This post spoils the shocking surprises of The Wrath of Khan and probably other Trek films, in case that’s a problem.
So the weird thing about this particular Star Trek series, the first from DC Comics:
…was that, coming only about a year and some months after 1982’s Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, it was missing one of the primary elements of the franchise. Given that our favorite Vulcan sacrificed his life to save the Enterprise in said film, the comics were going to have to be Spockless for at least a little while.
The loss was addressed in that first issue, as our Spock stand-in Saavik gets an undue amount of grief from Kirk, as Dr. McCoy points out here:
One of the elements of this series I found interesting (and one that also came into play with Marvel’s Star Wars, especially when it had to go without Han Solo for a while) was how they had to deal with running-in-place between films. The comics were clearly intended to fit within the continuity of the films, and had to react to them or set things up accordingly.
After recovering Spock in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (SPOILER: they find him), the film ends with a slightly addled Spock who seems to be just on the cusp of recovering his former mental state. Of course, the comics aren’t going to tread water for three years waiting for whatever’s going to happen to Spock in the next film with some extended Vulcan version of Being There. Instead, during a long, and actually pretty good, Mirror Universe story (back when those were rare things) our not-yet-recovered Spock encounters the “evil” goateed Spock:
…an interaction that results in having a functional Spock in the comic book series for the next couple of years.
Well, at least until just before Star Trek IV: Free Willy is about to be unleashed, where it’s clear that the film picks up pretty much right where the previous one left off, with no consideration at all given to the fact that between then and “now” Spock was out having adventures with a yellow bird man. Nope, IV was going to feature a Spock still recovering from his “death,” and thus in the comics he had to be knocked back to square one in order to match up continuity-wise with the films. I mean, literally in the comic he’s explicitly described as being back at square one:
“It’s like some kind of…cosmic reset button was pressed, Jim…I don’t understand it!”
Anyway, after IV wrapped up the three film arc that began in Wrath of Khan, the comics may have had an easier time of it by not having to bookend their storylines with putting all the pieces in place to match movie continuity. But at the same time, in a weird sort of way, by not having to directly tie into the films, the comics seemed to lose a little something, some sense of “essentialness” to the franchise as a whole. Okay, not like any of this is essential by any means, but there was a loss of connection to the larger picture that I missed having during those first five or so years of DC’s Star Trek series…a connection that I haven’t really felt in any franchise’s comic book tie-in since.
images from Star Trek #1 (February 1984) – cover by George Perez, interiors by Mike W. Barr, Tom Sutton and Ricardo Villagran; Star Trek #11 (February 1985) by Barr, Sutton and Villagran; Star Trek #36 (March 1987) by Len Wein and Gray Morrow
Back after a brief hiatus, the End of Civilization returns to warn you what awaits in your local comic shop’s future! Forewarned is four-armed, after all, so crack open your copy of Diamond Previews March 2015 edition and follow along! Also, here’s hoping enough of you read the Dirk Gently novels to know what I’m talking about in my alleged joke for it:
p. 42 – Fight Club 2 #1:
“The Third Rule of Fight Club is that a Fight Club must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.”
“The Third Rule of Fight Club is just keep on talking about Fight Club and its rules, I mean what the hell at this point, right?”
“Um actually there are eight rules of Fight Club, your jokes are dumb”
p. 112 – Convergence: Swamp Thing #2:
So if you’re a big dope like me and just have to be a completist about certain characters, then you end up doing dumb things like buying both the main cover of Convergence: Swamp Thing #2 (the big pic there) and the Chip Kidd-designed “variant” cover (the little inset), even if you think the “variant” is, well, kinda so-so. I mean, maybe when all those variants are up on the rack they’ll give an impression of, well, some kind, but just on its own…I don’t know. I may have poked some slight fun at the design with an image on the Twitters recently:
p. 153 – The Flash Reverse-Flash Ring:
“Hey, I really like your Flash ring!”
“Actually, it’s the Reverse-Flash ring, worn by the Flash’s arch…enemy, um…from the future…uh, yeah, I really like my Flash ring, too.”
p. 155 – Wonder Woman The Art of War Wonder Woman by Robert Valley Statue:
Man, the Lady Apple Bonkers are hot:
ALTERNATE GAG: That statue’s legs are almost as long as the statue’s name.
p. 161 – Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency #1:
I’m kind of hoping there’s a plotline in the comic about how they have to go back in time to prevent Keven Smith from finishing Daredevil/Bullseye: The Target in order to save the universe.
p. 436 – The Art of the Pimp: One Man’s Search for Love, Sex and Money:
“Dennis Hof, proprietor of the world-famous Moonlite BunnyRanch brothel and the P.T. Barnum of prostitution, charts his path to fame and infamy, while dispensing homespun wisdom about sex, sales, money, and how to live as the country’s most recognizable pimp. In The Art of the Pimp, Dennis Hof offers a hilarious, insightful, behind-the-scenes look at life as the proprietor of The Moonlight BunnyRanch and recounts his chaotic life as the king of America’s sex industry.”
p. 482 – Firefly Jayne Cobb with Hat Legacy Collection Action Figure:
Actually, it’s about ethics in knit caps.
p. 490 – Batman 1966 Dynamic Duo Monolith:
Say, why don’t we have a giant statue for Batman and Robin? Maybe we can just hit Mount Rushmore and slap a cowl on George Washington and a mask on Jefferson…and, I don’t know, dye Roosevelt white and green and put a luchador mask on Lincoln. Just spitballin’ here.
While we think about that, please enjoy Batman’s visit to Rushmore:
p. 492 – Avengers Coulson’s Captain America Trading Card Set II:
So Coulson just had card sets in every pocket while he was runnin’ around doin’ stuff in the Avengers movie? Did he have Force Works pogs in his socks? A Nomad phone card in his wallet?
p. 556 – My Little Pony Rainbow Dash Hooded Throw:
Oh, hey, to go with your Doctor Who pony, your very own Lady Cassandra pony:
p. 558 – Roddenberry Trek Fish Car Emblem:
“What does God need with a bumper sticker?”
p. 559 – Star Wars Darth Vader Comfy Throw Fleece Blanket with Sleeves:
Man, even in the upcoming sequels they’ve found a way to undermine Vader’s villainy.
p. 560 – Zombie Window Buddies Decal Sets:
Sure to delight any nearsighted traffic cops that happen to be in your neighborhood!
Marvel Previews p. 131 – Miles Morales Ultimate Spider-Man Vol. 2 – Revelations TPB:
Oh man, Chip Kidd got to this cover too?
Guys, just arrived in the mail today, from the hands of Robert Wilson IV, along with a signed copy of Bitch Planet #3, a signed copy of Like A Virus (now available on Comixology!), and a signed print, is this piece of original artwork:
It was longtime reader Mike Z. who was the fella what first put together Mr. Wilson IV with my particular
obsession humorous one-off gag that in no way reflects any unhealthy fetishes, and, I just learned, is directly responsible for commissioning this illustration and having it sent to me. So thank you, Mike, for your kindness, and thank you, Robert, for probably not wondering out loud “you want me to draw what?”
So here’s a thing I finally got for myself this week…issue #6 from May 1975 of DC Comics’s official company ‘zine The Amazing World of DC Comics:
…featuring this centerspread image of an unused Nestor Redondo cover for Swamp Thing #15 (March-April 1975):
Here is the final printed cover for that issue, with a slightly less demon-obscured shot of Swampy:
There are one or two other tidbits of Swamp Thing info throughout the mag, most notably in the interview with Joe Orlando, where he briefly discusses the transition on the series from creators Len Wein and Berni(e) Wrightson to other hands. (A possible replacement mentioned in the interview was Art Suydam of “Cholly and Flytrap” and Marvel Zombies fame. I don’t think I knew he was ever considered!)
Anyway, that’s one more piece of Swamp Thing stuff in the ol’ collection. Once I get everything, that officially means I won, right?
Speaking of Swamp Thing stuff, as I usually am, this Kenner Toys Twitter feed has been featuring some of the Swampy toys from that now-decades old cartoon…scroll down a bit to see what your pal Mike has sitting around his house.
- Ordering for DC’s Convergence event is a problem, in that I’m being asked to place numbers on what will essentially be a few dozen out-of-continuity short-run mini-series that will either 1) attract a lot of fans interested in new stories featuring pre-New 52 versions (or approximations thereof) of their favorite characters, or 2) will be skipped entirely by folks more interested in following current continuity rather than flashing back to what’s gone before. (Or, of course, 3) used as jumping-off points for readers looking for good stopping points.)
The solution, of course, is to order in conservative excess. I’ll put my smallest giant to work on it right away.
- Marvel’s Star Wars franchise kicked off to huge success, as I’m sure everyone noticed, as that first Star Wars #1 blew off comic shop shelves and into second and third printings. The success of that initial first issue was early enough for retailers to adjust orders on the then-forthcoming Darth Vader #1 accordingly, so as a result there are plenty of those to be had everywhere, most likely. But I’m already seeing the sales normalizing on these…that Star Wars #1 sold largely on its “historical” value as the first Marvel Star Wars comic in a couple of decades. There’s already a large drop-off on the second issue, and Darth #1 didn’t see the same sort of rack sales either. Plus, I’ve already sensed some resistance to the forthcoming Princess Leia series, whether it’s because “a third series?” or just disinterest in the character.
Now, I’m not saying any of these post-Star Wars #1 releases are tanking…they’re all selling great, just not at the levels of that initial release, but there are always dropoffs after debuts. So long as they don’t sink down to the levels of Dark Horse’s run in its latter years, which shouldn’t happen if they can avoid oversaturation of the market. But then, it’s Marvel…they’re the House of Oversaturation.
- The announcement from Oni Press that they’ll be publishing an Invader Zim series, based on the cartoon by the Johnny the Homicidal Maniac creator Jhonen Vasquez, is welcome, but to my mind about a decade too late. Back when I could still get, rack and sell JTHM comics on a continual basis (as well as similar titles like Lenore), one of the things I was regularly asked for was an Invader Zim comic, based on the then still-running (or at least still existing in recent memory) television series.
Now, years later, long after the demand (and reliable availability) for those comics has dwindled, and requests for Invader Zim comics have died away, now comes the Zim comic. I feel like this will be aimed at nostalgic adults like a number of other decade-old cartoon properties on the comic shelves, but after a brief discussion (read: rant) on the Twitter about this, some of my few remaining Twitter friends informed me that they still see kids wearing Zim shirts and that perhaps there’s access to the cartoons via various streaming services, so maybe kids are still aware of the property.
I mean, I hope so. I want an Invader Zim comic to do well. I want every comic to do well. I like making money. Just…well, just wish the timing was better.
I am reminded of my long-ago times in comics retail, back when I was a young Mikester and my hair was naturally this color instead of being chemically enhanced, when we had customers clamoring for Simpsons comics. Every day, “where are the Simpsons comics?” “where are the Simpsons comics?” This when on for like a year or so, and then the demands dried up.
And then a Simpsons comic was announced. “Oh, great,” I thought. “Where were you a year ago? It’s too late now…nobody’s looking for Simpsons comics anymore.”
Turns out I may have been incorrect about that. Maybe I’ll be incorrect about the timeliness of the Invader Zim comic, too.
I was old enough (if not geographically close enough) in 1977 to have gone to see this show:
…but alas, I did not. Thankfully, I can experience it now via the miracle of the YouTubings:
Also, here’s a pic of Aquaman from that movie coming next year or whenever.
So probably at the top of my “least expected comic book news” list, right beneath “Steve Ditko Joins Andy Kaufman for Dancing with The Stars,” is “Dreadstar to Become TV Show,” and yet, here we are. Doesn’t mean it’s absolutely 100% going to happen, but that this is even an announcement in Variety is pretty amazing. I hope it does make it to air, at least long enough for the scene in the panel presented above to appear directly and faithfully translated to screen.
And as I noted on the Twitterers, I would like the first season to be an adaptation of Metamorphosis Odyssey (the Epic Illustrated serialized series that introduced Vanth Dreadstar) if only to enjoy the television viewing public’s almost inevitable reaction of “…what did I just watch?”
I hope at the very least we get out of this, if not new Dreadstar comics, then relatively inexpensive and complete reprints of the older comics. There aren’t really that many issues: 64 in the original comic series, plus 6 in the follow-up mini from Malibu, and all the Epic Illustrated stuff plus the two graphic novels fit into that one hardcover from a few years back. Oh, and that cameo in ‘Breed III as well. And that First Comics crossover thing. …And I’m probably missing something else, but honestly, that’s not a whole lot. Let’s get some books of these things, even if you have to slap “FROM THE CREATOR OF THANOS” across the tops of the covers.
In other news:
- Pal Dave just wrapped up a year’s worth of entries in his “I Had That!” series, looking back at all the toys and games and media tie-ins and what-have-yous that most of us accumulated through our formative years. Interesting reading, as Dave examines these artifacts mostly not just through romanticized nostalgic filters but through an after-the-fact understanding of what it was that made us want to possess via plastic tchotchkes whatever passing cultural zeitgeist that caught our attention. He and I are about the same age, so I promise you, I declared “I had that, too!” with a disturbingly large number of each of the series’ installments. Highly recommended.
- Pal Andrew’s most recent Nobody’s Favorites covers a comic featuring a characters that, given my love of the original Saturday Night Live, should have been entirely within my wheelhouse, but man, I just couldn’t do it. I don’t even think I ever saw more than a few minutes of the film.
- Bully, the Little Stuffed Bull who is strong in the Force, is presenting 365 Days of Star Wars in his own inimitable little fuzzy way. Probably should have mentioned that sooner, as he’s quite a few segments in. You’d better go catch up before he comes after you with the cutest little lightsaber you’ve ever seen.
image from Dreadstar #14 (October 1984) by Jim Starlin
So reader Rodney asked, in response to my post from Friday:
“I started my copy of the latest Showcase Presents Legion of Super-Heroes Vol 5 today and in the reprint of Superboy #198 Clark and Lana are about to enter a ‘Horror Haven’ tent and on either side of the entrance is Man-Thing and Swamp Thing.
And then my next thought was ‘Does Mike know about this?'”
Ah, a question in the grand old Progressive Ruin tradition of insinuating myself into your minds to the extent that you think of me whenever you encounter Swamp Thing. Or All-Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder. Or Frank Miller’s The Spirit.
Rodney, thank you for asking. I’ve probably been aware of it, though I don’t have that actual comic in my collection. I do have the Legion of Super-Heroes Archive Edition hardcover volume #10, which reprints said story, recolored and on better paper:
…so at least I have a version of it, if not, as I’m suspecting, with the exact same colors as in the originals. Now, if I were still at my old job, I’d just check in one of the fourteen Superboy back issue boxes on the shelves and pull out that #198 to see if our Man-Thing stand-in was colored in more copyright-stretching yet more character-accurate greenish hues. Alas, my new store is still in the process of backstock-building, so I don’t believe I have a local copy to check at the moment. Anyone out there able to confirm Man-Thing’s coloring in the original?
Anyway, as I said, I was sure I must have been aware of these particular cameos at one time even if just from reading these reprints. However, I probably haven’t looked inside this Archives hardcover since I originally read through it the first time (back in…hold on, lemme check the copyright date…eek, the far-flung future year of 2000) so it had slipped my mind. Thanks for the reminder, Rodney!
A couple of other questions from that comments section: Michael Grabowski asks
“…Exactly how vast is/was the vast Mikester Comic Archives? Anywhere close to WorldRecord-Man (the fellow in Mission Viejo Guinness recently named), or closer to ‘just vast enough to supply the better part of a newly-opened shop?'”
Well, it was pretty goodly sized…a couple dozen long boxes, a few dozen short, several magazine boxes. Approximately half of what I owned went in for sale at the shop. I’m still needing to sort through the rest of the boxes to decide what I want to take to the store and what I want to still keep. No rush at the moment, however, given that I’ve recently acquired several long boxes’ worth of collections and that should keep me swimmin’ in funnybooks for the immediate future.
And Bill D. asks about that
“Does this issue have a Blooperman story in it? I’ve heard those are kind of fun.”
Sadly, no Blooperman. I’m presuming that a Superman parody, or at least a more general parody of superheroes. It would have been interesting to see how this comic would’ve handled it, given the stories in the issue I have mostly emphasized more general-audience non-superhero shenanigans.
So long to Swamp Thing and The Return of Swamp Thing star Louis Jourdan, who passed away this weekend. …Maybe he did more popular and more highly-regarded films, but those are the two most important to me.
Besides, few are the films that are better than Swamp Thing and The Return of Swamp Thing.