Friday, December 31, 2021





The four-issue Groo Meets Tarzan by Sergio Aragones, Mark Evanier and Thomas Yeates [Dark Horse; $3.99 each] is the most awkward Groo crossover to date. It bounces back and forth between the adventures of Sergio and the title concept. All Groo adventures are somewhat unreal, but this one seems more so than usual.

We open at the non-existent 2021 Comic-Con in San Diego. I’m such a pro at not being invited to Comic-Con I can’t even get invited to  fictional Comic-Cons invented by friends of mine. I’m not even in any of the complex crowd scenes drawn by Aragones. I have a speech all ready if I win any awards, but I’m thinking I should run it in an upcoming blog so people can “enjoy” it while I’m still among the living. Anyway...

Sergio is excited about the Groo-Tarzan project, so much so that he goes to the dilapidated Chula Vista Jungle Safari to study animals there. This will lead to considerable hilarity, but I don’t want to give away any of the gags. Meanwhile, Mark is hosting dozens of panels while trying to find time to search for the missing Sergio.

We also get what I assume are Sergio’s dreams of what the Groo and Tarzan meeting will be like. The frequently cut to Groo being Groo and Tarzan being Tarzan before they meet. All of the Tarzan scenes and images are drawn by Yeates and they are pretty darn gorgeous.When the two characters meet, Groo is clueless and Tarzan is very confused. But the Lord of the Jungle does manage to accomplish his mission with some insane help from Groo.

I’m not a big fan of crossovers. Several times during these issues, the script makes light of crossovers. This crossover works for me because it’s knowingly silly. The next time DC or Marvel decides to launch one of their massive crossover events in their respective universes, events which will inevitably turn out to me dumb, they should hire Sergio and Mark to do them. Heck, Sergio is fast enough to do the crossover and its spinoff issues and Mark...just needs a shove like this to go completely mad.

I got a kick out of Groo Meets Tarzan. Groo fans will love it and Tarzan fans will be entertainingly confused. My wife and kids will be sad that I wasn’t invited to Comic-Con 2021, but they should be used to that by now.

Groo Meets Tarzan [$19.99] will be collected in a trade paperback, scheduled to be published in March, 2022.

ISBN 978-1506722375  


Tales from Harrow County Volume 1: Death's Choir by Cullen Bunn, Tyler Crook and Naomi Franquiz [Dark Horse; $17.99) brings us back to Harrow County. In the original 32-issue Harrow County series, eighteen-year-old witch Emmy Crawford discovered how fraught with supernatural beings and forces her county was. She fought the evil, protecting innocent humans and creatures alike. Then Emmy Crawford left the county.  This trade collects the initial spin-off story arc. From Amazon:

Ten years have passed since Emmy exited Harrow County, leaving her close friend Bernice as steward of the supernatural home. But World War II is in full swing, taking Harrow's young men and leaving the community more vulnerable than ever--and when a ghostly choir heralds the resurrection of the dead, Bernice must find a solution before the town is overrun.

Bernice has grown into her own heroine and drives this story. She is compassionate and courageous as she fights for her loved ones.As with the original series, there is serious supernatural peril. There are moments of often-bittersweet love and longing. There is a feeling that this has happened for real in the past, a reality enhanced by Bunn’s moody writing and Franquiz’s drawings. It has a satisfying ending that definitely opens the door for more Harrow County tales. I want to read them all.

ISBN 978-1-50671-681-7


Marvel’s Savage Avengers is coming to an end and I will miss this goofy series, which has basically consisted of Conan teaming with other “Avengers” to fight sorcerers and such in our modern times. I’m not even sure if Conan is actually an Avenger or if the title was chosen for sales appeal. I’m not even sure if his teammates are Avengers. I am sure I don’t actually care.

Savage Avengers Vol. 4: King In Black [$17.99] is written by Gerry  Duggan with art by Kev Walker and Patch Zircher. It collects issues #17-22. It’s part of the “King in Black” event, but, since one of the members of the team is a symbiote, it doesn’t bother me as much as other parts of the event. From the back cover:

Conan is imprisoned on Ryker’s Island — but he promptly breaks out with the help of Deadpool! The taciturn barbarian and the Merc with a Mouth make for a very odd couple of warriors — but a very effective one as well, as they prove when the King in Black and his symbiotes invade Earth! Meanwhile, Conan makes a surprising discovery that may help him overcome another dark threat — the sorcerer Kulan Gath! But what part of the barbarian’s plan involves a heist of the Hellfire Club? Prepare for Conan and Deadpool to set sail…with the Marauders! Then, a riotous team-up between Conan and the Rhino goes wrong — when Spider-Man threatens to ruin their good time! The legendary barbarian continues his savage rampage across the Marvel Universe!

Conan robbing and then claiming possession of the Hellfire Club is pretty funny stuff. In fact, much of Conan’s trips through our times are amusing. We’re not talking Groo-level silliness, but it frequently makes me smile.

That’s what I’m going to miss. The outlandish premise and team-ups. That the book is largely self-contained and, while doling out lots of action, doesn’t take itself too seriously. I think the industry can use more titles like this.

For reasons unknown to me, this trade volume seems to be in short supply and expensive. I borrowed a copy I read via my local library system. It’s also available on Kindle. There may be some reasonably priced copies on the secondary market, but a cursory search didn’t turn up any. Good luck hunting one down.

ISBN 978-1-302-92629-8


Sometimes I really enjoy Silk and sometimes I don’t. When Silk is doing down-to-earth adventuring and crime-fighting and living and working for a more benign than usual J. Jonah Jameson, I like her series. When it goes to alien dimensions and clones, I’m very much less enthusiastic.

For those of you who haven’t masted the variety of Spider-heroes in the Marvel Universe, Silk (Cindy Moon) is a young Korean-American woman who was bit by the same radioactive spider that bit our pal Peter Parker. She got somewhat different powers than Peter, had a bit of trouble controlling them, picked up a mentor who protected her from an enemy by putting into a bunker for several years. When she emerged, her family was missing, she had various adventures and ended up working for both S.H.I.E.L.D. and JJJ’s Fact Factory news site. She’s a likeable young hero.

Silk Vol. 3: The Clone Conspiracy [Marvel; $17.99] was published in 2017. Written by Robbie Thompson with art by Irene Strychalski and Tana Ford, this volume collects issues #14-19. Most of the stories involve clones of dead people and some awkward interactions between Cindy and her family. Her parents were in another dimension and her brother is recovering from health issues he acquired when he drank a form of the Green Goblin serum and joined a criminal gang.

Sigh. Clones and alien dimensions. I liked Thompson’s writing. I liked the art as well. But those killer tropes made reading this volume a chore. All the same, I’d be up for more Silk collections if Marvel publishes them.

ISBN: 978-1-302-90593-4

That’s all for this time. I’ll be back soon with more news, views and reviews. Have a Happy New Year!
© 2021 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, December 28, 2021




If you’re a devoted of nuance-challenged rumor and gossip websites, you may well believe I hate Batman. Except Batman was my favorite comics hero when I was a kid and what I hate is how DC’s shock-and-awe editorial directions have turned my childhood icon into one of the most toxic characters in comics. Well that and DC’s foul habit of making Black Lightning subservient to Batman.

Reality is me reading more Batman comic books than almost any other mainstream headliner. Because I’m always hoping for DC to finally figure Batman out. Because I’m always looking for Batman material I’ll enjoy, such as Batman and Robin and Howard, an excellent kids graphic novel by Jeffrey Brown.

Batman the World [$24.99] is a collection of fourteen stories from fourteen countries and fourteen creative teams. The countries are the US, France, Spain, Italy, Germany, the Czech Republic, Russia,  Turkey, Poland, Mexico, Brazil, South Korea, China and Japan. Some of the writers and artists have worked in American comics. Others are new to our nation’s comics industry. The US offering is by far the weakest story in the hardcover anthology, but the other tales are, at the very least, interesting.

While I won’t go story by story, the ones I found most intriguing and entertaining were those that most firmly embraced their nation of origin in style and subject matter. When I say Batman the World is not enough, it’s because I want to see more from these global  creative teams.

Since there is apparently no limit to how many Batman comics DC is willing to publish, I’d like to suggest an ongoing Batman the World title. Maybe a series of 48-page issues that would give the various creators more room to work with. Maybe, as with the Legends of the Dark Knight series of the past, an ongoing title that would devote multiple issues to a Batman story by a creative team. I think such an effort would sell well around the world. Even someone like me, who reportedly hates Batman, would buy that title.

I can hear you thinking, “Tony, why are you giving terrific ideas to DC Comics for free?” Well, you may have noticed that I am often critical of DC Comics. It’s subtle, but it’s there. I feel I should balance that with suggestions to make the company better. To lead them out of their self-imposed darkness.

What can I say? I’m a giver.

ISBN 978-1-77951-227-7


Via my local library system, I’m catching up on the recent Batman series. Batman Vol. 4: The Cowardly Lot by James Tynion IV, Jorge Jimenez and Tomeu Morey [$24.99] collects Batman #106-111 as well as material from Infinite Frontier #1. It’s not the most accessible of runs, but I’m managing.

The things I liked included Batman being somewhat better than he’s been; Barbara Gordon having her cake and eating it too by operating  as both Oracle and one of three Batgirls; and Tynion navigating the
uncomfortable notion of Harley Quinn as former murderer and current would-be hero. As much as I love redemption stories, Harley’s has been tough to swallow. But there’s something about the character, most definitely including that she is also a victim, that allows me to enjoy her journey.

The things I didn’t like included yet another evil politician with his own brutal agenda for Gotham City and the extreme brutality of these stories. I’m not wild about the Ghost-Maker, mostly because I think he represents another bad choice by a Batman who still does not have his act together. I’m just a bit less not wild about the Unsanity Collective...because in a real world that includes QAnon and other offshoots of the criminal Republican Party, the idea of a group trying to convince Gotham’s citizens to alter their basic perceptions of reality doesn’t seem that outlandish.

I don’t love these current Batman comics. I find them readable at best. But I’m hoping the series and the title character are moving towards a better version of my old favorite.

ISBN 978-1-77051-198-0



I’m also using my library to catch up on various Marvel comic-book series. I’ve been enjoying Daredevil by Chip Zdarsky, even though elements of it confuse and frighten me. Mike Murdock is an actual person? The Kingpin is mayor of New York? Elektra is rich enough to outbid Tony Stark and essential buy Hell’s Kitchen?

I just read Daredevil by Chip Zdarsky Vol. 6: Doing Time [$15.99], which collects Daredevil #26-32 from the series that began in 2019. Here’s the Amazon summary, which does contain some spoilers:

A new Daredevil rises to protect Hell’s Kitchen! Matt Murdock is in jail — but while he’s serving his time in his masked guise, his home is left without a guardian devil. That is, until Elektra Natchios takes it upon herself to protect Murdock’s neighborhood — and his legacy — and dons a new look as the Woman Without Fear! But the new Daredevil has her work cut out for her: Wilson Fisk remains seated as New York’s mayor, with Typhoid Mary, the Owl, Hammerhead and other lethal villains at his beck and call…and that’s before Knull, the terrifying King in Black, plunges the world into darkness! Elektra may be in over her head for the first time in her life — while Matt must find the strength to continue the fight as all hell breaks loose in prison!

I like most of what is going on the book. Matt is trying to make a point by serving time for killing an innocent man, but that might not have been his best course of action. Elektra is trying to live by Matt’s code of honor regarding killing people and that has been fun and a little inspirational.

The series does get upended for an issue or so by the monumentally moronic “King in Black” event. I’m not a fan of such events as they tend to derail even terrific titles. I prefer Daredevil and other titles to stay in their own lines. However, these silly things do seem to create temporary sales spikes for Marvel and, much as I’d like to see them go away, we’ll almost certainly keep seeing two or three of them a year. Sigh.

ISBN 978-1-302-92609-0

That’s all for tonight. I’ll be back as soon as possible with more news, views and reviews.

© 2021 Tony Isabella


I have a new bloggy thing which I'll be posting today or tomorrow. I have a second one in the works. But I could use the motivation of people actually commenting on these articles.

Thursday, December 23, 2021



DON'T GO TO CHURCH! Let's get real here. The pandemic is still strong. The most likely people to be unvaccinated are right-wing and religious zealots...and the churches will be filled with them. Packed in tightly. Likely not wearing masks.

Your god(s) will still love you if you don't put yourself in peril. You can watch Christmas services online or on television. I doubt they will heed my request, but I would ask my family to stay out of what will certainly be super-spreader events. 
I feel the same way about some other events as well, but this church thing is uppermost in my mind right now. The best way to worship and honor your god(s) is to do unto others. Support charitable causes. Vote for leaders who are more concerned with the needs of the people than the bank accounts of the rich and the powerful. Demand that science and history and the arts not be censored by those who find such things inconsistent with their political agendas. 
Science enriches our lives in countless ways. Accurate history is necessary for our understanding of the past and our forward progress. The arts must be allowed to challenge our worldview and foster individual expression.
My Christmas wish is that 2022 sees the forces of darkness (as so clearly seen in the actions of the former treasonous president and his criminal Republican Party) give way to the lights of compassion, reason and truth. We can be a great people, but we have to want to be a great people.
Merry Christmas and happy holidays.

Sunday, December 12, 2021




Once again, my local library system has provided me with material for this blog. We’ll start with Hawkman Vol. 4: Hawks Eternal (DC; $19.99) by writer Robert Venditti with pencillers Fernando Pasarin, Marco Castiello and Marcio Takara. This trade paperback collects Hawkman #20-29, the conclusion of the most recent series. This is not a review per se.

Venditti’s writing on the series was excellent. I was impressed by how he tied all the various versions of Hawkman together. However, at the same time, I wondered why that was necessary. DC sheds its continuities with the regularly of snakes shedding their skins. Most of the time, DC’s brilliant notion of the day doesn’t even get the core values of its classic characters right. Venditti’s Hawkman fell well within the range of what I considered acceptable for Hawkman, but there were still problems for me.

The Hawkworld mini-series, of which I’ve never been a fan, turned Hawkman into a murderer. The Venditti series starts with the notion that Hawkman is a mass murderer seeking redemption for the billions of lives he snuffed out. I love a good redemption story, but this one always had that hovering over it.

Hawkman is condemned to reincarnate until he balances the scales by saving as many people as he slaughtered. He’s committed to this and his sincerity in following this quest is one of the more positive
aspects of this series. However, near the end of the series, it’s revealed the absolutely irredeemable entity he blindly followed in his mass-murdering days, is one of his earlier incarnations. Which makes no sense to me whatsoever because that means two of Hawkman’s incarnations were active at the same time.

Artistically, this most recent Hawkman series was at its best when drawn by Bryan Hitch. That was choice. None of the artists who came after him came close to the high standard he set. However, while I found some of the storytelling from the later artists to be jagged, the actual drawing was always decent.

The finale of this series struck me as rushed. Which doesn’t come as a surprise. I’d opine that Venditti was told to wrap things up quickly and did the best he could. Which wasn’t bad, but which was not as satisfying as it could have been. I give him credit for his efforts. When I was faced with the similar choice, I bailed on my Hawkman series. Predictably, my editor ended my storyline in a way that still strikes me as one of the stupidest editorial decisions in my nearly half-century in comics.

I am often asked what I would do with Hawkman if I were offered the assignment again. This would only happen in a parallel world where DC Comics actually valued my skills. But I have thought about it. Here’s what I came up with:

I would NOT return to my 1980s Hawkman run and attempt to make it right...with the exception of working with artist Richard Howell again. One of the best and the most underrated Hawkman pencillers. That ship sailed three decades ago.  

I would restore Hawkman’s core values. I like the idea of an alien lawman and his wife coming to Earth to track a super-villain. Or maybe a Thanagarian freedom fighter. Or maybe their own rebellious offspring.

I like the idea that they would want to stay on Earth even after they achieved their goals. Maybe the super-villain would be given asylum by a country seeing him as an asset. Maybe they would come to recognize their home planet as a repressive power. Maybe they would stay to protect their child.

I love their use of ancient weapons and their concerns their own advanced technology would be harmful to our development. However, let’s consider that most Earth weapons could be considered ancient by Thanagarian standards, thus expanding what the Hawks could use as they fought evil on our planet.

I’m not sure how I’d work the whole police commissioner covers for them and puts them in charge of a museum stuff, but I’m confident I could find a way to make it logical in today’s world. Because I’m just that good.

In my new Hawkman series, I’d create new villains and, in different  ways, reintroduce the best of the previous Hawkman foes. I’d forge alliances between the Hawks and any other heroes that make sense without them all being members of the Justice League members. For me, the League is a flawed organization. I have no love for it and would try to avoid it as much as I could. I would involve the Hawks in matters earthly, extraterrestrial and supernatural. But I’m also a writer who likes my super-heroes connected to the real world as much as possible...because it makes the fantastic stuff more believable.

The above is pretty much off the cuff. If you’d like to see such a Hawkman series, all you really have to do is buy DC Comics, hire me and let me use my wings.


Two other recent reads from my library were The Ghostly Tales of Cleveland by Beth A. Richards (adapted from Haunted Cleveland by Richards and Chuck L. Gore) and The Ghostly Tales of the Ohio State Reformatory by Emma Carlson Berne (adapted from The Haunted History of the Ohio State Reformatory by Sherri Blake). Priced at $12.99 each, the chapter books were published by Arcadia Children's Books. I didn’t realize they were children’s books when I requested them, but they still proved useful to me.

I’m slowly developing a new super-hero universe unlike any you’ve seen before. One of my early decisions was to place the series in my Cleveland birthplace, just as I had done with Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands. If my plans come to fruition, you will definitely see - stripped of their DC Comics associations - some of what I’d planned had I’d been able to continue writing new Black Lightning comics. I’ll be buying a copy of Haunted Cleveland in the very near future. Tax-deductible research material.

Though intended for younger readers and not just eternally youthful writers like myself, these Spooky America books suggested elements I can incorporate into my new universe. I was especially thrilled to read that Cleveland’s Variety Theater, where I’d seen countless movies as a kid, harbors a great many ghosts. That discover seems like fate to me.

If you have young kids who enjoy true-life ghost stories, they will enjoy these books. And when they’re sleeping, you can borrow them.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2021 Tony Isabella

Friday, December 3, 2021




Welcome to the first installment of my 2021'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. On three occasions, I’ve reached my goal of reading and writing about all the FCBD comics from a given year. The quest begins anew.

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. 

Suicide Squad Special Edition #1 [DC] cover-features 12 pages of a King Shark story by Tim Seeley with art by Scott Kolins, followed by a 14-page excerpt from Suicide Squad: Get Joker, a “Black Label” series by Brian Azzarello with artist Alex Maleev.

QUALITY: I loved the King Shark excerpt. Terrific writing and art  starring some very relatable characters in King Shark and a minor criminal called Defacer. It amused and intrigued me. However, the second excerpt was as interesting as paint drying. Nothing new and nothing worth following up on.

ACCESSIBILITY: Both stories were easy to get into. I had no trouble following them.

SALESMANSHIP: Excellent. There were house ads for the Suicide Squad movie, ads for the full versions of the excerpted comics and a two-page checklist of Suicide Squad graphic novels. My only quibble is the list didn’t include the John Ostrander series.

SCORE: Nine points out of a possible ten points with all of those points earned by the King Shark portion of the issue.


Batman and Robin and Howard/Amethyst Princess of Gemworld Special Edition Flipbook [DC] presents previews of the two graphic novels. The first is my New York Times bestselling author Jeffrey Brown and the second is by New York Times bestselling authors Shannon Hale and Dean Hale with art by Asiah Fulmore.

QUALITY: Excellent. The young characters in both graphic novels are well crafted. The writing is very good, as is the art. Brown’s art is more cartoony and Fulmore’s art is more traditional, but I liked both quite a bit.

ACCESSIBILITY: I had no problem getting into either book, though an old reader mired in DC Comics’s “real” continuity morass might be confused. Me? I enjoy the different looks at classic DC characters far more than the “real” continuity’s dark takes on them.

SALESMANSHIP: Excellent. House ads promote around thirty different titles aimed at young readers.

SCORE: Ten points out of a possible ten points. I’m requesting the full graphic novels from my local library system.


Solo Leveling [Yen Press] is a Korean webcomic following the less-than-successful efforts of Jimwoo Sung, an E-Class monster hunter.E-Class is the lowest rank. Sung is a bit stronger than an average person and heals faster, but he has no real prospects. He hunts so we can pay the medical bills of his sickly mother. This FCBD issue presents the first thirty pages of the webcomic by Dubu.

QUALITY: Jimwoo is a relatable character, but that’s the only plus in an only moderately interesting or well-told story.

ACCESSIBILITY: Moderate. The excerpt leaves a great many questions unanswered.

SALESMANSHIP: Poor. The inside covers are blank wasted pages. The only interior ad is for Coca-Cola. The back cover has an ad for the first two volumes of the series.

SCORE: Two points out of a possible ten points.


Life is Strange [Titan Comics] appears to be a long-running comic-book series based on some sort of video game. The issue contains a pair of six-page excerpts from different Life is Strange series and a host of explanatory material.

QUALITY: Comic books based on role-paying or video games are almost never of interest to me. The art and writing didn’t appeal to me, nor did the convoluted premise of the series.

ACCESSIBILITY: I’ll give this issue points for the attempt to make this comic welcoming to new readers, but it didn’t succeed in that attempt.

SALESMANSHIP: So-so. Three house ads for various volumes of Life is Strange and a back-cover Coca-Cola ad.

SCORE: Three points out of a possible ten points.


Who Sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott [Penguin Workshop] presents an introduction to and a 16-page excerpt from an all-ages graphic novel telling the history of civil rights activist Rosa Parks and the Montgomery Bus Boycott she sparked. Whoops! I guess I gave away the answer to the title question. The comics material is written by Insha Fitzpatrick, illustrated by Abelle Hayford and colored by Hanna Schroy.

QUALITY: Aimed at younger readers, both the writing and the art are first-rate. An all ages presentation of some racially challenging material. The history the white supremacists don’t want taught in our schools.

ACCESSIBILITY: I don’t think any readers will have any difficulty getting into and understanding this historical material.

SALESMANSHIP: Excellent. There are nine pages of house ads for this and other all-ages graphic novels.

SCORE: Ten points out of a possible ten points.  

Free Comic Book Day 2022 will be back on its usual first Saturday of May date, which gives me five months to write about all of the 2021 free comic books. I’m confident I can accomplish that for the fourth time in my blogging career. Look for more FCBD coverage in the near future.

Thanks for stopping by the bloggy thing today. I’ll be back soon with more stuff.
© 2021 Tony Isabella

Thursday, December 2, 2021




The worst thing about posting this compilation of the things that brought me joy last month is recognizing all the things that didn’t bring me joy. To keep it short:

The criminal Republican Party and its ongoing attempts to destroy democracy with voter suppression laws while making the obscenely wealthy a lot more obscenely wealthy...and also their targeting of the most vulnerable among us. I don’t believe there has even been a more cruel political party.

The anti-democracy, anti-history, anti-logic, anti science, anti-teacher morons who support the Republican Party in all its horrible attacks on our country.

The Democratic Party not doing anywhere near enough to stand up to these criminals and their followers and not moving forward with the steps they need to stop this menace.

The “white justice” being handed out by judges who are not taking treasonous acts seriously enough and giving the perpetrators little more than slaps on the wrist.

A comics industry that practices ageism and other discrimination to a soul-crushing extent while continuing to employ and even honor truly terrible individuals. Including serial sexual predators.

A comics fandom that thrives on rumor and speculation from gossip-mongering faux-news sites.

Then there’s the more personal thing that definitely does not make me the least bit happy:

I’m angry all the time. I’ve posted some things I regret because I didn’t take a minute to think them through. In doing so, I angered people who are dear to me. That one I can work on. Sadly, the rest seems increasingly out of my control.

That’s this month’s bummer opening. Here are the things that made me happy in November...  

November 1: On the last day of Fanboy Expo Knoxville, a wonderful family presented me with the above work of art. I’ll have more to say about it in my convention reports, but it will have a place of honor in my office.

November 2: My friend Jess Hazeltine was reelected to serve Medina Ward 3 as their councilperson. She’s our city’s best and we’re very lucky to have her in office. My son Eddie was her campaign manager.

November 3: Three Democrats were elected to Medina’s school board, defeating anti-history, anti-science and anti-teacher Republicans who put their vile culture war ahead of the well-being of students.


November 4: Harley Quinn completes my set of this year’s Funko Pops with Purpose DC Comics Bombshells figures supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

November 5: The second season finale of Stargirl was nothing short of magnificent. All those characters and yet Courtney remained the focus. And the teasers for next!

November 6: Akron Comicon 2021 Day One. What a wonderful event with fans, guests and vendors all incredibly happy to be there. It was my best sales day of any comics convention in five years!


November 7: Akron Comiccon 2021 Day Two. More sales, but also time to chat with old friends and new friends. It was great fun hanging out with my booth neighbor, the legendary Sgt. Slaughter.

November 8: Our Stories Carried Us Here: a Graphic Novel Anthology. Ten first-person tales about coming to America. A love letter to the immigrant experience that has been and remains so incredibly vital to our country.

November 9: Ant-Man is People’s sexiest man alive! Congratulations to Paul Rudd for making another argument as to why Marvel is better than DC. Next year, though...Cress Williams!

November 10: Kudos to Jeopardy for presenting so many outstanding contestants in this new season. Terrific champions and some truly competitive matches. Well done.


November 11: The Batman Scooby-Doo Mysteries #2. Written by Sholly Fisch, whose Scooby-Doo Team-Up was DC’s best comic book, this is another of his fun stories suitable for kids but with lots of gags for older readers as well.

November 12: B Positive’s second season is amazing. With a breezy  opening, an ability to create life-affirming humor from the deadly serious and the addition of legendary actors to its cast, it might be TV’s best situation comedy.  

November 13: The Target exclusive Funko Pop! With Purpose figure of DC Bombshells Hawkgirl has arrived. Now I have a truly complete set of the figures supporting Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

November 14: Naps. This is a repeat from over four years ago. But, especially in these dangerous times, I’m find them very helpful for dealing with my growing anxiety and stress. In this, my cat Simba is my sensei.



November 15: Classic Hawkeye has joined my Funko Pop! collection. As funds and opportunity present themselves, I’m buying the classic versions of the Marvel characters that made me want to write comics for a living.

November 16: Where the Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sales of 2021 used to hold sway, there is now room for my Saintly Wife Barb to park her car. It was my welcome accomplishment in a week I just never otherwise right.

November 17: The Equalizer. The “Karen” sub-plot from the November 7th episode “Followers”. Often it’s the most banal of evil actions that make my stomach churn. In fiction as in life, systemic racism exists. Never doubt that.


November 18: CSI Vegas. In the November 17 episode “In the Blood,”  Eileen Grubba’s performance as Anna Wix chilled me to the bone. One of the most frightening sociopaths that I’ve seen recently. Outside of the Republican Party, that is..  

November 19: The November 17 episode of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert presented “C-Spanime” on the censure of Paul Gosar. It was amazing and it was hilarious with appearances by Sailor Moon and other anime icons.

November 20: The just-released Home Sweet Home Alone featured Devin Ratray as an adult Buzz McCallister and established that Kevin now owns his own home security company. This unexpected closure gives me considerable glee.

November 21: Saintly Wife Barb has cleared and reorganized both of our upstairs linen closets. I had jack shit to do with that great accomplishment, but I take joy from my beloved going full Marie Kondo on those spaces.


November 22: On the November 20 episode of Saturday Night Life, Pete Davidson’s “Waking in Staten” was comedic genius. Davidson was joined on the parody of Marc Cohn’s “Walking in Memphis” by Cohn, Big Wet and Method Man.

November 23: Two episodes in, I’m intrigued by Marvel’s Hit Monkey series on Hulu. Dark stuff but with a likeable (if violent) title character and some decent folks in the supporting cast.

November 24: Marvel’s Hit Monkey proved to be surprisingly binge able. I watched all ten episodes in one night. It’s different from most Marvel shows, more tragedy than dark comedy, but I recommend it to adult viewers looking for that something different.

November 25: I’m thankful for the many amazing friends I’ve made on Facebook and Twitter, which is proof that good things can happen even in the midst of great evil.



November 26: Black Widow by writer Kelly Thompson. I’ve previously mentioned Natasha is one of the few heroes from my past I’d like to write again. That said, I don’t think I could write her better than Thompson.

November 27: Fear Case by Matt Kindt and Tyler Jenkins. Wonderfully unsettling modern-day horror that combines ancient malevolence with government conspiracy. Done in just four issues and perfect at that length.

November 28: The CW Scooby-Doo Where Are You Now? reunion special. It was good silly fun that respected the long-running franchise, shared interesting trivia and used self-deprecating humor to great effect. A nice way to relax for an hour.

November 29: I’m excited about the Marvel: June 1962 omnibus, even though it won’t go on sale until June 2022. Five hundred pages of vintage comics including the first appearance of Spider-Man and 17 other issues from that month.

November 30: One Last Time: An Evening with Tony Bennett & Lady Gaga was an incredible hour of TV. The friendship between arguably the greatest performer of all time and the greatest performer of our time is and remains inspirational.

Thanks for visiting. I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2021 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, December 1, 2021



Thanks to various bile and rumor websites, forums that haven’t the slightest grasp of nuance, I’ve become known as the guy who hates Batman. Nothing could be further from the truth.

I’m the guy whose favorite character as a kid was Batman. I’m the guy who remained a Batman fan until someone at DC Comics got hold of Psychology for Dummies and launched the Batman on the road to becoming arguably the poster boy for toxic masculinity. I’m the guy who resents that Batman gets more love from DC Comics than any of the company’s pantheon of great super-heroes. I’m the guy who most especially hates that DC Comics keeps reducing my Black Lightning to nothing more than Batman’s obedient sidekick. I’ll cop to every one of those.

But I’m also the guy who looks for and yearns for any Batman comics that do not present my youthful favorite in that toxic light. I’ve praised Batman comics in recent years and keep hoping Batman will find his way back to the inspirational hero he once was, Sadly, DC Comics rejected my notion of having him work through a super-hero version of the twelve steps. It would have been an epic and maybe heart-warming series.

This was my frame of mind when I borrowed a copy of the hardcover collection Batman Vol. 3: Ghost Stories by James Tynion IV, Guillem March, James Stokoe, Carlo Pagulayan and David Baron [DC; $24.99] from my local library. It reprints Batman #101-105 and material from Batman Annual #5 and Detective Comics #1027.

To cover what has gone before as swiftly and as painlessly as I can manage...

Batman screwed up again. His arrogance and hubris brought Gotham to its knees and also left his crime-fighting apparatus in tatters. Once again, he allowed the Joker to go free to mass-murder to his heart’s content. If he learned anything, it was that he screwed up again and he needed the family members and allies he has modern-day historically treated like crap. These brutal comic books were quite the chore for me to read. The things I do for you.

I saw a grimmer of hope for the Batman in that he did realize he’s screwed up in so many ways and seemed willing to do the hard work to change how he does his Batman thing. It’s not the twelve steps I think he needs, but it’s actually a good start.

Enter the Ghost-Maker, a vigilante who knew Bruce Wayne when they were both training. Ghost-Maker is a killer, which seems to be the main issue between him and Bats. That we’ve never heard of Ghost-Maker before and that Batman has barely mentioned him to his legion of sidekicks, I’ll chalk that up to how many times the Darknight Detective has been hit on the head over the years.

During the course of this story arc, Batman shows a great deal of deference to his old frenemy. He does keep Ghost-Maker from killing Clownhunter, a traumatized young vigilante who has been murdering members of the Joker’s organization. But it seemed to me that Bats mostly wanted to kiss and make up with Ghost-Maker, which he does by the end of this initial story arc, inviting him to join him in fixing Gotham. Sigh. Vigilante, heal thyself.

I know. It’s so easy for me to ease into trashing Batman in these recent DC comic books. But, overall, I thought there were some very positive things in this collection. Batman seems more sane than in a long time. He treats allies better. He doesn’t manipulate them. He and Catwoman even make some grown-up decisions that don’t have them doing the deed on rooftops. At least for now.

Included in this volume, Batman Annual #5 is Clown-Hunter’s story and it’s a compelling tale made all the stronger by the presence of Leslie Thompkins. Leslie has never given up on making Bruce Wayne a better and more sane person. She seems willing to serve the same purpose in helping Clownhunter. She’s a gentle hopeful breeze in a city of brutal violence. Were I involved in the Batman comics, I’d make her a more regular presence. Of course, I’d also work my way back to an inspirational and sane Batman, something DC doesn’t seem very interested in doing. Oh, well.

For now, I’ll take what I can get. Tynion IV’s writing is decent. Even baby steps towards a better Batman are welcome.

ISBN 978-1779510631

Also from my local library...

Mao Volume 1 by Rumiko Takahashi [Viz; $9.99]. From the creator of such legendary manga as Ranma 1&2, Maison Ikkoku, Urusei Yatsura and more comes this tale of Nanoka, a young girl who survived the deaths of her parents and finds herself in the middle of an ongoing supernatural war between cursed exorcist/healer Mao and the demons he hunts. Transported back and forth in time, Nanoka finds that she also has supernatural powers and a mysterious link to Mao.

I prefer Takahashi’s comedies to her supernatural dramas, but she is such a great storyteller all her work is worth reading. Nanoka is a courageous young woman despite the horrors she now sees. Mao is more than an obsessed demon hunter; he is also a healer of both humans and non-threatening demons. A certain caped crusader could learn something from him.

This first volume entertained and intrigued me enough that I have requested the next book in the series.

ISBN 978-1974720521  

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2021 Tony Isabella