New post up at the ol’ Patreon.

§ June 6th, 2017 § Filed under self-promotion, Swamp Thing-a-Thon § No Comments

The second installment of the Swamp Thing-a-Thon, featuring my look at the original Swamp Thing #1 from 1972, is now up for Patreon contributors. And as I keep reminding y’all, I will eventually post it here, but not for a few months.

Thanks for reading, pals!

Progressive Ruin presents…the End of Civilization.

§ June 5th, 2017 § Filed under End of Civilization § 12 Comments

Civilization ain’t over just quite yet, gang, but will this month’s Previews offerings (in the June 2017 edition) be enough to push it over the edge? Come along with me and let’s find out…together:

p. 62 – Star Trek The Next Generation Adult Coloring Book – Continuing Missions:


“What color is the ongoing obsession with weird alien sexuality?”

“Um…periwinkle?”
 
 
p. 72 – Dark Nights: Metal #1:


CUT TO: Pied Piper trying to force his way into this event. “The flute is a heavy metal instrument!” he argues loudly.
 
 
p. 106 – DC Superhero Girls Past Times at Super Hero High:


BRAD, NO
 
 
p. 115 – Teen Titans Go #23:


So long as Baby Superman there doesn’t end up in a microwave, we should be okay.
 
 
p. 117 – Superman and the Miserable, Rotten, No Fun, Really Bad Day HC:


Looking forward to future releases Green Lantern and Ham, Crisis of Infinite Berenstains, and To Think I Saw It on Danny the Street.
 
 
p. 121 – The Newsboy Legion and the Boy Commandos Special #1:


Chaykin’s doing this, so I expect the Newsboys will become Newsmen at some point, and we’ll finally find out the real reason they’re called “commandos.”
 
 
p. 132 – Superman Reborn HC:


Finally, the all-new, complete, canon history of Superman ’til the next one comes along in a couple of years!
 
 
p. 272 – Casper The Friendly Ghost #2:


Look, I’m all for new Casper comics, but I don’t know if I’m ready for modern stories with, like, Casper on Facebook or the Ghostly Trio texting each other or anything. I’m still trying to recover from that final Carl Barks story where one of Donald’s nephews refers to a fax machine.
 
 
p. 277 – Dark Cider T-shirt:


I can’t imagine the producers of these shirts aren’t hearing from Disney on a regular basis.
 
 
p. 326 – Grumpy Cat/Garfield #1:


I volunteer to write the Marvin/Dancing Baby comic.
 
 
p. 341 – The Green Hornet ’66 Meets the Spirit #2:


Issue number two of the characters arguing who had the best film adaptation in the 2000s!
 
 
p. 376 – That Time I Got Reincarnated As a Slime Volume 1 GN:


You do a story about a dude reincarnated as a typical monster in a Dungeons & Dragons-type game, and you don’t go with the best one?
 
 
p. 525 – Pumps Miniature High Heels Featuring DC Heroes & Villains (Blind Box Assortment):


Just dropping “THIS IS A FETISH FOR SOMEONE” as the punchline is awfully easy, but if ever a situation called for it…
 
 
p. 525 – The Joker Calling Card Statue:


With just a slight repaint job, this could be the Addams Family/Batman ’66 crossover that never was.
 
 
p. 528 – Mr. Potato Head Alien Xenomorph & p. 549 – Mr. Potato Head Predator:


NO MATTER WHO WINS, WE…well, also win, I guess. C’mon, it’s Mr. Potato Head, he’s awesome.
 
 
p. 554 – Spider-Man Homecoming Vulture Attack Set:


If I go see this Spider-Man: Homecoming movie and there isn’t a building that looks exactly like that anywhere in there, I’m walking out of the theater and demanding my money back.
 
 
p. 555 – Star Wars Collectors Gallery IG-88 Statue:


Did IG-88 ever move this much in the one scene he was in? I feel like he’d topple over if he moved his legs like that.
 
 
p. 577 – Toy Box Sofubi 014 Nessie the Loch Ness Monster Soft Vinyl Figure:


Even more real than the real thing!
 
 
p. 613 – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Short Range Walkie Talkies:


Relive that scene in the Guardians of the Galaxy film where Drax picks up Rocket and shouts directly into his face in an attempt to radio Star-Lord. Genuine pissed-off space trash panda action!
 
 
p. 617 – The Lord of the Rings Middle Earth 5 Coin Set:


Just like the slammers used in that fateful pog tournament between Gollum and Bilbo deep within the caves beneath the Misty Mountains.
 
 
p. 631 – Star Wars 40th Anniversary Edition Monopoly Game:


Do not pass Tosche Station, do not collect your power converters.
 
 
Marvel Previews p. 91 – Star Wars Mace Windu #1:


Getting ever, ever closer to the inevitable Jar Jar Binks mini-series. It’ll happen someday. And when it does, I’ll buy it, and so will you. Search your feelings…you know it to be true.
 
 
p. 114 – Color Your Own Star Wars Darth Vader :


Once again:

“…Bring out the Sith Lord’s rarely seen lighter side with pastels!”

…the actual solicitation text beats me to the joke. Well played, anonymous solicitation text writer…well played indeed.
 
 
Marvel Previews p. 125 – Marvel’s Thor Ragnarok Prelude TPB:


So going by the logic presented here (and in previous Marvel movie comics of late), in that the “Ragnarok Prelude” is in fact a comic book adaptation of the previous Thor film The Dark World, then the currently running Rogue One adaptation should be called A New Hope Prelude.

…Hey, maybe the comic book adaptation of the Howard the Duck movie could be repackaged as the Guardians of the Galaxy Prelude! You can have that one for free, Marvel!

Because I still have the receipt, that’s how I know exactly when.

§ June 2nd, 2017 § Filed under howard the duck, paperbacks § 5 Comments

So from Wednesday’s post, adam asks

“hey mike did you ever read the novelization of the film? i remember it had a nice meta tone to it.”

And the answer is, of coures, I certainly did read the novelization! I even talked about the book (the actual physical object, though, not so much the content) about nine years ago, so I don’t blame anyone for not remembering. But here’s the scan I made of my actual copy of the book, purchased at 4:44 in the afternoon on July 18th, 1986:


I haven’t read it in a long time…I know I’ve read it more than once, but I definitely haven’t read it since maybe sometime in the late 1980s. I know I say this a lot about things I haven’t read or watched or otherwise experienced in a while, but I really should read it again, if only to see if there are maybe some nuances to the novel I missed the first time around or have forgotten about in the meantime. adam notes its “meta tone,” and I’d like to see, or at least be reminded of, what he’s talking about. Add that to the “Future Posts on Progressive Ruin” whiteboard!

Blogging sister Tegan adds

“I’ve been thinking Howard would be perfect for something like a low-risk/low-reward web series.”

That probably wouldn’t be a bad place for him. I thought for a while that a late-night animated series on the televisions might be a good fit, though I suppose if any studio or network is going to have some new thing with the name “Marvel Comics” on it, they’re gonna want it in front of as many eyes as possible. But that desire versus the aforementioned reluctance for putting too many eggs in the Howard basket would probably result in no Howard show at all. So instead, it’s probably cameos and guest-appearances for the near future…but I suddenly just pictured Howard popping up on Marvel’s site as an updated version of Clippy, making acerbic comments about how many times you keep clicking on that one Spider-Woman cover.

However, I would just plotz if Howard started showing up on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. I know there’s a general “never the twain shall meet” policy, that’s mostly held, between the Marvel TV shows and the Marvel movies, but I can’t imagine they’d be too worried about Howard making the leap between the two.

All this speculation is likely for naught, since realistically I expect Howard is going to stick to Guardians of the Galaxy appearances. …Unless we get that letter-writing campaign started right now, gang!

Almost too much Howard the Duck content.

§ May 31st, 2017 § Filed under howard the duck, pal plugging § 4 Comments

Now I generally like the Howard the Duck movie, as I’ve noted before. No, it’s not a terribly accurate reflection of our favorite fowl Trapped in a World He Never Made, but it has its moments, and more importantly, it has Lea Thompson…and so I don’t end that sentence in an overly sexist fashion, it also has Tim Robbins, who’s a lot of fun.

But Howard the Duck has been coming up in conversation at the shop a lot more often lately, thanks to his cameo appearances in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies. I even had one kid (“kid” i.e. approximately late teens/early 20s) point at a Howard the Duck somethin’-or-other in the shop and exclaim “hey, it’s that guy from Guardians of the Galaxy!” so the cultural rehabilitation of Howard amongst today’s youth continues apace. I mean, it has been 31 years since the movie’s release, so I imagine there’s at least a generation or two who either have avoided direct exposure to the film (though it’s been occasionally available via online streaming) or, more likely, weren’t there for the huge bombing of the film and its subsequent equivalence with “disaster.”

I’ve been asked a handful of times if I think Howard may get another film of his own. Despite what I just said, about Mr. Duck experiencing something of a — “popular” resurgence isn’t quite the right term, but you know what I mean — that film still casts a long shadow. As a trusted advisor once informed me, it seems unlikely any studio executive would want to be the fella/lady on record saying “yes” to a new Howard the Duck film. Even though…right now, Marvel Studios has yet to have a poorly-performing release, so if there was a new Howard flick, just on Marvel’s rep alone butts would meet seats. Or it could be Marvel’s first big flop, and we’d be right back where we started.

For the time being, it’s probably just continuing cameos for Howard, which is just fine, and frankly, it’s something of a miracle we’re even getting those. That aforementioned Marvel Studios rep for continuing hit films is most likely what got someone to say “ah heck, a Howard cameo might not hurt anything” and let it in.

Anyway, the reason for all that typing is that, on the occasion when someone unfamiliar with the comic asks me how the movie compares (and believe it or not, the topic comes up quite a bit at the shop), my go-to example has been the particular bit of business regarding “quack-fu.”

“Quack-fu” in the comic is the hook by which writer Steve Gerber (along with artists John Buscema and Steve Leialoha) examines the then-huge pop culture faddish-ness of martial arts:


…the movies, the magazines, the “learn the secrets of the masters” ads, even Marvel’s own Master of Kung-Fu series. It’s an extended and pointed satire of a contemporary cultural trend with the additional contemplation of violence and its acceptance in media and society.

The movie strips “quack-fu” of all that context, and suddenly it’s just another duck joke:


…and a way to move the plot along by having Howard kick butt when it’s convenient.

This may be the most blatant example of Howard’s misuse in the film. Like I said, the movie does have its moments, and overall it’s likeable enough, but you’re not getting the satirical commentary of Howard’s comic in here. (Sorry if I made anyone’s monocle pop out by saying that.) And I wonder if that’s the sort of thing that would translate to a new big-budget Marvel action movie anyway. Can you imagine? “It’s like Network, but with a talking duck!” I mean, it’s not impossible, and would certainly be different from the usual superhero fare, but I don’t know if the world is quite ready for it.

• • •

In other news:

Frankly even the top-selling comic book would have at best “a cult following.”

§ May 29th, 2017 § Filed under question time § 4 Comments

THE QUESTIONS, I’M BACK AT ‘EM:

Mikey Wayne lays the following on me:

“In light of the promises/suggestions that both the JSA and Legion of Super-Heroes will soon rebirth themselves into comic stores everywhere:

“For each team, which member would you most like to see rebirthed and why? If you could choose the creative teams for each book, whom would you choose?”

For the Legion of Super-Heroes, that’s easy…I’ve said before I’d like to see a Brainiac 5-centered Legion relaunch. Brainy as the cool, rational, scientific center surrounded by the utter madness of “Bouncing Boy” and “Matter-Eater Lad” and so forth, just trying to do his job despite all the crazy nonsense in which he finds himself mired. As far as a creative team…I’m always bad at picking out folks for this sort of thing, but I feel like Warren Ellis would make this absolutely bonkers. He’d give us a Brainiac 5 that actually seems like he’s intellectually superior to everyone around him, I’d think. And yeah, he’d probably be all bastardly-like, but not on purpose…he’s trying to be helpful, to fit in, but he’s so far beyond everyone else that he comes across as kind of a jerk without meaning to. (As opposed to some previous portrayals, where he pretty much was a jerk.)

For an artist, I’d say…well, so long as we’re playing pretend here, Paul Chadwick. I’d love to see the 31st century as drawn by him…I’m picturing a more futuristic sci-fi version of his series The World Below. Like, weird to the point of being creepy, which I bet Ellis could work with quite nicely. Man, now that I’ve described it, I’d love to see it.

With the Justice Society o’America, that’s a bit harder to choose. I really want to say Jay “Golden Age Flash” Garrick, but the Flash family is already pretty mired in the whole “Rebirth” thing and I’d prefer a character that’s a little more standalone. I’d maybe say Wildcat, partially because I think pal Dorian rubbed off on me after all these years and I would like to see a new, ongoing title starring his favorite character. I don’t really have a hook for the character as such, except even as I started typing this sentence the creator “Matt Wagner” came to mind and I can totally see Wildcat sorta remodeled by him into a Spirit/Shadow/Green Hornet-ish type crime fighter. I mean, he’d still totally be a boxer who puts on his Wildcat outfit and goes out to punch crumb-bums what need punching, don’t get me wrong. But Wagner could make just that much weirder, with only the occasional intrusion from the superhero element (maybe treated as a more supernatural occurrence) but with plenty street-level action with gangsters, creeps, dames, and beat cops. I would read that in a heartbeat.

• • •

Dani makes me retreat with

“Mike… one thing I’ve been wondering… just between us nerds… What exactly did you say to Encyclopedia Brown to make him snatch out your eye?”

Friends, sometimes running jokes from my beloved BBS days of decades ago follow me into the wide world of the internets.

…But basically what I told that Brown guy was “BUGS MEANY IS RIGHT.”

• • •

Chris Gumprich wonders

“1. Have you noticed an uptick of non-comics people coming in and asking for comic versions of the various DC-TV heroes?”

This is sort of a variation of the question “do the movies help comic sales?” and the answer is generally “not a whole lot.” The movies and TV shows increase awareness of the characters, certainly, but as discussed in the past, people who are fans of comic book movies and TV shows don’t suddenly acquire the “go to a comic shop on a regular basis” lifestyle. That’s not to say I haven’t had the non-initiated come in and ask for Supergirl comics, or grab Flash off the shelf. There is a slight increase, but compared to the number of people who get all the Flash and Supergirl adventure they need a couple of dozen weeks out of the year, it doesn’t seem like a whole lot. But, you know, a little is better than nothing!

“2. Do you think CAP’N QUICK & A FOOZLE would sell today? Did it sell in 1983?”

Well, for the latter part of the question, I’m going to have to say “I don’t entirely know,” since that was about five years before my entry into the world of comics retail. I’ll have to ask my old boss Ralph when next I talk to him, so I’ll update you later. My guess is that it sold…okay, in that this was the early days of the indie market still, and the black and white boom and its subsequent effect of making people not want to buy indie books was still in the future. Probably people were experimenting a little more with trying out different things, and Cap’n Quick & a Foozle may have benefited from that. Plus, Marshall Rogers was still a draw, so it may have sold just on his name alone. Again, I’d have to ask someone who was there to be sure.

Would it sell today? This is going to sound bad, and it’s no reflection on the great work of the late Mr. Rogers, but the answer is probably “no.” It’s too hard for any new titles to get real traction, so just by pure percentages, a series, particularly a weird-ish indie series, may get a small cult following but probably wouldn’t sell all that greaet. Just too tough of a market nowadays. Maybe “Cap’n Quick and a Zombie,” or “Deadpool and a Foozle.”

• • •

Andrew Davison schools me with

“If Swamp Thing falls over in the forest, and there’s no’one around to hear him, does he make a sound?”

Now, in the similar question regarding a tree falling in the forest, with no one to hear…in that case, I would say it doesn’t make a sound. If no one, meaning the lack of presence of ear canals that can interact with the resultant vibrations caused by the tree’s impact that can in turn be translated by an attached brain into what could be interpreted as “sound,” then no, no sound was made. The potential for sound is created, but no “receivers” as such exist to covert that potential and have it be recognized as sound.

However, Swamp Thing has anywhere between one and two ears, depending on who draws him, so he’d hear himself making a sound as he fell. I mean, assuming he’s real, and not just drawings on paper, of course.

Yeah, I know things don’t end well for the dog.

§ May 26th, 2017 § Filed under swamp thing § No Comments


So blogging sister Tegan reminded me with her Twitter post about that poor ol’ mutt in the early issues of Swamp Thing, so anyway, there he is with our swampy pal.

I don’t think they ever called the dog anything other than “mutt” (or “hound dog” or “Linda’s dog”) for the entire time he was in the book. Hmmm…maybe “Bernie” would be a good name for that dog. Let’s just pretend that’s what Linda Holland named him off-panel.
 
 

image from Swamp Thing #2 (Dec 1972/Jan 1973) by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson

You probably thought I forgot about your questions, didn’t you?

§ May 24th, 2017 § Filed under question time § 6 Comments

Okay, it’s been exactly a month since I last dipped into the most recent question pool, so let’s knock out a couple right here:

William Burns lights a fire under my butt about

“Do the Black Mask Studios comics sell much for you?”

They do…okay, I suppose. Some better than others. There was a while there, a year or two back, where the investor-types were looking into new releases from indie companies for their next fortunes. It’s still happening to a somewhat limited extent, but mostly with, say, Aftershock and Scout, possibly because nobody’s quite sure how to order on a lot of these, meaning if one catches one, any given store is likely to be caught short.

But with Black Mask, Four Kids Walk into a Bank and Young Terrorists still get a small bit of attention…in fact, I just turned a customer on to the latter title, and he thinks it’s great, so, you know, they’re still capable of finding new readers. It’s hard, though, in the current marketplace, to get any sort of traction, but I’m glad companies like Black Mask, and Aftershock, and the rest are still hanging in there.

• • •

Rob Staeger grills me with

“I’ve recently been reading a bunch of old Warlord issues. They’re so enthusiastically batty! I was wondering what your thoughts are on Mike Grell and the evolution of his career. Are you/were you ever a fan?”

Sure, I liked Mike Grell well enough. I wasn’t a huge follower of Warlord but I had this digest collecting his several-issue battle with his wizardly arch-nemesis Deimos, and that was pretty good. I tried the monthly series for a while (though at this point I can’t remember if Grell was still involved with the series or not) but I didn’t like those single issues as much as that digest, so I didn’t keep reading.

I don’t know if I would say I was a “fan” in that I was a devotee of his work, but usually his art was professional and effectively presented the the stories it was illustrating, like in Green Lantern or in Legion of Super-Heroes. I haven’t read Green Arrow: The Longbow Hunters in a while, so I don’t know how that holds up…all I seem to remember are some unfortunately violent bits that may not have aged well in the nearly 30 years since its release. And I read Jon Sable Freelance for a time, too, and the “usually” qualifier I used just a moment ago applies to this title, as the art got a little…sketchier that I preferred in the later issues of this series. I never did get around to reading Starslayer, though I own several issues for the Grimjack back-up stories and that early appearance of Groo the Wanderer. Should probably look at the stories in the fronts of those books someday.

Overall, I think his work is fine. I know he’s done a few covers for the recent Green Arrow series, and those have been nice. I can’t recall how much interior work he’s done of late (aside from a couple of those Arrow TV show tie-ins), but I wouldn’t mind seeing his storytelling in action on a regular basis again. I mean, if they can give Neal Adams regular Batman and Superman minis for him to be his Neal Adams-est, why not give Grell a short-run Green Arrow or Green Lantern (or Green Arrow AND Green Lantern) series? I’d read that.

So it begins…the Swamp Thing-a-Thon.

§ May 22nd, 2017 § Filed under self-promotion, Swamp Thing-a-Thon § 5 Comments

Okay, gang, I finally started it. My ideally-twice-monthly looks at every Swamp Thing comic, in order, available initially to Patreon contributors (for as little as a buck a month!) before eventually getting posted on this site several months later. Well, with the exception of the first post in the series, which I’m including here as a sampler for those of you previously unfamiliar with my excessive typing.

A couple of notes: I’m just going with the credits as listed in the book (or “borrowed” from the Grand Comics Database). I know Wrightson had some assistance on this first story, but, I don’t know, it seemed weird wherever I plugged those other names in there. Maybe I’ll add them in later…lemme sleep on it.

Yes, that’s a scan of my actual copy of House of Secrets #92. The plan is to scan the covers of my personal copies for each installment, so you can see how beat up my copies get while reading them in the bath, while eating barbecue ribs, etc.

I am not 100% certain what content I’ll be including for each “review.” You’ve read my reviews before, you should probably know what to expect. Maybe it’ll be story analysis, maybe it’ll be some personal recollection regarding that specific issue, maybe it’ll be something retail-related…we’ll see what each issue inspires me to write as I get to it.

Anyway, here it is…if you want more of it, and faster than waiting for it to show up here, then hie yourself hither to my Patreon account and drop at least a buck per month (or $100 per month, I won’t stop you) to get access. Thanks for reading, pals, and I’ll be back with More Stuff™ soon.

• • •

ISSUE: House of Secrets #92 (June-July 1971)

TITLE AND CREDITS: “Swamp Thing” – written by Len Wein, illustrated by Berni Wrightson, coloring by Tatjana Wood, lettering by Ben Oda. Cover art by Berni Wrightson.

IN BRIEF: Alex Olsen is believed dead, killed in a lab explosion secretly prepared by rival Damian Ridge, who then takes Alex’s widow Linda as his own wife. However, Alex rises from the bog in which he was buried, transformed into a hideous creature, a swamp thing, who must come to his wife’s rescue when Damian begins to have designs on her life as well.

MIKE SEZ: Well, here’s where it all begins. What struck me as I read this again for the first time in quite a while is the parallels between how this story starts and how the relaunched/rebooted Swamp Thing ongoing series starts about a year later. I mean, not just the premise, obviously, but just structurally. Both this tale and the later Swamp Thing #1 start with our muck-encrusted mockeries of men looming outside their homes (well, barn, in the latter case) worrying about the people they left behind as they continue their lives within, leading towards the record scratch/“yeah, that’s me, you’re probably wondering how I ended up here” flashbacks that follow.

What also impressed me was just how much storytelling and emphasis on character perspectives were crammed into these eight pages. You start off with the first-person narration from Swamp Thing himself, leading into Linda’s second-person narration (like “you smile because he expects you to” — rarely seen outside EC Comics, text adventure computer games and “Choose Your Own Adventure” books) and her recollection of the disaster that killed her husband, then back to first-person narration for Damian’s involvement in said disaster. If I can talk like an old person for a moment, nowadays were so used to stories stretched out over multiple months, decompressed into 5 or 6 or 8 issues that conveniently fit into a nice paperback collection, that it feels just a little weird to have this much narration, this much dialogue, squeezed into so little space.

And yet, it never feels cramped. Yes, it’s all very text-heavy, but not at the expense of Wrightson’s art, which shares the burden of the story’s emotional weight. The narration explicitly tells us what everyone’s feeling at any given point, but the illustration conveys so much. Linda’s downcast looks of quiet sadness, Damian’s crazed desperation as he decides to kill Linda to protect himself, Swamp Thing’s glance down at his wrist where the bracelet Linda gave him once was…and the long, thin panel immediately afterward of Swamp Thing’s eyes rolled upward in despair. It’s the ideal balance between writer and artist, creating a tiny little masterpiece in the short feature format that’s mostly forgotten by the Big Two companies.

Speaking of the art, there’s something to be said about the portrayal of Swamp Thing himself. The human characters are all very naturalistic, which is only how it should be given that heavy photo reference was used by Wrightson in laying out the art. But Swamp Thing himself seems almost…cartoony, by comparison. He’s a big misshapen lump, mostly hidden in shadow so that you can’t ever get a real feel for what he actually looks like, with the exception of those previously-mentioned eyes. They’re large, lolling orbs, perpetually sad, poking out of the top of a figure that we can only barely discern. He doesn’t look scary, even when he’s bursting through that window at the climax to stop Damian. He looks…pathetic. He looks every bit as despairing as he feels. Now the character goes through a serious redesign into a more muscular-looking “action hero” type (I mean, relatively speaking) once that ongoing Swamp Thing series starts, but here, Swamp Thing’s sodden, burdened mass reflects the weight and tone of this short piece.

I’ve stated in the past that Spider-Man’s debut in Amazing Fantasy #15 is the Perfect Superhero Origin Story. Everything you need is right there, and in fact the story needn’t have continued. If the only Spider-Man story Stan Lee and Steve Ditko ever produced was just those 11 pages…that arguably would have been all the Spider-Man the world ever needed. Nearly everything that came after that was just extrapolation from the original.

I bring that up because this story, “Swamp Thing,” is I think in the same upper echelons of comic book origins. Perfectly constructed. No threads left untugged. No need to continue. And, in fact, there was no intention to continue “Swamp Thing” (unlike Spider-Man, which was designed to be a new ongoing superhero character, even if they weren’t sure at the time he actually would continue). However, once the sales figures came in on House of Secrets #92, and after some convincing, Swamp Thing would return…but it wouldn’t be turn-of-the-century Alex Olsen, but the modern scientist of 1970s-today Alec Holland who would take up the mantle, as Wein and Wrightson didn’t want to dilute the power of their original short. Of course, a few decades later another writer would figure out a way to make Alex Olsen part of the latter Swamp Thing’s continuity, but that’s a Swamp Thing-a-Thon review for another day.

THE WRAP-UP: One of the all-time classics in the comic book medium, and almost certainly the best short horror comic story you’ll find outside of the legendary EC Comics oeuvre.

Rich Buckler (1949 – 2017).

§ May 21st, 2017 § Filed under obituary § 7 Comments

I’ll always have a soft spot for Rich Buckler, because he drew these two Roy Thomas-scripted issues of DC Comics Presents teaming Superman with the Marvel Family and I must have read ’em a million times:


In fact, Buckler drew a lot of comics around that time that made quite the impression on a Young Mike still trying to figure out this whole funnybook thing. I particularly enjoyed All-Star Squadron, another book he worked on.

My condolences to his family, friends, and fans. So long, Rich.

“Manhattan in a muumuu / I know I know / It’s serious”

§ May 19th, 2017 § Filed under self-promotion, watchmen § 5 Comments

So the thing everyone has been wondering about Watchmen‘s Doctor Manhattan finally making his full debut in the forthcoming DC Universe comic book Doomsday Clock is, of course, what they’re going to do about Doc M’s…er, “Downtown Manhattan,” as it were. I’ve made passing reference to this situation in the subject lines of a couple of posts here, but I am curious as to what they’re gonna do.

As we all know, one of the ways…well, okay, the main way…Manhattan’s continuing alienation from humanity was represented in Watchmen was his no longer caring about such social niceties as “dressing.” He gradually wore less and less and eventually there he was, freely blowin’ in the wind. Now, he’d wear clothes when he had to, like during that ill-fated television interview, so maybe for this DCU story, Manhattan may well be fitted out with his own super-suit, just to fit in. Or, as is stated at the end of Watchmen, he’s rediscovered an interest in humanity, so maybe we’ll get the reverse of what happened in the original story, and he just slowly dons more and more clothing over the course of Doomsday Clock. Like, swim trunks, then some Dockers, and then, inevitably, the muumuu.

The other option is just “Austin Powers”/”Opus’s Post-Surgery Beak”-ing it and have Manhattan in the altogether, but always having his naughty bits blocked by, like, conveniently-placed potted plants or furniture or even just careful shadowing, or something. That may feel a little contrived after an issue or three, however, and I’m sure that last thing anyone would want is for this story to feel contrived.

Or they can go full Ken Doll, and just…um, smooth things out, I guess. Or go completely the opposite direction and say “screw it, we don’t have the Comics Code to worry about anymore!” and just reveal Manhattan in all his anatomically-correct Manhattan-ness. I mean, honestly, what’s gonna happen, the comic might get some publicity? (Okay, and maybe some comic shop will get in trouble for selling it to a five-year-old, because there’s always someone. Maybe NOT such a great idea.)

But hold on…I have an idea: a shocking plot twist that solves the problem of Nekkid Manhattan and a certain Superman redesign mistake.

Superman and Doctor Manhattan finally meet in this Doomsday Clock series. Superman says “ah, HA, you no-goodnik, I finally found you! Now to kick your butt out of this continuity for good!” And Manhattan’s all “whatever you want, buddy, I’ve got what I came for” and he steps out of the shadows and he’s wearing Superman’s long-missing RED TRUNKS. And then get our knock-down, drag-out fight over the remaining eight or nine issues of the series, and the final pages are basically a variation of this Tarzan sequence.

Yes, I know this idea is fantastic. DC, you have time to rewrite Doomsday Clock. I suggest you use it wisely.

• • •

Speaking of brilliant writing, I’m about ready to launch the ol’ “Swamp Thing-a-Thon” on my Patreon, in which I review all them Swamp Thing comics. I’m looking at this Monday, barring any problems like being driven off the internet for this post. It’ll be the usual rambling and occasional intentional humor and unintentional insight you’ve come to expect from a guy pushing 50 who’s still writing a comics blog after everyone’s moved on to posting their content directly to the chips in your brain. (I’m assuming that’s what they do, I haven’t really been keeping up.) The first installment (about House of Secrets #92, natch) will be available here for free right away as a sampler, but future installments will only be available to Patreon donors at least for several months, before being posted publicly.

Anyway, we’ll see how this goes, and I’m always open to suggestions and creative criticism once I get started on this new project.

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