Any comic fan over the age of thirty is familiar with the name Tony Isabella, whether from “Black Lightning,” “The Champions,” “Hawkman,” “Ghost Rider,” his columns in the “Comic Buyer’s Guide,” or his work elsewhere in the industry. As a veteran comic book writer with over thirty-five years of experience, it should come as no surprise that Isabella has a list of comics he feels everyone should read.
Therein lies my biggest problem with this book. Sure, the comics listed here are all wonderful studies in the four-color art form we all know and love, but honestly, how am I ever going to get my grubby paws on a copy of “Queen of the West Dale Evans” #3, “Herbie” #14, “Binky Brown Meets the Holy Virgin Mary,” or any number of other long-out-of-print, hideously expensive, hard-to-find gems listed in this book? Some have been printed in compilations or budget-friendly reprints, sure. Others have been reinterpreted over time, or retold as characters have aged.
Naturally, everyone who reads this book is going to find some glaring omissions (off the top of my head, I was surprised not to see: “Animal Man” #5, “Crisis on Infinite Earths,” “The Death of Captain Marvel,” “Amazing Spider-Man” #229-230, or any of the bwah-ha-ha era “Justice League”) which would seem quite stunning when you think about the sheer quantity of one thousand comics. However, once you take into consideration the fact that a longbox holds three hundred to four hundred comics or that a typical fan buys five comics (most of you buy many more, I know) a week, it is easy to understand that this is Isabella’s opinion of the one thousand comics he thinks you should read.
It is a wonderful dialogue starter, sure to get any fan fired up that his or her favorite book is missing. It is also a perfect book for reflection and reminiscence, bringing some of those old stories to the front of one’s memory and compelling a reader to check out his own longboxes of personal history. Most importantly, this book is more than a little fun to look through. Sure, Isabella drops more than a few of his own comics in here, but what writer wouldn’t?
This book contains quite a few recommendations that I haven’t had the privilege of reading, as well as some books I know I should dig out to enjoy again real soon. This might be Isabella’s top one thousand comics we should be reading, but I’d like to see the next thousand from him or a thousand from a few other comic pros.