Saturday, February 20, 2021


 ...I have not yet been able to get the bloggy thing back on a frequent schedule. Lots of reasons that I won't go into at present. But that's still the goal. Thanks for your patience. Stay safe, stay sane, and keep looking for joy in your daily life.

Sunday, February 7, 2021



It’s a new year with a new president and a new Congress and all of the same difficulties and problems that plagued us last year. But there are good people working to ease those difficulties and solve those problems. We have role models. We have friends. We have hope. We have things that bring us joy.

Here are the things that made me happy in January...

January 1: I beat 2020. It took some last shots at me. I slipped on driveway ice and banged up my knees. I got bit by a spider. But I made it to 2021. Just in time to watch the Confederate Party try to end democracy as we know it. I refuse to be 2021's bitch.

January 2: We Can Be Heroes. A great fun for the whole family movie in which the children of captured super-heroes must step up to save the world. Written and directed by Robert Rodriguez, this movie is worth watching more than once.

January 3: Heroes at Home by Zeb Wells with artist Gurihiru. This 80-page, approximately 5" by 5" book, is a hilarious look at Marvel heroes (Spider-Man, Black Panther, Captain America, Captain Marvel, Hulk and Venom) in Quarantine. The $10 price gave me pause, but the stories are LOL funny and suitable for readers 10 and up.

January 4: Last night’s “The Dad-Feelings Limited” episode of The Simpsons was a rare positive Comic Book Guy story. Even the title characters shone. I’d like to see more of CBG and his wife Kumiko in future stories.

January 5: After being gone for a year, Amazon gift cards are back at Medina’s Giant Eagle. That’s extra savings for me, since buying them adds to my Giant Eagle fuel and grocery perks.

January 6: Invisible Men: The Trailblazing Black Artists of Comic Books by Ken Quattro. An important and interesting addition to our knowledge of not merely Black comics artists but comics history in general. Quattro’s research and dedication to accuracy is amazing!

January 7: Georgia. The state that has now given us a chance to fix the harm done to our country by the seditionist Donald J. Trump and the Confederate Party that enabled him. I love Georgia and hope to visit there as soon as possible.

January 8: ABC’s Celebrity Wheel of Fortune was hilarious fun with a wonderful charitable purpose. Kudos to Pat, Vanna, Leslie Jones, Chandra Wilson and Tony Hawk for one of the best television hours ever. More please.

January 9: The Other History of the DC Universe Book One by John Ridley with Giuseppe Camuncoli, Andrea Cucchi and José Villarrubua.This is the first authentic portrayal of Black Lightning in comic books since my Cold Dead Hands concluded. It’s brilliant.

January 10: The Cleveland Browns beat the Pittsburgh Steelers for their first playoff win in 26 seasons. This despite a number of key players and the coach missing the game.

January 11: Amazon for streaming Grizzly II: Revenge in time for me to cancel my order for a DVD of this truly awful movie. I know it’s hard to believe, but even I have standards.

January 12: Binge-watched the last six episodes of Swamp Thing and enjoyed them quite a bit. Some story lines seemed rushed, but there’s so much potential for the second season we will likely never see. Maybe this is a thing that makes me mostly happy?

January 13: Ken Jennings as guest host on Jeopardy. He has a deep respect for Alex Trebek, an obvious love for the game, a spritely sense of humor and an understanding of what the contestants face. I could see him as the permanent host.

January 14: Covid Chronicles by Ethan Sacks and Dalibor Talajic. Ten gripping personal accounts from the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. Originally distributed online by NBC News, these stories  explore the scope of the health credit. No sensationalism. Honest journalism. Great comics.  

January 15: WandaVision. Two episodes in and I’m hooked. Terrific performance by Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany. Honestly funny and eerily suspenseful. This is going to be a wild ride.

January 16: Batman: Three Jokers by Geoff Johns and Jason Fabok. I’m surprised, too. A sane and even compassionate Batman. A great ending I never saw coming. This series doesn’t need a sequel, but  I’d love to see more Batman stories like this one.

January 17: CNN’s The Faces of the Trump Insurrection. Absolutely chilling look at violent madness. This is not a time for unity and forgiveness. Those things can only come once justice has been done from Trump on down.
January 18: Batwoman. The second season opener introduced Javicia Leslie as new Batwoman Ryan Wilder, cut short the already tiresome Tommy Elliott story and created a new and most intriguing dynamic  for the series. I’m on board.

January 19: Peter Wolf’s Ronald Rump The Poor Little Rich Brat #2. The perfect comic book to read on the last full day of a four-year national nightmare. A hilarious tale that takes us to the past and the future.  

January 20: President Joe Biden. Vice President Kamala Harris. Lady Gaga. Jennifer Lopez. Amanda Gorman. Another chance to get it right  and make it so much better. Truth counts. Love counts. Inclusion counts. Decency counts.

January 21: Celebrating America. What an outstanding way to cap the inaugurations of President Biden and Vice-President Harris! I was brought to tears by the performances, the speeches and the return of hope to my country.

January 22: I have a great many friends who some would not expect to be my friends. I am grateful for their friendship and that I’m part of their worlds. Love is love.

January 23: The Bernie Sanders meme and that my dear friend - just check out the photo of us at a comics convention - has such a good sense of humor about them.

January 24: Saintly Wife Barb emptied out and defrosted our large basement freezer with only minimal help from me. We were appalled at how much food we’d wasted, but have vowed to be better at this going forward.

January 25: Jackie Chan’s The Spy Next Door. From 2010, a family-friendly movie with a wee trace of edge. Chan’s physical comedy is delightful and even the well-telegraphed sentimental bits worked.
It was fun. Most times, that’s all I need from a movie.

January 26: Jen Psaki. First White House Press Secretary I haven’t wanted to punch in the face in four years. Articulate, forthright, honest and witty.

January 27: Alter Ego #166. Featuring Golden and Silver Age comics legend Kurt Schaffenberger! Mark Voger’s wonderful remembrance of his friendship with the Schaffenbergers! A sensationally obsessive Alex Ross! Yet another fantastic issue from editor Roy Thomas and TwoMorrows Publishing.

January 28: Resident Alien. The always brilliant Alan Tudyk is, of course, brilliant in the title role. Based on the great comic book by Peter Hogan and Steve Parkhouse, the pilot was both foreboding and hilarious. I’m on board.

January 29: The MCU’s Dr. Darcy Lewis (portrayed by Kat Dennings) is insanely wonderful. Her appearance in WandaVision set a higher bar for the already great series. I want a Darcy Lewis spin-off TV series and comic book. Like right now.
January 30: Lady Gaga Oreos. Pink cookies with green frosting. I love Lady Gaga. I love Oreos. I love “variant editions” of cookies and other edibles. Do the math.                                                                                                                                                           
January 31: Terry Beatty’s Rex Morgan makes its third appearance on the list with the current diabetes storyline. As a type 2 diabetic, I’ve faced many of the same fears and struggles. Here’s hoping our pal Buck comes to grips with his diabetes.

If you don’t want to wait until the end of the month to see things that made me happy, I post them daily on my various Facebook pages and on Twitter. I have four Facebook pages (my personal page, Tony Isabella’s Authentic Black Lightning Group, Kaiju Cathedral and The Official Tony Isabella Message Board). You can find me on Twitter by going to @thetonyisabella.

That’s all for today, my friends. Stay safe, stay sane and always search for joy.

© 2021 Tony Isabella

Saturday, February 6, 2021


Welcome to yet another installment of my 2020's Free Comic Book Day reviews. My pals at Stormwatch Comics in West Berlin, New Jersey send me these FCBD comics so I can read and write about them in the bloggy thing. Only twice have I actually reached my goal of reading and writing about all the FCBD comics available in a given year. Maybe this time I’ll three-peat that achievement. I think I can do it, but it’ll take me until sometime in mid-2021 to complete this particular mission.

When I read and review FCBD comics, I look at three areas.

QUALITY: Is the material worthwhile?

ACCESSIBILITY: Is the material presented in such a way that someone coming to it for the first time can follow it?

SALESMANSHIP: After reading the FCBD offering, would someone want and be able to buy more of the same?

I score FCBD offerings on a scale of zero to ten. Each category is worth three points with the tenth point coming from my interest in seeing more of what’s ever in the book.

Leading us off today is Disney Masters: Donald Duck [Fantagraphics Books] featuring three stories. Donald stars in “It’s Bats, Man” by John Lustig with artist William Van Horn. Uncle Scrooge stars in “Much Ado About Telepathy” by writer Evert Geradts with art by Mau Heymans. Finally, we get the first appearance of Fethry Duck in a story by classic Duck creators Dick Kinney (writer) and Al Hubbard (artist).

QUALITY: Three excellent stories. In the Lustig tale, Donald is a master of pest control. Like others in the “Master series” over the years, Don is incredibly skilled at this job until one wee mishap destroys him. The Scrooge story has Uncle McDuck trying to acquire a rare animal with amazing powers. Finally, while I’ve not been a fan of Fethry Duck, his initial appearance was terrific fun.

ACCESSIBILITY: Donald and Scrooge are so well-known that it would be quite difficult to tell a story about either of them that wasn’t very accessible.

SALESMANSHIP: Very good. The issue has four pages of ads for Disney collections from Fantagraphics with enough information on each that I want to read them all. SCORE: Ten points out of a possible ten points. That’s a great way to start today’s column.


Donut the Destroyer by Sarah Graley and Stef Purenins [Graphix} has a premise that just plain tickles me. The title character wants to be a super-hero, even though her parents are super-villains. Quite infamous super-villains at that, though that doesn’t prevent them for allowing their daughter to go to Lionheart, which trains young heroes. Donut’s parents would rather she go to Skullfire, a school for young villains, they are at least okay with her following her own path. I love this concept.

QUALITY: First-rate. We get the first 28 pages of what I assume is a graphic novel. The writing and cartoony art are welcoming. I am definitely interested in reading more.

ACCESSIBILITY: This excerpt brought me completely into the story. Once again, first-rate.

SALESMANSHIP: Good. There are inside front and back cover house ads for several other Graphix books with the back cover being used to promote Donut the Destroyer and its creators.

SCORE: Ten points out of a possible ten points. I just can’t think of anything this FCBD issue could have done better.


Fire Power #1 by Robert Kirkman and Chris Samnee [Image] presents 30 pages of comics by that distinguished creative team plus related text material and covers. However, the story here picks up fifteen years after the previous material collected in Fire Power Volume 1: Prelude.

QUALITY: It’s a quiet introduction to Fire Power, one that focuses  on Owen Johnson’s family life. Yet it’s very well told with enough intriguing bits to pique my interest.

ACCESSIBILITY: Though this issue follows the graphic novel prelude, the reader is given enough information to follow along.

SALESMANSHIP: All the salesman ship is for Fire Power. The comics, the text material, the back cover ad for the prelude. Did it work? Well, I’ve ordered the prelude, so...

SCORE: Nine points out of a possible ten points.


Eric Powell’s Hillbilly: The Lizard of Rusty Creek Cave [Albatross Funnybooks] is not a comic book I would have given a thought to if it had not been a FCBD giveaway. I have an aversion to comics named for what I consider insults. I hope you understand that I’ll not be naming examples here. The cover copy of this FCBD book says “There are many takes of Rondel the Wandering Hillbilly, but this one is free!” If I had to describe it, the best shorthand description that I could devise would be “backwoods fantasy.”

QUALITY: First-rate. In a village where a child is sacrificed to a giant serpent every year, young Geraldine thinks there must be some better way. What follows is her quest, her gaining understanding and a satisfying conclusion and moral.

ACCESSIBILITY: Excellent. This story is easy to get into and easy to follow. A great introduction to the title.

SALESMANSHIP: Very good. The issue has house ads for the Hillbilly trade collections and other Albatross publications. I’m planning to request the Hillbilly volumes from my local library system.

SCORE: Ten points out of a possible ten points.


Horizon Zero Dawn #0 [Titan Games] is based on a video game. I am not a gamer and have a particular bias against comic books based on games. I tell you that up front. Here’s some Wikipedia information on this game:

Horizon Zero Dawn is a 2017 action role-playing game developed by Guerrilla Games and published by Sony Interactive Entertainment. The plot follows Aloy, a young hunter in a world overrun by machines, who sets out to uncover her past. The player uses ranged weapons, a spear, and stealth to combat mechanical creatures and other enemy forces. A skill tree provides the player with new abilities and bonuses. The player can explore the open world to discover locations and take on side quests. It was released for the PlayStation 4 in 2017 and Microsoft Windows in 2020.

QUALITY: The premise is a good one. The characters, writing and art  are okay. The 12-page story was readable, but did not make me want to read more.

ACCESSIBILITY: Excellent. There are several pages giving background on this world and its participants. Even before I read all of those pages, I had no trouble following the story.

SALESMANSHIP: Okay. There is a house ad for this series and a few other Titan books. The back cover is an ad for the video game.

SCORE: Seven points out of a possible ten points.

Keep watching the bloggy thing for more of my Free Comic Book Day reviews.

© 2021 Tony Isabella