Tuesday, June 2, 2020


Comic-book writer and screenwriter Martin Pasko passed away earlier this month from natural causes and at the age of 65. Marty, known affectionately as “Pesky” Pasko, and I became friends before either of us had become comics professionals. He was a terrific writer and man who never quite realized how terrific he was. Though we rarely came into contact after I left New York City for good, we would see each other at the occasional convention. Once Facebook made it much easier to stay in touch with old and new friends, we exchanged the usual comments and messages.

The photo above is from the 2010 New York Comic Convention and is quite possibly the only photo of us together. From left to right, the photo shows Bob Rozakis, Marty, Jack C. Harris and me. We all entered the comics industry in the early 1970s.

Looking at this gathering, I realize how much I would love to have collections like The Best of Bob Rozakis, The Best of Martin Pasko and The Best of Jack C. Harris on my bookshelf. All three of them wrote many more comics stories than I did and, even in those times when writers were expected to knock out scripts rapidly, a lot of those stories were really entertaining.

It’s unlikely you’ll ever see such collections from DC Comics. With rare exception, and mostly when such collections are Batman-based,  DC and other publishers don’t have any interest in promoting comics writers who are no longer writing for them. They concentrate their efforts on collections of recent comic books and collections that have other media ties. I’m not necessarily knocking that process - I’m currently enjoying the heck out of the recent collection of the Geoff Johns-created and written Stargirl series, first published as Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E - but I wish there was room on the schedule for those other books as well.

All of those fine writers mentioned above have many fans. Although this is unlikely, wouldn’t it be great if DC Comics licensed rights to the best stories of Bob, Jack and Marty to a smaller publisher? Think of the fun of asking readers to name their favorite stories by those guys and others. Think of how difficult it would be for a publisher to whittle the long lists down to volumes of 300 or 400 pages each. If someone published these volumes, I would buy them. Take my money, please.

While we contemplate such wonders, let’s get down to the business of this week’s trio of reviews...

I’m on a Terry Moore kick. The writer/artist came to prominence in the 1990s with over a hundred issues of the brilliant Strangers in Paradise. I recently read the over 2000-page-long omnibus edition of that series. I’m currently reading his Rachel Rising from 2011-2016, which is a mere 30 issues and around 900 pages. In between an assortment of work for various publishers, Moore did the relatively compact Echo, also 30 issues, but coming in at a mere 600 pages or so. And that’s the series leading off this week’s reviews.

Echo: The Complete Edition [Abstract Studios; $39.99] is the story of a woman who undergoes a transformation that changes her life and may lead to the destruction of darn near everything. Here’s a quick summary from Amazon:

Julie is in the wrong place at the wrong time and becomes an unwilling participant in a web of murder and deceit that becomes nuclear! She is forced to find the maker of the atomic plasma that has rained down on her. As the plasma grows, she gets closer and closer to answers with the help of the original owner of the atomic suit she now wears. A lunatic with powers from the plasma is determined to take Julie and her suit for his own and destroys everything that stands in his way. Julie''s mission becomes too hot for her to handle alone and along with Ivy and Dillon, she must stop the makers of the suit from harnessing the plasma for their own destructive use.

Echo is an exciting and frightening thriller. Julie’s confusion is very relatable in these “what the hell is happening to our country” times. The people who enter her life are as interesting as she is. The villains who would kill or use her are truly scary individuals. There are surprises, some grim, some wondrous around every corner of the path she takes. If this were a movie - and, please, make it so - I would’ve been knocked back in my seat on several occasions. Though the story delivers a satisfying conclusion, it left me with an intense desire to see what becomes of the surviving cast members in the future. If Moore should revisit these characters, I’m 100% on board with that.

Echo: The Complete Edition is my pick of the week. I recommend it for teens and older readers.

ISBN 978-1-892597-48-9


Manga continues to amaze and delight, most recently in the form of Gigant Vol. 1 [Seven Seas; $13.99], first of a three-book series by Hiroya Oku. The back cover blurb:

Rei dreams of becoming a big-ticket film director, but when he stumbles into a chance meeting with a busty adult film star, his high school life takes a turn for the strange. Not only does his favorite porn star like him, she gains the power to grow to an enormous, towering size! Is alien technology to blame? Time travel? The end of the world? All manner of bizarre trouble lies ahead, and a gigantic, gorgeous woman is just the tip of the iceberg!
When I first heard of Gigant, I thought it sounded kind of creepy. But I’ve been pleasantly surprised by other salacious-seeming manga and decided to give it a try. Make no mistake, there is nudity in this volume. The heroine works in adult films and, while sex is but indicated, there’s also no mistaking that her viewers, including Rei, are using her films as God intended.

Rei is a decent kid. When actress Papiko is targeted by someone who puts “a porn star lives in this neighborhood” signs in the area where she lives, Rei takes the posters down. The two become friends and they cherish this unlikely friendship. I like these people.

The above would be enough for an interesting series, but it’s just the start of the story. Papiko has an abusive boyfriend, adding a serious human drama to the series. Even beyond her inexplicable ability to grow to giant size, we have an even stranger element as teenagers are asked to vote on various “end of the world” scenarios and the scenarios that garner the most votes actually take place. So far, the winners have been far short of actual world endings, but it’s a scary concept.

Two giant thumbs up for Gigant, which is suitable for older teens and adults. The second volume will be published in August.

ISBN 978-1-64505-294-4


My final review of the day is Crowded Volume 1: Soft Apocalypse [Image; $12.99] by Christopher Sebela (script and design) with Ro Stein and Red Brandt (line art), Triona Farrell (colors), Cardinal Rae (letters) and Juliette Capra (edits). All six are credited as  creators of the series. If accurate, that many cooks may explain my mild disappointments with this volume. Backtracking a smidgin, it was the back cover blurb copy that caught my attention:

Ten minutes in the future, the world runs on an economy of job shares and apps, while crowd funding has evolved into Reapr: a platform for assassination that’s trickled down from politicians, celebrities and CEOs to everyday life and all its petty resentments. A world where anyone with enough backers and the money they contribute can kill anyone else.

Like Charlie Ellison, who up until now has lead a quiet, normal life, until she wakes up to find herself the target of a Reapr campaign with a million dollars on her head. Hunted by all of Los Angeles, Charlie hires Vita, the lowest rated bodyguard on the Dfend app. As the campaign picks up speed and Vita takes out incompetent civilians and aspirational assassins on their tail, she and Charlie will have to figure out who wants Charlie dead and why before the campaign’s 30 days or their lives are over.
I love the premise, but felt the storytelling was a bit disjointed and even padded. Vita is my favorite character so far with Charlie just being a little too annoying and shady for me to bond with her. The background of this society would probably be interesting story material, but it’s buried in the action, betrayals and destruction. Still, the fresh and intriguing premise made Crowded worth buying and reading. I’m up for the second volume, which will be published later this month. I’ve already pre-ordered it.

ISBN 978-1-5343-1054-4

Thanks for stopping by. I’m working towards restoring “Tony’s Tips” to a weekly feature and the bloggy thing to its original nigh-daily status. In the meantime, stay safe and sane.

© 2020 Tony Isabella


  1. Tony, You realize Terry's current series, Five Years, brings all his previous series characters together in one book, including Echo? SIP, Rachel, and even Motor Girl too.

  2. I am aware of that, but it slipped my mind as I was writing my review of Echo.

  3. I can't believe DC hasn't released a trade collecting BobRo's TEEN TITANS run!