I am Groot!

What started out as the never-failing-to-make-me-smile only thing Groot says becomes literally fraught with meaning in Groot #1-6 by Jeff Loveness (writer) and Brian Kesinger (artist). That most terse of phases is echoed by the basic and familiar overall plot for the series.

A bounty hunter named Eris is after Groot. When she can’t get him, she captures Rocket Racoon. She figures Groot will come after his friend and she’s right. Except Groot doesn’t come alone. Along his leisurely path, he collects a sort of Less-Than-Magnificent Five to join his rescue mission. Continue reading “TONY’S TIPS #143”



My unexpected pick of the week is Jughead #1 and #2 [Archie Comics; $3.99 each] by Chip Zdarsky with artist Erica Henderson. The reason it caught me by such pleasant surprise is that I didn’t enjoy this publisher’s recent relaunch of Archie. I’ll get back to that other relaunch in a moment.

Jughead has long been my favorite of the Riverdale High characters. I especially enjoyed the first volume of his comic book when it was written by Craig Boldman, my third favorite Archie Comics writer of all time. The first two are Frank Doyle and George Gladir, so Craig is in the best of company. I’ll also get back to him in a moment. Continue reading “TONY’S TIPS #142”



Welcome to 2016. I didn’t make any New Year’s resolutions per se, but I do hope to continue to recommend great comic books, graphic novels and collections to you. I’d also like to do fewer negative reviews this year, but sometimes I just gotta let you know when an item isn’t worth your hard-earner cash.

My first pick of the week for 2016 is Peanuts: A Tribute to Charles M. Schulz [BOOM! Studios; $34.99]. In celebration of the launch of the Peanuts newspaper strip 65 years ago, editor Shannon Watters gathered over 40 of today’s best cartoonists to honor, arguably, the greatest cartoonist of them all. Continue reading “TONY’S TIPS #141”



My post-Christmas pick of the week is Soldier’s Heart: The Campaign to Understand My WWII Veteran Father by Carol Tyler [Fantagraphics Books; $39.99]. In a year filled with wonderful graphic fiction and non-fiction, I fully expect this book to be among the finalists in each and every comics industry awards.

In over 350 pages, Tyler examines her rocky relationship with her dad, a World War II vet who saw combat in the Battle of the Bugle. His war experiences changed and, in many ways, damaged him forever, just as post-war events would change both him and Tyler’s mother. Continue reading “TONY’S TIPS #140”



Since the final issues of Secret Wars have not yet shipped, putting aside the question of how does a publisher allow that to happen, I can only speculate on the state of the Marvel Universe in the wake of that event. The new first issues from Marvel seem to take place several months after Secret Wars. The multiverse seems to have been restored to some extent, but some parallel universes didn’t survive the event. Some characters seem to be back on their own versions of Earth and others now live on whatever Marvel is calling their main universe. This deep thinking makes my brain hurt. Continue reading “TONY’S TIPS #139”



This is the last week I’ll be playing up the “great holiday gift” aspect of my reviews. If you haven’t done all your shopping by next week’s column, then you’re probably going to be stuck with whatever the red light specials are at Kmart.

I bought myself an early birthday/Christmas gift last month. Usagi Yojimbo: The Special Edition [Fantagraphics; $74.99] is a glorious, two volumes in a slipcase collection of the entire Fantagraphics run of Stan Sakai’s wonderful stories of a rabbit ronin in feudal Japan. These two volumes have well over a thousand pages of comics plus lots of cool extras. Continue reading “TONY’S TIPS #138”



My pick of the week is Trashed by Derf Backderf [Abrams; $18.85]. Backderf is the bestselling author of My Friend Dahmer. His  latest graphic novel is “an ode to the crap job of all crap jobs” and is based on Derf’s personal experiences as a garbage collector. It’s an entertaining, informative combo of real-life situations filtered through fiction and downright scary facts about the amount of trash humans have been creating for decades and continue to create every day of our lives.

Virtually every character in Trashed is off in some way. Some are quirky, such as the garbage collector who collects old pianos that are discarded by their former owners. Others are just trying to get through soul-crushing jobs. A few are jerks whose purpose in life seems to be to take bad situations and make them worse. What they have in common is that, at least as Derf presents them, they will fascinate you. Continue reading “TONY’S TIPS #137”



Christmas is a big deal at Casa Isabella. The family works hard at coming up with those great gifts for each other. Beyond my wife and kids, I also enjoy spreading the gospel of comics while spreading holiday good cheer to friends, neighbors and more distant members of our family. Maybe I’m something of a zealot, but I am convinced you can find a comics gift for virtually every person on your gift list. For example…

Have a friend or relative who fought in or lived through World War II? If they were young enough during those war years, odds are good they read at least some comic books. Comic books were easy to carry around and relatively cheap. They were perfect for an audience that had to curb its spending in other areas. Continue reading “TONY’S TIPS #136”



My professional relationship with Marvel’s Iron Fist has been slim. I wrote three issues of Marvel Premiere back in the 1970s, issues notable only for my atrocious attempt to write Batroc the Leaper’s French accent and the momentous, however brief, creation a d first appearance of Misty Knight. I also wrote a fill-in issue of Power Man and Iron Fist titled “O Deadly Debutante,” of which I remain fond to this day. I haven’t kept with Iron Fist aka Danny Rand in recent years, save for being amused and entertained by his youthful variation in the current Ultimate Spider-Man cartoons on Disney XD. That Danny is a pleasant chap. Continue reading “TONY’S TIPS #135”