Saturday, May 31, 2014


Heroes of Cosplay had its season premiere Tuesday, May 27, at 9:00 pm on the Syfy Channel. It was followed by the series debut of The Wil Wheaton Project at 10 pm.  I watched both live.

The Heroes of Cosplay episode - "Stan Lee's Comikaze" - is listed as the seventh episode of the first season. I’ve also seen it referred to as the first episode of season 1.5. At the risk of revealing so soon what I thought of the episode, I don’t care what they call it.

The episode is boring. Really boring. Gone from the cast are Becky, Victoria and Victoria’s fiancĂ© Jinyo. Becky was one of my favorite cast members. She appeared to have a good heart and she also seemed to have fun with her cosplay. Victoria could be overly dramatic at times and even a bit unpleasant, but she grew on me as the season progressed. I was rooting for her at the end.

Holly, Jessica and Chloe are back. I like Holly and Jessica a lot. Chloe is wearing real thin on me.

New addition Indra Rojas wasn’t interesting to me. She was defined by her adoration of mentor Yaya Han, who represents what I continue to believe is precisely what’s wrong with this series. I’ll get to that in a bit.

Jesse is back and he comes across as pathetic in his desire to make some sort of name for himself. His work isn’t at the level needed to win these competitions...and those competitions being portrayed as the be-all and end-all of cosplay is the major element keeping this series from being fun or even watchable.

Let me take to parse the show into its good, its bad and its ugly elements...

I’m reaching for the good here, but I found Chloe’s “Women of the Internet” burlesque cosplay amusing. She and her fellow cosplayers dress as websites and are more than a little risque in doing this. It’s a funny idea, which would have been improved if the websites had all been identified and if the bit hadn’t come off as just some time-filling routine. But, for what little there was of it, it was fun...and Heroes of Cosplay is seriously lacking in fun. It’s also lacking in diversity and meaning, but I’ll get to that.

The bad?

Heroes still emphasizes the faux-suspense of the cast making their costumes at the last minute. Since these characters all aspire to making a living from their work - and some of them apparently are already doing so - this inability to manage their time speaks very badly of their professionalism.

Jesse is the most absurd in this regard. He doesn’t think to bring the metallic paint he needs to repair his costume to the hotel and can’t find a store that has it. However, when he visits prop master Dragon Dronet - his idol - he doesn’t think to ask the nice man if he can borrow a cup of paint.

The series continues to ignore the non-professional cosplayers who are so much fun at conventions. I’m so bored with Yaya going on and on about her reputation.  I’m so bored with the minutia of costume construction when it’s not any more interesting that cutting pieces of this material or that.

Think how much more fun the show could be if it spend time with the regular Joes and Jills of the hobby. Heck, if it even acknowledged that cosplay can be a hobby and not a career path. I want to hear from the mom who decides to dress up as Catwoman...or the kids who love the idea of Halloween when it’s not Halloween...or those fans whose cosplay honors their favorite characters or represents some hidden part of themselves. These are the people who make cosplaying fun and the show ignores them completely.

Think how meaningful the show could be if it addressed some of the serious issues that have arisen around cosplay. The harassment of cosplayers leaps immediately to mind.

The ugly?

The competitions. Every damn episode of the series builds to one of these desperate-for-attention, money-grubbing costume competitions, usually judged by faux-celebrities you never heard of. Oh, how very not exciting that we break for commercial just as the cast members are waiting to see if they’ve won.

Don’t get me wrong. I love to see great costumes. I admire all the effort and originality that go into them. But, for the most part, we don’t hear anything more meaningful about the characters who are being portrayed than “it’s cool.” It doesn’t even seem like there are interesting people inside those costumes.

Boring, boring, boring.

Heroes of Cosplay has its series head up its vapid ass. If the show ever gets around to including the just-doing-it-for-fun fans, let me know. Because I won’t be watching it otherwise.


Because of the soul-deadening thing that was Heroes of Cosplay, I almost didn’t watch The Wil Wheaton Project live. Then I remembered Wheaton was a funny guy who seemed genuine. I figured I could give Syfy another half-hour of my life.  I’m glad I did.

To quote the Syfy website:

The Wil Wheaton Project is a weekly topical comedy show hosted by actor, blogger and champion of geek culture Wil Wheaton. The 30-minute show is a fast-paced, lighthearted exploration and celebration of all things within the realm of science fiction and genre entertainment. Each week, Wil provides his insider point-of-view, sense of humor and genre expertise as he dissects the week’s most popular and trending topics across science fiction film, television and pop culture, video games, viral videos and news. Wil is on his feet for the rapid-fire half hour, delivering witty commentary on the things he knows and loves in this golden age of sci-pop culture. The result is a fun appreciation and celebration of fandom and all things science fiction.

The show lives up to that description. Wheaton is clearly having fun doing this series and it’s infectious. He covered a whole bunch of topics with a nice combination of love, respect and snark. It was like attending a really great convention panel.

Did every humorous bit work? No, but I laughed out loud on several occasions. That was good enough for me.

My only real complaint is that Wheaton showed a brief clip from a Syfy movie and didn’t identify it. It showed some sort of glowing energy tentacle rising from a toilet and pulping the hapless fellow who probably just wanted to take a quick piss. Trying to identify this movie is driving me crazy. Please help me.

I’m down with The Wil Wheaton Project for as long as Syfy shows it. I hope that’s a really long time.

I'm taking several days off - there will be some short posts during that hiatus - but I will be back on Monday, June 9 with more stuff.

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Friday, May 30, 2014



We’re getting closer to my Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sales at my home in legendary Medina, Ohio, but that doesn’t mean an end to my ONLINE Vast Accumulation of Stuff sales. The only big change is that items will only be offered online twice before they go to my garage sales. More on that in a bit.

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 specify 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.

If an asterix (*) appears at the front of an item, it’s your last chance to buy the item online. Items that fail to sell after two of these online sales will go into my garage sales. 
As always, your orders are greatly appreciated.

This week’s sale ends on Wednesday morning, June 4 at midnight.

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

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: FAMILY BUSINESS by Mark Waid, James Robinson & Gabriele Dell’Ottom[2014]. Fully-painted hardcover original graphic novel. $13

*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





*BEST AMERICAN COMICS 2013 [Houghton Mifflin Harcourt]. Edited by Jeff Smith. Series editor Jessica Abel and Matt Madden. 372 pages. Hardcover. $10

*BLACK PANTHER: CIVIL WAR by Reginald Hudlin and Scot Eaton [Marvel; 2007]. Reprints Black Panther #19-25. $6

*BREATH OF BONES #1-3 by Steve Niles and Dave Watcher [Dark Horse; 2013]. All three issues for $3.

CAPTAIN UNIVERSE: POWER UNIMAGINABLE by Bill Mantlo, Steve Ditko, Gerry Conway, Tony Isabella, Rick Leonardi and others [Marvel; 2005]. Reprints nine stories from 1980-1995. Full-color softcover. Signed by request. $10

*CATWOMAN: THE REPLACEMENTS Will Pfeifer and David Lopez [DC; 2007]. Collects Catwoman #53-58. $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


*FREEBOOTERS COLLECTION Barry Windsor-Smith [Fantagraphics; 2005]. Fantasy hero meets mid-life crisis in this 184-page graphic album in black-and-white and color. Oversized hardcover. $10

*JAPAN IN YOUR POCKET VOLUME ONE: A LOOK INTO JAPAN [Japan Travel Bureau; 1999]. A literally pocket-size softcover encyclopedia of Japanese customs and traditions covering 100 topics. $1


*OGENKI CLINIC VOLUME 1-4 [Studio Ironcat; 2000-2002]. Comedic manga series about a clinic that treats sex disorders, often of the most bizarrely hilarious kinds. It’s seriously adults only. Four volumes of around 200 black-and-white beautifully-drawn pages. I’m selling this as a lot. $20

*POP MANGA: HOW TO DRAW THE COOLEST, CUTEST CHARACTERS, ANIMALS, MASCOTS AND MORE by Camilla D’Errico and Stephen W. Martin [Watson Guptill; 2013]. Softcover. $7

*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

*TERMINATOR: ONE SHOT [Dark Horse, 1991]. By James Robinson and Matt Wagner. $1

*TIM SALE: BLACK AND WHITE [Image; 2008]. Revised and expanded with new color section and sketchbook, this hardcover book is an art and career retrospective. 272 pages. $13

ZOMBIE FACTORY by various [2007]. From those Myron Fass black-and-white horror magazines of the 1970s, this volume reprints “27 tales of bizarre comix madness from beyond the tomb.” Black-and white softcover. 196 pages. $25

Thanks for your patronage.

Tony Isabella


Here's a page from "The Worms Turn" in Alley Oop #2. If you can identify the artist, please share that information in the comments section.


Here's a page from "Domestic Blitz" in Alley Oop #2. If you know who the artist is, please post that information in the comments section.


Here's the inside front cover of Alley Oop #2.


Today’s bloggy thing continues my 138-plus-part series on the comic books that hit the newsstands in the month of July 1963. That month was pivotal to my comic-book career because it was the month when Fantastic Four Annual #1 ignited my desire to write comics.  I’ve added the “plus” to my description of this series because there may be a few issues I missed in my initial explorations.

Alley Oop was the creation of cartoonist V.T. Hamlin. The caveman made his debut on December 5, 1932, in a comic strip syndicated by Newspaper Enterprise Association. The strip mixes adventure, humor and outright fantasy.

From Wikipedia:

Alley Oop, the strip's title character, was a sturdy citizen in the prehistoric kingdom of Moo. He rode his pet dinosaur, Dinny, carried a stone war hammer and wore nothing but a fur loincloth. He would rather fight dinosaurs in the jungle than deal with his fellow countrymen in Moo's capital (and only) cave-town. In spite of these exotic settings, the stories were often satires of American suburban life.

Several years into Alley Oop’s run, the late Hamlin introduced time travel into the strip via 20th-century scientist Dr. Elbert Wonmug. With this development, Alley’s adventures could traverse all time and quite a bit of space, earthly and otherwise. Though the caveman isn’t nearly the household name of his earlier decades, his comic strip continues to this day.

Alley Oop #2 [September-November, 1963] is the second of two issues published by Dell Comics after the company’s split with Gold Key. Though the cover shows Alley, Wormug and the time machine, all of the interior comics are prehistoric domestic comedies with just one mention of Wormug. The Grand Comics Database doesn’t identify the cover artist, but my best guess would be Dave Graue, who wrote and draw the Alley Oop newspaper strip from 1966 to 1991, and assisted Hamlin prior to that.

The inside front cover of this issue is a reprint of an Alley Oop Sunday strip signed by Hamlin. I don’t know the date of the strip, but I’ll post it as an addendum to today’s blog.

The issue features four original Alley Oop stories. The GCD doesn’t have any credits for them, but it’s possible they were written by the prolific Jack Mendelson, who wrote hundreds and maybe thousands of cartoons and comic books during his career. As for the artist, I’ll post a few pages as addendums to today’s blog and you can play comic art detective with them.

In “Domestic Blitz” (7 pages), the ever-rhyming Foozy and his wife Zel decide Alley needs to settle down and raise a family. If Alley spends a few hours with their happy family, Zel opines, Oop would propose to girlfriend Ooola on the spot. The couple invites Alley for a delicious wart-hog steak meal and then ask him to watch their triples while they go for a stroll. Alarmingly, the triplets look exactly like Foozy. Brrr...

Every game the triplets play with Alley results in intense bodily injury to the caveman.  When Foozy and Zel meet up with Ooola, Zel predicts Alley will propose as soon as he sees his girlfriend.  Oop walks towards them with a dazed expression and takes Ooola’s hand, telling her there’s something he wants to ask her:

I wanna ask that you never ever brings up the subject of marriage and kids again!!

Ooola has gotten over her disappointment in “Neither Fish Now Fowl” (9 pages). She offers Alley scrambled dinosaur eggs for breakfast, but he craves “a real he-man breakfast - like broiled barracuda.” This requires him to chop a large chunk of tree into a canoe and go fishing. Things go wrong.

Alley hooks himself and ends up in the water. He hooks a fish, but it’s seized by an archaeopteryx. Alley ends up in the water. Alley throws a firecracker he got from Wormug at the bird, but the bird drops it on Alley and yeah, Alley ends up in the water.

The battle of wills continues. Alley catches another fish and, when the bird takes it, he tries to reel the bird in. Instead, the bird wraps the fishing line around the canoe and dumps Alley and Ooola into the water.

Ooola begs Alley to give up “this wild idea of fish” for breakfast. The stubborn caveman goes to the local fish market, only to learn the shop is out of fish. The owner offers him a baby archaeopteryx and gets clobbered for his offer:

Must be one of them bird lovers!

In “Tee for Two” (4 pages), King Guz wants to learn to play golf like all the other kings. Thrown out of his living room by his wife Oompa, he enlists Alley Oop to be his caddy. Though this doesn’t go well, it’s Guz and not Alley who takes his lumps.

Frustrated, Guz gives up and kicks his golf ball into an impossible hole-in-one. Much to Alley’s dismay, the king insists on continuing his practice into the wee hours of the morning.  

“The Worm Turns” (12 pages) is the final and longest story in this issue and it’s put it mildly. King Guz wants Alley to go on a mission to Amazonia, an island that is ruled by “dames.” As a disguise, Alley wears a blonde wig and a dress that would show a lot of sideboob on an actual woman.

Just walking out of Guz’s cave, Alley gets fondled by an lecherous fellow caveman. Since cosplay does not equal consent, Alley knocks the creep’s false teeth out with a KA-POW punch.

Dinny the Dinosaur laughs as Alley’s appearance and earns himself a CLONG on the snout. Oop rides Dinny to Amazonia, which, all of a sudden, isn’t an island.  A rock that makes Amazonia territory has this message chiseled into it:


Two Amazons, both bigger than Alley, see through his disguise and take him back to their camp as an example to “the other (ugh) men.” He finds the men cleaning, doing laundry and sweeping outside the Amazon Palace. Oop is appalled:

Why’nt you guys stand up on your hind legs and demand yer rights?

The responses:

Dear me, we’ve tried that!

But those awful brutes just known us down again...BAW!

Alley thinks:

I never seen such a bunch of henpecked jellyfish in all my born days! I kin see I gotta make some changes around here!

He offers them a container of water:

Well, fellas–-looks like I got here with this magic potion just in time! One swig of this stuff and no dame on Earth’ll dare talk back to ya!

One of the men drink the “potion” and grabs a gorgeous red-haired Amazon. He dumps her on the floor and tells her to start cleaning:

From now on, I wear the pants around here!! Understand?!

She replies: 

Y-yes, dearest!

Alley is pleased with his accomplishment here. The husbands of the Amazons prefer things this way.

The redhead takes Alley aside:

Mr. Oop–-should I let you in on a little secret? We women prefer it this way, too!

She kisses him on the cheek.

Oop returns to his home country of Moo. Ooola remarks that Alley’s looking pleased with himself. What follows might be the sole saving grace of this story. Alley says:

I just taught those poor simps in Amazonia to stand up to their wives! Kin ya imagine a guy lettin’ himself be pushed around by a mere female?

To which, Ooola loudly responds... 


...before landing a solid CLONG on Oop’s chin.

Told by the Grand Wizer that he doesn’t understand women, Oop says he does understand women. He just doesn’t understand Ooola!

Feminism in the Stone Age...of 1963!

Dell comics of this era didn’t carry much advertising.  The inside back cover offers 147 Famous Automobiles for only $1.98 while the back cover is the Wallace Brown come-on trying to entice readers to sell the company’s Christmas cards.

Keep watching this bloggy things for more comics from the month of July, 1963. I’ll be back tomorrow with other stuff.

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Thursday, May 29, 2014


The Shadow #83: Crime Over Boston/Crime Over Miami [Sanctum Books; $14.95] features three stories of The Shadow thwarting evil outside his usual New York haunts. There are two full-length novels and a Shadow radio script in this volume.

Crime Over Boston is by Walter B. Gibson writing as Maxwell Grant.  Its original appearance was in the September 15, 1938 issue of The Shadow Magazine. From the back cover:

The Shadow reverts to his true identity of Kent Allard to end Crime Over Boston.

Crime Over Miami is also by Walter B. Gibson as Maxwell Grant.  Its original appearance was in the November 1, 1940 issue of The Shadow Magazine. From the back cover:

Lamont Cranston teams with his double to unmask the fiend who has organized Crime Over Miami into a mob hurricane!

“Halloween in Vermont” continues the nation-hopping theme with a radio script by Bob Steel writing as Catherine B. Stemler. This episode was originally broadcast on October 29, 1944 over MBS.

In addition to the stories, The Shadow #83 also features terrific new historical essays by Will Murray, one on the stories reprinted in this volume and the other on Frank Blackwell, editor in chief of the Street and Smith pulp magazine and a man sometimes referred to as “The Shadow’s Godfather.”

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. More Sanctum Books news is on the way.

© 2014 Tony Isabella


My first VAST ACCUMULATION OF STUFF GARAGE SALE will take place on Friday and Saturday, June 6 and 7, from 9 am to noon each day, at 840 Damon Drive in Medina, Ohio. My plan for this summer is to have these garage sales every Friday and Saturday except when I'm either traveling or doing some family thing.

Today I arranged the sales tables in the garage. I have one less table than last year for two reasons.  First, I wanted to ease the congestion as much as possible. Second, since I'll be having these sales weekly, I can ease my restocking work slightly. 

Easing my workload is also the reason for only having the sales for just three hours each day.  When I stayed open until 1 pm or 2 pm, that last hour or hours were very slow.

I haven't figured out what accommodations - if any - I'll make for those customers who can't get to my sales during the official hours. That hasn't really been profitable for me in the past and some customers have abused my generosity. I still remember the guy who spend a hour-and-a-half picking out three dollars worth of quarter comics. When I told him, I needed to wrap it up so that I could get onto other work, his response was "What do YOU have to do?" What a dick!

Speaking of dicks...

While my garage sales are generally open to everyone, I will not allow a repeat of the behavior by a few - a very few - comics dealers last summer. They tried to monopolize the boxes of quarter comics so that they could grab the best books for resale. They came close enough to pushing other customers out of the way that I considered banning dealers this summer.  Which wouldn't be fair.

So here's the rule: behave badly at my garage sales and you are gone. Period. I don't care if you have picked out a thousand comics for purchase. I won't sell them to you and I won't let you back into my future garage sales. Heed this rule.

Later today, I'll start putting together $5 mystery boxes. I hope to have at least a dozen of these ready before this first sale. But...just for shits and giggles...I'll be mixing up the sizes of the mystery boxes.  Might even put together some $1, $2, $3 or $4 mystery boxes. You feeling lucky?

I'll have more garage sale updates in the coming days. Watch for them.



Whenever I take some time off from this bloggy thing of mine, the “waiting to be reviewed” piles multiple. Let’s see how much I can reduce one of those piles today.

First up is Batman Li’l Gotham Volume 1 by Dustin Nguyen and Derek Fridolfa [DC; $12.99], one of the weirdest Bat-books of them all.These stories were originally published online and then reprinted in Batman Li’l Gotham #1-6. These stories feature chiba versions of Batman, his friends and his foes in holiday-themed adventures that are funny and suitable for all ages.

The child-like versions of these characters made me smile.  I was even more delighted by the realization the Bat-villains in these tales don’t seem to be mass-murdering sociopaths. I don’t have anything against mass-murdering sociopaths per se, but I don’t think every villain has to be one of them and I don’t think every Batman story has to include, you know, mass murders.

The “regular” Batman comics pretty much stopped being fun quite a while ago when the amateur psychologists at DC decided Batman was crazy as a bedbug. The comics used to be more exciting. The writing used to be far more clever. The art was more realistic and the artists could tell stories. I miss those Batman comics.

Batman Li’l Gotham is sort of a return to the kind of Batman comic books I used to enjoy. It’s a kind of Batman comic book I would never have conceived of in my wildest moments. But it was enjoyable and, even with my limited ability to retain memory of the countless moronic story elements which have crept into the Batman mythos before and since the “New 52,” it was pretty easy to follow. I’m not sure who the kid with the Bane-like power is, but he was the only character  who threw me.

Batman Li’l Gotham isn’t a classic.  It’s just goofy fun and that works for me. Give it a try.

ISBN 978-1-4012-4494-1


I didn’t know what to expect from Marvel’s All-New Ghost Rider by Felipe Smith (writer) and Trado Moore (artist). I was hooked after reading the first of the three issues published to date. You know how comics companies proclaim something is “all-new” or that “it’s unlike any (fill in name of hero) you’ve ever seen before.” Which usually means it’s just really the same old same old with maybe a little more sex and violence and lousy art by some “new thing” who can’t tell a story to save his life. That isn’t the case with the all-new Ghost Rider.

Maybe “all-new” is a tiny stretch. The comic is still called Ghost Rider. Robbie Reyes still has that flaming skull and pretty much the same outfit Johnny Blaze wore back when I was writing the book before (I’m guessing) Smith and Moore were born. Everything else? It’s new and it’s truly unlike any Ghost Rider we have seen before.

Robbie is a teenager who lives in East Los Angeles, takes care of his disable younger brother, goes to school and works nights at an auto shop. The neighborhood gang torment the Reyes brothers. Those scenes are painful to read.

The gang are far from the only predators in the comic. The guy who Robbie works for tries to short his pay. There are drug dealers and other gangsters. Calvin Zabo aka Mr. Hyde is up to some incredibly nasty business. And Robbie gets caught in the crossfire and dies, only be to revived and transformed by a vengeful spirit that haunts the car he’s been working on.

Smith’s writing brings Robbie and brother Gabe to life and gets the reader solidly in their corner. He crafts other characters who are possible allies, definite thugs or uninvolved bystanders trying to keep their own heads down. Moore’s art and storytelling propel the action scenes. When the new Ghost Rider is driving that car, when the fights break out, it feels like the pictures are moving across the pages. Kudos should likewise go to colorist Val Staples, who manages to keep up with the frenzied movement, and to editor Mark Paniccia because he brought these creators together.

I had a blast writing Ghost Rider back in the 1970s. Now I’m having almost as much fun reading it. This is how to reinvent a character and it earns my highest recommendation.


All-New Invaders reunites four members of the World War II group in modern times. Writer James Robinson tries to juggle all the recent continuities of these characters - the original Human Torch, Namor the Sub-Mariner, Bucky “Winter Soldier” Barnes and Captain America - but that means reminding me of some of the horrible things some of these characters have done in recent continuity. That said, his opening storyline is pretty cool.

During World War II, the Invaders came into possession of the Gods’ Whisper, a device which could control gods. The device was created by the Kree and, all these decades later, that expansionist alien empire wants it back. Though I admit to confusion about who is or isn’t a “god” in the Marvel Universe and how the device can command those it considers gods, it’s been an exciting story and made even more so by the appearance of the original Vision. Can the Whizzer be far behind?

The “Whizzer” question is not to be taken seriously. I just enjoy saying or writing “Whizzer.” Because I’m twelve years old.

Artist Steve Pugh draws heroic characters that actually look like themselves. His storytelling is equally dynamic. Colorist Guru-eFX does a terrific job with the hues, though I wonder why his or her parents would give their child such a name.

There’s a handy “what has gone before” introduction at the start of every issue. There’s good, easily readable lettering by Cory Petit. It’s another solid series and creative team put together by editor Mark Paniccia.

All-New Invaders is not an award-winner and it’s not a classic. It is an enjoyable super-team series and, in this day and age, that’s not common. I’m sticking with it.


No Marvel continuity is more confusing than that of the X-Men and those titles are the main reason I try to read every Marvel title as if it were the only one being published. Crossovers make that a lot more difficult..

All-New X-Men has a crazy/intriguing premise. Seeing how badly the X-Men have fallen, Hank McCoy retrieves the original team back from when they were young teenagers. It was a monumentally stupid thing to do and, lately, it seems like the presence of the teen mutants in the present time may have altered their time line considerably. Attempts to return them to the past have failed.

“The Trial of Jean Grey” is a six-part story that ran through All-New X-Men #22-24 and Guardians of the Galaxy #11-13. The Shi’ar, fearful that the young Jean may again become the Phoenix, have put her on trial. Which is more of a formality than anything else since they clearly plan to kill her for crimes she hasn’t yet committed and may never commit. Because the Shi’ar are intergalactic dicks.

Written by Brian Michael Bendis, the story had more characters than I could track. But it had some fun moments, a satisfying conclusion and some surprises. Because nothing goes quite like you expect when it comes to these time-misplaced teenagers. That’s a major reason why I keep reading the title.

That’s all for today. I’ll be back tomorrow with another thrilling installment of my JULY 1963 series. See you then.

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, May 28, 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 56th installment of that series.

The Rawhide Kid #71 [August 1969] boasts a striking cover by Larry Lieber (pencils) and John Tartaglione (inks). As I’ve expressed in previous Rawhide Kid Wednesday, I really like this artistic combo. The scene is exciting enough with the Kid facing an Apache gunman on the edge of a crumbling cliff, but what kicks the cover image to an even greater level is that stunning reddish-orange background. This cover popped on the newsstands.

Digression. I would’ve bought this issue originally just before or after my graduation from St. Edward High School in Lakewood, Ohio. I used to buy my comic books from a near-to-my-home drug store, but I think it had closed by then. So I bought from a combination cigar shop and comic-book store near the high school and from a couple of convenience stores a long bike ride away from my home. I hope you youngsters realize how much easier you have it these days with all your comic-book stores and online retailers and those newfangled digital downloads. End of old man digression.

“The Last Warrior!” (22 pages) by Lieber (writing and drawing) and Tartaglione (inking) is a solid story, but, in my more enlightened dotage, I couldn’t read it without thinking of the atrocities that the white settlers visited on the indigenous people they misplaced in their lust for empire. I don’t think Lieber’s treatment of the Apaches in this story is disrespectful, but history tells us that the oppression of the native people has, in many ways, continued to this day.  That said, I’ll write about the story sans any further commentary of that nature.

The Rawhide Kid rides into a town as a local store owner refuses to sell food to the Apaches whose crops have failed. The owner and a gang of his fellow racists attack the Apaches. When Rawhide tries to intervene, they threaten the Kid as well:

How ‘bout that?! We got us a real live Injun-lover! But not for long! ‘Cause the only thing I hate worse’n an Injun is an Injun-lover!

The Kid ends the fight with three well-placed shots, including one to the hand of a goon who tried to shoot him in the back.  Because being a racist wasn’t awful enough for that would-be bushwhacker. Not that they know they were facing the Rawhide Kid and how lucky they are to be not dead, the store owner and the goons decide to be okay with selling the Apaches their needed supplies.

Enter Ace Larkin. He’s got a mustache, a string tie, a vest and a cigar.  He’s a bad guy. He’s been trying to goad the Apaches into an uprising. He figures the Apaches will attack the settlers and drive them from their land. Then Larkin will move in and buy that land dirt cheap. Bad guy.

The Kid escorts the Apaches back to their village. Chief Lone Cloud calls Johnny Clay brother. The angry Red Eagle doesn’t accept this. The young warrior wants a war.

Red Eagle has trained himself in the use of a six-gun.  He’s good. Maybe even as good as Rawhide. But the Kid is not anxious to test his skills against the Apache’s, even when Red Eagle suggests that Johnny is a coward. The Kid replies:

A man doesn’t have to be a coward to value life...and to hate death!

The Kid rides back into town and reasons with the citizens.  They see the wisdom is becoming better neighbors. This does not please Ace Larkin, who sends his gunmen to ambush Apaches watering horses at a stream. Did I mention Larkin is a bad guy?

The wounded Apaches make their war back to the village and identify their attacks as men from the town. Red Eagle vows vengeance on all his enemies. The Kid figures the only chance of avoiding a lot of violence is if he can capture the men who attacked the Apaches and bring them to face the tribe’s justice.

Larkin’s men don’t deny attacking the Apaches when the Rawhide Kid confronts them in the saloon. They think they have him outnumbered because, low lives that they are, they have not been reading these “Rawhide Kid Wednesday” accounts. It takes our young hero less than two pages to educate them in such matters.

Lone Cloud decides to turn Larkin and crew over to the territorial marshall. But any hope of containing Red Eagle’s rage has passed. He has left the reservation to seek vengeance against all whites.

Lieber’s storytelling and drawing is first-rate in this story. He knocks himself out portraying Red Eagle’s four-page crime spree in a series if vignette panels and scenes. When word of these crimes reach Lone Cloud, he knows what must be done:

Red Eagle must be stopped, before he fans the fire of hatred between white and red man into a holocaust! But he must be stopped, not by a posse of blue coats...but by a lone warrior, as brave as himself...the Rawhide Kid!

The Kid agrees to try to stop Red Eagle. He spreads the word among likely targets in the territory to give Red Eagle that he wants a showdown. The Apache tells one of his victims to tell Rawhide that he will meet him at high noon in Cactus Pass.

The Kid believes Red Eagle is misguided, but no villain. He’s being far too kind. The two men meet.  But, when they face off, the Kid spots a rattler going for the Apache. Rawhide shoots and kills the rattler. The unsuspecting Red Eagle shoots the Kid, but the bullet only grazes Rawhide’s scalp and knocks him out.

Left for dead, Rawhide recovers consciousness and then goes after Red Eagle. He trails him to some nearby mountains. From above the Kid, Red Eagle is astonished that Rawhide is alive. They draw and the Apache falls from the ledge:

You have won, paleface! I die...but it is the death of a warrior...for that I am grateful...!

The Kid responds:

You fought bravely, Red Eagle! Your name will live forever!

Rawhide returns Red Eagle’s body to the Apache village. The body is prepared “for his journey to the sky!”

Lone Cloud offers this eulogy:

He was a great warrior...but he outlived his time! No longer can your people and mine settle our differences in battle! We must live together in peace...or we will not survive at all!

Lieber’s story and art are first-rate in this story. However, as I indicated earlier, stories involving our nation’s indigenous people make me uneasy. There are still too many wrongs yet to be righted throughout the history of that clash of cultures.


The “Marvel Bullpen Bulletins” page appears after the sixth page of the story. The headline: Welcome to the Wonderful, Way-Out World of Marvel Madness! 

The Marvel news is slim this month. Tom Sutton penciled the latest issue of Captain Marvel. The company has some new titles coming up in the “spooky stories and the romance categories.” Marvel Super- Heroes has reprints of Lee/Kirby Avengers and X-Men stories. Inker George Klein got married after an 18-year engagement. The American blues band Mother Earth mentions Marvel in a song from its Living with the Animals album.

“Stan’s Soapbox” explains why Marvel comic books now cost fifteen cents instead of twelve:

In our never-ending efforts to bring you nothing but the very best, we’ve regularly increased the payments we make to artists, writers, prints, etc.

Let me toss this out to any of the writers and artists who worked for Marvel or for any other active publishers in 1968. Did you get a raise when the comics jumped up in price?

A few comics-related paid advertisements appear on those classified ad pages that used to be a regular feature of comic books way back in the day. The Grand Book Center of Brooklyn, New York both sells and buys comics. Howard M. Rogofsky of Flushing, New York has a new list with “new low prices” and over 50,000 issues on hand. Robert Bell offers a “Marvel Comic Check List & Price List” for a quarter and a “D.C. comic list” at the same price. Bell also buys and sells comic books.

The “Ridin’ the Trail with Rawhide” letters page has four letters from readers. Paul W. Stollinger of Tampa, Florida enjoys Rawhide Kid and wants the return of Kid Colt and the Two-Gun Kid.

Albert Bell of Ironton, Missouri praises issue #68 “When Stalks the Cougar.” It’s his second-favorite Rawhide Kid story after “When the Scorpion Strikes” in issue #57.

Julie Froelich of Sayner, Wisconsin comes off as an apologist for Jesse James. Marvel doesn’t buy her arguments. Neither do I.

Phillip Hermann of Racine, Wisconsin says the Rawhide Kid deserves to be written to, so he writes nice things about issue #68. He’s as good as his word, that Phillip.

There are so many comic books and other things I want to blog about that I’m switching “Rawhide Kid Wednesday” to every other Wednesday for the summer.

I’ll be back tomorrow with other stuff.

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Tuesday, May 27, 2014


Cutting right to the chase...

Godzilla was everything I had hoped it would be. The title star looked great and “gave” a terrific performance. There were wonderful human characters and stories. There were creditable foes for Godzilla to battle. There were delicious moments of close interactions between the courageous Ford Brody (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and the monsters. Most of all, the movie had a satisfying ending.

I’ll go into more details following this warning:


The opening credits are included within quickly redacted words from reports on the original appearance of Godzilla in 1954. That was a neat element and I hope I can find the un-redacted texts somewhere online.

We don’t really see Godzilla for some time in the movie, but that just builds the suspense. Yes, he is quite larger and heftier than previous versions, but that makes even more of a force of nature. He’s the balance between our world and predatory creatures and, of course, mankind’s own folly. I very much liked the scarring on the new Godzilla, which was meant to be akin to the horrible scarring on survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Ford Brody is just a boy in 1999, which is when the ancient menace that threatens mankind first makes its presence felt. His father (Bryan Cranston) and mother (Juliette Binoche) work at a Japanese nuclear power plant. Cranston knows something is quite right with the plant, but is unable to prevent its destruction by the unseen menace. A government cover-up keeps him from discovering the whole truth and why his wife died. His obsession keeps him from being as close to his son as he could and should have been.

Cranston delivers a good performance, especially in scenes with the adult Ford. The tension between them is obvious, but so is the love they have for one another. Binoche doesn’t get much screen time in the movie, but makes the most of it.

When we first meet the adult Ford, he’s returning home to his wife  (Elizabeth Olsen) and young son (Carson Bolde) after 14 months at sea. The Lieutenant’s first night home is interrupted by the phone call telling him his father has been arrested for trespassing in the quarantine zone where they used to live. He flies to Japan to spring his dad, but he’s not happy about it.

D-oh! I just now realized what an obvious homage the Brody name is to the sheriff father and his sons from Jaws, which director Gareth Edwards had said was one of his inspirations. D-oh!

Ford has considerable daddy issues, but it doesn’t prevent him from going on a clandestine visit to the old family home. His dad finds discs which will prove his case that the government(s) are covering something up. Further proof is that there’s no trace of radiation in the supposedly lethal quarantine zone.

The Fords get arrested where Dr. Ishiro Serizawa [Ken Watanabe] is keenly interested in the elder Ford’s old records. Unfortunately, things go to Hell before Dad Ford can really enjoy any kind of “I told you so” moment. The cocooned creature who has been absorbing all the local radiation for decades comes out of his shell, starts killing people and then escapes.

Dad Ford gets a great dying line:

Go home to your son...keep him safe, whatever it takes...whatever it takes.

I’m going to pause from the summary here to discuss the actors and characters a bit. I love Ford Brody. He’s the kind of “get it done” guy who always does the right thing, even at great personal risk.
Some reviewers have a problem with that, but I’m not remotely one of them. He represents the best of our country and our military. You know him. I know him...and I wish we had a whole lot more like him.

Elizabeth Olsen doesn’t have the emotional range to bring much to the role of Ford’s wife. However, in all fairness, the script did not give her much to do. Basically, the movie is carried by Daddy Brody, Ford Brody, Godzilla and his monster foes.

Foes? Yeah, two horny monsters getting ready to hatch a big litter of baby monsters. Godzilla emerges to follow the Japanese monster as he heads for the U.S. The male monster is on his way to hook up with a cocooned female monster "stored" in the Nevada facility where the U.S. “disposes” of its nuclear waste. Because what could possibly go wrong with storing an unknown cocoon in a nuclear waste facility.

The monsters are cool from both a menacing and a visual standpoint. The threat they pose becomes apparent as soon as the first one goes into action and their threat keeps growing. Visually, they don’t look like any of Godzilla’s previous foes, except for maybe, just a little those bug-like critters in the undistinguished Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000).  Points for originality.

One more acting note. Watanabe is swell as the clearly haunted Doc Serizawa. I would have liked to see a larger role for him, but he does get the best line in the movie:

The arrogance of men is thinking nature is in their control and not the other way around. Let them fight.

The giant monster battles are exciting. While there would clearly be a tremendous loss of life, the movie doesn’t dwell on that loss in much detail. Indeed, when characters we know a little bit die, they are much more than mere statistics. That sensibility elevates this movie well above the disaster porn so prominent in too many movies and comic books.

Godzilla is not the enemy of mankind in this movie, which doesn’t prevent him from being a frightening force of nature. One reviewer described him as the last warrior of his kind, emerging from decades of solitude because he’s needed. That’s a Godzilla who resonates with me and who, with a suitably engaging script, I wouldn’t mind seeing again in a few years.

Director Gareth Edwards did a wonderful job with this film.  I was so impressed that, over the weekend, I watched Monsters. I’ll have more to say about his earlier movie over the weekend.  But, while I’ve heard Edwards will have some sort of executive producer in a sequel, he probably won’t be the hands-on director. Edwards doesn’t strike me as someone who wants to repeat himself.

IMDb credits Max Borenstein (screenplay) and Dave Callaham (story) for the writing. I’m not familiar with their previous work, but I think they did a fine job on this movie.

Godzilla is a must-see movie for Godzilla fans and giant monster movie fans in general. I think it’s an entertaining film for general audiences as well. However, if you are considering bringing young children, think again. The movie is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of destruction, mayhem and creature violence and that’s an accurate call. You know your kids best, but I opine this movie might be too intense for them.

Godzilla delighted me. In any year that didn’t also include Captain America: Winter Soldier, it would have been my hands-down pick for my favorite movie of the year. As it is, I’ve seen it twice and may see it a third time while it’s still in the theaters...and I’ll be the easiest sell in the world when it comes to the Blu-ray edition. Go see it.

I’ll be back tomorrow to ride the range with the Rawhide Kid. So, saddle up and meet me back here then.

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Monday, May 26, 2014


Recently published by Archie Comics, World of Archie Double Digest #37 [April 2014] has the usual dozens of fun stories by the usual gang of terrific talents: Frank Doyle, Dan DeCarlo, Rudy Lapick, Harry Lucey, George Gladir, Fernando Ruiz, Mike Pellowski, Stan Goldberg, Rex Lindsey, Samm Schwartz, Joe Edwards and more, including one story penciled by Sal Amendola.

The digest reprints four Doyle/DeCarlo, Lapick stories from the pre-Pussycats Josie #32 [February  1968. They are: "Bust Out," "Love Out," "Turn Out," and "Ruled Out." I'm sensing a theme there. As I've said before, World of Archie Double Digest is worth buying just for the Josie reprints.

One other story deserves mention. Reggie stars in "A Date with Suzy Stringbean" by an unknown writer, penciler Rex Lindsey and inker Jon D'Agostino. Suzy was a character from the Little Archie stories and, in this tale, we get to see how she's grown. Predictable, but fun.

Even if you're not an avid Archie reader, I think these digests continue to make for a nice change of pace from the other comics you're reading.  Check them out sometime.


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Never-before-published Dick Ayers concept drawings done for our War Is Hell series.


Here's the letters page from All-American Men of War #99. If you click on it, it will enlarge to a readable size.


Here's the Binky PSA mentioned in today's bloggy thing. If you click on it, it will enlarge. If you can identify the artist, please share that information with me and your fellow bloggy thing readers.


Today’s bloggy thing continues my 138-plus-part series on the comic books that hit the newsstands in the month of July 1963. That month was pivotal to my comic-book career because it was the month when Fantastic Four Annual #1 ignited my desire to write comics.  I’ve added the “plus” to my description of this series because there may be a few issues I missed in my initial explorations.

All-American Men of War #99 [September-October 1963] is one of what fans have dubbed DC’s “Big Five” war titles. The others were G.I. Combat, Our Army at War, Our Fighting Forces and Star Spangled War Stories. The cover is by Irv Novick and features Johnny Cloud, the Navaho Ace. Cloud appeared in AAMOW #82–115 (1960–1966).

The inside front cover advertised the “Magic Art Reproducer” that was discussed in earlier installments of this “July 1963" series.

Cloud stars in “The Empty Cockpit” (15 pages) by Robert Kanigher, who was also the editor of DC’s war titles, with Novick art.  This story is told in two parts and the bottom third of the final page of each part, as well as the issue’s non-series tale, has an ad for a Tootsie Roll product. More on these ads in a bit.

The story opens with a nightmare. During a dog fight with Germans over the English Channel, Cloud spots a terror rocket heading right for London. The only plane that can stop it is a Spitfire, but the cockpit of the British plane is empty and the bomb gets past it to wreck death and destruction below.

Johnny had this terrible dream night after night. He remembers his father, the chief, taking him to see the Smoke-Maker when he was a boy. The Navajo mystic told him then: Heed the warning of dreams! The moon must rise on a dream coming true!

Johnny is grounded by his commanding officer and the squad doctor:

Cloud--you’ve flown yourself into exhaustion! You’re grounded--until you’ve rested enough to shake off that nightmare that’s flying inside your head.

Johnny is ordered to take a week off in London. He arrives just as one of the German terror rockets hits the street in front of him. That’s where part one of the story ends.

DC comic books of this era often ran paid advertising on the bottom third of the last page of their stories.  When they didn’t have an add to fill the space, they ran house ads. I’ve often wondered how profitable these ads were for the company. I would dearly love to hear from any bloggy thing reader who knows what kind of money the ads brought in, what the page rates of the era were for the writers and artists and if the writers and artists were paid less for those pages that were but two-thirds the size of the regular story pages.

Before we get to the second part of “The Empty Cockpit,” there are two pages of other DC Comics content. The first is a subscription ad offering two-year subscriptions for various DC titles, most of them edited by Kanigher. The titles: Our Army at War, Our Fighting Forces, G.I. Combat, All-American Men of War, Star Spangled War Stories, Metal Men, Sea Devils, Wonder Woman, Blackhawk and Flash.

That’s followed by teen humor character Binky showing readers “How to Spend a Summer Week!” It’s a public service announcement in the form of a one-page comic strip. Many of these were written by Jack Schiff, but the Grand Comics Database doesn’t have writer or artist credits for this one. I’ll post the page in an addendum to today’s bloggy thing.

The first five panels show Binky and other kids visiting a museum, working a part-time job, going to a band concert, getting books at the library and going to the beach.  Pete finds excuses to refrain from any of these activities.  He concludes: Gosh, summer’s no fun when you have to stay home. Nothing to do in this old town.

The wise-for-his-years Binky has another view: Don’t be like Pete. There’s summer fun in your own home town! Look for it and you’ll find it!

Part two of “The Empty Cockpit” opens with a stunned Johnny having his terror-rocket nightmare. He’s revived by a young R.A.F. pilot and, together, they rescue a kid and his kitten from a building on fire and about to collapse.

Allan, the pilot, is also an earl. He invites Johnny to visit his field. During the drive, Johnny has the nightmare again and recalls the long-ago words of the Smoke-Maker. When they get to the field, Cloud discovers that Allan flies a Spitfire.

Allan’s squad gets sent out into battle during Johnny’s visit and Allan doesn’t come back. Later, when these British fliers go out a second time and the field is empty, Allan and his Spitfire return. Allan is on his last breath and dies in front of Johnny.

A third scramble is called. As the only pilot on the field, Johnny climbs into Allan’s Spitfire and takes off. Everything is the same as in his nightmare, but, in reality, he’s in the “empty” cockpit. He spots the terror-rocked from his nightmare, but Allan used all his ammo attacking the German bombers. The Spitfire leader yells at Johnny to shoot that rocked down, but Johnny has to try something else. His narration:

I winged against the terror rocket again and if it were a stampeding buffalo snorting fire. I had to turn out of its insane flight...

The terror rocket swerves hard enough to flip Johnny’s plane over and then hurtles into the German bombers with a satisfying BLAAM! The physics of the plane being able to catch up with that missile might be a little shaky, but you can’t beat the lettering on the sound effects.

After his leave, Johnny returns to his own field.

C.O.: You look great, Cloud! The rest did the trick! No more dreams, eh?

JOHNNY: Yes, sir! No more dreams!

CLOSING CAPTION: The skies hold mysteries as well as combat when Johnny Cloud, the Navajo Ace, flies in All-American Men of War!

The next two pages are filled with half-page ads we’ve discussed in earlier installments: Missile Attack (a game) for $1.25, 104 cards for $1.49, a free pass and two free ride coupons for the Palisades Amusement Part in New Jersey and 207 stamps for a quarter.

“Sgt. Rock’s Combat Corner” (one page) is a letters column in which ask questions about combat-related stuff. Jerry Gorman of New York, New York asks about the firepower of guns from the 1300s and 1400s. Jack Peterson of Chicago has questions about mortars. From Holland, Ohio, Gerald Doumas wants to know what is the highest decoration for bravery given by the Navy and Army...and how many of these were given out in World War II. Finally, Dory Cohen of Los Angeles asks about the fall of Sicily in World War II. It’s an informative page and I’ll try to post it as an addendum.

Next up...

Three G.I.’s were blasted out of World War Two - back into World War One - and they had to take an enemy-held town today - with an...ATTACK FROM YESTERDAY!

The ten-page story was written by Hank Chapman, a prolific writer for Atlas (Marvel) in the 1950s and the DC Comics war books of the 1960s. He was such a great writer that he was allowed to sign the stories he wrote for Atlas. Jack Abel penciled and inked the tale. Abel’s work is terrific; he was “able” to hold his own as part of an artistic rotation that included Novick, Joe Kubert, Russ Heath, Gene Colan and the Ross Andru/Mike Esposito team.

The title page shows a World War I Spad, tank and doughboy going at a German gun emplacement. The story proper opens with a reunion of the Hall family. Infantry Captain Willard Hall fought in World War I and says today’s war will never be as rough as that one. His two sons - tank jockey Rick and pilot Ken - scoff at the very notion of that. A few months later, they’re all involved in a battle to take a heavily fortified French town.  It doesn’t go well.

From the rooftops, the enemy’s gun stop Captain Hall’s platoon in its tracks. The older soldier covers his men as they retreat.  He takes cover in a war museum that has “everything from the big war! From a British tank to a French Spad.”

Before you can say “foreshadowing,” the Captain must go mano-a-mano with a Nazi SS trooper. He wins.

Rick’s tank scores some hits on the German guns before those guns knock his tank out of action. In front of that war museum. You can cut the foreshadowing with a knife.

Ken’s P-51 takes out some more guns before his plane gets tagged. He chutes to safety, but the German commandant sees him fall into the war museum. The Halls are reunited and Dad experiences a huge thought balloon:

My World War II infantry failed to take the town! Your modern tank, Rick, failed to knock out the guns! And your flashy new plane, Ken, failed to blast the batteries! In my war--the great war-–it would’ve been different with these weapons–-now just museum pieces!

That’s when the bilingual Rick spots a sign:

This sign says that all the weapons and machines in this museum are battle-ready! Just as they were in the first world war!

Dad Hall starts barking orders. He and Rick drive the tank through a wall so Ken can take off in the Spad. The tank protects the old plane until it gains the sky.

The Spad flies too slowly for the German gunners to adjust.  Score a bunch for our side.

The tank crashes through the remaining buildings, causing them to collapse around the Germans and their guns. The fight is over in a matter of panels.

Afterward, Dad tells his boys they are now veterans of his war and asks them how it feels:


The rest of the issue are paid advertisements for toy soldiers and such. From here on in, when I write about comics from this month, I’m only going to discuss those ads I haven’t discussed previously.

There will be another installment of this JULY 1963 series later in the week. Coming up tomorrow: my review of Godzilla.

All praise to the Great Scaly One who protects us with his fiery atomic love!

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Sunday, May 25, 2014


"It is somehow fitting that the pinnacle of Crankshaft's baseball career was pitching for the only team in the world named after a sort of misfit duck"

- Jamie Farr, from his foreword

Strike Four! The Crankshaft Baseball Book by Tom Batiuk and Chuck Ayers [Black Squirrel Books; $24.95] is the book I've wanted to see for years. It collects over two hundred pages of Crankshaft comic strips centered around the feisty bus driver's career as a minor-league pitcher. That part of Ed's life has always fascinated me and I can't wait to start reading this collection. This post isn't a review. It's a heads up that this book has been published and available. My review will come down the line.

ISBN 978-1-60635-192-5

Keep checking in with the bloggy thing for more bonus posts.

Tony Isabella


Full-length installments of TONY ISABELLA'S BLOGGY THING will return tomorrow with a JULY 1963 segment on All-American Men of War #99. Fingers crossed, you'll get a new bloggy every day. There will also be some short bonus posts.

My online Vast Accumulation of Stuff sales will resume on Friday, May 31. I'm working on the new list even as we speak.

My Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sales will resume on Friday, June 6 and Saturday, June 7 at Casa Isabella, 840 Damon Drive, Medina, Ohio. Hours will be from 9 am to noon each day.  If all goes as planned, I'll be running these garage sales every Friday and Saturday.  I'll have more to say about these sales soon.

More to come.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014


New from TwoMorrows:

Alter Ego #125 [June 2014; $8.95] cover-features Golden Age artist Lee Harris, co-creator of DC's Air Wave. The issue also has the second chapter of the history of the Comics Code, an installment of the "Comic Fandom Archive" series, tributes to Al Plastino and Larry Ivie, and much more.  Alter Ego is comicdom's best magazine of comics history and I recommend it highly.

Monday, May 19, 2014


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder, my tribute to Dick Ayers continues. Please check it out and leave comments at Tales of Wonder.

Friday, May 16, 2014


From my pal Anthony Tollin’s Sanctum Books comes Cap Fury #1: The Red Heart Pearls, Black Daylight and The Tattooed Skipper [$14.95]. Stan Lee is quoted on the back cover: "There were many pulp mags that I read...There was one called, I think, Captain Fury, about a guy who had a beat-up old rusty scow of a ship - but, when evil threatened, he pushed a button and his old scow turned into the sleekest, fastest ship on the sea! I loved ‘em all.”

This volume presents two novels starring Captain John Fury and the crew of The Whirlwind, They were first published in the December 1936 and September 1937 issues of The Skipper Magazine.  Both were by Laurence Donovan writing as Wallace Brooker.

From the back cover of this new edition:

Cap Fury follows a trail of vengeance to uncover his brother’s murderers and The Red Heart Pearls.

Black Daylight strikes at High Noon, enveloping thousands in terror and agony!

Also included in this volume: a new historical essay by the always informative Will Murray and “The Tattooed Skipper,” a short story by Steve Fisher that stars Sheridan Doome, the crack age of Naval Intelligence. The Fisher tale is from the May 1, 1935 issue of The Shadow Magazine.

As with the other Sanctum Books series - Doc Savage, The Shadow and others - these Cap Fury double novels should be entertaining jaunts 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.  However, I hope to read this one within the next few weeks and review it in this bloggy thing of mine.

In the meantime, I’ll let you know about the new releases as they appear.  More Sanctum Books news is on the way.

© 2014 Tony Isabella


Recently published by Archie Comics...

Archie Double Digest #249 [April, 2014; $3.99] has seven stories by Frank Doyle, my all-time favorite Archie writer. Archie stars as "The Man from R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E" and goes up against the Voltman in an adventure penciled by Bob White and inked by Jon D'Agostino...and Betty stars as "The Girl from R.I.V.E.R.D.A.L.E" in a second spy-themed story. Doyle's other collaborators include Dan DeCarlo, Harry Lucey and Samm Schwartz.In addition to the spy stuff, White also draws and writes a pair of "Pat the Brat" stories. 

Other Archie talents represented in this digest: Mike Pellowski, Fernando Ruiz, Stan Goldberg, Dick Malmgren, Bob Boling, George Gladir and Joe Edwards.

Keep watching the bloggy thing for more Archie Comics digest posts.

Thursday, May 15, 2014


I have been remiss in alerting my friends and readers about this weekend's East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention,which is one of my favorite events.  I can't be there this year, but I recommend it to all.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014


TONY ISABELLA'S BLOGGY THING is on hiatus for several days while I attend to a plethora of other matters. I'll try to post some updates between now and my return.

Monday, May 12, 2014


This week in Tony's Tips at Tales of Wonder...The first of three columns celebrating the life of my friend Dick Ayers. Feel free to add your own comments in the comments section provided at the bottom of the column.

Thursday, May 8, 2014


Archie Comics celebrated the 200th issue of Jughead Double Digest by making it a Jughead Double Double Digest [April 2014; $5.99] and putting together 320 pages of comics fun.

The lead story is "The Jughead List" by Craig Boldman, pencil artist Rex Lindsey and inker Jim Amash. Inspired by Mr. Lodge's "Check Out Checklist," Archie and Jughead come up with their own lists of things they'd like to do before they check out. They end up working on each other's list and, as you can expect, hilarity ensues. This special double double digest has lots of other great stories by Boldman and Lindsey, including one with Juggy's arch-nemesis Trula Twyst.

Gene Colan pencils "Bring on the Jugheads" (21 pages), a reprint of Jughead's Time Police #6 from 1991. The story is written by Rich Margopoulos.

There's a section reprinting Jughead stories from 1954, 1957 and 1958.  Creators include Sy Reit, Samm Schwartz, Red Holmdake, Frank Doyle, Harry Lucey, George Frese, Bill Vagoda and Terry Szenics. It's wonderful material.

The issue also features several other Doyle/Schwartz collaborations and stories by George Gladir,  Mike Pellowski, Stan Goldberg, Rudy Lapick, Fernando Ruiz and more. It's a great sampler of all things Jughead. I recommend it to anyone looking for a change of pace from the doom-and-gloom of so many other modern-day comic books.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014


Kelly Isabella, my darling daughter, graduated with honors from The Ohio State University on Sunday, May 4, 2014. My words fail me when I try to express how proud her mother Barb and I am of her. Let’s say that, along with the day I married Barb, the day our son Eddie was born, the day Kelly was born and the day Eddie graduated from OSU, it was one of the five best days of my life.

The Ohio State University is a magnificent university. It is such a beloved institution for so many reasons: the quality of student education and life, the beauty of its campus, the camaraderie among the students, faculty, staff, alumni and extended family.  While my wife and I won’t miss writing the tuition and other checks, we will miss having a convenient excuse to visit the campus.

Digression. You know what The Ohio State University could benefit from? Bringing in a veteran comics industry professional to impart his wisdom or lack thereof to students in various venues? I know a guy who would take such a position in a heartbeat and he’d probably work cheap. End of digression.

Commencement is a weekend-long event for Ohio State. Barb and her aunt Nora drove to Columbus on Friday night. On Saturday morning, they watched Kelly run her first ever half-marathon. My daughter is always setting tough goals for herself and, much more often than not, she achieves them. She completed her 13.1-mile run in two hours and 11 minutes, just shy of her target pace of a mile every ten minutes. I’ve absolutely no doubt she will achieve that goal the next time she runs a half-marathon.

On Saturday afternoon, Kelly, Barb and Nora were joined on a tour of Ohio Stadium by Nora’s daughter Heather, Heather’s husband Mike, and Nora’s amazing grandchildren, Prince Chase and Princess Gaby. The stadium is a huge and exciting edifice, a landmark even within a university abundantly rich with many legendary buildings.

I drove to Columbus late Saturday afternoon with my neighbor Greg and his girlfriend Sherie. Greg and his daughter Giselle are true family to us and Sherie is getting there fast. We arrived in time for dinner at Kelly’s favorite restaurant, El Vaquero, with all of the people mentioned above. Great food and a giant margarita that was perhaps more than a non-drinker like me should have ordered. I did survive the experience.

From the restaurant, we went to OSU’s Commencement Eve Candlelight Ceremony, an emotional and lovely event which is held in front of the Thompson Library. On arriving at the Oval, which is the heart of the university, Kelly was given her alumni pin and we were given candles and program cards. With typical OSU thoroughness, student volunteers had folding chairs available for those who needed them. If I heard correctly, the Candlelight Ceremony is put on and paid for by the Student Union, one of countless examples of the students giving back to their campus community.

The opening act to the Candlelight Ceremony was a jazz band made up of students and former students. I never caught their name, but I enjoyed their version of “Kill the Beast” from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Nicely done, gentlemen.

Remember that giant margarita from three paragraphs ago? I entered the library - which is sensational - to use the restroom.  While I was in one of two stalls, I heard someone say. “You can take the stall. I know you like your privacy. We’ll call it the Pat Brennan Memorial Stall.”

As I exited my stall, I said out loud, “I know that name.”

Pat and Tom Brennan are good friends of my son Eddie.  If my memory serves me correctly, Tom graduated the same year as Eddie.  Pat was graduating with Kelly. I was going to post on Eddie’s Facebook page that it was a thrill to meet Pat and Tom Brennan in the men’s room of the library, but I might want to run for public office someday. But it was cool to run into these fine young men.

We chatted for a bit as we were walking back out to the Oval and I said hello to their parents. In answer to their question, Eddie had gone to the Kentucky Derby that day, but would be back in Columbus later that evening.

The actual Candlelight Ceremony opened with a welcome from student speaker Marla Trinidad, another member of the Class of 2014. What a confident and clearly capable young woman! She introduced all of the other evening’s speakers: Dr. Javaune Adams-Gaston, the Vice President for Student Life; graduating student Shane Ingalls, who had competed with 1000 fellow graduates for the honor of giving the Commencement Eve Address; OSU Interim President Dr. Joseph Alutto, a man with a long and very distinguished career of service to the institution, and Archie Griffin, the legendary football player and an executive with the OSU alumni organization. Also included on the program was a retrospective slide show of the Class of 2014.

Griffin lit a candle and then he and other speakers went into the audience to light our candles.  With the Oval filled with flickers of light, we sang “Carmen Ohio”:

Oh come let's sing Ohio's praise
And songs to Alma Mater raise
While our hearts rebounding thrill
With joy which death alone can still
Summer's heat or winter's cold
The seasons pass the years will roll
Time and change will surely show
How firm thy friendship O-hi-o!

It was a moving evening, though I somehow managed not to tear up. At least not then.

Sunday morning. Commonly known as “The Horseshoe” or, more often, “The Shoe,” Ohio Stadium is the fourth largest football stadium in the United States and the seventh largest non-racing stadium in the world. It has a seating capacity of over 100,000 and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Barb, Eddie, Nora and I were at the Stadium when its gates opened. With just over 10,000 degrees and certificates being awarded to the spring semester class of 2014 and with family and friends of these graduates attending, the crowd would easily be over 60,000 people. I’m likely low on that estimate.

We “reserved” over a dozen seats.  Though some of our group would leave to walk around and other members take their seats, we ended up with the four early birds, Greg, Sheri, Heather, Mike, Chase, Gaby, Rose (Barb’s mother), Patty (Barb’s aunt), Terry Fairbanks (one of my oldest friends and Nora’s husband), Giselle, Chris (Kelly’s “big,” which is a sorority thing), Anthony (Chris’ fiancĂ©) and Kara (Kelly’s “little”). We were a happy group and that was the case for every group there. You’d have to go a long way to find so much joy in one place.

The Ohio State University Wind Symphony played for a half-hour or more before the official noon start to the commencement. We were welcomed by Dr. Adams-Gaston, which was followed by the impressive processional of graduates.  The invocation by Dana C. Schroeder of the Department of Chaplaincy and Clinical Pastoral Education came next, then the raising of the American flag and the singing of the National Anthem. Leading the singing was Jason M. LeGrair of this graduating class.

The commencement address was given by Chris Matthews, host of the “Hardball with Chris Matthews” show on MSNBC. Though we share many of the same progressive views, I can’t say I’ve been a fan of his in the past.  Much to my delight, Matthews delivered what is easily the best commencement speech at any event I’ve attended in my life. It was funny, sincere and completely on point with wonderful advice for the graduates. If you can find the speech online, I urge you to
read or watch it.

Digression. All speakers and portions of the commencement could be viewed on large screens at either end of the stadium.  Save for a few glitches and quite a few close-captioned misspellings, it was a great way to keep the audience close to the ceremony.

Matthews was followed by the conferring of honorary degrees and of distinguished service awards. There was the conferring of degrees in course. Archie Griffin welcomed, as he had the previous night, the new alumni to The Ohio State University Alumni Association.  LeGrair returned to the stage to lead the audience in the singing of “Carman Ohio.” All leading up to the moment towards which Kelly had worked for four years.

We were close enough to the field that Kelly could see us and vice versa as she passed by our seats after getting her diploma.  I’ve never seen her more radiant. Her graduating with honors was a down-to-the-wire thing and, while I knew about it, Kelly hadn’t told her mom. When she learned of Kelly’s accomplishment, Barb was every bit as radiant as our daughter.

We made our way out of the stadium and headed for the Oval to take photos. You can see some of them on my Facebook page and more when I receive them.

From the Oval, we went to the second-story apartment Kelly has been sharing with three other girls. Nora and Terry had left early and set up hot food and tables for everyone.  It was a tight fit - at one point there was around two-dozen people in this really “snug” apartment - but the company and the food and especially the joy in the accomplishments of Kelly and her housemate Bri just couldn’t be contained. It was a magical afternoon.

So...I didn’t tear up at the Candlelight Ceremony and I didn’t even tear up when Kelly got her diploma. So what got my waterworks going ever so slightly?

It was when I had a moment with Bri and the opportunity to thank her for her friendship with and support of Kelly. Kelly’s friends mean the world to her and us and well they should. She’s always had a knack for surrounding herself with good people. That will serve her well in life. She might not see Bri and her other friends on a frequent basis, but I have no doubt she and they have made good friends for life.

Shortly after I spoke with Bri, her dad Tom made a toast to both his daughter and mine and our families. That got me tearing up and, much to my chagrin, it’s happening again as I write this section of the bloggy thing. Hey, I’m Italian. We can be an emotional people.

Kelly’s lease runs through July. She will be dividing her time between Columbus and home town Medina while looking for work. Her degree is in Criminology and Criminal Justice. When she comes home this week, her and I will go over what kind of job she seeks.  I’ll probably post something here because - what the heck - maybe one of my five thousand Facebook friends and bloggy thing readers will be able to give her a lead to a job. Just don’t ask her any questions about my writing because she doesn’t read it.

Hey, I didn’t say Kelly was a perfect daughter. Just pretty darn close to one.

Eventually, one of her friends will tell her about today’s blog and she’ll read it. So when she does...

I love you, Kelly, and I’m so proud of you I could cry.  Which I’m doing right now.

I’ll be taking a break from the bloggy thing for several days while I work on other matters and projects. But I’ll be back as soon as possible with more stuff.

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Monday, May 5, 2014


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...I write about one of the most remarkable comic-book series of the new millennium.

Saturday, May 3, 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 battling the Axis powers is the theme of The Shadow #82: The Spy Ring & The White Column [$14.95] featuring two full-length Shadow novels, a Shadow radio script and a short adventure of Naval investigator Sheridan Doome.

The Spy Ring is by Walter B. Gibson writing as Maxwell Grant.  Its original appearance was in the April 1, 1940 edition of The Shadow Magazine. From the back cover:

The Shadow teams with Myra Reldon and the real Lamont Cranston to defeat an international spy ring.

The White Column is by Theodore Tinsley writing as Maxwell Grant. It’s from The Shadow Magazine for March 15, 1941. From the back cover:

America’s future hangs in the balance as Nazi saboteurs of The White Column plot to cripple our nation’s defenses!

“Death Rides the Skyway” continues the espionage theme.  This radio episode was broadcast on November 5, 1937.

Sheridan Doome starred in 54 novelettes in The Shadow Magazine and was written by Steve Fisher under the name Stephen Gould. “Dead Men Don’t Breathe” is from the April 1, 1940 issue.

In addition to the stories, The Shadow #82 also features terrific new historical essays by Will Murray and Anthony Tollin.

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