Thursday, May 30, 2013


Courtesy of Bob Hoskins and my good friends at Stormwatch Comics in
West Berlin, New Jersey, I have all of the 2013 Free Comic Book Day
giveaways.  As a supplement to the bloggy thing, I’ll be reviewing
them one by one.

Free Comic Book Day: Star Wars and Captain Midnight is one half of
a flip-comic from Dark Horse Comics.  Flip it over and you get Free
Comic Book Day: Avatar...the Last Airbender.

“The Assassination of Darth Vader” is an eight-page story by writer
Brian Wood with artist Ryan Odagawa. Concerning political intrigue
within the Empire and an Imperial Star Destroyer, it makes good use
of familiar Star Wars characters like Vader and Boba Fett.  Which
could lead a Star Wars fan into checking out Dark Horse’s many Star
Wars titles.  That’s a good angle for a FCBD giveaway.  A publisher
wants to attract paying customers to his comics.

Digression.  The inside front cover of this FCBD issue has a brief
paragraph setting the stage for the Star Wars story.  By way of a
general comment, I find Dark Horse’s Star Wars somewhat confusing.
I would recommend to this publisher that they devote more of their
Star Wars inside front covers to giving a new reader some sense of
what he or see is getting into.  End digression.

Backing up the cover story is an eight-page Captain Midnight story
by Joshua Williamson with art by Pere Perez and Roger Robinson.  I
found the story quite readable and it gave just enough background
on the legendary hero and his current circumstances to get me into
the series.  The story continues in Captain Midnight #1, which goes
on sale in July.  Again, this is a good use of the Free Comic Book
Day event. 

Flipping the book over, “Rebound” appears to be a flashback to the
early days of a young man I assume is the hero of Avatar...the Last
Airbender.  The eight-page story by Gene Luen Yang didn’t give me
a true entry into that fictional world, though his writing and the
Ryan Hill art were of professional quality.  I don’t see this side
of the FCBD book as being more than preaching to the converted.  An
Avatar fan might see and, realizing there are Avatar comics, go in
search of them.  I don’t think it would convince a non-Avatar fan
to become interested in the series.

Keep watching for more Free Comic Book Day reviews.

© 2013 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, May 28, 2013


I name my top ten favorite super-heroes who aren't Black Lightning in this week's Tony's Tips at the Tales of Wonder blog.

Monday, May 27, 2013


From time to time, the bloggy thing will be supplemented with brief
looks at items found in my Vast Accumulation of Stuff.

Superman Underoos.  As near as I can figure, I must have acquired
these as part of my compensation for work with a bankruptcy lawyer
after the painful demise of Neverending Battle, Inc., a non-profit
organization with which I had been involved.  The sad tale of that
organization must await another day.

These Underoos are at least 25 years old.  The trademark/copyright
on them is 1978, so they might be 35 years old.

I haven’t been able to find these particular Superman Underoos on
eBay.  Indeed, I haven’t even been able to find any image/mention
of them anywhere online.  A few of my garage sale customers tell me
they saw a pair on sale at last year’s Akron Comicon.  The price on
them was somewhere in the vicinity of $50.

I’m selling them for $25 at my garage sale.  I expect that someday
a really avid Superman collector will see them and be delighted to
have them at that price.  In the meantime, my customers get a kick
out of looking at them.  So do I.

I still wish they made these in adult sizes, even though I’ll never
again wear any item of clothing featuring any DC Comics character.
Not even Black Lightning since DC has failed to pay me for various
shirts featuring my creation.  But I digress.

Look for more oddball VAOS items every week.

© 2013 Tony Isabella

Sunday, May 26, 2013


840 Damon Drive
Medina, OH 44256

Friday, June 7 (9 am to 2 pm)
Saturday, June 8 (9 am to 2 pm)

Friday, June 21 (9 am to 2 pm)
Saturday, June 22 (9 am to 2 pm)

Friday, July 5 (9 am to 2 pm)
Saturday, July 6 (9 am to 2 pm)

Friday, July 12 (9 am to 2 pm)
Saturday, July 13 (9 am to 2 pm)

Friday, August 9 (9 am to 2 pm)
Saturday, August 10 (9 am to 2 pm)

Friday, August 23 (9 am to 2 pm)
Saturday, August 24 (9 am to 2 pm)

Friday, September 6 (9 am to 2 pm)
Saturday, September 7 (9 am to 2 pm)

Friday, September 27 (9 am to 2 pm)
Saturday, September 28 (9 am to 2 pm)

Friday, May 24, 2013


My next Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale will be today and tomorrow, May 24-25, from 9 am to 2 pm each day at 840 Damon Drive in Medina, Ohio.

Weather looks iffy, so I don't know if I'll be able to put out the tables of paperbacks and VHS tapes at a quarter per item.  The tables inside the garage are fully stocked.

I do know that I won't have a table of stuffed animals for sale.  When my daughter Kelly and I started going through the large bins, we realized we really needed to have my wife Barb look through them as well.  Just to make certain she didn't want to keep some of the more special critters.  When I do add that stuffed animals table to the garage sale, it will be packed.

I also decided to postpone the mystery boxes for now.  I hope to have them in the next sale.

That's all for now.  I have to put the final touches on the sale. 

Thursday, May 23, 2013


My next Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale will be Friday and Saturday, May 24-25, from 9 am to 2 pm each day at 840 Damon Drive in Medina, Ohio.

There are three tables of quarter comics with a lot of wonderful issues included.  There are three boxes of magazines at a quarter apiece and the vast majority of them are comics-related.  There are two boxes of hardcovers at $5 per item and I'm hoping to fill a third box by tomorrow morning.  There will be one box and a spinner rack of more expensive comics and books.  

There are nearly two tables of trade paperbacks at $2 per item.  There are copies of 1000 COMIC BOOKS YOU MUST READ at $20 each. 

There are two boxes of quarter comic books appropriate for all ages and a selection of Archie digests also priced at a quarter.  There is a box of appropriate for all ages trades priced at $1 per item.

On the middle table, there will be rare Superman posters at $20 each and some other rare Superman items.  There will also be some other intriguing items on that table.

Plus...of the weather allows me to set up some outside the garage tables...

Paperbacks at a quarter each.

VCR tapes at a quarter each.

 Stuffed animals at 50 cents each.

A few mystery boxes at $5 each.

I'm excited about this sale and I think my customers will be, too.


Wednesday, May 22, 2013


My next Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale will be Friday and Saturday, May 24-25, from 9 am to 2 pm each day at 840 Damon Drive in Medina, Ohio.

The restocking is 99% completed.  It doesn't look like I'll fill the third box of comics suitable for all ages, but that's the only area I'm coming up even a little bit short. There will be a box of higher-priced comics, some of them pretty cool. 

Weather permitting, I'll have three outside tables filled with VCR tapes...paperback books...and stuffed animals.  The VCR tales and the paperbacks will be priced at a quarter per item.  The stuffed animals will probably be priced at fifty cents per item.  

You're going to be glad you came to this sale.


Tuesday, May 21, 2013


My next Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sale will be Friday and Saturday, May 24-25, from 9 am to 2 pm each day at 840 Damon Drive in Medina, Ohio.

Restocking has slowed due to a recurrent wrist injury, but, besides the additional comics mentioned in my previous update, I can now report that I'll be adding around four more trade paperback boxes ($2 per item), two more magazine boxes (a quarter per item) and what looks to be two more hardcover boxes ($5 per item). I'm working on a third box of suitable-for-all-ages comic books at a quarter per comic.

There will be rare Superman posters for sale, copies of 1000 Comic Books You Must Read and other Isabella-written items, and a box of more expensive comics and books.Plus some surprises.  Later today, Kelly and I are going shopping for three four-foot tables for additional items.  Weather permitting, these tables will be set up outside the garage and contain even more nifty stuff for sale. 

There are many amazing buys being offered this sale.  Don't miss out on them.


Monday, May 20, 2013


I write about war comics in this week's TONY'S TIPS at the Tales of Wonder blog.


This bloggy thing of mine will remain on hiatus until Monday, May 27.  When it returns from vacation, it will be somewhat different.  I think you'll like the new formats.

In the meantime, keep checking in this week for updates on my next garage sale.  It will be on Friday and Saturday, May 24 and 25, from 9 am to 2 pm each day, at 840 Damon Drive, Medina, Ohio.

I just finished restocking the quarter comics.  Twenty-five short boxes.  Some amazing stuff there and I am expected I'll have to restock after Friday's sale.

I'm excited.

Thursday, May 16, 2013


My next convention appearance will be at the East Coast Black Age
of Comics Convention
(ECBACC) on Saturday, May 18, from 11 am to 7
pm at the Enterprise Center, 4548 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA.
The activities include a comic book marketplace filled with amazing
new works by cartoonists and other creative types, a kids corner,
panel discussions and workshops.  The guest list includes Jonathan
Gayles, Eric Battle, Jerry Craft, Chris Cross, William Foster III,
N Steven Harris, Joe Illidge, Alex Simmons and more.  I’ll have a
bit more to say about this great event in the very near future, but
for now, I urge you to check out the East Coast Black Age of Comics
Convention (ECBACC) page on Facebook.

Monday, May 13, 2013


This week's installment of Tony's Tips at Tales of Wonder website offers advice for hopeful comics writers young and old.  You can read it here.


I'll be posting several short bloggy notes this week with full blogging returning as soon as possible after I return from this...

My next convention appearance will be at the East Coast Black Age
of Comics Convention
(ECBACC) on Saturday, May 18, from 11 am to 7
pm at the Enterprise Center, 4548 Market Street, Philadelphia, PA.
The activities include a comic book marketplace filled with amazing
new works by cartoonists and other creative types, a kids corner,
panel discussions and workshops.  The guest list includes Jonathan
Gayles, Eric Battle, Jerry Craft, Chris Cross, William Foster III,
N Steven Harris, Joe Illidge, Alex Simmons and more.  I’ll have a
bit more to say about this great event in the very near future, but
for now, I urge you to check out the East Coast Black Age of Comics
Convention (ECBACC) page on Facebook.

Thursday, May 9, 2013


Today's garage sale exceeded my expectations by 10%.  Thanks to all who came to it and bought a buttload of comics, magazines, trade paperbacks and more.

Tomorrow's garage sale will again be at 840 Damon Drive, Medina, Ohio from 9 am to 2 pm.  If you were thinking of coming, I'll see you there.

If you weren't thinking of coming, I have one word for you...Miracleman.

As in the entire Eclipse run.  Priced fairly.  First come, first served.


Wednesday, May 8, 2013


GARAGE SALES UPDATE.  My first garage sale of the summer is on Thursday and Friday, May 9 and 10, from 9 am to 2 pm each day.  The address is 840 Damon Drive in Medina, Oho.

I've decided that my first garage sale of the summer is actually the PREVIEW garage sale.  Admission will require a special ticket. 

Just kidding.  It's open to all. 

At this point, I have three long tables filled with comic books priced at a quarter each.  I have two long tables filled with trade paperbacks at $2 a pop. 

There's an all ages comics table.

There are two boxes of magazines, one of them filled entirely with 2000 AD and other British comics.  Magazines are also priced at a quarter each.

There's a box of hardcovers at $5 a pop.

My spinner rack has overflow from the trade paperback boxes and the hardcover box. 

I'll be selling 1000 Comic Books You Must Read by Tony Isabella at $20 a copy.

There will be rare Superman posters at $20 each.

Finally, in the center table...well, nothing at the moment. That will change by the time the sale opens.

My next job is to fill the center table with all sorts of cool odds and ends. 

Meanwhile, in Fortress of Storage news, the place looks like a comic-book and magazine box game of Jenga.  I need to figure out how to mine that place for comic-book treasure without killing myself.

That's all for now.  Hope to see some of my online pals tomorrow.


Previously in Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing...

The Rawhide Kid - the one created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, then
continued by Larry Lieber - is my favorite western character.  So,
inspired by Essential Rawhide Kid Volume 1, which reprinted all the
Lee/Kirby issues and then some, I’ve been writing about the Rawhide
Kid most every Wednesday.  When I ran out of the issues reprinted
in the book, I tracked down some owlhoots, brought them in and used
the reward money to buy more issues of the title.  Because that’s
what the Kid would have done.

Action!! Danger!! Gun-slingin’ galore!! There’s more blazing, two-
fisted action than you can shake a Colt at when the Rawhide Kid
tangles with the man called the Peacemaker!

The Rawhide Kid #56 [February 1967] has a cool Larry Lieber cover
inked by Sol Brodsky.  Surrounding a dramatic figure of the Kid, we
have three vignettes of the Peacemaker blasting away at opponents
and a head shot of this issue’s villain.  We also get the hardest
sell of almost any Rawhide Kid cover.

This man is Bret Adams! An unforgettable face–-an unforgettable
character–-an unforgettable story...”Fall of a Hero!”

I’m not sure if the hard sell is due to enthusiasm for the story or
some doubt about its commercial value, but, from where I sit, the
17-page “Fall of a Hero!” is one of Lieber’s finest Rawhide tales.
It’s a densely-plotted story that nonetheless has page upon page of
fisticuffs and gunplay.  Lieber is the writer and penciler with
inks by Vince Colletta.

The story opens in the town of Gila Gap with a barroom bully doing
what barroom bullies do. However, when the tavern patrons send for
Bret Adams, the bully turns tail and runs.

The Rawhide Kid makes his first appearance on page three, working
on a ranch and not carrying a gun.  One of the ranch hands attempts
to bully him and the Kid punches him out.  When the bully pulls a
gun on the Kid, another ranch hand tosses Rawhide a gun and, well,
you know how that will end.

Harrison, the ranch owner, asks to see the Kid, who he knows only
as Johnny Clay, in his home.  Harrison doesn’t know anything about
Johnny, but the fight shows him that the young man is more than an
ordinary cowpoke.

Harrison tells Johnny how Bred Adams came to town and drove off the
entire Drago Gang single-handed.  The rancher thinks it was a set-
up to make Adams look good.  He has a personal stake in this.  His
daughter Laura has fallen in love with Adams and is fixing to get
married to him.  Harrison wants Johnny to expose Adams as a fraud,
but the Kid is looking to avoid gunfights, not start them.

Laura overhears the conversation.  Her and her father argue.  The
Kid takes his leave.  The rancher tells Laura that, if she marries
Adams, he’ll cut her off without a penny.  Harrison knows it’s the
ranch, the richest in the state, that Adams really wants.  When the
angry girl repeats the conversation to Adams, the gunslinger tells
her heart is all he wants.

That evening, Adams reveals his true nature as he sneaks up to the
Harrison house with the intent of gunning down Laura’s dad before
the rancher can change his will.  Out for a stroll, the Rawhide Kid
spots Adams.  He manages to tackle Adams and spoil his aim enough
to turn a lethal shot into a wounding one.

Adams and Johnny duke it out, but, when the noise brings Laura and
the ranch hands onto the scene, Adams claims it was the Rawhide Kid
who shot Harrison.  Johnny makes a run for it and soon outdistances
his pursuers.

Adams knows he’ll never be safe as long as the Rawhide Kid lives.
Adams meets with the Drago Gang - the comatose Harrison was spot on
about the gunslinger being in cahoots with the outlaws - and hires
them to ambush the Kid when he returns to town.  Adams has clearly
figured out that the Kid won’t let the frame-up stand.

Rawhide heads back to town to clear his name.  He’s winged by one
of the Drago Gang and still takes them down with just one hand and
a whole lot of moxie.  He marches them back to Gila Gap to expose
the Peacemaker for a fraud and attempted murderer.

The Kid challenges Adams to a duel.  He doesn’t kill Adams, but he
humiliates him and forces the man to admit to shooting Harrison to
keep him from changing his will.  Laura realizes she was played for
a fool by Adams.

Adams leaves town.  Surprisingly, the Kid tells the townspeople to
let him go.  He explains:

Bret Adams had made himself far more of a helpless prisoner than
you could ever make him...the man who sacrificed his honor to win
a rep now has one! Not the one he wanted, but one that he’ll never
be able to shake...for no matter how long he rides–-how far he
travels–-the Peacemaker will forever beat the brand of coward and

Okay, it’s a pretty speech, but I still would have thrown Adams in
a cell for a decade or so.  That’s just how I roll.

Laura tells Johnny he will always have a job with the ranch if he
wants it.  He declines.  It’s too risky for a man with a price on
his head to stay where he’s known.  As he rides out of town, Johnny
talks to his horse:

I hated to leave those folks, Nightwind! But there are other towns,
other territories
...and, sooner or later, we’re bound to find the
one that has the peace and quiet I’m searching for!

Next in this issue is the “Marvel Bullpen Bulletins” page and it’s
a mite light on actual news.  Marvel thanks Stars and Stripes, “the
famous serviceman’s newspaper,” for its favorable article on Marvel
Comics.  Fans are asked to let their dealers - not what you think -
to make sure they stock and display Marvel comic books.  Fans are
asked not to send money to the Marvel offices for Marvel stuff not
offered by Marvel itself.

There’s a long-winded explanation of why some competitor characters
were featured in a TV cartoon advertisement that ran in the Marvel
mags a few months back.  The quick answer: someone paid for the ad.

There’s a nice item about the Comics Fan Convention that was held
in midtown Manhattan the previous July, a request for comments on
the Marvel Super-Heroes cartoons now airing and the usual list of
26 more Merry Marvel Marching Society members.  Also, as usual, I
didn’t recognize any of the names.

There are no big events in this month’s “Mighty Marvel Checklist.”
But the name-dropping is impressive: Dr. Doom, the Silver Surfer,
the Inhumans, the Lizard, Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, Ka-Zar,
the Banshee, the Mandarin and more.  No wonder I couldn’t wait for
the new Marvels to show up at my local drugstore!

The five-page “Reno’s Revenge” is the issue’s non-series story and
it’s not a reprint.  Written by Denny O’Neil with art by Al Ulmer,
it’s the tale of gunfighter Reno Branden.  As a boy, Reno watched
his father gunned down by the Laramie Kid.  Branden spent his youth
learning how to use his guns with both hands and with amazing speed
and accuracy.  He’s been tracking the Kid ever since.

The twist?  When Branden finally finds the Laramie Kid at a hotel,
he’s shocked by what the once-famous gunslinger has become:

He’s old...almost blind! He’s already paid for his crimes! Time
caught up to him before I did!

Reno turns and walks away from the old man.  He drops his gunbelt
in the street and doesn’t look back.  He mounts his horse and rides
away from his own misspent life as a gunfighter.

O’Neil delivered a good story here, perfectly in keeping with the
similar stories written by editor Stan Lee and others.  I thought
Ulmer did a good job as well and wondered why I hadn’t seen more of
his work beyond this one story.  As it turns out...

Ulmer wrote and drew for a number of comics publishers in the 1940s
through the early 1950s.  His clients included Marvel, ACG, Avon,
DC, Dell, Eastern Color, Fawcett, Fox, Hillman and Holyoke.  From
what I can tell, from comics, Ulmer turned his talents to working
on commercial advertising films.  I don’t know what brought him to
Marvel for this story, but it seems to be his only comics credit of
the 1960s.  If anyone has additional information on him, feel free
to share with me and my bloggy thing readers.

The tale was followed by a half-page ad for the Marvel Super-Heroes
cartoon show that includes over 40 stations carrying the program.
Alas, my native Cleveland wasn’t one of them, but the show did air
in Puerto Rico, Venezuela, Japan, Argentina, Uruguay and Toronto,
Canada. The bottom half of the page offered ten different Marvel t-
shirts at $1.60 each, Thing and Hulk sweatshirts at $3.15 and the
ever-present stationary kit at a buck or two for $1.60.  Handling
and poster were an additional quarter per item.

The “Ridin’ the Trail with Rawhide” letters page ran four letters
from readers.  Bobby Closs of Ontario pointed our a coloring goof.
Terry Lee Pennington from Verdon in France wanted to see an annual
teaming Rawhide with Kid Colt and the Two-Gun Kid.  Butch Ragwell
of Ackerman, Mississippi wanted to see a new outfit for the Rawhide
Kid.  James E. Lee of Panama City, Florida wanted the Kid to have a
girlfriend, become a lawman and get his own TV show.  I’ve always
been intrigued by the notion of the Rawhide Kid becoming a sheriff
and settling down.  Unfortunately, even if What If was still being
published, I probably couldn't sell Marvel on a story like that.

I’m taking a few days off to put the finishing touches on my first
comic books garage sale of the summer, but I’ll be back as soon as
possible with more stuff.

© 2013 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, May 7, 2013


Previously in Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing:

Tony watched a bunch of movies.  Now he’s writing about them.  Let
the hilarity commence...


How many eyes does horror have?  Over the years, I’d seen bits and
pieces of Night of the Lepus (1972) and, even in those very brief
glimpses, the only horror I experienced was in wondering to which
dark gods its makers had to make doubtless hideous sacrifice in
order to get the film bankrolled.

The “Lepus” of the title are giant mutated rabbits who eat people.
Back in 1972, you had to watch the movie to learn that because the
movie poster and the trailer were determined to keep the revelation
secret and it wasn’t to spoil the suspense.  Anyway, given my love
for the cheesiest and most awful giant monster movies, I requested
the DVD of the movie from my local library system.

The plot in brief:

When regular rabbits threaten to overrun the range, scientists are
called in to combat that.  One of the experiments created unusual
growth in rabbits so they discard that theory and think they have
destroyed the treated rabbits.  One of them isn’t destroyed, makes
lots of rabbit babies with the rampaging rabbits.  Their expanded
size expands their dining choices to include humans.  Thousands of
giant hungry bunnies.  Elmer Fudd’s worst nightmare.

According to Wikipedia, producer A. C. Lyles and director William
F. Claxton got their start making western movies.  They filled the
cast with character actors who they’d worked with: Stuart Whitman,
Janet Leigh, Rory Calhoun, and DeForest Kelley.  That’s right, Dr.
McCoy is in the house, or, rather, the range, playing the president
of the university where the experiments take place.

Damn it, Jim, I’m an administrator, not a veterinarian!

The only truly exciting scene in the movie is when Leigh, playing
the wife of scientist Whitman, is trapped in a mobile home with her
young daughter, surrounded by the giant rabbits and fighting them
off with roadside flares.  However, even there, the film’s biggest
flaw diminishes the suspense.  It’s the rabbits.

No matter how much fake blood the film makers dabbed on the rabbit
faces, no matter how well built some of the miniature sets were, no
matter how dark they shot the rabbit scenes, the rabbits are just
not convincing menaces.  Which explains the poster and the trailer.

I’m glad I watched Night of the Lepus.  I think everyone who loves
these kind of movies should watch it once.  Just once.  Believe me,
it will stay with you a long time.


Darby’s Rangers (1958) stars James Garner as William Darby, World
War II commander of the 1st Ranger Battalion.  This special forces
unit of the U.S. Army was modeled after the British Commandoes.  It
was an all-volunteer unit and trained with the Brits.  Though I’ve
acquired some reference material on the Rangers - the film is based
on a book by a former Ranger - I decided to hold off reading any of
it and let the movie stand on its own merits.

Filmed in black and white so the movie could utilize actual combat
footage, Darby’s Rangers does stand on its own.  Garner is terrific
as a man driven to create the best unit in the military.  Though a
number of characters are combat movie cliches, such as the by the
book junior officer who wins the respect of his men when he tosses
the book aside, most are compelling.  Among the most interesting is
a thoroughly amoral Lothario.  I can see why some would think this
an inspiration for Marvel’s Howling Commandoes, but there are like
resemblances in other war movies of the era and the fairly common
theme of men of different backgrounds coming together to defeat the
Nazis and their allies.

Darby’s Rangers is an entertaining film that doesn’t shy away from
the tragic consequences of war and the dangerous part the Rangers
play in it.  There are moments of humor and of tragedy.  There’s
romance, though it often comes in most unexpected ways.

The movie is well-written and well-acted with a fine performance by
Edd “Kookie” Byrnes as the initially stuffy Lt. Dittmann.  Though
filmed mostly on the Warner Brothers backlot, the film still gives
a sense of the scope of the Rangers training and combat missions.
It’s definitely worth viewing and, if you’ve already seen it, worth
viewing again.


Known as Robot in the U.S., Enthiran (2010) is a very strange and
too long Indian science fiction thriller.  It stars Rajinikanth as
the scientist Vaseegaran and Chitti, the android/robot he creates.
Chitti is amazing, but constantly makes mistakes by taking commands
literally and not understanding human emotion.  When the scientist
tries to program emotions into Chitti, things start to go horribly

Chitti falls in love with Sana [Aishwarya Rai], which doesn’t play
well with Vaseegaran.  Then, being considered for mass production
by the army, Chitti is rejected after being manipulated by a rival
scientist.  Vaseegaran destroys his creation, but the rival remakes
Chitti in a bad human-murdering world-conquering way.  Vaseegaran
wages a desperate battle to defeat his creation.

This is a weird one.  There is considerable humor at the start of
this three-hour movie, but human treachery turns it very dark.  As
seems typical of Indian movies, bizarre musical numbers interrupt
the story several times.  That said, the special effects are quite
good.  If you can get through its length and the musical sequences,
Enthiran is a fascinating experience.  It was recommend to me by a
Facebook friend and now I recommend it to you.


The Heroic Trio (1992) is a Hong Kong super-hero movie recommended
to me by another Facebook friend.  Wikipedia offers this summary:

An invisible woman is kidnapping newborn babies who are destined to
be emperors and delivering them to the mysterious subterranean
supernatural Evil Master. The police are powerless and the city
must be saved by three very different women who share a terrible
past. Anita Mui plays the mild-mannered wife of a police inspector
who's also the mask-wearing, sword-slinging, knife-throwing crime
fighter, Wonder Woman. Maggie Cheung plays the shotgun-toting,
hard-boiled bounty hunter, Thief Catcher. Michelle Yeoh is the
Invisible Woman, the troubled but determined strong right arm of
the Evil Master.

In the English version, “Wonder Woman” is called “Shadow Fox” and
“Thief Catcher” is “Mercy.” Too little is made of Mercy’s role in
the accidental death of an infant.  That didn’t carry the weight it
should have.

The movie squeezes a lot of plot and character moments into its 88-
minute running time.  The three lead actors play their roles large
but within acceptable bounds.  The villains overact embarrassingly.
Other cast members tend toward the overacting end of the scale, but
don’t make my teeth grind the way the bad guys do.

The action sequences are well-staged, especially the final battle
between the Trio and the Evil Master.  I didn’t see the nature of
that battle coming and it was very effective.

The Heroic Trio isn’t a great movie, but it’s a fun way to spend an
hour-and-a-half.  I enjoyed it.


Hobo with a Shotgun (2011) is one twisted movie.  Rutger Hauer is
the title character, a homeless man whose train-hopping takes him
to the worst city/neighborhood I could imagine.  The man in charge
is a brutal psychopath. His sons and flunkies are much the same and
their depravity infects everyone in their reach.  Even the police
are part of the problem, the villain’s willing accomplices in the
most heinous and violent crimes you can imagine, including burning
to death a busload of young children.

Hauer brings a demented gusto to his character.  His hobo has the
most simple of dreams: to buy a lawnmower and start a lawn-mowing
business in some distant place where they actually have lawns.  He
befriends and is befriended by streetwalker Abby [Molly Dunsworth].
Both actors bring sincerity to their roles.  Pretty much everyone
else in the cast mugs the camera incessantly.

This is perhaps the most violent movie I’ve ever seen.  Watching it
was painful, but the film makers did keep me interested.  It is an
experience I won’t repeat, but, if you enjoy ultra-violent movies
with lots of gore, you’ll surely like this one.

That’s all for the movie reviews until I watched another batch of
cinematic wonders.  Come back tomorrow for the latest installment
of my Rawhide Kid Wednesdays.

© 2013 Tony Isabella

Monday, May 6, 2013


My first garage sale of the summer will be on Thursday and Friday, May 9 and 10, from 9 am to 2 pm each day.  There will be thousands of comic books, books, and more on sale at bargain prices.  There will also be other items, but I'm not 100% sure what will fit in the sale until I put the last touches on it Wednesday night.  These sales will be works in process through the end of the summer.

The address is 840 Damon Drive, Medina, Ohio.  Be sure to respect the parking signs on the street.

There will be no showings by appointment this summer due to my work and family obligations.

Keep watching for more updates.



New today at the Tales of Wonder blog is this week's installment of Tony's Tips wherein I discuss things that go bump in the swamp and, by popular demand, It! The Living Colossus!  Check it out!


Movies are my mental junk food.  I don’t look for the gourmet art.
I go for the hour-and-a-half of entertainment.  Which means I watch
quite a few deliciously cheesy movies.

I respect comic books.  I can write comic books.  I know what that
requires.  I don’t have as much respect for movies.  Maybe that will
come later in life if I ever write one, though the odds are that if
I ever do write a movie, it’ll be something like Mega-Doberman Vs.
and, if I have any say in the matter, it will star Corin
Nemec and Claudia Christian.

In the past several weeks, after finishing a long day of writing,
I would watch a movie borrowed from my local library system.  Tied
in with roughly a hundred area libraries, my local library is able
to get all sorts of movies for me from the relatively recent to the
so obscure I may be the only person in the city who’s ever heard of
them, much less want to watch them.  I’m special that way.

Here’s some movies I’ve watched recently...


Taken 2 (2012) is a sequel to Taken (2008).  In the original movie,
retired CIA agent Liam Neeson shot and otherwise killed/tortured a
great many bad people and winged one unwitting wife of a bad man to
get hubby to spill his guts re: the kidnapping of Neeson’s daughter
Maggie Grace, taken by sex traffickers.  The original movie was fun
with a really impressive body count.  Famke Janssen played Neeson’s
ex-wife and Grace’s mom, but she didn’t do anything of note in the
movie.  The sequel fixes that.

In Taken 2, Neeson, Grace and the separated from her lousy rich new
husband Janssen vacation in Istanbul.  This time around, Neeson and
Janssen are taken by the surviving family members of the villains
Neeson dispatched in the first movie. Grace avoids getting taken.
She also helps her father escape, though he has to leave Janssen to
save Grace from her pursuers.  Once Grace is safe, Neeson goes back
to reducing the crowding at future family gatherings of these bad
men.  It’s totally different from the first movie in that it seems
to have had a smaller budget.

Taken was not made with a sequel in mind.  Then it did really well
in theaters, so Taken 2 was made.  The impressive success of Taken
begat Taken 3, which is said to complete the Taken trilogy.  I’m
thinking Neeson wipes out an entire country of kidnappers to make
sure they never mess with his family again.  I think he should team
up with Wolverine because that would be awesome.

Taken is sort of fun.  Taken 2 not so much.  Taken 3 needs super-
heroes.  Maybe some DC super-heroes as most of them will available
when the new Superman movie bombs and when the fans realize there
will never ever be a Justice League movie...unless Marvel makes it
for DC.


Part of Alex Cross (2012) was filmed in Cleveland.  While in town,
Matthew Fox was arrested for assault for punching the female driver
of a party bus.  He should have been arrested for his Razzie-worthy
performance as a psychotic hitman.  The rest of the cast should’ve
been arrested as co-conspirators.

Tyler Perry plays the title hero, a Detroit psychologist and police
lieutenant.  Edward Norton plays his partner.  Fox plays Picasso,
a sadistic killer hired to kill a billionaire CEO.  Fox murders a
bunch of people and tortures some of them after injecting them with
a drug that leaves his victims conscious but paralyzed and able to
feel everything he does to them.  The movie runs 101 minutes, but
it felt so much longer than I feared I had been injected with that
damned drug and then tortured by this awful movie.

Many of the movies I watch are low-budget projects.  Which at least
gives them some excuse for being lousy.  But Alex Cross was a major
release with a major budget and has no such excuse.  It’s just one
bad movie.  No wonder Morgan Freeman bolted after appearing in two
earlier Cross films.  Not even he could have saved this cinematic
cowpie.  It’s not even worth watching for free.


Attack the Block (2011) is great fun.  This British monster movie
pits a teenage street gang battling alien invaders in their public
housing neighborhood.  Before the night - Guy Fawkes Night - ends,
the muggers will end up fighting both the monsters and a local drug
kingpin and form an alliance with their most recent mugging victim.
The action rarely takes a breather, but, when it does, we get fine
character moments. John Boyega delivers an outstanding performance
as the gang leader, as does Jodie Whittaker as the mugging victim,
a nurse who becomes their combat medic of sorts. Nick Frost adds
comedy to the carnage as the neighborhood weed dealer.  This is my
favorite of the movies I’ve watched recently.


The classic Seven Samurai (1954) begat the classic The Magnificent
(1960) begat the not remotely classic Battle Beyond the Stars
(1980).  Produced by Roger Corman and directed by Jimmy Murakami,
Battle is an endearingly goofy film.  It’s not “so bad it’s good,”
but it is good enough to be an entertaining 105 minutes.

The movie is not without some coolness.  Robert Vaughn plays Gelt,
an intergalactic gun-for-hire not far removed from the character he
played in The Magnificent Seven.  George Peppard is “Space Cowboy,”
a perpetually high gunrunner; he was considered for Steve McQueen’s
role in The Magnificient Seven.  Fans of old TV shows may get some
laughs seeing Richard Thomas, Marta Kristen, Sam Jaffe and Julia
Duffy.  The cast also includes John Saxon and Sybil Danning.  None
of the performances are what I would call good, but Vaughn does his
best with some pretty punk writing.

What I liked best about Battle Beyond the Stars was its intriguing
aliens.  There’s a reptilian slaver who is the last of his kind, a
group of clones who are but five of their universe-spanning shared
intelligence and beings who communicate by radiating heat.  To its
credit, the film manages to spend some time with all of the above.

Despite my negative comments, Battle Beyond the Stars is ripe for
a bigger budget remake.  The basic story, taken as it is from some
classic movies, is good.  With better writing, acting and special
effects, it still wouldn’t be a Star Trek or Star Wars movie event,
but it could be a reason to go to the theater at those times when
there are no genre blockbusters in general release.


Columbiana (2011) stars Zoe Saldana as Cataleya, an assassin whose
side job is seeking vengeance on the vicious drug lord who had her
parents murdered when she was a child.  She witnessed their deaths
and, unlike a certain Gotham City billionaire, she started fighting
back immediately...pinning a killer’s hand to a table with a knife
and then making her escape to the United States.  Taken in by her
uncle, also a ruthless criminal, she insists on being trained to be
an assassin.  She murders without conscience while leaving behind
clues to draw out the drug lord, currently a protected guest of the
U.S.  She is one twisted protagonist.

Written by Luc Besson, who also wrote the Taken movies, Columbiana
is unrelentingly grim.  Outside of Cataleya’s lover, who hasn’t a
clue as to her real identity/occupation and various law-enforcement
agents, there aren’t many good and decent folks in the film.  Even
her elderly grandmother appears to know full well her surviving son
is a criminal.

What makes Columbiana less than vile is Saldana’s fine performance,
some inventive action scenes, a saw-it-coming demise for the hated
drug lord and the film’s conclusion.  Cataleya gets her vengeance,
but she loses everything else of value in her life.  She loses her
family, her lover, her anonymity and, presumably, since her uncle
booked her assassinations, her career.  Even if you assumes she has
bundles of money salted away, you also get the sense that there is
nothing left in her life that will ever bring her even modest joy.
While it may be scant justice for her crimes, it is, at least, some
kind of justice.

Columbiana isn’t a movie I would watch again, but it entertained me
for its 111-minute length.  Which is all I asked of it.

I’ll be back tomorrow with even more movie madness, including my
thoughts on a Indian science fiction film, a movie some think may
have inspired the creation of Sgt. Fury and the Howling Commandoes,
Hong Kong super-heroines, giant killer rabbits and a bad ass hobo
with a shotgun.

© 2013 Tony Isabella

Sunday, May 5, 2013


I had a great time signing books at Carol and John's Comic Book Shop in Cleveland, Ohio.  It's a great store, clean, friendly, and very well stocked with all kinds of comic books and collections, action figures, t-shirts and more.  I recommend it.

I came up with an idea for a new Free Comic Book Day promotion there and am refining it even as we speak.  I'll be writing about this idea later in the week.

Thanks again to John, Carol and all the great staff and fans at their shop!


Friday, May 3, 2013


The bloggy thing is taking the weekend off, but will return on Monday.


I’ll be appearing at Carol and John’s Comic Book Shop on that most
stellar of holidays.  Their store is located at Kamm’s Plaza, 17462
Lorain Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio.  That’s Saturday, May 4, and I’ll
be signing from 3-5 pm.  John says the first 100 people who show up
for my signing get a free copy of Essential Marvel Horror Volume 2,
which reprints a number of my 1970s stories.  It’s a generous offer
and I hope my area readers take advantage of it.


Many people are uncomfortable discussing Dragon*Con and the event’s
continued involvement with alleged child molester and co-founder Ed
Kramer, but Tuesday’s bloggy thing has received more hits than any
other bloggy thing by a factor of three to one and did that in just
one day.  I’m gratified, not by those numbers, but by the largely
civil discussion that followed my posting the piece.

Most of the responses were favorable and even kind to me, but some
were less so.  I’m a big boy with a thick skin, so I’ll take what’s
thrown at me.  That comes with the territory when one chooses to
write about a controversial topic. 

A friend and former colleague condemned me for the piece and then
compared me to Rush Limbaugh and Fox News.  Which might have stung
if it weren’t so patently ridiculous.  I’m still on my first wife
and I have never abused Oxycontin.

One wag commented that he couldn’t imaging anyone offering sex to
Tony Isabella, much less a teenage girl.  Putting aside that I was
quite the delicious hunk of man-candy in my youth, I think I made
it clear the youngster was more attracted to my hotel room than to
me.  Kidding aside...

None of the opposing arguments swayed me.  One writer described the
folks who criticized me as “morally inept,” but I do recognize it
can be hard to disavow something one has enjoyed and more so when
it’s something one loves.  It’s why some politicians can’t support
equal rights until they find out their child is gay.  The posters
aren’t personally affected by Kramer or the other situations I and
others wrote about, so they dismiss or ignore them.  As I’ve said
in the past - and which Harlan Ellison quotes on occasion - there’s
no fury like that of the uninvolved.

Some folks pointed out that Kramer is innocent until proven guilty
in a court of law.  Which ignores that he has spent over thirteen
years avoiding his day in court through artifice and outright lies.
He has claimed his health made him physically unfit for trial, but
the only reason Kramer’s in jail right now is because he was caught
in an out-of-state hotel with an underage boy.  Yes, he is entitled
to the full protection of the law, but, hopefully, none of us are
so addled as to blithely overlook this.  Nor the credible reports
that Kramer continued to be involved in the convention on a limited
and discreet basis as recently as 2008.  That’s one of many questions
still unanswered by the remaining Dragon*Con owners.

The Dragon*Con mantra that they are helpless to take action against
Kramer or cut off the income that has allowed him to make mockery
of the justice system still makes me cry bullshit.  Yes, Kramer is
a litigious son of a bitch. 

If you read the comments to Tuesday’s bloggy thing and the comments
elsewhere, you will see many useful suggestions were made by yours
truly and others.  All have seemingly been met with the remaining
Dragon*Con owners wringing their hands and proclaiming their utter
impotency in these matters.  Bullshit.

As I wrote on Tuesday...

In all those years, they couldn’t find attorneys with the same or
even greater skills than Kramer’s representation? I can’t buy that.

One of the frequent comments from Dragon*Con supporters is that it
is so unfair to penalize Dragon*Con for the alleged crimes of the
odious Kramer.  There were also comments complaining about my bias
against Dragon*Con and my use of my personal Dragon*Con experience
as prologue to my condemnation of the convention.

In a response to the most recent Dragon* Con article at The Beat,
Sean Knickerbocker wrote:

"I would argue Isabella is highlighting the dysfunctional culture
that Dragon-Con promotes. I would also argue that some of these
responses promote that dysfunctional culture. Other conventions
don’t seem to have these problems. A culture that supports a
company because only 1/3 of it is owned by a pedophile is a culture
that supports sexual abuse. I’m sorry, I just don’t see how it can
be anything else."

If I’m biased against Dragon*Con - and I most certainly am - I made
no attempt to hide that.  The title of Tuesday’s bloggy thing was
“Dragon*Con Dies at the End” and the first sentence was:

I’m not remotely a fan of Dragon*Con.  

If we were playing poker, you’d call that a tell.

Knickerbocker is correct on all counts.  My experiences as well as
those reported by others in comments to my blog and elsewhere are
indicative of a dangerous and unhealthy Dragon*Con culture.  As I
said, if 10% of what I’ve been told is true, the event should die.
The sooner the better. 

I’ll agree that what consenting adults do in the privacy of their
own homes or hotel rooms isn’t a problem.  But, again, reading the
comments here and elsewhere, some of what those consenting adults
do violates the personal space of other Dragon*Con attendees.  And,
as again revealed by the comments here and elsewhere, not everyone
involved in various activities consented to same.

It’s not my intent to write about Dragon*Con in bloggy thing after
bloggy thing.  It’s more fun for me to write the other stuff that
I write about it.  But I wanted to give those who disagree with me
the chance to express their disagreements while also urging them to
do their own research on these matters.  I've done that.

I do have a few concluding statements.

It is more important than ever for those people who have their own
stories to tell about Kramer or Dragon*Con to come forward and, if
criminal activity was involved in those stories, to report any such
incidents to the proper authorities.  I have and will continue to
maintain confidentiality for those who have shared privately their
stories with me.  Their stories are theirs to share as and whenever
they see fit to do so.

It is more important than ever for those who will no longer attend
Dragon*Con, be they fans or professionals, to go public with their
stance.  Make the remaining Dragon*Con owners painfully aware that
they have not done right by those who have attended and supported the
convention all these years.

As to the question of why should innocent Dragon*Con fans, guests
and vendors suffer because of the actions of Kramer, the owners and
others, the answer is that life is full of difficult moral choices.
Those choices might have consequences ranging from the loss of some
income to the loss of a friend.  But one cannot make moral choices
based on their cost, but on their correctness.  I’m confident I’ve
made the right choices here.

Dragon*Con will still die at the end.  There will be questions as
to Kramer’s activities and the other sordid activities reported to
have occurred at the convention...and those questions will be asked
by individuals far more imposing than a mere blogger like myself.

There’s no good reason a better show can’t arise from Dragon*Con’s
ashes.  There’s obviously an interest and a market for a major show
in that part of the country.  I would think other event promoters
are already studying the options available to them and I wish them
well.  Because the fans in that area deserve better.

I’ve said my piece and I stand by it. 

Come back tomorrow and you will find me writing about comic books
or cheesy movies or whatever delights me and hopefully entertains
and informs my readers.  Getting all those crazy hits was sort of
exciting, but it’s not where my heart lies.

I should have some inspirational closing line here, but all I have
is my usual.  I’ll be back tomorrow with more stuff.

© 2013 Tony Isabella

Thursday, May 2, 2013


This week's "Forgotten Gems" feature at Tales of Wonder is an action/adventure romance story drawn by Bernie Krigstein.


The cover of Tom Mix Western #48 [Fawcett; December 1951] makes the
claim its star is “the world’s most famous cowboy.” I made a quick
trip to Wikipedia and found this:

Thomas Edwin "Tom" Mix (born Thomas Hezikiah Mix; January 6, 1880
– October 12, 1940) was an American film actor and the star of many
early Western movies. Between 1909 and 1935, Mix appeared in 291
films, all but nine of which were silent movies. He was Hollywood's
first Western megastar and is noted as having helped define the
genre for all cowboy actors who followed.

I knew of Tom Mix and his stature, but I’m pretty sure I never saw
one of his movies.  Since they were almost all silent films, that’s
not surprising.  I’ve read Tom Mix comics stories here and there,
likely reprinted by Bill Black’s AC Comics, but they never made an
impact on me either.

The Grand Comics Database doesn’t have anything on this issue save
for the cover.  But, considering that Tom Mix comics continued to
be published and presumably sell more than a decade after the death
of their star, the title must have had its fair share of readers.

I’ll add this issue to the list of “comic books from the month of
my birth that I’ll buy if I can afford them.”  If I do acquire this
issue, I’ll revisit it in a future bloggy thing.


The last few months have been extremely busy for me.  I completed
a number of paying gigs while working on various family, health and
personal projects.  My leisure time consisted of reading old comic
books and watching movies.  I’ll be writing about the movies over
the weekend.  Today is for the comic books.

I read several issues of Batman: the Brave and the Bold, based on
one of my two favorite animated treatments of the Caped Crusader.
All were entertaining, but the one that really floated my Bat-boat
was issue #15 [May, 2010].  Written by Sholly Fisch with pencil art
by Robert Pope and inks by Scott McRae, “Minute Mystery” captured
my heart from its opening sequence: a time-traveling Batman facing
the Mad Mod in London of the 1960s and teamed up with Brother Power
the Geek and Super-Hip.  You might not recognize those names, but,
let me tell you, mates, they represent nostalgic heaven for yours
truly and others of my aging generation. 

The main story featured Bats and the Flash (a fairly new to the gig
Wally West) teaming to bring the Fiddler to justice.  The opening
sequence was wonderful, the rest of the story was very good with
its nice mix of action and characterization. I wish DC would have
continued this title for those of us who find their current Batman
comic books oppressively dark and ugly.  Sigh.


The First X-Men #3-5 [$3.99 each] wrapped up the five-issue series
by Neal Adams (co-writer and artist), Christos Gage (writer) and,
for all but the final issue, Andrew Curtis (inker).  These days, I
read each individual Marvel title as if it were taking place in its
own distinct universe.  Trying to fit these series into any kind of
continuity is impossible and would make my brain explode.  Of far
more importance to me - and I think we’ve established it really is
all about me - is that it lets me to enjoy some Marvel titles.

The First X-Men is set shortly after the world learned that mutants
walked among men.  The government wants to capture all mutants and
that doesn’t sit well with Logan and Victor Creed.  They gather a
small number of mutants into a protective league.  Clearly, nothing
could go wrong with this fine plan...until it does so in terrifying
fashion.  It isn’t a bright and cheerful series, but it boasts top-
notch writing, interesting characters and the dramatic/dynamic art
of comics master Adams.  I recommend it.

A hardcover collection was published in late February.  I’m sure it
will be followed by a softcover edition.

ISBN: 978-0785164951


Garfield #6-10 [KaBoom!; $3.95] are mostly written by my pal Mark
Evanier and I expect his stories to be clever and funny.  Which, of
course, they were.  But lest I swell his head with praise, I also
want to extend kudos to Scott Nickel who wrote stories in issues
#8-10.  For years, I’ve been a big fan of Nickel’s comic strip Eek!
These Garfield tales are quite a departure from the strip, but they
are as entertaining as Evanier’s scripts for the title.

Kudos must also be extended to the Garfield artists: Mike DeCarlo,
Gary Barker, Dan Davis, Andy Hirsch, Mark and Stephanie Heike and
David DeGrand.  They delivered bright and bouncy art that made me
smile.  DeGrand went for a somewhat different look - I’d call his
style “early Garfield” - but that worked well for the Nickel story
titled “The Lasagna Monster.”

Swell comic books for readers of all ages.


Every so often, DC Comics publishes a trademark-saver, a comic book
whose clear purpose is to protect the trademark of an old DC title
which hasn’t been published in years.  These trademark-savers bare
little or no resemblance to the original titles and almost always
fail to impress me.

Ghosts [Vertigo one-shot; December 2012] doesn’t break the pattern.
Whereas the original DC version of Ghosts featured allegedly true
stories of spectral beings, this one is an anthology of tales with
ghosts.  This didn’t bother me.  I wasn’t an avid fan of that old
Ghosts series either, especially after it turned into just another
DC mystery title.  That said...

The Dave Johnson cover on this one-shot is sweet.  It’s striking,
well designed and coveys the general theme of the special.  I like
it more than anything inside the issue.

Inside the issue are nine stories.  The only one mentioned on the
cover is a sliver of a continued story featuring Neil Gaiman’s Dead
Boy Detectives not written by Neil Gaiman, isn’t particularly good
and to be continued in a Vertigo anthology to be named later.  What
a cynical approach to editing!

The best and most interesting tale in the issue is “The Boy and the
Old Man” by Joe Kubert.  It’s the last story Kubert did before his
death, written and loosely penciled and almost worth the one-shot’s
$7.99 cover price in and of itself.

Only two other stories did anything for me.  Al Ewing’s “The Night
After I Took the Data Entry Job I Was Visited by My Own Ghost” is
a fresh take on the ghost story with lively art by Rufus DayGlo. I
also liked “Ghost For Hire” by Geoff Johns and Jeff Lemire, which
struck me as the kind of thing with occasional appearance potential
if DC had an ongoing anthology spooky title.

Look for this one in the bargain bins.  If you can get it for one
or two bucks, go for it.


IDW published three Jurassic Park series in 2010 and 2011.  Feeling
in a dinosaur mood, I read all three in one day.

Jurassic Park (2010; five issues) by writer Bob Schreck with art by
Nate Van Dyke and Jamie Grant is unreadable and downright painful
to behold.  It almost kept me from going further.

Jurassic Park: The Devils in the Desert (2011; four issues) by John
Byrne made me glad I continued reading. It’s a solid monster movie
done as comics. Its first issue builds suspense and its subsequent
issues deliver action, chills, surprises and great characters.  He
may not have the name brand heroes to play with at IDW, but Byrne
is doing some outstanding work there.

Jurassic Park: Dangerous Games (2011; five issues) by Erik Bear and
Jorge Jimenez goes somewhat far afield of the Jurassic Park mythos.
A drug kingpin has bought the island of dinosaurs, uses it for his
sanctuary and also uses it to dispose of enemies.  If the dinosaurs
don’t get them, he sends his own personal hunter after them.  This
series isn’t in the same league as one by Byrne, but it’s perfectly
readable with some neat surprises.

Skip IDW’s first Jurassic Park mini-series, but, by all means, get
the others.  The first two are available as trade paperbacks; the
third is available in hardcover.

Jurassic Park Volume 1: Redemption

ISBN: 978-1600108501

Jurassic Park: The Devils in the Desert

ISBN: 978-1600109232

Jurassic Park: Dangerous Games

ISBN: 978-1613770023

That’s all for now.  I’ll be back tomorrow with follow-up comments
on “Dragon*Con Dies at the End” and, for the weekend, a whole mess
of movie reviews.  Thanks for stopping by.

© 2013 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, May 1, 2013


I’ll be appearing at Carol and John’s Comic Book Shop on that most
stellar of holidays.  Their store is located at Kamm’s Plaza, 17462
Lorain Avenue in Cleveland, Ohio.  That’s Saturday, May 4, and I’ll
be signing from 3-5 pm.  John says the first 100 people who show up
for my signing get a free copy of Essential Marvel Horror Volume 2,
which reprints a number of my 1970s stories.  It’s a generous offer
and I hope my area readers take advantage of it.


Previously in Tony Isabella’s Bloggy Thing...

The Rawhide Kid - the one created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, then
continued by Larry Lieber - is my favorite western character.  So,
inspired by Essential Rawhide Kid Volume 1, which reprinted all the
Lee/Kirby issues and then some, I’ve been writing about the Rawhide
Kid most every Wednesday.  When I ran out of the issues reprinted
in the book, I tracked down some owlhoots, brought them in and used
the reward money to buy more issues of the title.  Because that’s
what the Kid would have done.

I was a sophomore in high school when The Rawhide Kid #55 [December
1966] hit the newsstands.  The Larry Lieber cover shows our young
hero battling ten men...and this is in a county where there are no
warrants for his arrest.

“The Plunderers!” (17 pages) is written and drawn by Lieber with
inking by Vince Colletta.  The Owens family - a farmer, his lovely
daughter and his younger son - get the drop on the Rawhide Kid as
the Kid sleeps.  The family figures the reward on the Kid will keep
them from losing their spread.  Since Rawhide doesn’t want to harm
“an innocent, law-abiding family,” he doesn’t resist.

Cutthroat landowner Gregory Kane and his goons don’t feel the same
way.  Kane coverts the Owens spread.  He figures his men can rough
up the farmer and keep him from collecting the reward while blaming
the assault on “pards of the Rawhide Kid.”

Things don’t work out as anyone planned.  Kane’s men beat up Owens,
but, as there’s no warrant for Rawhide in the county, the sheriff
must release the Kid.  But, before his release, the Kid sees Kane’s
goons lying in wait for Owens.  He knows someone’s out to harm that
nice family.

Rawhide reaches the badly beaten Owens, only to be mistaken for the
man behind the attack.  He fights his way clear of the townspeople
and without drawing his guns:

“Sure, I’m too scared to slap leather...scared I might hurt some
well-meaning hardheads who wouldn’t stand a chance against me in a

Meanwhile, Kane no longer cares if Owens gets reward money or not.
The town believes Rawhide has it in for the farmer and, if anything
happens to Owens and his family, it would be blamed on the Kid and
his non-existent pards.  Kane and his crew mount up for some night-
riding and violence.

Rawhide reaches the Owens farm first.  After some initial mistrust,
the family realizes he’s on their side and that Kane is most likely
behind the attacks.  The Kid, outlaw-trained to hear sounds in the
night, hears the approach of the attackers.  In the ensuing fight,
Rawhide takes down Kane’s men.  However, Kane grabs the daughter as
a hostage and makes for his own spread.

Kane plans to ambush Rawhide in his cellar, the cellar where he has
a caged puma.  I didn’t see that coming, but Kane explains it all
to his captive:

Ah, you’ve noticed my little pet! A deadly and cunning puma that I
myself captured! It amused me to imprison so strong a creature!
For, by humbling that mighty beast, I proved my own power! 

Yeah, that’s gonna end well.

The Kid knows he’s heading into an ambush, but, even in darkness,
his gun skills are far greater than Kane’s.  Desperate, Kane opens
the puma’s cage and releases the beast to attack Rawhide.  The Kid
uses a rafter to swing over the puma’s claws.  But then the beast
charges Kane who spends his final thoughts sussing out the folly of
his ways:

T-the cat is turning toward me! The hatred in his eyes...the thirst
for revenge against the human who captured him..

Rawhide shoots the puma, but too late to save Kane.  The story ends
with Owens telling him the bank has agreed to extend their note on
the farm and they will get to keep it.  The daughter suggests the
Kid stay on, since the law isn’t after hum in these parts.  But the
Kid knows better:

I know...but I found other enemies here just as dangerous–-the fear
and hatred of suspicious townsfolk.  So I’m riding’ on! Maybe peace
and quiet are waitin’ for me beyond the next rise...or around the
next bend! Who can tell?

There’s some cool stuff in this story.  The ordinary family getting
the drop on the Rawhide Kid is surprising and yet very believable.
The fear and suspicion of the townspeople is played well.  Perhaps
the puma is little crazy, but it didn’t keep me from enjoying this
story.  My pal Larry knew how to spin a yarn!

This issue’s non-series story is a reprint from The Rawhide Kid #17
[August 1960], which was the issue in which Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
introduced the Johnny Bart/Clay version of the title hero.  Here’s
what I wrote about this story in the very first installment of our
“Rawhide Wednesday” series.

“With Gun in Hand!,” the fourth comics story in the issue, is not
signed.  Don Heck is definitely the artist.  Stan Lee is credited
as the writer by the Grand Comics Database.

This non-series tale has an element that occurs many times in the
Marvel westerns.  There are variations, but I think of them as the
“it takes a real man...” stories.  The heroes can be real men who
don’t carry guns, who stay on the right side of the law, who don’t
go looking for fights, who make a personal sacrifice, who are just
plain smarter than the badmen they face.

In this instance, two cousins have very different attitudes about
how to live their lives. One is the fastest gun in the region, the
other doesn’t even carry a gun.  After being challenged by trigger-
happy morons wherever he goes, the armed cousin pretends to lose a
gunfight and abandons his guns:

No one’s interested in fightin’ an unarmed man, so I reckon we both
got a heap of livin’ to do from now on!”

The “Marvel Bullpen Bulletins” page follows the comics stories in
this issue.  The lead item announces Gene Colan as the new regular
artist on Daredevil and teases that this month’s Sub-Mariner strip
in Tales to Astonish is by a “new Bullpen luminary.” That artist
turns out to be Jerry Grandenetti with inks by Bill Everett.  It’ll
be a one-issue gig.  With the next issue of TTA, Everett commences
a several-issue run as both penciller and inker of the Sub-Mariner
feature.  In other items...

New York’s WOR-TV is promoting the Marvel Super-Hero cartoon show.
The summer annuals are “probably” sold out by now, but Marvel fans
should look for them and consider themselves lucky if they actually
find them.  Stan Lee loves Everett’s work on the Doc Strange strip
in Strange Tales so much that he wrote the latest episode himself.
Lee and Everett would do one more Strange story together and then
Marie Severin would take over the artistic reigns.

The Marvel suits must have been feeling left out because the page
has a long item mentioning publisher Martin Goodman, merchandising
master Chip Goodman and others.

The final “news” item teases a Sub-Mariner/Hulk battle in Tales to
, which the two characters share.  It asks readers to tell
Marvel who should draw such an epic encounter.  The fight finally
happens in Tales to Astonish #100 [February 1968] with pencil art
by Marie Severin and inks by Dan Adkins.

Just under a third of the Bullpen page goes to “The Mighty Marvel
Checklist.”  Fantastic Four #87 features Doctor Doom and the Silver
Surfer. Marvel is “...printing thousands of extra copies for this,
possibly the greatest single issue of all!”

In Amazing Spider-Man #44, we learn the origin of the Rhino.  When
a daddy rhino and a mommy rhino love each other very much...

In Tales of Suspense #84, Captain America goes one-to-one with the
Super-Adaptoid.  Marvel assures us that this story is “pure Kirby-
esque magic!”
Like we didn’t already know that.

The page also lists 26 more Merry Marvel Marching Society members,
none of whose names are familiar to me. I keep hoping to spot some
future pros in these lists.

The “Ridin’ the Trail with Rawhide” letters page closes the issue.
Judy Horn of Fort Worth, Texas wants a bigger role for Nightwind,
the Kid’s trusty horse.  R. Pathmanattan sends praise from Kuantan,

Peter Caldwell of Minneapolis, Minnesota names Rawhide Kid as “the
only really original western mag put out by a major publisher
today.”  John Fisher of St. Anthony, Iowa thinks the Acrobat from
issue #53 is the neatest villain he’s ever seen.  He also wants to
see the Scorpion and the Red Raven return.  I miss letter columns
like this one.

Come back next Wednesday for more western thrills with the Rawhide
Kid.  I’ll be here tomorrow with some other stuff.

© 2013 Tony Isabella