And there was that business in New Frontier, yes, I know.

§ January 7th, 2016 § Filed under collecting § 7 Comments

Before we begin, don’t forget to give me your 2016 comic industry predictions so that I can talk about ’em in 2017. NOW BACK TO THE POST, WHICH IS ALREADY IN PROGRESS:

So my old pal Brandon asked me on the Twitter the other day if I’d ever written anything on this here comic book blogging website about DC’s 1960s “War That Time Forgot” series in Star Spangled War Stories.

Now, “The War That Time Forgot,” for those of you who don’t recall, revolved around a lost island where U.S. soldiers would occasionally find themselves stranded, and oh yeah, there were dinosaurs on that island, too, resulting in situations not unlike this one:

ssws133
And honestly “soldiers fighting dinosaurs” is second only to “Native Americans fighting dinosaurs” when it comes to the Best High Concept Comic Book Premise of All Time.

As it turns out, for me personally, as a collector, I had room for only one “________ fighting dinosaurs” comic book in my ongoing quest of unknowingly building stock for the eventual opening of my own comic book store, and Turok Son of Stone was the funnybook what got the nod. That’s not to say I didn’t try…I did have a few of those Star Spangleds in the Vast Mikester Comic Archives over the years, but had long since traded them off for other comics more to my liking. Not that I didn’t like them…they were goofy fun, and well drawn as DC’s war books often were, but I decided I couldn’t collect everything and decided to part with them.

A large portion of these stories have been reprinted in one of DC’s black and white “Showcase Presents” softcovers. My pal Brandon hopes for a second volume, but the Showcase line’s output has slowed down considerably, and despite that, I don’t think there really are enough of the War That etc. tales to fill a second volume, unless DC padded it with other oddball stories from their war books. There ain’t no shortage of those, surely. TWTTF was revived a couple of times in G.I. Combat and Weird War Tales, so maybe those can be plugged in as well. And there were more modern revivals in a couple of DC mini-series from within the last decade or so, but those wouldn’t fit tonally.

That’s all probably moot, anyway, as unless there’s a War That Time Forgot: The Movie And/Or TV Show on the CW Starring Good-Looking 20-somethings Playing Teens Playing Dinosaurs in the works, a Showcase volume 2 or some kind of color omnibus aren’t going to happen. NOTE TO READERS: this is where you jump into the comments and tell me that Amazon has a Volume 2 listed for a 2018 release that I somehow missed in my Googlings.

I do remember, at the previous place of employment, that we received enormous numbers of requests for these throughout the 1990s and maybe into the 2000s, and DC’s war books were hot hot hot. I don’t know if that’s quite the thing any more, as I can’t recall the last time we had folks banging our doors down for them, but I imagine there’s still some brisk business to be done in old dinosaur war comics. I mean, c’mon, “dinosaur war comics” is a phrase that forever pays…surely they’re still circulating among fans new and old.

One weird thing is that in the middle of all those War That Morris Day and The Time Forgot comics was one issue that skipped that regular feature in favor of one of the greatest comic book stories of all time:

stspgor
Possibly the only story better than soldiers or Native Americans fightin’ dinosaurs is that. In case you’re wondering…yes, I had that issue in my Star Spangleds and kept it when I sold off the others. I have the complete Sgt. Gorilla run, and couldn’t bear to break it up.

 
 

images, ahem, “borrowed” from the Grand Comics Database

Following his bliss.

§ January 5th, 2016 § Filed under self-promotion, sir-links-a-lot § No Comments

Just another brief reminder to get your 2016 comic industry predictions in, so that, assuming the asteroid doesn’t finally strike and Trump doesn’t become president, we’ll all still be around to discuss them next year.

And over at Trouble with Comics, we discuss our favorite funnybook first issues. The character featured in my favorite may not be a surprise to most of you, but the specific first issue might.

I also wanted to note the passing of Thomas Bartkowiak. This isn’t someone from the comics industry…rather, this was a member (and de facto leader) of RadioTiki, a podcast from before, I believe, the term “podcast” even really existed. I stumbled across it in iTunes’ “Eclectic” category of streaming radio stations sometime in the early 2000s, and it was just a bunch of pals from the Chicago area, shooting the breeze and discussing pop culture and their own lives and being hilarious at it. It was a biweekly show early on, but in recent years it was on the “whenever we could find time to get together” schedule, but I appreciated whenever they could do it and never missed an episode. Tom was always energetic and funny and a delight to listen to. I didn’t interact directly too much with the show, but I did have a couple of my emails read “on the air,” as it were, and when I mentioned that I managed a comic shop, Tom asked what new Neil Gaiman comics were out. I happily sent him a set of the then-new Gaiman-written Eternals series, which he seemed pleased by. It was the least I could do for the hours of enjoyment RadioTiki had provided me by that point, and would continue to provide me long past that.

My condolences to his friends and family and fans. So long, Tom…thanks for all laughs!

“Thank God we can’t tell the future. We’d never get out of bed” – Tracy Letts

§ January 4th, 2016 § Filed under predictions, reader participation § 51 Comments


And away we go again, for that most anticipated event in what’s left of the comics blogosphere, the Progressive Ruin Foretell-the-Future Hootenanny! Please leave your comic industry predictions for what may happen in the far-flung future of 2016 (“aren’t we already in 2016?” “SHHHHH”) in the comments section for this post while hopefully not completely ignoring these simple rules:

1. Don’t read the other predictions before entering your own.

2. Don’t criticize other people’s predictions.

3. Don’t predict any real person’s death.

4. Limit of three predictions per person, please! (Seriously, just keep it to three…and if you have only one, that’s fine. Really. ONE’S GOOD.)

I’ll start looking at your predictions last year for 2015 in the next week or so, and we’ll see how everyone did. Or at least see how much attention I’ve been paying to industry events as I fumble to properly respond to everything.

Anyway, you guys ‘n’ gals always put in a great effort with your prediction submissions, and I really appreciate it. I look forward to your submissions for this year, so go ahead and dump ’em, or gently place them, in this comments section. As usual, thank you so much for your participation!
 
 
 

image from Adventure Comics #317 (February 1964), reprinted in Legion of Super-Heroes Archives Vol. 2 (1992), by Edmond Hamilton and John Forte

Merry New Year!

§ January 1st, 2016 § Filed under happy new year § 5 Comments

Salutations and my best wishes for a wonderful 1794 to all my Progressive Ruin readers! Let us welcome the new year in the traditional way, with this picture of Commander Pavel Koenig from everyone’s favorite sci-fi franchise, Space Wars:

pavelk

May you have a happy celebration wherever you live, work or shop. Catch you on the flip flop, pals!

I mean, if someone were to buy me an original Action Comics #1, I wouldn’t say no.

§ December 30th, 2015 § Filed under Christmas, collecting § 6 Comments

So for this week’s Question Time over at ye olde Trouble with Comics, we were asked about the greatest comics gift we’d ever received. (You can read Alan’s response, posted separately as a Stan Lee’s Birthday special). As per usual, I delved into the inquiry at length, relating a gift I received when I was but a young Mikester. But it got me thinking about the number of comic book gifts I actually have received over the years.

As I say in my excessive preamble to the response over at TWC, I usually didn’t get comics as gifts because either 1) I bought what I wanted during my trips to the comic shop, or 2) I bought what I wanted during my work hours at the comic shop. I sorta feel funny asking other people to buy me comics, a habit that continues to this day as I was recently admonished for not informing a certain significant other that a book set I’m thinking about buying for myself could have been a good Christmas gift for her to get for me.

That said, there have been a couple of comic book presents I’ve received over the years. The most recent were a handful of Starman trade paperbacks, catching me up on the James Robinson series I’d just started reading, but that was some years ago.

A few years prior to that (which may have been just before my entry into comics retail) was a massive tome that caught my eye after being drawn back into world of Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge comics in the mid-1980s. It was Don Rosa (whose work I’d enjoyed in various fanzines) that got me back into the Disney books, but that got me to rediscover Carl Barks, and boy, when I saw this book on the shelves at the comic book store:

uslifetimes
I had to have it. Several classic Barks stories, fully recolored, in a nearly 400 page volume that stands 13 inches tall. It’s something else. One thing I remember is that my mother, who used write inside any books purchased as gifts “to my son, Christmas ’82” or whatever, told me that she specifically didn’t write anything inside this book if I ever decided to resell it. Well, fat chance of that happening…even having nearly all the stories inside reprinted elsewhere, this is a special enough item that I don’t want to let it go. There’s even an introduction by George Lucas, with whom some of you may be familiar.

And earlier than that, I received this book as a gift for my 12th birthday:

greatsupermanbook
This extensive encyclopedia helped put some of the pieces together on Superman’s early adventures, which I was only getting here and there in assorted reprints. It certainly helped explain who, say, the Ultra-Humanite was, after I read his reappearance in a Justice League/Justice Society crossover event. And they’re not kidding about the “book length biography of Superman” — Superman’s entry, and nearly every other character’s entry, is essentially a chronological summary of purt’near every appearance of that character. I spent many hours perusing this book, and it wasn’t so long ago that DC reprinted this in softcover, so you can check it out yourself if you’d like. This is a precursor, in a way, to the Marvel Universe/DC’s Who’s Who comics, though the Great Superman Book is a little more convenient in giving specific issue numbers for story events beyond just first or last appearances.

One thing I found odd at the time was that the cut-off date for materials referenced in the book was, with few exceptions, the mid to late 1960s despite being published in 1978, but now that I think about the amount of time that had to be spent researching this book (i.e. the “seven years” they mention right on the cover), they had to draw the line at some point. Still, sort of odd to have no entries for “Morgan Edge” or “Darkseid,” but this is still a wonderful reference book for the Golden and Silver Age adventures of Superman.

There were others in this series, covering Batman and Wonder Woman (and also reprinted by DC in the last few years) but I don’t think I ever saw them in the wild when I was a kid. Which is just as well…just one of these volumes kept me busy enough.

And I think that was it for funnybook presents. I mean, I did keep bugging Santa for a Yummy Fur #9, but I ended up having to buy it myself. Which is just as well, since I was beginning to get odd looks at the mall whenever I sat on Santa’s lap to ask for it.

Spoilers for a DC Comics Christmas story from the late 1980s.

§ December 28th, 2015 § Filed under dc comics, publishing, supergirl § 6 Comments

christmaskaraSo Roel asked, regarding my link to last week’s Question over at Trouble with Comics, just why that particular Alan Brennert Christmas story with Supergirl and Deadman was referred to as “infamous.”

To be honest, I didn’t think much about that particular description…I just figured it had something to do with the pre-Crisis Supergirl appearing in the post-Crisis universe and someone somewhere, either a pro or a fan, got bent out of shape over it or something. And, it appears, after being pointed in the direction of this article by my fellow Troublemakers, that there more hoohar swirling about this particular comic than I realized.

The article itself focuses on the (basically confirmed) idea that folks in charge of the Superman comics weren’t terribly enthused about the pre-Crisis, totally-wiped-from-continuity Supergirl all of the sudden being brought back for a Very Special Story that was not under the purview of the Super-editorial offices. And if one were to look to the comments on said article, rumors aplenty are to be had about what may or may not have happened in regards to the release of this particular story…rumors that I’ll thank my kind readers not to reproduce in my comments section here, please. But anyway, there’s the “infamous” bit of business about it, I suppose.

I also saw elsewhere (in a post on a comic news site that has since been deleted, it seems) some commentary inspired by the Trouble with Comics Question column, wondering just why this specific Supergirl/Deadman story is held in such high regard. I personally think it’s a good, strong story (in a comic filled with some top-notch funnybookin’), in which Deadman learns a Very Important Lesson that just because no one knows about the effort and sacrifice one makes to do the right thing, doesn’t mean that doing the right thing isn’t important or unappreciated. For Deadman, who is literally an invisible spirit that the living world can’t know about, it’s an idea he needs to learn to accept, that he isn’t any less a hero just because his heroism is unrecognized.

For the reader, who is presumably aware that this is the Supergirl who was written out of the DC Universe due to the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths, we are reminded that just because the characters don’t “exist” in “current continuity” anymore doesn’t mean those stories suddenly stopped meaning anything to us, now. It’s hard not to read a sort of implied criticism in this story about how stories and characters “count” or “don’t count” in terms of where they fall vis-à-vis universe-wide continuity-changing events. This comic is copyrighted 1988 (with a cover date of 1989), so this was only a year or two past DC’s kinda/sorta linewide reboot in Crisis, which would make Supergirl’s appearance here one of, if not the, earliest return of a pre-Crisis character that specifically references the pre-Crisis universe. Kind of a surprise kick in the pants to folks still getting used to the New DC of the “there’s-no-stopping-us-now” variety.

I don’t know that really explains why this is as highly regarded as it is, beyond it being a well-written comic with great art by Dick Giordano. It could be seen the sort of fan-targeted deeply-referenced insular story that isn’t good for the long-term health of the medium, with a punchline that only makes sense if you were there for Crisis and can understand just who that blond gal is talking to Deadman. But it is a nice Christmas gift to those fans, a quiet metatextual reminder after the bombast of the crossover event, that those characters and stories may be in the past, but they’re not forgotten.

Plus, who doesn’t love a good Deadman story? C’mon, let’s get serious here.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of my readers.

§ December 25th, 2015 § Filed under archie, Christmas § 4 Comments

bettyxmascard
 
 

image from Archie’s Girls Betty and Veronica #109 (January 1965)

Five Golden Links.

§ December 24th, 2015 § Filed under self-promotion, sir-links-a-lot § 2 Comments

 

  • The latest Question of the Week is up at Trouble with Comics, asking “what is your favorite holiday comic?” My immediate response was going to be the Alan Brennert Supergirl story until I saw the caveat “other than the Alan Brennert Supergirl story,” but fortunately I had another answer ready to go.
  • When I read this post from Rick Veitch the other day, it had a longer explanation about just what exactly was the deal with the rights re: his Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles stories. Apparently it went into too much detail as it’s been trimmed down to just what you see there now, but I hadn’t any idea that his TMNT stuff wasn’t being reprinted. It’s a shame, because those were some great comics, and worth seeking out in the back issue bins.
  • Bully, the Little Bull Stuffed with Illicit Substances and Smuggled Across the Border, brings us the greatest issue of Marvel Team-Up that never happened.

  • Pal Andrew dips back into one of my favorite comics magazines, Pizzazz, for a little 1970s Christmas marketing nostalgia.
  • Marvel and Valiant comics artist Don Perlin is experiencing some medical issues, and if you can help out, I’m sure he and his family would be most appreciative.

The spoiler-free post about The Force Awakens.

§ December 22nd, 2015 § Filed under star wars § 8 Comments

(NOTE: no spoilers, but I will be discussing The Force Awakens in general terms that you may not want to read if you want to go into the film completely cold.)

So a few years back, given that Douglas Adams had managed to avoid producing a new installment in the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series by being conveniently deceased, it was decided that the sixth novel would be handed off to another author. That book, as it turned out, while being entertaining enough, sure felt like someone took elements from the previous novels, threw ’em into a blender, and printed the results. It wasn’t bad by any means, but it all sure felt familiar.

Which brings me to Star Wars: The Force Awakens.

Okay, now hold on for just a moment, before you get a bunch of ants in your Corellian Bloodstriped pants and come after me with your torches and lightsaber pitchforks. I really really liked the film. It felt like classic Star Wars, with plenty of action and just enough genuine emotion because one actually cares about the characters.

But that said, I’m certainly not going to be the first person to point out that there are a whole lot of very familiar settings and plot points and character types and so on between The Force Awakens and the Original Trilogy. You can do some one-to-one mapping if you so desired…here’s one of those scenes, here’s that battle, here’s another character like that guy. And so on.

It’s not quite as bad as all that, though. Yes, there are a lot of familiar elements, but it’s what is done with them that’s important, and that we’re given a handful of new characters that we immediately sympathize with certainly helps carry the story. Sure, we’ve seen some of these sorts of scenes before, but we haven’t seen how our new friends deal with them, and that’s enough to grab our interest. Plus, we’ve got our old friends back, too — a bit older, but still pretty much how we remember them — and that sure doesn’t hurt.

I hope I’m not making it sound like it’s nothing but “Star Wars Remix” — there’s plenty of new stuff, too, particularly in character motivations and interactions, and…well, I’m beginning to see the downside of trying to be as spoiler-free as possible. I’d love to shout “CAN YOU BELIEVE _______ DID _______ AND THEN ________” but that’ll have to wait for any eventual spoiler-full review I might do. Suffice to say, even if you do sit through the film ticking off the parallels that exist, it’s its own movie with its own story to tell.

Some of the background aliens are going to make some awesome action figures, too. …Look, I’m only human.

One of the odder responses I had to this film is having to deal with the fact that this is the post-Return of the Jedi continuity now. All that Expanded Universe stuff I’ve been reading for the last 25 years (if you start with Heir to the Empire, or longer if you include the Marvel comics or Splinter of the Mind’s Eye) is now relegated to the Star Wars of Earth-2, never to be seen again until the eventual Crisis of Infinite Star Wars. I mean, not that I was sitting there thinking “but what about Mara Jade?” or anything like that, but there was that small fanboy tickle at the back of my mind reminding me that Things Are Different Now, and as Yoda says:

Another topic that came up in talking with some friends is in regards to The Force Awakens tie-in comics. Unlike A New Hope, which left things up in the air enough to allow for some funnybook adventures to kill time ’til Star Wars II, as we all were calling it, was released, The Force Awakens…well, doesn’t. I expect we’ll see a whole lot of “prequel to the sequel” comics over the next year or two.

But that’s neither here nor there. Today’s topic is the film, and the film is just dandy. It certainly feels very much in line with the Original Trilogy, as well as giving us new characters to enjoy and mysteries that will keep us hanging ’til the next film comes out in a couple of years. Why, y’all have it easy that you only have to wait two years for the next episode, instead of the three like in ye olden times. Of course, the sad part is at my age, those two years will go by like nuthin’.

The good part is that the film made me forget that I am at my age.

Just got in from seeing Star Wars: The Force Awakens

§ December 21st, 2015 § Filed under star wars § 4 Comments

…and I thought it was a lot of fun. All killer, no filler, and contained some actual emotion instead of that pretend emotion from the prequels.

I’ve got more to say, but it’s late as I write this and I didn’t want to let another Monday go by without a post. Check back Tuesday…I plan on having some spoiler-free (or, at the very most, spoiler-lite) discussion about it.

If you’ve got spoiler-heavy comments about the film, go ahead and leave ’em on this post, so anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, consider yourself forewarned. I may do a more spoiler-heavy post in the future if I feel the need to respond in excess to what you have to say (and gee, when do I ever do that?).

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