I promised you fun comics this week and that’s what you’re getting. Sure, I could tout Marvel First: WWII Super Heroes [$39.99] as an historically important collection of the characters who served as precursors to the Marvel Age of Comics launched by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko, Larry Lieber and others. It is that. But who am I kidding? I love this 456-page, full-color anthology because it’s a wondrous gathering of some of the wildest super-heroes ever to appear in comic books.

Once you get past the Human Torch, the Sub-Mariner, Captain America and maybe the Angel, Marvel’s 1940s heroes are a bizarre bunch of often wacky concepts. The Laughing Mask gives a glowing
target to gangsters before he cheerfully shoots them dead. The robot Electro is controlled by a team of operatives. The Blue Blaze gets super-powers from being buried alive. The Whizzer gets his amazing speed from mongoose blood. Mr. Liberty can call on the spirits of dead patriots to battle Nazis. Rockman is the leader of a civilization beneath the United States; he and his people ally
themselves with their upstairs neighbor. The Vagabond fights crime in the guise of a hobo. As for the Young Allies, well, their debut adventure runs a whopping 57 pages and requires much gritting of teeth and rolling of eyes at the offensive racial stereotypes that appear on almost every page of this epic wartime adventure.

Speaking as a comics fan, I was geeking out big-time while reading this book. Speaking as a comics writer, I can easily see the lure of bringing these characters into the modern Marvel Universe as has already been done with some of them. This is an impulse I strongly encourage and I eagerly await further revivals. That wish probably makes me as crazy as these characters.

Marvel First: WWII Super Heroes is recommended reading for Marvel super-hero fans.

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Annoying Orange is a YouTube sensation, but my first and thus far only exposure to the series has come from two suitable for all ages graphic albums from Papercutz. Featuring stories and art by Scott Shaw! and Mike Hazaleh, the two 64-page full cover books measure a compact 0.2 x 5.6 x 8.7 inches. Small enough to carry around with ease but big on laughs.

It took me time to warm to Annoying Orange #1: Secret Agent Orange [$6.99]. Outside of one spectacularly bad meal while on the road, I couldn’t relate to the concept of talking fruits and vegetables. It was while reading Annoying Orange #2: Orange You Glad You’re Not Me? [also $6.99] that I had a humor epiphany and started chuckling out loud at the antics of Orange and his friends.

What I like about these books is that while they are most certainly suitable for all ages, they still have some bite, some edge, some sarcasm. Kids aged 8 and up, the recommended age for these comics, are hip enough for this kind of humor. The little devils.

I recommend Annoying Orange as terrific fun for the whole family. Especially if you, like me, can resist checking out the videos to see what started all this. Okay, maybe I could just watch one in the name of science. Just one. Really.

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I got Aw Yeah Comics! #1-3 [$3 each] by supporting cartoonists Art Baltazar and Franco’s Kickstarter campaign. Each of these 32-page, full-color comic books are cover-to-cover fun, making them a great buy for readers of all ages.

Aw Yeah Comics are feel-good comics. Deceptively simple in their visual look, they’re clever comics that manage to be gentle without being overly sweet and sappy. I was utterly charmed by characters like Action Cat, Adventure Bug, Ghost Bug, Cell-Phone Guy and more. I also did my fair share of chuckling while reading these issues. Future issues can’t come my way quickly enough.


Bongo Comics is one of my favorite publishers. Each of their comic books delivers lots of fun. With the exception of some house ads, all the company’s comics are cover to cover entertainment. That’s good value for $2.99 and for Bongo’s higher-priced special issues.

Bart Simpson #84 has two stories, both noteworthy. Shane Houghton’s “Carpool Party” is a classic “Homer scheme gone horribly awry” tale with animate art and storytelling by Nina Matsumoto
(pencils) and Andrew Pepoy (inks).

The second story – “Bart Speaks Spanish” – is a wonderful change of pace in which a head injury leaves Bart speaking Spanish instead of his native English. It’s written and drawn by Lalo Alcaraz, whose La Cucaracha newspaper strip is a favorite of mine. In this tale, the gags work even without my surfing to Google Translate to figure out what Bart was saying. That’s impressive.

Rounding out the issue is “The Bongo Beat” editorial and a letters page. I love such acknowledgments of a comic’s readers and I wish more publishers followed suit.

Since I write these weekly columns a few weeks before they appear, you’ll be reading this after I return from Comic-Con International in San Diego. If I saw you there, it was great seeing you there. If not, I hope to see you at some future convention.

I’ll be back next week with more stuff.

© 2013 Tony Isabella