Monday, May 21, 2018

CHERRY CAPITAL COMIC CON (May 25-27)

Cherry Capital Comic Con is my next convention appearance and, as an added bonus, Saintly Wife Barb will be accompanying me on this trip to northern Michigan.

C4 (as the event is known) will be Friday, May 25, through Sunday, May 27 at the scenic Grand Traverse Resort, 100 Grand Traverse Village Blvd, Acme, Michigan. While there, I’m hoping to visit the factory which provides Wil E. Coyote with all his cool road runner hunting supplies.

From C4's website:

C4 is Northern Michigan’s largest comic book and pop entertainment expo. Located at the scenic Grand Traverse Resort, C4 is Northern Michigan’s perfect gathering of comic book creators, exhibitors, and fans. Celebrating 10 years of excellence in 2018, C4 pulls out all the stops to bring you the best show possible.

With a concentration on comics and comic creators, C4 strives to keep the “comic” in comic con. Offering an intimate setting to meet the people behind your favorite comics, C4 is the place to have the conversations you never thought you could with the people that make the comics we all love. Between the creators you know and the new creators you will discover, C4 has a great comics experience for everyone!

While creators are a big focus, we also pride ourselves on our great variety of vendors for you to shop and find that perfect comic or collectible that you have been after. Bronze, Silver, Golden Age and more comics. Star Wars toys, Pop Vinyls, T-shirts, and so much more.

If shopping isn’t your style, we still have even more fun for the whole family. Panels to learn about the comics industry and more. A costume contest for the adults AND a costume contest for the kids. A karaoke after party. Silent Auction. 501st Legion photo ops and so much more. Come on out to C4 and have an experience you’ll remember.


The show hours:

Friday, May 25th: 5-8 pm

Saturday, May 26th– 10:00 am-6:00 pm

Sunday, May 27th– 11:00 am-5:00 pm

I’ll be there all three days.

C4's guest of honor is Jim Steranko, always one of the (if not the) most knowledge creators in any room. He’ll be there on Saturday and Sunday. Also appearing will be actor Brian O’Halloran (Clerks) and voice actor Billy West (Futurama). O’Halloran will be appearing all three days. West will be at the event Saturday and Sunday.

The comics guests are legendary: Mike Grell, Gene Ha, Angel Medina, William Messner-Loebs, Jill Thompson and myself. Though the event’s website says I’ll be there on Saturday and Sunday, I will be there all three days. C4 has treated me so well that I wanted to attend from start to finish.

There will be a great many other terrific creators and vendors at C4. I hope to take breaks from my table to see what they have for sale. Although, with Barb there, I’ll need to curtail my spending. Not a complaint. I love having her come to events with me.

C4's panel schedule is still being finalized, but I’ll be doing at least one panel during the weekend:

SUNDAY
1-2 pm
COMICS: THEN AND NOW
*Outback Steakhouse Panel Room

Join Black Lightning creator Tony Isabella and Warlord creator Mike Grell for a retrospective on their careers in the comic industry- discussing the creation of characters that stand the test of time, changes in the medium and personal anecdotes about their adventures in the business.
 
I may do more than this one panel. If I find out about that before I leave for the convention, I’ll post an update to today’s bloggy thing and also on Facebook and Twitter.

If you visit my table at the convention, I’ll be delighted to sell you Black Lightning comic books, posters, scripts and trades. I’ll also have copies of July 1963: A Pivotal Month in the Comic-Book Life of Tony Isabella Volume One. As always, if you buy items from me, I sign them for free. Otherwise...

My signing fees are modest. I’ll sign any item not purchased from me for free. After that first one, I charge $2 per item.

If you bring a representative of any grading company to witness my signature, the price goes up to $5 per item. The same if you ask me to sign a certificate of authenticity.

Photos of me or with me are free at this time. At some point in the future, I plan to offer some staged photos of me. I won’t know the price on those until I find out what they’ll cost me.

Cosplayers: please make your way around to my table. I would love to see your costumes and get photos of you for this bloggy thing. Especially if you’re cosplaying as characters I created or that I have written.

Editors and publishers: I am not under exclusive contract at this time. I’m always happy to discuss my working with you. Maybe it’s me, but I think From the Creator of Black Lightning at the top of a project we do will get said project some attention.

Everyone: I truly pride myself on answering questions honestly. However, due to non-disclosure agreements and sometimes me just not wanting to give something away before I’m ready, there will be questions that I can’t or won’t answer.

I’m really looking forward to Cherry Capital Comic Con. I hope to see you there. I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

ECBACC, GLYPH AWARDS AND ME

Bloggy Tony has been off his game for a few weeks now, which is why you haven’t seen too many new bloggy things. I’m running behind on my weekly “Tony’s Tips” columns as well. That won’t change quickly. Right now, I’m concentrating on getting ready and strong enough for this weekend’s East Coast Black Age of Comics Convention (ECBACC) in Philadelphia. You can read about it here.

One of the things I look forward to when I attend ECBACC is seeing the new comics from the Glyph Awards nominees and other creators. What generally happens is that, whatever I make selling stuff at my table, I spend on comics at the convention. Professor Bill Foster, a giant among men in so many ways, tells me that I’m participating in the “Black Economy” when I do this. Since he’s smarter than me, I’m more than happy to roll with that.

My life has been very hectic since DC Entertainment and I came to an agreement on my past service to DC and our future relationships. As with any relationship, there have been ups and downs and a few disappointments. Likely on both sides. But, as anyone who reads this blog and my other online writings know, I’m grateful I was able to reboot my proudest creation in the Black Lightning: Cold Dead Hands six-issue series and would love nothing more than to write Black Lightning comics until my dying day.

I’m also over the moon in love with the Black Lightning TV series. I was thrilled when DC asked me to write a “Black Lightning Core Values” paper even before they hired the brilliant Salim and Mara Brock Akil to be the series show runners. I was excited that we got to talk about all things Black Lightning in a very productive phone conference DC arranged. And I can’t even describe the buzz I got when Salim brought me out to Burbank to meet with the writers of the series. These are all things I dreamed would happen but, until they did, never actually believed they would.

There is so much of me in the Black Lightning show that I sometimes slip and call it “my” show. But that’s not accurate. The Akils, the writers and the best cast on television bring so much of their own genius to each and every episode. Every Tuesday night, I felt like I was unwrapping a special present.

I can’t predict my future with DC or the Black Lightning series. I do know there is no other character and no other projects to which I would rather devote my talents than Black Lightning. Whether it’s in the pages of new comic books or on the small screen or whatever other opportunities arise.

Back to ECBACC. For the foreseeable future, ECBACC is one of only two conventions where I’ll be signing for free. The other one will be November’s Akron Comicon. I’m updating my signature policy for other conventions, but you can see the original draft of the policy by checking out this bloggy thing.

Because I’m still sorting things out, I don’t want to say too much about my plans for the next few months. I will be appearing at many conventions this year, though my previously announced schedule will be changing somewhat. I will be holding as many of my fan-favorite Vast Accumulation of Stuff garage sales as I can squeeze into that convention schedule. Keep watching the bloggy thing for news of my appearances and garage sales.

I’m taking a break from most of my online posting, but that’s just until I get things back to my normal crazy schedule. I’ll post new bloggy things as often as I’m able.

Despite my crazy life, I remain open for business. If you want to know what that means, here’s yet another bloggy thing for you to check out. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thanks for stopping by. That’s all for now. I’ll be back as soon as possible with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Saturday, May 12, 2018

PHANTOM FRIDAY

Lee Falk’s the Phantom is one of my favorite comics characters. I first saw him in the Saturday newspaper my father would bring home. Because of his grueling schedule at the family bakery and the time he spent taking care of his wife and children, my father only had time to relax and read a newspaper that one day of the week. Though it was impossible for me to truly follow any Phantom story, I took a liking to the character right away.

Over the years, I have followed the Phantom in his newspaper strip adventures, prose adaptations of those adventures, various cartoon and cinematic treatments of him and every comic book I could lay my hands on. These days, in addition to following the Phantom’s comic strip online and reading the occasional and usually unsatisfying American Phantom comic book, I subscribe to the Phantom comics that are created by Frew Publications in Australia.

This recurring “Phantom Fridays” feature will appear on an ongoing basis in this bloggy thing of mine. It won’t run every Friday, but you’ll probably see it a couple times a month. While it will cover any American Phantom comic books I read, it will mostly discuss the Frew issues and specials.

Giantsize Phantom #4 (approx. $7.50 in U.S. dollars) is a recent addition to the Frew roster. Its 100 pages present a Phantom story  and reprints of other Frew characters, many of them bearing a more than slight resemblance to the Ghost Who Walks. We also get text pages on various aspects of Australian comics history and, usually, a brand-new story of one of the characters.

The fine Glenn Lumsden cover highlights the science fiction nature of this issue’s contents. The lead story is a reprint of Lee Falk’s “How the Phantom Saved the Earth.” It’s a 1993 Sunday story drawn by Sy Barry. That’s followed by stories of Captain Strato by John Dixon from the 1950s; Cometman by Peter Chapman, another tale from the 1950s; and a new Planetman story by Shane Foley, whose work I have enjoyed in Alter Ego and elsewhere. Planetman is another hero from the 1950s. Wrapping up the issue is a text piece on Planetman by Kevin Patrick. The back cover announces another new Planetman adventure by Christopher Sequeira and Massimo Gamberri.

I can’t tell you these non-Phantom reprints are terrific stories. They’re not. They do have a certain charm and a definite historical importance, but they are so-so at best.

Though the art in Foley’s original Planetman story isn’t as good as the Barry and Dixon visuals, I loved this adventure. Especially in how it tied in with the lead Phantom story. Nicely done.
                                                                                

The issue also came with a Phantom’s Universe card featuring Hero, the Phantom’s trusty stallion. The card measures 5.5 by 3.5 inches.

                                                                                 

The Phantom #1800 [approx. $9 in U.S. dollars] is the title’s 2017 Christmas Special. The 100-page issue features three stories from  recent newspaper strips. First is “Trouble in the Twelve Nations” by writer Tony DePaul and artist Terry Beatty. This Sunday tale ran from 12/27/2015 to 6/19/16 and had the Phantom foiling a threat to the stability of the kingdom once led by Lothar, great friend to Mandrake the Magician.

“The Wise Guy” ran from 6/26/16 to 4/2/17 and is also by DePaul and Beatty. In this Sunday story, The Ghost Who Walks contends with a family of American mobsters and sets one of them on a better path.

Wrapping up the issue is “The Phantom Stamp,” an odd daily story of an official who wants to issue a Phantom postage stamp. Of course, he thinks the Phantom is merely a legend. The story is written by DePaul and drawn by Mike Manley. It ran from 11/7/16 to 3/11/17.
                                                                                 

In addition to these three stories, which were published in color, the issue came with 63 Phantom trading cards. These showed the Frew covers from issue #232 (3/7/63) to #294 (8/26/65).

                                                                              

Phantom #1801 [approx. $2.75 in U.S. dollars] is a standard 36-page issue.“The Emperor’s Treasure” was first published by Semic Press, which was, at one time, Sweden's largest comic book publisher. The story is from 1981. This is its first Australian publication.

Written by Ulf Granberg and drawn by Jaime VallvĂ©, this adventure of the current Phantom sets him on a treasure hunt in Corsica. It starts with “Kit Walker” visiting an old college professor of his. The treasure is also sought by the lovely-but-evil Madame Sauvage and her brutish henchmen. Published in black-and-white, this is an entertaining tale. Not a classic, but still good.
                                                                                

One more, but it’s the biggest issue of the year. The Phantom #1802 [approx. $12.50 in U.S. dollars] is the title’s 2018 annual. Page count is 212 pages and that’s not counting the 24-page replica edition of Frew’s The Phantom #26.

The theme of the annual is “The Phantom Goes West” and every story is set in the American West. Starting from an informative foreword by Phantom expert Andreas Eriksson, the stories concentrate on the series of events that led to the 17th Phantom meeting and courting his American wife Mary Stillwell.

In “Wagon Master” by Ulf Granberg and Janne Lundstrom with art by Ozcan Eralp, the Phantom rescues former slaves from a vicious man attempting to exploit them. It’s from 1975.

A character from the previous story appears in “The Indian Hater” by Lundstrom and Eralp. In this 1975 story, the Phantom deals with the bigotry of the not-long-for-this-world George Armstrong Custer.

In the short “Terror in the Desert,” the Phantom meets Mary. She’s a member of a religious movement that built a town in the middle of the desert to escape persecution. Another Lundstrom/Eralp, the 1974 story predates the two stories that precede it in this annual.

Written and drawn by Eralp, “Badlands” reveals Mary’s town has been destroyed and sets the Phantom on a search for any survivors. From 1976, it’s a grim, but ultimately satisfying story.

“The Freedom Trail” bu Scott Goodall with art by Felmang is one of the best of the “Phantom Out West” stories. Published in 1999, it involves the invention of dynamite and the Phantom’s quest to put an end to a foreign slaver trying to sell freed slaves across the seas. I’d rank it as a classic.

“The Phantom Cowboy” is a 1994 daily story by Lee Falk with art by Sy Barry, George Olesen and Keith Williams. It tells the story of the 16th Phantom meeting and marrying his wife Anne. The tale seems to be at odds with the previous stories of the 17th Phantom, but I can overlook that. The Phantom’s longevity and his being handled by so many different creators around the world makes such blips in the timeline impossible to avoid.

I got a kick out of “The Assassin,” a 1991 story written by Norman Worker with art by George Olesen. It has supernatural elements and involves time travel.

As much as I love the Phantom, I’d have to say the most exciting story in this annual is a brand new story that reboots and revamps the origin of the Phantom Ranger. Written and drawn by Italian creator Romano Felmang with inks by Max Fish, it’s a terrific tale. All future stories of the Phantom Ranger will appear in Giantsize Phantom.
                                                                              

A replica edition of Frew’s The Phantom #26 is packaged with this annual. As you’ll see from the sample page shown below, the comic book reprinted Phantom newspaper strips in a sideways format. The back cover of the replica has a “no longer available” advertisement for an Australian comic book starring Pop-Eye the Sailorman. Such an odd alteration of the character’s name.
                                                                                    
                                                                              

Also packaged with the annual was a cardboard mask of Kid Phantom, one of the creepiest looking characters ever. The Kid stars in his own ongoing title. I read one excruciatingly awful issue and then canceled my subscription. We will speak of this no more.
                                                                                  
You can buy Frew’s Phantom comic books directly from the publisher. With a little searching, you can also find Australian dealers who will send them to you. I’ll have more information for you the next time I write a “Phantom Fridays” installment.

Thanks for visiting. I’ll be back soon with more stuff.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Friday, May 11, 2018

COMICS! COMICS! COMICS!

There are so many things I like to write about in this bloggy thing of mine. I read a butt-load of comic books from all over the world every week. I read mystery and police novels (usually set in Ohio). I read non-fiction books on subjects that interest me. I watch what  I realize is an obscene amount of television and tell myself I have to do this because so much of what I watch comes from the comics I  love. On a good week, I get to watch a cheesy monster movie or two.

I’ve been reviewing all the above for more columns and years than I can remember. I’ve been told my reviews are helpful to readers. I’ve been told the favorable ones help the sales on the things that I praise. I have no way of knowing if this is the case or not. But, since I like writing reviews and you seem to enjoy reading them, I figure I’ll keep doing this.

Marvel’s Monsters Unleashed [$3.99] seems like a super-hero comic book created by someone who asked the question, “What comic would Tony Isabella get a kick out of?” This series is a good answer to that question.

Kid Kaiju is Kei Kawada, a young Inhuman with the ability to create and summon monsters by drawing them. He’s been working with Damage Control, Elsa Bloodstone and others to use his power for good while trying not to make his loving parents too crazy.

Starting with issue #9, new writer Justin Jordan has been bringing us “Learning Curve,” a story arc in which Kei teams up with various creations for solo missions. These are solid complete-in-an-issue adventures that have been great fun.

The first three chapters of this arc have three different artists. Francesco Gaston, Bachan and Alex Arizmendi all deliver fine work. Color artists Chris Sotomayor and Marcio Menyz bring consistency to the visuals. Kudos to departing editor Christina Harrington and senior editor Mark Paniccia for their roles in creating this truly entertaining series.

Issues #6-11 are collected in Monsters Unleashed Vol. 2: Learning Curve [$17.99], due to be released in late May. Earlier volumes in the series - it started as a crossover event - are also available.

ISBN 978-0785196372
                                                                                  

Commando #5060 features “The Fighting Few” by Maitland with art by Gordon C. Livingston, who also did the cover painting. This story is designated as an “Air War 1939-45" tale. It’s also part of the digest-size comic magazine “Gold Collection,” which denotes a story being published for the third time. This story originally appeared in 1969 and was reprinted in 1977.

Conflicts between fighting men is a standard plot device for these 63-page adventures. This time, the conflict is between a squadron leader who can’t be trusted and a flying officer who takes the law into his own hands to protect himself and his fellow pilots. Thanks the squadron leader, the flying officer’s reputation has taken some hits. This isn’t a classic issue of Commando, but it’s a solidly-crafted and entertaining story in a genre we don’t see often enough these days.

                                                                                       

Commando #5061 presents the all-new “Fenshire Sliver” by George Low with artist Kieth Page, who also did the striking cover. This issue is designated “War in Europe 1939-45.”

Obsession is the theme of this tale, notable that of platoon leader Lieutenant Adrian Seacombe of the Fenshire Regiment. Seacombe cares only for his ancestor’s regimental silver. Private Harry Clark is a member of the elite class, but turns down a commission to serve with the regular soldiers. He and his best mate Joe Reagan lose the silver in France during what is known as the “Phoney War.” Because of this, Harry and Joe are on the front lines of Seacombe’s insane obsession with the silver.

This 63-page adventure has plenty of surprises, excellent character development and a most satisfying ending. It’s an issue that fuels my obsession to sometimes write an issue of Commando or another war comic like it.
                                      
                                                                                                                             
Commando #5062 reprinted “Time to Pay” by K.P. MacKenzie with art by C.T. Rigby and cover art by Ian Kennedy. The tale was previously published in 1993. It’s designated as an “S.O.E.” story.

The Special Operations Executive was formed from the amalgamation of three existing secret organizations. Its purpose was to conduct espionage, sabotage and reconnaissance in occupied Europe against the Axis powers, and to aid local resistance movements.

This story focuses on Captain Mario Celini’s unit. Though they were allies, the Germans treated the Italian soldiers like disposable cannon fodder. When the tides of war shift, Celini and his men join forces with a British officer to fight the Nazis and the vicious SS officer in charge of them. Not a classic adventure, but, like most of the Commando offerings, an entertaining read.
                                                                                 

Inspired by the recent Batman/Shadow meetings I’ve read, I decided to finally read all the other Shadow comics published by Dynamite. I started with The Shadow #1-25 [2012-2014]. Written by Garth Ennis and then Victor Gischler and then Chris Roberson, this version of the classic hero has more of the mystic around him than in the pulp magazine stories I’ve been reading. It took a few issues for me to get comfortable with this.

Having accepted the supernatural elements, I really enjoyed these comics. As cold as the Shadow is, I found myself sympathizing with his never-ending quest for redemption and his burden of having to deal harshly with evildoers. That’s sort of his job description.

The comics were well-written with truly formidable villains. They had good art and visual storytelling. The Shadow’s aides were well played, especially Margo Lane and Burbank. Most importantly, every story arc had a satisfying conclusion.

I have a three-inch-high stack of Dynamite’s Shadow comics waiting for me. I’m suspect I’m going to enjoy reading them over the next few weeks.
                                                                                   

I’m a sucker for holiday-themed super-hero comic books. DC Rebirth Holiday Special [February 2017; $9.99] just turned up in the Vast Accumulation of Stuff that fills a great deal of Casa Isabella. It may be a year old and this might be several months after the last Christmas and before the next one, but the cover by Jorge Jimenez spoke to me. So here we are.

Paul Dini and Elsa Charretier provide “A Very Harley Holiday,” the introduction that wraps around the entire special. It’s fun stuff. There are two Harleys in my mind: the spritely one and the darker murderous one. I prefer the former, but the two have been used in an interchangeable manner. In the world where I make the decisions at DC, we either go with the former or established that there are actually two Harleys. Might be a way to freshen up the character.

There are ten stories of varying lengths in the special featuring Superman and Batman, Superboy and Krypto, Batman and Detective Chimp, Wonder Woman and Constantine, the Flash, New Super-Man, Batwoman, The Titans, Batgirl and Nightwing and the Green Lanterns. I’m not going to write a story by story review, but I will mention the highlights.

Tim Seeley’s Superman and Batman story - “The Last Minute” - was my favorite in the issue. Nice character work, some warm laughs and nice art by Ian Churchill. Whenever Batman is humanized, it strikes a happy place in my brain. The Batman/Detective Chimp team-up by Heath Corson and Gustavo Duarte was also fun.

The Titans appear in “What a Year for A New Year” by James Asmus. It’s a so-so story, but worthy of mention because it features the Silver Age villain Ding-Dong Daddy. I have to give the tale points for the groovy comeback.

Also worthy of mention was “The Epiphany” by writers Steve Orlando and Vita Ayala with art by V. Kay Marion and Tony Gray. Judgmental aliens challenge Green Lanterns Jessica Cruz and Simon Baz with the fate of Earth in the balance. This isn’t ground-breaking comics - we’ve seen this many times before - but the portrayals of Jessica and Simon elevate the story. I liked it.

I know there’s another DC holiday special or two in my boxes upon boxes of comics waiting to be read. When I find it, I’ll move it to the top of my reading pile.

That’s all for now, my friends. I’ll be back soon with more stuff. Have a great day.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

COMING SOON

Some home front and scheduling matters prevented my posting a new bloggy thing on Thursday, but I'll be back up to speed before the end of Friday.

Wednesday, May 9, 2018

MOVIES! MOVIES! MOVIES!

Today’s cadre of cinema reviews starts with the latest entry in one of my all-time favorite franchisees...

Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell (2018) is the sixth film in the Tremors series. It stars Michael Gross as the cantankerous survivalist Burt Gummer and Jamie Kennedy as Travis Welker, the son Gummer learned about in the previous Tremors movie.

Don Michael Paul is the director. Among his previous credits as a director - he’s also an actor and a writer - are 2015's Tremors 5: Bloodlines and 2012's Lake Placid: The Final Chapter. Mild spoiler. That Lake Placid movie? It wasn’t the final chapter.

John Whelpley is the writer. This is his third Tremors script. He did Tremors 5: Bloodlines and 2001's Tremors 3: Back to Perfection. He’s also written for many TV series, including Andromeda, Earth: Final Conflict and others.

The Internet Movie Database offers this summary:

The sequel finds Burt Gummer and his son Travis at a remote research station, where they must go up against Graboids that have been converted into living weapons.

I don’t want to give away too much of the movie, but there are some things I feel I should mention. First off, the Graboids have *not* been converted into living weapons. Yes, there’s a sleazy federal agent (DARPA) that wants to do that after he learns these creatures exist, but the Graboids and Ass-Blasters seen in this movie act as Nature intended them to act. Damn you, Nature.

When the movie opens, Burt is in Perfection taking care of Walter Chang’s old store, facing serious tax trouble and being foreclosed on by the government. This situation comes up later in the movie.

Though it’s stated the film is taking place in the Canadian arctic tundra, that’s only believable in the opening sequence. Most of the movie was filmed in Cape Town, South Africa. Global warming is said to be why the hills and valleys don’t have much in the way of snow. What’s cool about the setting is that the valley where the remote research station is based has the same basic geographical structure as Perfection and, like the first Tremors movie, that limits the options for the humans being hunted.

There’s another terrific link to the first Tremors movie, but I’ll let that one come as a surprise for my fellow Graboid afficinados. It’s a good one.

One more spoiler-ish note. Besides facing foreclosure and Graboids, Burt is dying from an infection he caught when he was swallowed by a Graboid in a previous movie. It’s an intriguing element and adds to the suspense of this new movie.

Tremors: A Cold Day in Hell has everything you could want from this latest sequel. It’s got Burt Gummer. It’s got the somewhat strained relationship between him and his son. It’s got some cool surprises. It’s got fine performances from some of the supporting characters. It’s got a satisfying ending. I can’t wait for the next one.

                                                                             

Proud Mary (2018) puts me in mind of the black action movies of the 1970s. It might lack the then-freshness of those films, but it’s a better movie in virtually all other regards.

The movie is directed by Babak Najafi, who directed 2016's London Has Fallen. The screenplay is by John Stuart Newman, Christian Swegal and Steve Antin from a story by Newman and Swegal. The great Neal McDonough [Arrow, Justified, Legends of Tomorrow] appears in a minor role.

MILD SPOILERS AHEAD
MILD SPOILERS AHEAD
MILD SPOILERS AHEAD


The glorious Taraji P. Henson is the title protagonist. A hitwoman for a crime family headed by Benny [Danny Glover], she was raised and trained by them. The film opens with her killing an accountant  who owed money to Benny. Her target’s son, playing video games in another room, is unaware of what she’s done. He never sees her and she doesn’t kill him.

A few years later, Mary tracks down the boy, who is a runner for a drug-dealing mobster protected by the Russian mafia. To save the boy, she shoots the mobster. She leaves no witnesses and takes the boy in. But she has inflamed the existing tensions between Benny’s family and the Russians into a full-fledged war.

MILD SPOILERS OVER
MILD SPOILERS OVER
MILD SPOILERS OVER


Henson is terrific as the conflicted hitwoman. Jahi Di'Allo Winston is very good as the hard-before-his-time Danny. In a sense, Proud Mary brings the issue of modern-day slavery into this story. Both Glover and the protected mobster claim ownership of Mary and Danny at various points during the movie. Kayne West might consider that Mary and Danny’s choice, but, after all, Kayne is sort of an idiot, his dragon energy notwithstanding.

The fight scenes are good, but not particularly outstanding. At the end of the movie’s 89-minute running time, what we got was a film occasionally elevated by Henson’s performance. It was reasonably entertaining with a satisfying conclusion. It’s not a movie I would watch more than once, but I have no regrets kicking back with a big bowl of popcorn and watching it once.

                                                                               

Our last movie today is Snowbeast (1977), a made-for-TV movie that starred Bo Svenson, Yvette Mimieux, Robert Logan and Clint Walker. The film’s director was Herb Wallerstein, whose TV credits include Wonder Woman, Petrocelli, the Partridge Family, Star Trek and many others. The writer was Joseph Stefano, probably best known for his Outer Limits scripts. Snowbeast first aired on April 28. Here’s the Internet Movie Database summary:

A Colorado ski resort is besieged by a sub-human beast that commits brutal murders on the slopes.

This is another movie inspired by the success of Jaws. Svenson is a down-on-his-luck champion skier who takes a job as an instructor at his friend’s Colorado ski resort. He’s accompanied by his wife [Mimieux] who has some unresolved feelings for the friend [Logan]. Walker is the town sheriff who, ultimately, joins the three of them to hunt down the snowbeast.

Sylvia Sidney has a nice turn as the matriarch of the family that owns the resort. Which has seen much better days. Which needs for its ski festival to be a smash hit. So, naturally, she isn’t quick to accept the reports of the snowbeast and cancel the festival. If she ever decided to go into politics, she could run for mayor of Amity.

People die. Not surprising. The snowbeast reveals itself in a very public manner, slaughtering a woman sitting in a car. My memory of this scene from the original TV airing is very different from when I watched the film on DVD.

My memory is that when the car woman’s daughter runs to the car to open the door and check on her mother, blood flows from the door in figurative buckets. No such scene is on the DVD, but it might well have been in the original. From IMDb:

The scene where the snow beast attacks the town hall during the snow queen ceremony was written in to replace a previously scripted and filmed attack scene that was deemed too violent to be aired on television. 
 
Is the missing scene the one I remember? Did it somehow get on TV when Snowbeast first aired or during some later showing that used the original footage? Your guess is as good as mine.

There were a lot of Jaws imitators in the movie theaters and on TV. Snowbeast is neither one of the best nor one of the worst. But it has some appropriately scary and suspenseful moments. It had decent acting. At the end of the movie, I felt sufficiently entertained by its 86 minutes that I am comfortable recommending it to my readers who love cheesy monster movies as much as I do.

That’s all for today, my friends. I’ll be back tomorrow with some other stuff. See you then.

© 2018 Tony Isabella

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

TONY'S TIPS #258

This week in TONY'S TIPS at Tales of Wonder...Batman ’66 Meets Steed & Mrs. Peel by Ian Edginton with artist Matthew Dow Smith; Bill Schelly Talks with the Founders of Comic Fandom Volume One; Marvel's Star Wars: Thrawn #1-2; and a quick update on my convention and signing policies!