Venom is awfully defensive about his ability to talk.

§ April 8th, 2015 § Filed under misfit toys § 4 Comments

So in the same collection where I received those Shadow toys I was talking about the other day, I found one of these:

…and I was surprised to discover that this figure, originally issued in 1991, still has a working battery that allows it to “talk,” as per this video someone else made of their own still-talking Venom figure:

But even more amazing was what pal Dave did to my pic of said figure after I put it on the Twitters:

Oh, my pals and I do have fun on the Internet.

From the back room of misfit toys.

§ April 6th, 2015 § Filed under misfit toys § 12 Comments

Well, there‘s a title I wasn’t expecting to use again, as I’m no longer working at the shop with the end-of-Raiders-of-the-Lost-Ark-esque warehouse, and am instead at the new shop with a couple of mostly barren storerooms, save for some long boxes of comics, a workbench, a refrigerator, my sit-down cabinet version of the Discs of Tron arcade game, and some leftover scrap wood from table construction. (NOTE: one of those items may not actually be in my back room.)

But, as it turns out, one of my old customers from my previous place of employment is moving away, and he contacted me about perhaps taking in a few items to sell on consignment for him just so that he didn’t have haul them along with him. And, since I like money, I said “sure!” and now, suddenly, I have a backroom of toys and statues and such for me to either price up and place in the shop, or to put on the eBays.

It’s going to take me a little while to process everything, since Sterling Silver Comics is still more or less a one man show for the moment, but I’ve already moved a few goodies, so I’m making progress. And, going through the boxes, I found several figures from this particular series:

Now, with doing no Googling on this whatsoever, I’m guessing these were released, in 1994, to take advantage of the Shadow movie starring Alec Baldwin out that same year, even though absolutely no mention is made of the film on the packaging. Alas, the film’s middling performance didn’t inspire an outbreak of Shadow-mania (though I kinda liked it) and, I’m guessing, the toyline didn’t sell like gangbusters either. In fact, I don’t know that I ever saw them on display at any of our local toy emporiums, and in the mid-1990s I was still regularly checking out the local action figure shelves. A peek at eBay shows that they seem to be readily available and mostly inexpensive unless sold in bulk, and since I seem to have a bulk of them here, that’s probably how I’m getting rid of them.

They’re not bad-looking figures, and a couple of the figures with the Shadow in full regalia have a feature where a light shining through the translucent top of the hat causes the Shadow’s eyes to glow (the same trick used in the modern Jawa action figures). Now this figure in particular that I have pictured here is all-translucent, so he has little painted-on red eyes instead. And, if you wanted him completely invisible, the instructions tell you to strip Mr. Cranston nekkid:

NOTE: invisibility only “pretend,” otherwise the company could just have just sold you an empty box, I guess.

Unfortunately it’s a few years to late to mail away for the hologram ring:

…but you can see a couple examples on eBay, like this one. Since eBay links die after a few months, I saved one of the pics here for posterity:

Looks about how I figured.

Anyway: Shadow figures – trying very hard to not keep them for myself. Also trying not to go on eBay and buy any of these still relatively-cheap and completely awesome vehicles:

“Who knows what uncomfortable pain lurks in the backs of men?” The Shadow knows, after riding that Nightmist cycle. Sheesh.

Lois ‘n’ Supes tell you comic book artists just how they feel about you.

§ April 1st, 2015 § Filed under superman § 3 Comments


from DC Comics Presents #53 (“Superman in the House of Mystery,” January 1983) by Dan Mishkin, Curt Swan and Tony DeZuniga

Well, better make plans to visit the hat store.

§ March 30th, 2015 § Filed under dc comics § 4 Comments

So it has been pointed out to me on my site and elsewhere that DC Comics does appear to be planning a reprint volume of the very Doctor Fate comics I was dead certain would not be reprinted any time soon.

According to the Amazon listing:

“Collects 1ST ISSUE SPECIAL #9, stories from THE FLASH #306-313, THE IMMORTAL DOCTOR FATE #1-3, DR. FATE #1-4 and DC CHALLENGE #11.”

…which is kind of a weird way to put it, since The Immortal Doctor Fate is a reprint series that features the stories from 1st Issue Special #9 and The Flash #306-313. …Unless it’s also featuring the other stories reprinted in IDF #1 (a retelling of the origin from DC Special Series #10, and a Golden Age story from More Fun #56), in which case why not say “collects all that other stuff and DC Special Series #10 and More Fun #56″ and leave out mentioning Immortal Doctor Fate altogether. Or maybe the book is reprinting the covers from Immortal Doctor Fate, which, as far as I know, were new to that particular series.

Oh, hey, let Webster’s know that I’ve got a new definition of “nitpicking” for them. Thanks.

Anyway, including the four-issue Dr. Fate mini feels just a little odd…on one hand not too odd since it does feature the art of Keith Giffen, who drew all those Flash back-ups also reprinted in the book. On the other hand, it is a bit odd since it’s very much a transitional series, doing away with the decades-old version of Dr. Fate that most of the book is covering, and establishing a new status quo for the character. It feels like it would fit more as a prologue piece to a second Doctor Fate trade, as the monthly series that followed directly spins off from that mini. Instead they could have reprinted a couple of those Superman/Dr. Fate team-ups (from World’s Finest and DC Comics Presents, and I’m sure there are one or two appearance here and there that could have been squeezed in as well.

But they didn’t ask me, and frankly I’ll be surprised if there is a second Dr. Fate reprint volume, though I’m too busy eating this remarkably tasty Glengarry bonnet to vociferously deny its possibility. I’m glad that any kind of reprint is in the offing, even if my preference is to get more stuff that only exists on crummy, decaying newsprint represented on nice white paper with modern printing, like those Superman team-ups I mentioned, since the rest of that Dr. Fate material has already made it into a longer-lasting format.

The one really oddball thing about the book is, as reader BobH mentioned, the inclusion of some of Giffen’s Dr. Fate pages from DC Challenge, which must only be included here for completeness’s sake. In brief, for those who may not recall, DC Challenge was a round-robin mini-series, where random creative teams were assigned to each issue (after an initial installment by prime instigator of the series Mark Evanier), who were to resolve cliffhangers left for them by the creators of the previous issue, while setting up more difficult situations for the next creators to deal with, and simultaneously attempting to push along whatever was passing for the plot. You can read more details at the Wiki entry, and I’d posted a couple of panels from the series a while back.

The whole thing was kind of a glorious mess, entertaining almost despite itself, and definitely outside of whatever was passing for regular DC Universe continuity at the time. I’d love to have this as a full trade paperback, which likely would sell about 10 copies, but it would be nice to remind people that the series exists. It was a fun book that brought in characters from all over the DC Universe and mixed ‘em all up into a crazy jumble, not for “changing DC Comics and nothing will ever be the same” Big Event Stuff, but just for the heck of it. We don’t get enough of that kind of thing any more.

Um, oh, yeah. There’s actually a Doctor Fate reprint book coming out. Pretty crazy, right? It’s full of good comics, so if you haven’t read the material before, here’s your chance. And it’s nice to be surprised by what DC will put into trade…there may be hope for that DC Challenge collection yet.

Or maybe I should just move the whole thing to Tumblr.

§ March 27th, 2015 § Filed under blogging about blogging is a sin, pal plugging § 3 Comments

Johanna’s long-running site Comics Worth Reading recently had some behind-the-scenes tech trouble, resulting in a corrupted database and years of lost posts. She’s going through and restoring some of the older reviews as she’s able to extract them, but…man, talk about a nightmare. My most empathetic thoughts are sent her way as she deals with this problem.

While this can be a drag, suddenly losing all that work built up over a decade or more, on the other hand I can see where it can almost be…liberating, in a sense. A lot of my posts, once you go back far enough, are so link-rotted or just generally awful that I’d almost prefer you didn’t go back and just read each and every post I’d made. There are lots of links to Haloscan comments that all went away went Haloscan vanished. There are interlinks between my posts that go to the old Blogger version of my site, which I still maintain copies of on my server just to that any old outside links to those old versions of my posts won’t be dead ones. Basically that means for entries from 2003 ’til whenever it was I switched over to WordPress — in 2010 or so — there are effectively two versions of my site here (though I’ve blocked the old Blogger pages from indexing, which should reduce any Googling confusion). Anyway, it’s a mess.

I’ve said before I’d almost want to start a Progressive Ruin 3.0 (2.0 being this site, 1.0 being the site I talk about in my first anniversary post), where I could just begin completely anew, and leave this site as a frozen archive for what has gone before. Or, I could bring over all the best posts from this site, leaving behind the worst ones, and retool the posts slightly so that they are less dependent on off-site links.

But that sounds like a mess, too. What I have been doing, on and off over the years, is that if I link to an older pre-Wordpress post in a newer post, I’ll go back and fiddle with that old post so dead links are either removed or noted as such, or any in-site links are corrected to the modern WordPress site rather than the archived Blogger pages. I haven’t been consistent about it (like in that first anniversary post I just linked to), but at least I try. At the very least I keep checking my first post to make sure it goes where I want it to go.

Ultimately, if I plan on keeping this site around for a while, I’m probably just going to have to bite the bullet and fix each post individually…or somehow program something into the site so that if you access a page here older than, say, 2010, something pops up that says “Abandon hope all ye who enter here” or, you know, something similar.

Anyway, again, my sympathies to Johanna, mixed with a little “there but for the grace of God.” Should probably look into backing up my WordPress database.

In other news:

Sometimes there’s a beauty in even the ugliest comic.

§ March 25th, 2015 § Filed under golden age § 11 Comments

Sure, this copy of Venus #10 (1950) has seen its share of hard times, but there’s a certain amount of character in a comic in “Poor” or “Fair” condition that a “Near Mint” copy can never quite achieve:

And this week’s “Recovered from the Stacks” book is…

§ March 23rd, 2015 § Filed under collecting, retailing § 8 Comments

Dr. Fate!

When I initially opened my shop, I was primarily feeding the back issue bins with comics from my own collection…sure, there was the odd long box or two I picked up along the way, but a lot of the books were collected by my own hands, picked up once a week at ye olde comick shoppe (later ye olde place of employmente). I was, and still am, by and large, okay with parting with most of the stuff…I’ve read and enjoyed it all — well, enjoyed most of it, anyway — and I don’t mind it going to new homes for new folks to enjoy. And some stuff (like, say, Preacher) I can always get in reprint form.

I’ve noted before that not everything went into the shop. Obviously I kept my Swamp Thing comics…I mean, duh. My Don Rosa Disney comics I didn’t have otherwise reprinted. My Groo the Wanderers. My Cerebus. That full run of Yummy Fur I finally finished and am selling over my dead body. And so on.

But there are a few things that I put on the tables at the shop that I kind of regretted, and as I’ve acquired more collections and filled up more of the store with a wider selection of back issues (and not just “whatever Mike was reading when he was in high school”), I’ve felt like I can take back some books I planned on sacrificing to the greater good and return them to the personal collection. Not that I’ve done it very often…the odd book here and there, DC’s Who’s Who, that’s about it. Not anything that was really selling at the shop anyway.

…Like, as I said above, Dr. Fate.

I doubt there will ever be an extensive reprinting of these particular comics, unless DC decides to counterprogram Marvel’s Doctor Strange movie with a Dr. Fate film and merchandise appropriately, and I will go to the hat store, spend an hour picking out a hat, buy said hat, take the hat home, gently remove the hat from its packaging, cook the hat for about an hour and a half at 350 degrees, take the hat out, let the hat sit for about fifteen minutes, garnish the hat lightly, and then eat the hat if that should actually happen. Anyway, I really enjoy this particular run of the book, from the ’80s into the ’90s, starting with this three-issue reprint series:

…which includes a Golden Age Fate story, plus a kick-ass story where Fate fights a mummy, as drawn by Walt Simonson:

The remaining two issues reprint the Dr. Fate back-ups from The Flash:

…which features Keith Giffen’s art to better effect on the nice white Baxter paper than it did in its original newsprint presentation, which had lots of color holds and heavy inks and other visual hoohar that kind of got lost in translation initially.

A little bit later was this all-new mini-series establishing a new status quo for the good Doctor, again illustrated by Giffen, who’s joined by J.M. DeMatteis:

With DeMatteis along, things get a little more spiritual and mystical (even for a character already mired in magic, that’s quite the trick), and occasionally a bit abstract:

…which makes complete sense in context, I promise.

DeMatteis continues to bring his more introspective perspective to the character in the follow-up ongoing series, primarily illustrated by one of my favorite artists, Shawn McManus:

That’s not a typical cover for the series…usually it’s line-drawn images, but I always liked that weird cover so there it is, representing the ongoing series on this here website.

With issue #25 William Messner-Loebs, Vince Giarrano and Peter Gross come on board, and…if memory serves, it’s not quite as bonkers the preceding 24 issues, but it’s still not bad. Can probably stand to reread the series and refresh my recollections of it, but if only I had a full run of…oh, wait, I do! I can’t believe my good fortune.

…Of course, this will be the week someone charges into my shop, waving a fistful of hundred dollar bills in his hand, demanding that he be able to buy full runs of the above Doctor Fate series right this instant.

Frankly, I still think “Progressional Superruin” is a really good name.

§ March 20th, 2015 § Filed under chris sims § 12 Comments

You should probably read what the always wise Andrew Weiss has to say first.

Chris Sims is a friend. I think you guys realize that. We’ve palled around online for years, shot at each other over Xbox live, even wrote a book together. I’ve supported his many projects, and always looked forward to whatever he’s got coming. He was even going to get me to read an X-Men comic again for the first time in forever.

And yes, he screwed up. In a time, as Andrew said in his post, when a whole lot of us were out there being aggressive about our comics blogging (of all things), and when some of us were letting surliness overtake reason (thank goodness Haloscan’s demise swept away some of my own excesses), and some of us were more than happy to watch drama unfold from the comfort of our computer desks in those pre-iPad days, there was still such a thing as going too far. Particularly for Ms. D’Orazio, who by that point had already had more than her fair share of personal and professional struggles, and the last thing she needed was someone pushing a one-sided feud against her that went beyond the bounds of “Internet shenanigans” into trolling and harassment.

Now for me, personal time on the Internet is escapism and entertainment. I go online to read about comics, keep up with pals on Twitter, promote Frank Miller’s The Spirit, all the usual things that I’m sure you folks do as well. I’m too old and weary to want to fire up the ol’ Atari 800 and discover an email box full of notifications from people telling me that I suck and my work is worthless and that I should go throw myself into an acid bath. And I’m a guy, and a reasonably innocuous, noncontroversial one at that. The number of seriously troublesome emails received over the 11+ years of blogging at this site can be counted on one hand. And, well, maybe a spare finger or two.

I don’t think I need to tell you how women are generally received online. Particularly strong, opinionated, professional women. I’m sure some are receiving the equivalent number of negative online messages I’ve received every second. And our awareness of this awful situation has come into much sharper focus with recent pervasive harassment campaigns. What we once saw as games of “hey, let’s be a jerk to someone we don’t like online!” we now know can be just straight-up bullying, harassment and abuse. And that’s no damned good. Not against women, not against anyone.

Now, I wasn’t a big fan of Ms. D’Orazio. I had certain issues with her work, and that’s fine. Not everybody has to get along. “Someone doing something you don’t like” is not a crime, unless whatever they’re doing actually is a crime, but I digress. But I didn’t care for her work, and other people I knew didn’t care for her work, just as I know some people out there don’t care for what I do, and that’s okay. That’s an opening for criticism. That’s even an opening for a little mockery. That’s fine. But it’s not an opening for abuse, even if you think that’s not what you’re doing.

For April Fool’s Day, back when I had a lot more time on my hands, I would radically change the appearance of my site to mimic other people’s websites. Once, I changed it to “postmodernruin” to parody pal Dorian’s site, and one year I did a parody of Fanboy Rampage (“Progressive Rampage,” or something like that). One year the idea occurred to me to do a parody of Ms. D’Orazio’s site, Occasional Superheroine, mostly because the name “Progressional Superruin” came to mind. “Hot damn, that’s a name!” I thought, but never got around to it. Now, had I actually done it at the time, which was probably around the time Chris was in the midst of his situation with her, I probably would have thought nothing of it. “Ah, I’m just having fun, who’s it hurting?”

Now I realize, it could have hurt Ms. D’Orazio. Even if I meant it simply as innocent parody for an April Fool’s joke, I would still have been a friend of Chris Sims, and I still would have been making fun of her website, and there still would have been worry about my ultimate motives. Basically, it would have just been one more log on the fire, in context of what she was already going through. I’m very glad I didn’t do it now.

In short, Ms. D’Orazio did not deserve harassment, for any reason. Nobody does. Ever.

Criticism, sure. Debate, of course. Abuse, never.


Chris crossed a line, and has apologized for it. I promise you, his regret for his behavior is genuine, and is working to better himself and the industry he’s in. This doesn’t wipe away past harm…there’s no way it could. He knows his apology may never be accepted by the one person it’s specifically for, and she has every right not to.

Chris is still my friend. I still look forward to his work, and to maybe doing more projects with him in the future. I’m not bailing on someone for fucking up, especially if he’s trying to improve himself and the world around him so that said fuck-ups don’t recur. I wish him, as always, the best.

I wish Ms. D’Orazio the best as well. This industry has not been easy on her at times, and she certainly didn’t need anyone piling on.

I wish all of us the best, that we learn from our mistakes and the mistakes of others, and thus move ever upward.

Probably not updating the rest of the week.

§ March 16th, 2015 § Filed under sick day § 8 Comments

Sorry, friends…I got some kind of bug, and I think I’m better served by going straight to bed upon getting home rather than staying up and feeding the blog despite the age-old advice of “feed a blog, starve a fever.”

…Look, I’m sick, that’s as good as the jokes get.

Anyway, just so I don’t leave you hanging in case I die, for you folks wondering “what was with all the Palladium role-playing books on your birthday post,” the answer is that, as per usual, I was being a jerk.

See you guys again soon…maybe at the end of the week, if I’m feeling better. And thanks for all the birthday wishes. I appreciate them.


§ March 13th, 2015 § Filed under old § 18 Comments


And I wish the most atomic of happy birthdays to my blogging brother, the blastedly brilliant Andrew Weiss!

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