Tuesday, July 7, 2020


I have devoted my life to working in an industry of moral cowards. When writing the openings of my “Tony’s Tips” columns, I generally try to be upbeat. That’s not the case this time around.

In recent weeks, we have learned of too many comics professionals who have sexually abused and harassed women and, in some cases, men, in our field. Some very big names in comics have made a practice of grooming young women to be the fulfillment of their sexual wishes. Widening the scope, we’ve learned of bullying, discrimination and outright racism.

In 2005, in a hot tub at the hotel where Mid-Ohio-Con was starting the next day, Charles Brownstein of the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund assaulted a young woman. He got a slap on the wrist, completed some sort of bullshit program and was free to continue his predator ways. In 2010, another young woman he abused was forced to sign an NDA or have to pay back the moving expenses the Fund had given her. At least four people who were on the board or otherwise working for the CBLDF in 2010 were still on the board or otherwise working for the organization when Brownstein was “resigned” last month. Only one of those four people resigned when the truth came out.

Wrap your head around that. People who covered up Brownstein’s vile behavior. People who enabled it. People who protected Brownstein. Still involved with the CBLDF. Facing no consequences for what they did. Not being held accountable for what they did.

No big name creators have spoken out demanding those individuals be removed from the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. Only a handful of creators have expressed support for my position. None of the comics news sites have demanded accountability. It is a shameful example of moral cowardice.

There are additional stories coming out of DC Comics and Dark Horse Comics. Again, those who have covered up for predators and enabled predators and protected predators have faced zero consequences for their actions. Again, no big name creators have demanded that they be held accountable. Again, no comics news sites have demanded they be held accountable. Moral cowards.

I’m used to standing alone when it comes to this stuff. I suppose I took to heart the lessons I learned from comic-book heroes as a kid. However imperfectly, I have tried to lead my life in a manner compatible with those lessons. I don’t want to believe I am alone among comics creators in this. As the song goes, I’m still holding out for a hero. Preferably a great many heroes.

There is a right side of history. Some would say it sometimes bends left and sometimes bends right. That’s a false narrative. There is unquestionably a right side of history. A side that doesn’t cover up predatory behavior, a side that doesn’t enable predators to keep abusing people, a side that doesn’t protect predators.

Ask the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund on which side it stands. Ask comics publishers on which side they stand. Ask the big-name comics creators on which side they stand.

I know where I stand.

Rachel Rising by Terry Moore [Abstract Studios; $55] is the latest chapter in my reading and re-reading of all Moore’s self-published comics. It is a brilliant, but often dark saga of Rachel Beck. She was murdered. She came back to life. She’s looking to solve her own murder with the help of family members and strange new friends. It is a scary story that dives right into supernatural power and evil. It is not without humor, but horror is always a turn of the page away. It has great characters and great character development. It has many surprises. And I’ll be gosh-darned if I’m going to reveal them and take away even the smallest part of your enjoyment of yet another Moore epic.

I have read thousands of pages of Terry Moore comics this year and can’t wait to start the next Moore series on my list. If Stan Sakai is our greatest living cartoonist, Moore isn’t far behind him. In a comics industry filled with meandering epics that go on and on, Moore shows time and time again that he can tell a truly epic story.

Rachel Rising is this week’s pick of the week, earning my highest recommendation. I’m certain you will never be disappointed by any of Moore’s works. This is the good stuff.

ISBN 978-1-892597-62-5


I absolutely love the TV series Stargirl. It has the same heart and respect for its comic-book origins as the Black Lightning series. This came as no surprise since the TV series is the brainchild of Courtney Whitmore creator Geoff Johns.

The first episode of the Stargirl TV series knocked me for a loop with its tragic opening flashback scene. I barely had time to catch my breath when I was introduced to Courtney, her stepdad Pat Dugan, her mom, her stepbrother and a high school/small town with so much drama and personality that I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next and which new characters I would meet. I now have a second favorite super-hero TV series.

After that first episode, I realized I had never read the original comic book source material. Exhibiting not the slightest modicum of restraint, I immediately ordered Stargirl by Geoff Johns [DC Comics; $34.99], which collects stories from Stars and S.T.R.I.P.E. #0-14, JSA: All Stars #4, DCU Heroes Secret Files (1999) and DCU Villains Secret Files (1999). I started reading the trade paperback the day it arrived.

The Stargirl series doesn’t exactly adapt these early Geoff Johns comic books, but it has their spirit and it does honor to all the characters who made the move to TV. With rare exceptions, I’m not a fan of super-hero comic books of the late 1990s and early 2000s. Yet these comics, drawn by Lee Moder and others, were entertaining and much fun. Johns’ love for the Justice Society and other bits of DC continuity came shining through. This comes from a writer (me) who’d happily take a sledgehammer to eight decades of ever-changing DC Universe continuity. If the core values of the characters are there, I don't sweat the details.

The bottom line? The TV series is better than the original comics. But this collection of those original comics gets my recommendation for being heartfelt, honest and satisfying. I’ve already read much of Geoff’s other comics writing, but, you know, I do believe I want to reread all of it. That might be my 2021 “Terry Moore” project.

ISBN 978-1-4012-9712-1


Even recognizing anthologies can be a very mixed bag, I very much enjoy collections filled with done-in-one short stories. That was the case with Tales Through the Marvel Universe [$24.99]. Here is what Amazon says about it:

To celebrate Marvel's 80th anniversary, take a tour through the decades with tales past and present! In the 1940s, the untold tale of Namor and the atom bomb! In the 1950s, Reed Richards and Victor Von Doom enter the space race! In the 1960s, Captain America takes a stand for civil rights! In the 1970s, Spider-Man experiences the new age of blockbuster cinema! In the 1980s, Nightcrawler witnesses the fall of the Berlin Wall! In the 1990s, Deadpool gets into the collectible market! In the 2000s, Iron Man faces a financial crisis! In the 2010s, Spider-Woman struggles with disinformation! Gorilla-Man swings into action, Moon Knight prowls the streets, a pivotal chapter in Venom's history, a new status quo for former Ghost Rider Danny Ketch, Korean hero White Fox -and much more!

The past stories are my favorites. Downright haunting are Namor by Greg Pal and Tomm Coker; Captain America by Andrew Aydin and Daniel Acuna and Spider-Woman by Ethan Sacks and Marco Castiello. As for the modern era stories, I give top marks to Gorilla-Man by David & Marie Lapham; Moon Knight by Benjamin Percy and Juan Ferreyra; Ghost Rider by Ed Brisson and Juan Frigeri and the odd U/Wolverine tale by Zac Thompson, Lonnie Nadler and Andre Lima Araujo. Most of the other tales are, at least, readable. A couple are lead-ins to larger stories and that’s annoying. Only two or three are sub-par. Not a bad way to spend an afternoon.

ISBN 978-1-302-91746-3

Let’s end this column on a more positive note. Despite decades of disrespect from the comics industry, I’m fairly secure in my place in it. Because I know the impact my writing has had on readers from all over the world.

One of those readers sent me a book to be signed. With the book, he also included this note:

From Jim Henson, I learned the value of purposeful whimsy.

From Gene Roddenberry, that idealism existed.

From Richard Scarry, I learned to look beyond face value.

From Carl Sagan, that all disciplines connect.

You were my earliest guide in a quest for self and justice.

Let me correct my earlier comment. I don’t stand alone. Because so many of my readers stand with me.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2020 Tony Isabella


  1. It has been great to read some Tony Isabella content these past couple days. I didn't know I could "follow" the blog but I just did. I also know you are active on Facebook but I don't use Facebook so I appreciate when you have a new blog entry.

    It is amazing to me how ageism and favortism has really damaged the comic book industry although I guess that has always happened based on interviews I've read. I vividly remember several years ago, no less than the great great artist Jerry Ordway publicly wrote an open letter talking about how he was unable to find regular work as a penciller. And now we see all of these creeps and crooks being exposed who were protected by Editors and it kind of makes me sick to my stomach. If there was ever a better time to put out Black Lightning written by his creator this is the era to do it... but they wont. Is it because Tony Isabella isnt political and speaks out with no fear of alienating someone? Is it because Tony Isabella actually cares how one of his creations is portrayed? Would that every comics scripter had the same level of care and protective nature for these characters. It's why so many readers have abandoned the big two the past few years... because these are not the same characters we grew up with and they seldom make sense to how they were portrayed even five years ago.

    The pandemic is changing comics in many ways. I just hope it brings some veteran talent back to the forefront and not just for special issues. In film they celebrate the Pacinos but it comics... i just dont get it. I loved "cold dead hands". OK if DC doesnt want to put out a regular series in todays market why not a series of mini-series written by Tony? i mean, i will buy it. the companies are now owned by big corporate conglomerate and just want stuff they can strip mine for media. its sad. i applaud Tony for speaking out against a very flawed industry.

    Ronnie H.

  2. It was disheartening and disturbing to read the first part of this column, but thank you for speaking out. Whenever there you find the combination of power and/or money with a lack of accountability or transparency there is always scum to fill the void.

    On a more upbeat note - Terry Moore is brilliant. Just brilliant.



  3. You'd think that the CBLDF of all organizations would insist that its members hold themselves to a high standard of behavior. Sorry to hear that's not the case. Now they've harmed their cause by giving ammunition to anyone who wants to persecute comics creators: "You see what hypocrites these people are?"