“When all else is lost, the future still remains.” – Christian Nestell Bovee

§ December 26th, 2016 § Filed under predictions § 41 Comments

Okay, unlike last time, I’m actually asking for your comic industry predictions for the next year before the next year begins, so if you have any ideas about where you think this crazy business is headed in 2017, feel free to pile them into the comments section for this post. Just please follow 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! Let me repeat that: THREE PREDICTIONS PER PERSON, PLEASE. Please don’t get carried away with the lengthy multi-part predictions per bullet point! I am grateful for the enthusiasm, however I am but a mortal man, and can only carry so much.

Starting after the first of the year, I’ll go back and look at your 2016 predictions, and thus I foretell testing your patience with about a million posts in the process.

Seriously, though, every year I do this, you folks definitely come through with a bunch of great responses, and it is always appreciated. I know that reader comments in social media gets a bad rap nowadays, and not without reason, but my readers have always been an essential and welcome part of this site and I greatly look forward to your participation. Thanks to you all in advance, and fire away!
 
 
 

image from Richie Rich #77 (January 1969)

That shouldn’t be a period…

§ December 25th, 2016 § Filed under Christmas § 2 Comments


…that should be more like “!!!!!!!!!!!” after a declaration to the effect of “THE DEAD ARE AMONG US DECORATING TREES!!!!!!!!!!! AIEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!! AND DON’T EVEN GET ME STARTED ON SANTA CLAUS THERE!!!!!!!!!!!”

Anyway, Happy Holidays, Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, or even just Happy Sunday…whatever it is and however you like to celebrate it, I certainly hope it’s good for you.

It’s not always good to be bad.

§ December 23rd, 2016 § Filed under movie reviews, pal plugging § 2 Comments

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.

• • •

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.

IT ME!

§ December 21st, 2016 § Filed under cartoons, movie reviews, swamp thing § 10 Comments

ITEM!

I received a certain item in the mail this week…that item being the Blu-ray disc of the Suicide Squad movie from Netflix, which I never made it out to the theater for. Not sure when I’m going to make room in the schedule for it, what with Christmas looming in the very near future and me with shopping and wrapping to do still. (I haven’t even made it out to the new Star Wars movie, which makes the Ghost of 8-Year-Old Mike loom over me and shake his head in disapproval.) Anyway, I’ve been curious about the film, even though I’ve heard only generally negative things about it from other comic folks…but then again, I’m the Guy Who Liked Batman V Superman so maybe I’ll be more favorably inclined toward it. I will say that my initial reaction to trailers and stills is that it appears all dirty and grimy and sickly and yeccchh so the movie may have a struggle overcoming my visceral negative response to its looks.

TIME!

Yes, I did watch the first episode of the new Justice League Action cartoon, and yes indeedy, it does contain the Swamp Thing/Plastic Man team-up the world has been clamoring for. Also featured: an all-ages appropriate John Constantine, who is more British than approximately 10 British men in, at least, this initial installment. There’s a story reason given for his particular style of dialogue, but I hope that’s how he’s portrayed consistently in the series because it’s hilarious…and probably can be read as a critique of how folks can kind of go overboard writing his dialogue in the comics.

Anyway, I had a hard time pulling a still of Swampy from any of the clips I saw online, so here’s a link to the trailer where the timestamp should take you directly to Swamp Thing getting clobbered by Solomon Grundy. Not his most dignified moment.

MITE!

More than just a pretty name.

§ December 19th, 2016 § Filed under collecting, legion of super-heroes, letters of comment § 15 Comments


So a while back I mentioned in a footnote to this post that the above comic book, Superboy #208 from April 1975, was the first comic book I ever read featuring the Legion of Super-Heroes. Now, I don’t recall if I read this when it was new (which would be probably January or February 1975, given the usual difference between cover dates and the actual release dates) and I was five years old, or if my original copy was purchased from a used book store a bit later, when I was around, say, seven years old.

Either way, I was quite the young fellow when I was exposed to that weird-ass story where Lightning Lad stepped out of a spaceship left foot first, bad luck on his planet, and ended up losing an arm because of said bad luck! Okay, things weren’t quite what they seemed, but still, that stuck in my head for years, along with several other images and bits of dialogue from this issue that floated around in my brain. I’d long since lost my original copy, but picked up a replacement sometime later at my previous place of employment.

Now, at my current place of employment (being Sterling Silver Comics, located in the heart of lovely Camarillo, CA), I bought another collection of 1970s comics that was heavy on the Superman and Superboy comics. And in this collection was yet another copy of Superboy #208 (said copy scanned and posted above). As I was processing the collection, I did what I sometimes like to do with old comics and glace at the letters page, looking for missives from future comic creators, customers of mine from either shop (more common that you’d think!), or letters from around my local area. I never recalled doing this with my own copy of #208, so I went ahead and checked this copy, and wouldn’t you know it, there’s a letter from someone from my own hometown:


…and that’s pretty neat an’ all, but I started thinking. As I recall, perhaps not every letter that appeared in these old comics were, shall we say, on the up-and-up. As in, “not actually written and sent in by real readers.” Whether it was just to fill up space, or to lead into a plug for other comics, or whatever, sometimes there was a little fudging of the truth in those letter columns. (I don’t know if the practice continues today, though in the ’90s a pal had a letter printed in a particular superhero comic that was edited from being critical to being quite praising, so there were still shenanigans of some sort going on.)

Anyway, this only comes to mind because two of the main drags in Oxnard, California are “Rose Avenue” and “Gonzales Road,” which actually intersect not too far from where I’m living now. Now, “Rose Gonzales” is hardly a rare or unusual name or anything, but that certainly seemed like quite the coincidence, like someone needed a name to attach to a letter (or a seeming excerpt from a letter), whipped out the Book o’Maps, picked “Oxnard” for the letter writer’s city, and picked out a couple street names to comprise the name as a gag. (I regularly spot letters with “Oxnard” or nearby “Ventura” addresses in ’60s and ’70s comics, so I imagine the city names were at least somewhat familiar to some editors.)

Now I have no idea if that’s what happened…granted, seems like a lot of work just to create authenticity for a line or two of inconsequential text to fill space in a layout. Could just as easily been “Mary Smith of New York” and it’s not like anyone was going to check. And I certainly can’t check now, as anyone involved in the editorial process here is either, um, departed, or not going to want to take any calls from a dude asking about 40-year-old letter columns they don’t remember.

I just thought it was an oddly interesting thing to note in this old comic that I have strong nostalgic feelings for…that now has an even stronger connection with its ties, real or spurious, to my hometown.

I was but the learner, but now I am the master.

§ December 16th, 2016 § Filed under retailing, star trek, star wars § 10 Comments

…Well, okay, perhaps that quote from Star Wars Episode IV: Remember When There Was Just the One Movie is overstating things a bit, but it was kind of odd to have my former boss Ralph from the previous place of employment come to my shop and fill in for me for most of this Thursday. Yes, I was my old boss’s boss for part of a day, and yes, that seemed strange. But it was quite nice of him to step in, as I was attending funeral services for my girlfriend’s mother at that time. He reported that there were more than a few shocked faces after walking into my store that day and seeing him behind the counter…some folks hadn’t seen Ralph in years got to catch up with him again! (And he’s still selling comics, but just doesn’t own a store, so it’s not like I handed the keys over to a competing shop or anything.) (Or did I? Dun-dun-DUNNNN.)

Anyway, I’ve had a long Thursday, and a long week in general, I’m pretty wiped out, so I’m putting a cap on this week here at Progressive Ruin Industries. I’ll let the batteries refresh over the weekend and I’ll be back in fightin’ trim on Monday.

Though, just so there’s some actual Star Warsian content to justify the title of this post, there’s a couple of things that came up on Twitter last night that I’d been thinking about for a while, and wanted to pose to you folks.

1. It seems like (to me anyway) it’s only a matter of time before Marvel starts mixing the Star Wars license with the regular Marvel Universe. I mean, beyond special variant covers…I’m talking actual comic book stories like Super-Villain Team-up with Darth Vader and Magneto or a Vision/R2D2 crossover or something. How likely do you think that’ll happen?

2. I believe that within my lifetime, I will see an official Star Wars/Star Trek crossover of some sort…probably in the comics, maybe in a novel, almost certainly not in live action. Now, with Disney having dumped four billion smackers into the franchise, there’s almost certainly no need for Star Wars to “team up” with anything, as the films don’t need any sort of gimmicky sales boost, beyond the gimmicky sales boost of being a Star Wars movie. But I think all it takes is one or two or a half-dozen box office crashing turkeys to drive either property to such desperate measures. Star Trek certainly hasn’t been shy about crossing over with other company’s properties, so it feels like that side of the deal wouldn’t say “no.” Think this will happen? In my lifetime? In any of our lifetimes? In the far-flung fuuuuuture?

Not having a lot of blogging time, as you might imagine…

§ December 14th, 2016 § Filed under jack kirby § 3 Comments

…so let me present this pic I’d put up on the Twitter the other day, after finding it in a comic I was pricing at the shop:


…that comic being New Gods #13 (1977), where Gerry Conway, Don Newton and Dan Adkins tried to continue from where Jack Kirby left off. As was pointed out by other Twittering folks, those are quite the choices for representative disco performers. KC and the Sunshine Band, sure; Rick Dees and “Disco Duck,” well…I mean, why not, that’s as much of the era as anything else.

I’ve never really had much exposure to these post-Kirby New Gods comics…it’s a weird alternate universe divergence from Kirby’s particular and peculiar vision, but still it’s hard to complain about some nice Don Newton art. Even if everything is just slightly off-model from what we know, which is easy to forgive as, at the time, the Fourth World stuff was only a few years old, not having the decades to burrow into fandom’s collective heads like it’s had now.

Asuncion.

§ December 12th, 2016 § Filed under obituary § 10 Comments

The morning of Saturday, December 10th, my girlfriend Nora’s mother, Asuncion, passed away at the age of 79 after an extended struggle with pulmonary fibrosis. She was surrounded by family at the time, chatting and joking up with them up until the end, when she simply closed her eyes, took a couple of final breaths, and departed.

She was the much-beloved matriarch of the family, and spent a lifetime raising, caring for, and sharing her love with her many children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. She will be greatly missed. If you can, please spare a brief thought for both her and those who grieve her loss.

I’d like a dog to narrate MY life.

§ December 9th, 2016 § Filed under this week's comics § 1 Comment

Big news is that Rick Veitch has released a new installment of Roarin’ Rick’s Rare Bit Fiends as a print-on-demand book via Amazon…I ordered that sucker as soon as the news hit my feed reader on Monday, and had a copy in my hands by Wednesday. Unfortunately whoever packed my copy didn’t do a great job of it, and it showed up damaged. I should have a hopefully undamaged replacement arriving around the time you’re reading this, assuming you’re reading this sometime in the morning or early afternoon on Friday, December 9th, 2016. However, flipping through it was a welcome return to Veitch’s dream diaries, and I hope we see more installments of Rare Bit Fiends in the future. You can order it here, and you can take a gander at some sample pages on Veitch’s site.

I also keep meaning to order his other print-on-demand book Super Catchy. Maybe after I’m done with the Christmas shopping, which I should probably start someday.

UPDATE: A copy in more acceptable condition was delivered today…after being initially delivered to another address. Ah well, at least I got it eventually.

• • •

Other comics this week:

Flintstones #6 continues its bizarrely dark take on the Hanna Barbera characters, which is a phrase that in most cases would rightly send you running in the other direction, but here that “dark take” works absolutely marvelously. The social satire, the horrible lives of the animal-appliances, poor old lonely Mr. Slate, the pitch-black humor, all working together to make what may be my favorite comic on the stands right now. I never would have imagined that would be the case when these HB relaunches were announced way back when, but man, I love this comic.
 
 

Star Wars: Doctor Aphra brings to the Star Wars comic franchise something desperately needed: some measure of unpredictability. I’ve been enjoying all of Marvel’s new Star Wars books so far, but despite the twists and turns of each storyline, we know where the main characters end up, as the majority of the books take place between Episodes IV and V. Aphra is new to the comics, a supporting character from the Darth Vader series, who has her own original-to-the-comics supporting cast accompanying her, so the characters aren’t restricted to specific paths. I mean, not to say the creators haven’t been doing a good job telling stories with Luke, Han and Leia in this period…perhaps a better way of saying this is that with Aphra, we have a new character that is fresh to us, for whom we don’t know her eventual fate, which makes her story perhaps a little more compelling. Plus, her supporting cast is basically Star Trek’s Mirror Universe of other familiar members of the Star Wars family, with Evil Artoo, Threepio, and Chewbacca analogues, all of whom are a lot of fun.

Now if this paves the way for the eventual Jaxxon solo series, that would be the best.
 
 

So with Reggie and Me #1, this makes the second of the Archie relaunches to be narrated by a dog, I believe? Which is fine…it gives us a sympathetic outsider’s view of Reggie’s life, which this first issue is devoted to setting up. Not so much a story as a character sketch, it establishes his mostly adversarial relationships vis-à-vis the rest of the Archie Universe. One of the main appeals of Reggie in the original Archie comics is that he may be a jerk, but he’s a funny jerk…it’s funny to watch him be a giant ego monster and eventually (at least sometimes) get his comeuppance. The Revamp Reggie with its slightly more (and please pardon the expression, particularly in a comic with a dog narrator) “realistic” young-adult bent doesn’t really have a lot of laughs, particularly when compared to the classic Reggie comic presented as a back-up in this issue. I did like the comic, but I hope the mood does lighten a little in future issues.

I sure wrote a lot on this site lately, so here are some pictures instead.

§ December 7th, 2016 § Filed under teen titans § 6 Comments

COMEDY:
teentitans2com
 
 
TRAGEDY:
teentitans5trag
 
 
I DON’T EVEN KNOW:
teentitans2pony
 
 

from Teen Titans #2 (March/April 1966) and #5 (September/October 1966) by Bob Haney & Nick Cardy

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