Thursday, October 19, 2017


I saw a lot of negative comments about Marvel’s Inhumans before it debuted on ABC. I ignored the ones I read and didn’t read further comments. If there’s one thing we all know about the Internet, it’s that those negative comments on any creative work come mostly from individuals who have never created anything in their lives.

I have my own baggage when it comes to the Inhumans. I have almost always seen them as villains. For crying out loud, they created a slave race - the Alpha Primitives - to serve them. I hold Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in the highest regard, but what the heck were those guys thinking when they came up with that notion?

After watching the first three hours of Inhumans, I was pleased the show didn’t entirely shy away from the more villainous aspects of the characters. These Inhumans might not have the Alpha Primitives seen on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. a while back, but they have a caste system based on Terrigen Mist privilege. The royal family appears to be somewhat more concerned about their privilege problems than the plight of their people. And Maximus, though he purports to want to end the caste system, is just using the underclass for his own purposes and, by the way, is one of the most evil rat bags I have seen on TV lately. Right up there with Arrow’s Prometheus.

How much do I hate Maximus? I want to see Black Bolt have a long, whispered conversation with his brother. Starting with the knees. Working his way up. And, by the way, kudos to Iwan Rheon for doing such a great job making me hate his character.

Those first three hours were uneven, but they had some good moments in them. I was wide-eyed with horror when Maximus shaved Medusa’s hair. I delighted in Black Bolt’s occasional bemused reactions to a world he doesn’t understand and can’t communicate with. (Though I wonder why no one in authority has thought to give him a pen and paper or, conversely, that the writers didn’t establish he doesn’t know how to write English.) Gorgon and Crystal were full of royal privilege, though each of them and Medusa acted heroically, albeit in their own best interest. And I love Lockjaw. Shut up, naysayers. Don’t pick on the pooch.

Marvel’s Inhumans has flawed “heroes” looking out for themselves. The villains are much worse, so I’m rooting for the royal family. The earthlings, human and inhuman alike, are a mix of sorta decent folks and rotten folks. I’m not taking any of the characters to my heart - except Lockjaw - but I’m entertained and intrigued enough to keep watching.

While The Daily Show continues to impress me, I gave up on Jordan Klepper’s The Opposition after two weeks. Klepper is an immensely talented performer and writer. However, Comedy Central’s attempt to make him an alt.right, conspiracy-peddling talk show host is just a blatant attempt to copy the success of The Colbert Report...and it’s not working for me.

Klepper himself is somewhat tolerable on this new show, but he is undone by his so-called “citizen journalists.” They are, every one of them, terrible. Not just bad. Profoundly bad.

It’s a shame to see Klepper wasted on this dreck. Let’s hope some smarter producers find a better use for his talents.


I’m loving the new Duck Tales cartoons. Uncle Scrooge, the nephews, Webby, Mrs. Beakley and the transcendent Margo Martindale as Ma Beagle are a delight to watch. The characters are well-defined and true to their classic selves. The voice actors are as good as any on television, especially David Tennant as Scrooge and Kate Micucci  as Webby. A season-long mystery involving the mother of Huey, Dewey and Louie is intriguing. My only minor quibble is that, sometimes, Tony Anselmo’s Donald is hard to understand. I know that’s been a part of the character since forever, but maybe it’s time to take it down a notch in service of the excellent stories.

The Jim Jefferies Show is a fit companion to the legends that are The Daily Show, Last Week Tonight with John Oliver and Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. The Australian-born Jefferies combines the funny with righteous anger and genuine concern. He’s left of center, but doesn’t strike me as too far left of center, which, these days, is pretty much center. When he ends each show with “I think we can all do better,” I believe he’s absolutely sincere and I ask myself how I can, indeed, be better. I love this guy.


Gotham has gotten off to a crazy start in its fourth season. While I’m still not wild about young Bruce Wayne as masked vigilante - I had hoped Gotham would be a universe without Batman and with Wayne using his influence and wealth to be a hero to the city - I guess I’ll have to live with it.

The Penguin pretty much ruling the city with the tacit consent of the mayor and police commissioner is an interesting plot thread if it doesn’t run too long. Anthony Carrigan’s Victor Zsasz has become fun to watch. The dude loves his work.

SPOILER ALERT. Carmine Falcone is dying of cancer and more or less retired to Florida. I’m going to miss John Doman’s portrayal of a mob boss with a certain honor and one smart enough not to engage in a vendetta against James Gordon. (Last season, Gordon was forced to shoot Falcone’s son to prevent the drug-crazed doctor from killing Leslie Thompkins.) END SPOILER.

I am intrigued by the addition of Sofia Falcone [Crystal Reed] as a possible romantic interest for Gordon - Oh, Jim, you keep making bad choices. - and a possible successor to her father. The lady’s got iron in her spine. I’m eager to see where this goes.

SPOILER ALERT. She left us much too soon. Ilana Becker as Myrtle Jenkins, a former classmate and fan girl of Edward Nygma, rescued him from the Penguin. She was fun and quirky and I’m hoping Zsasz’s aim was a little bit off this time. SPOILER OVER.

I enjoy Gotham, but, four episodes in, I’m disappointed that some of the regular and supporting characters are not being used well. I’m also far from impressed with  Alexander Siddig’s Ra's al Ghul. Then again, in the DC comics, Ra’s has become one of those overused villains I wish would go away for about five years or until someone can figure out a new and interesting take on him.

Gotham remains on my watch list. But I think it can do better.

Vixen, who has appeared on Arrow and whose ancestor is a regular on Legends of Tomorrow, was launched as an animated web series in 2015. The first two seasons consisted of twelve short episodes and are available on Blu-ray and DVD. On August 30, the CW broadcast Vixen: The Movie, a compilation of all twelve episodes.

Mari McCabe [Megalyn Echikunwoke] is shown discovering and growing into her powers. The movie is an origin story, a family drama and a decent super-hero adventure with, for some episodes, an African setting. There are villains, of course, but there are also spiffy guest appearances by Green Arrow, the Flash and other DC/CW heroes. The live-action actors voice their animated counterparts.

I enjoyed the movie. I’ll probably buy the DVD or, at least, stick it on my Christmas wish list. If there is a third season, I’ll try to make time to watch it. 


Now starting its third season, Lucifer continues to entertain and fascinate me. Though his character’s “daddy issues” are getting a little tiresome, Tom Ellis is one of the most watchable actors on television. Every one of the regular cast members is terrific, but I have a special love for both Lesley-Ann Brandt’s Maze and Rachael Harris’ Dr. Linda Martin. If Lucifer were to ask me what I desire most - from his show - it would be that we get a resolution to the “daddy” stuff and find some new territory to cover.


I hadn’t watched Saturday Nite Live in years, but I did watch some  episodes of Saturday Nite Live Summer Edition in August. “Weekend Update” news anchors Colin Jost and Michael Che truly impressed me. I decided I would start recording Saturday Nite Live...if only to watch “Weekend Update.” Jost and Che haven’t disappointed me. They are terrific.

The rest of Saturday Nite Live is as I remembered it. The show runs ninety minutes and I’ve never seen an episode that featured a full ninety minutes of good material. Much to my surprise, I found Alec Baldwin’s Donald Trump impersonation tiresome. I suspect whatever acclaim he’s received for these performances is due mostly to how much intelligent people despise the dumpster president.

I can usually watch Saturday Nite Live in under an hour. It’s easy to see when a sketch isn’t cutting it and fast forward to the next segment. I don’t watch all of the musical acts. But, as long as I can see Jost and Che, I’ll keep recording SNL.

That’s it for today’s bloggy thing. I’ll be taking a few days off to attend Grand Rapids Comic-Con, but I hope to be back on Monday with more stuff. Have a great weekend.

© 2017 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, October 18, 2017


RESOLVED: The Rawhide Kid is my favorite western comics character and one of my favorite comics characters period.  This is why I’ve written over a hundred columns about him. Something about his short stature, but large courage, honor and fighting skills speaks to me.  After rereading the Kid’s earliest adventures when Marvel reprinted them in a pair of Marvel Masterworks and an Essential Rawhide Kid volume, I decide to reacquire every Rawhide Kid comic, reread them and write about them. We’ve reached the title’s extended twilight.  We’ve seen the last new Rawhide Kid story that will appear in the now-bimonthly reprint series. This is the 125th installment of my “Rawhide Kid Wednesday” columns.

The Rawhide Kid #138 [March 1977] has a new cover by Ernie Chan. It illustrates “Legion of the Lost!” from The Rawhide Kid #79 [August 1970]. The original cover was by Larry Lieber while the 17-page story was written by Archie Goodwin, penciled by Werner Roth and inked by John Tartaglione. I wrote about on April 15, 2015. You can read my comments here.

An advertisement for the Dino De Laurentiis remake of King Kong is on the inside front cover of this issue. It’s the highest profile of the paid ads this time around. The other full-page or half-page paid ads are mostly typical comics ads: Slim Jim, Grit, Joe Weider body-building, LaSalle Extension University, Customizing Center (to learn how to customize cars and other vehicles), 204 Revolutionary War soldiers, the Johnson Smith Company novelties and the American Seed Company.

There’s a half-page ad for The Buyer’s Guide for Comics Fandom, the every other week newspaper published by Alan Light from his home in East Moline, Illinois. For only five bucks, you could get 26 “big” issues. Under the ownership of Krause Publications and editorship of Don and Maggie Thompson, the paper would become Comics Buyer’s Guide and establish itself as the paper of record for the industry. In a sea of unsatisfying online comics news sites, I miss CBG more than ever.

Superhero Merchandise was back with another full-page ad for Marvel stuff. Puzzles featuring the Hulk, Captain America, Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four were $2.08 each and that price, like the others quoted here, included postage and handling. The Comic Book Savers binders which held up 12 to 24 comic books and came with a free set of superhero stick-ons were $1.99 or $3.19 with savings depending on how many you ordered. Marvel Mood Rings featuring Hulk, Captain America, Spider-Man and Thor were $3.99 each.

Laser Books had a full-page ad for its Laser Readers Service. With three free science fiction novels for starters, subscribers would get three new books every month for only $2.85 plus shipping and handling. From Wikipedia:

Laser Books was a line of 58 paperback science fiction (SF) novels published from 1975 to 1977 by Canadian romance powerhouse Harlequin Books. Laser published three titles per month, available by subscription as well as in stores. The books were limited to 50,000-60,000 words. They were numbered as a series, though each was a standalone novel. All the covers were painted by Hugo Award winning artist Kelly Freas.

The usual pitch for FOOM (Friends of Old Marvel) came in the form of a half-page ad. The bottom half of the page advertised the Holo-Man Adventure Kit. For five bucks, including postage and handling, you would get The Holo-Disc (“a real laser-produced 3-dimensional pendant”), the first issue of The Amazing Adventures of Holo-Man, a 45 rpm Holo-Man action record and a Holo-Squad membership card good for dozens of offers from Atomic Comics. For more information, check out Holo-Man’s Wikipedia page.

The Marvel subscription ad got a makeover. Only twenty-one titles were offered this time around. With one exception, all prices were 12 issues for $4 on the first subscription and $3.50 on additional subscriptions. Spidey Super Stories was the 21st title at a price of $4.50 for twelve issues.

There were three pages of classified ads with 21 ads for mail-order comics dealers, up six from the previous issue.

That brings us to this issue’s Marvel Bullpen Bulletins page. “Stan Lee’s Soapbox” announced three new newspaper features from the Man. The Amazing Spider-Man was by Lee and John Romita. With art by Frank Springer, The Virtue of Vera Valiant was a satirical soap opera in the same vein as TV’s Mary Hartman, Mary Hartman. Finally, there was Says Who, a combination of celebrity photos and gags ala Monsters to Laugh With. He might not have been writing comic books, but Stan was as prolific as ever.

Sidebar. I have only seen a few Vera Valiant strips and have never seen Says Who. Which is my way of saying I’d likely buy collections of both. Take my money. Please.

The first news item announced The Rampaging Hulk, a black-and-white comics magazine featuring novel-length Hulk stories by writer Doug Moench with artists Walt Simonson and Alfredo Alcala.

Item the second was about Gene Colan’s “fabulous fiftieth birthday” party. Guests included John Verpoorten, Marv Wolfman, Marie Severin and Flo Steinberg. The item concluded with plugs for Colan’s work on Howard the Duck and Tomb of Dracula.

The third item congratulated Chris Claremont and Bonnie Wilford, and Irene Vartanoff and Scott Edelman on their recent weddings.

The fourth item: Red Sonja getting her own title by Roy Thomas and Frank Thorne...and inspiring a song by Mike and Sal Caputo that was premiered at Lily Langtry’s, a popular New Jersey nightspot. Plans to record the song were said to be underway. Did that ever happen?

The penultimate item on the page announced Master of Kung Fu #50 by Moench and Paul Gulacy.

The final item was a catch-all. Following the final issues of their own titles, Warlock and Deathlok would appear in Marvel Team-Up, Marvel Two-In-One and Marvel Spotlight. The last title would also feature the Tolkien-esque “Tyndall’s Quest!”

This month’s Hostess one-page ad starred Spider-Man in “The Champ” with art by George Tuska and an inker I can’t identify because I’m not very good on that sort of thing. The plot of a phony referee is foiled when Spidey tosses a delicious fudgy Hostess Cup Cake into the villain’s mouth.

Remember that spiffy Jack Kirby/Paul Reinman pin-up of the Rawhide Kid that originally appeared in Rawhide Kid #43 [December 1964] and which was reprinted in issue #137 [January 1977]? It shows up again in this issue. Oops!

That’s it for this installment of “Rawhide Kid Wednesday.” We have thirteen more installments to come before we get to the end of the title’s run. After that, I’ll do occasional installments to cover any Rawhide Kid guest appearances I may have missed as well as his later appearances.

Just a quick reminder. I’ll be a guest at the Grand Rapids Comic-Con on Friday through Sunday, October 20-22. For more information, visit the convention website.

I’ll be back tomorrow with more comments on my television viewing. See you then.

© 2017 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, October 17, 2017


There are five reasons I watch a lot of television. Insomnia is one of them, as is the need to wind down after a long day of writing. I watch TV because I believe I should watch as many of the comics-oriented shows as I can. I watch some TV shows with members of my family because it’s kind of sort of family time, which is hard to come by when a family is as busy as mine. Finally, I watch TV when I break for lunch and some other meals. It makes me feel like I’m accomplishing something while I’m eating.

GLOW is a Netflix series I watch with my daughter Kelly. I wanted to see it because it’s a fictionalized account of Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling, a syndicated women’s professional wrestling show that I used to watch late at night when I couldn’t sleep. At least, my memory is that I used to watch it late at night.

Created by Liz Flahive and Carly Mensch, this new GLOW evokes the 1980s while maintaining a more modern feminist viewpoint. All the heroines struggle with the male dominance of the era. Some succeed  better than others, but, to me, they are all heroic. They do take their lumps, but they keep fighting.

Kelly and I have been enjoying the heck out of this series. Alison Brie is amazing as Ruth, a not-very-successful actress who won me over with her first scene. She was doing a reading of what sounded like an unexpectedly strong part for a woman. Of course, what she was reading was a part written for a man.

Ruth is on the outs with Debbie [Betty Gilpin], a soap opera star who is a stay-at-home mom. Their besties relationship was marred by Ruth sleeping with Debbie’s dirt bag of a husband.

I could list almost the entire cast - these woman are incredible - but I’ll wrap this up by mentioning Marc Maron’s performance as Sam Sylvia. Sam is a quirky filmmaker on his last professional legs and determined to make GLOW a hit, mostly because the producer has said he will bankroll Sam’s next movie. The sort of friends relationship between Sam and Ruth is extremely well-played, as is the surprise relationship between Sam and one of the other wrestlers.

GLOW’s first ten-episode season is available on Netflix. A second ten-episode season is coming. I can’t wait.


The Simpsons are back for their 29th season. I almost always find the show at least minimally entertaining and have a real fondness for those characters. But, several times a season, the show hits it out of the park.

“Springfield Splendor” has Lisa and Marge drawing a graphic novel as part of Lisa’s therapy. The pages end up in the hands of Comic Book Guy’s wife, who publishes them as Sad Girl. The graphic novel becomes a hit and, before you know, Lisa and Marge are on a “Women in Comics” panel with cartoonists Roz Chast, Alison Bechdel and Marjane Satrapi. It was a hilarious episode with much to say about the comics marketplace. 
Following The Simpsons on Sunday nights is Ghosted, a supernatural comedy about two men, one a former police detective and the other a former Stanford professor, who investigate paranormal activities for a secret government agency. It’s X-Files without that series’ often brilliant acting and writing and also without the rollicking humor of the Cigar-Smoking Man. I watched the first two episodes because, during football season, I always set my DVR to record an extra hour beyond The Simpsons and other Sunday shows. Two episodes was enough to convince not to watch a third episode of Ghosted.

I binge-watched the last nine episodes of the previous season of Arrow. Though I like most of the actors, the series has fallen to my least favorite of the CW/DC shows. Oliver’s on-again/off-again refusal to kill is annoying as well. Sometimes, when dealing with an insane killer like Adrian Chase, you take the damn shot and, in doing so, save innocent lives. Naturally, more for the sake of the closing cliffhanger than anything else, Oliver was in sanctimonious “no kill” mode and thus allowed Chase to murder (or attempt to murder) almost every person that Oliver loves. That annoyed me, especially when...


...all but one of those people survived. Okay, sister Thea is in a coma until the writers want to bring her back. The one fatality was the mother of Oliver’s son...and that was done so Oliver could add “dad” to his other jobs as “mayor” and “vigilante.” Some villains could be assumed dead, except that, you know, they’re villains and can come back at any time.

Other things I didn’t like in these episodes and the first episode of the new season:

Russian mobster Anatoly Knyazev went completely to the dark side to the detriment of his formerly complex character. That’s largely on Oliver for leaving him in the flashbacks and then screwing him in the current story line. Oh, yeah, and Oliver’s “no kill” malarkey apparently allows him to hire Russian mobsters to do his killing for him.

The confusing Susan Williams, a reporter whose character seemed to changed depending on the episode du jour, was left out in the cold when Oliver and Felicity started knocking boots again. “Olicity” is apparently going to be a thing this season, though it’s been kind of put on hold while son William grieves for his mother.

Things I did like:

The reformation of Slade Wilson. Okay, it was a bit lame to dismiss his countless villainous acts as drug-induced. But Oliver could use an old friend right about now.

The return of Raisa [Kathleen Gati] as Oliver’s housekeeper and a nanny for William. As I said, Oliver could use an old friend right about now.

Mister Terrific (aka Curtis Holt as played by Echo Kellum) has been coming into his own. He’s currently my favorite member of Oliver’s team.

Katie Cassidy’s return, even if she’s playing the evil Laurel Lance from Earth-2. I would like to see the Arrow writers avoid reforming Black Siren. I would also like to see a good Laurel Lance from yet another Earth, but one very different from either of the two we’ve seen. Maybe Laurel is the lead vigilante of her earth’s Star City. Maybe, on her Earth, this new Laurel is romantically involved with either Curtis or Felicity. Because why not explore all the myriad possibilities of alternate universes?

Other things I would like to see:

Real consequences to the exposure of Oliver’s vigilante identity. This “Is he or isn’t he?” stuff has gotten old. Go ahead. Blow up his life and make something new and eventually better. Maybe drop some supporting cast members. But the one thing the show shouldn’t do is have him break his promise to be a father to William. Oliver needs to stop failing the people in his life.

I’d also like to see an end to smart people, heroes and villains, doing stupid things to advance the plots.


Arrow has had its ups and down, but it is still on my watch list. For now.

I might be coming to the end of my relationship with The Big Bang Theory. While the Sheldon and Amy romance is still fun, Leonard/Penny has stalled and Howard/Bernadette seems to be all about making them unpleasant people. Worse, Rajesh and Stewart have become the go-to guys for crude jokes. In one episode, they were both vying for the attention of a woman clearly much younger than them and resorting to horrible digs at the other, including the implication that one of them was a sex offender. It won’t take too many more tone-deaf scenes like that one to lose me for good.


Young Sheldon? The adventures of Sheldon Cooper when he was a young boy going to high school? The pilot episode had some laughs and a few heartfelt moments. I’m not sure that’s enough to overcome my lifelong aversion to stories about younger versions of characters I first met as teenagers or adults. Little Archie still gives me the creeps. Whether I continue watching Young Sheldon or not might depend on whether I keep watching Old Sheldon.

Scorpion is back for its fourth season. It’s an entertaining show, but not one I need to watch every week. Generally, if I’m done with my work for the day and Barb is watching it, I’ll sit down to watch it with her. However...

The geniuses are getting sloppy. A minor bit in one recent episode involved a urine-revealing pool chemical. For the genius scheme to work in this case, a swanky hotel pool had to be cleared of guests using it. However...

There is no such chemical. It sounded plausible and all, but, when I checked the Snopes website, I learned the truth.

One bit of “fake news” isn’t a deal-breaker for me. It might be the opposite. Fact-checking Scorpion could be a fun exercise when I’m in the mood.

That’s all for today, but I’ll have some more TV comments for you on Thursday. For tomorrow...Rawhide Kid Wednesday!

See you then!

© 2017 Tony Isabella

Monday, October 16, 2017


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...2009’s Vixen: Return of the Lion by G. Willow Wilson and Spanish artist/illustrator Cafu; Super Gorillas Vs. The All-American Victory Legion by Alan Kupperberg; and The Newsboy Legion and the Boy Commandos Special #1 by Howard Chaykin!


I have watched a lot of movies this fall and I figure I should get around to reviewing some of them.

First up is Colossal, a 2016 film directed and written by Nacho Vigalondo and starring Anne Hathaway and Jason Sudeikis. Though it was not a box-office success, this genre-bending independent film has received well-deserved critical acclaim. Here is the synopsis from the Internet Movie Database:

Gloria is an out-of-work party girl forced to leave her life in New York City, and move back home. When reports surface that a giant creature is destroying Seoul, she gradually comes to realizing that  she is somehow connected to this phenomenon.


Hathaway’s performance as Gloria shows what a great actress she is. We see her reckless party-girl, her subservience to her boyfriend, her eagerness to accept charity from Sudeikis’s Oscar, her fear of him, and, finally, triumphantly, her taking responsibility for her life and the incredible situation she has found herself in.

Sudeikis is mildly scary as bar-owner Oscar, who has wanted Gloria since they were kids. He becomes malevolently scary when he learns that, just as Gloria controls the giant lizard-like monster across the ocean, he controls a giant robot. Their final confrontation is masterfully played and made for a satisfying ending.

The movie is light on giant monster scenes, but that’s okay. This is not a monster versus monster movie. This is a movie about people making bad choices and being needlessly cruel, and how at least one of them can get her life back and back on track.


Colossal is a keeper. It’s a film I’ll watch again. Though it’s been panned by the usual amateur online critics - you know, the ones who have never created anything themselves - I’m confident it will be considered a classic in the years to come.


Every time I think there couldn’t possibly be any more 1970s/1980s Jaws ripoffs I haven’t seen, I stumble guessed it...a 1970s/1980s Jaws ripoffs I haven’t seen. Originally titled Great White, The Last Shark [1981] is an Italian movie directed by Enzo G. Castellari and starring James Franciscus and Vic Morrow.

It did well at the box office, grossing over $18 million in its first month in the United States. However, its North American release was later blocked after accusations of plagiarism of Jaws. Here’s the IMDb synopsis:

James Franciscus tries to save hundreds of swimmers in a coastal resort after a Great White Shark starts terrorizing the area.


Franciscus plays author Peter Benton. Morrow is crusty Ron Hamer, a professional shark hunter. Joshua Sinclair plays Mayor William Wells, who is running for governor and who won’t cancel his city’s  wind-surfing regatta. You can guess how that works out for him and his constituents. But not completely.

After Benton’s daughter loses a leg to the shark, Wells goes after the shark in his helicopter. Which is more than the mayor of Amity ever did. The shark eats him and his helicopter.

Benton and Hamer plan to blow up the big shark with dynamite. Hamer  straps a belt holding dynamite around his waist. The great white attacks Hamer from behind. The hunter gets tangled up in a line and dragged to his drowning death by the shark. Still feeling peckish,  the shark attacks a slab of ribs tied to a dock, taking the whole dock and those unfortunates on the dock with him. It dines on the idiot who tied the ribs to the dock and the TV cameraman ordered to film what he thought would be the shark’s capture. But, wait, isn’t it about time to blow up the shark?

Benton feeds Hamer’s body to the shark. The author is holding the detonator for the dynamite that’s still strapped to Hamer’s waist. Shark go all boom real good.

Benton punches an obnoxious TV reporter. If you had seen that guy and sat through this movie, you’d want to punch someone, too.


The Last Shark is worth watching once, but only if, like me, you’re obsessive about seeing shark movies. If you’re looking to get real hammered while watching it, play a drinking game over how often it imitates Jaws. Not for lightweight imbibers of alcoholic beverages.


I know it as Zombiesaurus [2017], which is what it’s called on the Region 2 DVD I bought, but its actual title seems to be Z/Rex: The Jurassic Dead. According to the box art, “There is only one thing worse than zombies on the loose...” After watching this movie, I’m assuming that refers to the movie itself.

Because thinking about the movie might trigger anxiety over the 82 minutes of my life I will never get back, I’m just gonna copy the back cover synopsis:

A militia unit, led by “Cuchilla” Vasquez (Raquel Pennington, UFC “The Ultimate Fighter”), Duque Wayne (Andy Haman, USA Freestyle Wresting Champion) and “Stick” Howard (“American Ninja Warrior”) must team up with a group of tech-nerd millennials after the United States is struck by ab Electromagnetic Pulse asteroid attack. The group are trapped inside a labyrinth compound by Dr. Wokick Borge,  a maverick scientist and political terrorist, responsible for the attack. This was just the beginning as the Evil Doctor now looks to unleash his ultimate killing machine, the ZOMBIESAURUS. This bio-engineered ultimate zombie dinosaur, is the complete predator. It either destroys or infects anything that gets in its way. The unit must find a way of stopping the doctor and his killing machine before all mankind is wiped from the face of the earth.

I would give you spoiler warnings if I could remember enough of the movie to spoil it for you. I have a vague memory of waiting for the good parts. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. The movie was released in the United Kingdom in June of this year. It has not yet been released in the United States. I suggest Trump move all funding from his Mexico wall and, instead, build a wall to keep Zombiesaurus from our shores.                                                                                 

A*P*E [1976] is pretty much a cheap South Korean knock-off of King Kong. It was known as King Kong’s Counterattack in South Korea, but has also been released as Attack of the Giant Horny Gorilla (for a 1982 grindhouse re-release) and Hideous Mutant (for its first home video release). It was a co-production of the South Korean Kukje Movies and Lee Ming Film Company and Worldwide Entertainment (USA). It was filmed with 3-D effects. I saw it in 2-D and you could tell when those effects were on the screen.

Not unlike later Asylum productions, A*P*E was a mockbuster. It hit the theaters about the same time as the  Dino De Laurentiis remake of King Kong. Here’s the IMDb synopsis:

A newly discovered 36-foot gorilla escapes from a freighter off the coast of Korea. At the same time an American actress is filming a movie in the country. Chaos ensues as the ape kidnaps her and rampages through Seoul. 

Picture King Kong if it started after the classic monster had been captured on Skull Island. The giant ape escapes from the freighter carrying it to South Korea. It fights a laughable Great White shark and then moves inland. Where it fights an equally laughable giant snake. It smashes a village or two and then comes across American actress Marilyn Baker [played by Joanna Kerns, best known for her role as Maggie Severs in the TV series Growing Pains and, in this movie, credited as Joanna DeVarona.]

The ape snatches Kerns, but she escapes with the assistance of her horny American boyfriend Tom Rose [Rod Arrants]. There are several other actors in the cast and they are all terrible. Even the movie
Kerns is appearing in is terrible. It seems to consist mostly of an unconvincing rape scene in which the director keeps yelling at the actor playing the rapist to be more rape-y but more gently rape-y. If the giant ape prevented that movie from being made, we owe him  a debt of gratitude.

The ape tracks Kerns down to the home of a Korean police officer. He wrecks the surrounding village to get the actress. In doing so, it’s possible he kills the officer’s wife and young children. They aren’t seen again.

The combined American/South Korean forces decide the actress would be acceptable collateral damage. They start shooting missiles with visible wires at the ape. The ape releases Kerns.

The ape dies. Kerns wonders why he had to die, which explains why she was making the rape movie. She’s an idiot. Arrants says “He was just too big for a small world like ours.”

Watch A*P*E once, but only if you can watch it for free. It’s one of those films where you have to experience the awfulness to truly appreciate pretty much every other giant gorilla movie you’ve ever seen.
A*P*E runs 86 minutes and was reportedly made on a budget of just $23,000. In some dubbed versions, the ape is actually called King Kong. Apparently, identity theft has been a problem for longer than I realized.

That’s it for today’s bloggy thing. I’m going to be writing about my recent TV viewing tomorrow. See you then.

© 2017 Tony Isabella

Sunday, October 15, 2017


This year’s Grand Rapids Comic-Con will be held on Friday, October 20 through Sunday, October 22, at the spacious DeVos Place/Amway Grand Plaza in Grand Rapids. Show hours are 2 to 8 pm on Friday, 10 am to 7 pm on Saturday and 10 am to 5 pm on Sunday. There will be late night programming as late as 1 am on Friday and Saturday nights!

Grand Rapids is a nice blend of comics guests, media guests, literary guests, cosplay guests and YouTube guests. The event has multiple-tier programming, costume contests, gaming, celebrity photo shoots and more. As my bloggy readers know, I like that kind of variety.

The guest list is too vast for me to mention all of the cool folks who will be attending. I’ll try to hit on at least some of them in the next few paragraphs.

The comics guests include Jim Steranko, Mike Zeck, Allen Bellman, Jose Delbo, Thom Zahler and yours truly. I’ll be on the main stage on Friday at 3:30 pm to present TONY’S TIPS LIVE! Here’s the more or less accurate synopsis of what you can expect:

Join Tony Isabella, creator of Black Lightning, co-creator of Misty Knight and Tigra, 45-year veteran of the comics industry for a lively discussion of well, everything. I’ll talk comic books, giant monster movies, blogging and the development of my characters for TV shows including Netflix’s “Luke Cage” and “The Defenders” and, on the CW, “Black Lightning,” called the most anticipated new show of the mid-season. I’ll also be talking about Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands. My return to my proudest creation will be hitting the comics shops in November and, oh, boy, do I have surprises for you. I’ll share stories from my career, comment on recent events in the comics industry, the entertainment industry, our troubled country and world and, to the best of my ability and considering the scope of the non-disclosure agreements I’ve signed, I’ll answer whatever questions we have time for.

Of course, if, while I’m on the main stage, I don’t get around to talking about what you’d like me to talk about or answer all of the questions you might have for me, I’ll be happy to do so at my booth in the exhibit and vendors area.

Getting back to the guests...

The media guests include Billy Dee Williams, Gates McFadden, Kevin Sorbo, Adrienne Barbeau, Jim Cummings and several other performers from TV shows, animated series and movies. I’m particularly psyched that Godzilla suit actors Tsutomu Kitagawa and Mizuho Yoshida, not to mention actors from Batman: The Animated Series and Star Wars. Fingers crossed, I’ll get to meet at least some of these wonderful guests over the weekend.

Among the literary guests are Ken Johnson and Ray Pointer. Johnson is the author of The Man Who Watched Batman and a leading expert on Batman: The Animated Series. Pointer is the author of The Art and Inventions of Max Fleischer, a study of the legendary animator and and Fleischer Studios. Johnson will be at the convention all three days. Pointer is a Sunday only guest.

The Grand Rapids Comic-Con website shows fifty different artists in Artists Alley. The local artists really come together for the show. You’ll want to check out their work.

Based on my past visits to this convention, there will be lots of great cosplay on display. The website lists five cosplay guests and over a dozen costuming programs over the weekend. And, of course, there will be a costume contest at this family-friendly gathering.

There are YouTube guests. The Harp Sisters, masters of both concert grand and electric harps, will be performing at the convention and discussing their art and videos. Vegan Black Metal Chef writes and performs songs about cooking vegan food. I admit this is a form of expression I never realized existed.

Other events include a car show, a shorts film festival, an anime room, an art show and a large display of comic book and superhero memorabilia from the Hall Of Heroes Museum in Elkhart, Indiana. The latter was a highlight of my 2016 visit to the Grand Rapids Comic-Con. I can’t wait to see what curator Allen Stewart brings to the event this year.

Grand Rapids Comic-Con has eight stages and galleries for panel and other programming. There will be panels with actors, voice actors, cosplayers, comics creators and more. Fans attending the convention will be faced with a lot of tough choices. I figure I’ll be lucky to attend even one or two of the panels beyond my TONY’S TIPS LIVE presentation.

When I’m not sneaking away to check out the comics creators and a few of the celebrities...or playing hooky at a’ll find me at my booth. I’ll be selling Black Lightning Volume One, various Isabella-written comic books and my new book, July 1963: A Pivotal Month in the Comic Book Life of Tony Isabella. I’ll probably have a couple boxes of stuff from my Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sales, but I’ll make that call as I get closer to packing for the convention.

Whether you bought it directly from me or not, I will happily sign your Isabella-written stuff. There is no charge for my signature, but that will not be the case at all of my 2018 appearances. Just keep in mind that, if you have a large number of comics and things for me to sign and there’s a line of fans waiting to have me sign their items, I’ll sign a few of your items and ask you to come back when there isn’t a line.

As at all my appearances, you should consider my booth to be a safe space. Here’s my permanent statement on this:

The recent presidential election tragedy has empowered bigots and racists and misogynists. No matter how hard conventions might try to keep their events welcoming to all, there’s no such thing as a jerk detector. Some of these lowlifes will be at the conventions. They will try to make you feel uncomfortable. For what it’s worth, you are not alone.

If you feel uncomfortable at a convention that I’m at, consider my booth or table to be a safe space. Come to my booth and hang out as long as you need to. If the situation calls for it, I will ask the promoters to deal with whoever is making you feel uncomfortable. I have stood up to bullies my entire life and I’m not about to stop now. Word.

I’m looking forward to this, my third appearance at Grand Rapids Comic-Con. If you’re attending the event, please stop by my booth to say “hello” and chat for a bit. I wouldn’t be where I am today with the support of my friends and readers. I’m honored to do what I can to make your convention a little more special.

For more information on the Grand Rapids Comic-Con, check out the event’s website. Better bring a snack when you do so because there’s a whole lot of goodness to be found there.

After Grand Rapids, I have one more scheduled convention for 2017. The Akron Comicon will be held Saturday and Sunday, November 4 and 5, at the John S. Knight Convention Center. We’ll be celebrating 40 years of Black Lightning with original artist Trevor von Eeden, original editor Jack C. Harris, second series artist Eddy Newell,  Mike W. Barr, who wrote my creation in Batman and the Outsiders and the fine folks from WBNX-TV, Cleveland’s CW. You can count on the WBNX booth to have all kinds of great CW swag. I’ll have much more to say about the Akron Comicon in the near future.

I don’t have any other appearances scheduled for 2017, but there’s a possibility that could change. 

Given the pace at which I've been working and dealing with all kinds of stuff, I'm thinking I might like to get away in December for a weekend at some convention some distance from chilly Ohio. The con would have to provide airfare for me and an assistant and a hotel room, but I wouldn't charge them an appearance fee. I would sign for free - assuming the event itself didn’t want to charge for my signature to recoup some of their expense of having me as a guest. I would appear on up to three panels a day as long as they weren't back to back...and would also consider being part of other programming during the convention. I wouldn't be a cheap date, but I'd be a fun one.

If you're a promoter, email me and I’ll get back to you as quickly as humanly possible. I’m only looking to add one con in December, so crunch those numbers and contact me as soon as possible. If no one contacts me, I guess I’ll have to fill the time with a shift or ten at the North Pole.

Thanks for stopping by. I’ll be back tomorrow with movie reviews. See you then.

© 2017 Tony Isabella

Friday, October 13, 2017


This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...The Hook Jaw Archives, a British comics classic from the 1970s is collected in its entirety for the first time! Plus: Drew Friedman’s Heroes Of The Comics: Portraits Of The Pioneering Legends Of Comic Books and Walt Disney’s Christmas Classics!