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So I finished watching Suicide Squad the other night while I was also wrapping Christmas presents, and thus I wasn’t completely wasting my time. I posted some brief reactions to the film on Twitter, and pal Andrew said in response to my negative review:
…And that’s fair enough. I admittedly am not the most critical of film-goers (“Frank Miller’s The Spirit!” everyone shouts at me in unison), and I usually can eke out some value from nearly any movie, even if as a whole I realize it’s kinda lousy. And I realize this may be the kind of out-there crazy talk that none of you will be willing to buy, but sometimes a bad movie can be fun, and you can immerse yourself in it and sympathize with the characters and be invested in the plot even as all the while the more rational part of your brain whispers to you “this ain’t good.”
Suicide Squad ain’t that kind of movie. It’s mostly just bad, with a jumble of characters and scenes and a whole lot of shouting and running around and you don’t really care about any of it. Like Avengers: Age of Ultron, the film depends on the concept of “here are a bunch of comic book characters on the screen together” to do the heavy lifting, without realizing that what was once novelty is now old hat, and you need a little more sauce than that to keep interest up.
Among the annoyances: characters develop some form of camaraderie not really through anything you see in the movie, but mostly because at one point it’s necessary to move the action along. The animated on-screen “bios” for the Squad members is supposed to come across as irreverent and wacky, but simply feel forced and pandering. And the Joker…now, everything I’ve heard prior to seeing the movie seemed to imply that there was a lot less Joker in the film than anyone expected. Frankly, I felt like there was too much Joker in the film…a little of him went a long way, and this much of him went too long.
Not to say there weren’t bits that I could have enjoyed. I thought Will Smith as Deadshot and Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn fit the roles well, and did what they could with what they were given. Jokes fell flat, emotional development fell flat, dialogue just kinda hung out there to dry…the one bit I’ll give ’em is the idea that Deadshot’s daughter is totally aware of what her dad does for a living, and just deals with it. I also liked the creepy visuals of the Enchantress, and at first thought she’d be my favorite character in the movie until the rest of the film dissuaded me from that particular notion by turning her into another Big Glowy Bad Guy for the “heroes” to defeat.
I also liked seeing Ben Affleck’s Batman again, and I even enjoyed the 3 seconds or so of the Flash that we got.
But overall…Suicide Squad didn’t do it for me. I understand there’s an Extended Cut (the Netflix rental I saw is, I think, just the theatrical version), but I don’t know if the extra material provides some of the necessary connective material to flesh out the film, or it’s just more stuff to pile onto the mess that’s already there. There are a lot of pieces present that could be beaten into a good, or at least watchable, film…we’ll see what happens when the sequel shows up.
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So my pal
has undergone her name change…she’s Tegan O’Neil now, and if you need a reminder, please start with this post
to understand where she’s coming from and where she’s going. She could also use a bit of assistance as she completes her transition during the new year…of course she has a Patreon
to support her writing, but for a little more immediate help please consider donating to her GoFundMe account
. Not that it was a piece of cake before, but this kind of life change will likely be more of a challenge in the years ahead, so if you can support her, or anyone else in your lives going through something similar, I am positive they’ll be grateful for it.
So my pal Bully, the little bull stuffed with lovin’, is a bit down in the dumps at the moment, and he can use a little support. I posted that above image, made long ago and posted on this site before, to my Twitter account (with a link to Bully’s account), and have been asking people to retweet it. Hopefully, when Bully peeks in on his own Twitter feed, he’ll see all the support he’s been getting there. If you’ve got a Twitter account and can retweet that tweet, please do. You can “like” it, too, but definitely retweet so it gets around. Thanks!
• • •
In other news…this is a hell of thing:
Life goes on, and this weekend life brought me a whole lotta boxes of old Star Wars and (to a much lesser extent) Star Trek goodies…boxes shown here:
Mostly unopened action figures, with some other related items, like that Vanity Fair with the — Star Wars cover, I think? — peeking out the translucent plastic , there. And there are some TV Guides, with multiple covers for one issue featuring lenticular images of the Star Wars cast…can’t remember ever seeing those particular Guides before. Anyway, I’ll have plenty to look at and almost certainly post here once I figure out a strategy of how I’m going to deal with all these items. I mean, aside from keeping all the droid toys for myself. Oh, man, if there’s an intact Droid Factory playset in here, I’m closing for the day and just building droids ’til the wee hours.
Of course, the real trick here is determining prices, since it’s been a long time since I’ve had to deal with Star Wars/Trek figures, with not much of an idea of the secondary market on some of these things. I have vague memories of there being some collector demand for certain figures with particular part/run numbers and so on, but I can see that driving me crazy in short order. But that’s just a matter of research…and frankly, both I and the person I’m selling these for are more interested in moving the majority of them out for bargain prices rather than trying to sell that one special Ugnaught w/Variant Purple Speckled Overalls for an extra dollar or two on eBay. But the plan is that some will go on eBay, most will go in the store for relatively inexpensive prices, what with the Christmas holiday coming up…though I’m not sure how many kids are going to want to find a Phantom Menace Ric Olié action figure under the tree, regardless if it’s the “closed-hand variant” or not.
And then there’s the problem of me wanting any of these for myself. For the most part I’ve been pretty good about not buying toys for myself (aside for those toys of a Swamp Thing-ish persuasion, of course) but the little droid figures are just so appealing to me. If I’d had my wits about me as a young Mikester, I could have restricted myself to just buying the droid figures from the Star Wars line all this time and amassed a tiny robot army. Alas, I can only collect so much, what with the comic books, buttons, and glow-in-the-dark novelty socks I’m already gathering. Despite all that, I bet I’ll probably keep something out of these boxes. I’m weak, I can’t help myself.
One thing I probably won’t be keeping is that sealed package of promotional Star Trek: Voyager popcorn, pictured above. From what I understand, while unpopped kernels can last indefinitely if stored in an airtight container and kept cool and dry, kernels in a microwave package can go bad relatively quickly. Don’t eat these at home, kids! I’m wondering if I can get away with selling this on the eBay as long as I put a bit warning in the listing: DO NOT POP OR CONSUME – BAG IT UP, PUT IT WITH YOUR OTHER STAR TREK STUFF. …Actually, between typing that last sentence and typing this one, I did check the eBays and found a couple packs of these for sale there, between $10 and $27. Guess I’ll be throwing my hat into the highly competitive Promotional Popcorn Packaging arena.
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Blogging pal Tim continues his series of essays with this latest installment, “Someday We Will All Be Free
.” Maybe contribute to his Patreon
. (ooh and maybe mine, too
So longtime internet pal PTOR reminded me that he did a pretty thorough job a few years back covering that Dr. Strange calendar I featured in Wednesday’s post. He’s an huge Dr. Strange fan — you know, one of those guys! — and I of course recommend that you check out his post about that great old calendar.
And what better day than today, opening day (more or less) for the new Doctor Strange movie, starring that one person and co-starring that other lady! Anyway, word is that it’s pretty good, if very Marvel-formulaic…I saw someone on Twitter (I forget who) say something along the lines of “don’t worry about any spoilers…at this point, what about these films will surprise you?” But if you enjoy Marvel movies, and I generally do, here’s another one to watch.
And with that stirring endorsement, let’s move on to some other topics:
- Tomorrow, November 5th, will be the second anniversary of the opening of Sterling Silver Comics, my little comic shop that could, located in the heart of Camarillo, CA. I’m still here! I’m still selling comics! They haven’t run me out of town yet! Thanks to all you folks out there for your support, financial, emotional, and otherwise. I’m still growing the business, but things have been going fairly well so far. Not filthy rich yet, but I’m sure that’ll happen at some point in the next four to six months.
- You may remember my discussion of a recently acquired iPad and my particular strategy vis-à-vis personal back issue collecting. Well, when I went to purchase the recent Boo! anthology (which I’m linking to again because in the first version of this post I stupidly left out the link), I also decided to grab the first issue of Kamandi, which has been a ridiculously giant hole in my Jack Kirby reading for far too long. They had the first couple of dozen issues up there for 99 cents a throw, and with the upcoming Kamandi Challenge being a must-buy (since I adored the previous DC Challenge), I figured it wouldn’t hurt to grab an issue every other week or so. It’s not like I wasn’t familiar with the concept, but “knowing about a Jack Kirby comic” and “having a Jack Kirby comic straight-up just punch you in the face” are two different things. It’s a fun read, as I’m sure most of you know already, and the suicidal despair felt by Kamandi, as he’d rather die and take everyone with him instead of living as a pet in a world of intelligent animals, was a much darker turn than I was expecting. That Kirby fella, he knows how to get your attention. Looks like I’ll be picking more up in the future…and trying very hard not just to buy them all at once.
- And no, they don’t have the ’60s Metal Men up there yet. That I probably would buy all at once.
- Another thing I downloaded just last evening was the new DC Legends game. Ah, what the heck, it was free, and I guess Swamp Thing is in it, so hell, why not. I mostly avoid mobile games because I have this terrible fear that I’ll inadvertently make in-app purchases and suddenly I’m in for $500 of, I don’t know, Swamp Thing tuber upgrades and extra power rings. That actually doesn’t appear to be an issue here, though after playing through the introductory screens I’m still not 100% certain what’s going on and what everything means, since I’m old. But some of the animations are pretty neat, and the “cut-scene” dialogue is amusing (“You only show up when we’re all screwed!” Zatanna says to the Phantom Stranger at one point), and it’s fun to touch the screen and watch things explode, in case you’re wondering where my brain is at right about now.
I intended to have more of this week’s comics read for an end-of-week reviews post, but I’ve only managed to read a couple from this week’s rather sizable haul. Part of the reason is that I’ve been distracted by this massive tome that details Atari’s artistic history, from the covers of the Atari 2600 game cartridge boxes, to ad campaigns, to designs of their arcade cabinets. Not just pretty pictures, but also includes a history of the company and commentary from the artists. For a guy like me, who still thinks of the original Nintendo system as “that newfangled video gaming machine,” and still has his original, working Atari hooked up to the big ol’ widescreen, this hits pretty much all my nostalgia triggers.
Just so there is at least a tangential relation to comics, the various Superman games are briefly covered. For you longtime ProgRuin readers, you may remember the 2600 Superman was used for the image on my 404 “file not found” page:
I did manage to read a few comics…Flash #9 pushes ahead the whole “Watchmen? In the DC Universe? WHA–!?” metaplot by an inch or two; Swamp Thing is still in The Hellblazer as of issue #3, which also brings back another character from the title’s Vertigo days; and then there’s this comic:
…which still remains fresh and entertaining with each issue. This is a solid done-in-one story in case you wanted to sample the book, in which the Surfer and his pal Dawn get stuck on a gambling planet and have to bet their way to freedom. It’s a lot of fun, and is topped off by a great cover gag:
One other comic I read was the digital-only release of the new BOO! Halloween Stories anthology:
…available right here from Comixology. A bunch of my pals are involved, including Ken Lowery, Matt Digges, Andrew Weiss, Dave Lartigue, Joe Hunter, Dan Butler (who drew my Twitter icon!), Andrew Ihla, Dylan Todd, Josh Krach, Matthew Allen Smith, Pete Toms, and some other folks I haven’t really interacted with but are swell creators anyway. C’mon, it’s only $2…it’s really good, I promise.
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Speaking of money, here are a couple of worthy and/or interesting causes you may consider contributing to:
First, Matt Brady, proprietor of the “Warren-Peace Sings the Blues” comics blog that I’ve linked to a few times, is currently seeking some assistance paying legal fees for a difficult divorce proceeding that’s already drained many of his resources. If you can spare a little, please help him out.
Second, not that this particular endeavor needs my help given the coverage it’s received, but there’s a Kickstarter for a game based on the infamous and voluminous works of Chuck Tingle. If you know who that is, well, you can guess the link is perhaps just slightly Not Safe for Work, if your job can’t handle the idea of butts and what may or may not be done to them. The primary reason I’m linking to it is that one of the game’s writers is pal Karla Pacheco, she of Inspector Pancakes fame, and frankly I can think of no better match for a project of this majesty. The other reason I’m linking is that the write-up on that Kickstarter page is hilarious. Even the dollar amount the Kickstarter is seeking is hilarious. Chuck Tingle, this world hardly deserves you.
• • •
One final note, given what’s happened
in the comics industry this week: certain dudes out there, stop being jerks to women. C’mon, nobody needs this.
So, about Jack Chick. On one hand, he seemed to be an always-present part of the weirdo comics landscape …his little religious funnybook pamphlets were just some strange thing we’d come across once in a while, in a variety of circumstances. I’d get them with Halloween candy as a kid. I’d see ’em at the local church neighbors attended. A neighbor of another friend “witnessing” to me (at me?) would press one into my hands. Some years back, my old high school friend and former coworker Rob would actively collect them, and a couple of his spares he’d pass along to me.
Nobody I knew took them very seriously. Well, maybe that one friend’s neighbor. But they were all amusing in some dark fashion…little morality tales of horror and death, all footnoted with Bible verses, where “bad” people were punished for doing shitty things to their fellow humans, and for not accepting the tenets of Chick’s particular interpretation of Christianity. That one booklet about the dangers of role-playing games like Dungeons & Dragons is a highlight, much parodied and mocked over the years.
Some of the images still stick with me…the “lake of fire” that I’m pretty sure was used and reused in many of Chick’s comics. The construction worker trapped in hell, wondering if he’d get to see his friends again, and being told he’d be alone forever. The dead fella being forced to watch all the sins he committed in life, aghast that he’d have to watch himself tell the filthiest joke. “No, not that joke, not here!” Usually the comics were crudely arranged and drawn, but there was that occasional moment of frisson achieved, sometimes more by accident than by design, but still there.
On the other hand, beyond the amusement value, mixed in with the sporadic positive religious message, were messages that were anti-gay, anti-science, anti-Catholic, anti-anything Jack Chick personally didn’t care for. That undermines the pop-culture jocularity a bit. True, these were in the usual ham-fisted style and thus hard to treat seriously at face value (though I know some folks did), but it still revealed the ugly undercurrent of ignorance. Even saying that would make me one of those sinners in these comics, shouting and sweating and exclaiming my bad points of view, while the even-tempered hero calmly explains why I’m wrong and surely going to hell.
Still, I felt that I should note Jack Chick’s passing. Something…unique, shall we say, has gone from the comics world, what could be described as an odd sort of “outsider” art aside from the fact that Chick’s tracts are probably some of the most widely-read pieces of the comics artform ever.
• • •
In other news: pal Tim, who wrote this lengthy essay
that you should read if you haven’t already, has published his follow-up
which I think you should read as well. Tim’s gettin’ back into the old blogging game somethin’ fierce, and if you’d like to help him out, he’s got one of those Patreons
that you can throw some simoleons at if you’ve got a couple to spare.
I’ll be contributing myself in the next couple of weeks, as soon as I get through a month with the quarterly sales tax payment, car stuff, plus other big expenses, and by total coincidence here’s a link to my own Patreon.
So you guys all remember pal Ian? The fella who was one of the founding members of ACAPCWOVCCAOE, which is short for, as long-time readers will remember, Associated Comics and Pop Culture Webloggers of Ventura County, CA and Outlying Environs? The kind and gentle editor of the Bill and Ted’s Excellent Comic Book Archives who was good enough to place a credit for me in the collection due to my small bit of production assistance?
Well, pal Ian can use a little help…he’s been out of work for a bit, and while he tries to get more employment in the comics biz, he could stand a bit of assistance to keep himself going in the meantime. If you have a few spare dollars, he’d be most appreciative, so please visit his GoFundMe page and help out if you can. Or just straight-up hire the dude…he’s a good and talented guy! I’ll vouch for him!
• • •
I’m genuinely surprised that Marvel is ending the Darth Vader series, but in retrospect that’s probably a good thing. Too much Vader can spoil whatever mystique is left (I mean, yes, we got a lot of Anakin in various Star Wars-ian media, but Vader is another thing entirely), and we basically know how it all ends for him, so having a short-run adventure with a beginning, middle, and end in the midst of already-established Star Wars “history” is for the best. And it’s also probably just as well that the series bows out now while sales are still strongish, though they were beginning to sag a little…switching up the titles on a regular basis for ones starring different characters keeps things fresh. Yeah, that’s like the exact opposite of what I usually want from Marvel, another parade of new #1s, but Star Wars sales generally remain strong and enthusiasm for new titles is still present in the marketplace, unlike the groans I hear at the same titles being relaunched over and over again, sometimes only months apart.
Now elements of the Darth Vader comic will continue in this new series, and by the way that entire link is a SPOILER in case you haven’t read that last issue. I wonder if the main Star Wars title has a planned conclusion in its future? I suspect not, but I am surprised at the lack of a current comic based on the Rebels cartoon, since the Kanan series wrapped up some time ago. I think an Ahsoka series would probably be like printing money.
We’re beginning to see a little more of a direction in the Doom Patrol series with the second issue, after a very strange, but still quite interesting, debut issue. Glad to see the return of concepts from the Grant Morrison era, which is a couple of decades old now (but usually readily available in trade paperback form at a comic shop near you!) but I still have fond memories of those crazy stories and it looks like this new series should build quite nicely on them without necessarily repeating what we’ve seen.
Every time one of the new Superman comics comes out, like this week’s Action #965, I say the same thing: “this shouldn’t be working.” But it does, somehow, even with the convoluted set-up of the pre-Flashpoint Superman returning to the New 52/Rebirth universe after the reboot Superman died, and then there’s the other non-Superman Clark Kent running around, and two Lois Lanes (or are there) and the Son of Superman, and so on and so forth. It makes for compelling reading, as the reader wants to know what the resolution is going to be, and I sure as heck hope it’s not tied to the larger metaplot of the Watchmen’s involvement in Rebirth. But eventually there’s going to be some sort of “smoothing out” of continuity which results in One Universe, One Superman, One Lois Lane, and I’m about 90% certain No Son of Lois and Clark, and it’ll probably be Dr. Manhattan waving his hands and saying “well, I thought that would work, let me put the pieces back together.” We’ll see.
Anyway, this issue of Action had a couple of great Lois Lane-focused covers, appropriate for the Lois-heavy content within. It was hard to pick which one I wanted for myself, but ultimately went with the one pictured above.
I buy every issue of Haunted Horror (and its sister mag Weird Love)…it reminds me of that late, great series Tales Too Terrible to Tell, without the great historical text pieces discussing the stories and publishers, alas, but it is in color and it’s always great to see what was going on in vintage horror titles that weren’t from EC Comics. The stories can be of…shall we say, varying competency, but they always make for some entertainingly ghoulish reading. Hey kids, comics!
If you told me years ago that in 2015/2016 I’d be reading and enjoying a Howard the Duck comic that wasn’t written by Howard’s creator Steve Gerber, I’d probably be secretly plotting a way to get my hands on your time machine. Also, I would have been surprised by this revelation. It’s not Gerber’s Howard, but it was definitely Zdarsky’s Howard and it’ll be missed. Yeah, this is the last issue. That’s too bad. …Still can’t believe I’m saying that about a non-Gerber Howard. YES, I’M CLINGING DESPERATELY TO THE PAST, WHAT OF IT
Just a couple of plugs for pals today:
So there’s a little extra information brought to my attention by pal Christopher in regards to that lost DC Comics Presents Swamp Thing/Superman team-up that I mentioned last time. Christopher informs me that an interview with early ’80s Swamp Thing scribe Marty Pasko in Back Issue #87, Mr. Pasko relates that he had a script for said team-up ready to go, but the script was assigned to artist Alex Toth, who never got around to completing the job and turning it in. Though no details about that story were related in the article, Christopher guesses that this may have been the story promised in Saga of the Swamp Thing #16, and I’m inclined to agree with him. Ah, well…that’s too bad, as I’d like to have seen an Alex Toth-drawn Swamp Thing…I know his Superman wasn’t too shabby.
In other news:
Pal Rich has published his book Watching Time: The Unauthorized Watchmen Chronology, which is pretty much what it sounds like: a gathering of all the events from all across the Watchmen universe, from the original comics to the prequels to the movie and even the video games, and placed into a chronological order. Each entry is tagged with its source, so you can determine the level of its relevance yourself. Rich even points out where there are contradictions between sources on particular topics (such as multiple conflicting details about the character of Rolf Müller, who may or may not be Hooded Justice).
There is an enormous amount of information presented here, and for someone like me, who likes seeing how the various interpretations of the same material/franchise fit together (or don’t), there’s a lot to enjoy. And yes, even the unproduced film scripts are included in the chronology. Rich was very thorough. Also noted is the virtually hot-off-the-presses inclusion of the Watchmen characters in the DC Universe “Rebirth” event. No, Rich doesn’t know any more about what’s going on there than we do. He can save that for Watching Time Part Two!
Now I’m a little biased here, since, as implied by the “pal” above, Rich has been an online chum for some time now, and I am in fact thanked in the acknowledgements in the book (I helped look into a couple things for Rich as he was putting this together), and he was good enough to send me a digital copy of the book to peruse. However, I think I’m going to end up getting a print copy of this to keep with the rest of my Watchmen goodies. And you can, too, if you go to his promo page and follow the various store links there.
In other, other news: I produced another in my “Back Issue of the Week” entries for my store site. I like writing those…it’s very “back to basics” blogging that I don’t do enough of here. Hey, remember when it seemed like bloggers were rediscovering this comic every couple of months? I don’t think I ever got around to writing about it…maybe now’s my chance!
- So you folks remember Batman paying a visit to my shop during Free Comic Book Day? Sure you do. Anyway, here’s the Facebook cosplay page for customer Mark, who may or may not have had something to do with that particular occurrence.
- Pal Andrew looks back at a few Nobody’s Favorites from the 1980s Superman reboot. One of these days I need to do a post about this particular event, how it was both sort of necessary and sort of a symptom of the End Times…someone remind me. …Though come to think of it, it would probably be 1,500 words basically getting to the same point Andrew arrives at in a single short and elegant paragraph. Well, we’ll see.
- Surely you’ve been following along with A Month of Board Games, as presented by Bully the Little Pop-O-Matic Bull?
- Pal Shane, one of the Old Timey Comics Bloggers who was there with us back in the days when people read comic blogs, has returned and is now posting at Near-Mint Hero. Hi Shane!
Now here’s a thing I’d totally forgotten about: the 8-page Marvel Spotlight giveaways from the mid-1990s. I mean, I completely forgot this was even a thing. I remember the various iterations of the regular DC promo flyers, the Eclipse Comics one…but no memory at all of this one from Marvel. It’s got the usual features: the individual issue spotlights, the brief interviews with creators, the full checklist of every comic due out that month. I know we must have had carried these at the shop, and I’m sure I shoved them into the shopping bags of customers, but…nope, these have completely departed what’s left of my mind.
Anyway, this turned up in a box of comics that looked like it had been pretty much untouched since the 1990s…all the usual X-Men and Avengers comics that you see in every collection, plus a small stack of Wizards probably used to price said comics — RECREATION OF THEORETICAL PRICING EVENT PICTURED BELOW:
• • •
…And as usual with collections like these, there are a small handful of comics that are actually of use, and then there’s the pile that goes straight to the bargain boxes. Ah, well. But it was neat seeing that old Marvel Spotlight…makes me wish for the days of regular individual company “coming attractions” freebies again, though those have been mostly supplanted by the Comic Shop News weekly paper and by Diamond Previews and oh, maybe the internet too, I guess. I mean, yeah, there are occasional high end free preview comics from Marvel and DC, but that’s not quite the same as a regular newsletter. The things one can get nostalgic for….
In other news:
- DanielT asked in response to my recent End of Civilization post:
“…I presume Erik Larsen coming to Spawn did absolutely nothing? How does Spawn sell for you compared to Savage Dragon?”
Well, despite my joke from that post, Spawn appears to be slowly crawling up in sales. Yes, it’s true that for the most part, this series sells pretty much at the same level, month after month, with the occasional fluctuation, and right now we seem to be in a slight upward trend. It seems unlikely that it’ll ever come close to its ’90s heights again, but what titles do? That it’s still selling at all is a success worth noting.
Now Savage Dragon…it’s fine, more power to Larsen to keeping it going and staying true to his vision, but it’s bit of a hard sell around here, I’ve noticed. Well, at least on the rack…I have pull customers for it, but it’s not a title that people just sort of casually grab off the shelf anymore. Even at my previous place of employment it wasn’t a comic purchased by walk-ins…it mostly just went into hold boxes. Which is a shame, because it is a solid and weird superhero comic. Hopefully our area is just an oddball one, and that it sells just fine elsewhere.
And you know what? Good on both McFarlane and Larsen for not relaunching/rebooting their respective series with new #1s!
- Hey, after a long hiatus, Dr. Polite Scott has resuscitated his site and once again doing comics medically-related funnybook blogging! Encourage that man to stick around a bit…go, read!
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