Monday, April 26, 2021




Among my too long list of obsessions is the urge to see every darn super-hero movie that has been made. This is not as dangerous as it could be. For example, I have no interest in seeing Zack Synder’s films or animated versions of such brutally soulless comic books as The Killing Joke. But, yeah, with those exceptions, if a movie has super-heroes in it, I’ll watch it.

Recently released on Netflix, Thunder Force (2021) was written and directed by Ben Falcone, the husband of Melissa McCarthy, who, with Octavia Spencer, is one of the two members of the title super-team. Other actors include such favorites of mine as Jason Bateman, Bobby Cannavale and Melissa Leo. Players who weren’t on my radar before this, but whose performances I loved were Taylor Mosby and Marcella Lowery. Falcone has a small role as an ill-fated henchmen with the appropriate name of Kenny. Here’s the summary from the Internet Movie Database:

In a world where supervillains are commonplace, two estranged childhood best friends reunite after one devises a treatment that gives them powers to protect their city.

I wasn’t expecting much from Thunder Force, but it was a whole lot more entertaining than I expected. Time is spent showing the leads as they grow up together and move apart. Those warm moments are a nice contrast to the broad and sometimes gross comedy. Some super-hero bits are hilarious. At its core, this movie is about heroism and friendship.

This is a shorter review than I had originally intended to write. I made the decision to avoid spoilers because I wanted you to come to this movie without knowing too much about it. As I so often say when I write about films, Thunder Force won’t win any awards. What it will do is deliver a fun and satisfying hour-and-a-half’s worth of entertainment. That’s good enough for me.


The Last Blockbuster [2020] is a documentary currently streaming on Netflix. It’s the history of the last remaining Blockbuster Video store. That store is still operating in Bend, Oregon.

Though I’d known of the existence of this store, I stumbled across the documentary while channel-surfing, an ever more time-consuming activity, what with the many streaming networks available here at Casa Isabella. Directed by Taylor Morden and written by Zeke Kamm, this was an absolutely riveting hour-and-a-half spotlight on what was once an icon of American pop culture. It transported me back to
my own frequent visits to various Blockbuster stores, visits which started almost as soon as I bought my first VCR.

Owner Sandi Harding is the star of the documentary and, through her eyes, we see how important this family business was to not just her family but her community. There’s a wonderful scene in which past employees come to the store for an annual dinner. I think I got a little teary at how special that must be.

There are clips from celebrities talking about their experiences getting videos from or working at Blockbuster Video. Kevin Smith.Brian Posehn. Adam Brody. Ron Funches. Ione Skye. Cranky naysayer Lloyd Kaufman is included as well.

My own Blockbuster memories went hand-in-hand with my watching this documentary. Before I got married, I used to come home with a half-dozen videos of all kinds. I used to buy dozens of used VCR tapes. My schedule didn’t allow me to go to actual movie theaters all that often, but those tapes and bags of microwave popcorn in a darkened living room was a reasonable approximation of that experience for the times.

The Last Blockbuster gets my high recommendation. It even got me to thinking about visiting Bend, Oregon in the hopefully near future. Maybe even rent a movie and a VCR or DVD player while I’m in town.



Saturday night movies with Svengoolie is always a good time. While I don’t get to enjoy his show every week, I usually manage to watch a couple times a month. Recently, I watched his presentation of The Beast Must Die (1974), a British film from Amicus Productions and directed by Paul Annett. Written by Michael Winder and based on the short story "There Shall Be No Darkness" by James Blish, this movie is a, well, let me crib from the Internet Movie Database to set it up for you:

At the beginning of the film with narration. This film is a detective story--in which you are the detective The question is not "Who is the murderer?"--But "Who is the werewolf?" After all the clues have been shown--You will get a chance to give your answer. Said but not written on screen, directly after above quote: Watch for the werewolf break.

Wealthy big-game hunter Tom Newcliffe [played by Calvin Lockhart]  invites five people to his remote mansion and proclaims one of them is a werewolf. All the summaries say six people, but the only way to reach that number is to count Newcliffe’s wife Caroline [Marlene Clark] and there’s no indication the hunter considered her to be a suspect.

The actual suspects include archaeologist and lycanthropy expert Professor Lundgren [Peter Cushing], artist and ex-con Paul Foote [Tom Chadbon], disgraced diplomat Arthur Bennington [Charles Gray] and pianist Jan Gilmore and his wife Davina [Michael Gambon and Ciaran Madden]. Rounding out the cast we have Newcliffe’s associate Pavel [Anton Diffring]. With Pavel, the hunter has surrounded his mansion and its grounds with so much surveillance equipment that I thought it was unfair to the werewolf.

The Beast Must Die reminded me of a TV movie to such an extent that I was surprised to learn it was a theatrical release. The action is adequate at best with Lockhart going into overacting overdrive for most of the film. Lockhart is black, making for less than optimal for scenes shot in the day with special filters to mimic the night. There are a handful of chilling scenes throughout the movie, enough to make it worth watching once. Inserted against director Annett’s wishes, the “Werewolf Break” is laughably off-key.

Svengoolie makes the movie for me. Unless I was writing a book on werewolf movies, certainly a distant possibility, I wouldn’t have watched it otherwise.


One more movie for today. Courtesy of Svengoolie, I watched a swell movie called The Undead [1957]. Directed by Roger Corman, written by Charles B. Griffith and Mark Hanna, the black-and-white horror movie stars Pamela Duncan, Richard Garland, Allison Hayes and Val Dufour. Here’s the IMDb summary:

A beautiful woman is sent back in time via hypnosis to the Middle Ages where she finds she is suspected of being a witch, and subject to being executed.


The Undead is a pretty good shock ending comic-book story. I could visualize the panels and pages as I watched it.

Duncan is excellent in the dual roles of modern shady lady Diana Love and her virtuous medieval counterpart Helena. Garland is the knight who loves Helena, despite her being pronounced a witch and
doomed to execution. Hayes is best known for being that attacking 50-Foot Woman, but she’s likewise excellent as actual witch Livia. Dufour’s scientist is the scariest character in a movie that also features Lucifer. 

Quintus Ratcliff is a soulless investigator who sends Diana back to her past life as Helena. He sends himself back in time as well. He wants to see if Helena will sacrifice her (for her) present life to bring into being all the other lives that she will live. Centuries of women with lives of their own. Ratcliff only wants to see what happens, not giving a rodent’s behind for Helena or the weakening Diana. He’s an arrogant son of a bitch who doesn’t even flinch at bantering with the Devil.

Helena does choose to die in her medieval time so Diana and all her future selves will live. In modern times, Diana recovers and is so moved by Helena’s sacrifice that she vows to turn her life around and be worthy of that sacrifice.

The shock ending? Since Ratcliff was mentally linked to Helena, he has no way of getting back to his own time when she dies. With the Devil laughing, the scientist realizes he is trapped in the past. He’ll live his life and die before he was born. A fitting fate for the arrogant man.


I had never heard of The Undead before I watched it on Svengoolie. Now it’s a film I want to see again and which I recommend to all of you. And, yes, I’m available to adapt it into a comic book.

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

© 2021 Tony Isabella

Sunday, April 25, 2021



Since I’m not writing anything for Marvel or DC, I have little hope of ever becoming fluent with the current states of their respective universes. Should I ever resume writing for them, that won’t be a major obstacle. I’m a quick study, especially with editors who can bring me up to speed and elucidate what they’re expecting from me. Which is neither here nor there.

When I read comics from those companies it's almost always because a friend has recommended them to me. I gravitate towards collections because I prefer a great big chunk of story over individual issues, especially at a time when those individual issues seem like they’re merely taking up pages until the writers get to whatever big story they want to tell.

One of my transgender friends is a big fan of the X-Men, which is not surprising given the alienation and struggle for acceptance or survival that have been part of the X-Men since Stan Lee and Jack Kirby created them. You don’t have to be a scholar to see how that appeals to any number of readers.

House of X/Powers of X [Marvel; $49.99] by the “visionary writer” Jonathan Hickman and artists Pepe Larraz and R.B. Silva was truly a mixed bag for me. I’m not a big Hickman fan, but I recognize the quality and thoughtfulness of his writing. I very much liked this concept of sentient mutant island Krakoa becoming homeland for all the Earth’s mutants. I loved the political maneuvering attendant on Krakoa creating its place among the planet’s nations. And I loved the ramifications of this new global landscape. When a super-hero series becomes more than big punch-ups and destruction/death on a planetary scale, I’m gonna give it a chance.

What I didn’t like, and this is by no means all on Hickman, was the far-ranging “future of mutantkind” story running concurrently with what the modern story. I have rarely been a fan of future stories, except when they were never said to be *the* future of the heroes. I loved the “Superman of 2099" stories that ran in Superman comics in the 1960s. I didn’t care for the “Adult Legion of Super-Heroes” story that ran in the same era. Perhaps this future X-Men story is not meant to be canon, but it seemed like it was meant to be such. Why continue to read X-Men comics if I know what’s coming?

Oh, and, just to be even more grumpy, I don’t like the overuse of alternate universe versions of characters. I also don’t buy for an instant that Moira MacTaggert has been some kind of secret mutant
who dies and reincarnates over and over to help chart the future of mutantkind. That one made my eyes roll.

I plan to continue reading X-Men as my library provides me with the collections. I could never follow this ongoing story on an issue-to-issue basis. I’d previously read and enjoyed collections of the Marauders title and mostly enjoyed the one X-Factor collection. In the case of X-Factor, my experience was diminished by the presence of the always annoying Mojo.

My over-all take at this early stage of reading X-Men again is to applaud the big concept without buying into it entirely. If you’ve got the energy/patience to follow what is functionally a separate, multi-title Marvel imprint, you might enjoy these comics.



Brian Michael Bendis is one of the best writers in comics and has been for many years. I generally like his work and definitely like him personally. He’s a damn good man. Which is why it pains me that I don’t like his now-concluded work on Superman.

Yes, I know Bendis put in a couple years on the Superman titles and that he’s not writing Superman at the moment. For reasons unknown to me, I’m just getting around to reading his Superman stuff now, via collections from my local library system.

Why am I reviewing these Superman comics now? Because some of why I don’t care for them is worth writing about. As of this bloggy, I have read The Man of Steel [DC Comics; $17.99] and Superman Vol. 1: The Unity Saga: Phantom Earth [$17.99].

Almost every time a big-name writer takes over the Superman books, they want to reinvent the character in some manner. Of course, the character can and needs to be brought into whatever modern era this is happening in. However, these writers need to consider what effect their “improvements” will have on the Superman legacy and on the DC Universe titles that revolve around Superman.

Back in the 1980s, John Byrne dumped Superboy, Supergirl and Clark Kent’s mild-mannered personality. His Superboy call screwed over the popular Legion of Super-Heroes. His Supergirl call led to the inevitable creation of a much more complicated and less interesting new Supergirl. I wasn’t quite as put off by Clark Kent getting more manly, but I was fond of what Jules Feiffer once pointed out as the main positive of the Superman/Clark dichotomy. That was the idea that, underneath our cheap suits, we could all be Superman. That idea has appealed to generation after generation of Superman fans. To a large extent, I think it’s what made Superman human and therefore relatable to readers. Sadly, I doubt we’ll ever see that dichotomy again. Its absence has become too ingrained with comics readers and media viewers of Superman.

What I disliked most about the Bendis run on Superman was his massive change to Krypton and its history. My favorite version of Krypton is the one where it’s a beautiful planet of tomorrow with amazing advances in science and, sadly, with the arrogance that comes when powerful people refuse to address potential dangers. This always reminds me of how mankind has largely dropped the ball on climate change. I don’t think Krypton’s leaders could have prevented the tragic destruction of their people and planet, but there’s a lesson to be learned from their hubris.

Breaking from that history, Bendis instead chose to have Krypton murdered by a powerful xenophobe. It’s an inelegant embrace of the Hollywood excess that prefers the eye-candy of mass destruction to more meaningful plot development. Krypton goes from being a tragedy to being a crime victim. Indeed, much of what I find fault with in the Bendis run is a devotion to Hollywood blockbuster theories of storytelling. Make it big and bloody.

While I’ll give Bendis credit for naming some of the thousands of citizens of Kandor who were murdered so he could show how brutal his new villain was, it wasn’t enough. Those characters were still reduced to faceless statistics.

As for the rest of what I read in these two collections, I liked that Lois Lane was treated with respect. I didn’t like the break-up of the Kent family as the hands of a somehow alive Jor-El who is just as arrogant as the Kryptonian scientists who failed to heed his warning.

Because it comes at the very end of Superman Vol. 1, I have yet to form an opinion of the surprise aging of Jon Kent into a teenager. I liked some previous stories featuring Jon as a pre-teen. I think there was untapped potential in stories of that type. I’ll reserve further judgment until I’ve read more tales of the older super-son.

That’s a wrap for today’s bloggy thing. Stay safe and stay sane as we deal with the enormous problems of the world outside out beloved comic books. I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2021 Tony Isabella

Friday, April 23, 2021


If you’re a new reader of this bloggy thing of mine, you might not know this comic-book writer and fan, cheesy monster movie devotee, avid reader and reviewer of all kinds of books, and guy who watches an awful lot of TV is also a progressive liberal. Some readers are triggered by progressive liberal Democrats. They like me best when I write about those other things.

Here’s the thing. My writing is rarely devoid of social commentary even when it’s not abundantly obvious. If there is value to what I write, it’s because it often connects to the real world around us. That real world has always been political. Just as our comic-book super-heroes have always been political.

When you see “Citizen Tony” in the title of a bloggy thing, it’s my way of warning you that particular bloggy thing discusses political and social issues. I’m attempting to spare you being triggered by that day’s content. I’d rather you read my commentary and perhaps get a new perspective on the day’s topic, but that is your choice. You can skip today’s bloggy thing and come back on a day when I’m writing about something more to your liking.

Today’s “Citizen Tony” column has a letter I wrote to The Gazette, my home town’s local newspaper. Medina is way too Republican and way too white for my personal taste, and The Gazette generally (but not always) reflects that. Honestly, I don’t expect The Gazette to run this letter. It’s bad manners to call out racists as racists. Which is why you can read it here.

After much adieu, here is the letter:

Sweets & Geeks on East Smith Road is one of my favorite places in Medina. I love checking out the wondrous assortments of candy, soda pop and Funko figures, and that covers less than half of what you will find there. Unfortunately, my most recent visit to this great establishment was marred by a despicable eyesore.

Across the street from the Sweets & Geeks parking lot was a garage with a huge Confederate flag hanging from its door. It was as big as the United States flag that hung next to it. I wondered why anyone would display and seemingly take pride in displaying such an odious symbol of racism, slavery, treason and white supremacy.

The Confederate flag is not “heritage” except in the most negative way. Does the person who flies this flag consider their heritage to be one of  racism, slavery, treason and white supremacy? Because, when you dismiss the obviously false talking points about states rights and such, that’s the reality of this symbol. Racism. Slavery. Treason. White supremacy. Those were the realities of the Confederate States of America as proclaimed in the very documents that brought it into existence.

I’ll never understand why any American citizen would embrace what the Confederate flag represents. I don’t believe that flag reflect the hearts and minds of the vast majority of Medina’s residents. Yet there it flies on East Smith Road, a reminder that evil exists and that we still have a long way to go to truly make our country what it should be.

I’ll let you know if The Gazette runs this letter. In the meantime, stay safe and sane. I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2021 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, April 20, 2021


 Hey, kids of all ages...

I've been trying to bring you new bloggy things on a nigh-daily basis, even though I know there will be days when that doesn't happen. I hope you've been enjoying the content I'm posting and will post your comments on same.

Comments have to be approved by me, so don't be alarmed if your comment doesn't appear immediately. I check for comments several times a day and approve them as swiftly as possible. Those of you who have been on the Internet for, let's say five minutes, understand why comments have to be screened before they appear. 

I made a boo-boo a few days back and used the title "STILL WATCHING" for two bloggy things in a row. I'll try to avoid that in the future.

Eventually, when I gain a little ground on my outlandishly long "Things To Do" list, I'll be adding a  DONATE VIA PAYPAL link to the bloggy. We've talked about how woefully under-employed I'm on, so I'm looking for ways to bring in a few more bucks every month. I'll be doing some other things as well, but this appears to be the one I can do easiest. I hope those aren't famous last words.

If you're eager to show your financial appreciation for my content, you don't have to wait for the Paypal link to show up. You can always tip the Tipster through PayPal by using my e-mail address.

Coming up in the next several days will be the usual mix of news, views and reviews. I'll also be writing about my upcoming convention appearances, my upcoming garage sales and some other cool stuff. In the case of the garage sales, this is the year I am determined to make a huge dent in my Vast Accumulation of Stuff. Saintly Wife Barb would like more of our house back.

Stay safe, stay sane and try to treat each other with kindness and respect. I'll be back soon with more stuff. 


Monday, April 19, 2021




Captain America Omnibus Vol. 1 [Marvel; $125] has been part of my morning routine for a couple weeks now. I read one story every day, glorious reminders of how exciting it was to be a Marvel Comics fan in the mid-1960s.

The Captain America solo strip, which launched in Tales of Suspense #59 [December, 1964], was different from most super-hero strips in that Cap didn’t have supporting characters. It was mostly all him, the most human of the Marvel super-heroes, battling criminals, evil organizations and heartbreaking memories of having his late World War II sidekick Bucky Barnes. The only comparatively lonely hero was Dr. Strange over in Strange Tales and even that master of the mystic arts had Wong.

Some readers complained about the lack of a supporting cast in the letters pages of Tales of Suspense, clearly favoring Iron Man with its Tony Stark/Pepper Potts/Happy Hogan romantic triangle. I loved both strips, but something about that breakneck Jack Kirby action art put me firmly on Team Cap.

Speaking of the letter columns, there are familiar names among the fans representative in those pages. Names like Margaret Gemignani, Pete Von Sholly, George Haganauer, Derrill Rothermich, Don McGregor and more. Like many Marvel fans, I made friends through the letters columns and fanzines of those bygone days.

Tales of Suspense #61's “The Strength of the Sumo” is a story that caught my attention when I reread it. Captain America goes to Viet Nam to rescue an American helicopter pilot taken prisoner by the Communist forces. The pilot’s brother rescued Cap during World War II and Cap is looking to repay that debt.

Many comics tales featuring Communist villains are problematic when viewed through modern sensibilities. When Cap defeats a couple of muscular soldiers, their major bemoans that Cap “has caused him to lose face” before sending Cap off to face the general holding the pilot prisoner.

The general turns out to be a giant sumo wrestler, who enters the store behind a parade of masked dancers that would have done Cecil B. Demille proud. I didn’t get that reference in 1964 and I doubt any readers under the age of 50 would get it today.

The fight between Cap and the Sumo is outlandish and enormous fun. Cap maneuvers his opponent into dropping a statue on himself, but since we’re just panels away from the end of this story, all we see are big chunks of rocks behind the escaping Avenger. Cap and the rescued pilot steal the general’s small private jet, which the Sumo could not possibly have fit into, and fly to safety.

What makes this story special? The helicopter pilot is a black man. Sure, because of the coloring of that time, he does look more like a grey man, but this is still a pretty neat thing and an example of how Marvel was starting to make their comics more diverse.

What makes this story even more special? The pilot’s race is never mentioned. Not once. That he’s black is not key to the adventure. He just is. Good on Stan and Jack.

Looking at the story through my 2021 eyes, I do see some timeline problems. Given that it takes place two decades after World War II, the pilot would have more likely been the son of the man who saved Captain America.

If I ever wrote Captain America again, it would be tempting to use the helicopter pilot in a story. But I wouldn’t. The Viet Nam war was half a century ago and bringing it into a modern-day tale would be jarring. I don’t want to remind readers that, if you go by the dates these stories were originally published, Cap has been out of the ice block three times longer than he was in it. That is a detail better glossed over.

Two months after “The Strength of the Sumo” was published, Captain America’s series went in a new direction. Starting with a retelling of his origin, World War II would be the setting for his stories. Some tales would be retellings of stories originally published in the 1940a. Sidekick Bucky Barnes would be in most of these wartime adventures. Amusingly, issue #68's “The Sentinel and the Spy!” had Cap charged with recovering a stolen secret super-weapon, a secret weapon that seemingly every one, including rank-and-file American soldiers, knew about. Loose lips...

The World War II tales would run through issue #71. Jack Kirby did the layouts for the three-part finale with finishes by Dick Ayers,  George Tuska. Joe Sinnott inked Tuska’s second outing and, as you would expect, the combination looked great.

When Cap’s series switched back to the then-modern era, it was with a multi-issue story that excited me as a youngster. Indeed, had I been allowed to write more than a handful issues of Captain America in the 1970s, I would have done a sequel to it.

Alas, you’ll have to wait to learn about my planned contribution to the “Sleepers Saga” until I do another bloggy thing on the wonders to be found in Captain America Omnibus #1. I’ll try to make that happen before the end of the month. In the meantime, stay safe and sane. I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2021 Tony Isabella

Sunday, April 18, 2021




Perhaps there’s some minuscule bit of truth to the charge I watch too much TV and too many movies. On the other hand, these are not just part of my life but of the lives of a majority of my readers.Finding a balance between watching and writing is always difficult. However, by writing about what I watch, I combine these interests and claim my cable bill and my Bluray/DVD purchases as legitimate business expenses. Right, IRS?

Marvel Studios just keeps knocking it out of the park. My son Eddie and I have been getting together every Friday to watch The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, just as we did with WandaVision. The six-episode Falcon/Winter Soldier series is as amazing as WandaVision, albeit in a more down to earth manner. Five episodes in, we eagerly await the conclusion. I’ll be devoting a full blog to the series, but, for now, I want to talk about one aspect of it, an element I wish future Marvel productions would devote more time to.

Half the Earth’s population and heroes disappeared between the end of Avengers: Infinity War and the climatic epic battle in Avengers: Endgame. They disappeared for five years, a period that came to be known as the Blip. The planet, its nations and its people moved on from their incredible loss. The planet, its nations and its people were changed by that event and the welcome but challenging return of those thought gone forever. 

Gosh darn it, I want to see stories of those five years and of the new world the missing people returned to. Such an incredible event needs to be chronicled. I would love to see Marvel Comics address these years and their aftermath in a new imprint featuring comics stories from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Which, to me, is a no-brainer. The MCU is more relatable than the increasingly convoluted standard Marvel comics universe. I’d love to read those MCU tales. I’d love to write some of them.

I’ve been told such an imprint is something Marvel Comics isn’t at all interested in doing. That’s a shame. But, at least, we have a great many Marvel Studios projects to look forward to.

Loki is next up, making its Disney+ debut on June 11. The premise as reported on Wikipedia is:

After stealing the Tesseract during the events of Avengers: Endgame (2019), Loki is brought to the mysterious Time Variance Authority (TVA) organization and their Time-Keepers, and is forced to fix several timelines he broke, while traveling through time altering human history, ending up trapped in his own crime thriller.

With the terrific Tom Hiddleston reprising his role as Loki, this looks to be an exciting and wacky series. Like The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, there will be six episodes released one per week. Clear my Fridays.


When I was ranking the DC/CW shows last season, Batwoman got third place after Black Lightning and Stargirl. It had a gritty feel not unlike Black Lightning and Gotham. The story of Kate Kane [played by Ruby Rose] was compelling. The fascist nature of the Crows was a nice commentary on police excess. The supporting cast was great. But that was last season.

Rose chose not to return to Batwoman for the second season. Which left the series without its lead, even though every since story line derived from Kate Kane. The logical path forward would have been to recast Kate Kane. Logic is hard to come by.

Ryan Wilder, innocent felon on parole living out of her van, became the new Batwoman when she recovered Kane’s gear from the wreckage of an airplane. Actress Javicia Leslie has done an amazing job in the role, but the plotting of the series has gone down in flames as hot as those in the plane wreckage. 

The convoluted manner in which Batwoman has connected the Kate Kane storylines to Wilder is painful to view. Crazed sister Alice/Beth Kane [Rachel Skarsten] flays around the series like an angry bird. Existing characters do the same. Incredibly boring new characters  like Safiyah, Enigma and Angelique rose to prominence in desperate attempts to plug holes in the leaking dam that is Batwoman. And, as good as Leslie and returning players Meagan Tandy, Nicole Kang, Camrus Johnson and Dougray Scott are...along with Leslie, they are why I’m still watching the show...they can’t stop the flood.

The addition of Black Mask is a decent move. He’s been a dangerous force in the Batman comic books and has the potential to move the series beyond Kate Kane’s stories. Except...


...Kate Kane is still alive. Disfigured in the plane crash, given a new face and brainwashed into being the enemy of all she used to fight for, Kate is alive and will be played by Wallis Day, formerly quite good in the short-lived Krypton series on the Syfy channel.Wilder will continue as Batwoman for the foreseeable future. 

Understand this, I love Leslie as Batwoman/Ryan Wilder. I like that a gay person of color from a challenging background is continuing that legacy, this from a guy who would much rather see characters of color and gay characters in original super-hero roles instead of becoming existing super-heroes. But there were all sorts of way to have Wilder become Batwoman without this new Kate Kane development. A disabled Kate could’ve become an inspiring character and another kind of role model in the series. Instead, we get cheesy melodrama. I’m officially on the fence re: Batwoman.

However, if Batwoman wants to get back in my good graces, and I’m assuming nothing is more important to them, they could always give radio talk show host Vesper Fairchild [Rachel Maddow] some actual screen time. Nothing major, just an occasional appearance. I think that would be great fun.

The response to these “watching” columns have been very good, so I plan to continue them. I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2021 Tony Isabella

Saturday, April 17, 2021




My son Ed and I saw Godzilla vs. Kong at the Cinemark Strongsville at Southpark Mall, less than a half-hour from Medina. This was the first time I went to a actual movie theatre in over a year. I’ll be talking about that after my review of the eagerly and long-awaited battle between arguably the two greatest monsters in movie history. In case you’re wondering, I was on Team Godzilla.

Directed by Adam Wingard, the movie ran just under two hours. Story credit goes to Terry Rossio, Michael Dougherty and Zach Shields and the screenplay was by Eric Pearson and Max Borenstein. Some films need more than one writer, but this one wasn’t one of those. After all, there’s only so much room on the Academy Awards stage. Which isn’t really a concern in this particular case. I enjoyed the movie a lot, but it’s not Oscar material.

One of the things Godzilla vs Kong has going for it is its monster battle effects are better and more clear than in previous Legendary creature features. Another is that there is actual winner in that Godzilla/Kong match-up leading to a satisfying conclusion whoever you were rooting for. A third thing going for it is that there are some good performances from the human cast members.

The Internet Movie Database summary: The epic next chapter in the cinematic Monsterverse pits two of the greatest icons in motion picture history against one another - the fearsome Godzilla and the mighty Kong - with humanity caught in the balance.


The movie opens with Kong on Skull Island, but he’s really living in a small part of the island that’s covered by a giant dome. The island is on its last legs. Kong is monitored by Monarch. He has a young friend in Jia [Kaylee Hottle], the last member of the island people. Jia is deaf and communicates with Kong thru sign language. Kong is quite fluent in this, but only Jia knows it. The great ape asked Jia not to reveal this to anyone else, including her adoptive mother and Kong expert Ilene Andrews [Rebecca Hall]. The nine-year-old Hottle, who is deaf and comes from an all-deaf family, gives an outstanding performance. I’m hoping I get to meet her at Pensacon in Pensacola this May.

Speaking of Pensacola, that’s where Godzilla makes his appearance. He attacks the Apex Cybernetics compound. Because he senses Apex is trying to replace him. Godzilla reacts instinctively when he thinks anything is challenging his position as the most alpha creature on the planet. I’m not going to give you a scene-by-scene recounting of the movie, but I’ll mention those scenes that have a key bearing  on the events taking place.

More characters are introduced. Some are cliches. Some are silly. Some are good characters not given enough screen time. The afore-mentioned Hall is excellent. She realizes Godzilla will come after Kong as soon as the big lizard senses Kong.

Alexander Skarsgård as Monarch geologist Nathan Lind has multiple levels. He lost his brother when Monarch attempted to reach “Hollow  Earth,” the supposed birthplace of the Alphas. He’s been ridiculed for believing Hollow Earth exists and for writing a non-bestselling book about it. He’s often fearful, but always steps up when people are counting on him.

The villains are the main cliches. Walter Simmons [Demián Bichir] owner of Apex, is determined to prove he’s Godzilla superior, even if he must accomplish this via a Mecha-Godzilla constructed in part from the remains of Ghidorah. His daughter Mia [Eiza González] just plain worships her father, will do whatever he asks and isn’t at all concerned about collateral damage. When they meet their fates, you can see that coming a mile away.

Apex scientist Ren Serizawa [Shun Oguri] is one of the most wasted characters in the movie. He’s the son of the late Monarch scientist Ishiro Serizawa. He operates Mecha-Godzilla via a man-made psychic link with the robot. Here’s a son going in the opposite direction as his father. I would’ve liked to have seen some background as to why he took this ultimately unwise career path.

Also wasted is Dr. Mark Russell [Kyle Chandler] who was the lead in Godzilla, King of the Monsters. His daughter Madison [Millie Bobby Brown] plays a much bigger role in the movie, but we get virtually no interaction between them. Which is a shame since Madison’s late mother was such a dangerous figure in that earlier movie. None of that was touched on in this movie. Chandler’s big line is “Godzilla is hurting people and we don’t know why.”

Conspiracy podcaster Bernie Hayes [Brian Tyree Henry] is seeking to expose Apex wrongdoing. He has tragedy in his past and is a wee bit off his nut, but he proves useful when Madison, a big fan of those podcasts, tracks him down. The third member of the “Apexbusters” is basic nerd Josh Valentine [Julian Dennison], played almost entirely for not particularly funny laughs.

Apex wants the powerful energy to be found in Hollow Earth, the better to power Mecha-Godzilla. It bankrolls Monarch moving Kong to the entrance to that weird world within our world, figuring the ape can show them the way to said location.

A fleet of ships head for the entrance to Hollow Earth. Kong expert Andrews fears Godzilla will sense Kong before they get there and attack his alpha competition. Which is exactly what happens. The epic battle at sea is stunning. With most of the fleet destroyed, Kong and the remaining humans only escape doom by pretending to be dead in the water. Satisfied that he has proven himself the alpha, Godzilla heads for his other challenger.

Mecha-Godzilla is in Hong Kong. Doc Russell goes there to make what amounts to a cameo appearance. Madison and crew also end up there. So does Kong (now armed with an giant energized axe), Andrews, Gia and Lind. Let’s get ready to rumble.

Godzilla is instinct and rage. He will tolerate no rivals for his supremacy. Kong is smarter and more reasonable. Mecha-Godzilla is an enormous kaiju take on the Terminator. I’m not going to give you a blow-by-blow for the big fights because I want you to experience them cold. I will say this much.

The advance publicity for Godzilla vs. Kong promised a winner and it delivered on that. But it did so in a way that showed the loser was an alpha in his own right. The movie ends with the two natural combatants still standing, though each has pretty clearly decided they are done with making this an ongoing war. My own take is that, on another day, the battle might have ended differently.

If you don’t count the hundreds of thousands and possibly millions of humans who died during this movie, or the destruction of a large chunk of prime Hong Kong real estate, the movie even gives us what I considered a happy and satisfying ending.


Overall, I think Godzilla, King of the Monsters was a better movie but that Godzilla vs. Kong has superior monster effects. For those whose main interest in movies like this are the monster fights, you will be well pleased by this movie. For those of you who think the human stories are as important, you will find some of those stories  lacking. Don’t let my negative comments keep you from seeing this movie. It’s well worth your time.

The Cinemark Strongsville did a good job of opening in this time of pandemic. Masks were required except when eating or drinking, even when you were seated.

There was a whole lot of room between groups in the audience. Eddie and I had a row to ourselves with no one in front of us or behind  us. The theater was very clean.

All that said, and with big thanks to the Cinemark for doing such a great job on all fronts, I think it will be a long while before I return to it or any other theater. I wasn’t comfortable having to wear a mask for over two hours. Sure, I suppose I could have bought so much food and soda that I was eating and drinking all the time, but that would’ve been a very bad choice for a 69-year-old type 2 diabetic. Going forward, I’ll stick to watching movies on our large flatscreen TV at Casa Isabella.

I’m not an absolutist on this. I needed to see Godzilla vs. Kong on a big screen, though it was almost as enjoyable when I watched it a second time at home. I’ll likely go to a theater to watch Marvel Cinematic Universe films. Maybe Suicide Squad 2 as well. My choices will be based on conditions on the ground at the time these movies are released. I’m not confident that my impatient fellow Americans won’t move too fast to “get back to normal” and so create new wave after wave of increased Covid-19 infections.

Talk about your folly of man.

That’s it for today. If you’re enjoying my bloggy things, you can always make a Paypal donation to this blog using my e-mail address. Your support would be most welcome.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2021 Tony Isabella

Friday, April 16, 2021



Continuing my series of blogs commenting on the movies and TV shows I have watched recently. Or, if you prefer, my ongoing attempt to monetize my goofing off by declaring my cable and streaming costs to be legitimate business expenses.

I watched two episodes of Law and Crime Daily. This half-hour show reports on various ongoing criminal trials. The episodes I viewed were split into two stories. The main one was on jury selection in the trial of Derek Chauvin, the police officer who murdered George Floyd. The other one involved a woman in another murder trial who wanted the prosecution to refer to her by the last name of her co-defendant in the trial. The show was far less sensational than it could have been, but too tedious for continued watching.

I have been working my way through the final season of Duck Tales, which has been one long interconnected story featuring a downright breathtaking cast of characters. The quality of the writing and the voice acting is remarkable. The tying together so many other Disney cartoons into one universe is that kind of thing E. Nelson Bridwell and Roy Thomas did for DC and Marvel Comics. I have five episodes to go before getting to the extra-length series finale. Maybe I’ll give myself a binge holiday to watch them.

I also need to binge Superman and Lois. I watched and enjoyed the hour-and-a-half pilot episode, but haven’t returned to the series yet. Those un-watched episodes are waiting for me on my DVR, but, with the exception of Black Lightning, I haven’t been compelled to watch most DC/CW shows.

I’m watching Batwoman because I like some of the cast members, but the stories don’t work for me. I will doubtless discuss Batwoman in a future column.

I made the conscious decision to neither watch nor record Flash and Supergirl. I haven’t decided about Legends of Tomorrow. However, given that I didn’t even record the last several episodes of last season, it’s not looking great for Sara Lance and crew. On a more positive note, I am very much looking forward to the second season of Stargirl. After Black Lightning, it’s my second favorite DC/CW show. Kudos to Geoff Johns, the cast and the writers.  

I heart Bob Hearts Abishola, but I’m about three episodes behind. The unlikely romance between the head of a Detroit sock company and a Nigerian nurse is funny and heartwarming. The superior supporting cast adds to the enjoyment. There are some really good sitcoms on TV and streaming services these days, but, for my money, Bob Hearts Abishola is the best.

Saintly Wife Barb and I have been watching The Masked Singer since its debut. Now in it’s fifth season, the competition show suffers from a surfeit of gimmicks. While I enjoyed Niecy Nash filling in as host for an ailing Nick Cannon, other aspects of the series are just pitiful. That’s beyond my stomach churning whenever anti-vaxxer Jenny McCarthy opens her mouth. An mysterious masked rooster who gives clues to the contestant is just plain annoying. Adding a wild card contestant in later match-ups didn’t do anything for me either. I will give The Masked Singer props for being so audacious as to have Kermit the Frog as a contestant.

I tried to watch Game of Talents because of host Wayne Brady. Even he couldn’t get me to continue watching the unscripted variety show in which contestants try to guess performers' hidden talents, based on first impressions and clues. Appalled by the simplicity of the clues and, honestly, the concept of the series, I didn’t even make it all the way through the premiere episode.

My friend Martin Arlt mentioned Kim’s Convenience on his Facebook page. Although the series has ended, his obvious love for it made me check it out. I’m only four episodes into the first season, but I’m hooked.

Based on the 2011 play by Ins Choi, the series is about a Korean- Canadian family with a convenience store in downtown Toronto. The humor and family drama plays on multiple levels. There’s the day- to-day operation of the store. The rift between the father and son. The wife’s understated comedy. The daughter’s struggle for equality and recognition. The son’s boss who hilarious tries to conceal her obvious lust for the young man. Great cast and writing.

The show may have ended, but, at least I have five seasons to look forward to. I recommend Kim’s Convenience to one and all.

Amazon Prime kept recommending the 2019 movie Supervized to me and, eventually, I caved. In writing about this film, I must warn you there will be some MILD SPOILERS.

Here’s the IMDb summary: Four aging superheroes in a retirement home in Ireland come together for one last hurrah.

Directed by Steve Barron from a screenplay by Andy Briggs and John Niven with additional writing from Roger Drew and Ed Dyson, this is designated as a comedy. However, it’s dark and dire in places and movingly human drama in others. The cast is impressive with solid performances by Tom Berenger, Beau Bridges, Fionnula Flanagan, Fiona Glascott and Louis Gossett Jr.

Age has caught up with these retired heroes and the effect of that on their powers is often very funny. But there’s a shadow looming over the laughs. If the authorities deem the heroes’ powers pose a threat to themselves or others, they have the means to strip those abilities from the retirees. This treatment is rightfully portrayed as a terrible development, much like diseases like Alzheimer’s and dementia can diminish those who suffer from them.

IMDb gives Supervized five out of ten stars while Rotten Tomatoes grades it at 44%. My estimation of the film is a bit more generous. It’s got some fine moments, both comedic and serious. It makes you care about the retired heroes. It delivers a satisfying ending. I wouldn’t put it up for awards, but I do think it’s worth watching. It’s not a bad way to spend ninety minutes.  

Since I’m still watching way too many movies and TV programs, you should can expect to see another one of these “watching” columns in the near future.  

© 2021 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, April 14, 2021




Here I am once again, trying to justify the amount of time I spend watching movies and TV shows by writing about them. I keep telling myself it’s not goofing off. I think we all know otherwise.

My regular must-watch TV includes The Daily Show with Trevor Noah. Four times a week, the South African comedian brings a very funny and very smart examination of what’s going on in the United States and the world. Since the pandemic, the half-hour show has expanded to forty-five minutes and is shot in Noah’s apartment. That extra time generally goes to a second interview with someone Noah finds interesting. Even with the awkwardness of talking with these guests remotely, I find most of them interesting as well.

I do miss seeing the Daily Show correspondents as much as we used to. They are an immensely talented group: Ronny Chieng, Michael Kosta, Desi Lydic, Dulce Sloan, Roy Wood Jr., Jaboukie Young-White and, on rare, welcome occasion, Jordan Klepper. Only Klepper gets  out of his home with regularity, often covering insane Donald Trump supporters. I worry about Klepper’s safety as he walks among these foaming-at-the-mouth zombies. I don’t worry that they might try to eat his brains. They clearly have no interest in brains.

The weekly Full Frontal with Samantha Bee is another must-watch TV show. She’s a delicious combination of sweet and acerbic, but she leaves no doubt that she’s smart, snarky and passionate about the news she covers and the issues she is passionate about. Beyond that we don’t see Bee every night, my only complaint is that she often devotes precious time to musical acts. I’d rather that time go to more news and commentary on that news. One half-hour of Bee isn’t near enough. I resent it when we get less of her because of these musical acts.

I stumbled across The Misery Index while channel surfing. Just one episode was enough to convince me it was my kind of show. I’m gonna go to Wikipedia for a description/history:

The Misery Index...developed for TBS premiered on October 22, 2019. The show, based on the card game "Shit Happens," is hosted by Jameela Jamil and stars the four members of The Tenderloins comedy troupe who also star in truTV's Impractical Jokers.

The show features two competing teams, each composed of a non-celebrity contestant and two members of the Tenderloins, who will "attempt to determine the ranking of hilarious and miserable real-life events - from getting fired to accidentally sexting your grandfather - on a scale of 1–100."

The card game was created by Andy Breckman, who also created/wrote the TV shows Monk and The Good Cop. He also developed the TV show. I am in utter awe of Breckman’s genius. Trust me on this. You need to watch The Misery Index.

Thursday night has three sitcoms I watched regularly. I wrote about B Positive recently and mentioned Young Sheldon in passing. I also watch The Unicorn, which is a big favorite of Barb’s.

Young Sheldon is always good for a few laughs and, sometimes, some updates on the life of Older Sheldon. Fans have remarked that what has happened in this show doesn’t match the continuity of what was seen in The Big Bang Theory. Some of the past history mentioned in the latter was dark so, if it does show up in Young Sheldon, it’ll be interesting to see how it’s handled.

The Unicorn starts the wondrous Walton Goggins as a widowed father of two daughters starting to date again. His daughters are really well-written. His neighbors are mostly well-written, but sometimes the humor there gets a little too needy.

Something not addressed (at least not to my satisfaction) is the effect of the father’s sexual activities on his daughters. He’s had several affairs over the two seasons of the show. They definitely know about one of them since the lady in question slept over. This is not a subject that should be glossed over.

The standout episode of The Unicorn to date doesn’t center around the father. In “It's the Thought That Counts,” a white neighbor gives a toy gun to the son of a black neighbor. The parents of the kid react in horror to this and it’s a fear the white neighbor does not understand because this isn’t traditionally a concern for white parents. It’s a powerful episode that teaches as it entertains. I recommend tracking it down and watching it.

I watched the series finale of WandaVision and thought it ended on a satisfactory note that allowed for further stories with, at the very least, the Scarlet Witch. Most of the complaints I read about it consisted of fans moaning about the show not delivering on the things they had wanted to see, like appearances by Mephisto and the X-Men. Things they were never promised.

SELF-CONGRATULATORY NOTE: I originally used a different word that “moaning” in the above paragraph. I changed it to a gender-neutral word that wasn’t gender-insulting. I may not always catch myself on stuff like this, but I’m trying.

Elizabeth Olsen deserves award nominations for her performances as Wanda, something that can also be said about Paul Bettany as Vision and Kathryn Hahn as Agnes/Agatha Harkness. In the hopefully near-future of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, I would love see more of Teyonah Parris (Monica Rambeau), Randall Park (Jimmy Woo) and Kat Dennings (Darcy Lewis).

One more note. The Scarlet Witch’s nom ne guerre (battle name) now makes perfect sense. Another reason I would love to read and write comic books set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  

The presence of Martin Freeman got me to watch the first episode of Boy Meets Girl, a four-episode British TV series from 2009. I came across it while surfing on Amazon. Here’s a one-line summary from

A freak accident causes two strangers, a man and a woman, to switch bodies.

I’m on the fence on whether or not I’ll watch the remaining three episodes. There are many gender change movies and TV shows and few of them stand out. However, with this show, I’m intrigued because it’s also a social standing change movie. Freeman’s character is a a blue collar worker in big trouble with a loan shark. He switches with a well-off newspaper reporter (Rachael Sterling) who writes fashion/horoscope fluff and is living with her equally well-heeled boyfriend. Watching the other three episodes to see how their story plays out does interest me. If and how soon I watch them depends on what else is available.

I’ll have many more comments on movies and TV shows coming your way soon. I want to be able to continue to declare my cable/streaming payments as business expenses.

© 2021 Tony Isabella

Monday, April 12, 2021


I’m working on what may be a long-ish blog about Godzilla vs Kong. For today, you’re getting some comments on a 2020 Chinese monster movie called Chang’an Fog Monster. I watched this movie on YouTube, sans English-language dubbing or subtitles. In other words, I’m not anywhere near sure what the film is about. Here’s a plot of sorts cribbed from Movies and Mania website:

During the Tang Dynasty, Chang’an City was suddenly flooded by a thick fog, and everyone fled in panic. Xiao Cheng was guarding the weak prince and was trapped with the civilians, waiting for the fog to dissipate. However, the thick fog did not disperse as expected, and the people who walked into the thick fog did not return. The sky-shaking monsters in the thick fog gradually revealed their hideous features. Xiao Cheng tried hard to protect Chang’an.


The movie doesn’t take long to show us the main monster. We get a scene of the guard and the prince walking through town. Then that fog rolls in. Tentacles shoot from the sky, grabbing townspeople, knocking over carts and stands, scaring viewers easily impressed by decent special effects.

The main monster is a floating cloud creature that seems to command nasty birds and dog-like creatures that look like Gozer’s pooches from Ghostbusters. The guard, the prince and some temporarily lucky citizens end up in in some sort of temple or restaurant or tavern. Take your pick.

Those taking refuge from the monster include a stuffy young waiter, a lovely lady of easy virtue, a nasty drunk with some surprises up his sleeves plus the usual bullies, haughty elites and frightened members of the lower classes. Many manage to get themselves killed because they are too stupid to stay away from windows.

One of the more interesting characters is a warrior woman dressed in black. She’s fun to watch in action. As with many Chinese films, the wire work is pretty good. The filmmakers know how to stage some fine action sequences.

At one point, the guard, the prince, the warrior woman, some tough guys, some old guys and some citizens venture out into the fog in search of...I’ve no idea. Are they looking for a more secure place to shelter? Is there an escape route out of town? Is there a huge sale at the mall? Your guesses are as good and probably better than mine.

The group does pick up an adorable little girl who has been hiding in the bottom of a food stand since the fog creatures first showed up. The guard, prince and warrior woman take the young girl back to the relative safety of the temple/tavern where they enjoy a really nice looking meal. Until the monsters figure out that those paper walls are pretty easy to bust through.

Sidebar. Scattered throughout the movie, the guard has memories of a little girl who may or may not be his daughter. She does bear a resemblance to the girl they found. There seems to be a connection between the guard and the warrior woman. End of sidebar.

The drunk gets into arguments with pretty much everyone. He pulls out a vial of condensed fog, which allows the monsters easy access to the shelter. Even among the trapped humans, there are fights, murders and a suicide. The warrior woman sacrifices herself to make sure the battered guard, the prince and the little girl can escape into the streets. Which shouldn’t be any safer.

Except the sun comes out, the fog dissipates and a bunch of armored soldiers come marching into the town. I’m not sure how these guys knew there was a problem unless one of the other folks who left the tavern actually made it to safety.

We have established this movie confuses me. Its ending confuses me even more. Because I kinda sorta think it was a dream the prince was having until he was woken up by his guard. This is followed by some off-screen commotion that makes me think the carnage caused by the fog monsters is now happening for real.


Every now and then, I get the urge to watch a Chinese monster flick like this. Most of these movies come from Youku Tudou Inc., a video hosting service based in Beijing, China. They offer movies in lots of different genres. It’s a pretty big outfit.

I don’t think they make any of these movies. They distribute them and a surprising number of them are available on YouTube.

I can’t recommend Chang’an Fog Monster. It’s not very entertaining. However, if you’re so inclined, you can find it here.

I do recommend doing a YouTube search on “Chinese monster movies.” I’ve found some good films there and even many of the lesser ones are no worse than the Syfy Channel originals back when that network was fun. If you enjoy those movies as I did, it’s worth your time doing that search.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2021 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, April 7, 2021




Every now and then, as I read praise for comic books that strike me as not praiseworthy, I ask myself what I am missing. Sometimes, I request collections of those comics from my local library system in the honest hope I’m missing something worthwhile. I’m such a crazy  optimist, I am.

It’s entirely my bad that I didn’t realize Batman Vol. 2: The Joker War by James Tynion IV, Jorge Jimenez and Tomei Morey [DC Comics; $29.99] was the second volume in the Joker War series. My library didn’t designate it as such online and I didn’t think to check for myself. As a new reader to the “event”, I found myself pretty much lost as to what had gone before. However, that doesn’t let DC off the hook because...

...there should have been a “what has gone before” summary in the front of this $30 hardcover. That’s not a low price. There was a bit of hype copy on the back cover, but it didn’t go into a whole lot of detail. So I was behind from the get-go.

The positives of this book are that the writing and art are good. Not great, but good. As readers know, I find “good” to be perfectly acceptable in my entertainment. Not everything can be the greatest of all time or even a contender for that.

One of the minor negatives is that several key events happened in comics not included in this volume. They happened in other titles tied into the main Batman titles. That’s storytelling surrendering to marketing, something that rarely produces good results.

The major negative is the story itself isn’t interesting. It’s just more of the ever grimmer, never-ending Batman/Joker battle. Bereft of imagination and originality, DC Comics keeps going to the same story over and over again. I suppose the company thinks that having the Joker succeed in stripping Batman of his wealth and reputation and making Gotham worse than before is groundbreaking. Really, it isn’t. It’s merely a continuation of DC’s lack of understanding of the super-hero genre.

The super-hero genre was created as an optimistic genre. Terrible situations and villains plagued mankind on small and large scales. The super-heroes made things better. They didn’t cure all the ills.
They just made things a little better.

What’s better after this “epic” story? Gotham’s is in worse shape than before. The Joker remains free, sure to slaughter innocents as he always does. Batman’s ability to help is diminished. He does promise to be less of a dick to the heroes who have followed him so loyally, but their ready acceptance of his promise is akin to some battered spouse convincing themself this time their abuser actually will change and never hurt them again. I’m not buying it.

Too many people at DC Comics and, in truth, almost every publisher publishing super-hero comics, appear to be ashamed of the glorious optimism of the super-hero genre. They seem to find it childish and make these increasingly dark attempts to elevate it into what they consider a more adult presentation. That sometimes works well for an individual series like Watchman or The Boys. It’s depressing as Hell when a company with dozens of connected titles drag every one of those titles into the darkness.

I do plan to read the Batman comics that preceded this collection and the spin-off issues that connect to it. If that makes this more palatable to me, I’ll write about that. I’m not optimistic, but I am open-minded.  

ISBN 978-1-77950-790-7


I wanted to love The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage, a four-issue series from DC’s Black Label imprint [$6.99 per issue]. Written by Jeff Lemire, whose work I generally enjoy, with moody visuals by artists Denys Cowan and Bill Sienkiewicz and evocative coloring by Chris Sotomayor. All the elements were there.

Alas, this take on the Question fell afoul of something that bugs me about too many current takes on classic comics characters. It’s the idea that writers must enhance the characters somehow. They’ll make them more powerful, mistaking that for character development. They’ll clumsily weld aliens or the supernatural to the origins of the characters. And, really, as I see it, all they really have to do is tell great stories with these characters.

There was potential greatness in this series. A opinionated radio host struggling to help a city drowning in corruption and violence.Politicians using the situation to increase their own power. Those unwittingly drawn into the corruption and violence. The beleaguered citizens in need of a hero to show them the way to take back their city from their corrupt leaders. All of that was there, but pushed into the background by the mumbo jumbo.

Maybe my distaste for this is a generational thing, but I ascribe it to my firm belief that characters and concepts should have core values, and that those values should inform the stories featuring those characters. There’s a shock value to upending those values, but it fades quickly.

Creator Steve Ditko’s Question wasn’t a fully developed character. Denny O’Neil’s take wasn’t particularly respectful of Ditko’s work, but it was interesting and it did lay some groundwork for possible future Question series. I also found Renee Montoya’s assumption of the role intriguing, but liked her better as herself and not just the second Question.

Many of you will likely enjoy The Question: The Deaths of Vic Sage. I don’t expect my readers to necessarily share my views on comics like this. I’m good with that.


The Access Guide to the Black Comic Book Community 2020-2021 is a terrific resource for comics fans and professionals interested in expanding their knowledge of that vibrant community. Published by Anyone Comics [$9.99], proceeds of the book will go to the Dwayne McDuffie Fund.

The book is divided into several useful chapters: Comic Books and Graphic Novels, Publishers, Comic Book Shops and Conventions. It’s not just a book of lists. A tremendous amount of information can be found in its pages. I know I’ll be referring it to it frequently. I hope my copy holds up until the next edition is published.

Kudos to publisher Dimitrios Fragiskatos, designer George Carmona 3rd and editor Joseph Illidge. They packed a lot into this 160-page book. I highly recommend it to all fans and serious students of the current comics scene because you can’t fully appreciate that scene without including the black comics community.

ISBN 978-163821920-0



When I read Savage Avengers Vol. 1: City of Sickles by writer Garry Duggan and artist Mike Deodato [Marvel; $15.99], it didn’t float my boat. I couldn’t figure out if its weird roster of “heroes” were an actual Avengers group or not. Conan, Elektra, Punisher, Wolverine and some Venom symbiote who was confusing to me. This happens when editors and writers don’t give their new or returning readers a leg up as to what’s gone before. I did think bringing in the time-lost Conan’s ancient enemy Kulan Gath was sort of cool. I also decided these characters were not a branch of the Avengers. That seems to have just been a marketing tool.

ISBN 978-1302916657

I enjoyed Savage Avengers Vol. 2: To Dine With Doom [$19.99] much more because, once the Punisher and the others were written out, I was able to enjoy the absurdity of the crazy team-ups more. There was Conan, Black Widow and Daimon Hellstrom going up against human traffickers. Then there was Conan teaming up with Doctors Doom and Strange, which was good goofy fun. Especially when Doom put Strange into a special suit of armor.

Conan is a big goof in this series. That works for me. I’ve grown bored of typical Conan adventures, but Conan in a modern world that he imperfectly comprehends is hilarious. Don’t get me wrong. There was some solid super-hero stuff in this second volume. High marks to returning writer Duggan and artists Kim Jacinto, Ron Garney and Patch Zircher.

ISBN 978-1302916664

I’m not nominating this series for any awards, but I like it well enough to request the next volume from my library. And if Duggan is taking requests, I’d like to see Conan paired with Mister Fantastic and the Invisible Woman.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2021 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, April 6, 2021


I do watch a lot of movies and TV. To convince myself I’m not just goofing off, I figure I should write about those movies and shows from time to time. Are you busy right now?

The one TV show I’m not going to write about is Black Lightning. I love the show, which is a fine take on the character I created some four decades ago, more than almost anything else I watch. But I’ve learned anything I say about the show is taken for far more than it is. I mean, I once made a joke about joining the cast at Jefferson Pierce’s wacky next-door neighbor and some folks actually believed that was legit. One actress asked if they had cast my character’s wife and sent me her resume. I guess this is also a good place to mention for the hundredth time that I have no say-so in the hiring of actors or writers.

Among the shows I never miss are Last Week Tonight with John Oliver on HBO Max. Oliver is terrific about covering even the most serious news items with humor and passion. His only failure is not adding me to the show as his wacky next-door neighbor. Somebody needs to tell him I’m available.


Other TV shows that are always at least mildly entertaining include The Simpsons, Young Sheldon and B Positive. The last has one of my favorite pairings in the case of Thomas Middleditch as the kidney-failing Drew and Annaleigh Ashford as ditzy but good-hearted Gina. I’m also loving Linda Lavin as a resident of the nursing room where Gina works and Drew’s dialysis group: Darryl Stephens, Terrence Terrell, David Anthony Higgins and Briga Heelan.

I love Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy. I watch them every day except when they are preempted by college basketball tournaments or when Jeopardy makes the asinine and offensive decision to bring in noted snake-oil salesman Dr. Mehmet Oz as a guest host. I’ll have more on that in just a bit.

Wheel of Fortune hosts Pat Sajak and Vanna White are always fun to watch and the game’s contestants even more so. Yes, Sajak’s jokes sometimes fall flat and, very rarely, border on offensive. But he seems to love the show and its players. White has been one of the most beautiful, elegant and kind women on television for what seems like an impossibly long time. I adore her.


No one can ever fully replace the late Alex Trebek as the host of Jeopardy, the smartest show on TV. In a era where various pundits and politicians make up their own facts, Jeopardy has always stood for the truth. There are answers to questions and they don’t change with the whims of political movements. That’s why I was offended at Dr. Oz being a guest host. The man is a charlatan, a serial liar. Whether he was a friend of Trebek’s or not, Oz is the antithesis of Jeopardy. Truth may not matter to Oz, but it does to me.

Of the other guest hosts so far, I like Ken Jennings (Jeopardy GOAT and Consulting Producer) and Mike Richards (Executive Producer) the best. They share a real love of the game and considerable knowledge about it. Jennings would make a fine permanent host.

Journalist Katie Couric lacked the Jennings and Richards chops, but was a pleasant guest host. Oz was, from what I’ve heard, quite the train wreck and I can only hope his poor performance and hopefully crappy ratings have detailed him from further Jeopardy appearances.

Next up is Aaron Rodgers, the Green Bay Packers quarterback, and a Celebrity Jeopardy champion. I haven’t seen any of his episodes at this writing, but I’m looking forward to them.

Debris is a science fiction series about agents from the US and the UK tasked to recover and investigate pieces fallen to Earth from a destroyed alien spacecraft. These pieces do all manner of weird-ass shit. I’ve watched the first four episodes and have the subsequent episodes on my DVR. Right now, I’m on the fence with this series. Though it hasn’t achieved must-watch status, I do get a kick out of the afore-mentioned weird-ass shit.


Clarice is, quoting, “the untold personal story of the FBI agent who captured Hannibal Lecter, as she returns to the field in 1993 to pursue serial murderers and sexual predators while navigating the high-stakes political world of Washington, D.C. A sequel to the 1991 film The Silence of the Lambs, based on the book by Thomas Harris.” I gave the series premiere high marks based on a stellar performance by Rebecca Breeds as the title hero, but it has been all downhill since then and I no longer watch or record this series. Here’s why...

Clarice carried the “idiot ball” in almost all of the four episodes I saw. That’s a phrase, which I recently learned, meaning a smart character does something stupid to advance the plot. Despite being warned more than once to keep her fellow agents appraised of what she is doing, she keeps not doing that. Even after a heart-to-heart talk with her boss, who genuinely cares for her well-being. In the very next scene, she was dribbling the idiot ball all the way down the court to the cliffhanger putting her at the mercy of a clearly dangerous suspect. That was enough for me.

Other factors included her boss also doing something really stupid to protect another agent. This almost got their unit shut down and put the boss in serious legal consequences. Then something happened to make it all go away. Huh?

Also, while it seems to have nothing to do with the series so far, I found out that, in a sequel to The Silence of the Lambs, Harris had Clarice become Hannibal’s lover. What the flying fuck?!  

That’s all for today. Since I want to continue to fool myself into thinking watching movies and TV isn’t just me goofing off, I will have more such bloggy things in the near future.

Stay safe. Stay sane. Be good to others. With the hope that I will be able to see friends and fans face-to-face before the end of the year, I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2021 Tony Isabella

Saturday, April 3, 2021




We’re three months into 2021. Some things have gotten better. Other things have not gotten better and maybe even gotten worse. But we go on because...what other choice do we have?

I’m being a bit more productive these days, which has done quite a bit to lift my spirits. However, I still rely on finding at least one thing that brings me joy each and every day. I’m not a doctor. I don’t even play one on television. Even so, if you’ve having the bad days that so often come with living in this world, I prescribe your taking a few moments out of every day to think about all that brighten your lives. Think about them. Embrace them. Cherish them. They will help you get to tomorrow.

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

March 1: The Other History of the DC Universe #2. John Ridley has exceeded my high expectations again. Until this spotlight on former Teen Titans Mal Duncan and Karen Beecher, I was never interested in either character. Now I’d like to see more of them.


March 2: G-Fan #130, which came with a gorgeous 2021 calendar. So many great articles. I especially loved the one asking if Godzilla toys are art. This magazine is the print equivalent of an amazing  Godzilla convention.

March 3: Tuesday’s Daily Show with Trevor Noah aired a wonderfully  epic takedown of Republican scumbag Madison Cawthorn. I should not have been, but I was amazed even a GOPhole could be so awful on so many levels.

March 4: Super Late Bloomer: My Early Days in Transition by Julia Kaye. A comic strip collection documenting the early months of the creator’s gender transition. Funny, moving, real and relatable. I loved it and have ordered the follow-up volume.

March 5: None of my TV programs were preempted on March 4. All of the networks ignored the inauguration of Donald Trump as our 19th legitimate president. Freedom!

March 6: WandaVision’s finale delivered a satisfying conclusion to the series. My high regard for the title characters is even higher. Marvel Studios has again proved its superiority to most DC movies and shows. I look forward to what comes next.


March 7: Wheel of Fortune’s Pat Sajak and Vanna White have joined my growing collection of Funko figures...and our couch now has an incredibly cozy Wheel of Fortune blanket. I would buy a vowel, but I spent that money on these fun items.

March 8: Superman & Lois. The pilot episode wasn’t flawless - I’ll  write more about it soon - but Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch are wonderful as the title characters. I look forward to catching up on the show.

March 9: Lisa Black’s Every Kind of Wicked, the newest Gardiner and Renner thriller, is the best book in the series about a vigilante cop and a forensic scientists. It’s a serious game-changer.


March 10: Black Knight #1. Even though I’d read all the stories in various reprints, I couldn’t resist buying this facsimile edition. Stan Lee went to town with the flowery language and Joe Maneely’s art is amazing. Well worth revisiting.

March 11: Marvel’s Luke Cage Epic Collection: Retribution reprints the first 23 issues of Luke’s adventures, including almost all of mine. It also has this disclaimer: These comics are presented as originally created. They contain outdated depictions.

March 12: Pulp by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. A decidedly grim but also somehow heroically hopeful, this graphic novel tale of an outlaw turned pulp writer was a book I couldn’t stop reading from start to finish.


March 13: Kathy by Stan Lee and Stan Goldberg. I collect this 1960s  teen humor series by my favorite Stans. It ranks with the very best of the genre. It’s a delightful and unfortunately rare day when I can add an issue to my collection.  

March 14: The Access Guide to the Black Comic Book Community 2020-2021. Publisher Dimitrios Fragiskatos, editor Joseph Illidge and designer George Carmona 3rd for this tremendous resource. I expect to put it to good and frequent use.

March 15: Seeing promo images of Little Golden Books about Marvel’s Shang-Chi and Peter Porker. Kids books featuring comics characters are not new, but it tickled me to see these formerly obscure heroes  in this format.


March 16: Laura Kariuki was amazing in her Black Lightning debut. To come in and continue a leading role and do it so well right from the get-go is truly impressive.

March 17: Got my second Covid-19 vaccine this morning. No sore arm. A little drowsiness when I got home. Still awaiting development of new powers. Two weeks from now, I should be able to go out into the world again, spreading joy wherever I go..

March 18: A chocolate gift basket from a dear friend that arrived in the middle of a bleak day of vaccine side effects. I’m blessed to have so many good friends.

March 19: Dr. Strange, Surgeon Supreme by Mark Waid and Kev Walker.What an imaginative, human and fun take on a classic Marvel super-hero. Six issues wasn’t nearly enough. More please.


March 20: The Spectre has joined my growing Social Justice League of the World. He is a role model for my afterlife.

March 21: Kim’s Convenience. Thanks to my friend Martin Arlt for introducing me to this sitcom about a Korean Canadian family who run a convenience store in the Moss Park neighborhood of Toronto. It’s on Netflex and it’s brilliant.

March 22: This Hoan bagel guillotine is a recent addition to Casa Isabella’s kitchen technology. I love bagels (in moderation), but slicing them by hand was uncertain and possibly bloodletting. This device solves both those problems.

March 23: The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. Great lead characters. Great supporting characters. But what I loved most was the look at how “The Blip” had changed the world. Marvel should publish a comic book series exploring that.


March 24: Captain America Omnibus Volume 1. It’s great fun to read these classic Stan Lee and Jack Kirby stories again. And also the original letters pages. I’m a kid again...and saving my allowance so I can also get the Iron Man Omnibus.

March 25: The Masked Singer. From the first of his two appearances, I figured out who the Raccoon was. Move over, Batman. There’s a new detective in town.

March 26: My son Eddie and my daughter Kelly received their first Covid-19 vaccine shots.


March 27: Konga TNT. This 2020 Brett Kelly movie, allegedly “based on the public domain stories from Charlton Comics,” looks like it had a budget of maybe $700 and a case of beer. But it’s silly and it’s fun and it made me chuckle. Good enough.

March 28: Feeling optimistic, despite the chaos in the world, in my country and in the comics and entertainment industries. Could this be an unknown side effect of the Covid-19 vaccine?

March 29: ZOOM achieved. Thanks to my son Eddie, I have a camera on my computer. This isn’t an invitation to have me do your podcast.But it will make doing podcasts and such possible when I’m ready to do them.

March 30: Clearing out a room for renovation and finding a bunch of comics from the 1960s, enough to fill a short box. Most will likely end up in future garage sales, but I’m looking forward to reading or rereading them first.


March 31: Thirty-two seasons in, The Simpsons can still knock one out of the park. “Uncut Femmes” reveals the secret history of Chief Wiggum’s wife Sarah in a brilliant caper comedy that includes the heartwarming bonding of Fat Tony and Ralph.

Here’s hoping April brings us all great joy every day. I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2021 Tony Isabella