Tuesday, October 30, 2018


“Black Lightning Beat” is the ongoing blog-within-the-bloggy where I discuss all things Black Lightning. There’s a lot going on with my creation and yours truly, but today I want to concentrate on the Black Lightning Season Two premiere: “The Book of Consequences: Chapter One: The Rise of the Green Light Babies.”

All season long, I plan to kind of sort of live blog each episode of Black Lightning. I watch the episodes with my family on Tuesday night. Then, after having enjoyed said episodes, I’ll watch them a second time and take notes. Those notes are what you’ll be reading in these TV series-centric installments of the bloggy. I warn you in advance that this will be a long piece.

My first impression of the premiere was one of my “Things That Make Me Happy” posts:

Black Lightning Season Two kicked off with an amazing script with a key moment in nearly every scene. Salim Akil deserves an Emmy nod for writing this one.

I loved the episode so much that I asked my friend Salim for a copy of his script. I want to study it while I prepare to write my first ever screenplay. No, it’s not for Black Lightning. I have to learn this craft before I pitch for my favorite TV series. My script is for a horror movie that, assuming we get the funding we need, will be shot in Cleveland. More on that in the future.

I’ve always considered myself the sole creator of Black Lightning. Everything important about the character and concept was created by me and only me before I pitched the series to DC Comics. Indeed, I was recognized in the comic-book credits as the sole creator up to the moment I inquired about buying out DC’s share of my creation. Though I wrote the current official credit line to recognize Trevor von Eeden as the original artist of the series and main (of five poeple) designer of the original costume, I do not and have never thought of him as a co-creator of the character.

In the credits of the TV series, Salim Akil receives a “developed by” credit. I honestly think that does an injustice to my friend. As far as I’m concerned, he’s the creator of the Black Lightning TV series. Comic books and TV series are very different things, even when they start from the same core values. Salim took my creation and, working with talented writers, cast members and crew, made it something as original unto itself as Jefferson Pierce was when I created him in 1976. My respect for him and everyone working on the series knows no bounds. Every episode is like a special Christmas gift to me.

On to “The Rise of the Green Light Babies”...

A great deal of what we call in the business “heavy shit” went down in the first season finale. As the overall title of the first arc of the new season makes clear, there are consequences arising out of those events.

When the chapter title appeared on the screen with those glorious graphics, both my son Ed and I went “Whoa!” I can’t recall the last time I saw anything so striking from the titles of a TV show. But Black Lightning is always at its very best when it defies ordinary expectations.

Akil doesn’t flinch from the political/social elements inherent to this series. We see Issa Williams [played by Myles Truitt], a young black man who has taken Green Light, choked to death by the police. He poses no threat to them. It’s the “shoot first” and “them vs. us” mentality that has caused much rightful mistrust of the police in communities all across out country.

An effective part of this scene, which is shown as part of a news broadcast, is the headline crawl below the images. It reflects the world around us and so ties Black Lightning to the reality we live in every day.

Churches, especially black churches, can be effective voices for change. Reverend Jeremiah Holt [Reverend Jeremiah Holt] expresses righteous anger over the slaying of Issa Williams - we must always remember the names - but makes it clear this incident is not born of the terrible Green Light drug, but of a consistent, historical pattern of police violence.

Jefferson Pierce [Cress Williams] must face the predominantly white school board, the consequences of the invasion of Garfield High by Painkiller and Syonide, and his own seeming absence from that event and its aftermath. It reminds me of the scene I wrote for the 1995 issue of Black Lightning that got butchered by an incompetent DC Comics editor. The powers that be are determined to make Jefferson the scapegoat for the violence. This rang true to me.

Lynn Stewart [Christine Adams] is interrogated by Agent Percy Odell [Bill Duke]. Odell oozes venom. He cares nothing for Lynn, those metahuman children locked in those pods, or any damned thing that makes his life even mildly more difficult. He does not give a rat’s ass that Lynn might be the only person who can help those kids. As we’ll see, he doesn’t think of them as human. When Odell terminates the interview, he terminates Lynn’s access to the pods.

Cut to a scene where Jennifer Pierce [China Anne McClain] wakes up to find big sister Anissa [Nafessa Williams] hovering at the edge of her bed. During the night, while Jennifer slept, her electrical powers activated without her knowledge. She was floating above her bed. This scares all concerned.

Then we get the highlight of the opening act of this episode. Kara Fowdy [Skye P. Marshall], who has been working with the government, is planning to get the heck out of Freeland. But Tobias Whale wants to “chat” with her about the contents of the briefcase he acquired last season. He’s sent Syonide [Charlbi Dean Kriek] to invite Fowdy to sit down with him. Fowdy ain’t having that. The two women draw down on each other and the bullets start flying. The real fun comes when they run out of bullets.

The physical battle between Fowdy and Syonide is one of the best on the series to date. Kudos to the actresses and the choreographers for making this work so well. I lost it when Fowdy removes her high heels and triggers the blades within. That caught me by surprise, but not as much as Fowdy killing Syonide. I actually shouted “No!” at the TV screen. I love Syonide! I mean, I love Fowdy, too, but I was stunned by this unexpected death. Forgive me if I hope to see Syonide brought back to life in a future episode. She’s too great a character to disappear from this series.

What made this episode outstanding were the incredible performances from every member of the cast and that every scene delivered some fraught-with-meaning payoff. When Jefferson and Lynn discuss their respective days, it sounds authentic despite how crazy their days were. That they aren’t on the same page regarding Jennifer seeing a therapist or other situations is heartbreaking. What also comes through is Jeff’s obsession with killing Tobias Whale. I fear he’s in danger of crossing the line between justice and vengeance.

Fowdy visits Peter Gambi [James Remar] at the former agent’s tailor shop. Earlier in the episode, we saw Kara take out Syonide. Now we see her desperate and frightened. She wants to get out of the life. She’s willing to confront Tobias to do so.

A meeting between Jefferson and Dr. Napier Frank [Robert Townsend], a school board member, brings home how much the board wants Jeff’s head. The two men have been friends since the Olympics, but Frank makes it clear he’s more concerned with saving the school and not Jefferson’s job.

During the meeting, we get a clear, poignant notion of underlying racism among the white school board members. They have money to put metal detectors and police officers in the school, but not for the books, computers and other educational things Garfield High, like most schools, could use. Unlike Jefferson, the board has no qualms about treating innocent students like criminals.

Cut to the church where real-life civil rights and social justice attorney Benjamin Crump is explaining to the concerned parents of the kids in the pods that the government refuses to give them any access to those kids. It echoes the Trump Administration’s illegal separation of immigrant children from their parents. It will take at least half a million dollars to help these families bring suit against the government.

Afterwards, Jeff and Anissa argue about the next course of action for Black Lightning and Thunder. Jeff wants to leave the pod kids to the authorities and concentrate on Tobias Whale. Once again, we see Jefferson fixating on the man who killed his father over other equally weighty concerns. What makes him such a amazing character is that he doesn’t always do the right thing, that he gives in to what he hasn’t yet realized is his dark side.

Jennifer and Lynn have a conversation that points out how they have so many consequences to deal with and resolve. Jen doesn’t want to have powers. Lynn killed a man with a shotgun. They watched Gambi murder a man in cold blood. When Jen loses control of her powers and accidentally injures Lynn, the fear on their respective faces made my stomach drop. Every scene in this episode carried so much emotional and situational weight.

Thunder invades a drug house. What makes this such an astonishing scene is how smoothly the action flows and how much Thunder seems to be enjoying herself. This is something we are seeing less from her father as the consequences of his superhero activities tear at the fabric of his life. A friend of mine opined that Thunder would make for a good spin-off series. I couldn’t disagree, but I think her role in this series is vital. Hey, maybe a made-for-TV movie. Like a hard-ass afternoon special but aired in the evening.

The conversation between Black Lightning and Bill Henderson [Damon Gupton] knocked me for a loop. What a brilliant scene played by two of the finest actors of our time! The raw emotion between old dear friends coming to a turning point in their relationship and the possibility that relationship will not survive. I don’t think I blinked once during this scene. It was too riveting.

I swear if I get to do write a Black Lightning ongoing following Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands, Henderson will join that book’s supporting cast. I was hesitant to include him because Jefferson’s grandmother is named Henderson, but then this occurred to me:

Why couldn’t Bill Henderson be related to her? Which would make him related to Jefferson as well. What storytelling gold could I mine from that vein?

Since I’m about at the halfway point of this episode, I’m going to split this into two parts. Come back tomorrow for the conclusion of my commentary on “The Rise of the Green Light Babies”...

© 2018 Tony Isabella


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...The incredible 966-page Batman ’66 Omnibus; Graineliers Vol. 1 by Rihito Takarai; and Skyward Volume 1: My Low-G Life by writer Joe Henderson, artist Lee Garbett and colorist Antonio Fabela!

Monday, October 29, 2018

AKRON COMICON (November 3-4)

I’m getting set for my annual trip to the Akron Comicon, which will be held Saturday and Sunday, November 3-4, at the Goodyear Hall, 1201 E. Market Street, Akron, Ohio. Show promoters Robert Jenkins, Michael Savene and Jesse Vance have put together another incredible line-up of guests for the event.

We’ll be celebrating the 80th anniversary of Superman, who was born in nearby Cleveland, the creation of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. Among the Superman artists attending: Jon Bogdanove, Barry Kitson, Ron Frenz, Chris Sprouse, Brett Breeding and Bob Wiacek. There will be special panels with comics creators and the Siegel and Shuster Society. I’ll be on one such panel on Saturday afternoon.

I’ll also be doing one and maybe two Black Lightning panels over the weekend. At least one of those panel will be with Electrifying Eddy Newell, the artist of my 1995 Black Lightning series. If you have ever attended one of my Black Lightning or “Tony’s Tips Live” panels, you know you’ll get the straight scoop from me when you ask questions. No holding back except where required by some of the non-disclosure agreements I’ve signed.

The guest and vendors area of the Akron Comicon includes “Monster Alley” where you’ll find all sorts of stuff to thrill the hearts of monster kids everywhere. Appearing in the alley will be the Son of Ghoul, the TV horror host following in the footsteps of the great Ghoulardi, and Mike and Jan Olszewski, authors of several books on Cleveland radio and television.

Reb Brown, who played Captain America in some vintage made-for-TV movies, will be at the convention. Everyone tells me what a groovy guy he is, but I’ve never been able to get away from my own table long enough to meet him. I’ll try to rectify that this year.

Speaking of my tables...

I’ll be bringing copies of Black Lightning Volume 1 and 2, as well as the trade paperback of Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands, where I reinvented my creation for today’s world. I'll have individual issues of Cold Dead Hands and other Isabella stuff. I’ll have some Daredevil and Luke Cage mini-posters. And, depending on the space I have to work with, maybe some other surprises.

As some of you already know, I charge for my signature in most cases. Here’s my signature policy:

Any items purchased from me: no charge.

Any one item not purchased from me: no charge.

Additional items: $5 each.

Items signed in front of a grading company witness: $10 each.

Photos are free.

Other Akron Comicon guests include: Dave Aikins, Darryl Banks, Mike Barr, Tom Batiuk, Jim Beard, Allen Bellman, Craig Boldman, George Broderick Jr, Robert Egeland, Michael T. Gilbert, Daniel Gorman, Mike Gustovich, Bob Ingersoll, Dirk Manning, P. Craig Russell, Paul Storrie, Karl Story, Mark Sumerak, John Totleben, Thom Zahler, and Apama creators Ted Sikora and Milo Miller. Whew!

There will be a cosplay contest on Saturday. If you’re cosplaying at this convention, especially if you’re cosplaying as a character I’ve created or written, please stop by my table so I can have my assistant take a photo of us for use in a future installment of my bloggy thing.

As I do every year, I’m looking forward to the Akron Comicon. I’ll also be doing two other conventions in November:

November 9-11: Grand Rapids (Michigan) Comic-Con

November 17-18: Great American Comics Convention (Las Vegas)

I’ll have more on those conventions soon. These will be my final conventions of the year. If you’re in near any of these fine cities on these weekends, I hope you’ll try to come by and see me and the other guests.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Friday, October 26, 2018


This “Friday” sermon is likely to ramble all over the place, but I wanted to start with a show of support for those who are unfairly targeted by those for whom “hate” appears to come as naturally as breath. It is something you should always know about if you’re at a convention or other event where I am a guest.

Consider me and my table(s) to be safe spaces. This was a Mark Waid idea that I have shamelessly appropriated for myself.

The election of the Dumpster President empowered bigots and racists and misogynists. No matter how hard conventions might try to keep their events welcoming to all, there’s no such thing as a jerk detector. Some of these unpleasant sorts will be at our conventions. They will try to make you feel uncomfortable. For what it’s worth, you are not alone.

If you feel uncomfortable at a convention that I’m at, consider my booth or table to be a safe space. Come to my booth and hang out as long as you need to. If the situation calls for it, I will ask the promoters to deal with whoever is making you feel uncomfortable. I have stood up to bullies my entire life and I’m not about to stop now. Word.

I ask other guests to do the same. If some enterprising artist can create a sign designating a booth or table as a “safe space,” I’ll be proud to display one at my booth or table.

Not coincidentally, Waid has been hit with a frivolous lawsuit by Richard Meyer, who Waid describes as “one of the perceived leaders of a relentless online harassment movement called ‘ComicsGate’ which [he] and many comics professionals strongly feel has unfairly and offensively targeted women, people of color, and LGBTQ+ creators working in our industry in an effort to make them feel unwelcome.”

People claiming membership in ComicsGate have also gone after those who are allies of their targets and those who have spoken out against  the group’s bigotry. The worst ComicsGaters have generally proven themselves to be cowards who “confront” only from the safety of their computers and, usually, from the anonymity of their screen names.

Yet, as the Dumpster President and his followers, people who have openly advocated violence against their opponents, people who have tried to blame recent bombing attempts against Democratic leaders on the news media and false flag operations, continue to encourage bigotry, harassment and violence, it is not inconceivable that some few individuals who champion Comicsgate will attempt to harass or even threaten decent people at conventions. And that is why I vow I will always be a safe space at the events I attend.

Stronger together. Always forward. These are the mantras I try to live by. These are the stands I take against hate.

Waid’s defense against this blatant attempt to silence him will be expensive. He has launched a GoFundMe campaign to help him meet the legal expenses. As of this writing, it has raised over 20% of its goal in eight hours. I have donated $100 to this campaign. I urge all my readers to donate whatever they can, even if it’s only five bucks. Your standing alongside Mark and so many other comics fans and professionals is as important to this cause as your financial contribution.

Stronger together. Always forward.

Something weird has been going on at some of the recent conventions I’ve attended. Someone comes up to me and asks if I hate (fill in name of comics industry figure who did me wrong or is acting badly online). I usually brush off the question with something along the lines of a glib “Who’s got time to hate comics folks when Trump and the Republicans are wrecking our country?”

While that’s true enough, my not answering the question is because I am well aware of the kind of “let’s you and him fight” click-bait tactics of disreputable websites. I don’t have time to get involved in that stuff because there are so very many important things I want to do.

However, the fact of the matter is...I don’t hate (fill in name). I might be appalled by their actions and conduct. I might still be a wee bit upset an assistant editor took it upon himself to change the ending of a two-year story and has lied about it ever since and has lied about me in other ways over the years. I’m curious as to why this guy, who has many notable achievements and good deeds to his name, feels compelled to try to rewrite history to erase those times he did not act well. If I were him, I’d concentrate on that good stuff. As Stan Lee taught us, there is good and bad in all of us. That’s as true today as the day Stan said it to me, as he had said it to many others over the decades.  But, like I said, I don’t hate this guy. He’s out of comics. He can’t affect my life. I wish him well when he’s not, you know, lying about me and other comics people. The only time I think about him is when someone asks me if I hate him.

I don’t hate the executive who, while claiming to be my friend, did everything he could to screw me for decades. I don’t hate the guy who fired me from my second Black Lightning series. Getting screwed over and fired is something that happens. I don’t like these guys. I don’t want to associate with them. But if I hate anything, it’s their actions. And, whatever damage those actions did to me at the time, well, I’m doing pretty good right now.

Since I started keeping track of this, I reckon I’ve been asked if I hate about a dozen comics pros or other industry figures. In one case, I’d never heard of the person someone thought I might hate. Obviously, I’m not going to comment on these individuals here or anywhere else. I ain’t got the time to get into it with anyone just for your amusement.

I don’t even hate the ComicsGate people. As any decent person would be, I am appalled by their bigotry, misogyny and racism. I actually feel bad that (in most cases) their desire to work in comics isn’t compatible with their lack of talent. I know what it’s like to want something and not be able to attain it. It’s their actions that I hate and their actions I will fight against.

As anyone familiar with my work knows, I have written a great many “redemption” stories. I’m a firm believer in the concept. However, I also believe one needs to earn redemption. They can’t double-down on their atrocious behavior and then bray that no one will forgive them for that atrocious behavior. Maybe there should be twelve-step programs for the Internet.

I would be over the moon happy if any of these folks cleaned up their acts, admitted  their sins, did what they could to make amends and do no further wrong. I’m a sucker for redemption stories.

Towards that end, I’m going to work hard to temper my own comments on such people. I’m going to try to make it clear that I hate the behavior and not the person. As the title of today’s bloggy suggests, I don’t have time to hate. There are too many important things I want to do as an individual and too many important things I want to see my fellow comics people and my fellow U.S. citizens do in the days, weeks, months and years to come.

I’m as human as the next person. I will likely not always succeed in keeping my comments on a high level. But I promise you I will be making that effort.

In the case of the badly-behaving comics people, while my time is limited, if you reach out to me with a truly sincere desire to not behave badly, I’ll do my best to offer you whatever sage advice I can. I won’t tolerate excuses or outright bullshit, but, if you can look at yourself in the mirror and not like what you see and want to change, we can talk. If you want to do better, I’m rooting for you. If you do better, we all do better.

Which brings me to my glib response “Who’s got time to hate comics folks when Trump and the Republicans are wrecking our country?” I know is the area of our discourse in which I will be struggling the most. Because their actions and comments are so horrible and have hurt or have the potential to hurt so many innocent people in the United States and around the world.

Just off the top of my head, here’s the kind of stuff I am talking about. Voter suppression. Trying to erase transgender individuals. Trying to remove protection for people with pre-existing conditions and lying about it. Blaming the targets of domestic terrorism for that terrorism. Covering up for a murderous totalitarian leader in service of an arms deal that doesn’t actually exist. Characterizing asylum seekers as some invading army. Attacking legal immigrants. Claiming we must come together while cheering on a politician who body-slammed a reporter. Putting an accused serial sexual predator on the Supreme Court without a full investigation. Bragging the guy will protect the President from the consequences of his seemingly illegal actions. Running blatantly false political advertisements. And so and so on.

I confess I can’t fathom why good people would support Trump or the Republicans. I don’t think I hate you who do, but, honestly, I have to question if you are mentally and morally ill. I admit that I have often called you monsters. I’m trying to avoid that. These days, what I want is to not hate you, but, instead, encourage you to take a hard look at yourselves, consider the awful things you advocate and get yourself into rehab or other treatment.

Your unreasoning fear of the other and your subservience to ideals diametrically in opposition to the common good are not in any way, shape or form healthy. Not for you. Not for our country.

I don’t hate you. I hate your actions. I hate your crazed rhetoric. I hate your blindness. I wish I knew how to lift the darkness from your minds and souls.

But I don’t hate you. I want you to be better. If there’s a way I can help you with that, I want to hear it.

Stronger together. Always forward.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, October 24, 2018


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...A special Halloween of almost half a century past; Mad Presents: Don’t Let the Penguin Drive the Batmobile! by Jacob Lambert with pictures by Tom Richmond; Superman isn’t Jewish by Jimmy Bemon with art by Emilie Boudet and Back Issue #108 featuring Aquaman!

Tuesday, October 23, 2018


I am not immune to the sweet siren call of nostalgia. This despite my frequent admonishments to comics fans and professionals to move always forward and not become mired in the past.

The DC/Walmart 100-page giants have worked their nostalgic charms on me in two ways. When DC Comics started publishing its 100 Page Super Spectacular comics in the 1970s, I was crazy mad in love with them. I was ga-ga for the feel of those hefty comics in my hands. I was smitten by the incredible variety found in them. I bought all of them, regardless of their genre. I regret that I sold them when times got lean over the decades.

Dating back even further, I used to love going to the store to get the new comics. I went to my neighborhood drug stories on Tuesday and Thursday. Weather permitting, I made the long bike or bus ride across town to a little convenience store that got some of the new comics on the Saturday before the Tuesday and Thursday. New comic book day lost some of its charm when I bought and ran a comic-book store for over a decade and lost the rest when I figured out it was so much simpler to buy my new comics by mail. Still, even today, I rarely pass a comics store without at least going in to see if anything new leaps off the shelves at me.

I go to my local Medina Ohio Walmart at least once a week to see if its collectibles supplier has brought in new issues of the DC 100-Page Giants. They don’t seem to have a regular schedule, so I have had to accept that disappointments will be frequent. But, when they have new issues, I buy them.

At present, I have read the first three issues of Batman Giant and Justice League Giant [$4.99 each]. Sitting on my reading pile are Superman Giant #1-3 and Teen Titans Giant #1-3.

The Batman title is a fine comic book, one I enjoy even though I’m not thrilled with Batman these days. The first two issues had new stories by Jimmy Palmiotti (writer), Patch Zircher (artist) and John Kalisz (colorist). The first did a good job of familiarizing readers with basic Batman information. The second wrapped up this story in satisfactory manner with a surprise twist that I hope is in the regular Batman continuity as well.


Bruce Wayne rebuilds the Monarch Theater where he saw a movie with his parents just before they were murdered. It seems to be an old-fashioned glitzy theater showing vintage films. Because, as Wayne has come to realize, if one doesn’t celebrate good memories, then all a person has are the dark ones. That’s way more sane than the usual for Batman.


Zircher is an amazing artist. Solid storytelling. Dramatic poses. Humanity and mood. The man has it all.

Backing up the new stories are reprints of the first Batman/Hush story arc by Jeph Loeb, Jim Lee and Scott Williams; the beginning of the Nightwing series by Kyle Higgins, Eddy Barrows and JP Mayer; and the start of the darkly hilarious Harley Quinn title by Amanda Conner, Jimmy Palmiotti and Chad Hardin. Yes, Hush would eventually become overused and tiresome as is the way of too many villains in today’s comics world and the Harley Quinn title would give birth to too many spin-offs that diminished the charm of the original title, but these early issues were very entertaining.

Batman Giant #3 has a new Batman story by Brian Michael Bendis and artist Nick Derington. It’s the first chapter of what seems to be an extended serial with some nice hooks, references and suspense. It wasn’t ground-shattering, but it was a solid tale that makes me eager to see what comes next.

Wonder Woman is the lead feature in Justice League Giant, which makes me wish there was a Wonder Woman Giant as well. I could see a new story followed by classic reprints from her earlier decades of adventures. But I digress.

Tim Seeley is the writer of the Wonder Woman stories in issues #1 and #2. The first, drawn by Rick Leonardi, is a terrific tale that covers some of Diana’s history while delivering battlefield action and a hopeful ending. The hopeful ending was key for me because I like Wonder Woman best when she is an agent of hope instead of war. The latter has never looked good on her.

Issue #2's story is drawn by Felipe Watanabe and Jonas Trinidade. It’s mythology-based with Wonder Woman and Steve Trevor contending with Echidna, the legendary mother of monsters. It’s a solid story with another satisfying ending.

Issue #3's new story is my favorite to date. Written by Connor and Palmiotti with art by Hardin, it pits the Amazon Princess against a raging forest fire. A subplot with Steve is sort of shoe-horned  into the story and leads into next issue’s adventure.

The reprints all come from the early days of the New 52. As much as I love Geoff Johns’ writing and Jim Lee’s art, their reintroduction of the Justice League always struck me as unfortunately clumsy. I liked the story okay, but it wasn’t exceptional.

The Flash stories by Francis Manapul and Brian Buccellato are more solid. Manapul’s layouts are wild, but, even though I prefer more straightforward storytelling, they work for me here.

The Aquaman stories by Geoff Johns with penciller Ivan Reis are the best of the reprints. From the first Aquaman scenes, Johns brought home how cool and interesting the Sea King is. The menaces are real creepy. The townspeople are authentic and interesting. When I look at how excited comics fans and non-comics readers are getting about the forthcoming Aquaman movie, I think an Aquaman Giant might be another good addition to the DC/Walmart line.

Sidebar. I feel even stronger about a Black Lightning Giant. With new stories by me, DC’s best Black Lightning writer, and reprints from each of the three times I’ve written him. Does anyone know any powerful executives at Walmart?

While I might have been drawn to these DC/Walmart giants because of nostalgia, I also believe they make perfect sense from a business standpoint. We have all these DC super-hero fans who don’t go to comics shops and who don’t buy comic books and who only know these characters from the movies and TV. However, many of them do shop at Walmart. If the comics industry is to thrive, we need to reach the  fans who aren’t buying our comics. Yet.

If DC and Walmart want more of Tony Isabella’s money, they should also consider giants starring Green Arrow, the Flash, Supergirl and especially Legends of Tomorrow. Just saying.

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

© 2018 Tony Isabella


The Bronze Gazette #82 [$12] arrived the other day and, right off the bat, I was taken by editor Chuck Welch’s opening piece, “Bronze in Amber.” In it, he asked if Doc Savage will last much longer. He wrote:

A recent Flearun thread decried how few of our children picked up our love of the character. Doc Savage is a fly trapped in amber. His foes, motivations and expectations are close to 90 years in the past. While he have a contingent of fans who want Doc to never change, I believe the future of Doc Savage rests in new blood and approaches.

Exactly this.

A few years back, while attending Pulpfest in Columbus, Ohio, I was met with horrified reactions when I suggested to writers of what is commonly called “new pulp” that Doc Savage, the Shadow and so many other beloved pulp magazine heroes had to be updated to reach the modern audiences. They were chained to the notion that those heroes had to adventure in the 1930s and 1940s.

What I would do with Doc Savage is figure out his timeless core values, values that could exist beyond the decades of his original adventures. Then I would remake Doc from that starting point. I’d update his origins to reflect modern science and the world of the present. I would look at his aides with an eye towards diversity. Do they all have to be straight white men? Do their quirks make any sense in 2018? I would look at his foes and give him villains who fit our modern world. At the end of the day, though I might change his supporting cast to a significant degree, I would present fans with a Doc Savage for today.

I enjoy the original Doc Savage novels. I enjoy the new Doc Savage novels written by my pal Will Murray. If Will keeps writing them, I’ll keep reading them. But I don’t think the future of Doc Savage  must or should rely on these fine vintage adventures. I think, like so many things in life, Doc Savage’s mantra should be...

Always forward.

In the meantime, do check out The Bronze Gazette. This new issue is packed with fascinating articles, such as Murray’s reflections on Philip Jose Farmer’s Doc Savage novels and a tribute to Ron Wilber, a wonderful artist who left us too soon.


Having finished Assassination Classroom and Princess Jellyfish, I have been looking for a new favorite manga series. Tokyo Tarareba Girls by Akiko Higashimura, the creator of Princess Jellyfish, is a contender. Here’s what I wrote about it several weeks back in my Tony’s Tips!” column at Tales of Wonder:

Tokyo Tarareba Girls is a comedy aimed at young women in their late teens or somewhat older young women who have entered the job market and making their own way in the world. Clearly I don’t fit squarely into that demographic, but Higashimura is a skilled creator with a fun sense of humor. His work speaks to me.

Our heroine is Rinko, a 33-year-old writer of romance teleplays who has never been married. Her career has gotten a little shaky, her love life is non-existent. Her leisure time is spend drinking with  Kaori and Koyuki, her best friends since high school. On one such night, their loud complaints about men and their situations annoy a handsome man in the bar. He tells them they are “what if” women, constantly bitching about what might have been instead of trying to change their lives. Rinko vows to get married by the Tokyo Olympic Games in 2020.

Rinko’s path crosses that of the handsome man at her job. It’s not a pleasant coincidence. But, even as Rinko takes some hits at work, the reader can’t help but hope to gets everything she wants out of life. I know I’m rooting for her.

Tokyo Tarareba Girls is a seven-book series. I’m in for their whole ride. There has also been a ten-episode TV series, but I won’t seek that out until I finish reading the manga.

If you’re into manga beyond the usual battle, horror, or science-fiction tales, I think you’ll enjoy Tokyo Tarareba Girls.
I’ve now read the second of those seven volumes and, well, Rinko, Kaori and Kayuki are making bad decisions. Will these bad decisions derail their quests for happiness and romance? That strikes me as a real possibility and one that adds a serious note to the series. But that serious notes elevates Tokyo Tarareba Girls from a series I have been getting via my local library system to one I’m buying. Consider my previous recommendation doubled.

Tokyo Tarareba Girls Volume 1:

ISBN 978-1-63236-685-6

Tokyo Tarareba Girls Volume 2:
ISBN 978-1-63236-686-3

My search for manga has reunited me with Rumiko Takahashi’s Ranma 1&2. This is a goofy epic of a teen martial artist and his frankly insane father. Training at cursed springs, they fell into various springs and now, when they get wet, they turn into, respectively, a buxom young woman and a giant panda. Which is actually one of the least crazy things about this series. Ranma has multiple fiancées, none of his own choosing. He has rivals for these fiancées, some of whom, fiancées and rivals alike, have also fallen into the cursed springs. He has a feared grandfather who steals panties. He faces martial arts disciplines such as combat cheerleading. If a reader can embrace this madness - and you know I can - they will receive big laughs at a rapid pace.

I just finished reading Ranma 1&2 (2-in-1 Edition) Volume 11 [Viz; $14.99], which collects books 21 and 22 of the series. This volume starts with battle between father and son and continues with cherry blossoms that reveal true love, the combat cheerleading mentioned earlier, Ranma and his dad avoiding his mother because of a seppuku vow Dad made, Ranma seeking to get one of the fiancees he doesn’t want to confess her love for him and a ghost who is unable to move on from this world because Ranma’s grandfather refused to steal her panties. Embrace the madness.

ISBN 978-1-4216-6632-0

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Sunday, October 21, 2018


Black Lightning Season Two is masterfully exciting, but I’m having serious doubts about some other super-hero shows. Maybe those hours can be put to better use.

I’m four episodes into Iron Fist Season Two. I started late on this season. While I’m pleased to see noticeable improvement in Finn Jones and Jessica Henwick’s performances as Danny Rand and Colleen Wing, it’s become almost unbearable to watch the evil machinations of Jessica Stroup (Joy Meachum), Sacha Dhawan (Davos) and Alice Eve  (Typhoid Mary). While there’s still some scenery left unchewed, I’d love to see these three characters accidentally fall down an open elevator shaft. Hey, it worked in L.A. Law.

So far, the high points of this second season have been the guest appearances of Simone Messick (Misty Knight), Christine Toy Johnson (Mrs. Sherry Yang) and Tom Pelphrey (the struggling-to-be-a-better-man Ward Meachum). Messick is one of the very best actors in any of the Marvel series; I like her portrayal of Misty better than any of the comic-book versions, including mine.

That Johnson is such a commanding presence caught me by surprise. In my mind’s eye, I envision her being a regular on a Daughters of the Dragon series starring Messick and Henwick. Which I think Chris Claremont should write with an occasional script by me.

Pelphrey’s performances aren’t pitch perfect, but Ward’s journey is the most compelling aspect of the second season. He’s trying hard, but he’s really bad at it. I’m really rooting for him to succeed in his journey.

I’ve also watched the first episodes of the new seasons of Arrow, Supergirl and The Flash. I have my doubts about all three.

Arrow has a really dumb set-up. Even allowing for the pettiness of our current government, why would you lock up an asset like Oliver Queen when you could use him for Suicide Squad-type missions? With him in prison, the supporting characters are spinning all over the map and much less interesting for it.

The first new Arrow script was transparently manipulative. Worst of all, the show is still foisting the ridiculous acting "stylings" of  Kirk Acevedo on us. Put this actor out of his misery by killing his character so hard he can’t even return for flashback sequences.

One more thing? Flash forward sequences. Oh, please. I think Arrow has run its course.

Supergirl has the wondrous Melissa Benoist going for it, but she’s not getting the backup she needs. J'onn J'onzz is awkward as the new preacher to aliens. Brainiac 5 is no Winn. The James/Lena love match makes my teeth hurt. I’m not sure how many weeks I can take of Alex Danvers’ bad hair day.

What I do like is the public revelation that the U.S. President is an alien. No, not Donald Trump, though they would explain so much. I’m talking about Lynda Carter’s Olivia Marsdin. It’s bothered me that Supergirl and J’onn and others were aware of this deception, which is as unconstitutional as I can imagine. But, since I love Carter so much in the role, here’s a simple solution to part of this crisis:

Marsdin was actually born in the United States. Her parents came to Earth decades ago. Olivia is a citizen and thus eligible to become President. I mean, her deception is still a political shitshow and she should probably resign her office, but, at least, she wouldn’t end up in a cell block with Supergirl, J’onn, etc.

I’m excited by the casting of Nicole Maines as Nia Nal. I’m a bit disappointed by the meekness of her character in the first episode. Of course, given that one of my dearest friends is transgender and she’s anything but meek, I may be projecting here.

The Flash? Time travel and another speedster. Yawn. How about the show has Caitlin change her name to “Sue”, marry Ralph Dibney and the show becomes The Famous Elongated Man. That would be must-see-TV for me.

I’m gearing up to do three November conventions in three weekends. Here’s the schedule:

Akron [Ohio] Comicon (November 3-4)

Grand Rapids [Michigan] Comic Con (November 9-11)

Great American Comic Convention in Las Vegas (November 17-18)

At this time, I have no conventions scheduled for either December or January. It’ll take a pretty good invitation for me to hit the road in either of those months.

I have already accepted invitations to several conventions in 2019. I’ll doubtless accept more. But, whenever possible, I’ll be spacing those out so I’m not doing back-to-back conventions. Here’s the 2019 schedule so far:

North Texas Comic Book Show (February 2-3)

Big Apple Comic-Con (March 9-10)

East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention (May 17-18)

G-Fest (July 12-14)

Comic-Con International (July 17-20)

New Mexico Comic Expo (August 16-18)

Comic-Con International is too expensive for me to justify unless someone (Black Lightning, DC Comics, Marvel Comics, the convention itself) is bringing me in. But Saintly Wife Barb insists I attend next year because, like me, she is tired of Black Lightning stuff going on without the creator of Black Lightning in attendance. So I’m making the trip as cheaply as I can manage.

As for additional conventions, with one or two exceptions, I can’t see myself doing events that do not cover my hotel/travel expenses, pay me an appearance fee and treat me respect. I love conventions, but they take a lot out of me. I need to get paid. While I am not an inexpensive guest, I am a terrific guest. I can do two panels a day for you and take part in pre-event publicity.

With exactly two excepted conventions, I do charge for my signature at these events. However, I’ll sign one free book for any fan who doesn’t piss me off; leave your “MAGA” hat at home and don’t harass friends of mine. I’ll also sign any Isabella item that you buy from  me for free. Before each convention, as I write about them in the bloggy thing prior to the con, you’ll find my signature policy and prices. I’ll also have signage about this at my table.

If you want me as a guest at your event, you must e-mail me. I will then send you my appearance requirements. If you can’t meet those requirements, I won’t hold it against you. Having worked with Roger Price on countless Mid-Ohio-Con events, I know how difficult it can be juggling convention budgets. I get it.

As I work my way towards more focused bloggy things - I’ve got some "Black Lightning Beat" installments in the works - I’m also trying to answer some of your most frequently asked questions. Among the most asked are:

Are you writing another Black Lightning series?

Are you writing anything else for DC or Marvel?

I have pitched DC Comics on an ongoing Black Lightning series. The company has not responded to those pitches. I fear that, in their infinite lack of wisdom, they would rather reduce their most iconic black super-hero to just another Batman sidekick. You already know how insulting I find that.

I’ve pitched both DC and Marvel on non-Black Lightning projects in recent months. I’m waiting to hear on those before I send any more pitches to them.

Not expecting to hear from either of the Big Two soon - though I’d love to be wrong about that - I’m working on other stuff. My plan is to finish writing both Black Lightning and My Road to Diversity and the second volume of July 1963: A Pivotal Month in the Comic-Book Life of Tony Isabella before the end of the year. These books are the main reason I want to stay home in December.

I’m also working on several other projects. I am creating a brand-new super-hero universe and want to write the first issues of the first three titles in it. I am developing a new comics weekly for younger readers, sort of an American version of The Beano. I’m also working on the treatment and screenplay for a horror movie that, if my associate secures the necessary funding, would be filmed right here in Cleveland, Ohio. In my spare time - LOL - I’m developing an online show about comic books and other items of interest to Tony Isabella, the man with a face for radio.

As with conventions, if you’re an editor or a publisher who wants to work with me, your incredible taste in talent can be advanced by e-mailing me. Except when I’m out of town at conventions, I do my best to answer all such e-mails within a day or two.

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

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Saturday, October 20, 2018


Canada, our even-more-friendly-than-ever neighbor to the north, has now become the second nation in the world to legalize recreational marijuana. (The first was Uruguay in December 2013.) This promises to create a billion-dollar industry.

What you may not know is that Canada has had a support system for this new industry in place for years. According to a Snapple bottle cap - the Wikipedia of flavored teas - there are more donut shops per capita in the country than in any other country. Munchies will be readily available for those Canucks who avail themselves of the now-legal pot.

Canada, I bow to your genius.

I came home from the absolutely wonderful Baltimore Comic*Con with what I thought was an epic case of “con crud.” That turned out to be more serious than I thought and, a week later, Saintly Wife Barb took me to the emergency room.

Before you panic, I am doing fine. I had an urinary tract infection that was treated successfully with antibiotics. I had an intestinal problem that, like all things must, eventually passed. There’s one remaining concern: a really small node on my lung. I’ve scheduled another cat scan for early next month, but my doctor isn’t worried about it. I’ve never been a smoker. I haven’t been around smokers in almost five decades. But, when you get to be as old AF as I am, you check out these things.

The “con crud” and resultant flu have lingered on, slowing me down more than I would have liked. I’m easing my way back into my usual full schedule. Today’s bloggy thing is random bits and pieces. It’s a short of placeholder while I work on several more focused bloggy things. I’m getting stronger every day, so, hopefully, those more focused pieces will be posted sooner rather than later.

More on my fabulous life in a bit.


I’m halfway through the six-issue Archie Meets Batman ‘66 [Archie; $3.99] and I am seriously underwhelmed. It’s written by Jeff Parker (whose work I almost always like a lot) and Michael Moreci (a new name to me). Dan Parent is the penciller with inks by J. Bone and colors by Kelly Fitzpatrick.

Batman’s villains, having realized committing crimes in Gotham City is a bad idea, have moved their criminal operations to Riverdale. The Siren has enabled them to control leading Riverdale individuals like Hiram Lodge, Police Chief Keller and Pop Tate. Teenagers seem more or less immune to her persuasive melodies, though Reggie does sign on to be the Riddler’s protégé. Which strikes me as way too dark for the character.

Outside of the cool notion of Batgirl and Robin going undercover at Riverdale High, there’s no “wow” factor in this team-up. It’s not exciting and it’s not funny. It’s just flat out dull. I suspect we would have gotten a much better Archie Meets Batman ‘66 if it came out of the DC Comics offices. The DC folks have a proven record of success with the nostalgic adventures of the Dynamic Duo while the Archie personnel have pretty much lost the humor that used to be a big part of their stories.

I’ve got the rest of the series on order, but, barring a big boost in quality, this is not going to be something I buy when it comes out in trade paperback. I can live with my Batman ‘66 library being incomplete.


I haven’t mentioned Marvel’s “True Believers” books before, which is an oversight on my part. These $1 facsimile editions of classic Marvel milestones are a cool collection at a very affordable price. In the latest Previews catalog, there are ten Fantastic Four issues, each featuring the first appearances of super-villains who have continued to play major roles in the Marvel Universe. The line-up is as follows:

Fantastic Four #2 (Skrulls)
Fantastic Four #8 (Puppet Master)
Fantastic Four #15 (Man Thinker and his Awesome Android)
Fantastic Four #18 (Super-Skrull)
Fantastic Four #20 (Molecule Man)
Fantastic Four #35 (Dragon Man)
Fantastic Four #36 (Frightful Four)
Fantastic Four #53 (Klaw)
Fantastic Four #62 (Blastarr)
Fantastic Four #65 (Ronan and the Kree)

That’s ten Stan Lee and Jack Kirby blockbusters for ten bucks. One of the best bargains in today’s comics marketplace.

Let’s talk limitations. Because this year has been such an insane roller coaster ride for me, there are things I wanted to do in this bloggy thing of mine that just aren’t going to happen. I have been woefully lax in writing about the many fine conventions and other events I’ve attended this year. This goes back to February. Facing facts, there’s no way I’m going to be able to backtrack and write the kind of convention reports I’ve written in the past. I’ll try to do better going forward.

Note. I haven’t ruled out running some sort of convention and event summary of this year’s trips. This mostly depends on how quickly I get fully back on my game and if there are no other family, health or work situations to deal with.

On a similar note, I’m not going to write about this year’s “Free Comic Book Day” offerings. That would take several bloggy things to accomplish and there are too many other things I’d rather discuss. I’ll give it another try in 2019.


I don’t have anything particularly insightful to say about Giant Days Volume Eight by creator/writer John Allison with artist Max Sarin, inker Liz Fleming and colorist Whitney Cogar [Boom! Box; $14.99], save that I continue to enjoy this ongoing series about a trio of young women who share residency while attending university. This volume collects issues #29-32 of the series.

It’s the second year together for Susan, Daisy and Esther. Things are complicated. Susan is secretly dating old friend McGraw. Daisy is dating a young woman who is sort of a nightmare for her friends. Esther continues to be over the top, but steadfastly loyal to Susan and Daisy. Oh, yeah, and the house they live in isn’t exactly up to code. Their studies pretty much take a back seat to their various dramas. The result is a cleverly written, wonderfully drawn, often hilarious comic with well-crafted, relatable heroines. I can see some shared personal traits of my own (much younger than me) women friends in Susan, Daisy and Esther.

If you’ve read Giant Days, you doubtless enjoy the series at least as much as I do. If you haven’t read Giant Days, I envy you because you have eight volumes to discover and enjoy. If you’re me, you’re eagerly awaiting the next book, which is scheduled for publication in February.

ISBN 978-1-68415-207-0


If your Tony Isabella collection is lacking the two issues of Moon Knight I wrote in the 1980s, those three stories are reprinted in Moon Knight Epic Collection: Final Rest [Marvel; $39.99], which is due to go on sale in December.

The 488-page trade paperback collects Moon Knight #24-38 from the 1980s series. Stories are by Doug Moench, Steven Grant, myself and others. Artists include Bill Sienkiewicz, Kevin Nowlan, Bo Hampton and more. I thought I did a good job with my stories, but, alas, I didn’t get the regular gig. It went to a guy who brought doughnuts to the Marvel office. Or so I was told. I’ve honesty heard of worst reasons for editors to not hire me. Never underestimate the power of tasty treats.

All kidding aside, these are pretty good comics. Especially those by Moench and Sienkiewicz. I recommend this volume.

ISBN 978-1-302-91564-3

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

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Thursday, October 18, 2018


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Black Lightning kicks off its second season; Swamp Thing Halloween Horror Giant #1; Pre-Code Classics: Spook Tales of Suspense & Mystery Volume One; and Jim McClain’s Solution Squad!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...On the convention trail with Tony plus my reviews of Die Kitty Die: Hollywood or Bust by Dan Parent and Fernando Ruiz; Howard Chaykin's Hey Kids! Comics! and I am Neil Armstrong by Brad Meltzer and Christopher Eliopoulos!


The Syracuse NY Comic Con is my next convention appearance and the only one I’m making this month. It takes place this Saturday from 11 am to 7 pm at the Center of Progress Building, 581 State Fair Boulevard in Syracuse.

Besides yours truly, the event’s other guests include Brian Johnson and Mike Zapcik from AMC’s Comic Book Men; actors and voice actors Kirby Morrow, J.G. Hertzler and Dana Synder; and comics creators Steve Geiger, Tom Peyer, Charles Barnett III, Mike Garland, Ken Wheaton and Joe Orsak. But we’re only the tip of what looks to be a big fun iceberg.

Besides the usual artists and vendors selling comics, there will be actual comics (as in comedians). The announced line-up: Makenzi Burke, Jarrett Mayo, William Hughes, Joanna Elsie, Andy McDermott and David Britton. The comedy show will begin at 6 pm.

There will also be video game tournaments, video game free play, toys, collectibles, anime, horror, pinball, table top games and, of course, cosplay to the tune of $2000 cosplay contest cash. I don’t know if there are panel presentations on the day’s schedule, but, if there are, I’m probably on one of them.

What can you expect from me at the convention? For one thing, I’ll be on my best behavior on account of Saintly Wife Barb is joining me at the event. Gasp in wonderment as you behold the most patient woman in the universe!

I’ll be selling the individual issues of Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #1-6 while my dwindling supplies last. Black Lightning Volume One and Volume Two will also be on my table, along with some Black Lightning, Daredevil and Luke Cage posters. I’ll have copies of my script for Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #1 and, for the history buffs among you, a few replica copies of the famous “green books” that guided black travelers across our country. I might have a few surprises as well.

If you have questions about Black Lightning, my comics career and other subjects, I’ll do my best to answer them. Keep in mind that I may not be able to answer certain questions due to non-disclosure agreements I have signed or simply because I don’t want to answer certain questions. If I don’t know the answer to a question, I’ll do my best to make up something cool.

I will be signing Isabella-written stuff at my table and only at my table. My signature policy:

Any items purchased from me: no charge.

Any one item not purchased from me: no charge.

Additional items: $5 each.

Items signed in front of a grading company witness: $10 each.

Photos are free.
General admission to the Syracuse NY Comic Con is $12 per person, $16 for VIP costumers who will be able to get into the convention an hour earlier. If you are an active college student with ID, you get $2 off the price of your ticket. Kids 14 and under get in for free, as do active members of the military and military veterans. There is free parking at the event.

I’ve enjoyed my rare trips to this part of New York in the past and I’m looking forward to this convention as well. I hope to see you there.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Saturday, October 6, 2018


John Zakour is a writer of just about everything. I first saw his name on the wonderful Working Daze comics panel, which is drawn by my friend Scott Roberts. It was a no-brainer that John and I would become friends when we met. Which is when I found out John writes everything. Science fiction novels. Young adult science fiction and fantasy. Interactive works. Humor. Computer games. Short stories. Comic books.

Diary of a Super Girl Book 1: The Ups and Downs of Being Super [KC Global Enterprises; $7.50] is by Katrina Kahler, John Zakour and an uncredited Tayah Payne. The book is aimed at girls nine to twelve, but it’s fun for male and older male readers as well. I mean, how could a still-a-kid-at-heart guy like me not respond to a super-heroine who has to worry about farts that could knock out a hundred people in an instant?

I love the construction of this first in a series of books starring just-turned-thirteen Lia Strong. As she finds out on her birthday, she hails from a centuries-old line of women with amazing powers. The powers may vary from generation to generation, but all of them activate on the thirteenth birthday.

Besides the usual learning how to control her strength, Lia has to contend with the effects of exercise on her body odor, which is, of course, greatly magnified because of her super-powers. She has to watch what she eats because certain foods leads to dangerous levels of bad breath and flatulence. Uncooked broccoli is definitely off her menu. None of which stops her from performing amazing and heroic feats on her first day with super-powers.

Lia’s mom shows great trust in her daughter to do the right thing judiciously. Lia’s best friend is a comic-book fan thrilled to be her confidant and her go-to guy for information on all things super-heroic. It’s a likeable supporting cast.

There are an increasing number of super-hero prose books out there. Many of them are suitable for all ages. However, if you’re looking for something not as well known as the various DC and Marvel books, I think this book would make a terrific gift for a young girl who loves super-heroines and would appreciate a book that’s not yet as well known as it should be. Highly recommended.

ISBN 978-1-5431-7908-8

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Friday, October 5, 2018


Iceman #6 [January 2018] was one of the comic books donated to the Flaming River Con - the Midwest's first LGBTQ comics convention - by Carol and John's Comic Shop. It's a variant cover by Michael Ryan and Nolan Woodard, based on the original cover to Champions #1 (1975) by Gil Kane and Dan Adkins. As most of you know, I was the originator of that original Champions series.

Sina Grace's story has the original members of the Champions coming together to honor the Black Widow, who was, apparently, dead at the time of this issue. I hope she's gotten better since because I love the character. It's a well-written tale with good art by Robert Gill.

Here's my only problem: 

What the heck was Bobby Drake thinking when he dressed for this cover? 

He's the Iceman. He doesn't need a costume like this, especially one that could conceivably limit the use of his powers. All he needs - in the interest of propriety - is some indication that he's wearing trunks underneath the ice. Even that might not be necessary as we all know what cold does to a man's private parts. 

Bobby Drake is today's comics fashion nightmare.

From time to time, when I can't write a full-size bloggy thing for you, I'll be writing one of these fun-size bloggy things.

I'll be back soon with more stuff.

Tony Isabella

Thursday, October 4, 2018


Batman was my favorite super-hero when I was a kid. TV’s Superman (played so well by George Reeves) may have been my introduction to the super-hero genre, but, once I began buying actual comic books, it was Batman all the way.

Even before I decided I wanted to write comic books, I wanted to be Batman. I was even training myself. I had this shoe box containing weather maps I had clipped from the newspapers and envelopes filled with dirt samples from around our neighborhood. If the bully down the street committed a crime and left dirt behind, I would be able to prove it came from his yard. I don’t know what happened to that crime-lab in a shoe box. I’d like to think it will turn up someday and completely confound whoever finds it.

My appreciation for Batman extended into other media. As crude and as racist as it was, I was captivated by the movie theater revival of the original 1943 Batman serial in movie theaters. I watched the second 1949 serial as well. I’m pretty sure - I can’t be 100% certain given the state of my vast accumulation of stuff - that I own both those less-than-stellar cinematic efforts.

When Batman debuted on TV in 1966, I felt insulted by the series playing my hero for laughs. I still watched every episode and went to the movie released that summer. It was only in the past decade or so that I have come to appreciate the series was great fun and, in many ways, faithful to Batman and his comic-book mythos.

I enjoyed the modernization of Batman in the mid-1960s through the 1980s. Indeed, when DC Comics recruited me away from Marvel in 1976 or thereabouts, one of the main carrots dangled in front of me was writing Batman. Just one of the agreements with me that previous DC managements failed to honor. Thankfully, for me, it’s been a lot better dealing with the present-day management.

I started parting ways with Batman when - I assume - someone at DC read a book on aberrant psychology and decided my once-favorite hero was insanely obsessive. To further the madness, they retconned away his bringing the killer of his parents to justice. They didn’t stop there.

DC made Batman distrustful of every other hero. They made him manipulative and scarily secretive, devising plans to defeat every other hero if he deemed them to be threats. He refused to kill the Joker, even in “clean shot” situations, and even, on occasion, went to extreme lengths to keep the clownish killer alive. DC turned my once-favorite hero into a madman, as much a menace as his murderous foes. He deserved better.

There have been a few bright spots here and there, but the darkness had surrounded Batman and remains. Even when he seems to be playing nice with the other heroes and treating his otherwise abused “sons” with some modicum of respect, I keep waiting for him to snap. From what I’ve heard, that may not be too long. The current plan seems to be to send him crashing to rock bottom in an extended story arc. If rock bottom weren’t the character’s default setting - we’ve seen it again and again - I might be more interested.

I don’t hate Batman per se. I don’t care for what DC has done with him and I really don’t care for how they have diminished all their other super-heroes  while doing it. Batman has become the center of the DC Universe. All other DC super-heroes must revolve around him. As one astute reader put it, every other hero is Batman’s sidekick.

My latest beef with Batman concerns Black Lightning. I originally planned to write an entire bloggy thing about this, but I realized I can sum it up in one paragraph.

Black Lightning is a headliner with a hit TV series. He should not be regressed into yet another Batman sidekick. It is disrespectful to the character, to his creator and to his fans.

I loved Mike W. Barr and Jim Aparo’s Batman and the Outsiders. That was 35 years ago. My motto for myself and my own Black Lightning work is “Always forward.” My Jefferson Pierce would never abandon his family, students, community and city - which is Cleveland, no matter what DC thinks - to answer “How high?” when Batman commands “Jump!” You either get that or you don’t, and it’s pretty clear not everyone at DC gets it.

Who is “my” Batman?

My Batman is a good man who suffered a horrible loss when he was a mere child. That loss drove him to fight crime and evil however he could. He was driven by those childhood horrors, but he still had a code of honor and a generous spirit. He even took in a young boy who had suffered a similar loss and helped that young boy bring the killer of his parents to justice. In doing so, Batman freed the boy of the demons that haunted Batman.

Then my Batman brought the killers of his own parents to justice. He exorcized his own demons in doing this.

Then he decided to keep being Batman. To keep battling so that no other innocents would suffer the loss he had suffered. In my mind, that’s when Batman went from avenger to hero. When he chose to stay in the dark to save others. I like my grim-but-sane Batman better than their Batman.

We’re not likely to see my Batman anytime soon. He would be too big a transition from the current Batman. However, when asked what I’d do with the current Batman, this is what I came up with:

Batman is logical and smart enough to realize he has a problem. He goes into rehab/therapy/treatment/whatever to help him handle his self-defeating issues. As part of his treatment, he starts working a version of the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous tailored to his unique situation.

There is still a need for the Batman, but he can’t walk away from those who need his help. He chooses to stay in the darkness to help those who need his help. However, he would act in a more measured manner, striving to maintain his “sobriety” without giving into the darkness. It would be a constant struggle, but it is a sacrifice he makes for the good of others.

Batman would seek to make amends to those he has wronged. Not all of them would allow this. There are those who have been damaged too much by his manipulations and obsessions. He will fail from time to time. He will not give up or descend completely into the darkness. This is a battle worth fighting and, in committing himself to that battle, Batman could, once more, become my hero.

Not my favorite hero, mind you. That would be Black Lightning. But you probably figured that out already.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...A mini-report on the Flaming River Con, the first LGBTQ comics convention in the Midwest, plus reviews of the Hercules: Adventures of the Man-God Archive, Border Town #1 and Casper’s Ghostland #1!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018


September was a crazy busy month for me. It started with my first ever night-club performance and continued with the Hall of Heroes Convention in Elkhart, Indiana, a week-long trip to Los Angeles, an evening spent learning something about raising money in Cleveland and the Midwest’s first LGBTQ comics convention. It wrapped up with the Baltimore Comic*Con, one of the best and best-run conventions anywhere.

The price of attending all those events was paid for by this bloggy thing. I’ll do my best to bring you nigh-daily bloggy things this month, starting with the list of the things that made me happy in September. We begin.

September 1: The Tap Dance Killer’s Comic Book Cabaret. Ted Sikora, a man of frighteningly multiple talents, put on a great show. I had a wonderful time in one of the classic Cleveland clubs. We’ll not see their like again.

September 2: I had an absolute blast reading/performing scenes from Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands #1 at The Tap Dance Killer’s Comic Book Cabaret. I’m going to do things like this at some of the many comics conventions I attend.

September 3: Snozzberries. They did a terrific set of cartoon and TV theme songs at The Tap Dance Killer’s Comic Book Cabaret. If I ever get my own talk show or podcast, I want them for my house band.

September 4: Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Mass. This excellent young adult novel pairs Catwoman with Batwing. It’s an intriguing new take on both characters.

September 5: Rubber City Comics of Akron, Ohio. Thanks to them, I was able to help out a Black Lightning fan who got cheated when he ordered a BL statue online. A statue is on its way to him.

September 6: Preacher Season Three. Great character development and interesting new characters. Unsettling events leading to a pretty satisfying season finale with a eye-opening cliffhanger. One of my favorite TV series.

September 7: The people in my life who make my life better just by being in it. You know who you are.

September 8: The Hall of Heroes Comic Con 2018, Elkhart, Indiana. A fun-filled show with great fans, guests, vendors and volunteers. I hope to return every year.

September 9: Elkhart, Indiana. It struck me as a very nice place to live...and how cool that Mayor Tim Neese was at the Hall of Heroes Comic Con every day. He even helped some guests and vendors bring their wares into the show.

September 10: Receiving the second annual Hall of Heroes Hero Award at the Hall of Heroes Comic Con, an honor made all the more special because the first one went to my dear friend Allen Bellman.

September 11: I have the best friends ever. Bob Ingersoll picked me up at LAX, got us a great price on a hotel and did all the driving during my time there. Then we had a great dinner with Mark Evanier and Maggie Thompson.
September 12: Galco’s Soda Pop Emporium. I’d always wanted to see this store, which is filled with rare beverages, candy and more. It didn’t disappoint. I bought a dozen bottles and several candy bars I hadn’t seen in decades.

September 13: On Hollywood’s Avenue of the Stars, a costume actor saw my Black Lightning shirt, told me how much he loved the show, asked if I worked on it. When I told him to Google “Tony Isabella,” he did so. He was so excited I thought he was going to rip my arm off shaking my hand. Then he asked if he could take a selfie with me. I charged him ten bucks. (I didn’t.)

September 14: I met Amber, the absolutely darling and stunningly beautiful girlfriend of Mark Evanier. As great a wordsmith as he is, Mark has not done her justice.

September 15: I had a wonderful visit to the DC Comics offices. My thanks to all there for their courtesy and respect. I hope things work out so there are many more visits to come.
September 16: BlacKkKlansman. An amazing movie on so many levels. Hard-hitting with frequent moments of hilarity. This should win a whole bunch of Oscars.

September 17: Lunch with Bob Ingersoll, Elliot Maggin, Ken Penders and Larry Houston. So much talent at one table in a terrific Thai restaurant.

September 18: A pleasant cruise of the Long Beach harbor. Besides seeing sea lions and a Russian spy submarine, I learned a way cool Disney fact. I'll tell you about when I post my trip report.

September 19: Dinner with goddaughter Vanessa Hudak in Long Beach. She is a remarkable woman and it was a blast to catch up with her and share crazy stories.

September 20: Surprise visits to the Golden Apple and Mega City One comics shops on Melrose. Signed Black Lightning books and comics at both. Shop owners beware. I plan to do more of this on my travels this year.

September 21: The Harlan Ellison Memorial Party. It was a wonderful celebration of my friend’s life and the friendships that surrounded him. He loomed large in my life and continues to do so.

September 22: My daughter Kelly’s 27th birthday party. It was much fun and I got to see her new car. I’m so proud of the woman she has become.

September 23: The Cleveland Browns won a game! They came back from behind, which made it even more exciting. Their winning quarterback was making his first NFL appearance. Free beer was given out sans rioting. A good day for my home town.

September 23: The Flaming River Con was the Midwest’s first LGBTQ comics convention. It was an inspirational event, made more so by its venue: West Shore Unitarian Universalist Church. That’s what I call and admire as faith in action.

September 25: Another WolfCop. The 2017 sequel to the original was 82 minutes of good goofy nonsense with a guest appearance by Kevin Smith, a glimpse of WolfCop penis and an eight-breasted catwoman. Sometimes that’s what I need from a movie.

September 26: The increasing number of comics pros and fans who are take public stands against the anti-diversity gang. Inclusion makes for better comics.
September 27: Roger Price. My dear old friend was an enormous help in getting us to the Cleveland airport for our flight to Baltimore. He was even more help during the convention itself as my booth babe and money bunny.

September 28: Being interviewed on Baltimore’s Fox 45 morning news program and then shooting some promos for their sister CW station. Black Lightning’s back on October 9.

September 29: Going out to dinner with longtime online pals Steve Olle, Neil Ottenstein and Sam Tomaino. We saw the murder board from Homicide and the building that “played” the police station.

September 30: Seeing so many friends. Maya Crown Williams, Scott Edelman, Bob Greenberger, Carla Speed McNeil, Paul Storrie, Andrew Pepoy, and so many others.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella