Friday, April 12, 2013

1000 Comics You Must Read by Tony Isabella

I've lusted after this book for quite awhile, but when it first came out in 2009 I was too broke, and the local comic store had it shrink-wrapped so I couldn't browse it for free to see how I liked it.  In retrospect that was a huge mistake, as if I had opened it up there would have been no way I could leave the store without it.  But I stumbled across it used last week for half price and have been devouring it ever since.

I'll start out with the negatives first.  The biggest flaw I see in the book is that (like the collector's market) it's a bit over-concerned with #1 issues.  In the index, I counted 19 #1 issues under "A" alone.  Second, the size of the book (about 270 pages) along with the fact that each comic has its cover included means that there's really only room for a sentence or two about each comic. Third, Isabella limits the 1930s issues to Superman, which means he misses Detective #1.  That is far from the only significant omission.

On the positive side is just about everything else.  The colors are fabulous, the summaries are generally excellent (if short), and the picks are, for the most part, spectacularly on the money.  Some are hidden gems that I have discussed in this blog, like Hansi, the Girl Who Loved the Swastika, or Mysterious Suspense #1 or Blue Beetle #5 or Mystery in Space #90.  There's also Justice League of America #16, and Four Color #1309 (87th Precinct) and a few ACG comics like Herbie #14 and Adventures into the Unknown #147. Oh, and Brother Power the Geek #1, and Amazing Spiderman #18 and....

You get the picture.  Yes, there are some puzzling omissions, like the phenomenal Mystery in Space #75 (Planet That Came to a Standstill) and (among more recent comics) I can't imagine leaving Darwyn Cooke's The New Frontier off the list.  But that's the nature of any list; there are going to be idiosyncratic hits and misses.  The purpose of the book is not to end the discussion but to start it.

Highly recommended!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've had this book for awhile (at least 2 years). I've really enjoyed it, but like any other list, it's subjective. No one has a definitive list, but at least Tony explains his rationale to some degree. It put me onto some comics I had not considered.

Anonymous said...

thanks for share.....

Anonymous said...

You might want to compare Isabella's book with this:

http://www.amazon.com/1001-Comics-Must-Read-Before/dp/0789322714/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1366785952&sr=1-1&keywords=1001+comic+books+you+must+read+before+you+die