Tuesday, December 26, 2023




It’s 1956 or thereabouts. Born in December 1951, the young Tony is an avid watcher of The Adventures of Superman and that love brings him to the neighborhood bookie-adjacent newsstand on Detroit Avenue in Cleveland. The newsstand sells more racing forms than Tony had ever seen, not that Tony knows what those are. The actual bookie is next door.

The newsstand also has more magazine and newspapers than Tony has ever seen before. Most glorious, it also has more comic books than he’s ever seen before. Tony learned to read from comic books when he was four years old, but he was only now becoming the avid fan we know today.

Superman and Action Comics were his favorites, but he was getting interested in this Batman guy as well. Soon, Batman would eclipse Superman to become Tony’s favorite super-hero. Because Batman, with no super-powers per se, seemed an attainable role model for a young would-be hero. He could train himself just as Bruce Wayne had. If Dick Grayson could do it, so could young Tony. Alas, he lacked the essential element of dead rich parents. Still, Batman remained his favorite until Spider-Man swung around.

We’re continuing our reading of Batman: The Silver Age Omnibus. The book collects Batman #101-116 and Detective Comics #233-257. Let’s get back into it...  

Detective Comics #237 [November 1956] presented “Search for a New Robin” by a currently unknown writer and with art by Sheldon Moldoff and Charles Paris. This rather lightweight ten-pager consists mostly of a disguised Bruce Wayne imaging what his life would be if his new Robin was one of the two rather unpleasant youngsters he meets in his temporary new identity.

The weak premise is that, while appearing with Batman at a bridge dedication ceremony, a dummy of Bruce Wayne is shot by a gangster. The dummy tumbles into the river and everyone thinks Bruce is dead. Taking on a new identity, he knows Batman must work solo for fear of exposing Robin’s identity. It’s faulty logic, but, after Bruce’s daydream of a new Robin or two, the police find the bullet-riddled
dummy. A half-ass explanation of why Wayne had taken on a different identity mercifully brings this story to an end.


Batman #104 [December 1956) has one of my favorite covers of this era. Drawn by Sheldon Moldoff, it evokes the giant dinosaur movies that were captivating me. Beyond that, the issue has three terrific stories, starting with “The Man Who Knew Batman’s Secret” by writer Edmond Hamilton with art by Dick Sprang and Charles Paris. In just eight pages, we see a Gotham City imperiled by master criminal John Varden. Complicating Batman and Robin’s hunt for Varden, quirky amateur detective Thaddeus Crane accidentally discovers Batman’s secret identity. Varden is determined to kidnap Crane and get him to reveal Batman’s identity. Even as a kid, I saw the ending coming a mile away but was still excited to learn Crane was actually loyal butler Alfred, the key element of Batman’s plan to capture Varden and his men. I was around five years old and my detective skills were pretty darn sharp.

Bill Finger’s clever “Robin’s 50 Batman Partners” was also a hit. Again drawn by Sprang and Paris, the tale has Batman injured with Robin having to do solo hosting duties at a gala honoring some of Batman’s greatest cases with appropriately gigantic displays. The bad guys figure they can easily take down Robin, but the Boy Wonder uses the exhibits to take them down instead.

“The Creature from 20,000 Fathoms” is by Finger, Moldoff and Paris. No hoax here. The fire-breathing monster is the real deal. Batman and Robin must battle the dinosaur as a member of their exhibition tries to kill them to protect a treasure he discovered. This would have been a standout story in most Batman issues of the time, but it came in a close third to the other two.


Detective Comics #238 [December 1956] featured writer Dave Wood’s highly entertaining “The Doors That Hid Disaster!” The cover is by Sheldon Moldoff with the interior art by Moldoff and inker Charles Paris.

Super-criminal Checkmate thinks he has escaped Batman and Robin but has instead doomed himself by hiding in a chamber holding deadly radioactive material. He plans his ultimate revenge against the duo by having his gang carry out his plans after his death. They lure Batman and Robin into a building filled with deadly traps that the crime fighters have faced before. But repeating those escapes would kill them. It’s a great “battle of wits” adventure.

What makes the story even more fun are the mentions of Batman foes that never appeared previously and are not seen, even in flashback, in this tale. It’s only a matter of time before some modern Batman writer introduces us to such evil luminaries as the Bowler, Harbor Pirate and Wheelo.


Detective Comics #239 [January 1957] has a wash cover by Sheldon Moldoff and Jack Adler. The writer of “Batman’s Robot Twin” has not yet been identified, but the art is by Moldoff and Charles Paris. The brilliant but naive Professor Carden happily shows his latest invention to the clearly shady Dr. Dall. It’s a robot that can be programmed with the knowledge and personality of anyone. Dall tells the professor the robot is too dangerous to be given the thoughts and personality of anyone other than Batman. Realizing the robot won’t be used for evil with this thoughts and could even be a boon to crime-fighting, Batman agrees.

Dall cuts the brakes on a crane, forcing Batman to leave the robot before he can give it any commands. Dall then clobbers Carden and takes control of the robot. He takes control of the robot, but is stymied because the robot won’t reveal Batman’s secret identity. That’s Batman’s personality coming through.

Dall sends the robot to capture Batman. On his own, the robot goes to the Batcave. A high voltage shock will erase the robot’s memory, but the robot knows that’s what Batman will attempt and foils him. Batman escapes. Dall uses the robot’s knowledge to help him break into a diamond-cutting factory. Another clash of Batman vs. Robot Batman commences.


This time, Batman tricks the robot into high-voltage wires using a tactic our hero just thought of and which the robot could not know about. Batman disguises himself as the robot, tricking Dall and his gang into a locked truck.

Even with its memory erased, Batman and Carden agree the invention is to dangerous to be used. It ends up yet another souvenir in the Batcave.

I’ll have more from Batman’s Silver Age adventures in the hopefully near future. Thanks for stopping by.

© 2023 Tony Isabella

Sunday, December 24, 2023



Today’s bloggy is a fun exercise in building a team, specifically, the Avengers team I’d like to write. The notion first hit me when, after watching the second season of Loki, I said Sylvie would make a good addition to the Avengers.

My next idea was to create a team of Avengers that kind of sort of copied the original team with different characters. That idea came and went and came back.

I asked my Facebook and Twitter friends how many members should my new incarnation have. The responses ranged from three to infinity. The most frequent number was seven. I thought that was a perfectly workable number of members. Then I started putting together a team I’d love to write and seven didn’t seem as definitive as I thought.

No Avengers team would be complete without CAPTAIN AMERICA. Steve Rogers was my first choice for that role. However, it also struck me that a position as important as Avengers leader needed back-ups. So, on my Avengers team, Steve’s role would occasionally be taken over by Captain America Sam Wilson or Captain Carter.

My next choices were GIANT-MAN and THE WASP. The former would be a back-from-the-dead Bill Foster because killing him off in Civil War was as monumentally stupid as Civil War itself. The latter would be Janet van Dyne because I always liked her and think she’d be great fun to write. Super-capable, feisty, smart, fashionable. What’s not to love there?

SYLVIE. She’s Loki, but not as self-assured as the original god of mischief. Her coming into her considerable power could bring some interesting situations into the series.

SHE-HULK. Okay, yes, she’s an obvious choice, but she’s a favorite character of mine I’ve never gotten to write. Look at that. I just re-created the original Avengers line-up. That’s five.

The next two members are MISTY KNIGHT and TIGRA. Because I created them and have long wanted to write them again. That’s seven.

But I’m not done yet.

JESUS RIDER or maybe just THE RIDER. Long-suffering Johnny Blaze has his soul redeemed by accepting Jesus as his lord and savior. He no longer has his Hell-spawned powers. What he has are supernatural powers given him by Jesus. He accepts there are many other god-like beings in the Marvel Universe. He doesn’t disrespect them at all. He has chosen to follow Jesus, who, of course, preached loving all people. Including gay people. Like Johnny himself.

People do come out late in life. Having his authentic self seen and accepted and loved by the One who rescued him from Hell’s agonies means everything to Johnny. If you object to my having a gay hero on this team, there are dozens of Avengers teams who don’t have any members of the LGBTQ+ community on them. That’s eight.

The final member of my Avengers team is HALLOWS EVE. I really like Janine Godby. Her masks are a super-power we don’t see too often. The only changes I would make: only she can use the masks and they always return to her. That’s nine.

If you like this Avengers line-up, feel free to tell Marvel you’d like to see me write such a title. Just expect to be disappointed. I doubt many of the current Marvel Comics editors know who I am or anything about my work. If they do know who I am, they likely think of me as an old guy who couldn’t possibly still write great comics.Such is life.

One more thing. If you count Captain Carter and Sam Wilson, my team actually has eleven members. Which is way too many.

I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2023 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, December 6, 2023


November was another wild ride in The Adventures of Tony Isabella. It started with the wonderful Akron Comicon. It continued with all manner of household projects, including emptying the final storage unit of the Fortress of Storage. At one point, we had three units. Now we have none. This will save us just under a hundred bucks per month. Three cheers and a tiger for us.

November ended with the American release of Godzilla Minus One, now my second favorite Godzilla movie of them all. The Japanese Gojira is still first, but that’s a combination of recognizing the movie that started it all and my sentimental love for it.

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

November 1: My mom is 97 years old as of Halloween. She enjoys life at Emerald Village in North Olmsted, hanging with her many friends and roaming the halls with her walker. She is often given mail to deliver to other residents. Happy birthday, Mom!

November 2: Go Find Daddy. The latest Ed Runyon mystery by Steve Goble finds the investigator trying to find a cop-hater believed to be a cop-killer to tell him his daughter is dying. Very emotional and intense, it’s the best in the series to date.


November 3: Quiz Lady. Streaming on Hulu and starring Sandra Oh and Awkwafina, this woman-driven comedy is hilarious and heartwarming. Terrific supporting performances from Will Farrell, Holland Taylor and Tony Hale. It’s a good time and recommended.

November 4: Akron Comicon 2023. It was another great weekend with terrific fans, guests and vendors. The highlight was dinner with my dear friends Laurie Jacobson and Jon Provost, who I haven’t seen in way too many years. Love you guys!

November 5: Akron Comicon 2023. I wore my “Trans Rights are Human Rights” shirt Saturday, receiving literally dozens of compliments and thanks. It’s important to stand up for and with a community so cruelly and unfairly targeted by the GOP.

November 6: Akron Comicon. From Scream, actresses Nancy Anne Kidder and Leonora Scelfo were my delightful next-door neighbors. The fans loved them and so did I. I’d like to see their mean girl characters return in Scream 7!


November 7: Funko’s 80th anniversary Spider-Man Pop! I love getting figures of the original looks of my favorite comic-book characters. Though I plan to reduce my Funko collection, I’m still buying such figures when I see them.

November 8: Trans lives matter. The shirts for my next convention appearance have arrived. I urge my fellow comics professionals to stand with and support people so cruelly and unfairly targeted by the GOP. Do not say nothing.

November 9: My “No Hunting” sign is ready to go when Medina’s law allowing bow hunters to come into neighborhoods and slaughter deer takes effect. I wonder how many holiday reindeer displays they will skewer in their zeal.

November 10: All-American Comics #16. I love facsimile editions of old comics. They’re a window to our past. But I’d gladly pay $9.99 if they were the same dimensions as the originals. Much better for  a true feel for the material.


November 11: Loki Season Two was terrific throughout and ended in a most satisfying manner. But now I want a third season showcasing Sylvie (Sophia Di Martino) coming into her own as a Loki. I can see a place for her in The Avengers.

November 12: Punchline and the Vaude-Villains. Ted Sikora and the rest of the Apama-Verse are clearly having a blast focusing on the wondrous foes our hero and the city of Cleveland are facing. As a reader, I’m having a great time reading these comics.



November 13: Funny Things: A Comic Strip Biography of Charles M. Schulz by Luca Debus and Francesco Matteuzzi. We are living in an age of great cartoonist biographies, as witness this one, told in comic strips with a Schulz-ian vibe.

November 14: Wheel of Fortune. On the November 14 episode, the 92-year-old Liz amazed Pat Sajak and everyone else with her incredible puzzle-solving abilities. Her and her son won over $65,000. It was an inspiring competition.

November 15: Saintly Wife Barb, our neighbor Sue and our jack-of-all-trades handyman Brad got all of my boxes out of the garage and into our basement. Part one of our massive basement/garage/living room project. More to come.

November 16: Tony’s Vast Accumulation of Stuff Basement Project is pretty much finished. With help from my friend Rob, all the boxes are out of the garage and living room. Watch for a VAOS update in the near future.

November 17: Public-domain heroes. Dozens of comics creators have been putting their own spin on Golden Age characters. Their results are decided mixed, but fun. I might want to do something like this in the future if I knew the artist would be paid.

November 18: Hoverboy the Republican Super-Hero by Ty Templeton and Steve Molnar. This odd comic from 2008 has a funny premise and an amusing faux-history. It’s not great, but it does have its moments. Perfect for fans who like weird comics.



November 19: The Marvels. I loved this movie. A trio of incredible women in the leads. Unexpected humor. Sincere feelings. Nick Fury being Nick Fury. All tied up with one of the best credits scenes. I’m still on board. Make mine Marvel!

November 20: Zatanna and the Ripper Volume One by Sarah Dealy and Syre. From Webtoon, we get this intriguing story of a time-tossed Zatanna, just turned 21, trying to catch the infamous murderer and find her way back home. Recommended.

November 21: Published in 2017, Classic Monsters as Sharks by Todd Loren and others is incredibly silly and all the more fun for that.Sharkula, the Frankenshark Monster, Sharkzilla and more! Look for this insane masterpiece at Indy Planet.


November 22: Strong Girl Nam-soon. I’ve watched the first episode of this Korean series about a supernaturally strong young woman on Netflix and loved it. It’s a great mix of comedy, crime-fighting, drama and super-heroics. Recommended.

November 23: The Daily Show. John Leguizamo’s brilliant takedown of Univision for airing a shameful softball interview with Donald J. Trump aka Public Enemy Number One. The actor also wrote a terrific op-ed piece on this for the Los Angeles Times.

November 24: Dolly Parton (and not for the first time). She is an amazing force for good in the world and one of our greatest singers and songwriters. At 77, she was breathtaking in her Dallas Cowboys cheerleader uniform. Good golly, Miss Dolly!


November 25: Ghosts UK. I binge-watched the first four episodes and enjoyed them. I think the US version is better, but there were some brilliant things in the original. Especially the caveman. But some of the ghosts are really nasty.

November 26: Spy Superb by Matt Kindt and Sharlene Kindt. The world’s greatest spy is actually just a useful idiot. This graphic novel has action, espionage, humor and a high body count. It needs to be a movie. Highly recommended.

November 27: Monarch: Legacy of Monsters. I watched the first two episodes of the Apple TV+ series and was mightily impressed. It has an intriguing story, excellent acting and movie-quality production values. This will be a keeper on home video.

November 28: Marvel Super Stories. Fifteen short stories by an all-star line of cartoonists, the anthology is edited by John Jennings, who also contributes a Daredevil story. Aimed at younger readers, the book is suitable for all ages. More please.

November 29: Floor Peijnenburg. Absolutely rocking her real estate business and more, the Netherlands-based beauty is my favorite of the HGTV real estate agents. She’s fun and sassy, often addressing the audience directly.

November 30: Godzilla Minus One is my second favorite Godzilla film of all time. It has the best human stories of any Godzilla movie, the Cold War political content makes it that much more real and the Godzilla scenes are amazing and intense.

December looks to be as busy as November. Maybe more so. I had the best time at GalaxyCon Columbus on December 1-3. I have some cool tasks on my “to do” list, among them getting the bloggy back up to speed. I can’t promise daily columns, but I think I can do better than I’ve done in recent months.

Here’s wishing the happiest of holidays to all my bloggy friends.Thanks for visiting and thanks for your patience as I worked my way through various situations.  

© 2023 Tony Isabella