It’s the lucky 13th anniversary for this ridiculous website of mine, where I’m still blogging about comics after all this time, long past the point of everyone running out of patience for people who blog about comics. But here I am anyway, still doing it and not planning to stop anytime soon, at least until the meteor finally strikes or the medication kicks in, whichever comes first.
Seriously, though, thanks to all of you out there who are still finding enough value on my site to come back day after day and see what I’ve managed to type up this time. I really do appreciate your readership. And thanks of course to the usual suspects, like my family who supported my comic book habit (and later my comic-selling career), my girlfriend Nora, pal Dorian, my fellow comics bloggers both still standing and emeritus, and as always, thanks to Comics Blogger Supreme Neilalien for leading the way. I also wanted to give special notice to a couple of swell cats: Tim O’Neil, who’s a good pal and has been undergoing some significant life changes this year; and Bully the Little Bull Stuffed with Wonderment and his pal John, both of whom we are very fortunate to have around.
This past year has been going along mostly smoothly, despite losing my grandmother in January, which was very sad, but she did have 96 full years of life and was active and out and about up until nearly the very end. As I mentioned in that linked post, she was thrilled to pieces that I finally had a store of my own and loved telling me how happy she was she got to visit it.
Speaking of the store, Sterling Silver Comics had its second anniversary last month, with hopefully many more anniversaries to come in the future. The business is doing well, I’m paying myself and my bills and building stock and clientele, so I seem to be doing okay. I do tend to complain about the vagaries of the comics industry both here and on the Twitterers, but that’s just venting…I’m happy to be where I’m at, and only wish I’d made the move sooner.
Another big change this year is that I set up a Patreon account for this site, so if any of you happen to have a spare dollar or two a month that you’d care to contribute in support of the work I do here, I’d be most appreciative and it would help out a lot.
I also had to get a new vehicle this year as the old truck finally gave up the ghost, so have I mentioned my Patreon account, ha ha, you know, just asking for no reason.
Speaking of Twitter, as I was just prior to the above begging, I’ve been active there as I have every year since first joining back in 2007. Free free to follow me there if you’d like, but here are a few highlights (or lowlights, depending on your particular opinion of my “humor”) from the past few months:
Usually I’ll post about the comics retail life, such as when this realization set in:
Or when a most fortuitous event occurs:
Once in a while I have to remind myself to have some perspective:
But sometimes it’s hard when faced with a public that can hate and fear the very idea of funnybook sellin’:
Sometimes my perspective veers off in the opposite direction:
But there are still plenty of moments at the store that make it all worth it:
Then I’m pulled back down again:
And it wasn’t all just retail talk on the Twitters…sometimes I gave insightful film commentary:
And then I made everyone sad with this observation (though the way things are going, maybe we’ll get this as a comic book):
Once in a while I’ll talk about actual comics:
…And the people who make them:
…And once in a while, I’ll ruminate upon the very idea of comics blogging:
As evidence for that last tweet, here are some of the notable posts (i.e. about 95% of them) on Ye Olde Progressive Ruine from the past twelve months:
The return of “Another Moment with Cap and the Falcon,” my interview re: the Star Wars Early Bird Kit, remember back when we weren’t sick of too many Star Wars movies, how quickly the pre-Crisis DC Universe started returning post-Crisis, comics for Christmas.
I think I must have bumped my head before writing this New Year’s Day entry, the other RadioTiki guys read this entry on their show, “You Can’t Pin A Medal on a Gorilla” by request, my grandmother, we look back at your predictions for 2015 (1 2 3 4 5 6) (and oh Lordy that means it’s almost time for me to do it again).
As I write this the last issue of this series has been cancelled and not yet resolicited, just couldn’t make it through the original Supergirl movie, hey did you know people don’t like high comic prices, I’m about 99% sure this Superboy scene was homaged on the Supergirl TV show a few weeks back, I wonder how much longer we’re going to have the “Rebirth” banners on the covers, this is what I would do if I ran an EEEE-VIL comic book store.
The new Swamp Thing mini-series was okay I guess, that Deadpool card in X-Force #1 will never be worth anything, remember when Honey Bunny Mania raged across the country, I was a little disappointed I didn’t get 47 responses on my 47th birthday post, have some Captain America Logo you stinkin’ Ratzis, Behold Superman’s Brother, this whole “DC’s revealing Joker’s Real Name!?!?” post is pretty much moot, I know I’ve been at this too long when the comics start talking back to me.
Thank God I know people who actually know graphic design, THE HATE CUPIDS, Free Comic Book Day plans and a Batman/Superman movies – two tastes that go great together, there’s a sneaky joke for my older readers in the title there, he was a regular prince I tells ya, back in the day we’d ping your Veronica with my gopher and that’s how we liked it, one of the ways I helped Rich with that book (more on the book later), my shocking realizations about ordering the funnybooks, oh don’t mind me I’m just trolling along.
The connection of the Marvel Handbook to my secret origin, Batman Vs. Jaime Hernandez Vs. My Dad on Free Comic Book Day, more FCBD pics and I disagree with a famous cartoonist, more post-FCBD talk, so long Darwyn, just what is up with the internet and comics anyways, what finally defeated the Legion of Super-Heroes (which spoil this comic, still need to get a copy of Freaked for myself.
I always called them “comic subs” but apparently nobody else did, DC Rebirth sales are still driving me nuts, so long Champ, we talk about The Greatest Single Issue of a Comic Book of All Time, they finally got me reading Flash again and also BTW I was right about Wacky Raceland, the (oh Lordy) collectibilty of newstand vs. direct sales comics, there are some comics I could point out where the error was even doing them in the first place, pal Andrew discusses his favorite Swamp Thing story at my request, so anyway about those Charlton heroes, I’m still trying to single-handedly kill the comics blogosphere, speaking of — I see Marvel is listing a Guardians of the Galaxy movie adaptation in this month’s Previews, I love 1970s Popeye comic books, ELECTRO-ROBOT HAND, on anthologies and alternate Swamp Things.
Needlepoint Joker, I’ve since decided this is now my favorite comic book, in a strange way I miss the black and white boom, more b&w boom comics, one more post on the topic, BREAST. JOKE. EVER, I finally make it into Overstreet, the fun of funnybook ordering, so long Jack, Richard and Jerry.
A brief appreciation of the current Superman titles, so long Gaspar, yet another follow-up to the b&w boom posts, big money out in the swamps these days, I’m finally dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century, some BIG BIG SCANS of cover credits, the whole Watchmen-in-the-DC-Universe thing still tickles the hell outta me, I talk about a couple of direct-to-DVD Bat-cartoons, I go deep — almost too deep — into Swamp Thing Continuity Talk, I straight up review one of those Batman direct-to-DVD flicks, Ditko + Wrightson = AMAZING.
So long Tim, some nice 1970s Frank Thorne art, a hard 1990s Marvel retailing flashback, what if I went on too long about the What If comic, TUROK TALK parts one and two (and two-and-a-half courtesy commenter John), more fun 1970s Atlas Comics art, I am both proud and ashamed of this Superman cartoon gag, Googling up “skateboard tricks” sure came in handy for this post.
The missing Swamp Thing stories, my completely unbiased positive review for a book I helped with a little, so here’s the Thing, I may be cheap but I ain’t free, some comics are worth a lot but probably not yours, so long Steve, the weird and unfortunate legacy of Jack Chick.
This is a strange calendar, come to think of it I haven’t gone back to that DC game, I review the other Batman direct-to-home-video cartoon I mentioned a while back, here’s to you drive-by dude who dropped by the comments of this post to be offended and never actually read my site before or since, I’ve only made it partway through this mountain of Star Wars/Trek toys since this post, even more about old Star Wars toys, I’m the only person who thinks the subject line of this post about the Joker TPB is funny, try to remember the things you should be thankful for, somewhat related to a joke I made a long time ago about how skeptics would have a hard time in a universe where Aquaman is the King of Atlantis.
And just because of the way things were timed this month, all I have to list here is the latest End of Civilization post, which is as good of a place as any to remind you that I’m back to doing monthly EoCs after an extended break somehow caused by opening my store. Plus, I did some comics reviews over the past year, and I also threw in a couple Sluggo Saturdays, too.
Again, thanks to all of you for sticking with me all this time, for reading my site and leaving comments and even occasionally stopping by my store to say “hello” in person — that all means so very much to me, and I can’t tell you enough how greatly it’s appreciated.
For reading all that, here’s a picture of 13-year-old me with my grandparents’ tortoise while it’s eating a bunch of flowers:
That is some real “that kid from The Walking Dead” hair I’m sporting.
Thanks, and I’ll see you all again in a couple of days.
The votes have been tallied, and the majority of eligible voters have decided that they don’t want to see a new End of Civilization post. Thus, here is a new End of Civilization post, so pull out your copy of the December 2016 Previews and follow along! C’mon, just give me a chance:
p. 36 – The Visitor How and Why He Stayed #1:
So this, the other Mignolaverse books, the new Hellboy graphic novel…that Mike Mignola guy should take more years off from making comics if they’re going to increase his output that much!
p. 51 – Slayer Relentless #2:
For some reason I had it in my mind that this was a Stryper comic from Dark Horse and that we’d eventually get the Stryper/Hellboy: To Hell with The Devil crossover book. Anyway, don’t tell the guys in Slayer I thought they were Stryper.
p.52 – Soupy Leaves Home TP:
In case you’re wondering how old I am, I’m exactly “I Immediately Thought This Was About Soupy Sales” years old. White Fang and Black Tooth, sadly waving their paws as Soupy Sales walks off into the indeterminate distance.
p. 110 – Batman ’66 Meets Wonder Woman ’77 #2:
So for the next series, let’s throw Superman ’78 into the mix. Or Superman ’52. Either/or. Or both, what the heck. And maybe Superman ’48, too. You can never have too many Supermen.
p. 121 – Direct Currents #2:
Finally, DC Comics has the rights to the greatest Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker film. (No, not Ruthless People, though that was pretty good, too.)
p. 177 – Vintage Romance Comic Book Covers Coloring Book:
“So what’s the best color for ‘silently pining over the handsomest boy in the school?” “I don’t know, is it the same color as ‘Repeating the Joke from the Serenity Coloring Book Entry?'”
p. 180 – Star Wars Newspaper Comics Vol. 1:
“Man oh man, Darth Vader sure hates Mondays! He’s hilarious!”
p. 263 – The Pink Panther Super Pink Special:
So I was totally ready to make a “that guy Pink’s carrying is totally naked, isn’t he?” joke, but apparently that seems to be a thing. And yes, the character’s name does appear to be “The White Man.” What can I tell you.
p. 269 – Doctor Stranger Things T-Shirt:
These things just sort of autogenerate out of the frothing loam of the internet, don’t they? Can loam even froth? I bet on the internet it can.
p. 280 – Fathom #1:
Remember when I used to make jokes about all the #1s Fathom and other Aspen books seemed to have, back when that was an unusual thing?
p. 294 – Planet of the Apes/Green Lantern #1:
So of course this means the Great Grape Ape is one of the Violet “Love” Lanterns:
I mean, that’s close enough, right? Besides, look what he’s doing to that van.
p. 333 – James Bond Felix Leiter #2:
So where’s our “Jaws” comic? Or “Eve Moneypenny, Secretary Spy?” Or the “Dr. Christmas Jones” comic, which might have to be an annual since people would assume it could only co[REST OF ENTRY REDACTED]
p. 356 – The Overstreet Guide to Cosplay:
Finally, I can find out what that guy dressed as Desert Storm Wolverine is worth in mint condition!
p. 357 – Deepak Chopra’s Beyond #1:
In case any of the writers get stuck for ideas, this website is like the Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies of Deepak-isms.
p. 364 – Disney-Pixar Cars #2:
The exciting fun-filled stories leading up to Lightning McQueen’s horrifying death or maiming!
p. 365 – Disney-Pixar Toy Story #3:
When I first saw this out of the corner of my eye while flipping through Previews, I thought it read “Harvey Pekar’s Toy Story,” and what I wouldn’t give to see that. “Ah c’mon man, toys can’t talk, get real.” Also, I hope that remains the cover image.
p. 383 – The Smurfs The Village Behind the Wall GN:
I can’t believe Donald Smurf actually went through with it and put up that wall. You just know the Smurfs are the ones who are going to end up Smurfing for it.
p. 430 – Fukufuku Kitten Tales Volume 2 GN:
I can see absolutely no possibility of children finding inappropriate humor from the title of this book.
p. 448 – The Ages of the Justice League SC:
Well, Superman is 29, and Batman is 29, and Wonder Woman is…well, she’s supposed to be a lot older, right? Anyway, you shouldn’t ask her…it’s rude.
p. 516 – Hellraiser Pinhead Life-Size Bust:
I’ve probably gone to the “what would Grandma say?” well a few too many times about items like this, but, honestly, What Would Grandma Say? And I mean, like, Traditional Grandmas, from Norman Rockwell paintings, not Cool Rock ‘n’ Roll Grannies like I’m sure I’m going to hear about.
p. 517 – One-12 Collective Marvel Red Skull Action Figure:
Well, this should be a popular figure.
p. 598 – Pokemon Kanto Monopoly:
Do not pass Lavender Town, do not collect, um, Haunters, I guess? Look, I’m Wiki-ing up all this, I don’t know.
Marvel Previews p. 103 – Marvel Retro Cloth Punisher Action Figure Gift Set:
WHAT PUNISHER LOOKS LIKE IN THE COMICS: [huge and terrifying heavily muscled guy]
WHAT PUNISHER LOOKS LIKE IN REAL LIFE: [see picture above]
Marvel Previews p. 133 – Devil Dinosaur by Jack Kirby Poster:
People used to make fun of Devil Dinosaur way back when, and now here’s a poster you can buy. Good ol’ Kirby, he knew what was up even when we didn’t.
ATTENTION! THIS IS NOT A DRILL: Swamp Thing appears in this week’s Superman Annual #1:
Aside from the fact that this is the…fourth? “Superman Annual #1” to be released by DC over the years, it’s not a bad comic. Swamp Thing confronts Superman about the fact he’s not really from this universe, the harm that’s causing and what must be done to fix it. Somewhat reminiscent of DC Comics Presents #85, another story where Swamp Thing has to come to Superman’s aid, only this time Swampy is all up in Superman’s face, as opposed to surreptitiously doing so in that old team-up book. Maybe a little too heavy on the fight scenes, but it does establish Swamp Thing as being able to hold his own against the Man of Steel, which was fun to see.
So between this, Swamp Thing appearing in Batman in a month or two, and Swampy’s appearance in Wonder Woman a couple of years back, the old muck-encrusted mockery of a guest-star has completed his tour of the recent versions of the DC Trinity, post-Flashpoint/Rebirth. Now to get him to pop up for brief team-ups in DC’s other superhero books…like, I don’t think he’s been in The Flash ever. Well, the Flash has been in Justice League Dark with him a couple of times, but clearly we need a Flash/Swamp Thing race in the Flash comic itself.
Hey, in 2021 it’ll be Swamp Thing’s 50th anniversary. We gotta start planning for this stuff now.
So I just finished up that Joker TPB I was talking about the other day, and came across this panel from issue #9, guest-starring Catwoman:
That struck me as odd, and I posed the following question to Twitter, and now I pose it here: was this ever a thing with Catwoman, that she wouldn’t/couldn’t go out in the daylight for some reason? Plus, like I’d said on Twitter, “nocturnal” doesn’t mean “will explode into flames like a vampire if exposed to the sun.” My guess is that this particular characteristic was just thrown in there to move the plot along, so that this fellow could escape without pursuit.
Or maybe that fellow is in fact recounting some kind of urban myth about that inhabitants of Gotham might have developed around the larger-than-life superheroes and supervillians they share the city with. It could be that one of the common beliefs about Catwoman is that she’s a nocturnal being who can’t come out in the daylight, maybe along with equally-unjustified beliefs that she can command cats with her telepathic powers, and that her nine lives allow her to come back from the dead, et cetera et cetera. These are normal people living in a nightmare world filled with beings with strange powers…it’s only natural that they would generate folklore around these creatures. Granted, there’s nothing in the actual text of this particular story to support any of this…though the much-later (and now abandoned) editorial edict of Batman being believed to be an “urban legend” (and only comes out at night) is sort of in line with this general conjecture.
JUST GIVE SPIKE A CHANCE
from Nancy #159 (October 1958)
I’m thankful for a lot of things this year. I’m thankful for my friends and family, for my girlfriend and my parents.
I’m thankful my store has made it past the two-year mark, and I’m thankful for all the customers who helped me reach that milestone.
I’m thankful I finally have a new and reliable vehicle.
I’m thankful for my Patreon supporters…that’s helping quite a bit.
I’m thankful for all my readers, who helped me keep this silly website going for so long.
I’m thankful for all the pals I made as a result of doing this site, which even eventually led me to participating in writing an actual honest-to-gosh book.
I’m thankful my pal Bully, the little bull stuffed with stuffing, has resumed his own site.
I’m thankful for comics, without which probably none of this would have happened. Well, okay, I probably would have had a car, regardless. And parents. And maybe a girlfriend.
I know there are a lot of things going on right now to not be thankful for, but reminding ourselves about the things we are thankful for can help bolster our strength for dealing with whatever troubles are ahead.
Just…everyone, be thankful for each other, and remember that you aren’t alone.
So one of the truisms I often repeat is that the great irony of owning a comic book store is having less time to read comics. I mean, I’m doing my best, and it’s not like I get all that many to begin with, but trying to find the free time to sit down and read them is quite the challenge. Usually, the evening after the new shipment arrives, I’ll try to get through as many as I can from the batch I’ve taken home, but if I don’t get through them all…well, generally, the ones I don’t finish will just roll over to the next week and add to the next pile of new comics, and you can see how this can turn into a problem.
Again, I don’t get all that many, but even falling behind on a couple series can build up the need-to-read stack faster than I’d care to see, especially with DC’s current biweekly schedule on a number of their titles. I am trying to put a little more effort into catching up, and I’m slowly doing so…and it’s not like there’s anything I’m particularly anxious to cut from my reading lists. I do like everything I’m reading at the moment, so there’s nothing that really stands out as being in need of a culling. And having this iPad and a Comixology account ain’t helping.
You may be wondering what all this has to do with the picture of The Joker: The Clown Prince of Crime trade paperback in the corner of this post, there. That, my friends, is a scan of a trade paperback I actually acquired in late 2013, when I was still at my previous place of employment, and I never made the time to actually sit down and read. Yes, even when I was but a mere manager of a comic shop, and not the All-Mighty Lord and Master of My Own Funnybook Store, I was having difficulty keeping up on everything I wanted to read. Usually, the periodicals would come first, then I’d make my way into the collections like these…which of course meant the trade paperbacks and graphic novels would sometimes sit around a bit before I’d finally get around to them.
And in this case…okay, it only took me three years. What reminded me of this book was the fact that I was going through The Formerly-Vast Mikester Comics Archive at home, found I had this comic in one of my boxes, remembered “oh yeah, I bought a trade that reprints all these,” and brought the comic to work to put out for sale. Simultaneously I also remembered “hey, I never got around to reading that trade paperback. I should do so.”
As it turned out, I’ve been a little under the weather lately…feeling better today, but in case you were wondering why I didn’t update this site with a Monday post this week, that’s why. But as such I’ve been resting at home in the evenings, and doing a little comic book readin’, and this Joker TPB was amongst the materials I’ve been perusing. Now, it’s a fun series, and one I’d been intermittently acquiring in singles (which I’ll tell you more about in a moment), but never finished, so this book fit my collecting bill, or, you know, something like that. It’s a breezy read, with entertainingly funny stories by Denny O’Neil, Marty Pasko, and Elliot S! Maggin with art by Irv Novick and Jose Luis Garcia-Lopez. It even makes an attempt at some slight continuity, with a consistent supporting cast, or at least recurring characters (such as the henchman named “Southpaw”). Every story pretty much ends with the Joker’s defeat, naturally, since he is a villain, despite being the star of this show.
One weird aspect of reading this series comes from both the change in preferred storytelling techniques from then ’til now, and the change in the actual portrayal of the Joker. Back in the ’70s, when this series first appeared, thought balloons revealing a character’s internal monologue were still a thing (and would continue to be a thing until mostly falling out of favor in recent years). As such, in this comic we were occasionally privy to the Joker’s “private” thoughts…not that anything deep or meaningful was revealed, no hidden motives or secret pasts referenced, but we were still given a peek into just what was going on in that head of his. This had bit of a “normalizing” effect on him, from my perspective, especially when contrasted with his appearances in more modern comics as an unknowable, terrifying monster with no thought balloons. Or at least fewer…don’t have every recent Joker appearance right in front of me, but my memory is that, given the de-emphasis on thought balloons in comic book storytelling, we weren’t given the same insight, as it were, into Joker’s thoughts as we did back in this series and other comics at the time.
Of course, adding to this contrast is that the older version of the Joker is more…well, “friendly” is almost certainly the wrong word, but was definitely more a cartoony, funny character who shocked you by also being a murderous clown, versus the modern Joker who from the get-go absolutely looks like he’s going to kill you and everyone you know. Not saying one version is better than the other, but it’s interesting to note the change.
Another neat bit I took from the trade paperback: the very idea of a “crooked entomologist,” as per this panel:
Selling black market beetles? Smuggling drugs via luna moths? Waiting for his moment to make his strike against the world? “RISE, MY POTATO BUG ARMY, RISE!” I love the idea of an entomologist just pretending to be a fine, upstanding insect scientist by day, while committing the most heinous of crimes at night. BUG CRIMES.
Anyway, I’m glad I’ve finally got to read this book, after it had been sitting on shelf at home, unloved, all this time.
Now, the first time I read an issue of this series, it was from buying a copy of #1 at one of the monthly comic book conventions in Los Angeles, sometime in the late 1980s. This was prior to the release of the first Tim Burton Batman movie, so sales and prices on Bat-stuff hadn’t yet gone completely crazy, which is why I was able to find a copy of The Joker #1 in someone’s dime box. No, not a dollar box, or even a quarter box, but a dime box. For a measly 10 cents, I got my hands on that first issue. As I recall, it was the only comic I bought from that particular dealer…making him give me change back from my dollar for this one lowly issue. No idea what other treasures I passed up there…probably stacks of Incredible Hulk #181 and Uncanny X-Men #137, but I had that Joker #1 and that was all I needed.
And then the Tim Burton Batman movie came out and everyone lost their minds and I ended up eventually selling it for, like, $30, so there you go.
Not long after the Burton film and the attendant Bat-price increases, when I was still just a fresh-faced young kid working at the comic book store, one of our regulars fished a copy of The Joker #1 out of our 50-cent boxes. Needless to say, this wasn’t a 50-cent comic any more at that point, but we played fair and sold it to him at that price, with both of us knowing what a deal he got. Naturally, after he left, we zipped through the bargain boxes to make sure no other “great deals” were to be found. And nope, just a bunch of DC’s 100-Page Giants from the 1970s…those were mostly all reprints, and nobody was ever going to pay big money for any of those, ever.
So I’ve had Star Wars on my mind a lot lately, mostly due to getting in this collection I told you about a couple of days ago (and also probably because I’ve been plowing through episodes of Star Wars Rebels via Netflix discs over the last two weeks). A while back I talked about getting the Early Bird Kit for that first post-Star Wars Christmas in 1977. During that what seemed like an insanely long gap of time between Star Wars and whatever Star Wars II was going to be called was where I did the bulk of my Star Warsian toy acquisition. After receiving the Early Bird Kit figures in the mail, I ended up getting most, if not all, of the regular figures available at the time, as well as some vehicles (the Landspeeder and the Tie Fighter) and a playset (the awesome Pie Wedge of the Death Star set). And yes, I collected Proofs-of-Purchase and sent away for (and received) the mail order Boba Fett.
And that was that, more or less. When Empire Strikes Back came out, the only figures I ended up getting for that film (aside from Boba, which technically was a Holiday Special character, don’t @ me) was Yoda (of course, that was an awesome figure) and, inexplicably, a Snowtrooper (which may be part of the reason I was so excited to see someone dressed as a Snowtrooper at that one Wizard World I attended). After that, though I’d been tempted by many different Star Wars figures that came down the pike, I’d only purchased two: this Queen Amidala figure from The Phantom Menace (hey, I liked the look of the character) and R2-Q5 (can’t say why, other than it looked cool). I keep thinking about pulling the trigger on a BB-8 of some kind, but I’ve resisted so far.
In discussions both online and actually face-to-face, I found myself discussing that period just after Return of the Jedi was released, where it seemed like Star Wars was pretty much done for good and the toys ended up in clearance bins. I remember seeing piles of these figures just gathering dust in the bargain barrels with series of price stickers with progressively-lower prices affixed to the packaging, and thinking “boy, if I was still into getting Star Wars toys, I’d be in hog heaven.” Of course, 1983 to 1986 or ’87 me was completely ignoring the time-traveling psychic communications from 21st century me extolling him to “BUY THEM, BUY THEM ALL AND SAVE THEM TO RESELL LATER ON EBAY — I’LL EXPLAIN WHAT ‘EBAY’ IS LATER, JUST DO IT!” Ah, well.
Not sure why I’m laying all this on you, other than to get these weird Star Wars collecting feelings of nostalgia out of my system, or at least share them while they persist during my ongoing processing of that collection. That figure pictured above was one of the few actual vintage figures in this collection, dating from 1983. Most of the rest of the figures date from the late ’90s revival and later. Amazing how primitive-looking but still strangely appealing that little R2-D2 toy is…the little chrome head, that paper sticker glued to its torso, which was probably much easier than actually modeling all the nooks and crannies on R2’s body. The 1983 R2 looks pretty much the same as the one I got in 1978…no need to mess with success, I guess, or to improve the sculpt so much that it no longer matches the look and feel of the rest of the line. This version does have an extendable “sensorscope,” which I’m sure if it had been available when I was 8 years old, I would have nagged my parents into buying it for me. “But Mom, this R2-D2 has the sensorscope! We have to get it!”
Instead, 47-year-old me put it on eBay and sold it for $115.97, plus shipping. I’m not sure what 8-year-old me would have thought about that.
Now I haven’t been keeping up with interviews or news stories about what may or may not be happening with the “Mignolaverse” in which Hellboy, Abe Sapien, the B.P.R.D. and whathaveyou from this point forward, now that the “present day” stories in that milieu seem to have come to their conclusion in this week’s B.P.R.D. #147, with Hellboy and Abe’s own current storylines having come to a stop within the last few months. Of course, we’ll continue having the flashback Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. series, and surely more Witchfinder and Lobster Johnson stories, and then there’s this series about the aliens that appeared very early on in the Hellboy comics.
Anyway, I’m hoping there will be more stories at some point continuing the story after the B.P.R.D., but for now I’m glad things have reached some kind of conclusion. The current short-run Hellboy projects are probably a lot more accessible for casual readers, as even for someone who’s been reading comics in this particular universe since the get-go, I got a little lost sometime with who was doing what and did or did not like whom and even who was a mummy (which, I mentioned before, I couldn’t believe I had forgotten). I suspect, however, once the palate has been cleared a bit, we’ll get some kind of new B.P.R.D. relaunch picking up where the old series left off. Unless someone’s mentioned that, yes, this is exactly what they’re doing, in which case I’ll really suspect that’s their plans.
I’m also hoping for some kind of all-Mignola Return of Hellboy comic book series in the future. Hey, there’s a tiny possibility it could happen, and there ain’t no law against wishin’.
I’m trying to like Infamous Iron Man, which is essentially a solo Doctor Doom comic where he seems to be trying to turn over a new leaf as a superhero. I admit, it’s the bashful blue-eyed Thing’s appearances in the comic that got me to pick it up, though watching Ben act like an ass in the Latverian embassy was equal parts amusing and feeling maybe just a little out of character, maybe? I mean, just straight up destroying historically and artistically significant items was a wee bit jerkier than I’m accustomed to from him. But, you know, I can manage. And I know this certain style of talky dialogue throughout the book is Bendis’s trademark, but for someone like me who hasn’t read much of his work, it takes some getting used to. I’m all for reading a Doctor Doom series, however, so I’ll stick around and see where it goes.
When I opened my store, I gave up a lot of my personal collection for in-store stock, including all my Thanos-related comics. All those Infinity Gauntlets and Silver Surfers and so on, and had I realized a lot of these same books were going to turn up over and over again in collections people would try to sell to me at the shop, maybe I would have held onto them. What’s done is done, however, and by giving up those comics, that sort of dissuaded me from reading new installments of the character’s saga in, for example, those recent Jim Starlin graphic novels. I figured, eh, I’d read enough over the decades, I’m done with that big purple guy.
And then this new first issue shows up, and it’s written by Jeff Lemire, and I like the cover, so I end up reading a new Thanos comic again. It’s all set-up, reestablishing Thanos as a Bad Dude and prepping a couple of other folks for a confrontation with him, and it feels kinda Starlin-y, sorta maybe, if perhaps a little less weird, a little more somber. I mean, not that Starlin’s Thanos couldn’t be dark, given that he wanted to kill most everybody and rule what was left, but it was all so out-there and strange and wacky that it seemed breezy and fun. This new Thanos #1 is not breezy, but still an enjoyable reintroduction to the character, and relatively continuity-lite for anyone new to the character after seeing his brief appearances in the Marvel films.
Despite appearances, definitely not for kids! Archie’s Dan Parent continues with this weird parody of comics and the comics market, which starts of with an ersatz “classic” 1960s Kitty story in which she teams up with the Casper the Friendly Ghost like-a-look Dippy, which feeds into the back half of the book where Dippy has returned to kill Kitty! It’s a full-on Harvey Comics parody drawn by an Archie artist, which is amusing just in and of itself, and I think you all know how much I like Harvey Comics. In a weird way, this comic reminded me of that long ago first issue of Miracleman from Eclipse Comics, which started off with a vintage Marvel/Miracleman story (redialogued by Alan Moore), then followed it with the new, updated, gritty, “realistic” version of the character. Kind of the same thing here, only slightly more for laughs, and a little more explicitly self-referential in its commentary on comics publishing. Fits right in as a thematic cousin to all those reflective superhero reboots, like Moore’s Surpreme.