Monday, March 31, 2014


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Iron Fist and me. Check it out!



Veteran readers of this bloggy thing will remember I devoted many bloggy things to comic books that hit the newsstands in December, 1951, the month of my birth. That was a very important month in my comics career on account of if I hadn’t been born, I would not have had a comics career.

The next important month in my comics career was July, 1963.  Why was that month so important? To explain that, I am reprinting this classic blog entry from two whole years ago.

1963. In July of that year, my family drove to upstate New York to visit relatives of my father.  At 11, I wasn’t thrilled with this vacation.  But comic books will get you through boring times and, back then, every stop along the road sold comic books.  I bought a lot of them and couldn’t tell you which ones if my life depended on it.  With one notable exception.

My parents weren’t happy with my spending my “souvenir money” on a whole lot of comic books.  I figured it was my money and I should be able to spend it as I liked.  Reading those comic books was how I dealt with the tedium of the long drive.

When we got to the town where our relatives lived, we stopped by a cigar and magazine shop owned by my father’s uncle.  I headed for the comics display, but my parents got between me and the comics. Not wanting to have a scene in the store, they told me I could buy one and only one more comic book.  That would be it for the rest of the trip.

If I could only buy one more comic book, then, defiant little cuss that I was, I was going to buy one that cost a quarter.  The flaw in my plan was that I already had the DC annuals on the display and I wasn’t at all interested in the Archie or Harvey giants.

Then I spotted Fantastic Four Annual #1.  I had only read one issue of Fantastic Four prior to this, the issue with Kurrgo, Master of Planet X.  I hadn’t like the issue at all.  It was unnerving to see super-heroes fighting with one another in much the same manner that I fought with my siblings.  Kurrgo looked like a sickly potato man. The art didn’t look as “clean” as DC super-hero art.  And, even at that age, I realized someone had screwed up the end of the story by mixing up “enlarging” and “shrinking.”

None of that mattered to me in the smoke shop.  I was a man - okay, a boy - on a mission.  I didn’t care if that annual was any good or not.  I was going to show my parents I could outsmart them, even if it was only in this minor way.  I bought the annual.

It changed my life.

Fantastic Four Annual #1, as I’ve proclaimed on numerous occasions, is the greatest comic book of all time.  It was 72 pages of sheer excitement and wonderment.  I read it several times that night and several more times on the rest of the trip.  I didn’t reread any of the other comics I had bought.

At 37 pages, the annual’s “Sub-Mariner Versus the Human Race!” was the longest comic-book story I had ever read.  Sub-Mariner invades New York City.  A deathly ill Reed Richards seems helpless to stop him and his forces.  Namor takes Sue Storm prisoner.  We learn the history of Atlantis.  Action and human drama with great characters. What an epic!

The other features drew me more into the young Marvel Universe as I read the origin of the Fantastic Four, their meeting with Spider-Man, informational pin-up pages of the FF’s villains and question-and-answer pages with the heroes.  I studied the annual’s amazing diagram of their Baxter Building headquarters.  A brand new world opened up for me.

Back in the real world, we were spending the night in the “family cabin.”  It was a large cabin with a huge common area, a kitchen, and several bedrooms above the open common area.  It was not in the best of shape, as I recall, and there had been critters of varying kinds residing in the cabin whenever humans weren’t there.  Maybe even while humans were there.

My three siblings and I slept on cots in the common area.  Despite the unfamiliarity of the place, we all slept soundly, exhausted by the long drive.

I got up at the crack of dawn.  While the rest of the family slept on, I grabbed my small stack of comic books and went to the porch. But the only one I wanted to read in that lovely woodland solitude was Fantastic Four Annual #1.

I knew comic books were written and drawn by adults.  The credits for Stan Lee, Jack Kirby and Dick Ayers didn’t reveal that to me, though the DCs of the day lacked such recognition for their writers and artists.  However, reading that comic book that quiet morning, it suddenly hit me that writing and drawing comics were all real jobs.  Butcher, baker, comic-book maker...and I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up.

I enjoyed the rest of that vacation.  We went to the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York.  I loved both the Museum and the town.  I’ve visited a few times since, and, every time, there has been something new to excite me and the familiar charm of the area to soothe my oft-contentious spirit.

In case you were wondering, I did have money left to buy a couple Hall of Fame souvenirs.  I couldn’t tell you what I bought or where they ended up over the years.

Sad to say, I don’t have my original copy of Fantastic Four Annual #1.  It went missing somewhere along my several moves from here to there and there to here.  I bought a copy in much better condition over two decades ago and cherish it to this day.

In 2012, I dabbled in the comic books of July 1963 and wrote about several of them.  However, this time around, I hope to acquire and read every one of the month’s comics before writing about them. A few are well out of my price range - it’s the month of Avengers #1 and X-Men #1 and several other expensive Marvel and DC issues - but I started gathering these books late last year and already have most of the ones I need for the next couple months.

Writing about these comic books will not be a daily feature of the bloggy thing. I’ll still be presenting my usual mix of news, views and reviews. I’ll still be doing “Rawhide Kid Wednesday” most every week.  I’ll still be writing about monster movies, politics and the comics industry itself. I’ll still be writing about my career here and there. I hope you’ll stick with me.

I’ll be back tomorrow with a brief overview of the comic books of July, 1963. See you then.  

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Sunday, March 30, 2014


Sanctum Books, the publishing company owned and operated by my pal Anthony Tollin, has been releasing new books faster than I’ve been able to keep up with them. But I’m going to keep trying to tell you about these fine publications.

The Shadow #81: Murder Every Hour and The Time Master [$14.95] is a time-themed volume representing two novels by Walter B. Gibson -  writing as Maxwell Grant - and a bonus radio classic.

“Murder Every Hour” hails from the June 1, 1935 issue of The Shadow Magazine. From the back cover:

Murder Every Hour strikes relentlessly until the time arrives for the Shadow to ring in the midnight hour!

“The Time Master” was first published in The Shadow Magazine for April 1, 1941. From the back cover:

Super crimes are perpetuated with split-second precision by the minions of The Time Master.

“The Man Who Murdered Time” was broadcast on January 1, 1939. In his historical essay, Will Murray has this to say about the radio program episode: “Unlike Gibson’s grounded-in-reality novels, this is a flight into fantasy in the vein of H.G. Wells’ immortal novel, The Time Machine. Be prepared to experience one of the wildest Shadow adventures ever conceived.”

As with the other Sanctum Books series - Doc Savage, The Whisperer and others - these Shadow adventures are entertaining journeys into the heroic fiction of the pulp era.  They’re wonderfully made books and I regularly despair that I might never get around to reading them all.  But what I can do is let you know about the new releases as they appear.  More Sanctum Books news is on the way.

© 2014 Tony Isabella


I’ve been in a movie mode of late. I usually watch one movie every night and sometimes go for a double feature if Sainted Wife Barb is out. My Thursday double feature was Dark Rising: Bring Your Battle Axe [2007] and The Family [2013].

Dark Rising: Bring Your Battle Axe was a recommendation from one of my Facebook friends, but I can’t recall which one. Whoever you are, you have my thanks. This is a fun movie and, apparently, the first of a series of TV shows and movies starring Summer Vale [played by Brigitte Kingsley]. Here’s the IMDB summary:

A weekend camping trip turns into a frantic fight against the supernatural when an ancient demon and a fearsome female warrior bring their eternal battle into the present day.

Landy Cannon plays Jason, who is desperately trying to rekindle his romance with his high-school sweetheart, not realizing that she is gay. He and his best friend Ricky [Jason Reso} go on the trip with ex-girlfriend Jasmine [Vanessa James], her lover Marlane [Haley Shannon] and their friend Renee [Julia Schneider]. The three women are playing at witchcraft and manage to open a portal which brings the demon and Summer Vale to our world.

Summer Vale was taken away from her father as a young girl, taken to that harsh world and trained to fight demons. There’s also some shadowy, not entirely warm-and-fuzzy secret government agency that trains warriors and fights demon.  However, the agency doesn’t play a major role in the movie until the cliff-hanging ending.  That’s all you need to know of the story.

The acting performances are decent throughout with proving Kingsley especially entertaining. Though the comedy often gets dark, mixing humor with the action and the scary works for this movie. The fight scenes are serviceable, the demon costume not so much.

I liked this movie enough that I didn’t mind the cliff-hanger. I’ve requested the second movie from my library. Unfortunately, there’s a 12-episode TV series that comes between the first movie and the second. My library doesn’t have it and I haven’t been able to find it for sale. I’ll continue to search.

Dark Rising: Bring Your Battle Axe is 92 minutes of “not half bad” and worth seeing.


The Family, according to Wikipedia, is an “English-language French action crime comedy film.” It’s directed by Luc Besson, best known for the Taken and Transporter movies. He co-wrote the screenplay with Michael Caleo and the whole thing is based on a book by Tonino Benacquista. The film has action. It has crime. But the comedy is of a thoroughly dark nature.  The IMDB summary:

The Manzoni family, a notorious mafia clan, is relocated to Normandy, France under the witness protection program, where fitting in soon becomes challenging as their old habits die hard.

There are wonderful performances in this movie: Robert De Niro as the gangster turned informer who still indulges in the occasional murder with little provocation; Michelle Pfeiffer as his wife who blows up the occasional store when the management is rude to her; Dianna Agron as their lovely and violent daughter; John D'Leo As their Machiavellian son; and Tommy Lee Jones as the CIA agent who must keep this functional but frankly hideous family safe from the brutal killers seeking the $20 million bounty for killing De Niro and his family. This is a terrific movie with great acting, solid writing and plenty of thrilling moments. But it’s also a movie that left me feeling like I could throw up a little in my mouth.


What makes the movie more than a sick and twisted work is the last scene. In the aftermath of an assassination attempt that has left dead bodies and debris all over a sleepy French village, De Niro’s driving his family to the next hiding place where they will live. He thinks the experience has brought them closer together.  But the camera that pans across their faces reveals a different scenario. This is a family irreparably damaged by De Niro’s world. They will never be fit to exist with normal human beings. They are tortured monsters, a truth the arrogant De Niro can’t begin to comprehend. The last scene will stay with me.

The Family is worth watching once. I’m glad I watched it. But I’ll never watch it again.


I watched The World’s End [2013] a few months back, but didn’t get around to reviewing it. The movie is still surprisingly fresh in my head, but here’s the IMDB summary:

Five friends who reunite in an attempt to top their epic pub crawl from 20 years earlier unwittingly become humankind's only hope for survival.

Simon Pegg is Gary King, the man-child leader of the group.  He’s always worth watching. There are many other wonderful actors giving wonderful performances in this movie, but I’m trying to keep this review as briefly as possible.

So...think Invasion of the Body Snatchers with considerably more pleasant alien invaders. The secret plot unfolds. The old friends figure out something’s wrong. The invaders tell them more because they probably wouldn’t have figured it all out on their own. Things get dicey. Things don’t work out for some of the characters we come to care about. Things get upended for mankind. It’s a funny weird movie not unlike other movies written by Pegg and Edgar Wright and directed by Wright.

I liked The World’s End a lot. I would watch it again. I think you should watch it again, which is why I’m trying to say as little as possible about it.  Watch it already.


By most standards, This Is the End [2013] was both a critical and a commercial success. By my standards, it was a largely unpleasant 106 minutes.  The IMDB summary:

While attending a party at James Franco's house, Seth Rogen, Jay Baruchel and many other celebrities are faced with the apocalypse.

While the movie managed some impressive special effects sequences, my overwhelming impression of it was that the directors, writers and stars were all insufferably pleased with how amazingly clever and edgy they were being.  Which meant they weren’t being either.

I wouldn’t recommend this movie. I would never watched it again and I wish I had those 106 minutes of my life back.


I watched We’re the Millers [2013] in January during the Cleveland-to-Los Angeles flight. I suspect the film, which normally runs 110 minutes, was edited somewhat for showing on the plane. Here’s the IMDB summary:

A veteran pot dealer creates a fake family as part of his plan to move a huge shipment of weed into the U.S. from Mexico.

This was a perfectly enjoyable movie with solid performances from its very cool cast: Jennifer Aniston, Jason Sudeikis, Emma Roberts, Will Poulter, Nick Offerman, Kathryn Hahn and Ed Helms. Despite the criminal nature of the enterprise, Sudeikis and his family-for-hire are likeable sorts. DEA agent Offerman, his wife Hahn and daughter Molly Quinn are equally likeable and a little odd. Helms’ character is a major asshat and Helms plays him well. Where I found the cast of This Is the End repulsive, this movie’s cast were entertaining and even welcoming.

You’ve all seen enough movies that it does not require any spoiler warning when I tell you the fake family becomes something more by the end of the film. I’ve long believed the best, most supportive families are the ones we create for ourselves.

I enjoyed We’re the Millers. It helped this nervous flyer survive yet another flight. It’s not an award-winning movie, but I’d watch it again and recommend it to you as well.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Saturday, March 29, 2014


I requested Assault of the Sasquatch [2009] from my library on a whim. I noticed Chiller TV aired the movie on occasion and looked it up at the Internet Movie Database. The plot summary intrigued me further as it indicated the Sasquatch would be doing its Sasquatch thing in a city and not the usual remote area.

Here’s the plot summary from IMDB:

When a merciless bear poacher is caught and arrested deep in the woods of a state park, he and his truck are taken to a neglected precinct in the heart of a dying city. Unbeknownst to the authorities, the impounded truck holds a deadly cargo in the form of the legendary Sasquatch. Now, stuck in an unfamiliar world, the creature will let nothing and no one stop it from coming face-to-face with the unscrupulous man who ruthlessly ripped it from its environment. Taking an inventive and action packed approach, "Sasquatch Assault" breaths new and exciting life into the immortal legend of Bigfoot.

“Sasquatch Assault” was the original title of the movie, but it was Assault of the Sasquatch on the DVD box. For the most part, the movie was fun but with one fatal flaw which will keep me from ever watching it a second time. I’ll get to that in a bit.

The movie spends some time allowing the viewer to get to know the people who will be imperiled. The characters are more interesting than you would expect. A former police officer whose wife died in an home invasion. His daughter, of whom he is overprotective.  His feisty park ranger partner and his former colleagues at the police station, including a lonely captain who took in a beautiful young felon, gave her a home and a job, and treated her like a daughter. The bear poacher is played too large, but he has his moments in the film, as does his disgustingly wealthy employer. Oh, yeah, the man who killed the hero’s wife is in the picture as well, determined to avenge the brother who the hero shot and killed during the home invasion. It’s a tasty Sasquatch buffet.

The Sasquatch costume is the greatest, but the intelligent beast is a scary smart adversary. He makes the precinct as much his domain as the woods.  If this were a major studio release, I think there would have been a sequel.

The fatal flaw? That would be the two nerdy Sasquatch hunters who host some sort of Bigfoot podcast. Actor and producer (though not of this film) Shawn C. Phillips is one of the all-time worst actors I’ve ever watched. He plays his character like he had been snorting cocaine for a straight week before his scenes. He’s more terrible than I can describe and I only wish his gory death had come earlier in the movie.  But not nearly as much as I wish his lousy character had been cut completely.

If you watch Assault of the Sasquatch, I suggest you fast forward  past any scenes with Phillips and the comatose M. Kelley, who plays the other podcast nerd. If you do that and if you as fond of these low-budget monster movies as I am, I think you’ll have a good time with this one.


Besides my usual monster movie viewing, I also watch other movies.Here are some quickie comments about some of them:

Barb and our daughter Kelly wanted to see American Hustle [2013], so I rented it via our cable company’s On Demand.  I was the only one who actually made it to the end of the movie.

From IMDB:

A con man, Irving Rosenfeld, along with his seductive partner Sydney Prosser, is forced to work for a wild FBI agent, Richie DiMaso, who pushes them into a world of Jersey powerbrokers and mafia.

The movie is based on actual FBI sting operations of the late 1970s and early 1980s.  It does a great job capturing the feel of those years, but slows to a crawl several times.  Cutting the film’s 138-minute running time by a half-hour or so would have made the movie tighter and better.

There are some great performances in this movie, most notably Amy Adams, Christian Bale, Jeremy Renner, Louis C.K. and, to my great delight and surprise, Elisabeth Röhm. I have not been kind to Rohm in other reviews, but she completely loses herself in her portrayal of a New Jersey mayor’s wife.

American Hustle was nominated for a bunch of Oscars, but didn’t win any. It did win three Golden Globe awards, including Best Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical, and various other awards.  I wouldn’t agree that it’s the best movie of any year, but it’s worth watching once.  Just make sure you have plenty of popcorn.


Delivery Man (2013) was the most expensive movie I’ve watched this year. I saw it in a Los Angeles hotel room during the one horrible night I had on that January vacation. I paid way too much to watch this movie, but I’m not going to let that influence this review of the film. I’m nice some of the time.

From IMDB:

An affable underachiever finds out he's fathered 533 children through anonymous donations to a fertility clinic 20 years ago. Now he must decide whether or not to come forward when 142 of them file a lawsuit to reveal his identity.

Vince Vaughn (the affable underachiever) is very hit or miss with me. When he’s good, I like him a lot. When he’s not, my skin crawls a little. He’s good in Delivery Man. He’s not the only one. This is a movie whose cast makes you like them and thus excuse any little failings in their performances.

I enjoyed Delivery Man. I would have enjoyed it more had I not paid so much to see it, but I enjoyed. It has humor, it has challenges, it has some tear-in-the-corner-of-your-eye stuff and, ultimately, it has a great deal of heart. I like heart and I liked this movie enough that I would watch it again.

Come back tomorrow for more movie reviews.
© 2014 Tony Isabella

Friday, March 28, 2014


Welcome to my first ONLINE Vast Accumulation of Stuff Sale in just slightly over a year. I thought about how to make these sales run more smoothly and profitably for me while also giving my customers good value for their money.  I guess I’ll see soon enough if I’ve succeeded in those goals.

Here’s how the sale works...

First come, first serve. In other words, the quicker you e-mail me, the better your chances of getting the item or items.  Only e-mail orders will be accepted and you should not send payment until you get a confirmation e-mail from me.  All listed items are in good or better condition unless otherwise noted. 

Let me stress that “e-mail only” rule.  Most of the few mistakes I have made in assembling/shipping orders have happened with orders I accepted via phone or Facebook message.  So...I’m not gonna break my own rule anymore.

You should always include your mailing address with your orders. That speeds up the packaging and the shipping.

Items will be shipped via United States Postal Service.  There is a $5 shipping/handling charge for all orders of any size unless I specific otherwise in the item description. If your final order is over $100, shipping is free.

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

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.

When you receive your order, please check it and let me know of any omissions as soon as possible.  I’ll be double-checking the orders on my end, but, if there’s a problem, I want to make it right in a timely fashion.

This sale ends when the next sale goes up on Friday, April 11. No unsold items will be carried over from sale to sale.  They will be put back into inventory for now. 

As always, your orders are greatly appreciated.

Here are this week’s items...

1000 COMIC BOOKS YOU MUST READ by Tony Isabella. A fun ride through the history of the American comic book that showcases the variety of the field. Hardcover. Signed on request. Free shipping. $25

ALTER EGO #17 [TwoMorrows; September 2002]. Arnold Drake. Lou Fine. Robotman. EC Confidential. $2

AMAZING SPIDER-GIRL: WHATEVER HAPPENED TO THE DAUGHTER OF SPIDER-MAN? By Tom DeFalco and Ron Frenz [Marvel; 2007]. “Meet May ‘Mayday’ Parker, the daughter of Spider-Man!” Softcover reprinting material from Amazing Spider-Girl #0-6. $5

CIVIL WAR: MARVEL UNIVERSE [Marvel; 2007]. “Whose side are you on?” Softcover reprinting material from Civil War: The Initiative, Civil War: Choosing Sides, Civil War: The Return and She-Hulk #8. $4

COMIC BOOK MARKETPLACE #112 [May 2004]. Atlas Horror. Alan Class. Weird Mystery Tales. $3.50

MARVEL MASTERWORKS GOLDEN AGE DARING MYSTERY VOLUME 1. Reprints issues #1-4. Sealed hardcover. $20

ROBERT ASPRIN: ANOTHER FINE MYTH [Donning/Starblaze; 1978]. Edited and illustrated by Polly and Kelly Freas. Softcover. $2

ROBERT ASPRIN: MYTH CONCEPTIONS [Donning/Starblaze; 1980]. Edited and illustrated by Polly and Kelly Freas. Softcover. $2

ROBERT ASPRIN: MYTH DIRECTIONS [Donning/Starblaze; 1982]. Edited by Hank Stine. Illustrated by Phil Foglio. Softcover. $2

ROBERT ASPRIN: HIT OR MYTH [Donning/Starblaze; 1983]. Illustrated by Phil Foglio. Softcover. $2

ROBERT ASPRIN: MYTHING PERSONS [Donning/Starblaze; 1984]. Illustrated by Phil Foglio. Softcover. $2

ROBERT ASPRIN: LITTLE MYTH MARKER [Donning/Starblaze; 1985]. Illustrated by Phil Foglio. Softcover. $2

ROBERT ASPRIN: M.Y.T.H. INC. LINK [Donning/Starblaze; 1986]. Illustrated by Phil Foglio. Softcover. $2

ROBERT ASPRIN: MYTH-NOMERS AND IM-PERFECTIONS [Donning/Starblaze; 1987]. Illustrated by Phil Foglio. Softcover. $2

SUPERMAN: CAMELOT FALLS by Kurt Busiek, Carlos Pacheco and Jesus Merino [DC; 2007]. “A hero will rise and a world will fall.” Hardcover reprinting material from Superman #654-658. $6.50

SUPERMAN: UP, UP AND AWAY by Kurt Busiek, Geoff Johns, Pete Woods and Renato Guedes [DC; 2006]. “A hero without powers. A villain without scruples. And the fate of a city hangs in the balance.” Softcover reprints material from Superman #650-653 and Action Comics 837-840. $5

Thanks for your patronage.

Tony Isabella


Recently published bu Archie Comics, Archie's Funhouse Double Digest #2 [April 2014; $3.99] has a number of noteworthy stories.  Here's info on a few of them.

"Mind Games" by Mike Pellowski, Rex Lindsey and Rich Koslowski. Archie gains the power to read minds. This might be the first publication for this story as I was unable to locate any earlier appearance via the Grand Comics Database.

"Maniac Mission to Madrid" is the second part of the Archie & Friends World Tour saga by Alex Simmons, Rex Lindsey and Jim Amash.  It's reprinted from Archie & Friends #118 [June 2008].

"So How Was Your Vacation?" is a wild story by Rich Margopoulos and Rex Lindsey in which Archie tests a new type of iceberg buster for Mr. Lodge. It's from World of Archie #22 [March 1997].

"Who" is a classic Frank Doyle story drawn by the great Harry Lucey. It's a funny story that builds gag upon gag to reach its ultimate punch line. It was first published in Laugh Comics #169 [April 1965].

Archie comics digests offer a lot of fun reading at a reasonable price. They make for a nice change of page from other comics. Keep watching the bloggy thing for more of these reviews.

© 2014 Tony Isabella


Cue the grumpy old man theme. Today’s bloggy thing is about stuff that annoys me. To get in the mood, I’m hiking up my pants a good three inches above my navel.

Sending me Linked In invitations is a waste of your time.  I’ve not been a member of that social network in at least two years because I found it pretty much useless. For me. I have a good friend who swears by it and I’m happy for him.

I was never contacted about a job while I was on Linked In, though I was contacted by folks who wanted to sell me cars or real estate. My most major interaction on Linked In was one I came to regret in a matter of months.

I was contacted by a former colleague from a comics publisher.  The person asked for and received a recommendation from me. Apparently, I was the only connection who wrote one for the person.  I was thanked for something I had been happy to do and I figured that was pretty much the end of it, save for an occasional e-mail note.  I would’ve been good with that.

What I got was to be included on this person’s mass e-mailing list. You know the sort. Cute photos of someone else’s children or pets. Inspirational stories that were almost certainly not true. Shocking revelations which could almost instantaneously be proven false with a quick visit to Snopes. So many boring e-mails that meant nothing to me. E-mails I succeeded in ignoring. Until the day when my once-colleague sent somewhere between a dozen to twenty of them in one day. Enough.

I was less civil than I could have been. I instructed this person IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS to never send me another e-mail. I was told I must be having a bad day and was taking it out on the person. With no realization whatsoever from the individual that the barrage of e-mails might in any way have contributed to this mythical bad day I was allegedly having. Arrgh!

I had left Linked In before this incident. I shudder to think what other annoyances I have avoided by leaving when I did.

If someone wants to hire me for some project or work with me on a project, I am easily contacted via e-mail.  I’m not really looking for work at the moment, but I’m also NOT not looking for work.  If something cool comes along, I can and would fit it into my insane schedule.  However, because of existing commitments, I wouldn’t be able to consider any new work until June. If you want to discuss a gig for June or later, contact me.

I have been told Linked In members might not have complete control over who gets invited to link with them. However, for those of you who might consciously try to link with me, let me repeat that I’m not part of that social network, I will never again be part of that social network and your invitations will go unanswered. Get off my virtual lawn, you rotten kids!


One of the many joys in my life is posting remembrances and happy birthday greetings for comics creators or other people important to me on my Facebook page. A couple years back, I was horrified when a now-former Facebook friend posted a rant about how much he didn’t like the creator I was remembering. His follow-up posts were worse and I unfriended him.

It amazes me that I have to state this from time to time, but, if someone doesn’t like the person I am remembering or wishing a happy birthday to, then they shouldn’t post a comment to the thread.  I know the swiftness of online communication has, for some, crippled their ability to think about what they are posting before the post it. They need to work on that.

Give your comments-to-be a few moments of thought before engaging your Internet piehole and posting something that makes you appear to be an asshat. It’s what Jesus would do.


There is a common phrase that I loathe. Whether it’s expressed as “politically correct” or “politically incorrect,” it always sounds like bullshit to me. There is no politically correct.  There is no politically incorrect. There is just correct.

If you say something bigoted or in some other way awful, you do not get a free pass by staying you’re “politically incorrect.” What you are is, at best, a self-delusional jerk or, at worse, a person who is deliberately being an asshat.


Something else I loathe is the non-apology: IF you were offended by what I say. The intent is to deflect the offense from the one who gave it to the person they offended.  It’s a non-apology and it is not acceptable. Whether you apologize or not, own up to the crappy thing you said. You said it. You own it.


I posted this on Facebook earlier this month:

It both amuses me and annoys me when someone with no particular standing among comics creators dismisses Alan Moore as irrelevant. It's an absurd statement because ripples from Alan's work have been part of the conversation for decades and continue to be so. I suspect this sort of statement comes because Moore's positions on the creator/corporate dynamic forces some comics fans to think about the comic books they purchase, forces them to maybe not feed the monkey on their backs with a particular comics series. Of course, there are more fans - probably the majority, sad to say - who don't give a rat's ass about the creators who actually make the comic books they have loved and love. Because, if they care, sales on Before Watchmen wouldn't have cracked three digits and sales on DC's various bastardizations of Black Lightning wouldn't crack two digits. Of course, my speculations are no better than the next guy's. My only advantage in such discussions that I've actually created comic books, some of them quite good. Alan has created more comic books, many of them brilliant. But Alan Moore irrelevant? Absurd.

First off, as I did on Facebook, I apologize for the snarky comment about “someone with no particular standing among comics creators.” It was a dick move and I try not to be a dick.

Secondly, I stand by the rest of what I wrote.

Thirdly, semi-related, as much as I love discerning readers telling me how much they love my comics writing and want to see me writing comics again, it kind of sort of dismays me that what they really want is to see me writing Black Lightning and Champions and Hawkman and Ghost Rider and It! The Living Colossus and pretty much every other comic book I’ve written for DC or Marvel.  When I wrote Grim Ghost for the short-lived Atlas Comics a few years back, it didn’t sell as well as it would have if those readers who said they wanted to see me writing comics again had bought it.

I love a lot of those characters a lot. I would write most of them again if I had the opportunities.  But no one is breaking down my door or even e-mailing me to discuss my writing them again.  Even if they did contact me, they might not want me to write the kind of stories those readers of mine loved...or I might not want to write the kind of stories the editors/publishers want...or, given that I am a grumpy old man who likes to do things his way and not rewrite my stories endlessly to satisfy editor/publisher whims...none of us might be able to help those new stories happen.

I’m still hoping and planning to write new comic books. I’m hoping to get them drawn and published while exploring ways of doing that.  But they won’t be comic books featuring any of our old favorites.

I know I want to write these comic books.

Do you want to read them?

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Thursday, March 27, 2014


Kitty Genovese, brutally murdered in her Kew Gardens neighborhood in Queens on March 13, 1964, has been in my head since I first read Harlan Ellison’s “The Whimper of Whipped Dogs” in the early 1970s. The story of three dozen plus of Genovese’s neighbors watching her die in supplication to an obscene god born from our modern times is horrifying...and so it has stayed with me. It is with no little shame that I realize and confess that I, too, watched Genovese die in the sense that I never looked beyond either the Ellison story or the murder that inspired it. I never knew who Genovese really was. Until now.

Kevin Cook’s Kitty Genovese: The Murder, the Bystanders, the Crime That Changed America [W.W. Norton and Company; $25.95] introduced me to Genovese in the fullness of her life and the world in which she lived that life for such a tragically short time. He questions the urban legend aspects of her story and her death and reveals a more complete truth to those events.  It is a powerful book that compels the turning of its pages to see what comes next.

Here is the Kitty Genovese that leaves her parents to pursue a life of her own. She was a vibrant gay woman at a time when that would be considered an actual crime. Indeed, even the prosecutor seeking justice for Genovese kept that information out of the trial with Kitty’s lover maintaining the lie that they were but roommates and nothing more.

Here is Winston Moseley, her remorseless killer, currently serving the longest sentence in New York history because an appeals court vacated his death sentence.  Moseley is actually more terrifying in reality than in Ellison’s award-winning story.

Here are the neighbors, perhaps not all the uncaring monsters that the media and urban legend would have them be. Alongside them, the vagaries of chance that could have saved Genovese on that terrible terrible night.

Cook cannot be lauded enough for his investigative work, his keen eye for detail, his determination for telling the entire story and his skill in telling it so well. I am awed by his craft and so very grateful that, after all these years, I can better grasp how tragic Kitty Genovese’s death was. She remains in my head, but now I see her more clearly.

ISBN 978-0-393-23928-7

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, March 26, 2014


The Rawhide Kid is my favorite western comics character and one of my favorite comics characters period.  Something about the short of stature (but big on courage and fighting skills) Johnny Clay spoke to the short of stature (but big on comics-reading skills) teenage Tony Isabella.  After rereading the Kid’s earliest adventures when Marvel Comics reprinted them in a pair of Marvel Masterworks and an Essential Rawhide Kid volume, I wanted to reacquire every Rawhide Kid comic, reread them and write about them in this bloggy thing of mine. This is the 51st installment of that series.

There are three stories in The Rawhide Kid #66 [October 1968] with Marvel burning off a story intended for the recently-cancelled Two-Gun Kid #93. That title would be revived in 1970, but would feature  reprints.

The Grand Comics Database credits the cover of this issue to Larry Lieber (pencils) and Vince Colletta (inks), but I’m not sure about that inking attribution. Outside of a few lines on the large hands, I’m not seeing any signs of Colletta here. The sharp black areas on the cover bring Frank Giacoia to mind. I’m not sure what to make of the use of zip-a-tone on the firing fun. I’m not an art expert, but I think someone who is an art expert should take a closer look at this cover before we accept Colletta as its inker.

Writer/penciler Lieber delivers one of his best Rawhide Kid yarns in “Death of a Gunfighter!” (9 pages). The title page opens with a Boot Hill burial:

A grim, barren burial ground reserved for society’s outcasts - men who lived by the gun, fast and briefly - men such as he who is now being laid to rest...

One of the five men present says the deceased was “nothing but a ruthless outlaw” while another says, “Mebbe so...but I suspicion he wasn’t guilty of half the bad things that folks claimed!'

The second panel shows a simple wooden cross marked with the name “Rawhide Kid” and “Born: John Clay” and “1850-1875.”

As the men leave Boot Hill, the conversation continues...

Whether he was, or wasn’t, is a moot point now!

Not exactly! The Kid is dead, but his legend will go on!

Yeh, there’s be books and songs and tall tales for years to come!

A newcomer to town asks an old man who was just buried. Amazed to learn it was the infamous Rawhide Kid, the stranger accepts the old man’s offer to tell him the whole story.

The old man tells of a heartsick gunfighter, weary of being called out wherever he goes and putting too many men into the ground.  It happened again when the Rawhide Kid rode into this town.  A bully by the name of Vance Fargo forced a gunfight.

This time, Rawhide decided to lose the fight. He twisted his body just enough so Fargo would merely nick his arm. The Kid thought he was free of his curse, that now the gunmen looking for a rep would challenge someone other than him.

What the Rawhide Kid didn’t count on was that Fargo would become an even worse bully, stealing at will and tormenting the townspeople. The Kid couldn’t stomach that and challenged Fargo to a repeat of their earlier gunfight.

The old man concludes his story:

Then they slapped leather and Fargo turned out to be the faster gun after all! He dropped the kid with one shot!

Asked about Fargo, the old man says:

He left town after the shoot-out! He figgered he’s about picked this place clean and headed for greener pastures.

With this great story to tell the folks back home, the stranger walks away and doesn’t notice the seated figure half-hidden in the shadows. It’s the Rawhide Kid and he asks the old man if he thinks the stranger believed him.

What really happened in that second gunfight is that Rawhide shot the gun out of Fargo’s hand and two-punched the bully down to the ground.  The town was grateful.

Yuh were safer not being a top gun! Yet when the chips were down, yuh came to our rescue!

Now it’s our turn to help you, Kid! We’ll tell folks that Fargo killed you! We’ll even stage a fake funeral! It’s take the gunnies off your back - for awhile anyway.

I love this story.  I also love John Tartaglione’s inking.  He was always one of Lieber’s best inkers.


The Two-Gun Kid stars in “Return of the Bad Man!” by Denny O’Neil with art by Ogden Whitney (8 pages). The GCD opines the story was originally intended for Two Gun Kid #93, which would have been dated May 1968 if it hadn’t been cancelled.

Two-Gun captures a wanted man. Because the wanted man has equally dangerous outlaw brothers, the sheriff wants to get the prisoner to  the district marshall pronto. The bad guys kidnap the father of the lawman and offer an exchange. Two-Gun impersonates the outlaw and, well, things go south for the outlaws quickly.

There’s not much to this story. O’Neil’s writing is uneven.  He’s breathlessly huckster-like in the captions and his dialogue usually seems forced. Whitney’s art is more consistent and excellent more often than not. I would have liked to see Whitney draw more stories and in many different genres for Marvel. He was a talented artist and storyteller.


The headline of the Marvel Bullpen Bulletins page promised “Items of Incredible Import to Illuminate Your Interest, Invigorate Your Imagination and Intoxicate Your ID!”...and, speaking as someone who first read it in 1968, I believe it delivered on that promise and then some.

Marvel received a great plug in TV Guide. The penciler/inker team of Gene Colan and Tom Palmer joined forces on Dr. Strange, just as George Tuska and Johnny Craig were doing on Iron Man“And, when Dr, Doom finally stars in his own strip, wait until you see who the artists are!”  There’s also an address which Marvel readers can use to write to lonely soldiers.

Marvel boasts about its Fantastic Four and Spider-Man cartoons and the toys and games being produced by Kenner Toys and other outfits. There’s a mention of gag mag Groovy and a warm welcome for newest Marvel writer Arnold Drake, “the loveable king-size leprechaun with a fabulous flair for biting satire and crafty characterization.”

“Stan’s Soapbox” talks about the diversity of opinion among Marvel writers and artists.  Stan wrote the piece in answer to questions about where the company stands on political issues. His answer was that there wasn’t any one Bullpen opinion on anything...which was still true when I worked for Marvel in the 1970s.

“The Mighty Marvel Checklist” lists two dozen titles. The Phantom Eagle makes his debut in Marvel Super-Heroes #16. The Avengers go back in time to learn the true fate of Bucky Barnes and, in their second annual, battle the original Avengers in a world they never made! The Hulk meets the Inhumans in his first special. Sub-Mariner slugs it out with Tiger Shark. Nick Fury, Agent of Shield #5 has a Steranko classic, “Whatever Happened to Scorpio?” Dormammu invades  Earth in Dr. Strange #173. The Sgt. Fury special has the Howlers in action at the Battle of the Bulge. Tales of Asgard #1 is a giant-sized special reprinting stories by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.  As I have stated before, this was a terrific time to be a Marvel reader.


The third and final story in this issue is “The Double Cross” by Bill Everett. Although Everett is only credited with the art on the story’s splash panel, the GCD lists him as the writer and letterer of this fine-page tale.

I found this story troublesome. A sheriff is in on the kidnaping of a wealthy rancher’s daughter. However, when he sees how beautiful and sweet the young woman is, he has a change of heart.  Though he takes the random to the kidnapers, he doesn’t give it to them and rescues the girl.  His co-conspirators flee into the night. Here’s where things get dicey for me.

The sheriff confesses to the rancher and his daughter.  He plans to resign as the town lawman. But the rancher is willing to look the other way. He wants the sheriff to track down those “polecats” and bring them in. The story ends there.

Is the rancher really that forgiving? From my cynical vantage point of 2014, I’m think the rancher realizes that having the sheriff in his pocket can only be good for his business. That’s the only way the story’s ending makes sense to me.


The “Ridin’ the Trail with Rawhide” letters page has four letters and a panel of art from a previous issue.  Mike Driebe writes from Arlington, Virginia to request a story telling how the Rawhide Kid became an outlaw.  He also requests the Kid get married and clear his name.

Brown, Mac and McDuffee of Upper Heyford, England want to know how the villain Drako reached the ground safely after he fell from a cliff.  They think the Rawhide Kid stories are great and they also like Vince Colletta’s inking.

Bobby Finkel of North Hollywood, California complains that Rawhide always wins.  He thinks the Kid losing “once in a blue mood” would spice things up. The unknown Marvel staffer answering Finkel says Rawhide never knuckles down to defeat.

Finally, Dick Richards of Brooklyn, New York loves the super-hero and the western comics published by Marvel. He credits Marvel with keeping western comics alive in the United States.  Apparently, he wrote the letter before Marvel canceled, however temporarily, Kid Colt Outlaw and Two Gun Kid and never noticed Charlton and other companies were also publishing western comics.

Come back next week for another thrilling installment of “Rawhide Kid Wednesday.”

Come back tomorrow for other stuff.

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, March 25, 2014


From my pal Anthony Tollin’s Sanctum Books comes The Avenger #12: The Wilder Curse & Midnight Murder [$14.95]. This is the final book in the series, reprinting the last two Avenger novels written by Paul Ernst as Kenneth Robeson.  The adventures of The Avenger and Justice, Inc. would continue for a time in shorter form in Clues Detective Stories.

The Wilder Curse was originally published in the July 1942 issue of The Avenger. From the back cover:

Justice Inc. must unmask a serial killer before The Wilder Curse destroys more innocent victims.

Midnight Murder was first published in the September 1942 issue of The Avenger. From the back cover:

A deadly plane crash sets Dick Benson on the trail of the incredible new invention behind Midnight Murder.

The book also includes “To Kill a Dead Man,” the final Avenger pulp tale by Emile Tepperman. It was originally published in August 1944 issue of The Shadow.

Will Murray is on hand with historical essays discussing the end of The Avenger and that final Tepperman story.

As with the other Sanctum Books series - Doc Savage, The Shadow and others - The Avenger double novels were entertaining journeys into the heroic fiction of the pulp era.  They’re wonderfully made books and I regularly despair I might never get around to reading all of them.  But what I can do is let you know about the new releases as they appear.  More Sanctum Books news is on the way.

© 2014 Tony Isabella


Last September, DC Comics published a bunch of comics focusing on villains and with special 3-D covers that they didn’t print enough of to fulfill advance orders. I didn’t and still don’t care about the gimmick covers, but, like many readers, I’m not immune to the intriguing nature of well-crafted villains.  Sadly, that craft  has become exceedingly rare among today’s comics creators.

The good friend who lends me his DC comic books after he has read them is not fond of villain-based comic books.  He doesn’t buy most of them, so I knew I wouldn’t be reading them or writing about them here.  However, my friend Rick Rubenstein did write about them in his CAPA-Alpha apazine and has graciously allowed me to reprint his remarks for this special guest column.

“September is the Cruelest Month”
Guest column by Rick Rubenstein

I must sound cranky when I write about current comics. Being an optimist by nature, I keep buying the DC line, hoping it will magically transform back into the stories of my youth. I’m mindful that the world has changed. Violent video games, movies, cable and broadcast TV have all adopted a harder edge. The Comics Code, for good or for bad, is a thing of the distant past. I know this. But as I often tell my clients, when the shoe is on the other foot: The problem is not in understanding, but acceptance.

DC’s September 3D cover blitz offers a real window into where things stand in mainstream comic-book marketing. Not wanting to waste the opportunity, here are reviews so those of you wise enough not to invest would know what you are missing.

The first cover is the reboot of Mr. Freeze, labeled Batman #23.2. The Jason Masters artwork is really quite good and the colors are terrific. The Jimmy Palmiotti story is just plain disgusting. It couples a sub-plot about incest to matricide, filial murder and child abuse. Freeze uses his “powers” on a henchman. One panel shows the exploding, partially frozen brain and skull. It must be from the new style book.

I think the last two versions of Mr. Freeze’s origin were sufficient. Fail.

The experienced team of Jim Starlin and Howard Porter joined to reboot Mongul, nemesis of the Hal Jordan Green Lantern franchise [Green Lantern #23.2]. Thankfully, Starlin does not follow the incest thread Palmiotti employed in Mr. Freeze. He dispenses with that, focusing on just the fratricide, matricide and patricide angles, but throws in decapitation to give the reader relief from the exploding frozen head and brain image in the previous comic. Otherwise, nothing new in the reboot. Genocidal villain with family issues. Despite the cover, GL is not featured in the comic.

Perhaps its greatest crime is fraud on the purchaser. Move on, folks, nothing new to see here...

I always figured Black Manta [Aquaman #23.1] to be a villain created for lazy artists. You don’t have to draw a facial expression, after all. He’s also for lazy writers. Geoff Johns and Tony Bedard don’t have time to tell a story about incest and fratricide with the Crime Syndicate elements woven into what passes for this story, so they stick with Aquaman’s killing of Manta’s father, who, after all, sent Manta to kill Aquaman. Killer Shark delivers gruesome and gory deaths to prison guards. Manta kills another guard with a sharpened Two-Face coin and then we get to see the skeleton of Manta’s dead father. The upshot? He hates the apparently dead Aquaman and he hates the Crime Syndicate and because he didn’t kill his whole family, he is an excellent candidate to be elevated to the status of “hero” in the new DCU.

Solomon Grundy #15.2, the “Earth Two” reboot comic, doesn’t get through three panels before a young family with a child is incinerated by a fireball. That’s the high point of the issue. Thereafter, the impoverished sharecropper protagonist hears his wife being raped in the next room, sees her commit suicide in the worst possible way, ignored the fact that his infant child will be left to die, commits a mass murder, and then merges into Grundy and commits several more gruesome murders. I don’t think E.C. ever went further in the bad old days of horror and science fiction comics.

[Thus far, in three out of four of the DC reboot comics I have read, innocent children are murdered or left for dead by parents or siblings. There seems to be a subtle thread I am detecting.]

It wouldn’t be far to expect a comic book based upon the Joker [Batman #23.1] to be restrained, subtle or complex. On the other hand, the Andy Kubert/Andy Clarke artwork on this book actually told a coherent story that, while ghastly, was not patently offensive. Joker is portrayed as a victim of child abuse at the hands of an evil aunt and bullying by peers. Maybe I’m just a pushover for a Kubert family member, but at least it was readable. There is some macabre humor as they tell the story of a baby gorilla he raises to be an henchman. At least I wasn’t offended.

The Bizarro reboot comic [Superman #23.1] goes back to the formula of pointless cruelty. Departing from the classic Bizarro storyline that has run for generations, the writers make the Bizarro characters a by-product of Lex Luthor’s experiments.  The first Bizarro Superman is a young boy of low intelligence who trusts Luthor and feels that Lex cares about him. For his faith and his trouble, he ends up a failed experiment, turning into a mass of protoplasm when his body explodes.

I found the entire premise disturbing, quite frankly. It trivialized the death of an intellectually challenged young boy. There was no hint of retribution, of justice of any kind.

Ultimately, any series that centers on - or celebrates - the villain in a comic-book universe is bound to be harsh and dark and violent. I get that. The world has changed. Comics are darker and villains are sometimes going to win. I suppose what bothers me most is that one storyline in any of the books I’ve reviewed this far depicts a universe where there is any justice at all, any responsibility at all. Although one might charitably describe these stories as vignettes, not a single one even alludes to the existence of courage or sacrifice or heroism in any fashion. Each story is so relentlessly dark and vile and filled with gone, one must wonder what there is to look forward to in the next issue. There’s simply no hope at all, just universal corruption and decay. In case you’re wondering, I haven’t commented on all of the villain reboots for the week. Quite frankly, the Lobo and Harley Quinn comics were too incoherent to review. The former did feature a beheading and two disembowelments in a four-page span, all done in close-up with an upward angle, so anatomical interiors could be shown in blazing color.

The low watermark was the Count Vertigo comic [Green Arrow #23.1] featuring the perennial Green Arrow nemesis.  The imperious Count is rewritten as orphaned by his mother, handed over by her for medical experiments which transform him into a meta-human.  After reaching adulthood, he seeks her out, finding her in a wretched state.  He calls his mother a junkie and a whore and gruesomely murders her, directing his henchmen to burn her body. You’ve got the trifecta here: He calls his mother a whore, murders her and immolates her remains. Very nice. Who’s the publisher’s demographic here? Where do I apply to leave that particular demographic?

Perhaps I’m just an old scold at this point. I don’t play video games and I don’t watch Dexter. (I did, quite frankly, but there was no one left to like on the series by the beginning of 2013.) There was probably a time back in my late teens when Jim Warren’s Eerie and Creepy published stories had the same kind of blood and gore on the DC series if September 2013. Perhaps it was easier to take in black and white. Perhaps I just got old and more conservative. Upon reflection, perhaps the juxtaposition of superhero comics and extremely gory horror in the same pages just doesn’t work for me. I read superhero comics because the good guys win most of the time, not to fall into despair over a world full of violence, senseless death and chaos. If I want to do that, I can just pick up a newspaper.

© 2014 Rick Rubenstein


My thanks to Rick Rubenstein for allowing me to run his perceptive reviews in today’s bloggy thing. Come back tomorrow for our weekly “Rawhide Kid Wednesday” and “the shocking six-gun saga you never expected to read!” See you then.

Monday, March 24, 2014


In TONY'S TIPS #48 at Tales of Wonder, I write about super-heroes, Godzilla, Ghosted and Buck Rogers. Check it out!


World of Archie Double Digest is my favorite of the Archie digests because, in addition to the usual array of fine stories by some of Archie's best writers and artists, it features pre-Pussycats reprints of Josie by Frank Doyle and Dan DeCarlo. In issue #36 [March 2014; $3.99], we get all four stories from Josie #26 [April 1967].

Over its run, World of Archie Double Digest has also reprinted some of the odder Archie Comics titles. These have included The Adventures of Young Dr. Masters and Cosmo the Merry Martian.  In this issue, we get two stories of the singing Diddit brothers, also known as the Mad House Glads. Both stories are from Mad House Glads #77 [February 1971]. 

In "Dating Diddits" by George Gladir with art by Gus Lemoine (pencils) and Jon D'Agostino (inks), the boys try to get a date for their widowed father.

In "Do You Thing" - written and drawn by Lemoine with inks by D'Agostino - the boys learn they have some things in common with the older generation.

Keep watching the bloggy thing for more mini-looks at the Archie comics digests.


In Tony's Tips #47 at Tales of Wonder, it's all about Captain America!


Dark Horse’s Captain Midnight Archives Volume 1: Captain Midnight Battles the Nazis [$49.99] goes outside the publisher’s traditional archives format in that it does not collect every Captain Midnight story in chronological order.  It skips around to reprint 19 tales from 1941 to 1948.

The book kicks off with a wonderful introduction by David Scroggy, whose obvious love for the character and descriptions of searching out Captain Midnight comics as a kid definitely resonates with me. Scroggy is correct when he opines that the stories are not classics of the comic-book art, but very representative of the material that entertained readers young and old back in the day.

Captain Midnight got his start in radio and his show was so popular that the character soon branched out into a newspaper comic strip, comic books, a movie serial and a TV series. In syndication, the TV show became Jet Jackson, Flying Commando because the makers of the show had lost the rights to the Captain Midnight name.  References to the Captain in these shows were dubbed over.

Midnight was super-scientist and pilot Captain Jim "Red" Albright. The whole “secret identity” thing seems shaky to me, what with the Captain constantly showing up when it was Albright the government called upon. But, hey, the Captain had a way cool plane, his loyal Secret Squadron crew and a device which could burn a midnight clock face on the chests of Nazis and other villains. The ray was like a high tech and far more painful version of the Phantom’s skull ring. As our founding fathers intended, I think I should be able to buy a chest-burning device like Midnight’s.

The stories included in this volume are fun. The art is very often journeyman, but it’s got a certain charm to it.  Not unlike many other World War II heroes, Midnight was out of his element once the war wound down, but the comics were still quite readable. There’s a second Captain Midnight volume and I’ll likely acquire that one sooner or later.

Addendum. What led me to this archives edition was the new Captain Midnight series being published by Dark Horse. Joshua Williamson is the writer and he and the Dark Horse crew done a fine job bringing the character into modern times.  As with this archives volume, the new series is well worth checking out.

Captain Midnight Archives Volume 1:

ISBN 978-1-61655-242-8

Captain Midnight Volume 1: On the Run:

ISBN 978-1-61655-229-9


Conan and the People of the Black Circle #1-4 [Dark Horse; $3.50 per issue] made me realize that I’m completely burned out on Conan. Fred Van Lente is a good writer. Ariel Olivetti is a good artist. Conan remains one of the great creations in genre fiction. It’s not you, Conan. It’s me.

Several of Conan’s men have been captured by a kingdom in grievous peril from enemies worldly and otherwise. The new ruler is willing to spare their lives in exchange for Conan taking vengeance on the ones who killed the former ruler. She’s gorgeous. He’s a Barbarian. They’re detectives.

The four issues have creepy wizards, brave warriors, comely women and monstrous creatures. There is swordplay and slaughter. At the end, there’s a delightful verbal exchange between Conan and Queen Yasmina.  I’m not just feeling the Conan love right now.

Conan, I think it’s time we took a break from each other.  Don’t be like that. We’ll always have Aquilonia.


Going through the back-issue boxes, I came across Domino Lady #3-5 [Moonstone; $3.99 per issue] from 2009 and 2010. These are mildly racy pulp adventures written by Nancy Holder and drawn by a variety of artists.  I went to Wikipedia to learn more:

The Domino Lady was a masked pulp heroine who first appeared in the May 1936 issue of Saucy Romantic Adventures. All of her stories were published under the house name "Lars Anderson" owned by the publisher, Fiction House. The author's real identity is unknown.

Saucy Romantic Adventures was a "spicy pulp" magazine, a genre that typically featured semi-pornographic short stories. Though writers for these were paid less, the cover price was higher than that of a typical pulp magazine. This was due to a combination of smaller print runs and what the traffic would bear. Such magazines were usually sold "under the counter" upon request.

New short stories and a comic book featuring The Domino Lady are currently being published by Moonstone Books.


The Domino Lady is really University of California, Berkeley- educated socialite Ellen Patrick. When her father, District Attorney Owen Patrick, is murdered she puts on a domino mask and a backless white dress to avenge him. She would arm herself with a .45 pistol and a syringe full of knockout serum, but often her best weapon was her beauty, which often distracted and entranced opponents, or at the very least led them to underestimate her, allowing her to outwit them. Such wiles rarely worked upon her female adversaries, however.

She steals from her targets, donating most of the profits to charity after deducting her cut, and leaves a calling card with the words "Compliments of the Domino Lady".

The Domino Lady is an interesting character and I enjoyed Holder’s stories. I’ll be seeking out more Domino Lady material in the near future.


I’m wondering if I should preface any reviews of DC Comics titles with the disclosure that I do not care overmuch for that publisher and my dealings with the company.  It is a company that has failed to honor virtually every agreement it’s ever made with me and which owes me quite a lot of money.  However, these truths do not affect my reviews of DC comic books.

Also true is that I do not care for most of DC’s super-hero comic books. I find them lacking in quality and mean of spirit.  I doubt I would read them at all if a good friend didn’t lend me his comic books after he reads them.  Since it doesn’t cost my anything but time to read these comic books and since DC is the second biggest publisher of super-hero comic books, I read these comics so that I can write about them from time to time.

I’m currently running a year behind on DC’s Batman titles.  These are among the worst DC super-hero comics and, because there are so many Batman titles, I can’t bring myself to binge-read them just to get current.  That said...

Detective Comics #17 [April 2013] struck me as a better comic book than the usual Batman comics.  Writer John Layman manages to write Batman a bit better than other Batman writers and there were some intriguing notions and plot threads in the issue.

I loathe the Joker and, were I in charge of DC Comics, the villain would be dispatched permanently.  But I recognize the impact that he’s had on Gotham City and so found the concept of a psychiatrist - the Merrymaker - using Gotham City’s collective fear of the Joker for his own gain.  That’s a clever use of the Joker without using the Joker. I approve.

I am also intrigued by the turf war between the Penguin and Emperor Penguin. That storyline holds promise and I look forward to seeing how Layman develops this.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Friday, March 21, 2014


Another [Yen Press; $29.99] is an unsettling manga adapted from the mystery horror novel by Yukito Ayatsuji. Adapted by Hiro Kiyohara, the manga version clocks in at around 700 pages. The novel has also been adapted into a 12-episode anime series and a live-action film.

Fifteen-year-old Koichi Sakakibara, afflicted with a recurring lung ailment, transfers to Yomiyama North Middle School. He’s assigned to third-year class 3 and quickly discovers something is horribly wrong with this class. Every few years, students in the class and people closely related to those students die gruesome, unexpected deaths.  It’s a terrifying curse, one which drives the students and their reachers to equally terrifying attempts to dispel the curse before it claims too many lives.  I don’t want to reveal more about this manga.  Suffice to say, it’s scary stuff and will be scarier if you don’t know what’s coming.

“Teens marked for hideous deaths” seems to be a commonplace concept in American and Japanese entertainment. We have Friday the 13th and other slasher films. Japan has Battle Royale and its counterparts. I’m beginning to think there’s actual psychology driving comics and movies like these. The young readers and viewers who flock to them have a justifiable fear of the adult world.  The adults who create them seem to consider the fictitious victims to be expendable.  I can see a real-life parallel with cowardly blowhards like Bill Kristol, a man positively eager to send young Americans into the wars he would never personally fight in.

I find works like Another to be disturbing, but confess they keep me reading.  In my infernal optimism, I keep hoping the youngsters will escape death and that the slaughter will somehow make sense at the end of the story. That is rarely does is perhaps the scariest thing about these chilling tales.

Recommended, but not for the faint of heart.

ISBN 978-0316245913


Hitting the comic-book stack...

I am now current (more or less) on DC’s Superman titles and it was tough slogging.  These comic books just aren’t very good and I’ve little faith that DC will be able to turn that around unless they put someone in charge who has a clue who Clark Kent and Superman are and an understanding of what elements of the mythos are essential to the character.  The closest any of these Superman titles came to be entertaining for me were some issues of Action Comics written by Greg Pak.

Adventures of Superman is hit or miss, but it’s the best Superman title being published today. Marc Guggenheim’s “Tears for Krypton”  in issue #8 was readable but its emotional ending doesn’t hit the mark.  Christos Gage’s “Flowers for Bizarro” in issue #9 was much more satisfying as it paid tribute to “Flowers for Algernon,” the classic science fiction story by Daniel Keyes.

Superman and Wonder Woman #1-4 were just plain awkward.  Though he is one of the better DC writers, Charles Soule couldn’t convince me this relationship is real.  It’s like the players were acting out some magical fanboy’s fantasy, which, given the way DC seems to be run these days, is possibly a more accurate assessment than I would like. Quick. Trick these editors and executives into saying their names backwards. Then maybe we could get at least 90 days of good DC super-hero comics.


I read the first two issues of All-New X-Factor by Peter David and Carmine DiGiandomenico.  I’m not quite on board with this new take.  I very much like the notion of a benevolent corporation that hires super-heroes to help people and, in the process, give said company great publicity. If the corporation turns out to be not benevolent, then there’s nothing special about the idea.

I’m not quite feeling the characters, but I expect that will change after I’ve read a few more issues. David rarely disappoints on the characterization front.

The art and costume designs leave me cold. DiGiandomenico’s art and storytelling is uneven.  The costumes are boring.

I can’t recommend this title yet.  But I do plan to keep reading it to see where it goes.  Given the work David did on the previous X-Factor series, I’m confident about this series.


IDW’s Classic Popeye is a favorite of mine. Each issue reprints a vintage Popeye comic book by the great Bud Sagendorf, a cartoonist who was as funny and imaginative as Popeye creator E.C. Segar. It takes great will power not to binge-read these 52-page treasures. I try to spread them out a bit.

Classic Popeye #10 [$3.99] was my most recent issue. The lead tale has Popeye traveling to Spinachova to rescue the country’s citizens from a sleeping epidemic. Other stories have Olive going on one of her periodic “Popeye shouldn’t hit anyone” crusades, the one-eyed sailor trying to prevent a man taking up a career as a pirate and Swee’pea trying to protect his apple snack from Wimpy, Sagendorf’s drawings and dialogue flow smoothly through the tales, interrupted only by the laughter of their readers.  These comic books are big fun and I recommend them highly.


Codename Action [Dynamite; $3.99] is a six-issue limited series in which pulp heroes team up with super-spies to battle an enemy that is replacing world leaders with duplicates and heating up the Cold War. Yes, the book is set during the Cold War, though, given what’s going on in Russia and the Ukraine, it almost could have been set in today’s world.

The line-up of spies and pulp heroes includes Operator 5, Operative 1001, Black Venus, the Green Hornet, Kato and others with the story loosely based around the Captain Action figure/universe.  If I am unclear on some details, it’s because writer Chris Roberson, good as he is and he is pretty damn good, doesn’t do a really good job introducing the characters and concepts.

Digression. Exposition isn’t the enemy of comics storytelling. Even a caption naming a character and giving a few words of background is useful to the new and even returning reader.  They don’t take us out of the story anymore than those corner ads on television take us out of the programs we’re watching. End digression.

Jonathan Lau is the artist of the series.  His visual storytelling is uneven. Some pages are very nice, others are more design-y than useful.  Some figures are stiff. There was one shot of a scientist that made me wonder if the character had artificial limbs.  I miss the days when the likes of John Romita and Joe Orlando could guide young artists.

Codename Action is quite readable. It’s not great comics, but I’m interested enough in the characters and concept to keep reading it. Your own interest will probably depend on how much you like these characters and the Cold War setting.

I’ll be back on Monday with more stuff.

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Thursday, March 20, 2014


Sanctum Books, the publishing company owned and operated by my pal Anthony Tollin, has been releasing new books faster than I’ve been able to keep up with them. But I’m going to keep trying to tell you about these fine publications.

The Shadow #80: Shiwan Khan Returns and The Invincible Shiwan Khan [$14.95] features two classic novels by Walter B. Gibson, writing as Maxwell Grant.  “Shiwan Khan Returns” was originally published in the December 1, 1939 edition of The Shadow Magazine.  It’s the first rematch between The Shadow and the arch-enemy he would battle in an unprecedented five novels.

“The Invincible Shiwan Khan” is from The Shadow Magazine for March 1, 1940 and again pits the Knight of Darkness against the sinister Golden Master.  From the back cover:

The Shadow and Mura Reldon team up to battle the mesmeric menace of The Invincible Shiwan Khan.

Both Shadow novels have illustrations by Edd Cartier.  In addition to the novels, there are four informative historical essays.

In “From Pulp Pages to the Silver Screen,” Ed Hulse writes on the 1994 Shadow movie starring Alec Baldwin and points out those film elements taken from the pulp novels. Will Murray’s “Interlude” discusses the two novels reprinted in this volume.

Editor Tollin’s “Shades of Shiwan Khan” showcases Khan’s comic-book appearances, some of which are wildly different from what was shown in the pulp novels.  He finishes the book with a single-page piece on Gibson.

As with the other Sanctum Books series - Doc Savage, The Whisperer and others - these Shadow adventures are entertaining journeys into the heroic fiction of the pulp era.  They’re wonderfully made books and I regularly despair that I might never get around to reading them all.  But what I can do is let you know about the new releases as they appear.  More Sanctum Books news is on the way.

© 2014 Tony Isabella


“Is that a snorkel in your pants, Mr. Bond? Or are you just glad to see me?

Your bloggy thing proprietor has been having a stressful week for a variety of reasons, most of which I don’t want to get into.  But I do want to thank my Facebook friends for their many good wishes for my father, who was taken to the hospital on Sunday.  Which was also his 89th birthday. Worst birthday ever.

Dad is doing better and I’m awaiting news on when he’ll be moved to a rehab facility. He’s got some serious physical therapy ahead of him, but I am hopeful the end result will be an improvement in the quality of his life.  He’s a good man and he deserves that.

This truncated bloggy thing is a last-minute replacement for a far  angrier piece I had written. Rereading it this morning, I realized it wasn’t worthy of me or you. So I ditched it.        

I’ll be back tomorrow with a full-sized bloggy thing. See you then, my amigos.

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, March 19, 2014


The Rawhide Kid is my favorite western comics character and one of my favorite comics characters period.  Something about the short of stature (but big on courage and fighting skills) Johnny Clay spoke to the short of stature (but big on comics-reading skills) teenage Tony Isabella.  After rereading the Kid’s earliest adventures when Marvel Comics reprinted them in a pair of Marvel Masterworks and an Essential Rawhide Kid volume, I wanted to reacquire every Rawhide Kid comic, reread them and write about them in this bloggy thing of mine. This is the 50th installment of that series.

Penciled by Larry Lieber and inked by Herb Trimpe, the cover of The Rawhide Kid #65 [August 1968] promised two-fisted fury and action a’plenty in Rawhide’s wildest wooliest adventure ever.  Plus a six-shootin’ surprise bonus! However, much as I love the Larry Lieber issues, when it came to wild, he never managed to top the Stan Lee and Jack Kirby story in which the Kid battled a giant living totem pole. But I digress.

Written and penciled by Lieber with inks by John Tartaglione, “Ride for Vengeance!” (17 pages) opens with a shadowy figure calling out the Kid in a secluded figure. In the two-panel title page, Rawhide spins around with his guns drawn...

...only to have them shot out of his hands by the toy gun of young Tim Tanner.  Tim knows Rawhide let him win, but appreciates all the Kid is teaching him. Says our hero:

Just remember that it’s even more important to know when to slap leather than it is how! Boot Hill is full of fast draws who drew at the wrong time, for the wrong reasons.

The lesson ends when Lucy Tanner, Tim’s beautiful sister, summons them to dinner. A flashback sequence explains how Rawhide came to fit this peaceful haven.

Chased by a Kiowa war party, the badly-wounded Rawhide managed to escape and make his way across the desert.  He reachers the Tanner spread, only to collapse in front of Lucy and Tim.  They take him in and get him medical care. They know the Kid is a wanted man, but they take him in.  When he recovers, Rawhide sticks around to help with some of the heavier chores.

Rawhide has rarely known such tranquility. There are clear sparks between him and Lucy, but he bunks in the barn. But the Kid is not the only fast gun with ties to Lucy and Tim.

Brother Matt Tanner never took to farming. He gains a reputation as a gunfighter.  Challenged by the brutish Hank Slade, who forces the issue, Matt has no choice but to kill him. Warned that Slade has a brother and friends who are even worse, the gun-weary Tanner heads for the family spread.

Back at the ranch, Lucy and the Kid are professing their love for one another, though Rawhide reminds her that he is an outlaw with a price on his head. She says:

The law only knows who you are! But I know what you are! If you were truly bad, I couldn’t love you!

The romantic moment is interrupted when Matt Tanner rides up and, seeing the Kid, drops from his horse and fires. The Kid ducks and returns fire, wounding Matt. That’s when Lucky recognizes her long-gone brother.  Awkward.

Meanwhile, Jake Slade has learned about his brother’s death.  Not caring Hank started the fight, Jake and his lowlife friends hit the road to seek revenge on Matt Tanner.

Back at the ranch, tensions between Matt and the Kid are very high. Matt knows the trouble being a top gun can bring.  Rawhide gets the point and, though angry, promises that, if he marries Lucy, he’ll never carry a gun again.

Later, Slade and his goons have found the Tanner spread. They hide their horses and sneak up on the house, catching the Tanner family by surprise. Tim runs out of the house to get the Rawhide Kid, who is fishing elsewhere on the spread.

Slade doesn’t care that the wounded Matt is at a disadvantage in a gunfight, nor is he overly concerned when Rawhide shows up. After all...

There’s four of us and only one of him!

Math is hard.  Slade actually has four goons with him.  Even after Rawhide shoots them down, the Kid thinks to himself...

Three down and only the boss to go.

The cowardly Slade runs into the barn and tries to ambush Rawhide from the hayloft.  But the Kid spots the man’s shadow and disarms him with a well-placed shot.  The brief battle in the hayloft ends with Slade hitting the ground hard. He’ll live, but the Kid don’t reckon he’ll ever bother anyone again.

Matt is ready to welcome Rawhide to the family, but this fight has brought the Kid to his senses. He loves Lucy dearly, but he won’t marry her:

Don’t you see, long as there are Jack Slades on this earth, I can’t put away my irons! And I sure don’t aim to let you share the short, sorry life of a gunslick!

Lucy understands. They talk while kissing...and I’m pretty certain there’s some tongue involved.

LUCY: Then go if you must...go...but I’ll never forget you...I’ll remember you always...

RAWHIDE: Not me,! And I’ll share that memory with you, wherever I am, till the day I die! I swear it!

Matt thinks the Kid might come back someday, but Lucy knows better:

No...I’ll never see him again! Fate sent him to me...but he could never really be mine! He belongs to the untamed land of today and to the western legends of tomorrow!

Now that’s the real Rawhide Kid.


“GANGWAY, WORLD! MARVEL’S MARCHING ON!” is the banner headline of the issue’s Marvel Bullpen Bulletins page. The top stories announce the jumbo-sized Silver Surfer #1 and Not Brand Echh going jumbo as  well and also has a plug for the still on-sale Spectacular Spider-Man magazine.

Stan Lee uses his “Stan’s Soapbox” to explain why Marvel is adding so many titles and specials.  Basically, it’s because the readers have asked for more and are buying them.  He also promises Marvel will always make these books the best they can.

The Mighty Marvel Checklist has some notable issues. Marvel Super-Heroes #15 has a Medusa story drawn by Gene Colan. In Avengers #54, five villains have joined forces under the command of the Crimson Cowl. Daredevil fights the Jester for the first time. Iron Man has a rematch with the now-more-powerful Unicorn. Captain Marvel slugs it out with the Sub-Mariner.  Nick Fury Agent of Shield #3 has the Steranko classic “Dark Moon Rise, Hell Hound Kill!” It was a great month to be a Marvel fan.


This issue’s surprise bonus is “Gunrunners’ Trail!” (5 pages), an action-packed tale written by Sol Brodsky with art and lettering by the great Bill Everett.  A ranger seeks to help an ambulance as it makes its way through a dangerous part of the territory.  But it’s not really an ambulance.  It’s a wagon full of guns and gunpowder for “the Indians.” By the end of the story, the ranger has routed the “Indians,” captured the gunrunners and is taking the ambulance and his prisoners to headquarters. His closing line:

Bet the Colonel will be happy to see what I’ve got here! An’ I just  know what he’s gonna tell me! “All in a day’s work, ranger, all in a day’s work!”

Two things. Unfortunately, you’re not going to see much sensitivity in the portrayal of native people in Marvel’s western books of this era.  Even when you do, the next story could be back to the norm. It wasn’t right, but it’s how it was.

Everett’s lettering hurts an otherwise decent story.  It’s really big and it crowds the drawing.


The “Ridin’ the Trail with Rawhide” letters page has three reader letters and two pieces of art from previous issues.  Bruce Westley of Little Falls, Minnesota suggests the dropping of the short tales to give more room for the main Rawhide Kid story. If necessary, he wouldn’t minding seeing a story continued in the next issue.  He’d also like to see the Kid settle down.

Kenneth Vogel of Ethan, South Dakota thinks he’s spotted an error in a previous issue. He asks, “How did Rawhide slide under a pick when he was pinned to a wall?” The editorial answer is that the Kid didn’t slide under the pick but dodged it.

Rawhide Kid is the favorite western magazine of Andris Sinats from  Albany, California. In reference to a previous story, he says “It’s too bad that the Indians always lose and Custer always wins.” The editorial answer reminds him about that one time...

I hope you’re still enjoying reading these “Rawhide Kid Wednesday” blogs as much as I enjoy writing them. I’ll be back tomorrow with some other stuff.

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, March 18, 2014


Shark Attack 3: Megalodon was a tough movie to reel in.  My local library is affiliated with Clevenet, an organization encompassing a hundred Cleveland area libraries...and not one of those libraries had a copy.  Going to Amazon and eBay uncovered a few ridiculously expensive copies.  With a little research, I figured out why this movie was so hard to find.

Shark Attack 3 stars a young John Barrowman, he of Doctor Who and Torchwood and Arrow fame, struggling mightily with his part in an incredibly bad movie. However, knowing how passionate Barrowman’s fans are, I figured they had long since bought out every copy that was available on the secondary market.

Then there was the unholy union of Shark Attack 3 and YouTube.  The last half-hour of this movie has so many classically silly scenes that they have become a YouTube sensation with one clip of the enormous shark  attacking a yacht racking up over 40 million views. Whatever copies Barrowman’s fans didn’t snap up were probably sold to folks wanting their own copies of the madness.

That’s my speculation and I’m sticking to it.

YouTube came to my “rescue” because someone posted the entirety of the movie on the online network.  It probably wasn’t even remotely okay for them to do or for me to watch it, but, if I’m arrested by Interpol, I plan on pleading diminished capacity.  You’ve read my blog, so you might well be called on to testify to that.

Shark Attack 3: Megalodon (2002) was straight-to-video.  It feels like two incomplete shark movies mashed into one.  The first movie would be the one about electronic impulses from underwater cables luring a prehistoric shark from its underground lair to eat divers and resort patrons. The CEO of the communications company laying the cables knows about this situation but doesn’t tell anyone. This project will make or break his company.

Ben Carpenter (John Barrowman) works beach security for a resort. He finds a huge shark tooth in a broken cable and posts a picture of it on a shark website.  This attracts the attention of Cataline "Cat" Stone (Jenny McShane) who comes to the resort to see Ben and get the tooth. She doesn’t share her suspicion that the tooth comes from the believed extinct Megalodon.

Things get bad. Folks die. Sharks change size as convenient. Many technical errors are painfully obvious.


The best scene in the movie has the shark biting its way into Cat’s boat to put an end to her horrible acting. Instead, she fires a shotgun into the shark’s mouth. This is where the movie takes a very wild turn.

Mama Shark appears. She’s big enough to swallow a boat whole, even if you can see her huge teeth through the transparent boat.  It’s computer-generated images of the cheap kind.

Ben and Cat escape. Everyone working with them dies.  Ben manages to get the beaches closed, but the evil CEO fills a yacht with his potential investors and heads out to sea.

Ben has a friend whose an ex-Navy guy and a former employee of the communications company. He quit when he learned his fellow divers were put into extreme danger without warning. Ex-Navy guy steals a mini-sub from the company and already has explosives and a torpedo. Because you never know when you might need that shit.  The plan is to sabotage the cables so they stop sounding the dinner bell for sharks in general.

Mama Shark goes for the yacht. Right-wing politicians and pundits bitch about class warfare. But I think it’s the invisible jaws of the free market at work.

Rich people jump off the sinking yacht to get eaten. One guy takes a life preserver from his wife/girlfriend/escort and jumps directly into Mama Shark’s mouth. Other rich people are on inflatable life rafts that the shark swallows whole. These are the scenes that got millions of hits on YouTube.

My favorite? The CEO escapes the yacht on a jet-ski.  He looks back at the yacht and grins evilly.  Then he looks ahead ans realizes he is heading into Mama Shark’s mouth.  She’s everywhere. She's like the Sarah Palin of the ocean.

Mama Shark tries to eat the mini-sub. It gets stuck in its mouth. Ben sets the coordinates for the torpedo so it will circle back and hit the mini-sub. He then somehow manages to get out of the mini-sub against all the laws of physics. Mini-sub goes boom and takes Mama Shark with it.

Everybody still alive celebrates that this prehistoric giant is no more. Except, elsewhere, another Megalodon is swimming from under a rocky island. Roll the credits.

Shark Attack 3: Megalodon is a terrible terrible movie. Indeed, it is so terrible that you really need to watch it at least once.  I also think some of the more stupid scenes from the last half-hour can be watched more often. You can find them on YouTube.


Shark Zone (2003) is the direct-to-video fourth movie in the Shark Attack franchise, though the only real connection is footage from the earlier movies.  You can see the surfers who died in the second movie die again in this one.

This movie leaves me numb. It’s the usual sharks coming to feast on people during the big celebration that the resort town depends on. The hero is another beach security guy who lost his father and an entire diving party to sharks living around a sunken ship full of treasure.  This despite those divers having the uncanny ability to communicate underwater despite those breathing tubes in the mouths. Their telepathy could not save them, nor could their color-changing wet suits.

The “B” plot involves a Russian tycoon who wants the hero to lead him to the sunken treasure ship.  When his money doesn’t convince  the hero, the Russian kidnaps the hero’s son.  This would not have happened when Reagan was president.

Dean Cochran plays the hero and he’s not bad. Alan Austin plays the mayor of the town and, in flashback, the hero’s dad.  He’s pretty good and not a total dick like the mayor of Amity.  Everyone else in the cast starts at so-so and works their way down.

The best and only really frightening scene in the movie is a dream sequence in which the hero sees his wife killed by a shark who has chewed its way into the bottom of their boat.

The only surprise is...the sharks pretty much win.  Sure, the hero kills enough of them to save himself and his son, but a great many other people get eaten and no one gets the treasure.  I suspect the sharks will open up an off-shore account for the money they get for the treasure. They will probably not become job-creators.

I recommend passing on Shark Zone. There’s just not enough meat in the movie - not even of the bologna variety - to make watching it anything other than a waste of 91 minutes.


I may be done with shark movies until Sharknado 2: The Other One is available. There are a few DVDs I bought cheap, but I might move on to Jaime Lee Curtis slasher films or some of the other B-movies I have acquired in recent months.  As always, I’m open to my bloggy readers’ suggestions as to categories of B-movies or even specific B-movies I should watch. Be kind.

Come back tomorrow for the 50th installment of my rip-roaring, two-fisted “Rawhide Kid Wednesday” series. 

© 2014 Tony Isabella