Monday, August 21, 2023




Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune are my favorite game shows. I rarely miss an episode of either. I love Jeopardy because it’s all about facts. Hard facts. There are no absurd alternate right-wing facts on the show. Just real facts.

Wheel of Fortune is a party show. You can sit down with your family and friends and try to shout out the answers to the puzzles before them. It can get silly - as can Jeopardy - but it’s one of the most good-natured shows on television.

Sadly, corporate greed is pushing them away from me. I’m very sad that I don’t know when I’ll be able to watch them again.

For the present, Jeopardy is on the wrong side of the picket line. Its writers are on strike. Co-host Mayim Bialik, a member of SAG-AFTRA and maybe even the Writers Guild, has refused to cross that picket line. Several of the finest Jeopardy champions also refuse to cross the picket line. Much to my disappointment, Ken Jennings has chosen to disrespect the picket line. It’s not a good look for you, Ken.

Just as bad as Jennings failure to support the unions is what the Jeopardy producers are planning for the upcoming season. They are going to use recycled material. They are going to use questions from past seasons. Besides being an insult to the striking writers, it’s one of the dumbest ideas I can manage.

There are common characteristics among Jeopardy champions. They are huge fans of the show, having watched it with their parents since their childhood and continuing to today. They also have remarkable memories. They wouldn’t be champions if they didn’t.

So the plan is to ask contestants, who have watched damn near every episode of Jeopardy and who almost certainly have amazing memories, to answer questions they would’ve seen on the show before. Forget about how smart the contestants are. Now the key factor on Jeopardy will be how fast they can buzz in.

That’s not my Jeopardy.

Closing question. Will the striking Jeopardy writers be paid when their material is recycled?


Wheel of Fortune? The show isn’t as fact-intensive as Jeopardy, but it appears it will be using recycled puzzles as well. Once again, memory will overshadow deduction in determining who will win each game. But that’s not my only problem with Wheel.

Pat Sajak is leaving the show after one more season. Sajak doesn’t always remain appropriate in his back-and-forth with contestants, but he is one of the most quick-witted hosts in television. He is unfailingly friendly and even kind with the contestants. Much more often than not, his quips land well.

His announced replacement? Ryan Seacrest.

If there is a more over-exposed and under-talented personality on television, ignoring the right-wing clowns on the fake news shows, I don’t know who it would be. He’s a dullard who couldn’t even hold his own with Kelly Ripa who, frankly, carried Seacrest when he was her co-host. His New Year’s Eve celebration hosting is even worse than perpetual man-children Anderson Cooper and Andy Cohen. He is an aging pretty face with no substance.

Pat Sajak is not irreplaceable, but his large presence needs to be filled by someone much more qualified than Seacrest. I’d recommend Wanda Sykes, but she’s already my go=to recommendation for almost everything. If they make a movie about my life, I want her to play me. She’d be better in the role than me.

Then there’s the disgusting mistreatment of the lovely Vanna White, whose beauty, charm and congeniality is a crucial element of Wheel of Fortune. By Hollywood standards, White is insanely underpaid for what she brings to the show. She hasn’t had a raise in decades and the powers-that-be don’t seem inclined to give her one. The lawyers are now involved and it could get ugly. Another reason not to watch  Wheel of Fortune. I stand with Vanna!

Here I sit. I’m crushed two of my favorite programs will no longer be on my weekday watch list. I blame the greedy CEOs. The cost of agreeing to the modest demands of these unions would cost maybe 2% of their inflated earnings. Such greed is not good.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2023 Tony Isabella

Friday, August 18, 2023


Don’t get me started. I mean that literally. Generally, I commence these “made me happy” pieces by detailing all the excrement I went through the previous month as a contrast to the things that brought me joy. Not this time. I’ll sum up the past three months by letting you know it was too much for me. Way too much. I don’t even want to think about it, much less write about it. So...

Without further adieu, here are the things that brought much-needed joy to me in July...

July 1: Simba is home again. She never really left. I feel her presence throughout our home. I often catch glimpses of her in her favorite spots. We will love her forever and we know she loves us too. My little buddy.

July 2: Black’s Myth by Eric Palicki and Wendell Cavalcanti. So a private detective werewolf, a half-djinn and The Minotaur walk into a mystery. That’s not exactly what happens, but what does happen is
an entertaining bit of spooky noir. Recommended.

July 3: The 24-hour Godzilla channel on Pluto TV. Okay, yes, I have seen these movies at least a dozen times over. But I never dreamed I’d be able to turn on the TV and always see Godzilla, anytime, day or night, for free! All praise the great scaly one!

July 4: Pluto TV also has a 24-hour channel devoted to the cinema classes from by The Asylum. Between this and the Godzilla channel, I’m almost wishing I could afford to retire. I think I need we need a bigger TV.

July 5: My new Weony blood pressure monitor. More consistent than my previous one. The downside is no longer ignoring I really need to adhere to a meal plan for my Type 2 diabetes. I’ll let you know how that goes. 

July 6: Published around this time last year, Amazing Fantasy #1000 celebrates Spider-Man’s 60th anniversary with a terrific anthology of short stories by a variety of top comics creators. The issue is an absolute delight. Kudos all around.

July 7: Dead Man’s Party #1 by Jeff Marsick and Scott Barnett. One of my random Indy Planet buys, I liked it so much I ordered issues #2-5. The protagonist is an assassin given a diagnosis of incurable cancer. There are delicious twists.

[I finished the five-issue series and am thrilled to report it was great to the last page. Recommended.]

July 8: Days of Sand by Aimee De Jongh. When it comes to the next round of comics awards, I’ll be shocked if this powerful story of a government photographer in the Oklahoma Dust Bowl of 1937 isn’t among them. It’s an instant classic.

[Days of Sand was eligible for some of this year’s awards. It got nominated, but did not win. It should have.]

July 9: Sweetness & Lightning by Gido Amagakure. A widowed school teacher with his young daughter share meals and the cooking of the meals with a neglected student. A bit heavy on the recipes, but so charming and heartwarming.

July 10: I Am Batman 2: Welcome to New York by John Ridley follows Jace Fox (who’s *a* batman not *The* Batman) to the Big Apple. Good intentions are soon complicated by politics and a terrifying serial killer. Looking forward to the third book.

[I Am Batman has been cancelled. DC’s vision of what makes for good comics is so far removed from mine that it could be company policy to cancel anything I like.] 


July 11: Will Meugniot’s Adventures of Cat Passmore, Sub: Human is so deliciously fresh and fun it could’ve been picked from the fruit tree of the comics gods. It delighted me from start to finish. You can get it from Indy Planet...and you should!

July 12: A Jeopardy player revealed that, in his younger days, he used to create fake library cards so he could take out more books.Host Ken Jennies quipped, “Best Jeopardy crime ever!”

July 13: Bokksu Snack Box. Barb and I deserved a treat for what we went through in June. We’re getting a box of delicious stuff from Japan every month. Biggest likes so far: the white strawberry candy and the 20th Century Pear Biscuit.

July 14: The Out-Laws. This just released action comedy stars Adam Devine as a bank manager whose future in-laws are bank robbers on the run from their murderous partner. It’s 95 minutes of goofy fun, crazy action and a terrific supporting cast.

July 15: We have a new refrigerator in our kitchen. We had to buy it because our just-five-years-old fridge kicked the bucket. We’re hoping to get at least seven years out of this one. Now comes the restocking of the food.


July 16: Barbie Dreamhouse Challenge. I haven’t enjoyed a HGTV show this much since they rebuilt the Brady house. Crazy designs. Lots of Barbie history. Now I want them to build Avengers Mansion or the Hall of Justice.

[I am not kidding about either of those. Come on, HGTV. Time to get your share of the super-hero market.]

July 17: A Very British Affair: The Best of Classic Romance Comics. Curated by David Roach, this anthology of love comics features some amazing art, writing with a distinct British accent and a sense of the history of these magazines. Well worth reading.

July 18: My pal Mike Buckley is making his first comics convention appearance in far too long as a guest of the Gem City Comic Con at the Dayton Convention Center, July 22-23 in Dayton, Ohio. Mention my name and he’ll sing to you.

[Nobody asked Mike to sing to them. The fools!]

July 19: Casa Isabella has a spanking new driveway, which glistens in the sun. Seriously, in direct sunlight, it’s darn near blinding. Yes, the future is so bright we’ve got to wear shades. We will be able to park on it in a few more days.

July 20: From IDW, Bermuda by John Layman, Nick Bradshaw and Len O’Grady is a four-issue sci-fi thriller. Fast paced action, solid characters and a satisfying ending. If there’s a trade paperback, get it for your home, public or school library.

July 21: Lonesome Days, Savage Nights #1 by Steve Niles, Salvatore Simone & Syzmon Kudranski. From 2020, a werewolf on the side of the angels fighting the criminals who killed his beloved. I loved this first book. Where’s the second already?

[The second book is in the works, but clearly not progressing fast enough to suit me.]

July 22: Dark Blood by Latoya Morgan. A decorated soldier is home, living his life while dealing with Deep South racism. Experimented on without his knowledge, he now has powers he doesn’t understand. A dangerously engaging series. Highly recommended.  


July 23: Finding Dee #1 by Dee Fish. “Sometimes Finding Yourself is a Transition.” A charming, funny and down-to-earth comic book about the cartoonist’s transition. It was published in 2017 and there’s a collection due this fall. Take my money.

[I bought and am enjoying all the issues published to date. I’ll be writing about them when I do my next “queer comics” blog.]

July 24: Executive Assistant Iris by David Wohl, Eduardo Francisco and John Starr. Back in 2011, I read some issues of this secretary, bodyguard and assassin. I liked them and meant to read more. Now I have and I like them even more.

July 25: Chu Volume 2: (She) Drunk History by John Laymen and Dan Boultwood. Saffron Chu, the master criminal sister of “my asshole cop brother Tony” returns with hilarious time-spanning capers that had me chuckling throughout. Highly recommended.


July 26: Our shiny new driveway was installed a week earlier, but we couldn’t park our vehicles on it until this date. Not only does it look fantastic, but it’s a lot safer for an old guy who walks with a cane a significant part of the time.

July 27: By most accounts, Comic-Con International in San Diego was a big success despite the impact of the writers and actors strikes.Related media fans found their way to the comics creators, panels and vendors and enjoyed themselves. Thumbs up.

July 28: Todd McFarlane Toys is producing a Black Lightning figure that’s due out in the fall of this year. I can’t wait to buy two of them, one for me and one for the lucky college that will eventually get my Black Lightning archives.

[This will be a WalMart exclusive and could be in their stores as early as mid-October.]

July 29: Netflix has added a bunch of intriguing looking movies and TV shows from South Korea. I liked the first episode of Mr. Queen and will be sampling others. I just wish Netflix wasn’t being such a dick when it comes to the writers strike.

July 30: NEO Comicon 2023. The one-day event was the largest in the show’s history. Thousands of attendees. Tens of thousands of comic books, Funko figures and more. Great comics creators and craftsman. Pure joy for the fan’s heart.  

July 31: NEO Comicon 2023. One of the really cool things about the event was hanging out with my pal Mike Buckley, who I haven’t seen in several years. Also on hand was Tom Orzechowski, who was one of the best hires I ever made as a Marvel Comics editor.

I feel better now. I hope you do, too. I’ll be back soon with more bloggy thing fun.

© 2023 Tony Isabella

Sunday, August 13, 2023




Continuing our reading of Batman: The Silver Age Omnibus. The book collects Batman #101-116 and Detective Comics #233-257.  

Just one issue after Batman uncovered Kathy Kane’s secret life as Batwoman and bullied her to hang up her cape, the world’s greatest detective has to figure out another hero’s civilian identity. His own!

Written by Edmond Hamilton, “Batman and Robin’s Greatest Mystery” [Detective Comics #234; August, 1956] finds the dynamic duo losing their memories to a machine used on them by a criminal scientist. Our heroes must recover the memories to stop the scientist’s next and biggest crime. What I found most appealing was how Batman’s deductive logic mirrored what he had done in the Batman. I like a certain consistency in a character’s modus operandi. Of course, now that someone had uncovered Batman’s identity, he had no choice but to give up his career as a caped crusader.

What? That only applies to female crime-fighters? Goddess spare us from the patriarchy.


Batman #102 [September, 1956] has three stories. Written by a not-yet-identified writer, “The House of Batman” is drawn by the team of Sheldon Moldoff and Charles Paris. It’s a weak effort in which a deceased millionaire leaves money for Gotham to build a downtown headquarters for Batman. Actually, the “deceased millionaire” is a criminal secretly using the house as his headquarters. What a dump plan. He was just begging to be caught.

Bill Finger’s “The Batman from Babylon” is drawn by Dick Sprang and Charles Paris. The synopsis:

When Brand Bartor is arrested for dressing in a Batman costume, the crook turns the tables on the Caped Crusader by implying Batman should be arrested for impersonating a Babylonian Batman!

We get some hypnotic time travel that never made sense to me even as a kid. It turns out Batman was that Babylonian Batman. A little bending of the truth and Batman is off the hook. It’s silly, but the art is sweet.

Finally, Bill Finger’s “The Caveman at Large” justifies the cover based on it when an amnesic actor finds is way into the Bat-Cave. Drawn by Moldoff and Paris, it’s another weak tale in a generally less than classic issue.


From Detective Comics #235 [September 1956], “The First Batman” by Bill Finger with artists Sheldon Moldoff and Stan Kaye was an early retconning of Bruce Wayne’s family history and, indeed, the origins of his Batman persona. It was based on a costume Thomas Wayne wore to a society masquerade ball. When, on that pivotal night as Bruce Wayne contemplated his own masquerade, the bat flew into his window and unknowingly triggered the future Batman’s memories of his dad  wearing the costume.

Wayne also learns Joe Chill wasn’t a trigger-happy stick-up robber. Chill’s murders of his parents were ordered by gangster Lew Moxon, seeking revenge for Thomas Wayne putting him in jail years earlier.
In a tight ten pages, Finger brought readers a recap of the birth of Batman, new details about past events and a satisfying ending.

What kind of man Thomas Wayne was has been retconned several other times in recent decades and sometimes in unsavory ways, but I think this first one got it right.  


Batman #103 [October 1956] had the usual three stories, two of them written by Batman co-creator Bill Finger. Drawn by Dick Sprang and Charles Paris, “The Broken Batman Trophies” is a weak six-page tale that telegraphs everything about itself by the middle of its second page. On a live TV show, Bruce Wayne gets a cut on his chin from a falling boom. Batman comes on to receive trophies from people he’s help but “accidentally” destroys them all. It’s mentioned on that second page that the camera will do a close-up on Batman when he’s handed the prizes. A child could figure out what Bats is up to and I’m certain of that because I was around four-and-a-half years old when I first read this story.

Arnold Drake wrote “The League of Ex-Convicts” with art by Sheldon Moldoff and Charles Paris. A reformed ex-con starts an employment agency for other reformed ex-cons. Three ex-cos get jobs, but each is framed for crimes on their jobs. I saw the conclusion coming a mile away. One of the people who hired them was doing the crimes, knowing the ex-cons would get the blame. Not a bad concept, but the eight-page length didn’t give us enough time with the accused men or to see how they suffered. I would love to give this premise the “book-length” story treatment.

Finger returns for the cover tale, also drawn by Moldoff and Paris. In “Bat-Hound, Movie Star,” Ace helps the Dynamic Duo track down a criminal and gets cast in a movie with the salaries of the crime-fighters going to charity. The earlier criminal escapes from jail, disguises himself and gets hired as the stunt coordinator with no background check in evidence. He rigs the stunts to kill the good guys. They don’t die and bring him to justice. Another story which  didn’t set well with my younger self because, for there to be any suspense, Batman had to do really dumb not checking the contents of his utility belt. I hate it when smart characters do stupid stuff to advance the plot. You can see that goes back to my childhood. I was a clever lad.


Detective Comics #236 [October, 1956] has “The New Model Batman” by an unknown writer and drawn by Sheldon Moldoff. Moldoff also drew this cover. Which made me laugh here in 2023. I thought Batman got some of that crazy “War on Drugs” money and, much as all the police forces that got it, used it for weapons of war that were way more than needed.

Released from prison, scientist Wallace Waley vows vengeance on the man who put him there. I don’t think I have to say who that man is. He devises anti-Batman weapons and sells them to other criminals, reserving a super anti-Batman weapon for himself. These anti=Batman weapons include defenses against the bat-ropes, the Batmobile and presumably more than can be shown in a ten-page story. Batman comes up with ways to thwart them all. But our unknown writer disappoints us in a major way. The super-weapon, so often mentioned during the course of this story, becomes a super-stunt on page seven...and it ain’t all that super. Thumbs down on this one.

That’s all for this installment of our deep dive into Batman: The Silver Age Omnibus. Look for another installment soon.

© 2023 Tony Isabella