And now, an excellent example of dialogue-as-sound-effect…

§ July 26th, 2017 § Filed under scans § 2 Comments

…but it certainly took me a second to parse it out as I came across these panels while flipping through the comic:


from Defenders #126 (December 1983) by J. M. DeMatteis and Alan Kupperberg

I still feel bad about the John Ritter thing.

§ July 24th, 2017 § Filed under question time § 13 Comments

Okay, finally back to more of your questions:

CP Bananas appeals to me with

“If you had unlimited funds, what’s the one thing you’d add to your store? Signage? Fixture? Ice sculpture? Water slide? Something more/less ridiculous?”

Crazy idea: movie theater. I have two rooms in the back of the store, and I can store stuff in the smaller room, and use the larger part of the backroom as an indoor theater of sorts. The walls would need repainting, and I’d need to cover that concrete floor with something, but that’s a lot of space that needs some using. Plus, I’d have to look into what sort of licensing I’d need to have in order to screen films, and some reasonable form of air conditioning that wouldn’t be too loud…but I could probably seat, I don’t know, a couple dozen people back there? It’s something to think about.

More realistically, I could knock out part of the wall that divides the store between the front and the back, and expand into that larger backroom area with more fixtures and products. “WELCOME TO MIKE’S COMICS AND POGS” the sign in front of the store would boldly declare to all passerby.

• • •

MrJM asks

“As I recall, every iteration of the team had substantially the same origin: the Legion of Superheroes started as three kids from different planets with different powers joined together to combat the powers of evil in the 30th/31st century.

“But why would anyone dub the founding trio of Rokk Krinn, Imra Ardeen & Garth Ranzz ‘the LEGION of Superheroes?’

“A Roman legion was a unit of 3,000–6,000 fighting men. Even colloquially, ‘legion’ is synonymous with horde, throng, multitude, host, crowd, mass, mob, gang, swarm, flock, herd, score, army. No matter how you slice it a ‘legion’ is a whole bunch of folks.

“While the group would certainly merit the name in the end — including everyone from Bouncing Boy to Invisible Kid to Quislet to another Invisible Kid — at the founding no one could have know that. It was just three people.

“Within the continuity of the story, ‘Legion of Superheroes’ simply made no sense as the name for the original trio!

“And so my question: Has this ever bugged you?”


• • •

Thom H. inquires about

“I love reading stories about customers. Can you share a good story about a memorable customer, whether it’s good, bad, weird, surprising, or something else?”

I’ve had several memorable customers over the years, but aside brief, amusing (or occasionally aggravating) incidents, I have a hard time relating actual stories about them, I mean, I have written about a couple of longtime customers who had passed away (like Errol, or Bruce, or Sean and his tragic end – they did end up catching the guy who killed him).

There was the fellow who always wrote enormous checks for expensive comics, the only personal information on his check being his name…my old boss had been dealing with him since long before I worked at the shop, and he always told me “the check’s fine, don’t worry about it.” And, far as I know, his checks always were fine.

There was the kid who collected Adam Strange comics…because his name was also Adam Strange.

There was the time, shortly after I started working in comics retail, when the shop was suddenly filled with lady wrestlers all in costume. I was like “is this what selling comics is going to be like all the time?” And the answer to that was, of course…yes, yes it was.

There was the young lady who’d been coming to the shop since she was a kid…and now, college age, she had come to the store and asked me if I wanted to see her new tattoo. I said “sure!” and before I knew it she had basically removed her top with her back to me, presenting her new full-back tattoo in all its glory. (Coworker Sean, who was working on the other side of the store at the time, later asked me “what the hell was going on over there?”)

There was the teaching assistant at the college I was attending who found out I worked in a comic book store, and would request comics that I’d bring up the next day that he’d then pay me for.

There was customer Marlon, who dressed as the Milestone character Icon one year for Halloween, and as the John Stewart Green Lantern another year, in absolutely perfect costumes with the perfect physique. It’s like the characters had literally come to life in our store.

There was the fella researching vampires in comics, and was trying to buy every single comic featuring a vampire appearance. On one visit we stayed for hours after closing assembling his several-thousand-dollar purchase.

There was MC Chris, who stopped by the shop prior to performing at the local music venue, and proceeded to plug the store onstage.

There was the time I thought John Ritter was just some creepy guy planning to shoplift from us.

Those were all at the previous place of employment. I’m trying to come up with any really unusual stories from the new store, but aside from the endless repetition of “this is just like Big Bang Theory!” I haven’t had any really weird stories burn into my brain yet. I’ve had lots of great, friendly customers who have been very supportive, I’ve also had the occasional time waster or problem creator (like the mom who was upset that I made her pay for comics her children destroyed…and to this day, when she passes by I here her tell her kids “no, you’re not going in there”). Or the elderly gentleman who just did not seem to understand that, no, I didn’t want to carry the sports jerseys he was wholesaling.

But I don’t want to focus on the bad things, really. I prefer to think of the helpful folks, like customer Mark, whom I’ve met since opening my new shop, who will occasionally show up at events at my store (like Free Comic Book Day) dressed in his great Batman costume and entertaining the other customers.

Or the mom who told me that her little girl loves Squirrel Girl comics so much that she takes them to bed and sleeps with them at night.

I haven’t had anything really epically strange happen yet…mostly just nice people buying comics nicely and doing nice things. …PLEASE DON’T TAKE THIS AS A CHALLENGE, ANYONE READING THIS.

• • •

Oh, okay, back to MrJM’s question…no, I never really thought about it, to be honest. Looking back at the Legion’s origin as presented in Superboy #147, I don’t see where it’s established who names the team thusly. Given that the fella financing the team, R.J. Brande, is responsible for naming two of the founding members “Lightning Lad” and “Cosmic Boy” (and probably named “Saturn Girl” as well, though not explicitly stated), it’s likely fair to say Brande dubbed the team “The Legion of Super-Heroes,” too. Calling it a “legion” from the get-go is surely Brande anticipating that new members would eventually join…and it’s probably also just simple marketing. “Legion” sounds impressive. “The Three Kid Band of Space Heroes,” not so much. R.J. Brande is the richest man in the 30th Century…he knows how to sell stuff!

• • •

So long to Flo Steinberg, original member of the Marvel Bullpen, who passed away on Sunday. She was just as much a part of the team as Stan, Jack and Steve, and Marvel wouldn’t have been Marvel without her.

Several years ago a bunch of comics folks were swapping mix discs, and as a “bonus” at the end of my disc was a recording of a Merry Marvel Marching Society record that I digitized from a copy of the flexidisc that had turned up in a collection. I later heard from, I believe, Fred Hembeck, who thanked me for including that on there. “It was so nice to hear her voice” he said. It sure was. That gal had character to spare!

The new Swamp Thing-a-Thon post is up…

§ July 21st, 2017 § Filed under self-promotion § No Comments

…and you can read it here over at ye olde Patreon page, if you are contributing a dollar or more per month to the “Keep Mike in Hot Pockets and Diet Cokes” fund.

Anyway, I meant to have Additional Progressive Ruin Content™ on the site today, but there were some extensive Thursday night household chores that had to be done, so no blogging for me. (Or rather, blogging at 1:09 AM, like I am right now.) Rest assured, I thought about comics the entire time I was working. (“Oh, Dark Knight Strikes Again, you really are the best!”)

So, you can look forward to more stuff next week, or you can drop a buck and read this really long post about Swamp Thing #4 many, many moons before I put it up here. Either way, have a great weekend, unless you’re at the San Diego Comic Con, in which case I hate you.

And now, Betty talking with Veronica about their favorite song by The Coasters.

§ July 19th, 2017 § Filed under archie § 8 Comments

Okay, The Coasters spell “Yakety” differently, don’t email back.

from Betty #23 (March 1995) by Mike Pellowski, Doug Crane and Mark Brewer

Yes, I know about the Swordquest retailer incentive comics, too.

§ July 17th, 2017 § Filed under this week's comics § 3 Comments

Minor SPOILERS ahead:

So usually when I pick up an issue of DC’s recent “Rebirth” titles, since everything has two covers (at least) now, I’ll pick the cover with the image I like the most. I mean, duh, right? With Hal Jordan and the Green Lantern Corps, that decision is made easy by the fact that every biweekly issue has, as an option, a cover by Kevin Nowlan. I likes me the the Kevin Nowlan.

The comic itself I’ve been enjoying…well, quite a bit, actually. The focus right now is on the integration of former adversaries the Yellow Lantern Corps with the Green Lantern Corps into one big happy space cop family, and the subsequent bumps in the road, plus some subplotty stuff with GL Kyle Rayner hitting a rough patch with his paramour, the Yellow Lantern leader Sora. It’s actually all quite entertaining and very soap-opera-y in the best sense of the term, even if this book (like its companion title Green Lanterns more often than not seems to be about dealing with internal issues relating to the various Corps and their histories and not, say, punching Goldface. I mean, that’s fine, we had decades of punching Goldface, I’m not complaining. There’s just that Mike of Decades Ago who remembers reading Green Lantern before it got all complicated an’ stuff, and kind of missing those days once in a while, but understanding that’s just how it goes, sometimes.

Also, we as a people aren’t talking enough about Space Ape.

One of the very first things I bought on eBay (aside from the Swamp Thing Pencil Sharpener) was a still-sealed-in-the-box copy of Galaxian for the Atari 2600. No, not for the video game itself (though that did sort of kick off a brief nostalgia-fueled wave of Atari cartridge collecting, but that’s another story), but for the pack-in Atari Force comic book. You see, during the original wave of Atarimania, I acquired three of the games that had the AF comics, but never did get the other two. But then, along comes the eBay, and suddenly I can complete that set (along with finally getting a copy of Berzerk, a game I never got way back when as a friend had it and I could play it at his house).

I often thought about getting the other comics Atari had packed into their games. I mean, there aren’t that many of them, but I had my chance at getting Swordquest #2 and #3 without buying the cartridges, as the previous place of employment had ’em available singly at one point. And, basically, I just never got around to it.

But here’s Dynamite Comics, putting out a bunch of Atari-related comics, and as a retailer incentive they offered reproductions of the original pack-in comic from Centipede. Yeah, it’s a silly thing to want to have, but I’m glad I have it. It’s got nice art by Howard Post of Harvey and Star Comics fame, and, um, I may have liked it a little more than the new Centipede comic that it was the incentive for. I think I was expecting more High Fantasy (or at least Semi-High) like the old mini-comic, than the apocalyptic sci-fi war comic that we got. I mean, it’s not bad, and I’ll come back for issue #2, but I’m not quite sure I’m getting the setting…? It’s not Earth, but an alien world that’s just like a slightly more futuristic Earth, but they’ve heard of Earth and observed its broadcasts? Yeah, I know, that’s the thing that’s tripping me up about a dude standing along against the invasion of a space centipede. Hey, what can I tell you, I hit a bump, then I hit a bump.

Yes, I’m one of those people who bought the original Mage more-or-less as it was coming out in the ’80s (I think I started about halfway through and picked up the rest as back issues), then read Hero Defined in the late ’90s, and have been waiting for this ever since. I think that puts me squarely in the Mage “30+ Year” Club, patiently anticipating the arrival of the concluding mini. It’s very much the “old warhorse not impressed by these cocky new kids” story, but it’s Matt Wagner and it’s Mage and it’s great and it was sadly missed. And I was only half-joking about wanted “The Hero Disco-Dances” as the follow-up.

Okay, technically this isn’t from “this week’s comics” as per the tag on this post (but then again, the previous comics aren’t from this week, either), but I didn’t get around to reading it ’til last night and there you have it. Mostly, I just wanted to note the plot point (that Shadow has met Batman before, but “clouded his mind” to make him forget) makes all the previous Shadow/Batman crossovers canon. Well, “canon,” you know how DC is. And there’s a sequence showing other DC heroes being killed off, so that’s hard to reconcile. But, you know, close enough!

• • •

So long to Martin Landau of Space: 1999 and Ed Wood fame (yes, I know he did more, but I loved those the most)…Mark Evanier re-presents an interview he did with Landau about his cartooning career. So long also to George Romero…in whatever afterlife that may exist, let us hope that he and Bernie Wrightson are collaborating on one heck of a zombie movie.

The post I was working on for today…

§ July 14th, 2017 § Filed under superman § 7 Comments

…didn’t exactly come together, so in the meantime, please ponder this important question and answer it in the comments section, if you’d like:


“He’ll GRILL up your body and eat it as hamb — no wait”

§ July 12th, 2017 § Filed under advertising, archie § 1 Comment


from Archie #131 (September 1962)

I’m sure my complaining about kids today and their cellular phones doesn’t make me sound old at all.

§ July 10th, 2017 § Filed under movie reviews § 4 Comments

So here’s something I haven’t done in a long time…gone to a big blockbuster film on the very first day it opens to general release. I mean, I used to do it all the time, 20, 25, even 30 years ago. I had to go The Very First Day because I didn’t want anyone else spoiling things for me, and also because I’d get all excited for these films and I just couldn’t wait.

Nowadays, I don’t have quite the energy or enthusiasm that I did for movie-going, as I slowly slip into my dotage. Part of it is not caring nearly as much about spoilers, part of it is not wanting to deal with huge crowds, part of it is everyone’s friggin’ cell phones that they apparently paid 10 bucks a ticket so they could sit in a dark room and look at them. There’s also the fact that movies tend to get released to home video right quick and I have a large widescreen TV at home and a Blu-ray player and the ability to pause when nature calls. Blah blah blah get off my lawn, etc.

Generally, if I do go to movies, it’s either the following the first weekend, when the crowds have died down a lot, or two or three months after said film has opened, when we go onto the local Navy base and see movies in the free movie theater that’s offered for Navy personnel, their families, or civilian Naval employees (the latter category my girlfriend falls under). The Navy theater was how I got to see Logan, for example. And this fine flick.

But anyway, as I said, I did go to a film on opening night last week, thanks to the girlfriend’s nephew buying tickets for his family, my girlfriend and me for Spider-Man: Homecoming. The theater was in this giant newly-built mall, it was packed, there was also an outdoor festival going on, it took me nearly half an hour to find a parking space (on pretty much the exact opposite side of the mail from where the theater was located), and I was plenty stressed by the time we all managed to get to our seats just in time for the 20 minutes or so of trailers.

However, the actual viewing experience was fine. It was crowded, yes, but we had good seats right in the middle of the theater (this particular showing had assigned seating, and apparently the nephew ordered early enough to get his pick of seats), nobody around us was too obnoxious (though at the end of the film I had to tune out the guys behind me talking about Spider-Man comics — NO WORK TALK ON MY FREE TIME, PLEASE), and the projection at this theater seemed to be properly lit (as opposed to this other local small midtown theater that always seems to project their movies through several sheets of black construction paper).

Yes, yes, but what about Spider-Man: Homecoming itself?

I liked it just fine. I joked on the Twitters that “it didn’t have Dancing Evil Dork Peter Parker” so Spider-Man 3 remained the best film, but I think this film succeeded very well in giving us a sufficiently nerdy Peter Parker that integrated quite well into the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. Michael Keaton was great as the Vulture, but that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. In fact, I’d say most of the cast here did solid jobs, and let’s hope a lot of them can stick around for a while as friends/foils for Spidey and we can stave off yet another reboot.

I have a couple of specific comments to make that could be construed as SPOILERS, so I’ll toss ’em in here between the two stills I grabbed from the trailers so you can skip over them if you need to. And by the way, holy crap does it seem like EVERY beat from the film can be found in these trailers. The trailers need spoiler warnings.

  • One of the “these guys are dorks” moments from the film is when Peter’s pal Ned excitedly tells him about the Lego Death Star set he just acquired, to the derision of a couple of girls who overhear the exchange. Peter is thrilled to hear the news, which caused someone on Twitter to remark “Peter didn’t know what an AT-AT from Empire Strikes Back was in Civil War, and now he’s excited about Death Star Legos? He’s a Fake Fan” — or words to that effect, because I’m pretty sure that’s over 140 characters.

    I think there are three clear responses to that. Either 1) Peter has since learned about Star Wars, what with getting all caught up in the excitement around Episode VII; 2) Peter is excited because his friend Ned is excited; 3) Peter just plain loves Legos, especially if he gets to work on a massive set that’s probably way out of his price range. There, problem solved…where’s my No-Prize, Marvel?

  • I talked about this somewhere before, on Twitter, on this site, on a BBS running Wildcat, I don’t remember, but I noted how…isolated Spider-Man seemed in his previous films. He was like the one guy with super-powers…well, one good guy, since he kept running into bad guys, obviously. Still, though, I couldn’t help but think how lonely it seemed, with Spider-Man separated out from the rest of the Marvel Universe. Now that he’s in the Cinematic Universe, it feels…satisfying, like a big piece that was missing is finally plugged back in there. It would be nice if someday the Fantastic Four could rejoin their four-colored friends onscreen, instead of a bunch of diminishing-returns reboots that never quite seem to, you know, get it. Oddly enough, I’m okay with not getting X-Men mixed in there, too, since, at least to me, they always seemed like they were kinda off on their own in the comics anyway. Yeah, of course there were crossovers and guest-appearances and such, but it always felt to me like “Here are the X-Men, and here is the rest of the Marvel Universe.” Not that I wouldn’t love an X-Men versus the Avengers movie.
  • I’m okay with having the Super Spidey Tech suit as a specific plot point for one film, but I’m hoping the replacement costume he gets at the end of the movie is just a cosmetic improvement without all the bells and whistles. Spider-Man as Iron Man-Lite on a regular basis wouldn’t feel like Spider-Man.
  • I know at this point in his life the movie is presenting, Peter isn’t working at the Daily Bugle yet, but man, I feel sorry for whoever they’re going to cast as J. Jonah Jameson. J.K. Simmons so nailed the part in the first trilogy, that they didn’t even bother to recast in the two-movie Andrew Garfield reboot (though you can see JJJ’s name as a sender of some emails at one point). I mean, I suppose eventually it’s going to happen, but it’s funny I can accept a new guy as Spidey, but JJJ’s recasting is going to be tough to take.
  • How great was Zendaya as “Michelle?” I want to see her “no time for your crap” attitude bump up against her inevitable discovery that Peter is Spider-Man. That’ll be a confrontation for the ages, I think.
  • There’s a mid-credits scene (that provides an answer re: the film’s plot point regarding Peter’s identity) and a post-credits scene that actually sort of depends on you performing the actual act of waiting through the credits. It’s quite clever, and a nice follow-up cameo to the character’s other cameos throughout this film.

And in conclusion, I can’t believe Spider-Man tried to get a job with the Fantastic Four at the end of the film. Who saw that coming?

I do have more to say, I think, that’ll probably wait for another day. In the meantime, it’s nice to have a new Spider-Man movie that’s actually good and doesn’t force us through the origin yet again. Even it there was no Evil Dancing.

New Swamp Thing-a-Thon post up…

§ July 7th, 2017 § Filed under self-promotion § No Comments

…over on my Patreon, discussing issue #3 of the 1970s Swamp Thing series. See how many times I can type the words “Patchwork Man!” Only a buck to get in and see these posts good ‘n’ early!

A progress(ive ruin) report.

§ July 6th, 2017 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin § 3 Comments

Sorry gang…between feeling crummy over the last few days (I’m mostly over it now, thankfully) and just having a lot to do in my Real Life, I’m a bit behind on everything.

I should have the next installment of the Swamp-Thing-a-Thon up at my Patreon page this week…it looks like it’s going to be a bit longer than normal, as I’m trying a little something different in my coverage of the issue (#3, with the Patchwork Man!) so we’ll see how that goes. I mean, other than taking a long time to write.

I am hoping to having another actual post this week, or at the very least something fun for Saturday, so hopefully it’ll all work out. Next week I should be back to my regular schedule of posting long, rambling diatribes about things nobody cares about except me and maybe one or two of you oddballs out there, plus the occasional out-of-context scan from an old Archie or Harvey comic. You know, just like the old days of comics blogging, back when we were all so young and innocent and talking about that Lois Lane story “I Am Curious (Black)!” every two to three months like we were the first to discover it existed.

I’m also going to continue answering your questions at some point, before those of you who asked them die of old age. I mean, holy cow, that was in March, I’m stretching this out a bit.

I really do appreciate you all reading this site, and an additional thank you to the folks who throw a buck or so a month at me on the ol’ Patreon. I feel bad when I’m not pushing out the content like I want to (even if it isn’t at the previous 7-days-a-week schedule the younger and apparently more insane me used to be on), and I’m glad you understand that sometimes life just gets in the way. Yes, I have a life. This is shocking news to someone.

Thanks for reading, and I’ll talk at you again in short order.

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