Monday, September 29, 2014


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Marvel Rarities Volume One with Doctors Doom and Druid, the Watcher and more...Michael Cho's Shoplifter...and, from Japan, Ikigami The Ultimate Limit!

Sunday, September 28, 2014


Throughout last evening and when I woke this morning, my body felt like the patient in the Operation game who has the worst doctors in the universe. But this was the good kind of pain, following all the work I put into my last Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sales of the year. I was thrilled by the results.

My customers were happy with the great selection and great prices at the garage sales. I autographed a couple dozen Isabella-written comics and books over the two days of the sale. I sold 14 of the 16 mystery boxes I had put together for the sale. Facebook friend Rick Blair was so excited by the mystery box he bought that he posted photos of its contents on Facebook.

From a purely financial standpoint, I achieved 152% of my goal for the weekend.  Of course, there’s no putting a dollar value on how much fun I had chatting with the customers. Afterwards, I told my Sainted Wife Barb that these garage sales were like the best part of the Cosmic Comics store I owned and operated back in the 1970s and 1980s. I got to make money while making comics fans happy and
I didn’t have to worry about any of the negative stuff that clouded my enjoyment of my old store.

Starting today or tomorrow, I’ll start packing up the garage sale for storage. Then I will commence this month’s master plan for the Fortress of Storage and Casa Isabella. I’ll probably write about my progress as that goes forward.

Casa Isabella and yours truly will be facing some challenges over the next few months. There is a water pipe leak in a pipe running to and through part of our foundation. We might be looking at close to ten grand in repair costs. I’m not sure how we’re going to pay for that and for the dental work I so desperately need done, but we will figure out something. We always do.

I’m doing four conventions this fall, but that’s a subject for my next bloggy thing. Coming up in October, as I return to full-scale blogging again, I’ll be commenting on the settlement between Marvel Comics and the Jack Kirby family...on the changing nature of comics conventions...on the role (if any) an old warhorse like me can play in the comics industry of today. Some of these pieces are already in various stages of completion. Others are notes on fragments of paper in a folder. I’m also taking requests.

You’ll definitely be seeing the return of my “July 1963" series and the popular “Rawhide Kid Wednesday” feature. You’ll be seeing more reviews of comics, books, TV shows and cheesy monster movies. You will see some political commentary, but probably not a lot of that. You might see some tidbits from my comics career. Writing my bloggy things brings me joy and I hope you feel something akin to that as you read them.

That’s all for today. I’ll be back soon with more stuff

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Saturday, September 27, 2014


My last Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale of 2014 concludes today, Saturday, September 27, at the Isabella family garage at 840 Damon Drive in Medina, Ohio. The hours of the sale are as follows:

Saturday, September 27: 9 am to noon
Saturday, September 27: 5-7 pm

Yesterday’s garage sale was a tremendous success. Happy customers bought huge piles of comic books, paperbacks and other items. The brisk sales allowed me to achieve 89% of my financial goals for the entire weekend in just that first day.

I didn’t sell either the vintage, unopened jar of Superman peanut butter or the equally vintage, slightly compromised Quik cocoa box.However, a postal worker tells me the post office wouldn’t consider either of the items to be hazardous. So, if they don’t sell today, they will quite possibly show up in one of my near-future online Vast Accumulation of Stuff sales. I hope to resume the online sales as early as next Friday, October 3.

What amazes me as much as the vast quantity of comics and stuff I sold on Friday is how many great items are still available for the final day of the garage sale.  When I did some minimal restocking yesterday afternoon, I added another two hundred or so comic books, magazines, trade paperbacks, etc.

I started Friday with twelve of my famous mystery boxes...and sold eight of them. Because I’m more than a little crazy, I put together four new mystery boxes for today’s sale.

I am looking forward to today’s sale with a mixture of excitement and sadness. Excitement because the summer’s garage sales have been so successful. Sadness because it’s the last one of the year and I will miss seeing my regular customers.

That’s all for now. Look for a garage sale wrap-up report sometimes tomorrow.

Look for a return to full-size bloggy things on Wednesday, October 1. I have a lot to write about in the coming weeks, but feel free to send me your requests as well.

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Friday, September 26, 2014


My last Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sales of 2014 start today and continue tomorrow, Friday and Saturday, September 26 and 27, at the Isabella family garage at 840 Damon Drive in Medina, Ohio. The hours of the sale are as follows:

Friday, September 26: 9 am to noon
Saturday, September 27: 9 am to noon
Saturday, September 27: 5-7 pm

I spent nearly all day yesterday organizing the existing comics and other boxes and then restocking them from the two dozen or so boxes of stuff that I brought from my storage units at the secret Fortress of Storage earlier in the week.

When I took breaks from working, I posted garage sale notes on my Facebook page. Like this one:

I just realized last night that, because of the neighborhood garage sale, I can't restock with my garage door open. I'd lose too much time telling people that *my* sale doesn't start until tomorrow. This is a bummer.

Even I can't believe the great stuff I'm putting into the quarter boxes.

I did finally open my garage door in the late afternoon when the heat inside become too much for my aged and withered form.  I did have to turn away a few people who wanted to come in and see what I had, but they were cool about it.

I really went crazy on the quarter comics boxes. There are insane bargains to be found in them. Lots of them. I put so many comics in the boxes that I’ll only be able to do the most minimal of quarter comics restocking on Friday night.

I also posted this on Facebook about four hours later:

If you're coming to my garage sale, you should probably stop at your bank first and get all your money. You'll need it.

I have completed the restocking to such an extent I probably won't be able to restock the comics on Friday night. I will probably be able to do some good restocking on the hardcovers and trade paperbacks. Assuming I have the energy. Because I'm exhausted right now.

Finally, four more hours later, I posted this:

I hurt from my head to me toes. But it's the good kind of hurt.

Between the time I’m writing this on Thursday evening and today’s garage sale opening, I have a handful of tasks to complete. Nothing major. Make some signs. Sweep the garage a bit. Put a few more copies of 1000 Comic Books You Must Read out for sale. Move my van to my neighbor’s driveway so as to not block the view of the sale from the street. Bring out the cash box, the calculator and some pads of paper. Make sure I have a cold Pepsi or water bottle. All told, these tasks should take a hour and a half tops. With a little luck, I’ll have gotten a good night’s sleep.

See you at the garage sale!

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Thursday, September 25, 2014



Jim Palmquist of Nerdlocker did one of the swellest interviews with me that has ever been done. You should check it out here.


My last Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sales of 2014 happen this weekend, Friday and Saturday, September 26 and 27, at the Isabellafamily garage at 840 Damon Drive in Medina, Ohio. The hours of the sale are as follows:

Friday, September 26: 9 am to noon
Saturday, September 27: 9 am to noon
Saturday, September 27: 5-7 pm

In addition to my VAOS garage sale, several families in my general vicinity are holding a neighborhood garage sale. The sale started Wednesday night and will continue on Thursday and Friday. I don’t have the exact times, but, after you hit my garage sale on Friday,you might want to wander around the nearby streets a bit and see if anything else catches your eye.

Yesterday, I put together a dozen mystery boxes for this weekend’s garage sale. These mystery boxes cost a mere five dollars each and are packed with stuff from my previous garage sales. My customers love these and I expect all twelve boxes will seel before I close the garage door on the last garage sale of 2014.

Today is my major restocking day: quarter comic books, paperbacks, magazines, trade paperbacks and hardcovers. The paperbacks and the magazines are also a quarter each. The trade paperbacks are $2 and the hardcovers are $5.

I did some further research on the Superman peanut butter and the Superman cocoa tin. My pal Tim Stroup also did some research for me on how dangerous/toxic they might be. It looks like the two items are fairly harmless. So, while I will have a sign warning buyers against actually using these products, I’m not going to have those buyers sign a release.

I should also thank the anonymous troll who tried to post a comment to this blog in which he claimed my concern over not poisoning my customers was indicative of the “godless liberal socialist nanny state” our Kenyan president and his same-sex wife wanted to make of our nation. His note was like a five-hour energy shot of bigotry and ignorance. Oh, right-wing fanatics, how you amuse me day after day. Almost as much as you terrify me.

However...I have and will continue to turn down offers to buy these items from sellers who want me to mail said items to them. That’s just not gonna happen. “Fairly harmless” doesn’t translate to “no chance of these things stinking up the post office if they should break or open in transit. Sorry.

After the major restocking is done, I’ll see if I have time to addmore expensive comic books and Isabella-written items to the sale.Or price and add other cool items to the sale. Or maybe even throw together a few more mystery boxes.

I will have copies of my award-deserving 1000 Comic Books You Must Read on sale at $20 each. As always, I’m happy to sign those copies or any other Isabella-written items free of charge.

I’ll also have a selection of rare two-sided Superman posters and other rare Superman posters on sale at $10 each. Once I resume my online sale, those two-sided Superman posters (shown above) will be available for mail-order sales. You’ll find the details in a near-future bloggy thing.

Depending on how well Friday’s sale goes, I do plan on restocking for Saturday’s sale. I’ll have another brief update for you on the morrow and also on Saturday morning.

See you at the garage sale!

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, September 24, 2014


My last Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale of 2014 happen this weekend, Friday and Saturday, September 26 and 27, at the Isabella family garage at 840 Damon Drive in Medina, Ohio. The hours of the show are as follows:

Friday, September 26: 9 am to noon
Saturday, September 27: 9 am to noon
Saturday, September 27: 5-7 pm

My neighbor Sue - I have the best neighbors - joined me for a fun couple of hours at the Fortress of Storage. With her help, I went through every single box in my two units in search of comic books I could easily add to the garage sale season finale. We filled the van with well over a dozen boxes of cool stuff.

Focused on this weekend’s sale, I decided to leave for another day the consolidation of the two units into one. There is no question we’ll be able to accomplish this, but I may want to hold on to the second unit for an upcoming household project.

While I never like to predict the future, I don’t think I’ll ever again have as many quarter comic books as at this final garage sale of the year. While I still have around two hundred boxes of comics and books and magazines between the storage units and the Isabella home itself, most of these do not contain comics I’m willing to sell for a quarter each. While I have a notion in the back of my brain for getting more quarter comics for next year’s sales, it’s not a plan I’ll be following through on for a while.

Today will be devoted to putting together mystery boxes, which were sadly absent from my last garage sales. At the minimum, I hope to have a dozen mystery boxes or more available for purchase when the garage door opens on Friday morning.  This will clear up a bunch of space in my comics, magazines, hardcovers and trade paperbacks boxes for what Sue and I brought back from the Fortress of Storage.

Two very special items will be on display during the garage sale. These are items I’ve been telling my customers about for a couple years now. Both are over 25 years old and would almost certainly be  detrimental to the health of anyone who tried to ingest them. One is an unopened jar of Superman peanut butter, the other an unopened tin of Superman cocoa.

As I write this update, I have no idea what these collectible items might be worth. I’ll be researching that tonight and pricing them accordingly. If I can’t find prices for them, I’ll sell them to anyone who makes a reasonable offer and who will sign releases that absolve me from any harm they may come to if they do attempt to use or even open these products. These rare items might even be on the EPA watch list. Okay, I’m kidding about the EPA watch list, but not about the releases.

I’ll have another update for you on the morrow.       

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, September 23, 2014


My last Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale of 2014 happens this week, Friday and Saturday, September 26 and 27, at the Isabella family garage at 840 Damon Drive in Medina, Ohio. The hours of the show are as follows:

Friday, September 26: 9 am to noon
Saturday, September 27: 9 am to noon
Saturday, September 27: 5-7 pm

The past two weeks have continued to be challenging, but I'm determined to end the summer with a garage sale that people will be talking about throughout the winter. Though I may come up short of that goal - we’ve had some spectacular garage sales this year - I’m a firm believer in a man’s reach exceeding his grasp.

Shortly after this bloggy thing posts, I’ll be driving to my secret Fortress of Storage. The primary mission is to go through each and every box in my two storage units and load up the van with over a dozen boxes of cool stuff for the garage sale.

My secondary mission is to consolidate the remaining boxes into one storage unit and cut my rental bill by about fifty bucks a month.Accomplishing this secondary mission won’t be easy and I’m ready to put it off until next week if I must.

Wednesday will be devoted to putting together mystery boxes, which were sadly absent from my last garage sales. At the minimum, I hope to have a dozen mystery boxes for my final sales. At the maximum,I’ll try to double that.

Thursday will be devoted to restocking the garage sale. As usual,I don’t have a clue what that will entail. It depends on the boxes I find today and the in-house boxes I go through between today and Thursday night.

I’ll have another update for you on the morrow.       

© 2014 Tony Isabella


This week in Tony's Tips at Tales of Wonder...Photos of comics legends in Comic-Book People, revolution in Genius and a scary future world in Lazarus!

Saturday, September 20, 2014


Lawn-Con 5 is a free comic book show hosted by comics/fine artist Chris Yambar. It will take place on Sunday, October 5, from noon to 6 pm at the B&O Station, 520 Mahoning Avenue, Youngstown, Ohio. Due to other commitments, I won’t be there, but I expect it will provide loads of fun for those who do attend.

From the promotional post card:

Meet National & indie Comic Creators & Card Artists. Enjoy Loud Live Music, Stand Up Comedy, Side Show Performances, Portfolio Reviews, Yummy Food, Indoor Plumbing, Souvenirs, Off-Street Parking!


CELEBRATE MR. BEAT’S 20TH ANNIVERSARY! Experience the best day of your entire life!

Visit the official Lawn-Con 5 event page on Facebook for updates, news, dealer and guest information.

That’s all for now. I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, September 17, 2014


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Captain Flash, The Tormented, Showcase Presents Jonah Hex and Life (Death) With Archie.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Today is my daughter Kelly’s birthday. After graduating with honors from The Ohio State University, she quickly landed her big girl job in her chosen field. She works for a major bank fighting valiantly against credit and debit card fraud. However, when people ask her what she does, she goes for a shorthand description:

“I’m Batman!”

While picking out a birthday card for Kelly at the local Hallmark Cards, I spotted the “Itty Bittys” Batman plush figure. The figure stands a mere four inches tall and I knew she needed to have it for her desk at work. She was absolutely delighted with the recognition of her heroic crime-fighting efforts.

There are eight figures in the “Itty Bittys” collection, four fromDC Comics and four from Marvel Comics. I’ve included the images of the other seven figures as well. I hope you get as big a kick out of them as Kelly and I did.

That’s it for today. I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Monday, September 15, 2014


I was able to get a dentist’s appointment this morning. X-rays were taken. Humorous comments were bantered back and forth. The cause of my excruciating pain was determined. Drugs were prescribed. Drugs have been taken.

I have an infection, which is pretty much what I had thought. But I thought the fellow with the degree and all the experience should make that determination.

I was prescribed amoxicillin, a penicillin antibiotic, to take care of the infection, and vicodin for the pain. When I picked them up at my local Giant Eagle’s pharmacy, I got a bit of sticker shock. The price had gone up considerably since the last time I got this combination. At this rate, I might have to sleep with a pharmacist to afford my medication.

As I’ve mentioned in the past, medications rarely work exactly the way they’re supposed to work for me. I’ll be taking the amoxicillin for seven days - three pills per day - and I wouldn’t be surprised if I need to take it for another seven days to completely clear up the infection.

The vicodin - blessed vicodin - is one or two pills every four or six hours as needed for pain. It hasn’t kicked in yet but I don’t want to take too much of the stuff. It makes me very drowsy and I have a busy week ahead of me.

Now that you know more about my current medical woes than you could possibly want to know, I’ll remind you that blogging will continue to be spotty through the rest of the month. I will post something or another every day, but they will be short posts with photos of kittens and other cute creatures.

That’s it for today. I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Sunday, September 14, 2014


This weekend’s garage sales were a slightly qualified success. The Friday and Saturday morning sessions were amazing, but the Saturday evening session was a bust. Overall, though, I achieved 120% of my financial goal for the weekend.

It was great fun chatting with my customers and friends, as well as watching them find comics and books that delighted them. There were some new faces who are looking forward to my next garage sales, the last ones of the year. Even the Saturday evening session brought me a couple of new customers who live just around the block from me.So, really all good. Except...

I woke up this morning with a cold and a sore throat, along with the excruciatingly painful toothache that has been plaguing me for several days now. Unfortunately, I can’t speak to my dentist until sometime tomorrow morning. I’m hoping he can squeeze me in sometime tomorrow or, at least, give me a busload of Vicodin to hold me over until he can fix the problem.

Sidebar. One of my goals for 2014/2015 is to get my teeth fixed so that I don’t turn into a toothless old crank. I’d rather be an old crank whose bite is every bit as bad as his bark. If the insurance would cover it, I’d like laser teeth. But I digress.

My final garage sale of the year comes in two weeks:

Friday, September 26: 9 am to noon
Saturday, September 27: 9 am to noon
Saturday, September 27: 5 pm to 7 pm

My goals for that sale including going through every box in my two units at the Fortress of Storage, consolidate them into one unit,pack the sale with more cool stuff than ever and maybe even double my usual financial goal. I’ll bring you updates in the bloggy thing between now and then.

One last note before I crawl back into bed. Some of the folks from my neighborhood will be having a neighborhood garage sale September 24-26. I’m not participating in that because I’m not looking to get the typical garage sale customer, but I support their efforts and will try to have more information on them for you.

That’s it for today. I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Saturday, September 13, 2014


Today is the final day of my penultimate Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale of 2014. As always, you can find the sale at 840 Damon Drive in Medina, Ohio. The garage sale hours are as follows:

Saturday, September 13: 9 am to noon
Saturday, September 13: 5 pm to 7 pm

The first day of the garage sale was a success. Customers came and bought stacks of stuff and seemed well pleased with their acquisitions.There was good conversation. When I counted the money at the end of the sale, I’d achieved 76% of my goal for the entire weekend.

The second day of the garage sale is almost always less profitable than the first, but I think there’s an excellent chance of reaching and maybe even surpassing my goal.

My final garage sale of the year comes in two weeks:

Friday, September 26: 9 am to noon
Saturday, September 27: 9 am to noon
Saturday, September 27: 5 pm to 7 pm

My Sainted Wife Barb and one of our beloved neighbors have offered to help me go through every box in my two units at the Fortress of Storage. The aim is to pack the year’s final sale with great stuff and consolidate what’s left into just one unit.

In other stuff...

On this date in 1965, Ghidorah the Three-Headed Monster began its U.S. theatrical release. I plan to watch the Japanese version of this classic movie between the morning and evening garage sales.

That’s all for now. I’ll be back tomorrow with the final report on this weekend’s garage sale...and try to get back to non-garage sale bloggy things next week.

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Friday, September 12, 2014


My penultimate Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale of the summer begins today and continues tomorrow at 840 Damon Drive in Medina, Ohio. The garage sale hours are as follows:

Friday, September 12: 9 am to noon
Saturday, September 13: 9 am to noon
Saturday, September 13: 5 pm to 7 pm

Nothing in my life has gone quite as planned over the past couple months, but I’m about 70% happy with my garage sale set-up at this way-too-early-in-the-morning time. I put out several new boxes of quarter comics and a lot of quarter paperbacks. I also added a new box of more-expensive-but-still-bargains comic books, including a really nice run of The Brave and the Bold.

Unfortunately, despite my plans and wishes, I won’t have any five-dollar mystery boxes this weekend. Slowed by a sour wrist and one hell of a toothache, I never got around to putting those together.I hope to have at least a dozen mystery boxes ready for the final garage sale of the summer:

Friday, September 26: 9 am to noon
Saturday, September 27: 9 am to noon
Saturday, September 27: 5 pm to 7 pm

I had originally intended to have a garage sale in early October as well, but that isn’t going to work out for me. All the stuff that hasn’t gone as planned in August and September is still in play at present. I need to get it all handled before the end of October on account of I’m appearing at three conventions over a three-weekend period starting October 26 and continuing through November 9. I’ll post that convention schedule for you before the end of the month.

In other Tony stuff...

I visited my father at the nursing room/rehab center yesterday and he was doing well. When his stay there is concluded - and I hope it isn’t for a while since it’s a great place and since he’s as happy there as a guy who would rather be in his own home can be - he will likely be moved to a different assisted living home. I’m going to be putting a lot of miles on my van in the months to come.

My September blogging will continue to be spotty. I have a couple paying gigs on my desk that will hopefully be finished by the end of next week. I’m currently renting two units at the ultra-secret Fortress of Storage and want to consolidate them into one unit and save myself a few bucks every month.

Look for an update on this weekend’s garage sale tomorrow. Unless I decide to goof off and finally see Guardians of the Galaxy or any of the other movies I want to see.

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Thursday, September 11, 2014


My next Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale will be happening on Friday and Saturday, September 12-13, at 840 Damon Drive in Medina, Ohio. The garage sale hours are as follows:

Friday, September 12: 9 am to noon
Saturday, September 13: 9 am to noon
Saturday, September 13: 5 pm to 7 pm

Garage sales, like lightning
Should ever appear
To some fans hope
And to other fans fear

It’s less than 24 hours before the opening of this weekend’s garage sale. Before I went to bed last night, I looked over the displays and was not pleased. I saw too many empty boxes and too many open spaces on the tables. This would not do.

I woke up this morning and decided swift and meaningful action had to be taken. When someone walks into my garage sales, I want them to be bowled over by how much great stuff is available to them at bargain prices.  I kept thinking about this during my drive to the nursing room to visit my father. I didn’t think about it during my visit, but it was back in my thoughts as soon as I got into my van for the trip back to Medina.

Swift and meaningful action had to be taken.

I took a detour on my way home. I drove to my top-secret Fortress of Storage. My regular garage sale customers know what that means.

I’ll be unpacking boxes the rest of the day and putting all sorts of great comics and other items into the garage sale. I’m prepared to work through the night if that’s when it takes. But, when that garage door opens tomorrow morning, I believe both me and thee will be well pleased.

Assuming I can lift my fingers to the keyboard, I’ll have another garage sale update for you tomorrow.

[Thanks to Bob Ingersoll for our opening photo, which he snapped at last weekend’s Baltimore Comic-Con.]

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, September 10, 2014


My next Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale will be happening on Friday and Saturday, September 12-13, at 840 Damon Drive in Medina, Ohio. The garage sale hours are as follows:

Friday, September 12: 9 am to noon
Saturday, September 13: 9 am to noon
Saturday, September 13: 5 pm to 7 pm

This is me freaking out.

I don’t have much of a garage sale update for you because my life is a little crazy right now. My dad has been back in a nursing home and rehab center for a couple of weeks, the result of a tumble down some stairs at his home. Fortunately, he didn’t suffer any serious injuries from the fall and is doing well in that regard. I’m trying to visit him as often as possible, which, at present, works out to every other morning.

I visited Dad yesterday morning and was immediately struck by how well he is liked at the nursing room. Workers who weren’t assigned to him dropped by to say “hi.” It’s no surprise to me Dad is doing well and looking good. I attribute his popularity to his legendary “Isabella Charm,” a hereditary trait which has eluded every other member of my birth family save for myself.

You like us, you really like us.

Anyway, I’m juggling getting ready for the garage sale, a writing job, scheduling household and medical appointments for next week, figuring out what to do for my daughter Kelly’s upcoming birthday and more. It’s make me a little crazy and I apologize to anyone who is waiting on an e-mail or other response from me.  I am dancing as fast as I can, my dear friends.

Today is the big push to get the physical look of the garage sale where I want it to be. Tomorrow is the big push to add as many new comics and other items as possible while putting together as many mystery boxes as possible.

Tomorrow’s garage sale update might have some actual information on what items I’ve added. Or it might just be one long scream.  You’ll have to come back tomorrow to find out.

[Thanks to Bob Ingersoll for our opening photo, which he snapped at last weekend’s Baltimore Comic-Con.]

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, September 9, 2014


My next Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale will be happening on Friday and Saturday, September 12-13, at 840 Damon Drive in Medina, Ohio. The garage sale hours are as follows:

Friday, September 12: 9 am to noon
Saturday, September 13: 9 am to noon
Saturday, September 13: 5 pm to 7 pm

A few weeks back, I bought two bookcases at a neighborhood garage sale because they were in great shape, because I got the pair for $20 and because I know I’ll need them eventually. However, since I am a few months away from “eventually,” I had to put them somewhere and “somewhere” ended up being our garage. Unfortunately, the only place I could put them where one of my long tables of comics boxes was sitting.

I lost about eight boxes of comic books, but they were empty from my last garage sale. I don’t know if I’ll be putting out eight new boxes of old comics for this weekend’s sale, but I expect to add a few and maybe the full eight.

To make room for more comics, I’m putting the paperback books on a bookcase. The paperbacks will still be a quarter each, five for a dollar. I’m also moving all manga books to a bookcase and cutting their prices from $2-$5 to a dollar each.

I don’t think the manga books and the paperbacks will fill both of the bookcases. I’ll use the remaining shelf space for just as many mystery boxes as I can put together between now and the opening of the garage sale on Friday morning.

One of my other plans is to vary the sizes of the mystery boxes to make them more fun for me and more interesting for customers trying to decide which box they want to buy. The price of a mystery box, regardless of size, will remain five bucks. But don’t be too quick to judge a box by its size. I will say no more.

Keep watching the bloggy thing for more garage sale updates.  I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

You and me, we got a groovy kind of love.

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Monday, September 8, 2014


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Don Heck: A Work of Art, Ranma 1/2 and the Ringworld graphic novel.


My next Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale will be happening on Friday and Saturday, September 12-13, at 840 Damon Drive in Medina, Ohio. The garage sale hours are as follows:

Friday, September 12: 9 am to noon
Saturday, September 13: 9 am to noon
Saturday, September 13: 5 pm to 7 pm

There will be the usual mix of comic books and other items. There will likely be some surprises that even surprise me on account of I won’t be starting the preparation and restocking for this garage sale until tomorrow. Look for updates during the week.

Weather permitting, I’ll have two more garage sales this year. The first on September 26-27 and the finale on October 10-11. More on those after this weekend’s garage sale is in the books.

On another note...

Full-length blogging will be spotty for the next couple of months.This should not be a cause of alarm. Life tosses challenges at all of us and we adjust our schedules to deal with them. I do thank you for your kind words, but there’s nothing that’s come my way that I can’t handle.

However...these challenges will probably involve some pretty large expenses before they are fully met. While I never want my customers to spend more than they are comfortable spending with at my sales,I hope you will be able to come to my sales and that you find lots of cool stuff to buy at them. The same holds for my online VAOS sales, which will resume just as soon as I can carve a few hours of my freelance writing schedule.

Speaking of my freelance writing...

My September dance card is full, but I’m available for a few paying gigs later this year. If you’re interested, email me.

One more thing...

Did you know the Internet is filled with photos of incredibly cute kittens? What a delightful surprise!

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

Love you all madly.

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Sunday, September 7, 2014


I don't have anything to say today. I just like posting photos of kittens. Which are much more cute than Mark Evanier's cans of soup. Just saying.

I'll probably have something to say tomorrow. Or not. But we'll always have kittens.

Saturday, September 6, 2014


I'm struggling less today. I'm hoping to take care of several odds and ends, clearing the decks for me to get back to regular blogging on Monday. Thanks for your kind words of support.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Wednesday, September 3, 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 61st installment of that series.

The Rawhide Kid #76 [May 1970] has another solo Larry Lieber cover. Inside the issue, “The Guns of the Bandoleros” is written and drawn by Lieber with inks by John Tartaglione. Regular Rawhide Wednesday readers know Tartaglione is one of my favorite inkers for Lieber. The Grand Comics Database says the story is 20 pages long, but it really isn’t. Pages 12 and 13 are half-pages on the centerfold with the bottom halves of those pages occupied by cheesy “Shop by Mail” and “Collect Coins” ads which made up the bulk of Marvel’s paid ads at the time.

Lieber’s story is straight-forward without any real surprises, but  it has a character-revealing moment for the Kid and a villain who is both gorgeous and ruthless. The tale opens with a knock on the door of Rawhide’s hotel room. It’s Captain Carlson of the Calvary with a request for our young hero:

For months, a bunch of bandoleros have been crossing the Rio Grande and raiding our small border towns! The bandits are led by a cunning and ruthless female called the Lynx! The bandoleros strike without warning and, by the time we get there, they’ve high-tailed it back across the border!

The Captain wants the Kid to lure the Lynx and her gang across the border and into a trap. The Kid asks why he should risk his neck. Carlson knows why:

I know your rep, Kid! You’re a wanted gunhawk! But you’re also a man who hates to see innocent folks get pushed around!

The Kid may have a reputation as an outlaw, but he’s also known as a hero. Rawhide agrees to the plan.

Lots of action follows. Rawhide crosses the border into Mexico and starts asking questions about the Lynx. That gets him attacked in a bar. With his fists, he mops up the floor with the half-dozen or so men who try to bring him down.
Jose, a member of the gang, held back from the brawl and offers to take Rawhide to the Lynx. Hesays if the gang sees them together, they will not harm the Kid. That’s mostly accurate.

Juan Madero, the Lynx’s lover, wants to fill Rawhide full of lead.The Lynx puts Juan in his place with a kiss and a slap across the face. Only she makes the decisions in this gang.

Maria, the Lynx, is intrigued by Rawhide. She partially buys into his story that things had gotten too hot for him across the border.He wants to run with a crew known for its slick operation. He has an offering: his fists, his guns and the location of a shipment of army gold worth a fortune.

The Lynx will let the Kid join her band...conditionally.  He must turn over his guns to her. Once they have the gold and know he can be trusted, he’ll get his guns back.

The Lynx is cautious and smart. He sends Juan ahead of her gang tomake certain they aren’t riding into a trap. Juan spots soldiers on the rooftops. He hides back to tell the Lynx of Rawhide’s betrayal.

The Kid moves fast. He knocks out a gang member and takes his gun. He holds off the gang from behind the cover of some boulders, butJuan sneaks up above and behind him.

Juan raises his gun to shoot Rawhide in the back, but dislodges a stone and alerts the Kid. Our young gunhawk whirls and shoots the gun out of Juan’s hand.

Juan tries to escape in the river, probably because Lieber draws water so well. Rawhide beats the carp out of him - an old joke for Comics Buyer’s Guide readers - and drags him to the shore.

With most of her men wounded, the Lynx concedes defeat and tries toseduce Rawhide...if only long enough to stab him with a concealed knife. The Kid doesn’t fall for that.

The Lynx is furious:

Shooting is too good for one who deceives the Lynx! I want you to feel more than death! I want you to know the pain of betrayal, too!

Rawhide isn’t impressed:

Is that pain any worse than the agony you’ve inflicted on helpless border towns?

Carlson and his troops arrive. When the bandoleros didn’t show, he figured the Kid might be in trouble. As the raiders are taken into custody, there’s time for one more Lynx/Rawhide exchange:

This is not the end for us! We will meet again...and I will have my revenge!

The Kid is still not impressed:

Don’t bet on it, honey! I’ve put tougher owlhoots than you out of business...and I’m still around to tell of it!

The Lynx was what makes this story great. She was as evil a villain as any the Kid faced. I was sure she’d be back within a matter of months, but she never appeared in another story.

“Guns of the Bandoleros” was reprinted in Rawhide Kid #127 [July, 1975], but with pages 12 and 13 combined into one page and another page cut from the page count. Cutting pages from stories was always the worst part of working on Marvel’s color reprints. I preferred working on multiple-story reprint titles because we didn’t have to do that for those comics.

One more note before I start in on the house ads, the paid ads and the letters page. As of the previous issue, The Rawhide Kid was now a monthly title. I was pretty happy about that.


The Mighty Marvel Checklist takes up half a page with the rest of the page being the now-familiar ad for the Marvelmania fan club. On sale right now: Fantastic Four #98, Spider-Man #84, Silver Surfer #15 (guest-starring the Human Torch), Avengers #75 (the return of Quicksilver), Thor #175, Captain America #125 (Vietnam), Daredevil #63 (Gladiator), Hulk #127, Iron Man #25 (guest-starring the Sub-Mariner), Sgt. Fury #77, Tower of Shadows #6 (Wally Wood), Marvel Super-Heroes #26 (reprints of Daredevil, the X-Men and the Hulk), Marvel Tales #26 (reprints of Spider-Man, Human Torch and Thor), Where Monsters Dwell #3, Rawhide Kid #76, Ringo Kid #3, Kid Colt Outlaw #145, Millie the Model #182, Chili #13, Mad About Millie #11, Peter the Little Pest #4, Homer the Happy Ghost #4, My Love #5, Chamber of Darkness #4 (Jack Kirby, Tom Sutton, Barry Smith), Marvel’s Greatest Comics #5 (reprints of Fantastic Four, Iron Man and Doc Strange), X-Men #66 (guest-starring the Hulk and the last new issue for a while) and Captain Savage #19. Whew!

There was also a full-page house ad for Ringo Kid #3 and Kid Colt Outlaw #145. Both issues featured reprints of stories from the late 1950s. By early 1970, I had dropped out of college and was working for a rare book seller. Which, since I was living at home, earned me enough money to keep me in comic books. I probably bought every comic on the checklist with the exception of the humor and romance titles.

Most of the comics-related classified ads were repeats of ads that appeared in the previous issue. The one new one was for a fanzine called The Comiccollector, published by G.B. Love. Each issue was said to run around 75 pages and contain articles, art and columns in addition to ads from fans around the country. A sample issue was$1. A four-issue subscription was only $2.50, a eight-issue sub was $4 and a twelve-issue sub was $6.



I suspect “garglin’ hamfat” isn’t actually a thing, but Marvel did kick off the page with the news the company had pretty much swept the fan-based 1969 Alley Awards. Best Comic Mag went to Fantastic Four and Spider-Man. Best War Comic: Sgt. Fury. Best Editor: Stan Lee. Best Writer: Stan Lee with Roy Thomas coming in second. Best Pencil Artist: Jim Steranko followed by Jack Kirby, who had won the 1968 award. Best Inker: Joe Sinnott with Wally Wood grabbing second place.

The above were actually the 1968 results, which would announced in 1969. DC wasn’t entirely shut out that year.  From Wikipedia, here are the complete results:

Comic Magazine Section

Best Adventure Title - Winner: Fantastic Four; 2nd place: The Amazing Spider-Man  (Marvel)

Best Fantasy/SF/Supernatural Title - Doctor Strange  (Marvel)

Best Western Title - Bat Lash  (DC)

Best War Title - Sgt. Fury and his Howling Commandos  (Marvel)

Best Humor Title - Not Brand Ecch  (Marvel)

Best Romance Title - Millie the Model  (Marvel)

Best Reprint Title - Marvel Super-Heroes  (Marvel)

Professional Work

Best Editor - Stan Lee

Best Writer - Winner: Stan Lee; 2nd place: Roy Thomas

Best Pencil Artist - Winner: Jim Steranko; 2nd place: Jack Kirby

Best Inking Artist - Winner: Joe Sinnott; 2nd place: Wally Wood

Best Cover - Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. #6, by Jim Steranko  (Marvel)

Best Full-Length Story - (tie) "Track of the Hook", by Bob Haney & Neal Adams, The Brave and the Bold #79  (DC); "Origin of the Silver Surfer", by Stan Lee & John Buscema, The Silver Surfer #1  (Marvel)

Best Feature Story - "Today Earth Died", by Jim Steranko, Strange Tales #168  (Marvel)

Best Regular Short Feature - "Tales of the Inhumans", by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby, in The Mighty Thor (Marvel)

Hall of Fame - Fantastic Four, by Stan Lee & Jack Kirby; Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., by Jim Steranko  (Marvel)

Getting back to the Bullpen Bulletins...

It’s reported that Barry Smith has returned to the United States to work on a new top-secret project for Marvel. I’m guessing this was Conan the Barbarian.

It’s also reported that Marvel will be bringing out two new comics around May:

They’re sure to remind you of some of Marvel’s greatest experiments of the past, although they’ll be done in the latest, greatest dynamic styles of today, by none other than KIRBY, ROMITA, KANE and HECK!

I’m guessing this item refers to Amazing Adventures #1 starring the Inhumans by Jack Kirby and Black Widow by Gary Friedrich and John Buscema...and Astonishing Tales #1 featuring Ka-Zar by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and Dr. Doom by Roy Thomas and Wally Wood. Clearly, the creative line-ups changed between the writing of the above item and the actual publication of these titles.

“Stan’s Soapbox” discusses the back-breaking schedules Marvel must keep to produce its “merry masterworks” each month.  He promises to discuss the schedules for writers, artists and letterers in future soapboxes.

The next item touts Marvel’s “new policy of guest-star appearances”in its super-hero titles and, apparently, just the super-hero mags.So, if you were holding out for the big Sgt. Fury, Millie the Model and Peter the Little Pest crossover, you were doomed to be sorely disappointed.

The penultimate item corrects Stan Lee referring to the University of California at Santa Cruz as the University Of California at Vera Cruz. From the university’s drama department, Shel Feldner reports his use of Marvel comics as tryout material for the latest show he was directing.

The final item is a plug for the Marvelmania Fan Club, which needed all the help it could get. You can read more about this doomed fan club at Wikipedia.


Four lucky fans got their letters published in this issue’s “Ridin’ the Trail with Rawhide” page. Vic Wise of the Bronx loved Rawhide Kid #74, but poked gentle fun at Marvel for the line “Is Crazy Wolf MAD?” Oops.

Sean Connerly of Ottawa didn’t like issue #72 because he found the “Mystery Valley” concept unbelievable. He thought Marvel westerns should be about real people in real situations. Because I think we can all believe in Rawhide’s ability to shoot the firing pins out of outlaw guns.

George Samways of North Surrey, British Columbia loves the series and requests guest-stars. He also asks that, if a series is coming to an end, that it feature an actual finale. Marvel responds that it doesn’t always know it advance that a series is ending.

Roger Schoolcraft of Rollansbee, West Virginia is another Rawhide Kid fan. He praises recent issues. He praises Kid Colt Outlaw #140. He asks for information on the Rawhide Kid’s brothers. The unidentified column writer directs him to Rawhide Kid #45.

“Rawhide Kid Wednesday” will appear most Wednesdays. I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, September 2, 2014


Rise of the Warrior Cop: The Militarization of America's Police Forces [PublicAffairs; $27.99] is the most terrifying book I have read this year. Award-winning investigative journalist Radley Balko has chronicled a law-enforcement movement that has been threatening our essential freedoms for decades. It is a deadly state of affairs that has been enabled by politicians from the left and the right, an insane chorus of “tough on crime” laws that, while they may play well to fearful, frankly ignorant voters, should be more properly deemed “stupid on crime.”

I wanted to say it started with Richard Nixon, as so many terrible things have done, but that would be inaccurate. Though he details the fears of the framers of our Constitution against the military as police, Balko doesn’t connect the dots to the larger historical truth that the haves are always seeking to limit the have nots or the “don’t have as much as me” Americans. This continues in our own time with corporations and big money setting the agenda for every election and the knowing and often successful attempts to suppress non-Republican and especially non-white voters. But I won’t fault Balko for not writing precisely the book I wanted.  The book he did write should be a wake-up call for all citizens.

Nixon was looking for an issue that would win him voters and ‘war on crime” was that issue. He played on the fears of the citizens. Drug offenders, even non-violent drug offenders, were characterized as rabid animals. By the power of rhetoric with the cooperation of politicians left and right, Nixon took small-time dealers and their customers and turned them into monsters.

Movies and TV aided the process. Though few drug-dealers were armed with anything other than handguns, and even that level of firepower was not a constant, our entertainment showed them armed with every conceivable weapon of war. A pulp fiction trope became a reality, if mostly in the imaginations of the citizens.

Balko shows the growth of the militarization of our police forces and the subsequent diminishing of individual rights. Greater and greater leeway was given to police by the politicians, the courts and the public. The federal government enabled this build towards a virtual police state by selling weapons of war to police forces who weren’t properly trained in their use and who had no real need for them. But, as the book points out on numerous occasions, when you’re holding a hammer, everything looks like a nail.  

Look in the mirror. You are that nail.

As you read this book, you’ll be horrified by the excessive use of force to serve warrants for non-violent the uncertain evidence used to justify these military the routine killing of family the numerous raids on the wrong houses and the effect on the innocent citizens caught in their the casual declarations that the invading force acted in a proper manner. These true believers of this insane “war on crime” live by the adage that you can’t make an omelet without breaking some eggs.

Look in the mirror. You’re an egg.

I became physically ill when I saw how complacent President Obama, Vice-President Biden and other Democrats have been in a sociopathic process that does more damage than good and without consequence to those who commit and relish the damage. The Republicans are just as bad on this issue, but I guess I expected it from that side of the aisle. Who says the parties can’t work together?

What can be done? Start by writing letters to your leaders: city, state and national. Remove the weapons of war from the police work those weapons were never designed for. Break the police mindset of “us against them” and emphasize “to serve and protect,” even when breaking that mindset requires firings of police officers who cross the line. Stop targeting so-called criminals based on the financial inability of suspects to fight back against a legal system geared to be lenient to the rich and powerful.

I have been and remain a big supporter of our police. But, when the police can’t recognize that citizens are not “them,” when they have forgotten that we are all “us,” then they must face consequences, serious consequences, for their actions.

We will have their backs if they stop beating on ours.

ISBN 978-1-61039-211-2


For reasons that escape me at the moment, I read Justice League of America’s Vibe #1-10 [DC Comics; $2.99 per issue). It should come as no surprise to my faithful readers - and I should not have held out hope otherwise - that this is yet another mediocre super-hero series from the DC pain-trust. Those guys really take that insane “no jokes” crap to heart.

Cisco Ramon gets his vibrational powers from standing too close to a boom-tube from Apokolips that seemingly kills his older brother Armando. If you immediately thought “My Brother, My Enemy,” you do understand your super-hero cliches. Vibe is filled with them from issue #1 cover to issue #10 back cover.

You’ve got your clandestine government agency in A.R.G.U.S. whose actions are questionable at best and villainous at worst. You have the new slim and sexy Amanda Waller because most DC artists can’t draw more than one female body type. You have murderous villains in the employ of the government. You have an inhuman prison for super-humans and visitors from other dimensions or worlds. You have the young hero rebelling against rotten authority, but positively eager to work with them to achieve his own ends...even if those ends pose a danger to our world. I’m glad about that because I wouldn’t want to like any character in this title. When I characterize the series as mediocre, I’m being charitable.

From a diversity standpoint, Vibe scores for keeping the character Hispanic, a general term I use because the writer never gets more specific than that. If I were writing Vibe, I would have probably made him a “Dream Child” because I like to use real-world stuff in my stories.

Amanda Waller is black. Vibe’s handler is black and gay. However, the new 52 version of Gypsy is no longer one of the Romani people. She’s from another dimension. Which makes me go “Huh?” when I look at her “traditional” gypsy outfit of a kind that likely hasn’t been worn by actual Romani woman in decades.

Characterization is present only in the broadest of terms because to create more realistic and therefore more interesting characters would get in the way of the endless action sequences. Today’s DC super-hero comics are about as deep as a puddle.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2014 Tony Isabella

Monday, September 1, 2014


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...The Sakai Project, Usagi Yojimbo Color Special and Tarzan: Burne Hogarth's Lord of the Jungle.


My life is filled with ridiculous coincidences. I sometimes think it’s the universe’s way of making sure I always have something to blog about. Case in point:

Saturday night, August 9. I had left PulpFest a day early because a reoccurrence of my gout made walking difficult and increasingly painful. From Columbus to Medina, it’s a two-hour straight shot on I-71. Halfway home, I pulled into one of the highway rest areas for a pit stop.

I wasn’t expecting an anecdote.

The men’s room is on the far side of the rest area. The doors are on the near side. I was walking towards the exit when two gentlemen entered the building. One of them did a double-take when he saw me. I got nervous.

Picture bearded bikers drawn by Jack Kirby. These guys were big and sturdy. They were wearing motorcycle club t-shirts. Both had guns clipped to their belts. The guy who did the double-take pointed at me and exclaimed:

“You’re that guy! That guy from Medina!”

Followed by:

“You’re that guy who was on the front page of The Gazette! The one who writes comic books and was against open carry.”

I was thinking this could not possible end well.

Until he said:

“My mom loves you! She gave me both of those articles on you! She was so excited to read about you. Heck, I probably read a bunch of your comics when I was a kid!”

His mom’s on the high side of 80. Reading The Gazette is one of her joys, as is giving clippings of various stories to her son. Whose job has him on the road half the time. When he visits his mom, she always has a stack of clippings for him. 

The biker guy told me he admired me taking such a stand against the open carry folks in Medina. Confused, I sort of pointed to the guns he and his friend were carrying.  He laughed.

“Nothing wrong with open carry if you’re not trying to scare folks around you. If you’re not just being a dick. But those open carry people in Medina? They’re fucking insane!”

He shook my hand because he wanted to tell his mother we’d met and he’d shaken my hand. He mentioned that he was planning to check out my blog when he got the chance.

If you’re reading this, my friend, the universe bless you and your mom. You’re good people.


Welcome back to the bloggy thing, which has been less than rocking for a couple months. July ended up being one of the busiest months of my career with the work slipping into August. After PulpFest, I was dealing with minor medical and other annoyances while trying to relax as much as possible. Well, since that “relaxing” trick never works for me, I’m back to doing my best to bring you at least one new bloggy thing post a day.

My bloggy thing will continue to be a mix of comics reviews, movie reviews, political and social commentary, dewy nostalgia and stuff that catches my interest. Most of the time, I won’t know what I’ll be writing about much before you read it. I’d claim I was born to be wild, but the DNA test hasn’t come back yet.


Saturday night was a special “night with my girls.” Daughter Kelly took Barb and I out to dinner at Fiesta Jalapeno, one of the best restaurants in Medina and a favorite of ours. Then, because Kelly wanted to see it, we ordered The Amazing Spider-Man 2 [Sony; 2014] on demand from our cable provider.

There are super-hero movies I won’t see until I can get them free from my local library system. I won’t pay to see DC Comics movies because a) the company hasn’t honored its agreements with me and b) they’re shitty movies. I won’t pay to see non-Disney Marvel Comics movies because they don’t credit the creators of the elements used in those movies. Normally, I would not have paid to watch Amazing Spider-Man 2, but how could I say “no” to my darling daughter who had just plied me with chimichangas and margaritas?


The “action plot” of the movie is Spider-Man versus Oscorp, now run by Harry Osborn. The “human drama plots” are Peter Parker yearning to know more about his parents, our young hero’s relationship with Gwen Stacy and May Parker struggling to make ends meet without her beloved Ben. Here’s the good and the bad and the ugly of the film:

The good: There’s a nice balance between the action and the human scenes. It’s this balance that made Marvel’s super-hero comics so much better than DC’s for most of the past fifty years, including and, most especially, today.

The good: Andrew Garfield does well as both Peter and Spidey. I’ve come to rank his portrayal well above that of Tobey Maguire.

The great: Emma Stone shines as Gwen Stacy. That she’s as terrific a scientist as Peter Parker and courageous enough to help Spider-Man defend their city makes me wish even more than she has not been so cavalierly and unnecessarily killed off in the comic books and, now, in this movie. More on this in a bit.

The bad: Jamie Foxx as Electro. Terrible performance. You can see chunks of the scenery in his teeth, much like you could see bits of Quint in the title star of Jaws. However, to be fair, Electro was written badly. Cliche after cliche that not even the pretty sweet special effects could overcome.

The so-so: Dane DeHaan as Harry Osborn. He doesn’t look old enough to be Peter’s contemporary. He doesn’t have much range beyond the spoiled rich kid and budding sociopath bits. Every damn thing that he does as the Green Goblin is ridiculously familiar. It’s a shame he’s clearly going to be in the next movie, leading a new version of the Sinister Six.

Digression. My guess as to the line-up of the Sinister Six is: the Green Goblin, Electro, the Rhino, Doctor Octopus, the Vulture and either the Lizard or a new-to-the-movies villain. I’m ruling out Venom and the Sandman from the last of the Tobey Maguire movies on account of they didn’t play well at the box office. A darker take on the Black Cat - Harry injects his secretary Felicia with one of
Oscorp’s secret serums - is worth considering. Not that I think it would be a good idea, but I don’t expect Sony to be as smart about these things as all of us are.

The crazy fun: Paul Giamatti as the Rhino. I love the kooky rhino suit. I love Giamatti’s playing the crazy for all it’s worth. This is the difference between an actor of Giamatti’s talent and DeHaan and Foxx.

The good-but-not-enough: I wish we could have seen more of Fighting Nursing Student May Parker. Sally Field can play feisty and tough. The next movie should park the fretting over Peter and their bills at the curb and let May shine in her new job.

The stupid and the ugly: The killing of Gwen Stacy. This was a bad move four decades ago and a bad move today. What made it worse in the comic books is the cynicism, the lack of imagination and, to be blunt, the inability of Stan Lee, John Romita and Gerry Conway to appreciate what they had in Gwen.

Steve Ditko introduced Gwen as a rather two-dimensional soap opera style bitch. Not surprising as Ditko has rarely been able to create characters of any depth.

Working with Lee, Romita softened Gwen’s image and personality. In a great moment, albeit one usually ignored afterward, we learned Gwen was every bit as smart as Peter. In the comic books, it wasn’t long before Gwen was devolved into the typical girlfriend in peril. To their considerable credit, the two Amazing Spider-Man films gave us a Gwen who was so much more than the cliche girlfriend in peril. That Gwen could’ve been used to great effect in the comic books. If Conway and company had been up to the task.

Conway has since been quoted as saying Gwen was boring and that the angst-ridden Mary Jane offered more dramatic potential. That’s true only by the clinched tropes of super-hero melodrama. It’s the same kind of bullshit mentality that says super-heroes can never have a moment of happiness, that marriage isn’t interesting, that raising kids is boring. Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit.

What it really the low skill levels of mediocre editors and writers. Who either haven’t experienced the real life their readers experience or who don’t have the ability to bring real life drama to their stories.

One of the best received comics stories I ever wrote was “What If Gwen Stacy Had Lived?” Readers responded so favorably to the story because every development in it was a logical consequence of what had gone before. Even to J. Jonah Jameson ruining what should have been the happiest day of Peter and Gwen’s lives. If there were any surprises, it was only because comic books don’t often proceed from a logical viewpoint. Their plots are twisted for the cheap thrill. If it bleeds, it leads.

The story was open-ended because I always wanted to return to that alternate world. Spider-Man, his civilian identity exposed, on the run as never before. Gwen and May fighting for him.

Readers requested Marvel publish a “Mr. & Mrs. Spider-Man” series. I had dozens of ideas for such a title. I could have written the heck out of that title. But I digress.

The bad: Outside of the credit for Lee and Ditko as the creators of Spider-Man, no other comics credits are included. Captain Stacy and the Rhino were co-created by John Romita. The “death of Gwen Stacy” comes from a story written by Gerry Conway. John and Gerry should have been recognized for their contributions to the movie. The same is true for Gil Kane, who drew the original story, and writer Adam-Troy Castro, who created the briefly-seen Gustav Fiers (also known as “The Gentleman”) in the prose novel Spider-Man: The Gathering of the Sinister Six and two subsequent novels, all featuring chapter illustrations by Mike Zeck.

The bottom line: The Amazing Spider-Man 2 is a decent movie. While I wouldn’t watch it again, I think it holds its own with the first two movies of the Tobey Maguire series. It’s worth watching if you can do so without buying it. It’s worth buying if you love Spider-Man so much you want to own all his movies. Because there are far worse obsessions.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2014 Tony Isabella