nails legal aid attorney.
Ollie was cheating on her with her sis, who died in the shipwreck
that stranded him on that island.  She’s been knocking boots with
Tommy Merlyn.  The defendant in her most current lawsuit is one of
the shady fat cats in the late Queen Senior’s notebook.  That’s a
lot to hang on one character and Cassidy isn’t totally successful
in pulling it off.

In the “one character too many” department, Detective Quentin Lance
[Paul Blackthorne] is Laurel’s dad and blames Ollie for his younger
daughter’s death.  This multiple family angst could get in the way
of good stories.

Tommy drives Ollie to see Laurel.  Ollie tries to apologize to his
ex-girlfriend.  She tells him to rot in Hell.  Which is pretty much
what Ollie expected. 

What Ollie didn’t expect was that masked criminals would kidnap him
and Tommy and murder an innocent shopkeeper in cold blood.  Ollie
sees the murder, which I only mention because I’ll mention it again
in a bit.

The gunmen want to know what Ollie’s dad told him.  Ollie doesn’t
break, but he does break his bonds and proceeds to mop up the dirty
abandoned warehouse floor with his assailants.  Tommy doesn’t see
any of this clearly and is barely conscious.

Ollie displays his mad skills by dropping two of the kidnappers in
seconds.  He then uses his even madder parkour skills to pursue the
leader - the guy who killed the shopkeeper - and to dodge automatic
weapons fire.  Ollie’s good.

Ollie catches the leader, fights him, beats him and then snaps the
guy’s neck.  Ollie can’t let anyone know what he can do, not if he
is going to fulfill his mission.

This will horrify my good friend Bob Ingersoll, but I don’t have a
problem with this.  Ollie saw the kidnapper kill an innocent man.
Besides the secrecy issue, Ollie has no reason to believe the guy
won’t come after him again or that the guy won’t sic others on him,
other assailants who will be better prepared for Ollie’s crazy mad
skills.  In those circumstance, I’d do the same thing.  Bob calls
it murder, I call it fact-based self-defense. 

Ollie researches Adam Hunt, the defendant in Laurel’s suit.  He’s
a bad man who swindled a lot of people out of a lot of money and,
Starling City being what it is, has bought off enough people that
he’ll likely get away with it.  He surrounds himself with murderous
bodyguards.  Oh, as we know them, men doomed to get the crap beat
out of them by the hero.  And, the hero being Green Arrow and all,
some of them will be sporting non-sexual wood in the form of real
sharp arrows.

Momma Queen hires ex-military guy John Diggle [David Ramsey] to be
Ollie’s bodyguard and chauffeur. Ollie ditches him easily once and
then knocks out at a party so that he can go off and do his Green
Arrow stuff.  Diggle’s poor performance should get him fired, but
the character has potential as a future Arrow ally.  Anything else
just makes the character useless.

Ollie sets up his Green Arrow HQ in his father’s abandoned factory,
then trains like a son of a bitch...which he might well be if his
mom is the villain which she seems to be at the conclusion of this
pilot episode.  Good training scene, but, again, not something I‘ll
need to see over and over again.

Hunt orders his men to take care of Laurel and I’m pretty sure he
isn’t concerned about her comfort.  Arrow shows up and demands that
Hunt put $40 million into a special account.  Mayhem ensues and a
few bad guys get arrow-wood. 

Hunt doesn’t plan to cough up the dough.  He fortifies his office
building with mercenaries.

Across the street, Tommy is throwing a “welcome back” party for our
boy Ollie.  There’s a scene with Ollie stealing drugs from his kid
sister and ruining her evening.  Good on him.  There’s a scene in
which he acts like a shit to drive Laurel away and, he hopes, away
from the dangers of his new life.  So-so.

Action time. Green Arrow invades Hunt’s offices, kicks major ass,
seems to miss Hunt with an arrow, gets a flesh wound, escapes just
as the police come breaking into the place.  Hunt thinks he’s won
again.  Until the next day.

That arrow that missed Hunt? It’s a gizmo that stole $40 million of
Hunt’s money.  Ollie then distributed the money to the people Hunt
swindled.  Nice Robin Hood touch, though, if Bob Ingersoll is still
talking to me, I must ask him what would be the legal consequences
of the victims keeping money that just suddenly showed up in their
bank accounts.

Ollie crosses Hunt’s name out of the notebook, which surprised me,
If Hunt was the nasty player he seemed to be, why would taking $40
million from him be enough?  That’s just slightly more than DC and
Time-Warner have spent trying to screw over Jerry Siegel’s family.
To have the kind of clout and protection Hunt seems to have, Hunt
would have to have a lot more money/power to his name. 

NOTE TO SELF: Pitch story about Ollie going after crooked publisher
who cheats creators.  It’s a sure sale.

Two more scenes worth noting.   Tommy discusses knocking boots with
Laurel and it’s a big old “eww” from start to finish.  Tommy should
find Jesus, join a monastery and get the heck out of this series.
Especially since Green Arrow was watching Laurel and Tommy as this
scene went down.  Kinda stalker there, Arrow.

The final scene.  A guy tells his “boss” that the police won’t find
out anything about who tried to abduct Ollie.  That boss turns out
to be Mama Queen.  She nixes a second attempt; there are other ways
to find out what Ollie knows.

Final thoughts on the pilot:

Solid story that flowed well. Good writing that only fell down in
the “eww” moments and when Blackthorne was snacking on the scenery.
Good to very good acting.  Good action sequences.  All of which is
enough to bring me back for the next episode.

Arrow has potential if the show runners keep the stories strong and
minimize the tired old CW angst. 

Since I wrote today’s blog before I saw the second episode, I’ll be
back tomorrow with my thoughts on that second episode.

© 2012 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


Previously in Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing...

The Rawhide Kid - the one created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, then
continued by Larry Lieber - is my favorite western character.  So,
inspired by Essential Rawhide Kid Volume 1, which reprinted all the
Lee/Kirby issues and then some, I’ve been writing about the Rawhide
Kid most every Wednesday.  When I ran out of the issues reprinted
in the book, I tracked down some owlhoots, brought them in and used
the reward money to buy the next dozen issues of the title.  Because
that’s what the Kid would have done.


If there was any doubt the Rawhide Kid was one of the new breed of
Marvel heroes, if readers weren’t convinced by his outsider status,
his brushes with authority, his battles against costumed villains,
then The Rawhide Kid #40 [June 1964] should have removed that doubt.
Emblazoned across a cool Jack Kirby/Sol Brodsky cover were blurbs
and banners heralding the first meeting of the Kid and the Two-Gun
Kid...Together for the very first time! It was...Another giant step
forward in this, the Marvel Age of Comics!
And the cover promised
readers...Thrills! Suspense! Action! 

 “The Rawhide Kid Meets the Two-Gun Kid” (18 pages) delivered on its
cover promises.  Written by Stan Lee and drawn by Dick Ayers, the
story fell into the usual “hero meets hero, hero battles hero, hero
teams up hero” pattern while remaining true to the both of the two

It opens with the Rawhide Kid riding up to the conveniently marked
“county line” and realizing he’s wanted in that other county.  So
he decides to stay on the safe side of the line.  I’ve asked this
question before and I’ll ask it again...were local governments so
independent back then that a wanted outlaw was safe in some towns,
counties and states despite crimes for which he was wanted in other
towns, countries and states?

However, when Rawhide hears gunfire and sees “one lone hombre” is
pinned down, he crosses the line to help the hombre.  Who turns out
to be the Two-Gun Kid and who is knocked unconscious by a falling
rock before he sees Rawhide comes to his rescue.

Two-Gun’s assailant is a grizzly bear with a rifle.  This doesn’t
faze Rawhide because he recently fought a trained ape with a rifle.
This would, however, scare the crap out of Stephen Colbert, who has
warned us that bears are godless killing machines.  Oh, yeah, and
this rifle-touting grizzly attacked a Pony Express rider and stole
his mail sack.  Godless. Killing. Machines.

The bear makes off with the sack.  Before Rawhide can go after him,
our title hero finds himself surrounded by lawmen who assume he’s
the bad guy in this scenario.  Unseen by the law, the Two-Gun Kid
comes to and, because he was unconscious, doesn’t know if Rawhide
is telling the truth about coming to his aid.

Rawhide escapes, figuring he must catch the bear to clear his name.
He runs into the Two-Gun Kid and they exchange the secret handshake
all heroes know.  Nah, I’m yanking your chain.  The two kids fight
for a few pages before they get around to talking out their issues
with one another. 

The Two-Gun Kid convinces the Rawhide Kid to surrender, telling the
young man that attorney Matt Hawk (the secret identity of...oh, you
know) will defend Rawhide at the trial and get him cleared of these
based on circumstantial evidence charges.  Which, though neither of
them seem to remember this, wouldn’t do jack spit for Rawhide being
a wanted outlaw in this county.

Rawhide turns himself in to the town sheriff.  Gambler Ace Fester
starts stirring up the townspeople against the Kid, saying the Kid
is probably the one who trained the grizzly. 

Ace stirs up the townspeople, but the sheriff breaks up the group
before it becomes a mob.  Ace warns that the grizzly will return.

The trial starts that afternoon.  Hey, half the town was already at
the saloon, so why not speed this thing up? 

Matt Hawk puts on a great defense, possibly because there doesn’t
seem to be a prosecutor.  However, before anyone can say anything
else, the apparently impervious-to-bullets grizzly crashes into the
courtroom and carries the Rawhide Kid away. Surprisingly, Ace isn’t
there to claim his “I told you so” accolades.  Hmm...

The bear takes Rawhide to a barn and speaks with a human voice.  He
plans to kill the Kid and leave his body for the sheriff to find.
Then folks will assume the grizzly turned on its master.

Rawhide fights back.  This grizzly doesn’t move as fast as a real
bear, so the Kid catches him off-balance and manages to remove the
bear’s head.  Yep, it’s a costume.  Unfortunately, Rawhide doesn’t
get a clear look at the real robber’s face.

The Two-Gun Kid - How come we never see him and that attorney Matt
Hawk in the same place at the same time? - catches up with Rawhide.
He returns Rawhide’s guns to the Kid.  The new buddies follow the
grizzly’s trail, but only find the empty costume. 

“Here’s why the bullets didn’t hurt him!! Look how thick this armor
is! And look at all the pulleys and gears to help him move it from

Two-Gun thinks he knows the true identity of the grizzly.  He and
Rawhide head for the saloon where they bluff Ace Fester - oh, like
that’s a surprise - into revealing himself.  Ace draws down on the
Rawhide Kid.  Rawhide shoots the gambler’s guns out of his hands,
the heels off the gambler’s boots and, just to totally diss the bad
guy, the belt off Ace’s pants.

The sheriff arrests Ace. The Kids ride off, parting company at the
border.  Will they meet again? Only fate knows for sure. 

Okay, fate and anyone who went to the Grand Comics Database for a
quick look at the covers of The Rawhide Kid, Two Gun Kid, and, for
good measure, Kid Colt Outlaw

Spoiler.  They meet again. Rawhide also meets Kid Colt.  All three
Kids team up as well.  All these team-ups will be covered in future
Rawhide Wednesdays.

“The Rawhide Kid Meets the Two-Gun Kid” was a solid Lee-Ayers tale.
Good characterization, plenty of action and the impressive-for-the-
Old-West mechanized grizzly bear armor.  The good qualities of this
story overcome the obvious revelation of the villain’s identity who
might well have gotten away with his crimes if it weren’t for those
meddling Kids! 

This issue’s non-series story is “The Fastest Draw” by Stan Lee and
Larry Lieber.  Stan is credited with the plot, Larry did everything
else.  It’s a great story that really sneaks up on you.

Two friends arrive in the West, having relocated from, what else,
the East.  Both are determined to make new lives for themselves in
this new environment.  One wants to learn ranching from the ground
up.  The other wants to learn how to use a gun.

Steve Foster may be a tenderfoot, but he works hard and works his
way up to ranch foreman. Larch Morgan bought a gun, then practiced
with it until he was the fastest draw in the West.  Not that anyone
knew it.

Larch comes to town to make his reputation.  He thinks: “Men will
tremble at my name! Women will swoon at my feet! I’ll become a
legend in my own time!”

Before Larch can draw his gun, he’s surrounded by the town lawmen.
They take his gun.  When he protests that he’s done nothing wrong,
the lawmen enlighten him:

“Where yuh been holin’ up this past year, stranger? Don’t yuh know
law and order have come to the territory! The day of the gunfighter
is past! Nobody except lawmen are allowed to carry firearms now!
I’m afraid yore in for a hundred dollar fine and a month in jail!”

Steve promises Larch a job when his friend gets out of jail, but he
cautions Larch he’ll have to start at the bottom. Larch accepts.
He has no trade, no profession.  All he knows is shooting and that
doesn’t mean a thing anymore.

The final caption:

Thus, a ruthless career was ended before it began! The territory’s
fastest draw, Larch Morgan, was never to win a place in the
colorful annals of the Old West!

I had two reactions to this story.  The first was that Lieber did
an amazing job with both the art and the script.  It’s a powerful
tale with a more serious tone than that found in his brother Stan’s
non-series scripts.

The second reaction? Were civilian guns ever actually outlawed in
any Old West territory?  I find that real hard to believe.  But, as
I often do when I don’t know something, I ask my readers to share
their knowledge.

So, this is your assignment, my bloggy friends.  Answer my earlier
question about “safe” towns or territories for wanted outlaws and
answer this second on about gun restrictions in the Old West.  I’m
eager to learn whatever you know.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2012 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, October 16, 2012


From Comics Buyer’s Guide #1695:

Hot Wheels have been popular toys and collectibles since 1968.  The
cars had a short-lived cartoon series in 1969-1971, which went off
the air when the Federal Communications Commission ruled the show
was nothing more than a half-hour commercial.  DC Comics published
a Hot Wheels title for six issues in 1970, a title most notable for
some outstanding Alex Toth art and early scripts by Len Wein.  The
latter fact becomes amusing when one realizes that Wein also wrote
the earliest issues of Mod Wheels, a Gold Key title than ran from
1971-1976 and for 19 issues. says the series featured “the adventures of Wheels
Williams, Lump Logan, Li'l Bit Bannon, and 'Scot McCall, a
road-racing group that encounters mystery and adventure in between
races. In the first issue, they were also a rock'n'roll group, the
Modniks. Later issues did not feature the musical group very much.”


Mod Wheels #3 [August 1971] presents two stories: “Danger Road” (13
pages) and “Uneasy Rider” (12 pages).  The first has the characters
being stalked by jewel thieves while the second has them facing a
vicious motorcycle gang come to reclaim a member who quit the gang.
The ex-member is the older brother of one of the Modniks. At that
tale’s end, despite the gang being in jail, the brother decides to
hit the road again.  He says:

“I still haven’t found whatever it is I’m looking for!  If ever I
do, I’ll send you a postcard from Eden!

The final caption:

Rick Bannon turned around and rode quickly away–-never looking back
for fear he’d turn to salt!

Lines like those are where the Wein we know and love shines through
otherwise so-so storytelling.  The Grand Comics Database doesn’t
identify the artists of these tales, but I definitely see Jack Abel
and Sal Trapani in some panels.

Call them comics oddities, but I get a kick out of titles like Mod
.  You might enjoy them as well.


After the above feature ran in CBG, I received the following note
from reader Sergio Andrade:

In your “Tony's Back Page” segment in the November Comics Buyer's
Guide you wrote about Gold Key Comics series, Mod Wheels. The four
characters in Mod Wheels first appeared in another series one or
two years before called The Modniks.

The Modniks was an Archie type 1960's teen humor book draw in a
more cartoon-ish style than Mod Wheels. There were a few attempts
to establish teen humor books at that time mostly because of the
success of The Monkees television show.

I'm doing this from memory but the only story I recall involved a
"square" friend of the Modniks called “Cube” who dressed in classic
nerd fashion. Flattop haircut, horn rim glasses, plaid jacket,
slacks. The Modniks decided to help Cube get a girlfriend by
updating his look, despite the fact he was totally uncomfortable
with that. The story ended with Cube going back to his original
look and finding a "square" girlfriend of his own.

Thanks for the information, Sergio. A quick check of the Grand
Comics Database shows only two issues of Modniks were published.
There are no credits for the first of those issues, but the second
was drawn by Lloyd White with a non-Modniks story drawn by Jack

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2012 Tony Isabella